I’ve been trying to figure out what to put up, story wise. It was part of a 60 minute writing group – had to be completed in one hour, and it was. It’s a dark fantasy piece I wrote in 2007 called Until Midnight.
jsackmom, this is for you. 🙂
It’s quiet and dark, so I can hear the leaves protesting the abuse the wind is dishing out to them. I feel like I’m being whipped up with the oak leaves, pulled from my mooring branch and swept out with the gale to the sea. I tell myself I don’t know why it is I’m so restless, I make everyone else around me believe I don’t know. I know why, though. I know why and I can’t express it. I don’t want to admit it – saying it makes it real and I can’t have it be real.
Not now. I place my hand on the window, feeling the chill in the air through the glass. Clouds speed by on the horizon, leaving blue stars exposed in the dark sky. The wind has no mercy tonight. It ignores the leaves rustling protest and hurries the clouds. The wind has an agenda, it is on a mission from our mistress and takes it’s duties seriously. I see the moon, cresting over the streaks of dark clouds, feeling the silver light as it kisses my hand through the cold glass. In opalescent majesty, she takes her throne in the stars and I bow my head before her in proper respect. I hear it sing of the tides that I’m missing while land locked, the quiet majesty of my native place as it swirls around me. Home is not here, this world of grass, and dirt and glass and stone. The moon tells me to go back and I see myself reflected in the glass, alien and strange. What would he see, if he walked down the stairs now and beheld me here, awash in moonlight? Would he see the illusion of me or will he recognize what I really am, the thing that lures him to misery and destruction? Who would he see?
But he doesn’t walk down the stairs. He snuffles against his pillow in our bed and dreams of whatever his kind dream of. Once I believed I could know and understand his kind, that I could be like him and live his life. I can’t. I can’t and I know that now, but it’s too late. I’m tied here. Old magic has bound me tightly to this mortal life, this existence that makes me a stranger even to my own kind. I pass others by in the markets, studying them carefully after hearing a trill of laughter, or a quick reproach in a watery gurgle to children who are pale and beautiful like mine. Our eyes meet over the baskets and we nod in silent acknowledgment. They have made promises, too. Oaths and vows and spells have been spoken and cast. Promises made by blood and bone and will rip my soul away from my skin to break them now.
What kind of promises? The moon whispers thoughtfully. Their kind only understands promises in a temporary way. You cannot stay. He will move on…it is only you who will suffer the torment of your shattered word. He will be spared your pain. You already have seen this in him. See how he does not feel as you do? You are the ocean, he is a ripple. Your broken oath will merely set him off balance and then he will forget. But you will not. Perhaps you will remember to not give yourself so freely next time.
Those that are insane are called lunatics, but the Moon is sensible, predictable and stable. Lunar good advice is not easily ignored. It’s more than promises that hold me here.The moon is a cold mistress and does not think of those things at first. She just wants what is under her rule in it’s right place. I have been here too long, in her estimation. She is right.
“A child sleeps in the room beside mine, a child that is both for this place and mine. What will become of him?” I whisper to the moon, pressing my face against the window. “He is your subject as well.”
Take him, foolish one. Leave this place with your spawn. Teach him what you have learned and let him return when he is ready, just as you did. Aren’t you smarter than salmon? Even they know to return to the place of their birth when it is time to breed. You will not walk here again, beloved. But your spawn will. Be content in that much.
“How long do I have?” I press on, hoping to grasp for more minutes, seconds moments, maybe. I want to collect them as the earthbound collect shells on the beach, save them in jars, to examine at my leisure. To remove a handful of shining seconds from a tall glass jar and let them sift through my fingers while saying, “See, these? These where when I was happiest.” To point to a larger container filled with swirling black minutes and say, “And those, those where when I was sadder than I ever dreamed possible.” I want to pick up an hour from a basket and say, “This? This is the hour I first held my son. See the golden sheen across the front of this hour? The pearly white gloss of it’s underside? This was where his kelp dark eyes broke the frost over my heart. Isn’t it a beautiful hour?”
You have until midnight, beloved. Midnight and no more. The moon replies gently. I would give you forever, if I thought you would be happy with it.
“Midnight?” I look at the timepiece that rests on the small table beside the window. “It is after two now, My lady. Midnight, when?”
Midnight….when I call to you again at midnight, you must return.
The wind picks up, obscuring the moon from me with thick clouds. Clouds that weep heavy tears, spattering the leaves, the ground, the dirt and my window. The rain beats a rhythm, a staccato song that sounds the same against glass as it does on the surface of a mirror smooth lagoon. Eyes and heart heavy, I walk up the stairs to our bed, sliding under the covers. I close my eyes, huddling away from his warmth. To touch him now would be to betray him more. I hear the moon as I fall asleep, whispering to me through the storm blanket around her. She is relentless and I cannot fight against her will anymore. When she calls me again to leave, I will go. Even I who know the siren song by heart cannot resist it’s power in the end.
You have until midnight, beloved. Midnight and no more. When I call to you again at midnight, you must return.