I’m very pleased to announce that my Gobblers & Masticadores monthly post ‘Petal‘ has just gone live. I hope you have time to read this short fiction, and peruse the latest posts on the site. They’re always good.
A big thank you to editor Manuela Timofte for publishing my work. She’s a gem.
We plumbed forever’s depths, mined eternity’s fields, tipped our caps to infinity, and came to one startling revelation: Death was the end.
Kara and I closed our eyes together, holding hands as we always did. Sleep soon came. But unlike those times when one awakens to a glimpse of an imagined world that pops out of existence, out of memory, out of reach, this was the beginning and there was no forgetting.
The stars swirled around us, we the centre of our own galaxy. Residual particles sparkled in the vermillion and cobalt light like so many gems in a universal crown, those remnants of the beginning. This place was a tangible, sensual revelation, and we smiled for the first time since the sombre policeman said, “Missing.”
“Do you think?” asked Kara. Her wide eyes implored. Her fingers grasped.
There was no ‘How?’ or ‘We?’ or even a surprised ‘Oh!’, just a complete acceptance of being together here, now, in this place.
I shrugged, for words were never my friends.
We soaked ourselves in splendour, familiarised ourselves with every speckled area of night. Then, once we’d appraised everything, like a compass pointing the way, moved.
We flew. With our hands clasped together and hearts already one, we flung ourselves into heaven. Our search had begun.
To explain what we saw, what we felt, would relive the disappointment of losing it, and we’d already lost our everything, but after all reality’s magnificence, we came to another place. An un-reality, one might’ve termed it, though it felt more real than the blood in our veins.
The cosmos is darkness made magic, but darkness, nevertheless. This place, this domain, however, was only darkness. Light was as foreign here as an ant in the Arctic.
“Where?” she said.
I shook my head.
This absolute darkness folded around us, sucked us into itself as grapes pushed into jelly. There was no pain, nor fear of it, just acceptance. We moved from one plane to the next. We sped through this nothingness with more hope than ever, for it is what you don’t see, not what you do, that offers possibilities. Then we arrived, and she was there.
Little Corrine sat upon her knee like she once did on Kara’s. The child giggled. It broke my heart again.
“No!” screamed Kara at the top of her lungs; the darkness snatched it away.
She saw us then, not Corrine, our sweet girl, but her hostess, her keeper, Death.
I like most had expected the Reaper to tower in dreadful, skeletal manliness. I was wrong. I was so wrong!
Death wore the visage of the afterlife, porcelain and wan. Her tumbling hair glittered a raven waterfall. Her form shamed all other goddesses and queens. The ghost of all ghosts, she appeared in her sable litheness. And then she opened her eyes.
They held everything and nothing at once. All that had passed and all that would come in all its manifested sadness. She bore its brunt. Knew it all. And she did it for us, for everyone, and more so for our darling Corrine.
“It’s not fair,” wept my Kara. “It’s just not fair.”
I pulled her closer.
“At least we know.”
“But we don’t know how?”
“We don’t need to, my love. She’s safe now. That’s all that matters. No one could care for her more.
We awoke together as we had fallen asleep. Our only regret, our one misfortune, that she’d never known us there.
I’m very proud to announce that Spillwords.com have kindly chosen my short story ‘The Dying Time‘ as a featured post of the day. Spillwords house a wonderful selection of poetry and prose from all around the globe. Please do check them out.
‘The Dying Time‘ is the story of a young mother’s loss seen through the eyes of her new lover. Her sadness and strange behaviour will unravel before his eyes. I hope you enjoy the read.
Cold was the morning you frosted away like a slender white shadow escaping the sun. Freezing, if truth be known. A displaced moonbeam marked your demise. A creaking branch acknowledged my own. Such inglorious departures for two once lovers on this our final goodbye. Perhaps we were never meant to be.
In veins cut and blood lost, I departed.
The malaise came in breaths made mists. They gathered. They loomed. I cowered.
There was no moon, no setting sun, just an eternal twilight, or closer, a damnable dusk.
Memories, however, were never so easily vacated. Tidal in their surges, relentless in their crashing intent, all that I, we, and everything in between had been, regathered. The pages of our book un-tore themselves.
And still, I wanted more.
Lost in the fogs of neither here nor there, I wandered in a landscape of dread morbidity. To the passing recollections of others, I appeared furrowed of brow and dangerous. To those who’d had less than we, I gleamed. Ghosts avoided me. Nature abhorred me. They were right to.
As for her?
I wished to forget, no longed to, to move on to other planes of existence. I determined to build such thorny, impenetrable barriers as to have bricked her away in my mind’s darkest recesses. And I tried. Yes, I tried.
But those emerald eyes were hard to stifle, lush spring grasses dripping with dew. That’s how I remembered her, weeping. Always weeping.
Days became months and months became more, the centuries amassing in insurmountable massifs, my own private Himalayas. Yet, I climbed with intent and rejoiced in the starlight, for the stars were what I imagined. Some latent wish to stand atop the world and scream her name, persevered. A desire so strong it dragged me up, up, up and away towards the light. My legs pumped, growing stronger with every step. My flexing fingers crushed granite, grappled with purgatory itself. But it wasn’t purgatory, not limbo, not any of those self-titled places between places. As I said, neither here nor there.
I heard her voice as a rainbow all bright light coruscating through the rain clouds. She burst from above and drove me to distraction; it was all I’d ever hoped for and more. No echoing torment was this, no indeterminable dream. It came again, a sonic confirmation.
The veil dropped as though from a blushing bride, and Hell dropped away with it. The Earth with all its colours lay before me in its patchwork perfection. Heaven’s gates rested at my fingertips.
Say her name. Just say her name. Say her name and all shall be returned to you traveller, for your love is binding, tied tighter than infinity’s restrictions.
And I wept as they spoke, or sang, or kissed my stone-cold cheek. Blessed were the angels. I was back. Well, almost.
Lips that had not spoken in eternity pursed through my smile. They readied. They dared me to stop them.
But everything one wished for was never so easy. Death, like life, was never meant for cheating. And though it rattled around my cavernous mind like an avalanche down a mountain, her name had gone.
I tired. We all do eventually. I tired of remembering, of forcing what time had lost. I succumbed.
Only when the fog once again entwined my soul in its lover’s embrace did I remember. Only then. I remembered why I’d forgotten it, too, and wandered forever away.
An evening routine, this is my way. Routine differentiates me from the billions of other night-dwellers who huddle beneath their covers like frightened rabbits, shuddering themselves to sleep, whilst praying for tomorrow. Only through sleep will they welcome the light. They crave it more than food or water. More than love. I need only my routine. This will never change. Until…
I prefer a stark December cold to the false warmth of early May, or the stifling nights of mid-July. You may think me picky, but a perfectionist would be nearer the truth. Optimal conditions help me find my peace, for only in peace will she find me. Or I, her? I forget which? My mind is not what it was.
My bedroom is tiny. There’s room enough for a bed and a small cupboard. This otherwise empty space serves as a reminder of the life I have left behind. Here, I interact, hoping beyond hope that all is right. Nothing more. Worrying achieves nothing in the hours before dawn.
I wonder what it’s like to dream the partial realities of a normal person. Dreaming is a prerequisite of being, and I am a being, even when not being. If you catch my drift? Does it make me a non-person if I hang in the shade like a panting shadow, loiter at the corners of dusk? I hope not, as it intimates insecurity, and I am far from insecure. Mine is an endless dream where this infusion called life is nothing but the pricking of a syringe. I am past this. I am past normality.
There’s a confused robin who sings all night. The streetlights fool the little creature into believing the sun never sets. He trills his little heart out anticipating finding a mate to constant disappointment. I know how he feels. I wonder if he pities me as I pity him. Still, he has his routine: eat; perch; trill. He’s relentless. When the hovering kestrel realises the robin there, this may change. Not until then, though, and neither will I.
I feel this evening, this section of dream I flourish in, will be the one. I feel it with every creaking bone and pulled muscle. Age will do this to a man. Time has a lot to answer for. Regardless, I sit on the end of my bed in this room for a cage, hands clasped together in prayer, and wait. I’m always waiting.
Am I sleeping, or awake? Does it matter? The curtains flutter, as does my heart. Reality changes. Her whispers brush my ears like December snowflakes. I hear her above the blood surging through my arteries. I hear her in all her undiluted loveliness. She is here, in this room, blooming like a rose through a glacier. Her eyes melt my soul. They always did. For the first time since forever, I smile.
When this dream called life is replaced by another, my darling is there to hold my hand. She says my little bird has come for me, as she’s wished to every evening before I dream. “Is this night?” I ask. Her lips say no.
Only in eternal beauty does one find release.
She had no status, no place in this world. She barely had a life. Then again, neither did I.
We met one Easter morning and had married by tea in an unorthodox ceremony involving a stray cat who fussed our feet like catnip. It then peed on the floor. We laughed like hyenas. The pastor didn’t. The next day became our anniversary, and the next, and the next. Not a great legacy but something. We all must have something.
We left the city for the coast on an empty bus, a move in direct opposition to the latest trends, and got off at the last stop because the driver made us. He smiled as he did so like a man in the know.
We found a tiny house with a bed, a toilet, a door, and a view. This was all we required. This and each other.
It began soon after.
She forgot my name by Halloween and my face by Christmas. My voice went last. Perhaps it reassured her? A somnambulist by day, worse still by night, she wandered. I wandered with her when I could. It was only a matter of time.
New Year’s Day. I found her mangled body upon the rocky shore. She’d stepped from the cliffs as though them our lawn, whilst the sea fret tickled her eyelids and vindictive gulls egged her on. I was sad, but not inconsolable.
I buried her deeper than I ought, marking her grave with a simple cross of two bound sticks. There, I scratched the message: To My beloved Wife.
Later, when malicious gossip made the pastor aware of my situation, he visited one gloomy afternoon.
“It’s untitled, anonymous!” he exclaimed.
“What is?” I replied.
“Her grave, man. Her grave!”
“As was she.”
“Because she had no name?” he ventured, calming at my obvious heartbreak.
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