Friday, August 28, 2015

embers in the night

It began with a child screaming, in an isolated place of beauty. However, this story begins with children screaming in an isolated place of paranoid rage.

Past twisted, sticky pine boughs, far from other folk, a rough cabin leaned in contemptuous dilapidation. Behind it, in an unkempt garden, a drunken man unleashed his violent anxieties upon his children.

That night, twin smoldering embers asked the bruised boy questions in the imperfect darkness. It was a burnt and blackened thing. It stunk of smoke and crackling meat, but so did all human places. In the darkness it was almost never discovered.

The boy was afraid but used to fear. He was also lonely and cold, furthest from the fire, tucked away in the loft. His sister slept in what had been her mother’s place; she was warm but helplessly numb. Their father snored fitfully too near the fireplace.

It learned much as it befriended the boy within their island of whispering dark. It came quickly to its judgement and wished the boy a pleasant good night. Sooty footfalls made their quiet way down the creaking rungs.

The fire brightened and billowed smoke in recognition as the burnt thing approached. Sparks showered out from the newly roaring inferno. The burnt thing’s fists clenched and its jaw went taught at the sight of the monster still guiltlessly snoring away.

Heavier embers blew forth as cold night air raced down the chimney. The burnt thing sat firmly upon the man’s empty chest. Minor blazes already danced all around them, but it would allow no smoke to reach the sleeping man.

The monster would not die breathlessly in his sleep. The monster would die wide awake, surging in panic and wreathed in purifying pain, executionary flame.

The burnt thing gave no warning to the children. Their pains could end in the smoke, it told itself.

Really, it wished the boy to awaken just as the burnt thing once did. Secretly it wished for a friend, for knowing eyes to share its pain.

When the monster began to scream, the boy sat up with a start. There was nothing but the shadow of smoke back lit by white-hot heat. Panicked breath bought him only aching lungs.

As his father continued to scream, the boy remembered his wits and crashed through the thin thatch roof. He tumbled into cold night air and unforgiving ground.

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