Lost in a lucid dream, she stirs, unaware of the sleep she sleeps. The darkness beyond the mirror swirls in anticipation.
Outside, trees rustle a surprise, raining dying leaves upon the frozen ground as if desperate to please. Never has a season died so beautiful a death. But this is always her season; life never moves on.
The girl imagines sitting by her window and watching the snow. She loves snowflakes, how they taste the ground. Yet, she knows it a mirror and not a window at all, and still, she sleeps.
The alarm clock makes a mess of the morning, drowning out the blackbirds and scaring away the crows. A fire engine charges off to douse angry flames. A police car wails its siren song; attentive thieves stop to listen, whilst I carry on dreaming by design.
I hold the cosseting darkness close, bathe in its obsidian cool, feel it course through my veins as liquid night. There are no stars, no moon, no higher angels here, just an ever-stretching moment sandwiched between last and next. I squeeze my eyes tight as a shrink-wrapped shroud, but the reason for this preservation slips away.
There are still brief moments of lucidity where golden dawns merge to cerulean days and the nights are nothing but places to lay one’s head. They are rare, flashes of a past once lived, and most days I turn my back to them. But not today. Today is special. It’s the day I wait for every week.
I dress in my Sunday best even though it’s a Thursday. The weightless white lilies lay across my outstretched arms like a tightrope walker’s pole, offering a balance I should otherwise lack. In this fashion, foot before foot, I make my way there.
The deserted cemetery mires in a morose nod to the forgotten. How I wish it would laugh and sing, awaken.
I follow the well-worn path through these winding monuments to other people’s memories in search of one of my own. It is the last stone of the last row of an extension abutting a hedge. Ready for a quick getaway, I tell myself.
A quick glance and I lay my flowers and leave, passing the same woman who tends her mother’s grave every Thursday. We often smile, nod even, but today she offers some words.
“Back again,” she says. It is not a question.
I nod, unwilling to risk more.
“A family member?”
She pauses as if to say more might offend me, but her desperation for contact wins over. “A parent?”
She looks aghast as I shake my head.
I repeat the gesture and make to move away, my cheeks reddening.
I am already weeping when I turn to say, “Me.”
My eyes rest most mornings, my heart too. I have never loved and never grieved. Some might claim me dead to the world, and the world dead to me. I lay flowers at a grave I have paid for in advance, near a woman who does not know my name. One day, I shall lay there as I have practiced here. One day, she shall do the same.
I pretend to sleep until the day takes over, testing myself against an overly loud alarm and a window open to the world. This is my ritual, my darkening of the mind. I block out all that would disturb me and ponder the woman in the cemetery, she who the flowers are truly for. It is a meditation of sorts. I dream by design in the hope I’ll be ready when we meet on equal terms. For ghosts may pass and smile and chat, but only in death be together forever.
I am absolutely delighted to be included in my favourite magazine once again. I’m a luck boy with how many places I’ve been published, but there’s something about Noctivagant that stirs the soul. Always beautifully presented, and full of top quality work, I cannot recommend reading it enough. Now available to view on Noctivagant Press’ website and soon to be released as a book, I hope you can take some time out of your busy schedules to enjoy some good old fantastical reads.
This season’s topic was dark romance, and my own story, ‘To Indigo Lost‘ is about as dark as they come. Please do enjoy.
She buried my body deep beneath the winter snow. There, where autumn’s rotting foliage tickled at my face and branches aplenty dug into my naked flesh, I festered. The dead do that, fester. What else is there to do?
There is being cold and being of the cold. The former is remedied by a cardigan or two, an extra pair of socks, or a berth by the fire, whereas the latter, now, this is something altogether more chilling. There is nothing one can do but succumb. I lay immobile as the mycorrhizae tied my body in knots, just waiting to emerge as fungi bearing my deceased features. To think some sweet child might turn over a log to my unyielding, sunken flesh instead of a house for a gnome, disgusted. No, this would not do.
Spring came in a burst of sound and a sudden blast of warmth. Even deep below my now melted mantle, where the light failed to illuminate, it still infused. And I was infused with an unshakable desire to escape. Yet, earth is earth, and dead is dead, and I was going nowhere. For now, anyway.
This particular summer grew so hot it burnt the flowers and scorched the ground. Birds stopped singing to conserve energy. Worms hid, preferring a possible drowning on those rare days the heavens wept to certain incineration. As for mankind? The hum of their air conditioning rattled my crumbling bones.
Winter returned. It was a mild affair, never having quite got over the Saharan months. Green remained long into the white season. Leaves fell only when bored. The soft soil invited excavations. Three badgers and a fox later, I was out.
Release is a dish best served once. To have sampled another would have lessened the effect of the first. I had no desire for diluted freedoms.
I rose from the ground like vapour from a pond, slipping through the woods unnoticed, through the city streets, back home. She was there.
I came upon her suddenly like a sea fret localised to her bed. “Why?” I demanded, my voice rising and falling like the sea I affected.
“George? Is that you?”
She sat up and put her glasses on. Her dentures remained in the bedside glass.
“Why did you kill me, bury me, forsake me? Why?” By now I was closer to a wailing gale. The curtains flapped. The walls shook. A black-and-white photo of our wedding day smashed on the floor.
“Because you were dead.”
“You buried me in a wood beneath the snow like a dog.”
“Not this again!” She almost shook her wig off.
“It’s what you wanted!” she exclaimed.
“But you killed me, you Babylonian whore.”
“Life killed you, George. You were ninety-six. You couldn’t handle it anymore. It had to happen sooner or later.”
What residue of my mind remained dizzied. I felt a vortex tug at my feet, sucking me down, down, down. This, my one chance for revenge, threatened escape, and I redoubled my efforts. “I… must… kill… you…”
“I wish you’d kill me,” said the clean-shaven young man who emerged from under the covers. “She is.”
With that, I vanished back to the cemetery in the woods and the laughter of those who lay there, my grave more turbulent than ever. My festering renewed.
Written for Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge Today’s prompt was Scream.
There were divisions. Some might have termed them fractures. Everyone wanted everything, and no one wanted to pay. The silence of society’s splintering echoed a dire nothingness. I liked the quiet.
The flyers flew with wings for arms. The walkers walked on exaggerated legs. Some swam, like the almost-fish they were. A few even rolled. I glided.
Everyone ignored me, and I ignored them, as they left in their ships of steel and stardust. No one remained. That’s when I realised I was already dead, and even then, hadn’t a clue as to how long. I got the better deal.
Dear WordPress pals. My good friend and often co-writer has started her very first blog today. Any follows and likes of this her first post would be very much appreciated. Gina is a wonderful writer and artist and will be publishing much more.
Thank you for your help
Written for Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge Today’s prompt was Carve.
She used them like a builder might a mallet, smashing her way through one person to get to the next. There were never words. She never needed them. Her every action, thought, and deed stemmed from her eyes.
What were they like? Could you describe them: narrowed, nasty, blood-stained, or worse?
My answer was always the same, of course I could. They were carved. The Devil himself had chiselled them out of her porcelain facade. But it was only now as she used them with more venom than ever that the cracks showed.
Once again, I’m indebted to the wonderful Manuela Timofte at Gobblers & Masticadores for publishing my monthly piece. October’s contribution is titled This Extraordinary Divide, and summarises the difficulties that writers often encounter when the virtual pen runs dry. Not every word flows from the mind as desired. I hope you enjoy the post.
Please do check out the many other wonderful poems, fiction, and non-fiction available to read on the site.