Brave, strong, courageous, normal.
Ellis felt all those words were an impossibility to him. No matter what he did or how hard he tried he felt trapped. His body held him back and always would.
Ellis would never be who he wanted to be, after all how can you fly on tissue paper wings?
The Beast That I Called Night Terrors My heart almost bounded out of my chest and my lungs felt as if they were about to burst. I could hear bellowing breaths and drooling snarls from behind. But I did not dare to look behind me. I did not want to ever see my pursuer’s bone-chilling face again.
I tore around a tree, but it’s protruding limb clawed at my jacket. In panic, I whipped my body away from it, trying to escape. But the more I squirmed, the more it got tangled in the branch. Giving in, I tore the jacket off my shoulders and scampered away. I felt something sting sharply beneath my eye and instinctively rubbed it with my hand. A glanced down at my hand and saw a dark cherry liquid dripping of it: I was bleeding.
I let a small whimper escape me, I knew I would not last much longer. I was a child at the hands of a monstrous beast, what could I do now?
As if it could hear my thoughts, I heard the thunderous sound of steps grow louder. Not long after, I co
Silent CryI love my family and they love me. They feed me, keep me hydrated and cuddle me whenever I softly paw them for attention. In return, I guard our house and use all the force I can muster in my small frame, to protect them from harm. It is the only way I can thank them for taking me away from the cold, dark and hellish prison cell where all the animals frightfully cry out in unison. I still have nightmares about that horrid place, but my family wakes me when they hear my whimpering, soothing me with their kind voices and soft touches.
We play and go on walks every day. I meet all the other happy dogs with their owners. Everyone is so cheerful and alive. I run free and wild, catching stray balls from every direction. My family stand back and laugh at me, their loving arms wrapped around each other. Even though we keep to this usual routine, I find myself enjoying every single day more than the last. I did not realise this would end so soon…
Humans’ emotions are strange. They c
icy hearts for frozen foolsyour winter rages on,
shutting me out,
snowing me into a
prison of your own desgin.
a palace of ice
with frigid chains wrapped
'round my wrists.
you have forced me from
my home, stripping me of
a hearth or blanket.
no protection, no fire -
where did the spark go?
why did you banish my sun?
did no one teach you
that this land was meant
for summer and sex and
an impossible love?
don't you see how this
land is withering away,
the terrain barren.
yet you laugh.
you laugh without sympathy
for nature's most innocent creatures.
i was once your
most loyal knight.
my sword slaying all those
who dared oppose your
tyrannical rein and iron fist.
we used to laugh and gawk
at the court jester,
you used to promise me
great rewards for my efforts
defending the kingdom against
every serf who dared rise up
with rebellion ablaze in their heart.
a long time ago,
in a kingdom beyond ours,
i was the cold one.
The Apopto is a large apartment complex including three eight story buildings, one small house, and a public laundry mat. It rests far from the nearest populous in an area that once thrummed so strongly with life. Store fronts with shattered windows and graffiti littered warehouses rest upon cracking streets and crumbling sidewalks in the surrounding area. The air is thick and the sky is always dark like a constant fire consumes the streets and paints the sky a smoky grey. The air is so foul that even rats dare not scurry the alleys nor do pigeons even drift over the edges of the town. The park is over grown with crab grass and the few trees it contains are stunted and gnarled with long leafless limbs clawing at the air. The Apopto apartment complex is the heart of this ghost town, the only piece yet to die.
Nel Bartlett, a tiny little thing despite nearing her late teens, picks her way across the crumbling sidewalk. Her tiny chest heaves against the potent air to obtain the bare minimum of oxygen. She is not a particularly interesting sight. She blends in well with her environment. Her hair is dirt brown, choppy, and short as her mother slices off the ends once a month to prevent an unruly mess. Her eyes, perhaps once swimming with life and innocence like her neighborhood, have darkened from their honey brown and have begun to droop. She has a long, drawn out face like her mother but rather than having sharp, regal features the details of her face are blunt and a little crooked from a fall long ago. Every outfit she owns, reaching a stunning total of three, contains greying pants and dulling shirt and a brown jacket about three sizes too big smelling heavily of smoke and fertilizer from the previous owner.
Nel turns the corner to cross the street to the largest of the three buildings. It is a mural of dull scrawl plastering the brick with either utter nonsense or offensive slang, though the all of it is quite nearly illegible. The brick building is so wide it nearly appears squat. Its eight stories tall, four rooms wide with room for a stairwell and elevator, and ten rooms back all of fairly equal size if a five foot difference in length can be considered equal. The entire seventh floor has its windows boarded up, angry black slashes across the brick still linger from five years ago. The ghost of the flames still dance across the walls. The front door is barred with iron that twist angrily in front of glass so thin it is nearly nonexistent. The hinges groan in protest yet do not fight the girl as she enters the dimly lit building.
Little light manages to seep through the dust clogged windows and the lights hanging from the ceiling buzz with an unreliable, butter yellow glow. Nel drifts over the deep red carpet heavily stained with a monstrous concoction of liquids, some of human origin, others not. At least two are from blood and those are the least disgusting. Fresh stains darken the carpet the most harshly and make a squelching sound under Nel`s feet when her weight pushes some of the brownish liquid up. The scent of urine punctuates each step she takes across the squishy carpet. She ascends the creaky steps with her now slippery shoes. The metal rings with each step she takes. Black paint is peeling away in many places leaving red rimmed rust holes to drill through each thin plate, one of which nearly swallows the girl`s foot whole.
Nell ascends six stories through circle after circle of locked doors. The pipes rattle beside her in the walls as water rushes through and her feet continue to clang upon the steps, but otherwise the building is deathly silent. The sound of feet climbing up the stairs hushes the tenants as they hold their breath. The uneven clang of her falling feet alert Nel`s mother to her arrival and the door is open before she even reaches the fifth floor. She walks along with the permanent limp that has been pestering her since her fall over the stair railing.
Despite the wide open door neither parent is anywhere to be seen in the tight little apartment. The tiny, one-bedroom space mimics the spirt of the street. Picture frames hang from every wall and candles rest upon every table, but the colors have faded behind a shield of grey dust. Floral pattern wall paper is stained a sickly yellow, leaping from the wall in some places. Small crochet animals sit stacked in an ancient glass dresser stuffed safely into one corner. The memory of life, of a past linger, but the light has fled the place having left when Nel`s grandmother passed. Now the husk remains, grey and empty, an echoing reminder of what once was.
Nel winds out of the tiny living room into the even smaller kitchen. The trash heaps up out of the can yet the cabinet doors hang loosely on their hinges to reveal empty cabinets. A yellow fridge that had been white once upon a time rest silently in the corner. She does not need to look to know it is in the same condition as the cabinets. She pulls a cup from the counter far from the blooming splotches of grey and green mold before turning on the water. The pipes howl and whine before releasing a shower of rusty liquid. The water sputters out before violently splashing out of the dingy old sink. The reddish brown liquid pools around the barely functional drain. Nel waits but the liquid never reaches a state of complete clarity.
The pipes rumble in protest as the liquid continues to rush out and splatter around Nel and the surrounding counter. Eventually she fills the cup and turns the faucet off before more protest can be barked at her from the metal. Brown flecks dance about, remaining suspended in the water, but Nel stills risks drinking from the cup as she heads to the paper cluttered dining room table. The squat, square stack of wood is rough and wobbles under a breeze. She carefully sets her fraying backpack atop it, pulling out school work she likely won`t complete anyways.
From her seat at the table she can make out the dim hall and its three doors, her parents room, the bathroom, and the hall closet that functions as her closet. The carpet is torn there revealing the plywood set under the floor. Staples glitter softly over the cheap panels and a few nails even arch up their flesh piercing points into the air. The maintenance promised by the building owners is nonexistent, leaving the apartment to continue to fall into shambles. Nel finds herself hypnotized by the reflective metal and spends the entirety of her evening staring at it. She does not notice the sun`s fall until blood red light washes in through the broken blinds to once more breath some color and life into the world between the dim walls.
A willowy woman quietly leaves the last door of the hall. Her auburn hair rains like fire down her back and her honey eyes glisten sweetly in the long, angular face. Her features once upheld such grace and beauty are now too sharp so heavy shadows etch themselves across the pale skin. She approaches Nel slowly, a wobble in her step and alcohol on her breath. With blank eyes so dazed she stares past her daughter as she found it too difficult to focus on the girl sitting before her. For the briefest of moments their eyes meet. The gaze sent the woman fleeing at her own slow pace out of the door perhaps to forget her sorrows in some other way.
Nel only watches her mother depart having learned long ago that there is no use in trying to communicate with the woman. If she still remains in her mind she is buried far too deep to be found. She gets up to shut the door once her mother is far from sight leaving the girl alone in the ever darkening apartment. Her mother rarely left alone leading Nel to assume her father is working late once more to try and sustain the small family to the best of his wavering ability. She did not mind the solitude this creates for her. Without her parents the small space is carved into a large hiding place for her to shelter herself from the binds of reality that tore away at her piece by piece. She returns the untouched work back to her folder, the pristine white pages the purest thing within the apartment. She tucks the bag beneath the table hoping to have no need to remember it again.
Nel walks the length of the dining room and kitchen to peer out at the desolate streets below. Not even her mother remains in her line of sight. No cars, no stray animals, no people, no plants growing through sidewalk cracks, just a brown puff of dust riding along a breeze. The scarlet light leaks slowly from the sky leaving behind a dark, muted blue. Even at this distance from any big cities the sky is starless. The crescent moon with its silver glow is arched by wispy clouds. Her eyes start to ache and water from once again staring for an excessive time at nothing in particular. She glances once more at the sidewalk though now not even dust strolls by. She knows not to expect her parents return until the sun crest the horizon with its honey and fire glow.
The street lamps flicker on in a buzzing blaze. Their harsh circles of light only cast deeper shadows where anything or anyone may actually lurk. Nel shifts against the rotten wood of the window frame to glance at the weak blue glow displaying the time. Despite night consuming the sky time has yet to catch up and it is still rather early. The time and growling rippling through her stomach are not enough to keep her from retiring to bed sooner than normal. She pulls out the creaking sofa bed as the metal legs screech against the floor. She may have fallen upon it in that moment and slip off into a world of dreams had the scratching not made a peculiar tone. A crying chirp echoes from beneath the bed too high in pitch for even the squeals of the old metal frame.
Nel pauses in her actions to glance around the cramped space. Everything in the room seems suddenly closer to her. The table against the window nearly gets in the way of the bed and the dining room table seems suffocatingly close despite still brushing the wall with one side. The bed made the room infinitely smaller and made the shadows infinitely deeper. Her heart skips a single beat as several loud bangs burst through the air disturbing the silence. Her breath departs from her lungs and refuses to reenter until she discovers the location of the sudden noise.
Nel turns several times in her limited space before she notices the wooden door shake and bulge in once more, accompanied by the banging sound. She stares in frozen terror, very nearly cornered and utterly alone. Her neighbors may come to watch if her cries break their peace, but none would try to intervene or call for help everyone knows would never come. Tremors run through the girl making her appear even more petite and frail in the pale moonlight.
"Nellie?” Calls a gritty voice, stern yet warm, from the other side of the door. “Are you in there?”
Nel sighs softly in relief as the tension pours from her body and the fear slips away into the open air. It takes but three steps to cross from the base of the bed to the door, each more of a shuffle than a step. She pulls upon the protective barrier of weak wood to reveal a man whose features appear youthful yet whose eyes are weighted with age. He stands a foot taller than the small girl with skin stained the tone of earth from days working in personal and cooperate yards. A smile climbs across his face more fatherly than any she has seen from her own father.
“Come on, I know your parents are out and Shyla made extra food just for you.” The middle age man speaks gently to keep from startling his downstairs neighbor.
Nel nods a moment and opens the door, refraining from speaking a single word. She goes to grab her keys, but does not bother to write a note. She parts from the dark apartment to follow her neighbor, sparing a glance for the dim room before she shuts and locks the door. Just before she shuts the door she catches two gleams of twinkling light like the staples on the hall floor resting just beneath her bed.
Nel limps slowly after her neighbor. His hair is a dark blonde shock against his sun stained skin, neatly combed despite a day outside weeding, planting, mowing, removing vines, and digging. His grey shirt falls loosely over him billowing when a breeze sweeps in through a half shattered window. Nel starts at the jutting glass as they approach the only elevator in the building. Had the seventh floor not been destroyed and forgotten they would have to take the stairs, but the unstable flooring made it nearly impossible.
“Thank you David.” Nel speaks in but a whisper as the dull, grey doors slowly slide shut.
David smiles some leaning back against the wall furthest from the cobweb riddled corner. He presses the button for the eighth floor several times before a weak light flickers on.
“Well you need to eat Nellie, Shyla would be furious if you weren`t fed a decent meal at least once in a while.” He tries to hide the bitterness in his tone with a smile, but many knew of David`s frustration with Nel`s parents.
Nel says nothing more as the elevator begins its upward crawl in awkward, jolting movements. The metal box bounces so much and creeps so slow initially that they nearly drop an entire floor before they start to move up towards the eighth floor. The buzz and soft screeching of the turning gears trying to inch the box up ring through the tight space. David tightly grips the metal bar, the last one still hanging on the wall, to keep from falling. Nel stares up at the flickering light unbothered by the slow and violent ride up.
The doors finally part about an inch too low on the eighth floor. The flooring here is glossy tile and several apartment doors have been removed to open up the rooms. The deep teal walls blaze under a single golden light that takes more power than most of the rest of the building. Once this floor had been in tatters, nearly uninhabitable, stained with urine and bird excrement as the windows were always wide open and it was never difficult for someone without a home to sneak up here. Shyla bought the floor out when she moved in with David six years ago just to prevent her parents from buying the building and displacing all the tenants. Such luxury does not belong nestled like a hidden gem among the filth of the area, but Shyla who works long hours with great success can`t seem to hear those words. She became part of the community and is not going to abandon it to the mercy of her parents to buy and tear apart.
In the dying heart of the area Shyla is the last working vein.
David leads Nel along to the silvery door on the other side of the room. Despite the flashy external appearance, the small room they enter is much more home-like. The walls are painted a soft orange and the furniture is all in shades of muted orange or warm brown. A few pictures dot the walls and a flower vase with bright yellow sunflowers sit on the coffee table in front of the sofa. A bookshelf rest against one wall overflowing with an array of bright covers and shimmering titles. A glance over a low wall reveals the kitchen painted more of a honey yellow with deep brown, oak cabinets. Everything sparkles and smells distinctly clean yet not of chemicals.
Shyla hums as she glides around the table setting it up. She glances back with wide, nearly turquoise eyes. Her brown hair falls in bouncing ringlets around her head still slightly misshapen by the ponytail that had held up her head during her work hours. Her skin is pale as moonlight. Her dancer frame is hidden behind a grey suit from her week job. A warm smile stretches across her face as she heads over wrapping Nel into a hug. Bones poke from her tiny frame and pull Shyla away in a second in fear she will crush the tiny girl to dust.
“How are you doing sweetie? How has school been?” Shyla smiles once more at Nel as she asks questions she knows that Nel`s parents aren`t asking.
Nel, whose voice is frequently caught in her voice, responds with the slightest of motion and a downcast gaze. Shyla runs her hand along the dirt brown hair before rubbing the girls back with the utmost care. Her spine pokes out straining the skin that clings tight to Nel`s ever withering frame. In good times, when money is not so difficult for her father to obtain, she may be a well built, beautiful girl, but starvation has plagued many of her days recently.
Shyla guides Nel to the table and pulls out the chair for her. She glances at her boyfriend with, pity wavering in her watery gaze. The three sit to a silent meal enjoying food better than Nel had ever tasted and, likely, would ever taste again. Any conversation held is done so through gazes and nearly unnoticeable gestures. Upon its end David made the trip back to Nel`s small home under an even heavier blanket of silence. The discomfort in the air is stifling, weighting heavily in the already rundown elevator.
The door opens in a delay with a soft creak. The sound edges David back towards a mold speckled wall the dots nearly fading in the “marigold” yellow background. Nel limps back across the hall to her room alone, dragging her leg a little less than when she initially departed with David to head upstairs to eat. The door is fussy and takes several tries to pry out of its frame before she can return into the dark room.
Away from the grandeur of Shyla`s and David`s apartment the moonlit swaddled room feels even less like a home. The cluttered and tight room barely gives space for Nel to move yet provides ample hiding spots had anyone snuck in while she had been upstairs. That thought did not bother Nel. Nothing worth stealing is in the building unless one makes their way up to Shyla`s floor. The girl does not waste time locking the front door nor does she risk leaving her parents locked out of the apartment, especially with how hard her father is trying to get them back onto their feet once more.
Nel`s eyes sweep over the heavy shadows against the pools of silver light. Her bed is bathed in the glow highlighting every old stain and uneven lump along the mattress. She gradually rolls in the bed to avoid jostling the springs too much. The metal coils creak and groan underneath the slightest of movement, digging right through the thin fabric guard to jab Nel`s sides. The blanket is scratchy against her skin chasing off the chance of sleep for but a moment. The uncomfortable cloth eventually finds its way to the floor. A chill lingers in the room leaving Nel to curl up under the oversized jacket in hopes of retaining some warmth. The pillow is flat against the bed. It has the same dull grey shade and faded, lifeless demeanor as the rest of the apartment.
Nel`s eyes slip shut as the moon draws ever higher. The desolate world outside whines and screams only as wind tangled up in old buildings can. No living thing actually roams the streets bellow. The sounds are like a twisted lullaby tormenting the depths of Nel`s mind with their painful squeals and shrieks. They lull her further to sleep with the secretes they whisper and the past of life they still hold.
As darkness finally falls in the mattress gives a steady jolt. A creak crackles against the cries of the mournful wind disrupting the peace of the tiny apartment. Even in her knot of human form Nel feels the force of the jolt and is pried further from slumber. Her breath catches somewhere in her throat, the foul air further polluting her lungs. With eyes like saucers she inches along the painful mattress. The truth of her reality swirls along in her head as possibilities, all very realistic and incredibly likely, start filing down a line in her thoughts.
In her younger years Nel did not fear the place under the bed. When light fell into the empty apartment almost always lacking the presence of parents she hid beneath the coiling springs and tattered couch. The metal legs worked as bars to hold off the external world trying to claw in. While everyone was cloaked in black and cursing the existence of life and the monster of death Nel would hide as far back as she could in her own little world. The embrace of the blanket took the place of arms that could no longer envelope her in their warmth and protection. Her pillow became her only friend to listen to her joy and woe. She need not have her parents check beneath the bed at night because for the extent of daylight hours she was the only thing to lurk there.
Then Nel grew up and realized that monsters, real ones, hide anywhere and everywhere. The space beneath her bed became less of a safe haven and more of a new spot for crooks and murderers to hide. Even after she just lays the bed out, when she is certain no one has had the time to slide underneath apprehension swells in her gut and she checks once more bellow her place of sleep. Tonight she does not have that bravery on reserve. She left he bed alone and the apartment unlocked because nothing in it is worth stealing or protecting, but Nel feared that she may be worth something if even just an object for anger to be released on. She throws herself off the bed that night leaping as far as her little legs can carry her before bolting to her parents` room. The heavy fall of her footsteps are the only sound in the night beyond the creaking springs of the mattress.
Nel launches herself into the room in the very back of the apartment where her parents very rarely sleep. The door slams shut, the sound rattling through the walls. She is panting some more in fear than exhaustion as she lay her head against the cool, smooth door. Nothing. The apartment has once more sank into the peaceful folds of the night in the Apopto apartment complexes. This does not fully quell the young girl`s fear and she drifts off at the base of the door still listening for the thud of footsteps, the whoosh of breath, or the creaking of the old springs in her sofa bed. The apartment remains completely, unnaturally quiet.
Morning comes with yellow streaks slipping through Nel`s eyelids. The golden glow is given a red hue by the thin barriers of flesh as she finally starts to break from her slumber. Soft footsteps pierce the morning air as birds do not sing waking songs. A soft knock rings against the door providing just enough time for Nel to pull herself back, sliding easily on the hardwood floor, before the door creaks open. A head with greying, light brown hair and sky blue eyes over which clouds of exhaustion drift over.
“Nellie? You ok Honey?” The rough voice speaks, or at least attempts to speak gently.
Nel nods as she picks herself up from the floor. She tightly hugs the aging man in a tight grip that he does not return. The closest thing to comfort her father provides is resting a large hand over her knotted and tangled hair.
Nel`s mother did not return home that day. Most days she remained out and about doing who knows what. Nel spent her day cleaning the tiny space that could never be fully clean while her father slumbered away. Like most residents of the apartments neither leave their house for anything more than a quick trip outside for some unavoidable reason, in this case smoke from the stove chased them out. Despite all of Nel`s scrubbing and dusting the layer of grey remains and the scent of cigarettes and alcohol linger in the apartment like the complex`s own, natural scent.
Nel`s father leaves late that night. It took him hours more than usual to search the apartment in its barest respect of the word to ensure the safety of his only child. Has he not spent most of the time drinking the last of his stash of liquor or simply turning in circles to pretend to scope out the apartment he may have left closer to his normal time. Nel smashes her face against the window which smells heavily of Windex still to watch her father stroll down the street. In the sallow light of the streetlamps he appears more of a stranger passing through in his scrubs. A dental assistant in a very small practice does not make enough to pay for her parent`s habits and their bills. Due to her father`s late departure she is not invited upstairs for dinner again and pulls out her bed with a growling stomach.
The blinds are in ruins, dust streaked slips of plastic bent, torn, or caught, and the curtains rest in the dirty clothes allowing yellow light to seep into the room. The hideous glow stretches across the floor to brush against the edge of the bed as Nel finishes making up her place to slumber. The apartment is clear and has not been left unattended and unlocked. The real monsters that lurk the late night streets have had no chance to enter. For once Nel heads the short distance to the door and locks the deadbolt with a reassuring, metallic click. She turns to face the yellow and grey apartment before her.
Shadows rest in pools thinned by the deep yellow light and a lot of the clutter sits in organized piles though most are ready to burst. The empty, hollow feeling echoes in the frameless walls and pictureless tables, but comfort comes in the form of crying and shouting in other rooms throughout the complex. The night is not as still as the last and the thrum of light, as weak and unpleasant as it may be, shivers through the building. Nel`s gaze snags upon the stables still glittering in silver bends upon the floor where carpet still lay, but is slowly tear away.
The soft clap of Nel`s bare feet hitting the floor is accompanied by the sharp shatter of glass alerting Nel to the fact her next door neighbors are finally home. All the ruckus they make only adds to the ease and comfort. Nel crawls onto the creaky old bed, springs digging deep into her side, and collapses upon the thin pillow and scratchy blanket. The fighting of her neighbor`s works as a lullaby to lull her into a deep sleep that chases out the discomfort from her previous night spent curled up on the floor.
A loud clatter reverberates between the tight apartment walls. The echoing sound jolts Nel from the depths of her peaceful slumber. The female`s spine becomes rigid as she quickly tosses in the bed to look at the source. The loud groan beats between the walls and rings in Nel`s ears causing her to pull into herself against the commotion. Silence ensues as a plastic cup rolls off the tile of the kitchen until the carpeted floor of the dining room halts its motion. The yellow plastic stares back at Nel mockingly from the shadows.
A new layer of darkness befalls the room. The light returns for only a moment before dying out once more snuffing out the remaining fragments of yellow comfort gliding into the room. Heavy shadows swirl and twist, rapidly flooding their newest play area. Only minute streaks of glow from more distant lights break the darkness in creaks. Thick clouds drift over the moon and stars in tendrilly twists that take all of the silver glow. Nel`s eyes grow increasingly wide as she attempts to find some shape piercing the darkness rather than the undistinguishable blobs of large forms throughout her line of vision. In her desperate scanning a silver twinkle shimmers momentarily in the far corner then a sharp buzz claws through the walls before the remaining lights pop off making the staples invisible once more.
Nel sits in a pool of fabric as her heart thuds with increasing intensity against her chest. The twists of cloth constrict against her skin digging deep into her soft flesh and restraining her body heat to gradually bake her. Cool sweat already starts to bead upon her skin as the darkness encroaches. She keeps her movement sluggish as her eyes wander around the fuzzy blurs and large, dark shapes. Nothing is distinguishable. Her alarm escalates when a flicker of movement draws her attention.
Honey colored eyes dulled by dreary conditions and fear find a long coil of cloth that seems to slither in the darkness to the world beneath her bed. Momentarily Nel`s heart stops then starts once more with a bubble of light laughter. The twinkle of a sound is a wave of joy in the dreary apartment complex that no one else but the young female gets to enjoy. The source of her terror is a measly little blanket that she surely knocked off the bed herself partially in her sleep then more in her panic.
The ripple of peace melds with a soft chortle of noise high in pitch and bubbly in nature. The disembodied sound forms tangles around the room weaving in and out of every doorway. It makes hiccupping squeaks that disrupt the rumble of a sound on the occasion, growing in frequency and volume. Nel`s only giggles are stifled by the sudden and unexpected noise. Her throat constricts and her eyes bulge from her head. The sound dies shortly after Nel`s laughter fades and is replaced with a soft, steady clicking like a metronome swaying in the darkness and ticking off counts. Click, one, click, two, click, three, click, four. The duration and pause between each click screams in the back of Nel`s mind with a daunting swell of possibilities over coming her.
The coils bunch beneath her hands, screeching against the clicks as Nel launches herself off the old bed. She leaps over the floor landing with an unsteady thud. She grips to the wall separating the kitchen from the living room for only a minute feeling an ooze of slim gush down the wall before she darts down the hall. The shadows are heavier in the narrow space blinding her completely to her surroundings. She fiddles with the door to her parents` room, the knob ringing with mocking laughter as it refuses to turn. Her chest heaves with the force she puts in achieving a single, worthwhile breath, but the air barely brushes her lungs before it is once more forced free.
Nel whips her head from side to side, but the unrelenting darkness refuses to reveal another escape route. Head spinning and body on fire with the adrenaline pumping through her the girl dives towards the closet. The door yanks free with ease, thumping softly against itself. She nestles herself between bunches of clothes on top of piles of ratty shoes all smelling utterly foul. The pungent air drifts into her nose and mouth growing worse as she pulls the door shut. Trembling with the force of a personal earthquake her arms presses the door against the wall to hold it shut tight. Sleep evades her for many hours as she holds that position, but eventually she falls to the world of slumber when remaining conscious is far beyond her control.
Morning crashes into the apartment through a hazy of smog. The yellow light trails along the dim grey mist that chokes the air, laying heavy upon the Apopto. The inhabitants remain locked behind their doors lingering in the world of slumber in hopes of missing the mixture of pollutants ghosting through the mostly ghost town. A warmth seeps over Nel replacing the chill she departed consciousness in. Her bed of shoes is stiff upon her back and their stench clings to her body like an undesirable perfume. She rolls along the lumpy resting place to feel fabric shift along her skin. A blanket. The soft knitting pale pastels resting over her is like none of the other blankets in the house and rang with the faint blur of a memory.
Nel took her time folding the cloth into neat squares before tucking it upon the top closet shelf. A milky light slips through the blinds and into the apartment tracing gently across the hall walls. She follows the glow to the living room where she hears the coils of her bed curl and whine once more. Assuming that either her mother or father has returned the girl rounds the corner with eager hope at receiving at least a minimal brush of comfort.
Rounding the corner, the young female is met with an entirely different sight. Resting in the middle of the sofa bed is the miniscule resemblance of some creature. It is a purple lump of a shape with blue polka-dots and tufts of stuffing popping out along the seams. The toy seems once to have resembled a cat or rabbit. It has two long blanket like, grey ears that disappear into its back only to come out in a twisted tail. Fragments of broken colored pencils create a rainbow of claws jutting from bottom and top paws, visible clearly as it rests in an upright position. One eye is big and glassy with a yellow pupil and red lines darting across the edge as if bloodshot, while the other is a little blue button like those upon Nel`s favorite nightgown when she was very little.
Nel is frozen by the sight. After her eyelids flutter a few times she settles down believing the thing to simply be a hideous toy, that is until the creature smiles. Crooked baby teeth dangle in its jaw. Some are hooked and jagged like those of a kitten or puppy, but most are those of a young human child. The creature dashes under Nel`s bed and slips away in the shadows. The girl runs over crashing to the floor and falling to her knees. She jerks up the blanket hanging over the side of the bed, but all that hides in the grey world beneath her bed is a blanket and a few pillows set up to make a tiny pillow fort.
Nel`s mother drifts into the house around noon. The smog has been swept away in a gale that rattles surrounding, weaker buildings. Gusts of the chill creep into the drafty apartment wrapping around the willowy woman. Even under a heavy daze she notices the bed still pulled out in the middle of her living room. Kneeling down and peaking beneath the blanketed entrance she finds her daughter fast asleep, clinging to a pillow with a single jagged scratch running along her right collarbone.
I rest in a field of marigolds as the sun starts to fall down. The petals so smooth and delicate brush gently across my skin softer than bird feathers or rabbit fur. There delicate stems hold wide flowers out with hundreds of petals swirling together to catch the fading glow. The orange light amplifies the color and soon I am cast in a rich golden glow.
A breeze brushes past tracing fingers ever so lightly across my skin. It brushes the hair from my cheek in a slow sweep that tingles on my cheek. The sweet scent of a million flowers fills in the air and slams into my nose, temporarily numbing my senses. My eyes flutter close against the honey glow so I may adjust to the overwhelming rush of scents. The soil is damp beneath me and dances underneath the flower`s scent.
The breeze settles returning the world around me to peace. I lift my head to glance at the gradients of the sky. A deep navy blue inches ever lower on the vibrant burst of vibrant orange and lacy pink while the clouds drift somewhere along a shade of grey and purple. The fluffs in the sky appear softer now. They are massive gatherings of thick condensation hanging low against the horizon as they drift along at a leisurely pace. The wisps of white of the day light hours have long fallen to rest in this approaching twilight hour.
The moon peaks out early as usual, eager for the night to begin. The grey disk glistens with reserved beauty awaiting its own time to shine in glittery, silver light. I fill my lungs with the sweet air. The sun sinks ever lower. I close my eyes and reluctantly exhale. Before long the sun dips completely behind the horizon and night fills in day`s place with grace. A small town flickers to life in the distance with its multicolor glow. Buildings stand out in sharp contrast as black shadows against the rainbow of colors.
My gut ties tight before sinking further down. A chill pierces to my bones as the rest of the world crackles away piece by piece. The town is all that remains in the thickening darkness attempting to consume me. A wave of guilt slams into me and threatens to knock me down while the undertow of sorrow tries to drag me out to sea. I slowly get up and already my home appears ever distant against the large, dark sky. My mistakes haunt me, snapping dogs ready to chase if I try to return. My home, my friends, my family, it starts to fall behind with each step I take. The further I go the heavier the weight upon me become. I must leave everything.
Who am I now?
A burst of wind plows through the fields moments before I escape the flowers` domain. A shower of petals dances around me grazing my skin and lodging in my hair. A deep breath pulls in that familiar scent with an intensity that brands my memory. I momentarily pause and embrace this, the final goodbye of my previous life, of the place that had in the past been home.
“Come here.” She coos so soft.
Her voice like silk drifts across the breeze tangling with the babbles of the creek slipping through the ravine. Her hair coils like vines running in sleek black waves down her back and the moonlight glistens across her pale eyes. Her attire consists solely of shadows inching along her body in a flowing black dress. The breeze rustle through the leaves but dances gently around the woman as if to avoid her.
I jolt awake as the car jerks harshly over another pothole. Through my grogginess I hear my mother curse and mutter under her breath about the state of the road. Even with my bleary sight I can see the tears bubbling in her eyes and the redness clinging to her face. I yawn as loud as I can to alert my mother to my conscious state. She instantly sits up and sucks in a sharp breath, her expression becoming stoic once more. I only watch her a while before giving her as much peace as possible while trapped in this hunk of metal by glancing outside.
The world zips past in a blur of brown and green. Tree branches sweep low to graze against the car every now and then. The cool air blasts in the tight cabin of the car, but outside the heat rises in waves off the asphalt, roadkill sizzling in the heat on the side of the road. Once more the car violently jerks. Rather than screaming my mother tightens her grip on the steering wheel until her fingers are white. The pale color is a sharp contrast from her black slacks and blouse. The air in the car becomes increasingly thick with the atmosphere coming off my mother in waves.
We left too soon. We are terrible family members. We should be back in Florida mourning with everyone else rather than heading home. They`ll all hate us as they should. She is…was too good for this kind of treatment.
I know that’s what she is thinking. Her chest shudders with the silent sobs she refuses to release. I wish I could sympathize better with my mother`s guilt and sorrow, but really that woman was wicked in life and probably will continue to be in death. My mother is blind to it, but my grandmother used to be nothing but a foul mouthed hag with kleptomania. She chased off six husbands- six! - in her life time and managed to snag almost every valuable item her friends and family owned. They found mountains of stuff in her house and shed when everyone went to clear it out after her passing. I didn`t even really know her anyways. For the majority of my life time she has been delusional talking about ghost and fairies and the birds who carried her fourth husband away (he emptied her bank account and fled after week one of their marriage).
While I still cry sometimes in quiet moments when our loss of her can claim my thoughts, I can`t say I feel as terrible as my mother. Maybe I shouldn`t feel as much sorrow as my mother. She knew grandma before her brain started to deteriorate and before she formed her habits.
I shift in my seat to try and stimulate some more blood circulation. Eight hours in a car, especially sleeping, is enough to make random parts of your body numb. My left arm feels like how the world flying by looks, a senseless blur. I try to lift my legs onto the seat for comfort, but, unlike on the way down a few things crowd up my space. As I said they found mountains of stuff in grandma`s house and with so much to go through my mom had no trouble snagging a few things early before we left. Among the belongings we got an ancient looking box with worn down carvings and chipped paint, a handful of tangled jewelry grandma would never wear, and a porcelain based snow globe that plays music.
The box and jewelry are for my mom. The overly feminine snow globe is mine to keep upon my aunt`s insistence and against my protest, for my collection. What I had been aiming to get while there was really the box and I had made a misjudgment of its value by pointing it out to my mom. She took the box and I got the stupid snow globe.
The car finally pulls to a stop in front of our house. We sit on the edge of a quaint town in a tiny, cottage like structure on a massive path of what had once been farmland. Our grandmother`s house, before she moved to Florida, resides on the property as well, a massive farm house. My mother is against moving in as to respect grandma and that’s fine with me because that means I get to use it for parties. Living where we do with as little money as we do my only way to make friends at school is by exploiting the extra piece of property and its isolation for a great place to hang out without adult supervision. Mom isn`t even suspicious whenever I disappear to there because it is where I stash my ever growing collection and go to “study”.
I glance at the heart shaped glass on its pink and white pedestal. School is out so the little trinket will be my ticket to heading out to grandma`s old house. I pick up the dusty thing gently, with two hands just to emphasize its false importance. I slip out of the car and head to the trunk to retrieve my nearly empty suitcase. Mom said pack for a week but with work scolding her before we even left I knew we`d only be there a day or two. I swing out the blue suitcase so the plastic bottom clatters against the ground. I yank the handle up and make my way across the stone path to the front door, my belongings bouncing behind me.
Mom stays in the car the entire time I am unpacking. I rush to the living room to grab the snow globe before she comes in and sees it carelessly left upon the coffee table where Gingersnap can shove it off or Bo Peep can accidentally knock it over. As if on cue the reddish brown feline leaps onto the table. The glaring sun streaks across her coat as she pads languidly over the glass top. Her twinkling grey eyes lock on the glittering glass and soon she is swiping with her clawless paws at my newest snow globe. Her long, puffball tail twitches with her curiosity, but the cat has no patience and directs her attention elsewhere once she realizes the sparkling object it out of reach.
I glance around for our little collie, but the pup is more than likely still frolicking around the fields snapping at bees. She won`t come until the sun is down because no matter how much she loves us she loves bees more. The sun is pretty high still, but patches of grey have drawn out long and the golden hue has lessened to more of a honey yellow. It`s still a bit early, not too much past noon, but if I want to meet up with my friends first to start setting up I need to leave now.
I head out to the car to find mom with her head resting on the steering wheel. Guilt clenches my gut up tight, but it`s too late to back out from my plans now. I`d be ruined if I did and someone found out that while they partied I sat at home. I open the back door grabbing the box and jewelry.
“Hey mom,” I keep my voice soft, but even so she tenses some, “I can take the stuff inside, then I think I may head to grandma`s old place, kind of as a last goodbye and to put my new snow globe with the rest.”
She inhales sharply through her nose as water splashes on her pants, tinting them a shade darker. She slowly nods her head, nearly knocking the loose knot of brown hair free. I wait a moment, but she doesn`t speak, I don`t think she can without sobbing. I shut the door and grab her stuff from the trunk, her suitcase much heavier than mine, before heading back inside. I set the suit case and jewelry on the quilt top blanket onto of mom`s bed. I stare at the box for a while and itch creeping up from my hands. In a reflection of grandma`s bad habit I snatch the carved wood and rush out with it and the snow globe.
The grass directly behind the house is short and neat, little patches of clover popping up but otherwise the grass is perfect. The further I go the more height the grass gains. Amongst the sea of green bright wildflowers dot the ground with blue, pink, purple, and white. I wade through the waist high growth trying my best to avoid snagging thorns of small vines. Several times the sharp points pierce through my jeans to slash a scarlet line across my leg. Tugging through the front way that has no established path takes me longer than expected and the sun has furthered its decent by the time I reach the house.
The house truly is a breathtaking sight, even with weathering and age sucking the color from it. It is two floors with the addition of an attic and finished basement. The basement was done before I was born but is still rather recent. Morning glories are planted on every side of the house consuming the wrap around porch nearly in its entirety besides the two sets of steps. The green vines are bare of flowers now, but when the sun cracks the horizon the vines burst with bright colors. The paneling on the house is a faded sky blue still smooth and unstained against all odds. Grey shutters hide each of the windows even the single on in the attic. Since the attic is a good bit smaller than the rest of the house it nearly appears to come in tiers, the first slope or roof going in the opposite direction of the first. The path to the house is dirt, well-trodden and lacking top soil to prevent plant growth. On either side of the path stripped carnations bloom, the yellow petals rimmed with a rich pink that seeps down like pins.
I climb the creaky old steps, the wood grey and almost rotting beneath my feet. The morning glories work to shelter the porch from the sun but dapples of gold seep through to the brownish-grey wood. Dark brown splotches remain where rocking chairs and other pieces of outdoor furniture once rested. Before I even make it into the safety of the shadows load yips assault my ears as large hands clap against my back.
I turn on my heel before the words can even leave my friend`s mouth. “Really Nathaniel?”
“Someone`s pissy.” Eric coos behind me.
“You guys shouldn`t mess with someone who is mourning.” Mutters Andrew who probably has his face in a book.
Nathan lets out the breath he was building up. “I wasn`t messin` with him, just trying to keep him up with a little scare.”
“It`s not scary when you do it every time.” I kneel down and pet the small collie at his side, pink tongue lolling out of her mouth. “Especially when Bo Peep gives you away.”
Nathan shoves his hands into his pocket and glares at the oblivious pup. “Thanks a lot Bo, I nearly had him that time.”
Eric snorts some and makes some snide comment. Despite being closer to Eric I can`t seem to make the words out, yet Nathan redirects his glare over my shoulder. I step aside and turn some to watch the two. Like I am stuck in water I watch the scene slowly melting out before me without hearing the words being said. With a volcanic temper Nathan and Eric fight almost constantly, but this time they are more tense then normal. A creak splits my silence and before I know it a hand is squeezing my shoulder. I find myself looking into Andrew`s glass green eyes when I am forced to face him.
“You ok?” He speaks soft as if to avoid disrupting the argument occurring behind us.
I shrug some. “Seems so.”
Andrew watches me a moment before sighing. “Good.” He turns to return to his book. “Now you can monitor Tweedledee and Tweedledum because mommy and daddy finally moved in together.”
So that’s it. I turn to face my friends breaking down the anger between them. Their parents had been dating for a while and now they have to live under one roof. Hopefully the party will fix that.
“Ok, come on idiots.” I move between the two before the tiff can escalate, a smirk stretches over my features. “Let`s get ready for this party.”
The problem does not initially diffuse, but soon enough we are marching off the property to get everything we need with the box and snow globe left forgotten on the railing lining the porch.
Night has crept in and claimed the sky. A cool breeze whips around the distant oaks and willow tree dropping in the distant backyard. The house thrums with loud music and shouting bodies swaying about inside. A few people linger out under the twinkle of the stars and glittering, silver moon. The bulbous shape dips low tonight in the sky increasing the intensity of its glow. I lost my friends a while ago in the chaos of inside.
I rest against the blue bird wall paper in the sweltering heat watching classmates and strangers prance about in ridiculous attire either drinking and conversing or grinding against each other. The tables are clear and the living room sofa, one of the few remaining pieces of furniture, is pressed to block off the clogged fire place. From my place in what was once a dining room I can make out a small shape perched upon the fireplace mental, the thin brick strip providing enough support, when she can dig her feet into the top of the blue sofa, to be a semicomfortable seat. Something catches in the dim light cast by the battery powered string lights running over each of the rooms.
I inch my way closer to catch sight of the item that holds her fascination hoping for some escape from the boredom the party is presenting. I make it to the quieter living room against the doorway before I can make out the heart shaped glass. This close I can also make out the girl holding the item, pale blonde hair spiraling in this curls over her pale shoulders and wide, almost unnaturally teal eyes glowing in interest. A backless floral dress tight around her torso then flaring out around her waist drapes down to about her knees.
“Hey Bax.” I swing my legs over the arm of the couch to sit on the top of it by her. “What are you doing sitting over here by yourself?”
Baxter cast me a side glance with those big eyes. Her smile grows some as she holds out the snow globe. Her thin fingers trace over the rough porcelain bottom made to resemble lace before stopping at the opal pressed in the middle of a heart.
“Checking out this snow globe. I really like the birds inside.” She shouts over the music.
I scoot closer to finally examine the newest portion of my collection. Inside two doves dance around a white, pink, and green wreath each carrying the end of a pink ribbon to loop on a wide bow.
I gently take it. “Yea? It plays music too.”
I turn the snow globe over and find the silver key still locked in place. It resists initially before I can turn it around a few times. I let go to let it play. Bax leans closer to me to listen. The smell of honey and lavender washes over me with her so close. Her delicate hand perches itself on my shoulder so she can steady herself a smile growing across her face again.
“It`s like an old music box.” Bax whispers gleefully.
Her childlike enjoyment and proximity make my heart speed up a bit. “Do you like snow globes?”
Baxter looks at me with those bright teal eyes before rapidly nodding her head bouncing those tight coils of hair.
“I have a collection upstairs if you want to see.”
“Sure.” Baxter chirps, launching herself off of the fireplace mantel and onto the floor.
Her sneakers thunk against the hardwood and she takes a step to stabilize herself before turning to look at me. My boredom dies in a strike of warmth as a chuckle forces its way up. I hop off of the sofa and start pushing my way through the crowd. I`m not particularly big myself, but Baxter is small enough to fit in the trail left behind me. I make my way to a door at the back of the hall and unlock it before ushering Bax in. I step in after her and shut the door. She is so close I can feel every move she makes as she turns around in the dark. She waves her arms out to feel for a wall until they eventually land on my chest.
“Oliver? Where are we?” Baxter whispers through the darkness.
I glance down almost catching her outline, my breath stuck in my throat. I back up so I am pressed against the door to give her some room. It takes some fumbling with my phone before bright light flares from the flashlight chasing away the shadows.
“The stairwell to the second floor.” I answer her with a small smirk.
Bax`s eyes light up like she has been told the greatest secrete in the world or been given special access to something spectacular. I mean, it is like special access since I`ve been the only other person here since my grandmother`s roommate moved out two weeks before grandma. I was only three at the time so I don`t recall either living here and when I found the place inside was in shambles. Mom never let me change the downstairs but upstairs became totally mine.
I entwine my fingers with Baxter`s surprised by how small her hand is in comparison. I slowly start to ascend the spiraling staircase with Baxter right on my heels. The stairs are narrow and old, but they do not creak or groan under our weight and they haven`t been slanted or worn down. Apparently grandma never went up and her roommate rarely came down.
With my phone light lighting the way I lead Baxter up the spiraling stairs to the second floor hall. Six doors branch off of the hallway. One is the bathroom, another is a bedroom, one is a closet, one is for the attic and the other two have always been impossible to open so I don`t really know. I painted over the bird themed wallpaper with grey paint, when that failed I chose a dark blue. The hardwood floor is polished, still sparkling in the right light because it is almost completely untouched. I lead Baxter down the narrow space to the second to last door.
The handle jingles some as I roughly work the door free from its frame. It takes me several tries of digging my shoulder into the wood before the door and gives and sends me tumbling in. Baxter shuffles slowly after me now clenching the snow globe to her tightly to her chest. Her eyes don`t even run over the entirety of the room before she gasps. There are to dressers, a closet with several shelves, several shelves around the room, and a glass case filled nearly to the brim with snow globes. The curvature of certain snow globes amplifies the silver light shimmering around the room. In the moonlight Baxter`s curls catch the glow and nearly shimmer a soft silver themselves.
The plastic, glass, and/or porcelain items around the room are not entirely mine. Most of the collection comes from my father. He had an affair and left shortly after grandma let us move here. Things had been kind of rough at home and he wanted out, but at least he left me his collection to build from. Nathan is the only other one to have seen all of them. I gave the idiot a key to upstairs but between his shit balance and ever dropping IQ we both thought it best he never actually came up here. Or at least I thought that, but nestled among the other piece of the glass case sits the box I brought along.
Baxter and snow globe temporarily forgotten I cross the room and quickly pull the box out before fixing the adjacent snow globes so they do not fall. A sigh escapes my lips as I glance down at the box. The swirling patterns over it are difficult to make out in most places and the oppalecent shimmer of the top coat is lost to leave behind white base paint or chipped brown wood. I am certain the item is older than grandma and wonder if her bad habit is the only reason it is in this house now. I place it on a free table to redirect my full attention to Baxter.
The young female is stepping slowly through the room, dress swaying against her. Between volleyball in fall, basketball in winter, and lacrosse in spring she has developed an incredible form that hardly hints at her chubby younger years. I watch her silently while she pays me know mind. She traces a delicate figure along each unique piece of my collection. Occasionally she picks one up and shakes it to send glitter or fake snow spiraling down slowly through the water inside.
“Why do you have so many?” Her voice is barely above a whisper as if speaking louder will shatter the glass around her.
I tense and straighten my posture, her voice jolting me from my thoughts. “Um, well most are from my dad before he left. He kind of collected them then when he…moved on to another family he left them behind so I started to collect them too.”
I didn`t give away anymore. I didn`t need to. What I just said is enough to ensnare Baxter`s attention. A small frown turns down the corner of her lips and the look in her eyes is so soft. My father leaving should probably bother me more and guilt once more clenches my stomach when I pick up the pity in her gaze that I don`t really deserve.
I see her open her mouth to speak but words start spilling from my mouth before she can. “It doesn`t really matter though. I just grew to like snow globes and forgot about their connection to him.”
Baxter bows her head some and slowly returns the snow globe in her hands back to the dresser. She stays there for a long while just staring at the scene inside. I make my way over rolling each step to try and lessen the creaking of the floorboards. I didn`t realize until now how little the music and voices below actually reach the second floor leaving us almost completely alone in silence. I stand by Baxter and eventually she is close enough for our arms to brush. I don`t stare at the scenes in the glass but rather the glass itself where my warped reflection stares back with grey eyes and short brown hair. Baxter`s small fingers hook with mine then I gently entwine them.
“Let`s head back downstairs to the party.” Baxter speaks in a whisper.
I glance at her and nod some. I feel a smile stretch over my face but my throat is tight. Dad. Grandma. The silence. I start to pull Baxter along out of the room to get away from it all. I glance back once my eyes catching on the box resting on the mostly empty table bathing in moonlight. I pull the door shut with an unintentional slam that reverberates through the walls. Baxter takes the lead through the dark this time as the hall is too narrow to walk side by side.
We join the party separately at my request to avoid any stupid rumors that may stain Baxter`s reputation. The decision leaves me standing alone in the dark for a while. I could turn on the light but the tight space at the bottom of the stairs feels more secure with it off. From here I can immerse myself into the world of the party through the pulsing movement and bursts of chatter without being exposed to the undesirable crowds. Closing my eyes in such an environment is enough to clear my thoughts but not fully chase away the cloud sweeping through my mind.
I join the party later than expected and Baxter is nowhere to be found. The music has dropped by leaps and bounds in volume and many people have moved off to the side to talk. Their eyes seem heavier and the crowd seems thinner. I did expect the party to slowly fade off eventually but so early on in the middle of summer?
I go out into the cool air where moonlight pierces morning glory walls. A cool breeze drifts through the warm air bringing with it a slight chill. The yellowish-green twinkle of fireflies still flickers throughout the fields yet to return to the woods. Even with the stars and moons now consuming an even greater portion of the sky, the only good thing living so far from others, it is still relatively early. Inside the crowd is pretty thin but beyond the walls of vines absolutely no one is around; its barren.
Glanicng through the dim light I can make out a golden blaze in the far distance. Mom must have every light in the house on likely going through old photos or other pieces of the past. I`ve never really seen her cry; she`s never let me see her with the tears really running, but I know how she gets when I am out of the house. My stomach clenches at the thought of me sneaking in at two in the morning, snotty tissues dotting the living room and mom all curled up on the couch surrounded by photos and the box containing the last of dad`s belongings. When mom falls into the past she really falls in. One topic leads to another and soon her heart is torn apart once more. I think she loves everyone a little too much and holds on a little too long for her own good, but I guess that comes with such a big heart.
I debate heading back in when I hear a quiet sound in the night air. The light tings drift smoothly in a slow, sorrowful tune. I know the sound well, the bending tips of a metal comb after brushing along the bumps on a cylinder; it’s the sound of a music box. I follow the sound to the back of the house. Perhaps due to some gut feeling or the thin hopes that Baxter is the one with the music box I snag a yellow and pink carnation before winding around back. I hug close to the house where the grass isn`t so long and thorns don`t coil so tight.
Before I am even around the corner I can make out the willow tree, long, low sweeping branches brush the ground ever so softly. The twisted trunk and swaying, vine-like branches are silhouetted like a painting. The leaves are a silvery green and beckon me closer with their waving. I keep my steps light over the sharp, browning grass and rich topsoil. I break the small curtain of leaves. On any other night I would barely to make out shapes under the tree cover, but tonight the silver glow streams right through catching upon thick waves of dark hair spiraling like a waterfall down the female`s back.
“Hey.” I call to her in the softest voice I can muster.
Initially she pays no mind to me. It isn`t until the music fades away leaving us only with the rustling of leaves that she angles her head ever so slightly towards me. The thick mass of hair pours away from pale, sharp features. I take another step towards her, but in a single fluid motion she rolls against the trunk to the other side of the tree, disappearing from my sight. I see her once more as she breaks the barrier of leaves to depart from the willow as the chiming music begins its sweet melody once more.
More curious than annoyed by her lack of response I begin to pursue her. Soon we are no longer under the silver light but rather bounding through the dappling shade of the forest. The trees are wide and set far enough apart that I can keep easy sight of her. Her fluid motion is graceful as she slips past logs, branches, and brambles with ease. The music follows her only feeding my curiosity and enticing me further. I am not so graceful darting between the underbrush especially as we pick up speed and the foliage grows increasingly thick. I crash through low hanging branches and stumble past sticker bushes that tear at my skin and lock into my clothes. Vines snake around my ankles and shrubs seem to just appear before me right when I think I have a clear path. I end up hoping most of the way.
The further we get from the party the clearer my senses become. The air no longer smells of booze and a mingling of cheap perfume’s and colognes. The scent of soil and decaying leaves dances around that of sweet flowers and damp trees. The wind is passing in hushed whispers that dance with the leaves above in louder rustling. I can also make out the cracks and thunks of my stumbling travels.
The babbling of water soon breaks in among the sounds and a new, sharp sent permeates the air. I skid to a stop inches from a deep ravine cutting deep through the forest. Tall grass sprouts along the sides. The soil is soft beneath my feet, a few chunks tumbling into the glittering stream bellow with a plop. The young woman stands on the other side of the bank free of scratches, leaves, branches, mud, or really any sign of our run through the woods. My chest is heaving yet here she is not even breathing heavy. I wipe away the sweat starting to trail down my forehead.
The shadows are heavy on either side from the massive trees stretching up towards the sky, but around the ravine is a glow with the silver light. It takes me a moment to realize that the only sounds are the rustling leaves and babbling of the brook. Isn`t this a great area for insects? Why isn`t the nocturnal life buzzing about where conditions are beyond preferable? Before I can look around the chiming of the music box begins once more.
My head snaps over to the young woman. Her skin is pale like the moonlight raining down upon her. Her hair falls unnaturally down her back not brushing her, but flowing freely around her in the opposite direction of the breeze. Her features are sharp and elegant and unrealistically perfect. Her eyes shimmer from a warm brown into a more purplish color as she stares intently at me. Garments of shadow cloak her body, a silk river running smoothly over her flesh the deep black contrasting her nearly white skin. Her full lips curl into a smile that is somehow both inviting and malicious.
In her arms the woman cradles glimmering glass smoothly curved into the top of a heart. Grandma`s snow globe.
“How did you get that?” My voice is colder than I mean it to be, a harsh demanding sound. “Give it back this instant. That snow globe belongs to my grandmother.”
The woman tilts her head ever so slightly, raising her chin to me. “So you are the relative of the thief.”
Her melodic voice nearly calls me across the ravine. The way she talks seems to make the entire forest bow closer to her, a radiance of power, gentleness, and beauty. She commands the air with the way she talks.
“The grandson of the thief is also a thief I see.” She coos to me. “What do thief`s know of hearts?”
A sharp gust of wind burst through the clearing making the scent sharply distinct and nauseating. Copper fills the air, but it is not the sole force in the perfume of death and blood now bathing the clearing. I hunch over and fight the urge to fall into a gagging fit even as my stomach shutters and my throat clenches.
“But at this age aren`t most of you twisted thief`s, all ungrateful.”
The wind picks up once more and a flurry of black and brown feathers dance down around me. They brush against my nose and tickle my skin on their slow descent. I lift my head enough to see the woman through the flurry though not as I recalled seeing her moments before. Rather than a goddess of inhuman beauty a monster stands before me.
The skin has drawn in tight on her face making her features ever sharper, unnatural angles stretching down into a long, hooked beak. The razor edges glisten in the moonlight. The waves of glistening dark hair smooth back into velvet feathers molting in place to reveal dry, grey skin. Massive wings wrap around an oddly angled body in place of silk garbs and black talons dig deep into the earth at the end or grey, speckled feet. The moon catches upon the sharp hooks which hold the small snow globe delicately.
I nearly slip into the ravine, stumbling back upon the damp earth. My hand brushes across a sun bleached bone that catches my eye. Deep gouges run across the white surface. Several more similar bones dot the grass and even more cover the ground around the stream in the ravine. The sharp shriek of a bird slices the air.
“Thief! Thief!” The sharp sound shrieks, tearing through my eardrums.
I pick myself up off the ground and turn tail to run. I dart through the trees foliage smacking my face and thorns tearing through my skin. I stumble over vines and logs, slamming into trees with enough force to gain some instant bruises. I don`t feel any of it as the screeching echoes out behind me.
“Thief! Thief!” The cries echo sorrow and rage and a plethora of emotions I cannot name.
I continue my mad dash blindly through the woods looking for patches of silver or flashes of light. I listen for the thrum of music and chatter but I can barely hear over the pounding of my heart and sharp intakes of breath. Something warm and soft catches my foot sending me tumbling to the ground. My heart racing and adrenaline pumping I barely feel the branches digging into my hands or the harsh ground as my head bounces off of it. I dare a glance back to see a limp body curled up in a deep stain.
The creature launches itself over the form in a flutter of massive, air stirring wings. Massive talons dig into soft, dead flesh as a massive tail fans out in a light consuming patch. I stare in horror at blonde curls streaked with red.
“Thieves know nothing, nothing!” Hiss the beast in another sharp screech.
I peal myself off the ground knowing there is no more I can do. My moments pause allowed the adrenaline to start to fade and the aches start to pulse through my body. I can feel the bumps and bruises speckling my skin as well as the thrumming ache of pressure in my head. My vision swims in the already dim light so I trust my gut and bolt as fast as I can from the creature. I break the tree line, moonlight bathing me in its protective glow. I do not stop and grandma`s old house. I know that the lights are off and music no longer fills the air with life. The place is abandoned by this point.
My house flickers like a candle in the distance with its warm yellow glow. I wrestle my way through brambles and tall grass towards the safety of home even as my chest heaves and my legs scream for a break. I glance over my shoulder at the blurry world to find nothing in the dim moonlight besides the ancient house.
I stop inches from home swathed in the yellow glow from the lights leaking from inside. I pant in desperation to regain my breath and focus my vision. Sweat runs like rivers across my skin soaking my shirt through and through. The summer night warmth feels more intense now making the gentle breeze brushing my skin feel even better. I straighten out my rumpled clothes and make my way into the safety of the house vowing to leave the night behind me and to avoid grandma`s house.
I try to stick to my vow. I hold no more parties and spend most of my days with mom. She is starting to smile a bit more again. I admit though that from time to time curiosity builds up enough to outweigh my fear and I dare to venture close to the morning glory house. I never go inside or even get too close for that matter but sometimes, when the sun starts to sink and the world is bathed in the colors of honey and lilac I spot an elderly man rocking slowly on the porch. His skin is wrinkled and dappled with age spots. His eyes are a faded blue, hollow and distant and hair sticks out in white tufts about his head. His most notable feature is the set of wings, small and misshapen upon his back encased in a heart of glass. I stare at him most time and he stares right back at me in silence and I wonder if perhaps the creature residing in the house stole something itself.
Fall is starting to sink in and school has begun. I sit at my desk with the first stack of homework before me. Turns out no one else at school can remember Bax all that well. No one talks about her or mourns her absence yet when her name is brought up a shutter runs through them and for a moment, even if only very brief, sorrow registers in their eyes. Now I choose to leave the topic alone. The only reminder reserved for me is the sorrowful chiming sound of the snow globe echoing outside my room on clear nights and the single black feather caught between my window and its frame.
Sometimes I wish I could draw
I wish when my pencil met the page it would loop in such a way to create beautiful images
I wish I could manipulate light and shadow to create a world all its own
I wish that my hands did not shake
I wish I had a better grasps on forming complex shapes by melding simpler ones together
I wish I understood better the use of colors and how to blend them just right
I wish I could actually find enjoyment when forming shapes rather than words
Sometimes I wish I could draw
Because with drawings you catch the eye the instant in lands on the page
But with writing
Even after being hunched over the keyboard for days
People do not instantly get lost in the work
They do not even instantly judge the work
You have to trust them to read the first line
Sometimes I wish I could draw
Because even when you just pass over a drawing you see a bit of it
When you pass over writing you see nothing at all
Sometimes I wish
That people appreciated those who write
Just as much as they do those who draw
I mostly write. I have moved from another account just to kind of expand my writing and set up better. I felt kind of stuck on that account to only bad art and one type of writing. I am still going to frequent that account for anyone who found me through that one, but I will mostly be posting on this one.
Lynn is my middle name but I have always preferred it. I mostly enjoy writing horror, but I have been expanding on genres. I am a procrastinator and it can take a while for me to finish stories, but most of my stories are really long so they are uploaded in parts anyways. While I want to try to post more I am going into my senior year of high school so I may be too busy to post frequently.
I really enjoy science and nonfiction writing as well. Due to fear that people will not read nonfiction I have only posted one or two nonfiction pieces on my other account, but I hope to work on nonfiction as well on here.
I love to help and I know how bad it feels to not get feedback so I like to make it a point to make a detailed critique on as many pieces of literature as possible. I can be a bit harsh, but I do my best to try to help others grow and help myself grow as a writer in the process.
(The picture is of my leopard gecko named Henry.)