A first chapter
Blood is much darker than you think it is. When you see it in the movies, all gory and pouring from some poor heroine’s mangled body, it’s almost crimson; a crafty mix of food dye and corn syrup to add some viscosity. I’ve just realised though, that blood is actually much closer to a burgundy. It looks even darker when it frames platinum blonde hair, like it’s doing right now. My sister is so precious about her hair, she spends enough fucking money on it. If she were watching this scene right now, she’d be freaking out about the sticky liquid melding with her imperiously styled hair.
It’s just then that a thought pops into my head: now is probably the first time in weeks that I wouldn’t have to stand outside the bathroom door banging on the hard wood, screaming at Avery to get the fuck out of the goddamn shower before there’s no hot water left for anybody else. I start to giggle then, these horrific, strangled chuckles that well up through my chest and escape out of my cracked mouth. It’s not long before I am bent over at the waist, my hands grasping at my thighs while the laughter rocks up my spine. The fucking shower is finally free, I think, and keep laughing.
I’m not sure exactly when my knees give out, but that’s exactly how they find me, how they find us, an hour later. I am on my knees, arms wrapped around my waist because I swear to God if I let go then the pieces of me would just come apart, and the blood that is coming, still fucking coming, from my sister’s slit wrists has almost reached me and I will have to wash this shirt. That’s how they find us, the twins, always together even now, one giggling feebly and the other one dead.
3 Months later
I swear this fucking bus is only ever late when it’s pissing rain. Fuck. The annoying thing is that I know Mum is only inside the house, 30 feet away if even, well-capable of driving me to school. It’s not like she’ll be doing anything else today, for Christ’s Sakes, other than sitting around watching Jeremy Fucking Kyle from the couch in that awful grey dressing gown that she hasn’t washed since it happened. Jeremy won’t tell you what to do when your kid offs herself, Mum, I want to scream at her.
‘Nothing’ is the answer, in case you were wondering - you do nothing.
I pull a packet of 100s from the pocket of my school trousers and slip one into my hand, trying my best to shield it from the rain. I feel around for my lighter in the same pocket, the green one that I found under Avery’s loose floorboard beside the half ounce of weed. It’s funny; even after 18 years of being a twin, she still thought she could hide things from me. I suppose she could.
It takes around 3 seconds before the cigarette hisses in my hand, dampened by the incessant rain. I groan in frustration and flick it to the side, more evidence for my parents to attack me with later. I’m digging around in my bag for my earphones when the bus eventually pulls up, my ass up in the air for everyone to see. I grin as I hear someone wolf whistle and give a little shimmy, secretly hoping to God that my belt keeps doing its job. These trousers have started to hang off me a little around the hips and right now would most definitely be an inopportune time for a wardrobe malfunction.
I straighten up, still with a slight grin twisting my lips and turn around to see Jones sticking his head out of the bus window, fingers still at the edges of his mouth ready to whistle again. I shake my head and blush slightly as I see heads turning my way; I can feel the old tug from before, the one that kept me out of the spotlight, the one that kept me from drawing any unnecessary attention to myself. I brush it off and toss my head back as I let a hint of swagger sway through my sauntering hips.
I am not who I was before.
A few pairs of eyes still stick to me while I make my way towards Jones, and I meet them gladly, even sparing a second glance for that boy who’s in my Bio class, I think. A drop of rain falls from my hair and lands squarely on the bridge of my nose; I squint my eyes to watch it travel down the smooth slope ahead, and I am mesmerised for a split second before it dismounts. I look away when it hits the grey of my school trousers. I’ve only recently started to notice the way water seems to pool in the unruly curls of my hair. Truth is, I’ve never let it grow this long before. I didn’t know that my hair would form these spirals on my head, or that it could look copper in the sunlight. I didn’t know I wanted to see it like this, untamed and sort of beautiful.
I roll my eyes to myself. Beautiful. Catch yourself on, you narcissistic prick, I think, and then realise that I’ve thought it in Avery’s voice.
She had an enthralling voice, my sister. It sort of drew you in, the way she softly drawled your name, as if it was a sacred spell she was reciting. I’d seen her in action before, trying to convince someone into giving her what she wanted – a kiss, a favour, a secret or anything else of that vein – and it was like watching a type of hypnosis; the victim, usually some poor prick looking to get with her, would find themselves leaning closer and closer, just trying to soak up more of the honey that seemed to pour from her lips.
It used to make me laugh when we were younger. I could see exactly what she was doing to other people; I thought it was funny to watch my sister manipulate people, to see if she couldn’t get us a bigger allowance or a later lift home. She’d wink at me when the job was done, and I would always get to revel in the glory of whatever prize she’d beguiled for us. It was a twin thing: if she got it, I got it. She got things for both of us.
I guess it stopped being fun sometime along the way. Maybe it was when she started using that voice on me.
I drop myself into my usual seat on the bus and flash a grin at my friends. The seat beside me at the window is empty; truth is, I used to sit there staring out the window while Avery held court with everyone who couldn’t resist her. Now, the seat beside me is vacant like it has been since it happened, and I sit where she used to, probably tossing my newly grown hair around like she always did with hers. I join in on whatever the guys have been talking about before, blinking and laughing to keep the attention away from the way my index fingernail scrapes along the inside of my thumb – the one habit from my old life that I can’t quite kick. Still nervous to speak out as loud as the others, so used to being interrupted; but my friends turn their heads to listen when I talk now, just like they used to do with her.
he bus journey is short, like it always is, and we get to school before the conversation is finished. Where I used to walk three feet behind whoever Avery was entertaining on any given day on the way through the front doors, I lead the way now; the guys follow, still discussing last night’s match enthusiastically and everyone else moves out of the way. I silently give myself a kick and an internal whisper of “don’t be so fucking up yourself” before striding through the main hall on the way to my locker. My fingertips move to clutch the tips of the sleeves of my school jumper – another habit I can’t quite kick – as I try to ignore the looks; it’s difficult to know whether they’re the ‘oh no, the poor lad with the dead sister’ looks, or the ‘I wonder if he has a date to the Debs yet’ looks. Either way, I’m still not used to all the attention. When I stop at my locker, and I take a quiet breath and unlock my fingers from my sleeves, pushing them up to show my forearms. Another quiet breath and I pick out my books from my locker and load them into my bag, consciously avoiding the fumbling and deep blush that used to accompany this task every single day. Luckily, it was never an issue - nobody ever looked away from her long enough to notice that I’d turned beetroot and was trying desperately not to drop anything while stuffing my maths book into my bag.
The morning passed too easily, too quickly, like it always did on a Thursday – guidance counselling day. Every Thursday at 12, when everyone else was falling asleep in Ethics class, I was in the hot, stuffy office with Ms. Lane, trying desperately not to slip-up and tell her all the ways my life has improved since my twin sister killed herself.
I’ve gotten really good at it, playing the grieving sibling. I know all the right places to sigh and let my eyes well up just the tiniest bit, the right times to avoid eye contact and let my throat get a little bit constricted so that my words come out tighter. I know to how to fidget to make her think I’m anxious about spilling my guts, and how to smile a brave smile that convinces her I’m okay and moving well through my supposed grief. I spend a half an hour explaining how much I miss her, and pulling out some made up memory about Avery from when we were kids, and then I’m free again and she doesn’t suspect a thing.
Truth is, most of my memories of Avery don’t really have me in them. You know when you’re remembering something and you can kind of see it in the third person, like you’re watching the memory from the outside? And that never really makes sense, because obviously you were there, and you should be watching it back through your own eyes. For me though, I really was on the outside of everything she did, everything we did. I was always a tag along, there because you had to include the twin brother, there because I was destined to stand three feet behind Avery for our entire lives.
Outside of Ms Lane’s office, I stop for a second and let the feeling of lying wash over me. It’s almost enjoyable, seeing how good I am at this; seeing how enthralled she is in me and my sweet vulnerability, how willing she is to buy into my stories and bared heart, seeing how her eyes melt at when I’m near my easily produced tears. For one tiny second, I think I see Avery down the end of the hall, peeking around the corner. I even go to take a step towards her before I come back to reality; to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I would have taken the step even if she was really there.
I straighten up and stride back to catch the end of Ethics class; one benefit of the mandatory dead-twin counselling is that it gets me out of the bulk of these god awful classes of debating the ideals of faith, Religion class in disguise. Before I reach toward the handle of the classroom door, I run a hand through my hair and pull my shoulders back. You wouldn’t have known I was tall before, and even a bit broad at my shoulders. It took me weeks and weeks to learn to straighten up; that it was okay for people to look in my direction sometimes, and okay to not always have my head tucked into my collar. It took more weeks after that to get used to the looks, and even more to start enjoying some of them.
After Ethics is lunch, which always passes to quickly now; I can’t believe I used to think it was long and torturous. I head up to the counter and buy a cereal bar to stave off any weird looks for not eating, and take my usual seat in the middle of everyone, tipping back a bit again the wall. We seemed to have moved on from the soccer to discussing someone’s 18th this Friday night; Colin volunteers his shed for pre drinks, and the lads turn their eyes to me to see if I approve. I nod gratefully and say sound, thanks Colin and that appeases them enough to look away and start planning in more detail. I didn’t used to get a real invite to pre drinks, let alone be the one who decided if the sacrificed house would be good enough; it was just assumed that I would come with Avery, and I did. The girls start to discuss what to wear, making the guys turn back to their earlier soccer analysis, and I get away with slipping my cereal bar into my pocket.
The bell makes me jump slightly when it rings, fucking hell can you please not do that in front of everyone, and we trudge off to our lockers moaning about the afternoon run of classes. Turns out the Leaving Cert simply doesn’t disappear when your sister dies and your family falls apart – thank fuck, because as stupid as it is, I need the thing to get into college and out of that house. Avery had always wanted us to go to Trinity together, her to do Law and me to do something else. That was always the plan, and I was almost surprised when I realised I really don’t want to fucking do that. So much so that I have mentally banned the word ‘Trinity’ from my CAO form, along with any other Dublin-based colleges. My options are currently all variations of biochemistry across Limerick and Galway and Cork, with some less fancy science courses lower down to fill the form out. I’m not worried about those honestly; maybe it makes me sound like a bit of a dick, but there’s really no doubt that I’ll be going to do Biochemistry in NUIG – school was always easy, and now it’s even easier, especially with an idea of moving to another county to do something it turns out I’m really, really interested in. This is all going through my mind in Biology while everyone else has their heads stuck in exam papers that I did last night.
School mostly passes like that now, easily and full of my friends pulling me into conversations and asking my opinion like it really matters, lying through my teeth to Ms Lane, and feeling pretty okay until I hop off the bus. Maybe that sounds like a usual day in 6th year, plus a little exam anxiety, but I’m still getting used to the routine. Before, it wasn’t uncommon if I didn’t speak a word to anyone except Avery for a whole day. People used to address her to speak to both of us, and she would answer for both of us always. It didn’t matter I suppose, because I guess I thought that she thought. Or she told me I did. I had a built-in best friend who could read my mind, and no real need to speak out loud, or speak to anyone else. My sister made our friends for us, and I liked them; they liked Avery, and I was part of Avery.
It took a while after she died for our friends to get used to speaking to me instead. Obviously, there was the mandatory period of tiptoeing around the guy with the dead twin, and I got that; I didn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable around me, or have to try to think of stuff to say that wasn’t I’m sorry, are you okay? But a couple of weeks after, when they were planning to go out for a few drinks after the half day on a Friday, I said I’d come along without being asked; and after that, they always asked. They asked me first, asked me instead of others, asked me like they really cared if I said yes. That had never happened before.
It’s pretty nice, to be honest. Don’t be a prick.
My foot hits the wet path when I get off the bus and I’m brought back to reality. I walk up towards the door, trying to pull my keys out of my bag at the same time and not doing a great job of it. The closer I get to the house, my shoulders start to hunch over and I pat my hair down, pull my sleeves down around my fingers. It takes me two tries to get the key in the door when my hands are shaking and fumbly, so I know she hears me coming before I walk through the door. It doesn’t tempt her to move though; she’s sat in the same place she way this morning when I left, pulling the rope of her dressing gown through her fingers. Her head turns towards me and I know all she sees is Avery, our faces carbon copies, our uniforms the same. She always walked through the front door first after school and I know Mum is still expecting her when she first looks up. She sees Avery and then she sees me and her eyes glaze over, and I just walk right upstairs.
All the suicides that have touched me were note-less, so I have no hard evidence of what they were thinking in those final moments. I imagine they were in constant pain (mental, emotional or physical) and feeling without hope or meaning or support or understanding, and that either there was no one who would care or, by then they didn't really care if there was someone or not.
My fifth year teaching, one of my colleagues put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was a priest on sabbatical from being a priest with a brilliant, (mildly) narcissistic mind working in a mediocre public school populated by unmotivated students with parents who occasionally did their children's assignments and then wondered how they could possibly have gotten an F...
He taught history. He was finishing up his third year which he taught by way of endless movies and profound monologues given in the dark as he sat in the reclining chair he'd installed in his classroom, with a background of loud classical music that could be heard by all the classrooms in his wing...
The day before we had to deal with grieving, traumatized teenagers, he and I had had a lively conversation in the copy room about the upcoming summer and how he was going to teach summer school and how much he was not looking forward to that, but he was anticipating some good reads.
But, apparently, he was actually contemplating an abrupt end to his story, not just a chapter.
He left no note, and at the funeral attended by students, parents, teachers and his priestly colleagues, it was reiterated by his bishop ad nauseum that he did not take his own life.
That, and the myriad gushing comments about a man he wasn't did leave me wondering if it were the twilight zone.
I really don't know why he took his own life when he did. I don't know why that moment was any worse than any day prior. I guess there was a straw no one else knew about.
Alternatively, after flipping off the admistration and his colleagues for a year, maybe this was the biggest flip off of them all. I could see him thinking that.
The following year, a student of mine hung himself one night at his father's place of business. He had a terminal illness but his parents had always kept the terminal aspect from him. He was in biology class when he found out he was going to die sooner rather than later. He confronted his parents. What could they say to make it all right? Nothing. He left no note but taking his life put the "when" in his hands... and doing it at his father's place of business was a very loud message, I think.
The next year a sweet, sad student took an inordinate amount of some illegal substance and freed himself from a lifetime of melancholy. No note left behind, just many grieving, broken hearts.
A few years ago, I had lunch with a former student to catch up. After spending almost every afternoon with me for detention (to do his homework), and barely graduating, he turned his life around, went to college, became an accountant and was working for Delotitte. We chatted about former classmates and I asked about one of my first students who was forever angry and full of attitude, but if you cared to look, with a soft, sad heart. She'd moved to Florida at 16 and became a model. His smile faded as he informed me that she had commited suicide at 21.
Turns out, it was the same year as the sad, sweet young man above.
I don't know if she left a note. I don't know why she picked the day she did, what made living a moment longer unbearable. I wish she'd had a reason to stay.
I wish they'd all found one reason to stay.
There's always a chance tomorrow will be better.
Until there are no more tomorrows.
A Sea of Feelings
Finally. After fourteen years of random hook-ups and a friendship that overcame everything in between, it started to feel serious. The only issue, this separation with my husband didn’t seem as though it would last, either.
Xavier parked his car. He shouldn’t have been driving, despite the bar being less than a mile from his home. He and I too intoxicated off Hennessy, to speak. We were too stoned to make sense of verbal conversation. We heavily relied on our little cues and connection. He staggered around the BMW, managing to open my door. I just about got out of the car, until I looked up and he had his hand out, waiting. As I grabbed it, we both almost went down. Laughing, we guided each other to the porch. Xavier fumbled thru his pockets for his keys, unlocked the door and tunnel vision set in, as we climbed the steps, heading right to his room.
Since we were teenagers, everyone cracked jokes about our relationship. It wasn’t normal, but it was us.
He threw his phone and wallet onto his dresser, as I kicked my shoes off my feet. I dropped my purse on accident and left it there. I climbed into bed & watched him hang his coat, carefully… Well, sort of.
Xavier turned around and gave me that smile. That smile that certified how much he cares about me. Yet, it held pain as we knew this couldn’t be serious, like usual.
He climbed into bed next to me. For a minute or two we laid there in the dark, taking in what we could. Oddly as intimate as we have been, it’s never been on this side of intimacy. There’s never been cuddling. There’s been a lot of sexual intimacy. The humid July air filled the room, as the crickets spoke to each other.
He slowly moved closer, as I turned around to face him. Xavier situated himself, laying on his back. Both of us sat up a little bit, heads against the wall, giving us support, then our locked eyes.
This wasn’t unusual. In fact, people often pointed out that we have always had eyes on each other. Apparently people find it weird.
As we laid there, eyes locked, I saw things in those ocean blue eyes that I never had before.
Xavier pulled me in, an invisible boundary he has never climbed over. The moonlight lite up his best features, highlighting the waves in his eyes. His brown hair was six shades lighter, as the moon frosted the tips of his hair.
After fourteen years, I understood why we haven’t been intimate outside of hook-ups and a friendship that was envied and continued.
I laid my head on his shoulder. Examining parts of his chest tattoo, along with everything underneath me. Slightly turning, he planted a kiss on top of my head. Then gently lifted my head with his thumb under my chin. As he gave me a short, but sweet kiss, it hit me like an unsuspecting wave. The kind of wave that takes the breath from you. Looking up, I realized that he embodies the ocean.
Xavier is where I vacation. He is my break from the real world. He is my ocean. I am the sand. Like the tide, he can only go so far before he has to pull himself back. Although the more we go back to one another, the further that tide engulfs me. He pushes himself and his true feelings onto me, saturating me. However, something reels him back in. I get it now. It’s not a lack of love or commitment. He is afraid to completely wash over me because of the depth of his darkness. X has things that are tucked away, swimming around deep down.
I kiss him, again. He smiles and for a minute, you would think we had the happiest relationship of them all. That’s when I hear him sign, resting his head atop mine. Between he and I, our live is unspoken. For once I wish I had the courage to tell him how much I trust him.
Xavier is so afraid to let me swim into those depths, knowing we know each other better than anyone. We joke that we have been stuck with each other in past lives.
He played with my red flaming hair, twirling it through his fingers.
One day I’ll tell him how much I trust him. One day he’ll allow the tide to flood my sands. In all honest, the only time I don’t feel like I’m drowning in this lifetime, is when I’m with him. Xavier helps me stay afloat.
We drift into sleep, as we ride the waves of our emotions together. He holds onto me tightly, as if he’s the one afraid of drowning.
Do You “Like” me? Check Yes or No
Much like Dawn Eisenberg back in the eighth grade, I am an easy ”liker.” My problem, I think, is that I only read from the “Home” page. Very, very occasionally I will click on “Posts” and see writers and posts that I do not see on “Home.” I do not know why that is, but it leads me to believe that I am probably missing a lot by not clicking on other tabs more often.
I will “like” most anything, so long as it seems genuine, and if I can see that a modicum of effort has been applied. I say this next part with the understanding that few of us are professionals, that we all make mistakes, and that some of us are not native English speakers, but poor spelling and grammar make a read difficult for me, causing continual pauses to clarify, so I usually desist and move on to something else. I put a lot of effort and care into my amateurish writes (even the short ones) in respect to whomever might take the time to bother reading it, so I guess I figure that if another writer doesn’t care to put forth the same effort on my account, then why should I read it? But I have been known to overlook this on rare occasions if the content is engaging and compelling enough... very rate occasions.
I also seldom “like” whiny, self-involved introspections. They are fine for some, but are not my cup of tea. I do not “like” far left liberalisms on general principal, though I will read and comment on them (if I comment I usually give a guilt like), and I have no problem with others liking them (it wouldn’t be good if we all thought the same way, would it now?). Besides, ignorance is usually the fault of the educator, not the educatee. I will even “like” a liberal post from time-to-time if swayed by it‘s arguments, but as a rule… no.
I do not really like anti-God pieces either, even though I am not religious. And I will generally rail against anti-American sentiments, especially from non-Americans (we all live in glass houses, ergo…). That seems like a lot of “not liking” but really isn’t.
Now, when I comment it usually means that I really liked something, although my comments sometimes miss their marks, ie I recently made a comment on a post by @AlisonAudrey which upon re-reading came off as being negative, or even harsh, when that was not at all my intention, and I feel horrible about it. It was not the first time something like that has happened either, although I try to be careful. It is a problem with typed words though, especially in the English language, meanings are not always as crystal clear as one would like. I recall a one word comment on an @EstherFlowers1 post not long ago where she demanded clarification when it never occurred to me that the word (I don’t remember what the word was) could be misconstrued. Upon re-reading that one I was wrong as well. Just goes to show that I am indeed every bit as dumb as I look.
All of that non-sense aside, I am very appreciative of the site, and am glad you are here (whether or not I “like” what you write is of no importance whatsoever, so long is you are writing and improving). Speaking of improving, if you have never read @HandsOfFire, here is a shout-out. Go give it a read. Now there is a writer who I feel has greatly improved over my time on the site, not that her writing was ever bad, but it is terrific anymore.
My wish is that every Proser would read and “like” more. The most recent “Challenge of the Month” was judged by likes, and @dctezcan’s deservedly winning story won with only 14 “likes”. C’mon, y’all! I am absolutely certain that there are currently more than 14 active Proser’s, so some of you really need to pick it up! I am sure that if you are on here you already know how encouraging a “like” can be, so be a little free-er with them, already!
Ok, I have gone and made this too long for many of today’s short attention spans, so I will mercifully end it now.
If you read this, I thank you. If you like it, I love you! And if you do like…
then don’t be so dern bashful about showing it!
PS- I never have forgotten all those long ago “likes” Dawn, even though you were a little too free with them ;)
Her eyes peeked into the mouth of the cave. The only thing lighting her path was the light from the moonbeams. With her hands tightly clasped around the vorpal sword, she took a few deep breaths and stepped into the cave.
The sounds of wings beating not too far from her current position made her duck for cover. She quickly ran to cower behind a boulder that was lodged by the side of the cave.
She felt stiff. Every fiber of her being was frozen in place. The sound of the beating wings kept moving…closer, and closer, ‘n’ closer— she could not take it any longer and started to make a ran for it back to the exit.
But she slipped and bumped her head on a rock. Blood oozed from a rupture in her carotid arteries.
The sight of the blood oozing into the cave drove the creature mad. It sunk its extremely sharp canine teeth into her jugular veins.
‘‘Bleugh!—this being deceived me. Coming in here appearing human, but her blood tastes like a mix of turmeric, onions, & garlic. I know this because I can still recall their tastes from when I was still human. I’ll have to wait till the rest of the gang wakes & we can go hunt right before the break of ‘morrow’s first golden sunlight.’’
As the creature began to make its way back into the shadows, the sound of a sharp blade being swung with a swift motion made it turn its head to look back. Its eyes met hers, and for a fraction of a second the creature was ready to make a run for it~ right back into the depths of the cave.
Her vorpal sword dug into the creature’s neck, sliding right through it. It tumbled onto its knees, with its head moving at a slanted angle slipping to the side of the creature’s body.
She dropped her vorpal sword, the metal always left a mark on her skin. Luckily, this time she had remembered to pack a pouch of some medicinal herbs to soothe the burns from the fine silver.
#Happy #New #Year!
4th Jan. 2023
All Rights Reserved.
dusting off the Pixies.
There are these little red jelly-like blobs sluckled onto the jagged rocks in the rock pools of Tasmania's coast. When they're safely underwater they slowly extend a bunch of little red feelers, cautiously morphing from the atrociously adorably icky little "w-t-f-is-that"s into "oohh-it's-one-of-them-Beadlet-Anemones."
Very similar to how a snail's eye-stalk invariably vulnerably protrudes, even if it's been painfully poked at and prodded so many times that it's been driven insane. Maybe especially then.
Trust is like that, I feel. Or at least, mine is. It's often been betrayed by it's own hopeful stupidity; recoiled; shocked up; wept for; winced at; retracted...
my wounded, seeking, yearning feelers
shall ever extend
from beneath the messy hearty clingy glob of my exterior,
Revealing what I am
To those who understand.
He had tried to crawl his way out, but the cloaked figure was much faster. It pulled him by the collar, dragging him, placing him on the top of a wooden table. He couldn’t recognize who the executioner was, their face was covered by a long, thick black mask that covered almost the whole face, save for their eyes.
His body began to tremble. Heartbeat faster, faster, and faster with every single, choked breath. Tears flowed— like a stream- across his face~ from the bridge of his nose, all the way to his chin.
The executioner opened up a mahogany armoire filled with weaponry. From it, the masked figure pulled out a pair of brass knuckles…slipped them on..like a pair of mittens for the cold….
Turned to face the bedraggled guy. He tried to beg for mercy. The executioner snarled, ‘‘Sorry. I need to make this quick. I have another appointment to get to real soon, Julius.’’
As soon as he finished he asked, ‘‘Any final words, Julius?’’
‘‘I’m sorry, Ethel!’’
The executioner paused with the brass knuckles only a few inches from Julius’ face. ‘‘It’s too late to say that now, Julius. Time for you to link up with Thanatos.’’
After what seemed to have been hours, there was a knock at the door. The door began to slowly open, and in stepped a little kid.
‘‘Mommy…I can’t sleep, will you come tuck me in?’’
She locked the door behind her, and took her kid into her arms. ‘‘Don’t ever come to this part of the house by yourself. Alright?’’
The kid nodded his head. He stared back at the room, ‘‘I thought I heard someone scream.’’
His Mommy laughed, ‘‘I stubbed my toe while working out~ doing yoga, & some meditation, it’s good for the soul!’’
When they were back in the kid’s room, she tucked him in, and said, ‘‘Good night...love ya!’’
Before he went to sleep, the kid yawned, then asked, ‘‘What time’ll Papa be home?’’
His Mommy clenched her fists, and unclenched them in a nanosecond. ‘‘Uhm..I…I don’t know...well…*sighs*to be honest, kid, your Papa wont be coming back home. He’s moved on, and left us behind. I don’t think well ever see him again. Don’t worry, Mommy will take great care of you.’’
With that said the kid slowly smiled, closed his eyes…and began to dream about a monster that had taken his Papa away from him. He tried to wake up, but he wanted to see the monster’s face. When it turned toward him, he screamed, ‘‘Mommy!’’
(c) 23rd December, 2022. Friyay
The Shadow Man
The stench was rather vile—much worse than a pig~sty- Noire felt all the supper begin to make its way back up from their esophagus. Shirley Temple could hardly be recognized after her body had been disintegrated by something that Noire felt might be a platinum daemon.
#TheShadowMan (c) 09.27.2022
a little game of hide and seek
my hands are of your colour,
but I shame to wear a heart so white
- Lady Macbeth, William Shakespeare
He stretches slowly, hearing his bones pop with every move, the neck muscles protesting loudly, as he tries to massage the sorest spots. The day was too long and the hour late, nearing ten at night. He was ready to take a break and go to the cafeteria, hoping to fill his stomach, close his eyes for a couple of minutes, and rest, even if just a little - in his profession, even ten minutes of shut-eye were often a blessing. As he heads to get some food, his mind finally lets in all the thoughts that were blocked before, too busy to notice much more than his pilling up responsibilities - furrowing his eyebrows, only now realizing that he had not heard from Nora all day. He thought she would visit, but it was more an assumption than actually being informed about her plans in any way; he just figured that by this time, she would need his help to soothe the voices in her head. He sighs, never in his life expecting to have problems connected to the supernatural, and plans to check his phone after returning from the cafeteria - but in the end never gets there, a strange noise catching his attention instead.
At first, he is willing to dismiss it, being used to the most peculiar noises happening randomly in the hospital, usually in those rare moments when it was quiet enough for anything to break through the multicolored cacophony of sounds filling the walls of the enormous building. But now, the low sounds seemed to stick to him, clinging to the eardrums and vibrating in a way that proved to be nearly impossible to ignore.
Slowly, he tilts his head, curious despite the fatigue and the mercilessly outstretching length of the day. There it was again, as if repeated pounding of something heavy, metallic, and then a faint chilling noise coming from inside the walls. In a slightly wary state, he passes the hallway and walks forward until he reaches the door to the staircase; putting an ear against the metal door and flinches when the familiar sound invites itself once more; the same clatter but more distinct. He starts to feel nauseous as his mind tells him what he already knew but didn't want to comprehend or take in, blocking out the potential consequences. His eyes close for a few moments, some childish part of him hoping that he confused the sounds and the sensation creeping in under his skin, causing the hair on the arms to stand up - but now, his muscles strain in a different way, a strong need for action growing even though the more rational aspect of his personality wants to blame the whole thing on exhaustion. Act. Help. Protect. He grabs the handle on the door and jumps slightly as the sound rings out again, his hold tightening automatically. Someone was shouting down there, and the screams were getting louder, muffled yet much clearer - even though he was sure there were many layers of concrete and metal separating him from the dread that seemed to seep from the underground.
He quickly writes the code in a small alarm box placed on the wall and walks down the stairs; there is no way that the screaming came from the floor above. The only possible place where the sounds could be coming from was the basement of the building. The acoustic there always carried the sounds far; people hearing all sorts of unearthly noises and avoiding going there if possible. However, the employees working there, such as the plumbers and the mechanics - just shrugging it off casually, often being the ones responsible for the racket in the first place.
He keeps going down, and with every passing moment, his pulse rushes faster and faster, heart pounding against the ribcage, footsteps echoing as he goes, all the way down to the boiler room. Passing pipes of all shapes and sizes, searching for the source of the unusual sounds, carefully, taking each step. He looks to the sides, steam very visible even in the faint light available there - sweat appearing on his forehead as the temperature increases, the long-sleeved shirt under the scrubs becoming damp and sticking to the shape of his spine. He listens to his shoes scrape against the floor and feels the adrenaline levels rise, blood pounding in his head with fever. Something tumbles down, and something else breaks, ringing out so loudly that he feels it in his teeth. It sounds heavy - quickly, he moves forward, breaking into a run, passing each door, confused more with every fleeting second.
Again, the scream continues, piercing his ears as he finally recognizes it, blood freezing in his veins, body overwhelmed by fear. Of course, it was her voice all along. How could he not realize this before? Well, maybe he chose not to; the denial set in deep, telling him not to believe his own senses, the possible truth too terrifying to let in. He won't let anything bad happen to her.
Are you sure it's not too late already?
He moves the thought away immediately, not letting it stay, tearing it away from him like a beast that wants to claw into the tender meaty flesh, eagerly ripping it apart piece by piece. Forcing himself to focus only on the task at hand, he finally finds the right door, the only one cracked slightly open, a beam of cold blue silver light slipping out and coloring the floor next to it. He stumbles in and gapes at the scenery with growing disbelief.
There she was, lying on the cement floor, in a space with not enough light to spread out all the shadows away, twisted into a little ball of pain, broken and bent old chairs spread on the ground next to her, strange pieces of red metal thrown all over the room. He looks closer, still confused, trying to take the entire scene in, brain pushing to put the picture together, staring at the metal until the shapes become familiar - smaller fragments of pipes from the central heating system. He nods slowly, noticing bolts to match, lying close to his feet, further confirming his suspicions. A new scream causes a jolt of electricity to curse through his muscles, forcing him to jump back to life and run to her.
But then a voice stops him mid-track, somehow, blocking him almost against his will - like shutting off all the lights in the room, a complete blackout of senses - he thinks absentmindedly as the sudden inability to move vanishes as soon as it appears.
And who might you be?
He looks to the right and notices a calm but slightly irritated man standing in the shadows, wearing a long elegant, grey coat and resting his body weight against a solid-looking, tasteful cane. The bottom of it looks like oak, smooth and expensive, and the top with its carved, animal-shaped head appears to be, made out of bronze. He seems to be around fifty and about 6 foot 1 in height. The man takes a few steps forward, stepping more into the light of the lamp above him - one of the few sources of light in the otherwise dark and unwelcoming space. Charlie gazes up and feels almost magnetic energy surround him, broad shoulders, a strong jaw, and a pair of dark steel blue eyes gazing back at him. The stare is alluring and dominating, dangerous. Like watching an earthquake just before the ground swallows you up - you know you should move, but you're stuck in place.
Another cry breaks through his distracted thoughts, grabbing his attention and causing his chest to tighten painfully.
Well, look at who we got here. It seems that little miss Eleonore has found herself a friend.
The man says, partly amused and in part restless, as if he was disturbed in a very ill-manner way by this peculiar intruder to his private game, looking displeased by the additional and unplanned actor on the stage.
Who are you, and what is happening here? What did you do to her? Why is she in pain?
The stranger taps his cane casually a few times against the concrete floor before answering as if lost in thought. Charlie looks distracted for a second at Nora and notices that each sound makes her body jump slightly as if low currents of electricity and light were moving under her skin. He wants to go to her so badly, but the man coughs meaningfully, causing Charlie's eyes to drift back.
I have to admit, I am rather surprised by this small intrusion. You see, dear boy, this one here is very unsociable, and has difficulty finding new friends. But then again, I didn't know her a few years back. I hear that she used to be a life of the party once - though I find it hard to believe. Then again, sins and tragedies have a way of changing people. Don't you agree?
The man continues, not seeming to notice the questions, appearing to be more focused on the sound of his voice, almost mesmerized by it, covering himself in it like a warm velvet shawl. Charlie's hands roll tightly into fists, knuckles growing white, blood beginning to boil. He looks back at her and winces, her body seeming to shrink from the pain, his eyes set desperately on her fragile form. He stares, hypnotized as the light above her head and the darkness around them seem to display her agony as if she was on a stage in some grotesque theater. He notices the blood coating her fingers, leaving deep rusty trails all over the floor, and then shifts his stare to the man standing in the small distance - at his immaculate, clean hands. My hands are of your colour, but I shame to wear a heart so white - the memorable words he read a long time ago ring out in his mind, and he feels anger grow inside him, sizzling. He's ready; ready to move and to do anything, just as long as all of this stops. He shifts forward, but the man blocks him, suddenly standing just inches away; the tension builds between the two, the pressure in the room increasing, thickening the air.
She needs to pay the consequences; a contract has been set in motion, and we have been waiting for more than enough.
What...? No. What in hell are you even talking about? Do you even hear yourself?
She broke the rules, and now the poison is spreading.
The man notices Charlie's eyes widen and enjoys the confusion on his face; all of this was just amusement to him.
Ah, you seem to be surprised by this. I guess she has not told you everything then?
Told me what? What rules, for fuck sake?! What poison?
Ah, manners, dear boy. Temper, temper. It's not polite to curse in front of a lady. Then again, she won't be around for much longer.
Something snaps in him like a rubber band, causing his insides to sting and throb. He plunges for the man and attacks, trying to knock him down and push him out of the way, but the other guy is surprisingly strong - as if he wasn't fighting with one person, but many. He blocks him with just one arm over Charlie's chest, the elbow directed up and pressing beneath his throat, while the other arm leans securely on the cane. The sides of his lips lifting, a crocked razor-sharp smile coloring his face as he towers over him, deeper wrinkles appearing in the corners of his eyes - yet there is a certain tone in his voice that gives him away as it vibrates with growing irritation.
Don't be ridiculous, you fool. You can't stop me or the thing that's happening to her. She knew the consequences, and there's always a price to pay for death. But perhaps this outcome surprised even her.
Charlie's eyes widen, but he doesn't stop - instead, fights with double force, finding a better footing and pushing the man forward - it feels like trying to relocate a bulldozer. But nothing that lunatic had said or done mattered. He only had one focus, and that was her.
You're insane. Get out of the way, old man. Now.
I told you there is no way out for her, no redemption. She took the life of the wrong person, and there was so much more at stake than she could even imagine. Perhaps...
He finally decides to throw Charlie off with a low growl, visibly consternated with the prolonging interference, and then keeps on talking as if there was no battle to begin with, no confrontation. As if this was just for fun, and he was getting rid of a misbehaving child.
Perhaps if she would choose her victim more wisely, this wouldn't even be an issue. Just a life lost, nothing more - but she chose wrong, dealing with powers she could never comprehend or wrap her mind around - too many incompetent people roaming this earth, dear boy, way too many.
He seems so pleased with himself, and it slowly sets Charlie into a state of white, blazing fury that he never suspected himself of. He reaches the man with impressive speed and presses a fist to the side of his perfectly square jaw, the blow sending the guy back with force as he stumbles back and hits the floor with his side; roaring out in rage and spitting-out heavy invectives through his teeth. Yet he doesn't get up at first, instead groans again and pulls out something from underneath his body - a chunk of the red metal from one of the broken pipes - he stays down, the pain and the turmoil recognizable on his face.
There is nothing you can do to stop this, you imbecile. Her faith is already sealed.
He turns his stare from the man and sees her - scraping her nails against the floor, her eyes out of focus, her fingers leaving more bloody trails, strands of hair covered with dust and dirt falling to her face. Too much to see, to bear. He runs to her without thinking, pulling her carefully up to a sitting position, and she screams from the sudden change. He can almost physically feel all of her pain as her body strains. It’s loud, overwhelming, nearly pushing the air out of his lungs. She doesn't look at him, but her body language says it all, shooting a jolt of electricity through his nervous system that terrifies him, blocking out everything else. She is ready to die, here and now, the pain too excruciating to endure - he can feel his throat getting tight, reality blurring out as he experiences something for the very first time in his life - it's unbelievable but true. I feel you, sensing everywhere; in my bloodstream, my bones, under my skin. With all my senses, Nora.
This lasts just a fracture of a second, but it's enough - unexpectedly, without any warning, he knows exactly, what to do, a sense of clarity coming over, his mind made up, something deep in the guts telling him that this would work.
He pulls her up, forcing her to stand up and look at him, waiting until her hazy stare finally meets his, finding something in those weary, lost eyes that makes him lean forward. A strange kind of assurance, growing and bursting in his cells, one by one like multicolored glass; it feels like energy that wants to reach hers, the images of blue and orange light touching filling his mind as he bends down gently. She freezes - the surprise caused by the warm touch; and how close his body is against hers breaking through the chaotic and confused state - his lips pressed against hers, his arms tightening around that bruised, tortured body. Tense at first, her hand pushes against his chest, wanting to pull away, seeming like a wild animal caught in a trap, desperately wanting to break free from the familiar hands that felt like home but now seemed like bars in a too-tight cage.
The energy of the one she lost, nearly tangible and bleeding out of her pores, as he holds her close - things that he cannot explain, happening around them, filling the air and coloring their rushed breaths, constantly shifting, breaking, and flickering.
Once again, she tries to break free from the hold. But after a while, her fingers soften without her wanting or permission, as do his kisses against her lips. Her hands move up, sliding against his neck and grabbing onto his hair, pulling him closer as everything seems to slow down around them. She takes it all in, surprised by how her body reacts to him, how it craves the touch; her senses are on fire, blood sizzling and catching new flames with every breath. It's strong, crumbling, on the verge of overpowering all of her - but for the first time in a very long time, it is not caused by pain. She wraps her other arm around his back, wanting to become one with that blazing white light she feels between them, purifying everything in her that was wounded, broken, and scarred. She feels tears of relief under her eyelids as the strain in her body eases down. Yet her pulse rushes like never before. So many contradicting feelings, like being crushed into dust only to be rebuilt with the softest care.
He separates the kisses now; one, two, free. Softer, kinder, full of... He moves away as she stares at him with wide grey eyes, fearing to take even a single, quivering breath. She lets go of his hair, hand sliding down, fingers barely touching his skin or clothes - as if she might get burned by even the air around them. Slowly, she moves her hands away completely - wrapping her arms tightly around her thin torso. Her mind is stuck now, thoughts going blank, just ringing out silence in her ears. She looks confused. Did that really happen? The question was more than visible on her face.
Are you okay?
Charlie asks gently, focusing only on her state and not what he just did. There was nothing that mattered more at that moment that knowing she was going to be okay. Everything else could wait. She looks around, disoriented as if she did not hear him, moving in different directions, feet dragging against the floor. She stares at the mess everywhere but doesn't really see it, eyes sliding against the fragments of pipes, the ruined chairs, and water leaking from the damaged construction. Did she do that? She moves her hands up and stares at her fingers - they are dirty and covered in blood, filth, and rust. Well, that seems to answer the question. She moves around a couple more times and stumbles on her way. She seems to hear some noise behind her and turns her head that way.
She looks up at him as if she doesn't recognize who he is, staring at the worried look on his face - the pain visible in his eyes. She blinks, all those emotions running through him, making her snap back into reality, finally regaining some sanity. She stumbles his way and puts her arms around him tightly - then something breaks deep inside of her, and she bursts into tears, pressing the cheek to his chest and burying her face into his clothes, whole body trembling.
I'm so sorry, Charlie.
She croaks out and coughs, her voice hoarse from hours of screaming.
Don't be, please... it's okay.
He murmurs soothingly into her ear, and she trembles again.
What are you even apologizing for?
He asks, whispering the question.
For making you go through this. It's not your battle.
Do you mind if I decide that?
No, no... please don't joke about this. I can't take your light tones, not after... everything.
Nora, I decided this, alright? This was my decision. On the day I met you, I made a conscious choice; to do whatever I can to get you out of this, to help. And I am not backing away now. Are we clear?
He pulls her away from his chest and lifts her chin, making her look up at him. He sees her wet eyes, and something breaks in him as well. He bends down and kisses her softly, just one brief kiss. He looks back at her, watching as her face turns surprised, eyes widening. And somehow, that makes him smile.
That was just to grab your attention. You can relax now and stop digging your nails into my skin... thanks, that's much better. So, are we clear?
She stares at him and feels all the good energy going through her. Like a gold, warm light, slowly filling her up - replacing the freezing, blue one that was there before and that seemed to linger in her since she could remember. She stares at that kind smile of his, and manages, to gradually relax. No longer so awkward and disconnected. She sees him as he really is. Her savior, the protector - and most of all, her friend. A friend that one day started to be a little more.
Yes, clear, even if you're making the wrong choice.
You always need to win the argument, don't you?
He lets go of her and looks at her hands.
We need to clean that up quickly. I don't want you to get an infection...
He starts to say but does not finish, eyes darting somewhere to the background; she stiffens, sensing his tension, and then the realization slowly hits them both. They forgot about something, or more to the point, someone. She turns around. Funny that she could just throw him out of her head like that after everything. They notice him again, standing there, a bewildered expression on his face - no longer on the ground but standing straight, only slightly leaning on his cane. There is no more pain on his face, just curious wonder, and fading anger.
A healer, of course. That explains why you have not visited us yet. I guess Alister failed to tell me some crucial details concerning you, my dear.
He says and stares at them for a few moments. Processing the game changer, which he did not anticipate, with surprising composure and then just leaves, disappearing into the corridor, his cane and the heels of his leather shoes causing surprisingly little sound for such a massive, heavy figure. There was something about his face. It made Charlie think that the strange man was enjoying the new challenge that fell into his lap. He looks down at Nora and finally lets himself breathe out all the tension and weight he had kept on his shoulders until that very moment.
Don't you feel like this day has been long enough?
He asks her in a tired voice.
You have no idea.
When Lady Macbeth returns from Duncan's chamber, she holds out her blood-stained hands and says, “My hands are of your colour, but I shame to wear a heart so white,” claiming that although, she has Duncan's blood on her hands, she feels no guilt.
https://theprose.com/post/230936/with-all-my-senses ( the beginning )
Previous chapters :
A Saying/Quote by Me
"We shall see what we shall see when we shall see it."
But I do have to ask, what shall we see? And just when shall we see it? The end of the month, middle of the night, next year?
Upon further reflection, just who is "we"? Is that you and me? You and someone else? Me and 219 strangers waiting to buy hotdogs from a blind vendor?
One thing this brings about is that for every answer to a question, a new question pops up looking for an answer and as always, the cycle continues.
So, I close with, "We shall see what we shall see when we shall see it."
Can you see what I'm saying here?