story

“The Painting” – Short Story

Posted on July 17, 2015
The third in a series of short stories. The first being “The Room“, the second being “The Garden“. This may be the final in the series. We’ll see.

A supreme silence. Nothing and no one to disturb, and yet, no rest would come. No rest would ever come. Day or night, it made no difference. Silence or chatter, laughter or screams. There is no rest for the vigilant.

Time may pass, people come and go. They always go. There is no promise of company. Only the harsh reality of loneliness. Loneliness surpassing time; absolute.

Occasional fleeting glimpses of hope, of interest, of acknowledgement, but ultimately ending in the same inevitable situation; alone in the dark. And that’s when she could be heard.

When all else was sleeping and complete stillness had fallen, you could hear it. The soft tapping as she approached. Her gentle footsteps as she made her way closer and closer, unseen, and unknown. Then she would wait. Always the same. It was our little moment; our brief slice of time outside of time. A mutual agreement of the simplest joy, but nothing more.

She would sit and I would stand. We wouldn’t speak, and couldn’t see, but we understood. We would stay locked in that moment for as long as the darkness allowed. In those last moments, she would stand, before slowly leaving; her tapping becoming more and more distant, before fading away completely, returning the world to silence. But not this time.

The darkness began to recede. The first promise of light could be seen, but she had not yet left. A dreadful flicker of hope; poised expectation. Light began to spill into the room. The polished wooden floors started to shine in the sunlight. Reflections of my cold solemn friends, standing sparsely around the room, unknowing or uncaring.

And then there she was. Lying before me upon my vacant lounge in a peaceful slumber. The golden sunlight slowly creeping across her face, revealing her under the warm glow of morning. I couldn’t look away, even if I wanted to. Our unspoken pact was shattered, but I didn’t care. In that moment, there was only her.

I could see her, and I wanted her to see me. Even so vulnerable under the morning light, I wanted to be known. To be seen. To be admired. I surrendered myself completely, and it was then, she woke.

Slowly her eyes opened. She sat up and stared directly at me. Her gaze was fixated upon me for many moments and for the very first time, I was not alone. But as I always knew and chose to forget, there is no promise of company. She hadn’t seen me. She couldn’t.

Her gaze was unseeing; unknowing. She stood and grabbed her stick, before turning to leave. I would have called out to her – to tell her to stop, beg her to come back – but I had no words. I spoke only in colour and shape, and she understood neither.

The last I heard was the soft tapping of her stick as she left. The tapping soon faded and gave way to a supreme silence.

“The Garden” – Short Story

Posted on July 19, 2014
I was suddenly in the mood to write again (with little else to do) and so I started writing this short story. As with “The Room“, I had little idea where it was headed as I was writing it, but it turned out being constructed in a similar style. I might even consider them part of a series. Yes, let’s call this the second in the series.

Strangely, she was in a garden. It seemed familiar and yet she couldn’t recall why. A soothing breeze caressed her face and tugged gently on her hair. Golden rays of light stretched lazily from the horizon as the sun began to rise, providing a comforting warmth. Somewhere far off, a brook babbled as only brooks can. The indifferent chirping of birds and occasional buzzing of bees formed a perfect soundscape for the scene before her. Flowers surrounded her; their heads dotted like dabs of paint on a canvas. A colourful array of bright blues, deep reds, dazzling yellows and lush green melded to form a picturesque scene, too beautiful to possibly exist. It was then she realised; it didn’t.

The scene started to shift and distort. The colour drained down from the flowers and ran like blood across the floor, before dissolving into nothingness. The soothing sounds became a dull echo, throbbing painfully inside her head. Before long the scene had turned to darkness and she was falling once more. This time falling up; rushing to meet the ground above. She became aware of a familiar pain in her wrists and felt the cold touch of steel. Thick steel rings bound her hands. In a single moment that fact triggered a flood of memories and she gasped as it shook her back into reality.

Her wrists burned. Her head was spinning. Her breathing was panicked and ragged. There was nothing to be seen. Only darkness. Isolation. It stank of filth and abandonment. It was cold. Wherever she was seemed small. The echo of her breathing didn’t travel far. She knew there were walls nearby, for they belonged to her. The floor was dirt and stone which dug into her exposed skin. Her left leg was numb. She tried to move, but lacked the energy and willpower. She ached all over. Her throat was so dry that even her short breaths pained her. She couldn’t call for help and even if she could, who would hear her? No one was coming to save her. No one would ever find her. It was just her. She was alone. Somewhere far off and remote, there was a sunset she would never see.

Once more she lost consciousness. She drifted uneasily through dark images and sharp voices until awakening back to reality. Time had passed, but nothing had changed. Her body was almost entirely numb though, leaving little pain to be felt. This brief respite allowed her to begin to think clearly.

I am going to die soon. Her first clear thought. It is too late now. All I can do is wait. And she did. With each minute that went by, the pain became more distant; the darkness more welcoming. It wasn’t long before she was ready to leave; resigned to her fate. She had made her choice and would have to live with it, or die from it.

A distant chill crept over her, beckoning with icy fingers and promises of eternal respite as the last semblance of distant light faded beyond the horizon. After one last breath and one final thought, she let go and drifted off into the night.

As she left, the world swept away beneath her and she caught a glimpse of the other side of the coin. She saw herself. Strangely, she was in a garden.