She wept. I wept. Dog barked.
Draped in a cloak grown wet by the rain, she lingered; it looked heavy in the gloom. Highlighted by the London gaslights, I watched from the quayside as she stared into the water with such intensity as to preclude a cheery hello. Instead, I remained sheltered by a convenient overhang shared with a small, stray dog.
The rain came down heavier then, more tsunami wave than tumbling stream. I expected the girl or woman or whoever she was to move and seek shelter. She did not. For ten minutes more she stood there, then tipped forward and fell.
I hadn’t time to think, one just acts in such circumstances. I raced across the street and leapt into the churning Thames diving down, down, down. The water negated my eyes, so I groped with wafting arms. When I clenched something soft and squelchy in my fingertips, I dragged it up to the unstable, liquid surface.
A passer-by helped me then much to my relief. A brave young fellow, he waded into the water and pulled the girl to shore where he stepped away a look of sheer terror upon his face. I hadn’t the time for such luxuries and leapt to the girl’s side intent on giving her the kiss of life that my army training had taught me.
I flipped her over. She was awake. Her eyes, a deep cerulean, met mine; they were so sad, so very sad. Her lips moved as of their own volition. They whispered, “Why?”
Ignoring her, for surely the freezing water had addled her mind, I made to remove her overly large cloak of seeming wet mink, and replace it with my own jacket. The young man watched us in silence.
Her cloak was fixed. Her clothing part of her. Wings she wore instead of garments although the elements had taken their toll. I stepped back beside my young companion and just watched as the girl dragged herself away. A trail of fallen feathers marked her path, the barking of that small dog her serenade goodbye.
I knew not what she was, though, of course, I suspected. And although her broken form brought tears to my eyes that left a saline slap upon my lips despite the incessant rain, it was not that per se that troubled me, but why? Why had she tried to end it all?
Only when the young man finally spoke did the scene have meaning.
“Fly,” he whispered. “Fly, if you can.”
We move in ever-decreasing circles, you and I. A world without boundaries has contracted with us trapped somewhere at its centre waiting for the fences to fail. Still, not so long ago, we’d have thought to fly, to flee, to never look back and sparkle regardless. Those times are distant memories now. I miss them. I miss you.
Lessening, that’s how I see it. We lessen in our capacity to love; it diminishes us. Love is the one thing we should never lose for it is the first to form. I remember how others’ eyes glared, but yours shone. How others’ mouths snarled, whilst your lips puckered. I often wonder if you remember it this way, but never think to ask. If you’re still here to ask, that is? One forgets the simple things when one’s happy and ignores them when one’s not. Only when the tide turns to drag our smiles away, only then do we realise the importance of the little things, the special things.
I’m lessening. I can’t deny it. I am not the man I once was as you are not the same woman. Life has changed us. I’m lessening. What’s worse, I don’t care.
PS. If you should happen upon this note…
…forget it, it doesn’t matter. I’m gone.
Crystal (A Short Fairytale)
I was no hero, no great warrior built to crush skulls with one hand whilst drinking flagons of ale with the other. I was a nobody, but somebody had to save her and everyone else was dead.
The heroes had entered the castle with flashing swords and raucous battle cries. Not one came out, not whole anyway. The powers that held the princess were formidable, more so in their own domain, a dark and inhospitable tower of polished, black rock. Obsidian, one hero had called it. His tomb had said the next.
When the last of them rolled down the hill head over… well, head because that’s all the evil ones left, I decided to act. I couldn’t bear the sound of Crystal’s tears — that was the princess’ name — as they tinkled through those stalled evenings. Only the dawn chorus silenced her, unless that was her, too?
I climbed the hill during a terrible storm when no one else dared venture out. Good, I preferred a quiet send off, the pause between thunderclaps and jolts of jagged light a balm to my fear. I crept up the vicious incline, slunk around the side of the castle to a wall of sheer, wet stone and found what I’d hoped for: climbing ivy would be my stairs. And so I climbed and climbed and climbed.
By the time I reached the open window of Crystal’s tower room, my fingers bled and head pounded from the storm, but I’d made it. Little old me had done what no other could and not a fly or rat or bat knew. My elation was short-lived.
She sat on a simple chair of carved mahogany caught in profile by the light of a single flickering candle. She gleamed, her secret truth revealed.
I dragged myself inside to the crunching of something underfoot. The stone floor was more shale beach than walkway, a million tiny crystals glistening like two dimensional stars. The princess sat immobile, whether she even knew me there I could not testify, but I hoped. Yes, I hoped.
The devils that imprisoned her would never lose their prize for Crystal was as her name; she sat there a sculpted glistening statue. Not a hair stirred on her head, not an eyelash batted, only the tears that dropped like raining diamonds gave any sign of sentience.
I left her there. I kissed her on the cheek and deserted her for to have moved her would’ve shattered her. I left her with a handful of tears in my pocket and shame in my heart.
When I returned cut, bleeding and tired beyond belief, I took some comfort in the fortunes I’d have to come. Alas, all my pocket held was water, her tears already spent. They didn’t even tinkle when I poured them to the floor.
In the mellow hours, she wept,
That time of velvet night.
I heard her from my window;
Restless, I paced a dream,
And thought it an angel, or faerie, or queen.
Lightless, I sought her,
Stole upon her tears,
But the witching hour concealed her,
Her sadness unrevealed.
I’d wake for years and hear her,
Although I’d moved away,
My theory formed from madness,
She wept from inside me.
Tis a solitary confinement this existence I lead, where the light of day goes unseen, dusk and dawn forming an intangible prison, a clock. To live within a time span is inhuman, when one should range amongst forever. I shall think on this. I do a lot of thinking.
To be expelled in favour of the shining is too high a price for one unfortunate lapse. A misjudgment has secreted me in darkness when all I wish is to gleam. This ebon life ill-suits and I would return to my former state. But I cannot. Though, I’ve tried and try still.
Some think I like it here, that I lap up the midnight like milk. I don’t. I really don’t. It’s not that I don’t want to tread beneath a saffron dawn or golden midday, it’s not that at all, I just dare not. There would be consequences. I do not want to cease to be, wouldn’t anyone?
Mine is the moon and the bitter chill, the subtle, crisping frost. Mine is the shadow and the swirling fog, the abyssal depth and mildewed cave. And, I love them. I do. Don’t stare at me with those accusatory eyes. It’s just I wish for more. I yearn for that which has been stolen, abducted and trussed away. I yearn for the life I have lost. I yearn for me.
Midnight has sprung and deer are in the meadow. An owl sits in an old oak tree a mouse in his sights. He can’t see me, though. None of them can. I move like the mist betwixt and between taking a moment to stroke a doe’s flanks; I feel nothing, and it sets me to raging. They hear me then. Oh, they hear me. Still, I wish for more.
I meld into another moment, lapse into another dream. Sitting astride a mountaintop, I watch the distant surf smash against granite cliffs in great spumes of white. I want to be smashed, too. I wish to be ravaged and wrecked. I wish to die, yet I cannot. Eternity is too short a word to explain the unexplainable, when I have infinity to think of a superior replacement. God, that’s annoying! God.
And there it is, HIS name. It pops out when least I expect it to grind against my conscience. Will he never forgive me? Did I hurt him so? Would I do so again?
And I remember, as I always do. I recall the light, molten pools of shimmering bliss, not black puddles of sludge. I remember the songs, as of nightingales, but trilling all day and all night, an incessant joy. Most of all I remember the smell: freedom. Freedom never had a perfume until I lost it. Now, as I grumble and muse, it is whilst sitting in the stench of humanity. That is a true fragrance, a cologne to dispose of, not bathe in day after night after day. Where has the aroma of heaven dissipated to? I want it back. I want it all. Please, take me back? I’m begging. I’m hurting. I’m me.
They say the Devil cannot cry; he weeps all the time. There are rumours the Devil hates, detests and despises; he detests only himself. Angels sing of the once favoured, he who fell. I hear every syllable, listen to every word. Yet, I cannot reply. If only they knew how alone I’ve become maybe then they’d take me back. Maybe, but I expect not.
So, I wait. I live out my solitary confinement and hope it will end. Hope is all I have. Hope is half of hopeless, the half I must forget.