Red Sky at Night
There were noises all around here, wails and broken voices, the crackling of flames and the crashes of stone as buildings and dreams collapsed around her. She could taste the air on her tongue, it was thick. Thick and musty with heat and ash, it ran into her eyes and tears of salt escaped her lids, faster and faster.
A woman screamed.
It came from above. She tried to move her neck but she couldn’t.
The scream came again, raw and unforgiving in someone’s throat, reduced to this. To nothing.
She opened her mouth to try and form some words, but then realised it was already open. She tried to move her lips but they were so dry that it hurt to stretch them. She stopped.
The scream. Again.
She tried to focus on something, anything through the ash, but her vision grew hazy, her eyes began to see shapes dancing in the flames until she was laid in a cold room.
A small girl was cradled on a wooden cot pretending to be asleep, while a man was sat at a chair facing away with his head in his hands. He was sobbing silently into his palms while the girl lay as if she were dead, until she could not take it anymore. She rose from the cot her small, naked feet feeling the wooden floor, so clear, so cold.
“Papa” came a voice from the girl, out of centuries. The man immediately stilled and tried to look stern until that small voice sounded again and struck an arrow in his soul. He turned to face the girl and held her through the ash of grief as they both longed for something they could never have again, longed for a person who had left them.
She laid her forehead against his collarbone and pressed so she could feel, feel what’s real, what’s bone and what’s flesh. But she couldn’t, she pressed and she pressed but there was nothing there. Nothing at all.
It was snowing, flakes falling from an upward abyss, so pure, so untainted.
But then it wasn’t, it was ash and debris falling from the ruined buildings. Like tell tale memories staining the earth. It burned as it fell on her skin, singing. She tried to raise her arms to swat it away, but she couldn’t.
“Papa” the voice sounded.
Her eyes were beginning to sting but she didn’t want to close them.
She tried to take in what was around her; she was almost sat up, in what had been a doorway. Her head was leaning against one of the posts and in the corner of her eye she could see the engraved wonder of a detailed hand. Someone somewhere had held this piece of wood, had taken it from the ground and replaced natures beauty with carved, symmetric patterns. She wondered where that person was, whether they were alive, whether their children were alive, whether they had ever loved someone so warm and lost them, whether they had ever felt that coldness that could never be eased.
Her gaze fell upward, then immediately down as the snow hit her eyes. Then back to doorway, who ever said that man-made, artificial things were not beautiful? She thought the carved lines of the door were breathtaking.
They were as clear as skin stretched over a face. A face of a man who was sleeping, with his head on the pillow next to her own. His cheek was slightly smudged on the material and his lips were pressed together awkwardly as he dreamt. She observed all of this with a quiet remembrance of all her girlhood years, imagining what it would be like to sleep naked with a naked body next to you, what it would feel like to make love and have someone’s hands touch every part of you, inside and out.
She wanted to sleep, so she could wake up in the morning and see him next to her, but she couldn’t. She had given away a part of herself to this peculiar creature and she was curios to see what she had gained. Her eyes roamed downward, one arm slung from the blankets, a section of naked chest, rising with each frail breath, and the rest hidden from sight, but not from mind she thought with a blush.
She wanted to touch, to claim, to be claimed. She wanted to shout and scream.
How could one person feel so much love?
She would surely burst if she did not wake him and tell him how much she loves him, again. So she shook gently and watched as his eyes flickered and the focused on her, she bit her lips and whispered in his ear. Things that she would never, could never say to another being on the earth.
It seemed like an age as she watched his expression, his smile fade and diminish, his eyes sink into his head, his skin stretched and deteriorated, the bones beneath turned grey and brittle. It evoked no reaction, she just watched as if were meant to be, as if it were as true as the lines on this wood.
She blinked away more tears, not caused by the ash but by the pounding of her broken heart, pumping her life away, agonisingly slowly.
She was cold, so cold.
The scream came, but this time it sounded beneath her. All she could do was blink, so she blinked the world away.
Once again she found her gaze climbing, this time unflinchingly, this time fixed. Fixed on eternity, the trapdoor in the sky.
And it was blazing.
Blazing like she had never seen, the sun engulfed the entire sky like a greedy child taking all into its grasp. There were no clouds, no stars, just blazing, red light.
It hurt to stare at but she wouldn’t look away. She couldn’t.
The scream. Again.
This time it did not sound beneath her, nor was it above. It was within her. It was her. Her soul had ripped itself from her body and torn open and screamed, into the heavens, into the abyss. All the pain, all the love and the loses, the tears and the laughter, the harsh words and the secrets never told emptied themselves into the red, red sky. And it took it all, everything she had been and had not been was soaked red and empty.
Until all she was, was flesh and bone, sat in a doorway that someone had once held, that had once grown, that had once lived, and then died all on a red, red night.
This story started because I wanted to have a go at writing an elf, and this elf was meant to be a women dying during the fall of Gondolin. However as I wrote this it became more and more distorted that I suppose it could be any woman anywhere. It's kind of a poem, kind of not, it's not really much of a story but I hope you enjoy.
Chapter end notes:
Hope you enjoyed this mindless drabble. Reviews make my day so if you're feeling kind :)