Thought about reviving this blog with some of my other creative “project”, so here is a short story I wrote a couple years ago. Let me warn you in advance: angst seems to be my genre, generally speaking.
There are places you never mean to walk again, people you desperately want to forget. Smells, too. And sounds. They’re forbidden things, things your subconscious often haunts you with because you’re fighting the urges or blotting them out of your brain in hopes that you’ve banished them for good but… you never have.
The thing about it all is that, no matter how much you try to hide those thoughts in the farthest, deepest reaches of your mind, they’re still there, lying right under the many layers of rubbish you managed to stack on top of them. There’s simply nothing you can do about them. They’re stuck in stasis, waiting for you to summon them back again like the backstabbing evil things that they are. They’re like demons, eating away at your soul until there’s nothing left but bones and pain. It hurts.
How this one managed to come full out and bite me smack in the arse this time, I couldn’t tell. I could tell now, though, that it had been a mistake to give in to the temptation too easily and without a fight. I shouldn’t have remembered, I shouldn’t have come here out of guilt. It just wasn’t characteristic of me, and I knew it all too well. Coming back to his last dwelling place was one mistake in a series of pestilent ones. I didn’t even deserve to come past the entry gate. It should have burned me flat to the ground in a fit of godly ire. But then, staying confined between four foetid walls was just something I couldn’t bear anymore than myself.
The myriad ghostly shadows staring, scolding, surrounding me and seeming to curse me were a deeper stab into the already swollen and gashed walls of my little grey heart. I could feel their anger, their thirst for vengeance, their shame of the blood spilt. I could only agree. More and more I remembered the events, the dates, the rain, the bloodshed, like moving pictures in my head. These poor souls had suffered because of a betrayal, mine, that had ripped their lives apart. I couldn’t blame myself for their deaths in particular, but him…
The grass crushed and squealed a little under the hard toe ends of my boots, draining the rain from the thousands of tiny spears of green underneath. Moss and earth scents wafted to my nose and I thought I tasted blood where I knew these men – and he – had died like heroes.
I approached, and there she was, kneeling in front of his gravestone. I couldn’t see her face, but the slight quivering of her shoulders was a dead giveaway. The air was just so still – it was dark, yes, it was past afternoon by now and slightly chilly, but so still after the rain. I wanted to hear a sound, only one, and I hated myself. I wanted to hear her cry. Perhaps it was sick of me to wish for it, but I was just… God, I couldn’t bear the sight if she wasn’t crying – or perhaps she was crying and I just couldn’t hear it. Yes, that must be it. Some people learned to cry silently, to tame their bodies so nothing showed. After the ’45, too many had happened to learn the trick.
I would always remember his last words, garbled in his mouth. I had been so desperate myself – Christ, I hadn’t wanted this. But the mud in his brilliant hair and his clothes torn and ripped and dirty under my calluses as I dragged him somewhere safe had been my downfall. I hated myself: I hated my betrayal, I hated the plan I’d chosen to follow. I hated me. Good people didn’t kill. The blow hadn’t been mine, but it might as well have been.
From the corner of my eye Brianna raised her small hand to her lips and then pressed the pads of her fingers onto the cold, wet stone. I imagined she was dreaming of kissing him, or running her hands across his amber freckles. Something better than now. She’d been through the rain today; her hair was matted to her skull, frizzes under control for the time being. I was mesmerised by the image of her; even from the back she exuded complete and utter love for him, the beautiful fiery soul I’d continually hated to stain with the likes of me.
Brianna stood slowly and I crawled further, deeper into the shadows, making my presence hidden to the world and to her. She seemed to hesitate a moment, spoke out loud to the one love the Rising had stolen from her. Partly because of me.
From her lips she drew a forced “I love you” through her tears. I understood it must be hard to stay in love every waking and sleeping moment – when you can’t ever help it – when you were faced with the fact that your fiancé won’t ever be able to speak again. My dreams were filled with deaths and demons; hers were likely haunted with a fading, ageless face that was unable to speak. But she kept on coming back every other day; I could tell by the amount of lily whites on and around his grave. He was loved dearly, as always.
He’d told me he wanted to go home before dying in my arms. Clutching the open gash on his thigh, he’d agonised as he ground it out between his teeth. I’d knelt there unable to speak, knowing that I’d brought it all upon him. He’d wanted his mum and Brianna. I couldn’t have done anything to help him.
“Mummy! Mummy, mummy, please, I want to go home. Bree… Home… home… Love… Home… Brianna.”
She stalked toward me, but then I realised she was only heading toward the front gate. Why would she have wanted to come to me in the first place? I plastered myself farther against the tall brick wall. She walked on by, and then I heard her tired voice, as she reached the gate: “Get out of here, Erin. I think you’ve done quite enough.”
I couldn’t possibly sink into the wall, but I welcomed the pain with both arms wide open. Stole one last longing look at the rows of grey tombstones and saw my vision become blurred as the tears stung my eyes… and I ran, and I ran.