The Shadow In Him

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The Shadow In Him Empty The Shadow In Him

Post by Alle on Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:50 pm

This is a short story I wrote about a year ago, in a creative writing class. The prompt was simply to write a piece of fiction. This is what I turned in. It could use some work, some clarification - I also, in my nerdiness, think it might be interesting grounds for an RP. Thoughts...?

The Shadow In Him

The highway changes when it reaches the coastline, shrinking into a single lane of concrete winding north. It hugs the curve of the cliffs, the dips and changes battered blue and white by the ocean. To the east bumpy hills stretch to the sky, patterned with heather and cloud-shadow. At the constant tug of the wind, the clouds shift and change, but the heather remains like purple bruises.

As the shape of the land herds the road inland, deep into the highlands, the hills become small mountains of limestone and brittle shrubs. A river runs from some hidden source, far above the road in the gorge. They lead to the same place: the town with the wisteria tree.

There is no valley for the town but a pocket in the rockets, like some ancient lightning blasted the mountain away and instead of grass there grew buildings. The buildings themselves are crooked and close together, separated by alleys that serve as streets. Blue and black roofs come to steeple well below the line of the ridge that surrounds the village, broken on the northern edge when the river runs down the rock face. It winds through backyards and under tiny bridges, as if the town is built on a cobweb of rock and water.

The tree itself grows where the river and the rocks meet at the base of the ridge. The trunk leans against the stone, its branches twining out towards the sky and the rooftops like searching hands. The grass around the tree is pale green and untouched, the only circle of soft grass to be found in the pocket, growing the soft feathers of the earth around the namesake tree.

The back door to the Ayers’ house creaks open, the light from the outside darting in to etch brief shadows into the wall behind the tapestries. The old thick stairs that twist through the narrow house creak as the boy plods to the first floor. “Hurry up, Scott” the girl calls. “We’re going to miss the sunset.”

Scott grabs his jacket. He likes the sunsets in the highlands, where the light sets the land on fire and the shadows are thick and strong, thick and strong - but he liked her better, moments ago, when she was wearing nothing but a homespun sheet.

The girl pushes the door open farther, reaching back to him with her open hand as she slips down the steps to the path worn in the earth. “You’ll like the tree. No one ever goes there.” She paused until he looked her in the eye. Everything was dark about her - hair, shadows on her skin, her eyes - except for the shirt that flaps in the breeze around her waist. His shirt.

“It’s very private.”

White skin, white shirt, white sheets.

“Lead the way.”

Scott grips her hand and allows her to pull him down the hill towards the tree. The picnic basket thumps against her bare knees. The sun hovers just above the ridge. In the village the darkness creeps across the ground, oozing from corners and underneath stones. It gathers at the base of the tree, pooling around the roots. The branches are heavy with sheaves of flowers. The breeze that moves the clouds moves the petals too, pulling them to the earth.

“This is why you call this place Wisteria Falls,” Scotts says as they splash through a small creek that cuts through the grass. Cold clear water splashes across his feet. The shadow in him flinches.

“I didn’t name it,” the girl says. She ducks beneath the branches ahead of him. When he steps inside she had abandoned the basket in the grass and leans against the trunk. Her toes curl against the roots. “It’s fitting though.”

Scott shrugs, glancing up at the canopy of murky wood. It looks like a cage.

“You don’t have to leave, you know,” she says quietly. “You can stay another night.”

“Can I?” He had come down the highway in search of wind, in hopes that the ocean and the light off the water would help. Yet the road led him back, into the heart of the highlands, too close to the rocks and the dark earth for the shadow to fade. The road led here, to the Ayers’ house, where she has empty beds. The rooms are neat, and they stay that way. The only bed he sleeps in is her own.

There seems to be no cure.

“I don’t get a lot of visitors.”

He laughs. “That’s good to know.”

“I don’t mean like that. You’re - I don’t normally sleep with my house guests.”

“I’m just special.” The wind jostles the flowers, sending patches of golden sunlight across her face.

“Yes. You are. So, stay.”

He knows what she wants, and he knows why he wants her. There are girls in the cities in the lowlands; girls with bright smiles and sweet-smelling skin. Yet the city was where the shadow had found him, slipping down the oily streetlamp and into his hair. Suddenly the streetlights weren’t enough. The bright neon only glazed the darkness in greens and oranges.

“It will be better in the country,” someone said to him. “Rent a car, take a vacation. The fresh air will clear your head.”

It was not better.

The cities are dark, but the country is empty. It is the hollowness of the land in the night, the gloaming barely pierced by starlight, that makes his skin sweat. Crouching in front of his car on the shoulder of the highway, he suck in air until his throat burns with salt and cold. He head doesn’t clear. It pounds. It is still around him, inside him, like a hole blasted in his chest.

Her touch jolts him out of the memories. Her face is inches from his own and he feels the heat off her skin. Cool fingers brush the stubble under his chin. “You get this look in your eyes, sometime. You wouldn’t be sad, if you stayed here.”

The sun sets. It touches the top of the ridge, a deep cleft of darkness forming where the corona touches the rock of the earth. Across the village, the last of the light ripples on windows and rooftops before slipping into night. In his chest, Scott feels the stirring. He remembers the edge of the cliff, the great yawning gulfs where there is no sight, just the roar of the ocean and the sharp smell of salt.

“Scott?” she whispers. He hears the fear. Before she can speak again he grabs her face and kisses her. Everything comes hard and fast. The roots crunch beneath his feet she stumbles backward, her fingers wound desperately through his hair. Bark catches the white shirt and pulls it upwards. His hands fly to white skin, following the dip of her back as he connects his body to her in as many ways, as quickly as possible.

Chest to chest, hip to hip, teeth to teeth.

He senses the swell of her heart. She believes this is a turning point. It is, but not between a weekend in bed and a lifetime here, in the village in the highland mountains. It is between the man he was weeks ago, walking down the streets at night, and this one here beneath the tree, sweating and hungry and poised on the edge of the dark gulfs.

The breeze picks up as the temperature sunk, cold air pressing like an invisible weight against the grass. Scott presses her hard against the wisteria tree. She squirms and sighs and her knee brushes his hip.

“Stay,” she begs. For a moment it seems as though he could fall backwards, into the life possible behind him. Where he grabs her tenderly and takes her back to the narrow Ayers’ house and they sleep on homespun cotton. The last of the light begins to fade. He can barely see the porch light.

“It’s too late for that.”

Her eyes are surprised, hurt. He doesn’t see her eyes. The shadow in him stretches, long and slow, shuddering like a mountain. All he sees is the white of her neck behind his hands.

Blue grass, blue heather on the hills, blue skin.

The girl kicks feebly, but they’re too entangled. The shadow hums through brain and blood. She gasps once, like the whisper of two flowers rubbing together. His brain pounds, like a clock winding down. The girl slumps and the boy lets her fall to the soft grass.

“Too late for that, much too late,” he mumbles. “I’m special.”

He sits beneath the tree as darkness falls upon the village. Wind tears through the branches, covering the body below in a riot of shadows from the petals that shake like bells but make no sound.

Posts : 129
Join date : 2009-05-22
Age : 27
Location : Indiana

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The Shadow In Him Empty Re: The Shadow In Him

Post by Ishilar's Ego on Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:39 am

I believe I've told you this before, but the thing that really, REALLY captivates me about your writing is your descriptiveness. It is absolutely amazing. I think that it's mostly the fact that your descriptions...flow. They don't really feel like words at all. It's like I'm looking at a painting, except in my head. Whereas most authors I tend to read describe things as items down a list like...

"In one corner, there was a dusty thing made out of things. In the other corner, there were drawers, slightly adjectived."

But yours doesn't feel that way to me. You do it in such a way that, like I said, INSTANT HEAD PAINTING instead of bluh words.

So yes. This was beautiful.
Ishilar's Ego
Ishilar's Ego

Posts : 91
Join date : 2012-04-25
Age : 28
Location : Candy Land

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