Christian Fennell is currently working on two books: a collection of short stories, On My Way to Sunday, and a novel, Urram Hill. His short stories have appeared in a number of literary magazines and collected works, including: Tincture, Spark: A Creative Anthology, and Carnival Magazine, among others. In addition to writing fiction, Christian is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue. He resides in rural Ontario. http://christianfennell.wix.com/christianfennell
- This story originally appeared in Indigo Rising UK, June 2013
See me dying, withered and decaying between crisp white sheets. I wait for the prick of the needle. It comes and the warm reprieve takes me again.
I run. Dark and empty city streets. I stop, my heart pounding and resounding in my head and I watch the thin pools of water gathered upon the road beginning to ripple. I look behind me, an immeasurable distance back to the birthplace of darkness itself. I turn back and a two-headed dog with massive jaws that foam and drip sinks both sets of jaws deep into my face. We fall to the cobblestone surface of the road and my faceless head lulls forward and the dog takes it. The heads fight to enter my red-dark hole and they hollow me out. They rip and consume the skin from my bones and they eat the bones so that all remains of me is a scull dripping in blood from a scalp that is nothing more than a few splotches of dark hair.
And then I see you, sitting at the end of our bed, wrapped in your heavy white bathrobe, your skin fresh and pink from a warm tub. And even with the stain of this life worn so heavy upon your face, you are beautiful. Your light blue eyes, long black hair, and lips that crave red lipstick, still all shine despite the small fog that settles at the front of your brain, goes away, comes back, and settles again.
I wake in the dark, the room silent and thick with the smell of my pending death. I open my eyes—where? And then I remember. I close them again.
We are together, on the porch stairs, leaning back, the warm sun upon our faces watching our four young children walk down our long, shaded driveway. They walk and talk and play and stop to see the horses come to the white post and rail fence to see them off. The horses’ tails flicking at flies, the school bus honking and waiting.
We smoke and talk and time passes in our words like a faint breeze across our world, a world that was ours for the making.
You wore faded and ripped jeans and a white tank top and we laid back flat against the warm porch boards and made love in the sunlight.That night, you drank a bottle of red wine, took another one with you, and you drove away. You drove down a dark country road. You drove onto an irrigated field of beans and you ran a jagged piece of green glass across your wrist. They said you wouldn't make it. That's what they said. But you did. You stayed.
My breathing raspy and heavy in my chest and I see the children standing before me, so beautiful, still and quiet, their sad young eyes there and speaking to me—filled with such fear and uncertainty.
The needle comes and I go again.
You wake from a late morning nap and walk to a chair by the window where you sit looking out at a cool autumn day without sun. You watch for a while, crisp red-brown leaves whirling and tumbling down the vacant road. And you look at me, and I can see it, the same as if it were an object you held in your hands before me. Your wellness has surrendered, betraying you again. This hope—sustaining you, held tight beneath warmth sheets in your nights, it’s gone again, fallen away leaving you cold and alone. And it rings electric—alive now just beneath your skin. This pain that stalks and waits, harbored in a darkness so utterly whole that you know it must come from somewhere beyond yourself. It calls now, and it won’t be put off. Not by doctors, by meds, not by you, not by me, not by the letting of your own blood. It will come.
You draw a warm tub and drink a glass of red wine. You lean your head back and cry, long and silent again. You stop and get up, put on your heavy white bathrobe and walk to our room and sit at the end of our bed.
I dream that I wake and see you there, and you are beautiful.
We talk and laugh, twenty years warmed by the sun breaking through the open window. And we stay like this, a very long time. Somewhere in the house, the kids yell and scream. One of us should go, "Please," I hear myself saying. "Stay."
The tears that flow now are mine.
I wake and think back to that day not long after we moved to this little house in town. And I was not yet sick. I went down into the basement. I can’t remember why. I came back up and you were gone. And it was not like at the farm, there were just too many places for you to go—too many side streets, dead-end streets, parks and strip malls.
They found you alone in the night, parked behind an empty building. Gone. Empty bottles filled with what? Squeezed tight at your feet.
I wake, unaware I've been sleeping—confused and unable to distinguish myself from the darkness. A warm touch upon my face. A whisper. “In the guardianship of perfect silence, all shall be known."
Your eyes blue and clear and there’s a breeze. Your long hair sways. Your red lips parted. Our feet entwined, twisting and twirling in soft white sand on a vast empty beach I have never seen before. And we dance. A dance of time. All our moments spent.
3 comments (click to read and post)
You don't have to sign up to Koobug - you can read all of the content on the site. However, if you'd like to comment or recommend books and posts, you'll need an account.
It's completely free to use, whether you are an author or reader.
All we need from you is your email address, which we'll use to send you an access link. You can then click on the link and choose your password and profile picture.
We will not disclose your email address to anyone else, or use it to send you spam.
Enter your email address into the box, and a password if you have one. If this is your first time here, or you can't remember your password, leave the box blank; we'll email you a temporary key.