Saturday, 18 June 2011

A short story of sorts.


It reminded her of pressing a cold smooth pebble against her cheek, the softness of the stone pushing gently into her warm yielding skin. The memory transported her back to a time on the beach. Her face had been slightly damp; sweat and tears mixed together imprinting her cheekbone into the pebble making the top half of it a dull brown against the dusky grey of the rest. Before it had glided effortlessly, moving across her face like a rowing boat floating and easing itself across still water but the tears had caused friction making the pebble rub into her cheek. Her life was like that, sometimes she glided through it effortlessly, it almost seemed easy.  Then soon without warning, friction was added turning the glide into a struggle until she sometimes stopped completely, waiting for the pebble to dry out once more, so that she could continue on her way.

 Now, here she was comparing the feel of a pebble on her cheek to the cold reality of a gun’s barrel resting gently into her cheek. She looked up, the steely sheen of the gun was glared in the eyes of her soon to be killer. The eyes could be likened to metal- solid and dirty mirrors of the world around, reflecting everything around them but showing nothing of the inside. It was no longer gently resting, but biting, causing a small circle of skin to be sucked a few millimetres into the barrel of the gun creating a cushioned pocket of pink human flesh.

 Life and death becoming one now, the vitality of human flesh squashed into the deathly black of the gun’s spiralling barrel. She thought about a phrase she had previously given little thought to, ‘from the second we are born we could be a second away from death’, before she had played with this idea comfortable and happy in her detachment from it. In the midst of her life, death had felt along way off. But NOW death was being pushed into her face and the sentiment was suddenly real, death REALLY could be a second away.

 How did this make her feel?

Inadequate and unfulfilled.  Inadequate because she had done her last of everything on this earth. The last person she had a conversation with was a stranger, a stranger who meant nothing to her and who she meant nothing to, it would be an irrelevance to that stranger if she was now to die. She’d always imagined she would do more, affect someone and leave some kind of mark but she doubted anyone would care either way  Unfulfilled because since being born she thought her life had encountered more bad seconds then good, her life had been ‘more bad’ than good so had it been worth it?

Inadequate and unfulfilled….what a note for her life to end on. Such empty words that boasted of little more than a failure, a life failed. She had failed in the most important test of all…life. Despair began to drown her senses dragging her into the familiar void. The start of a life- what promise, what hope, what possibilities. Her life had been a blank landscape ahead of her, ready to be filled with the pictures and words of her life. True, she was the creator of that landscape, it was her life but other people, events and circumstance leaked in from the edges changing the focus of the picture, often transforming it into a scene that seemed alien and unfamiliar to her because it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Well at least her landscape had started more blank than others, it was utterly unplanned. She knew some peoples’ started with odd flexes of colour, faint outlines of soon to be pictures sketched and brushed lovingly there by parents and family who had plans for this child of theirs. For some- money, a life of luxury, opportunity, the promise of eternal love and shelter in the guise of a parental home had been engraved and etched into that landscape before the life had even begun. Lives already directed by the circumstances they were born into. Her life had lacked this from the start.

The point was she could have done anything with it, this life of hers, and at this moment, when death was surely moments away, she felt like she had done nothing with it. A sudden resolve made her jerk her head a little higher causing the gun to jab painfully into her reddened cheek. So she had done nothing with her life….so far… but maybe there was still time, a chance or more dangerously, hope. The desire to turn nothing into something spurred her to fight to not give up.

‘Please….no, not like this’ she half rasped and half shouted.
The killers’ eyes shined a new determination and the gun moved slowly from the softness of her cheek to the hardness of her temple.
 A cruel smile pulled the killers mouth into a grim resolve.
‘Why….why like this, why now?’, sobbing she pleaded with her killer for answers, for an understanding of why this had to happen why, why did any of her life happen if it was to end like this?
The killer shook their head detached from any emotion apart for a glimmer of pity which passed so quickly she thought it must have been imagined.

Internally she tossed the sentiment ‘I was meant for more’ from one side of her mind to the other so that it seemed to bounce from one side of her skull to the next but it did little more than emphasise how empty and hollow the rest of her mind and feeling was.

There was a faint click which resonated poignantly through the thick and hungry air of the room. The click of a CD- player being started.

Then, the trickle of a bird’s song and suddenly an acoustic guitars lonely first chord. A chord that struck at her heart. The words began to be sung.

 Sung so innately that they sounded more like breath, an extension of someone’s physical being exhaled into the air and into the ears of anybody that would listen.

Haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.
Better stop now before I start crying
Go off to sleep in the sunshine
Don’t wanna see the day when its dying’

Odd lines from the song drifted in and out of her consciousness….

I could make you smile
If you stayed a while
But how long will you stay with me baby?
Because your candle burns too bright
Well I almost forgot it was twilight’

She thought bitterly that twilight was it for her now, the candle had guttered a long time ago.

Then the end of the song….

‘Well I’m tired of being down, I got no fight
You’re wonderful
And it’s beautiful
But I’, already somebody’s baby
And if I went with you
I’d disappoint you too.’

Another click; this time the more sinister click of the safety catch being released on the gun.

The killer took one last deep look into the eyes of her victim and then pulled the trigger. A single moment quivered and passed, the bullet turned itself from the barrel and plunged into the skin of the temple. Life was now death so quickly. A single moment had transformed a life into death.

A single body thudded to the floor as the last two lines of the song were exhaled.

‘Well I’m already somebody’s baby
Already somebody’s baby’.

The room was now empty of life.

The last dancing rays of a dying sun reflected off the mirror onto the body below.

The gun slipped clumsily from the bodies’ damp hand resting gently on the floor next to the now still body that had held it a minute before.

1 comment :

  1. Interesting piece - my favorite passage was the one about our "landscapes." I had never thought about life that way before. It's true that we control our lives to a vast extent, but only within the confines of the "landscape" into which we've been painted.

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