Thought I’d treat you to a short story for the last post of 2020. Thanks for liking and following the blog 🙂
Bodies of water danced freely with the sky, entangled together like a pair of lovers. Soft and slow, the current of time washed across my feet. Each ripple turned to a kiss, some nostalgic yearning for bliss. The shifting sand, an unsaturated riverbank. The fountain forged a path into the parting grass. It showed me before I had the chance to open my eyes again.
The meeting of the moon with the sun, smiling at each other through the indistinguishable ends of the light. Doves circled the air singing sweet songs as if to wed the two in their embrace. They travelled in speckles of white, a grainy film to the cinematic splendour of the setting sun.
The setting slowed from a screen of doves to the scream of crows. Mottled and grainy, flapping over the small lake. Plunged into darkness, with no reflective light, I scrambled back to the shingle. Single. Surrounded with humidity and him. The moonbeams cut off. The sun dried off. And in their stead, towers upon towers.
“God, you were gone for so long it was like you were drowning. Lost track of the time, did you?”
I could never tell where he was looking in this eternal darkness. We managed, though, waking and working and walking. I stumbled out of the shallow lake and turned towards him. The bank was layered thick with debris, paved by time.
“The road. The sky. Was it always-?” I scraped and tapped towards the sky and the ground. Although, they could have been the same thing.
“I swear, Willa, every time you go for a swim you come out with some weird shit.”
I let his words brush past my ear and wash into the stagnant lake. Blinking to adjust to this familiar blackness, I notice the towers again. Piranesi’s phantasmagoria. Omnipresent, unmoving. Where the living ghosts of adults come and go with their necks stretched to the sky. It’s as if they knew why. As if they knew of something else.
“Before, the light, these silver and golden things, they just sort of… hanged there…”
Although I couldn’t see him, I could sense his confusion. And… was it annoyance? My senses were hazed again, like they always were after I swam. The water got smaller, more polluted. This time, though, I swear it. I was more certain.
I approached him closer. Only a few feet away. Dangerously close. But he was my only hope.
“Listen. I know there was something before.”
“I don’t know what drugs are in that thing”, he nodded aggressively towards the lake, beckoning the hot air to travel with him, “but you’re going crazy. All this talk of something other. Something better. Actually, all this talk. It’s doing my head in.”
We sat on the ground, six feet apart, unable to hear the beating of one another’s heart. Listening to the rare silence in the only clearing in the only city in the only world. If only… I thought. I thought but I couldn’t finish thinking. I never really could.
Crows again and again rushed around our heads. Attracted to this lake, probably. I don’t blame them, There’s either those or those goddamn towers. Their screeches and screams seemed to be the only thing alive. Rippling to waves as they caught awkwardly in the net of my ear. Shards of glass drifting perfectly but painfully in the night’s sky.
I turned towards him abruptly. “They’re not singing.” It was as if they wanted somebody to listen. Needed them to listen.
“They’re screaming. The birds, the crows, whatever, they’re screaming. Anguish. They’re in pain.”
There was a moment of silence. Then the shrill screams that pierced the air pierced my ear again. I turned more slowly towards him this time, almost whispering “We’re just sat here. Listening to the twisted agony of an animal who just wants to live.”
More screaming, almost was like a person’s, curdling the edges of the murky lake.
“They’re not people. They’re animals. They’ve always sounded like this, and they always will. Even if you’re little theory wants to call it screaming, so what? They literally live for pain”
His factual speaking sickened me. His haughty voice. It made me want to slap him, it made me want to scream.
“No.” I said, quietly. He shifted threateningly towards me, but I continued. “They can’t have been screaming forever. We can’t scream forever, so why should-”
“What the actual fuckdo you take in that lake?” He eyes, the water, murky and thick like ink. “Why do you even need to go swimming anyway. Just take a-”
“Take a tablet,” I mimicked. I was getting dangerously close to the edge. Nobody should ever talk to a Him like that. Even if he was a friend. My breath was going faster. Inhale humidity. Exhale pollution. Inhale lies. Exhale…
“In the day
we close our eyes
eating, feeding, breathing lies.
In the night
we sit with spears
to cast away our
It came like a hymn from the heavens. It was like a song, heavily weighted, amongst the screaming of crows. It was the last light.
His eyes pierced the night as if they were the darkness. Familiar, yet I couldn’t have seen them before. Yes, maybe it he was right. Too much water gets to your brain. Besides, the sultry night was perfect. Perfect because the simmering heat had always left an emptiness in the clouds.
He offered me the tablet again as I gazed towards the towers in the sky. I sighed with relief. His eyes faded again into the darkness. We looked blankly at each other, folding into the ground of debris, and turned ourselves away from the starless sky. This was what I wanted, anyway, I’d go swimming another day. I opened my mouth hazily, “I think, before, this used to be stargazing”, and swallowed the tablet in the same breath.