Haunted.

Oh little one,
why didn’t you flee?
Why didn’t you let your legs
carry you far and free?

Oh little one,
keep running, don’t look back–
Remember my golden curls in all its glory,
not this bloodied, lifeless wreck.

Oh little one,
’tis is a rough and gravelled road.
“Take the road less traveled,” they said
Ha! It has stolen precious empathy,
a cursed, beloved abode.

Oh little one,
in the years to come,
will you come to loathe and
loathe,
holding love

for none?

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Soloveiko

Her eyes are glassy.
Her scrawny hands tremble and she watches the nightingale flit
through the green shadows of nature
its angelic feathers beautiful in movement–

No! She searches the sky wildly, eager to capture a glimpse of the small, agile creature
its flapping wings and small beak
the tuft of blue and orange that spreads from its breast;

Clear, sweet birdsong breaks through the rustling of leaves
the melody warm despite the chill of the season.
The blue-throated nightingale whispers soft words:

Come home love
Come home.

Fallen.

You

took it all away. One moment you’re sweet as honey, the next you’re as cold as ice.
What! The edge of anger in your striking blue eyes shatters my armor, it’s
a war-hammer
that slams into the walls of my heart.

Slowly, then all of a sudden.

Life brushes past me, its serene existence sending ripples through the air. A light breeze, smelling vaguely of leaves, caresses my cheek, and the rugged surface of the park bench presses into the back of thighs. Slowly, I stand. Strange. A quietness fills my mind as I watch the scene before me.

I start thinking about what I did today, what I ate for breakfast, what I said to Mom before I left the house. What I didn’t do in the past month. My gaze focuses upon a couple, their bodies leaning upon one another’s, their fingers entwined. A smile creeps across my lips as she leans in for a kiss and his ears turn bright red. Cute. He runs his fingers through her shoulder-length light brown hair, the way you used to do it. He pulls her towards him before planting the kiss softly against her lips. Confusion bombards me momentarily as memories start trickling into my head in a steady stream. His silhouette uncannily resembles yours, with broad shoulders and a slight lean towards the right. The way you placed your elbow slightly behind your back. How you liked to wear white, light shirts on a sunny day, and the way your biceps bulged slightly from your sleeves.

“Hey, been waiting long?”

I tear my eyes away and look over my shoulder. A young man places his arm around my back and guides me to the park bench. Apparently I seemed to have wandered quite a distance away from it. The leaves of an old oak tree rustle overhead, and I remember, for a moment, of a special summer. But it slips away from me and I feel the odd texture of the bench pressing into the back of my thighs once again.

“Taking a stroll?” The young man sighs and wipes my forehead with a damp towel. He has light brown hair that curls slightly upwards, and deep, dark eyes that look strangely familiar. I like the way his skin glows in the midday sun and strangely, I feel secure. Something I hadn’t felt in months.

I stare at him for the longest time and he fidgets a little uncomfortably under my gaze.

“Is this a staring competition?” He asks, his eyes glimmering with amusement as he laughs and places his hand over mine.

I am reminded of a time long ago. Of myself before a coffee maker, and of an older version of the young man standing behind me. He calls out my name and I turn, smiling. He gives me that same look with his eyes, and I am filled with a sense of belonging and warmth.

But all too soon, it starts to blur and fade. Afraid and confused, I clutch the young man’s hand tightly as if I am hanging on the edge of a cliff and holding on for my dear life. He strokes the the back of my hand with soft, rhythmic strokes and I am reassured by his warm smile and gentle touch.

“I’ll be right here.” He pats my back in small, smooth strokes with his other hand, and I feel my breath deepen and fall into harmony with the rustling leaves. I hear a ringtone, and he puts his hand into his pocket and retrieves his mobile. He gives me a “wait a moment” gesture and I nod quickly. Parts of his conversation slip through and it vaguely registers in my head.

“Yeah, it’s getting worse… Mistook… think she’s forgetting more…Yes, dementia.”

Dementia. That word rings in my head as I stare absently ahead.

The sky burns a deep, orange-red, and the clouds look like puffs of red explosions, like they did during The War. Birdsong entwines with the sound of soft rustling leaves. A sense of urgency and fear engulfs me and I remember.

“Jack! Where are you?”

“Right here Mom.” The man beside me clutches my hand tightly.

“Thank goodness. Where’s your Daddy?”

Silence fills the air as that moment of clarity drifts further away.

“I love you Mom.”

 

—-

[timed writing!]

Facade.

“Heyy!”

That’s how it always starts. Always, with her shrill, overly cheerful greeting that is two octaves higher than it really should be. I feel the usual throb in my ear and wince as I prepare for the next torrent of soprano pitched, glass shattering how-have-you-been-s.

“I’ve been great! Just a little busy here and there, you know,” I reply with a forced smile. A little vagueness helps from time to time I suppose. It helps when I’m trying to protect the last shred of privacy I have left over my life. My eyes unconsciously follow the diamond-studded silver ring on her finger–her left ring finger. She flicks her shiny, ebony hair and it swishes as it sweeps just past her shoulder in perfect, soft waves.

“I’ve been great too! Did you know that recently John and Emma have gotten engaged? And there’s Trix and Hodgson….” She talks animatedly with her thousand-volt smile. Her voice unintentionally trails off into the back of my mind, where it becomes a constant hum, like the hum a refrigerator gives off in the middle of the night.

“…Jane?”

A deep, gentle baritone snaps me back to reality. My hazel eyes lift and meet his striking blue orbs. An all too familiar magnetism traps me. I feel the empty plastic cup I’ve forgotten about slip from my fingers. It hits the ground with a muted thud.

“Whoops.” He bends down and picks up the cup in one smooth, fluid motion.

My head yells in panic as the thud resounds in my heart. The wall of my defences cracks like glass. It grows and spreads like an ugly web and it branches out like a dead, withered tree. I manage a small “Thank you” as I try to breathe normally. Slow inhales and exhales. Now it’s his turn to start with the how-have-you-beens.

I repeat my answer, but he is a natural-born vagueness detector. He gives me that look with an arch of his eyebrow. I feel my breath hitch and for half a second I am overwhelmed, compelled to let him in, to drown in his warmth. He always gave me that look whenever I was keeping something from him. I always gave in.

“Congratulations,” I find myself saying as I smile and hold my arms out. He gives me a puzzled hug and she follows suit. “I’m so happy for you guys!” I pat them both softly on the back and try to fight the whoosh of sadness that brushes past me.