Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Voice, part 4

Here's the final part of the short story I've been writing recently. Enjoy

He surmounted the hill. He didn’t know why he thought that she would be here, but he didn’t know where else to look. The park was exactly like it had been in his dream, the lake of grass rippled in the wind behind him. The almost constant game of football raged playfully and children swung carefreely on the contorted metal and wood of the climbing frames. It was the same paradise that he knew so well.

Today however he was not concerned with sitting and watching the world slowly unfold. He was not in the mood to doze on the grass. He feared that, if he slept again, he would be subjected to the same torture as last night. The torture of remembering. He ran from the torture towards that which caused it. His hands shook and his stomach danced. His heartbeat rang in his ears.

He crested the hill and saw the gaggle of trees, leaves rustling in the breeze and birds shouting tunefully at one another. His eyes desperately scanned the bases of the trees under which collections of individuals sat and talked in twos and threes and fours. One tree stood out for having only one person under it, talking to no-one and looking, with her head in her hands, as though she wanted no-one to talk to.

He walked towards her slowly, his heart raged in his chest. He forced every step as though he was forcing down a meal he did not want out of courtesy. He knew who it was, he had seen the exact same image before. He blinked.

He got down on his haunches and looked more closely at her. He dared not touch her. His voice had done nothing, he was not expecting his touch to do anything more. He looked at her slender arms; they seemed paler now, lacking the natural tan that comes to one who loved nature as she did. Despite the summer’s sunshine, she was ghostly pale. Her anaemic complexion was not the only thing amiss. As he examined her arms, he saw the ends of pink scars, standing out like throbbing veins as they curved around her forearm. He gasped and as he did he inhaled the thick cloud of alcohol that hung like a pall around her.

Banishing the memory from his mind he moved closer, taking deep breaths. She did not move, she only sat there, back against the tree, shoulders slumped and head bowed. The pose and the emotions that it betrayed was one he knew well. They had been his for the past few weeks. They still were. She showed no sign that she ha heard him approach. He blinked again.

“Shut up!” Emily’s voice betrayed barely withheld tears. The crunch of the cereal hitting the floor was the only sound and she turned to the door. She wrenched it open, almost pulling it from its hinges and left, muttering something about collecting her things tomorrow. There was dead silence after the door slammed shut.

The memory of the last time he had seen her was burned into his mind. He did not need any dreams to remind him. Again he shook off the memory. He looked down at her, the sun danced through the rustling leaves off her golden-brown hair. Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself and spoke.

“Emily?” his voice chocked on fear and grief.

She looked up and those beautiful emerald eyes gazed questioningly into his. He could see anger dancing in her eyes as the light danced in her hair.

“What are you doing here?” she curled her lip in contempt, her voice was gruff with rage and grief.

“I need to talk to you.”

“I have nothing to say to you, and I don’t want to hear anything you might have to say.” Her voice was as spiteful as his was desperate.

“Well I have some things I need to say to you.” He sat down beside her and she glared at him.

“So this is all about you?”

“Yes. I am a shallow, selfish, stupid person, but I need you to know that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I did. I can’t say why I did it, there is no excuse, no reason, except that I am a fool, that could possibly diminish my responsibility for what I did to you. I know I hurt you and I’m son so sorry for what I did. I need you to know that I still love you. My actions might not reflect that, but what I did was an awful, stupid mistake and I wish I’d never done it. I know I can’t expect you to love me back, or even to forgive me, I just want you to know that I’m sorry.”

She did not reply. She just started at him; grief overtook anger as he spoke. He looked deeply into her eyes, silently begging her to say something. Instead she just stared back. A lone tear rolled from the corner of her eye as she blinked. It gathered pace down her cheek and came to a quivering stop on her chin. It paused there for a moment, before gravity took it and it plummeted onto her dress.

His eyes followed it. When it burst onto the fabric, his gaze settled on her arms. He remembered the stark pink lines slashed into her skin, but did not see them. He blinked and smiled weakly, inhaling the fresh, unalcoholic air the surround her. He felt a warm tear rolling down his own cheek. Opening his eyes he say that she gazed at him, sadness, regret and love painted her face as the sunlight danced playfully across her features.

They collapsed into each other and wept for the times they had shared and the love they had lost. The mistakes they had made and the grief they both endured. They sat in their corner of the despoiled paradise and wept the past away while the birds sang oblivious and the sunlight danced silently.

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