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Snapshots Of A Dark World.   —   Writing - Flash Fiction

Rolling blackness settles like a fog upon the buildings. The power lines to our lives have been severed and we are left with aimless direction. The night is thick and heavy and the silence has never been so conclusive. The air is spread with heat and the heat has a pulse in the dark. I can feel it dancing over my bare skin and stuffing itself down my throat, filling my lungs. In a place that is always alive I feel as though I’ve regressed into my mother’s womb with the sudden stillness of the city. It is calming and raw and I know that it will be stolen from me with an electrical spark.

I turn from the window to the only other person in the room. I can’t see him but I can feel his body heat and his breathing fills my ears like the ocean. We don’t speak and when we touch it’s almost for the first time. Our skin is salty and warm and slick with perspiration and anticipation. Our union is animalistic and honest. We seem to have shed ourselves of responsibility, of bills, of rent, of social conformity and moral right. I feel skinless and light, sinking into the universe. We dance an ancient tribal dance twisting and pounding and keeping the rhythm that has been kept for centuries. It is a dance of spiritual guiding and bodily language that is universally understood. It is the only common bond between everything that is alive and we are living, and at times being reborn.

Alert, my feet hit the hard wood floor and my legs take me tentatively from room to room, winding past foreign objects that resemble nothing of what I know them to have been. In this place there are trolls and rodents of unusual size. There are caves with endless paths and holes with bottomless mouths. In this place it is far greater than that of anything we’ve ever known. My bare foot strikes down upon a fur-covered tail and I shriek as the rodent of unusual size howls a meow and scatters beneath a sheeted shrub.

I am being hunted.

Eyes are penetrating every corner and every new breath compromises the silence. The hunter takes a step and his ankle defies him with a pop. I spin around ferociously with my teeth bared and weapon ready. My elbow rockets backwards as the hunter lunges into my ready hand and he growls in agony as my cardboard paper towel sword plummets into his tender belly. My hunter has been hunted. I am victorious.

Water pours from the wall and I can feel the salt slide down my face past my lips where it leaves me a souvenir of bitter residue. Despite the cool liquid enveloping my limbs my flesh still radiates a sticky heat as though my muscles are lined with coals. I hear a rustle of fabric and a slight breeze accompanies me along with another body to stand beneath the water pouring from the wall. His arms, also warm, wrap around my waste and my head falls forward and rests upon his chest. We stand like that for hours, months, decades, in complete silence and darkness, letting the rhythm of our breathing and the light thump of our heartbeats be the music in the night.

My skin has become wrinkled and loose. Perhaps it has been a lifetime ago since the darkness came and I have worn on with the age of an old woman, perhaps not.

My wrinkly toes press into the cool tile floor and my wrinkly fingers play over shadowy objects in search of nourishment. A successful endeavor has resulted in grapes and plums and bananas. A poem fills my head as my teeth pierce through the warm plum and suddenly I long for an icebox. I struggle to sit with an armful of fruit and the grapes roll from my hands in a desperate attempt at escape and plummet to tile floor striking my bare feet with a dull plop. The other person in the room laughs aloud as his feet press into the grapes that have fallen, his laugh jars me, as it is the first I’ve heard in this new life.

The window still holds a blackened city and the air still holds the silence. If it weren’t so dark I’d close my eyes but as it is I keep them wide and fall with my arms spread open, backwards into the mattress. It is too hot for pillows or sheets so they lay in a pile where they have fallen onto the floor. I hold a paper fan above my head and slowly fan the length of our bodies with a warm breeze. The paper makes a sound like leaves and it is nighttime in the forest as well, its billowy elms standing starkly above our heads, the ground holding firmly beneath our backs. The animals have fallen silent and the moon has hid its brilliant pearl face behind the clouds in the sky. We hold hands, the other person and I, and we stare into the black abyss above us, the forest keeping us still.

My mind wrestles with consciousness and my eyes battle against the inevitable ending to my peaceful rest. Slowly, the evening creeps into reflection and I am saddened that it is now only a memory and nothing tangible to hold. The magic stolen by the light that lies beyond my closed lids, the silence broken by the people in the street. Still with my eyes closed I send my hand on a search to find the other person in the bed. Successful, my fingers wrap around his wrist and are greeted by the steady lull of his pulse. Reassured with something tangible to hold I open my eyes to the light of the day, the darkness melts away and my sight registers my surroundings. With a dull ache in my stomach my mouth falls into frown as I realize that I can no longer truly see.

Posted 9.14.2003

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