Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Child of the Garden

Soundtrack: Falling, The Civil Wars

The barn looked cherry red amongst the pristine white of the newly fallen snow. She hadn't really noticed the brilliance of it before that crisp morning. The cold wasn't bitter, but an incoming storm promised a change in the cold kiss that hit her cheeks. She followed his clean footprints to the edge of the clearing, up and down the small hills that eventually led down to the road. His navy blue coat almost blended in with the tree branches behind him. He turned his head slightly hearing her feet crunch in the snow. As she approached, she noticed his muscles tense, the worry in his eyes becoming more and more apparent. She stopped a couple of paces away from him, observing every little movement. 

She stared at his hair, the longer strands whipping across his forehead in the cold wind. He didn't want to look at her, but she silently begged for that contact one last time. She cautiously walked to him, lifting her hand up to his cheek. He slightly flinched, her warm touch raising his skin. He didn't say a word. She let out a small laugh under her breath and broke the silence. "Do you remember when you first came into my room all those years ago? The little boy from the garden." He didn't say anything, but closed his eyes at the fondness of the memory. It stung each synapse. 

The snow began to fall, blankets forming on their shoulders and hair. He was so still, as if he was frozen in time. She wished with her entire heart that it were true.

"Please..." she finally whispered, fighting back a choking cry. 

"You know that I can't," he finally answered gruffly. "It was stupid of me to come here, to see you. I need to go--the door will be closing soon." 

"That's you in there, don't you realize that?" 

"It's not me. I'm right here, flesh and bone and soul. I'm..." he paused to swallow the regret. "I'm just the boat stuck in your storm." He shook the snow from his hair, clouds of breath escaping his lips. Despite the strong scent of the pine, all she could take in was the scent of his world, a combination of cedar leaves and lightning. 

"I don't know what you want me to say. What do you want from me?" 

He squared his shoulders forward, masking the wound she just inflicted. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his coat, holding the lapels closer to his chest. He stole a glance of her; her brown hair caught in the wisps of the north wind, her brown eyes glowing and prominent like a wolf tearing his soul apart. "I wanted you, that's all. That was everything." 

He turned away from her and darted into the clearing. She wanted to follow, but knew that she couldn't. Her time in that world had run out. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Deathly Compromise--Excerpt #4

“Dee, Dee, listen to this one,” Aria is whispering to me, handing me an ear phone bud. We are both squeezed onto her small hospital bed, each of us wearing a pair of headphones. Only a few more days until they cut her open and stick their hands into her red filled cavity. I licked my lips in a Pavlovian response. My eyes flickered open from her incessant tapping and I removed my own bud. I listened to the flowing melody, the moving soul flowing from the trumpet, and felt my feet tapping over the edge of the bed.

“Louis? You’ve certainly upgraded, kid. I’m quite proud. That happens to be one of my favorite songs of all time.” She smiled satisfied, popping the bud back into her ear and wriggling back under the covers. She let out a wicked cough and my knuckles tightened with each grasp of air she took. There were only three more days until her surgery and while she tried not to show it, the worry covered her face like a smothering pillow.

“It’s really pretty, like flowers after the rain,” she whispers.

“I think of rain, too. But I always see a couple running through an empty street, trying to catch a train.” Aria let out another cough, but perked up, letting an ear bud drop from her lobe. She nudged my arm, afraid to ask for more but certainly not letting the curiosity evade her. “Well, if you must know…There’s always this man and this woman. They’ve just finished dinner…”

Paris, 1949

The rain was coming down. I looked over at him, laughing as the storm came down around us. The dinner had been perfect, the time passed so slow; and in that rain we saw each other in a way that seemed endless. He came towards me, his black coat covered in rivulets of rain passing through the creases like pulsing veins. His hand reached out towards me, his fingers slightly bent as if asking for permission. His face never dropped the smile, but there was a wrinkle of doubt in his laugh lines. He was searching for the world in my face; an answer that he would never receive. The faint sound of a phonograph in the cafe nearby playing La Vie En Rose whispered through the torrents. There were so many words, so many moments yet to steal, but I knew I could not take anymore. “You’re going to miss your train,” I yell, rain water dripping into my mouth.

“Then I’ll miss it,” was his only response.

“You can’t stay.”

“Why not? Why, when I have so much here?” He walks closer until our coat buttons are touching each other. “Give me one reason.”

“Because if you stay, you’ll regret it, and…I’m not prepared for that guilt.”

“You can’t see the future, nor can you decide it. I decide my own fate.” He lightly pounded a fist to his chest to emphasize his point.

My lips smirked up at his naivete, but it immediately turned into a frown. The rain would eventually mask my own tears. “Please Henry, please…”

“If I didn’t know any better, I would say that you were trying to get rid of me so you would never have to see me again.”

“I swear to you, my intentions are pure, and I am incapable of lying.” If only he knew the whole story, I thought. If only I could tell him everything. Harboring a secret for millions of years is something that could wear a person down, even the most immortal of souls. I put my hands on his chest, feeling the wet tweed of his coat between my fingers and wondering how long this guilt would last. I had to say something. For him. After this long, after lifetimes of loneliness, I would have to deal with the repercussions. “Henry, I don’t know how to tell you this…” The whistle of a train blew nearby, and he was sure to miss it. If he missed it, I would surely lose him forever. The distant light from the train began to creep up on the tracks, the sheets of rain becoming visible. The air became so heavy, that it took every effort to bring words to my lips. “You really would stay with me? Forever? Until the end of time?”
“Until there is no more breath in my lungs,” he yelled happily over the noise. I let out a shaky breath and smiled. I held his coat in my hands tighter and rested my head on his chest. I heard his heartbeat pound heavy and beautiful in my ears. I felt the train vibrate, shaking the small pebbles on the ground. And through the rain, the cold, the undeniable tightness in my dark chest—it was a truly perfect moment. I felt his hand lift my chin, then both hands cupping my face bringing it to his. His lips were warm and like satin, pausing briefly to catch his breath. I felt the roar of the train pass through our mouths and when it was silenced, I felt a smile come through out of selfish happiness. Had I truly tricked Fate and been allowed this one joy? I embraced him tightly, feeling him shiver from the cold settling in. The rain through his coat, the chill in his bones, my mouth to his…

“And so they went inside and planned the rest of their lives together.” Aria’s face was wide eyed and attentive. Her short eyelashes fluttered as she smiled, her square teeth glistening in the whiteness of the luminescent bulbs.

“Yes,” she whispered softly, then leaned back onto her pillow. “I knew it.” She let out another cough and I felt the life starting to leave her. I looked at her sadly, thinking of this dream and the awful truth of it all. “Dee, will you be here for my surgery?”

“Yes, of course. I will be waiting on the other side for you.”

“Good.” I silenced myself with a concrete lump in my throat. “I’m scared, Dee. What if I don’t wake up?”

“People always wake up Aria. There’s way too much life out there to enjoy and too much waiting for you. When you wake up, you’ll be much happier than you were before you went to sleep. You know, you should listen to something really good and powerful right before. It’ll make you feel strong.”

“Can you pick it out for me?”

“Of course, kid. I’ll get only the best.” She smiled again, closing her eyelids softly like falling petals. Her breathing slowed and I felt her mind ease into the land of dreams. I got off of the bed and walked to the door, leaning in the door frame, watching her drift further away from the present.

Paris, 1949

I felt Henry take a gasp of air. For a naive moment, I thought it was in joy, but reality set in quite quickly. His hand gripped my own, trying to hold onto me as his body toppled to the floor. “No, no, no,” I uttered, more loud with each word. “Please, Kay, Fate, anyone…” I put his hand to his face as his eyes widened in choking despair and his skin turned purple from tightening veins. The rain had stopped, but the tears continued. “I tried to save you. Forgive me, please.” Something in my face frightened him. He swallowed all he had in his throat but I never got that resolution. I brushed back the hairs falling into his eyes and apologized with every spirit I had left.

He began to speak, softly muttering in my ear but I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t until his breathing nearly stopped when I heard him clearly say, “Monstre.”

I dropped him at that moment like something I couldn’t afford to touch any longer. His eyes were still open, but now empty. I closed his lids and apologized once more, softly and genuinely. I sat in the street, a wet monster blowing the cold air from my nostrils, feeling the fire burn inside me. My mind raced a mile a minute to the point that I couldn’t think coherently. I didn’t want to think anymore.

My hands began to burn.
I watched his body begin to sag onto the stone.
My face itched; the flakes of smoky ash beginning to fall from it. Wispy clouds of air still leaving my nose and mouth.
His hair fell back into his face.
My fingers snapped and stretched into dark talons as they reached out to tuck them back behind his ear.
The phonograph had long stopped, the scratch of the vinyl skipping endlessly in the dimly lit window. No one to be found.
I felt a little bit of life in him, lingering, wanting to fight off his destiny.

The fire in my eyes sensed it and beckoned it out. A dark hand touched his own once more, releasing the life like a gold ribbon in the air. I wrapped it around my talons like a piece of silk. The last of my tears evaporated. My free hand touched the pocket watch hanging from my neck, clicking it open. The life left my talons and into the watch, leaving it glow for a flicker of a moment until I clasped it shut. The lamp posts flickered in and out down the dark road, and as passersby began to come out after the storm, the mutterings began.

One voice questions, points.
Two check the body for a pulse.
A third shouts, screams.
More crowd the flooded street, puddles splashing across their legs as they all walk right past me.
I am invisible.
I am infuriated.
I know nothing of rational thought, longing, or remorse.
I only know the dark of night, the hunger for flesh and bone, and the thirst for souls to quench me.
Faces scour the area, looking for a culprit where no visible one can be found.
They will find me when they are ready.
They all do.

My cheeks felt flushed and wet. I brushed the tears away with the sleeve of my jacket and swallowed it down; put it on the back burner. Aria was asleep now, nestled away somewhere safe and away from me. “Take me with you,” I whisper. I clutched my pendant tight enough to sear my skin. I deserved every moment of pain. Another heart to break, another life to take.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Deathly Compromise excerpt: Flashback

April 14th, 1912

Cold air hit my face roughly, cutting through my skin and weighing down the fire developing in my throat. I walked along the slanted floor, against the crowd rushing and pushing through. My petticoat grazed the floor, picking up chips of ice; its blue velvet absorbing it instantly. A gun shot rang out and panic consumed the already desperate souls beside me. But I continued walking. 

In the distance, I saw her leaning against a rail, a grand petticoat dress adorning her body, a matching floral fascinator on her head with curling tendrils cascading down half of her face. Next to her, a man played a violin in sad earnest. She saw me and immediately began to smile. “My dearest sister,” she said as she spread her arms out for an embrace. I obliged her, softly kissing each cheek. “Beautiful night, isn’t it?”

“I can see the stars perfectly out here,” I gazed, oblivious to those around me. “Much more bright than in the city.” I felt a shake beneath my feet, losing my pin point on the constellations. A little girl running fell down at my feet, her small hands touching the toe of my boot. She didn’t cry but her fingertips were blue and shaking wildly. I knelt down to steady her. Her head perked up but her eyes were blank and hopeless. I could have easily taken her, the desire in my stomach longing for her soul, but the emptiness in her face put a furrow in my brow. “Where is your mother, child?”

“She fell,” was all she could whisper. Her head slightly turned to gaze over the railing, giving her past away. Her eyes were as blue as the sea in the afternoon sun, but the flecks of gray smoked over them in the moonless night. They were rimmed with tears that she was aching not to fall. I stood her up, her hand steady on my arm. I felt Kay’s eyes glaring through my back. 

“You should be on a lifeboat, child. Do you know where to go?” 

She shook her head, her loose curls draped loosely from ribbons that had been holding them in place only moments before.“Dee, don’t. Let her be. She will find her way eventually,” Kay advised. I rolled my eyes, choosing to ignore her. 

“I will guide you. Just put your hand on my skirts here and I will take you there. Can you do that?”

She nodded quickly and walked around behind me, grabbing a tight grip on my skirt. “For the love of Fate, Dee…”

“Will you just shut your mouth for one goddamn minute?!” I retort. 

The floor creaked and cracked, and there was a shattering noise across the way that filled the atmosphere with pressure. The ship had cracked under the water’s edge, and the ship teetered even more upward. Kay and I seemed to adjust to the tilt immediately; our bodies knew nothing of imbalance. The young girl however, lost her grip on my skirt and began to slide on the wooden, splintered floor. I grabbed her arm reflexively and her eyes widened at the shock. The tears broke the surface, flooding the gray in her irises. “Dee!” I heard Kay’s echoing call. I squeezed my eyes, pushing away the nag, and looked back at her. “This is not why you’re here. You can’t save them.” 

The girl’s grip loosened as the tilt became more pronounced. The violin player had long since fallen to the water, many others falling in slow motion; snowflakes of long clothing and appendages. “Everything will be alright, child. You won’t feel a thing. I promise.” Her face quaked in fright, no response. “Just close your eyes, and when you wake up, it will all be a dream. Alright?!” I yelled out so that she could hear me. She nodded. I closed my eyes and pulled the tether of her life into my arms and chest. She let go of my arm, her body cold and empty, her body falling in the watery constellations of the Atlantic Ocean.