Grace Grant 2017/18
Birds of Woe
Autumn breezes whipped through copper hair, turning the lengthy strands into a small parade of streamers. They had flown crazily in the wind, tangling wildly. A pale hand reached up and smoothed those same copper strands back, stretching a bright pink elastic around them, incasing them in a knotted ponytail.
Small puffs of icy condensation escaped from soft lips, slightly parted and swathed in bright pink lipstick, which perfectly suited the pale complexion and the soft, doe-like pair of incredibly blue eyes that would dart around, analyzing each and every corner of a room.
She was a beauty, with a just as beautiful mind. Wandering off to different places in the gap between one sentence and another, her mind could create wordless fantasies in her head. Imagining another place, another world.
Demonstrated with art, it was shown that her mind could also be a sorrowfully dark place. For her drawings were never of petit animals or stunning flowers. They were full of soul, painted with purples, and reds. Accented with the occasional flash of green, maybe some blue.
She drew what her mind led her to, drawing injured birds that struggled on through life. The birds she drew were wounded, perhaps flying to their final destination, trailing blood behind them so other little birds could track them down. Follow their paths. With scars through their hearts and hurt in their beady black eyes.
She wore upon her frail body, starved of love and hope, simple clothing. A blue jumper, a pair of thick black leggings and a pair of Converse. She was conservative to say the least. Hiding herself away from the world, the only people who ever had shown interest in her were two people; Mr Phillips, her eighth-grade English teacher who believed that she had an adept talent in literary writing, and Lucille Mare.
Lucille Mare wasn’t exactly an average best friend. She was the old lady at Moore’s Nursing Home For The Elderly. Lucille was a frail one, but insisted that she was still as beautiful as the girl she was in her youth. It wasn’t quite true, Lucille Mare had stringy gray hair and wrinkles that could go on forever. But she was still beautiful all the same, just a different kind of beauty compared to perhaps what she had once been.
Both were illegitimate friends that wouldn’t last. Mr. Phillips disappeared tenth-grade, he went to a university in London, other rumors had been spread around school but most people had insisted he had left them to teach elsewhere.
Lucille Mare passed away at the end of the year at the grand age of eighty-four. There was no funeral or ceremony for Miss. Mare. She had always claimed she was an angel dropped by God into the world to protect others. Hooting about how she had no family and what not. Most people were convinced she was a little coo-koo. Others were certain.
The sun was rising, a faint pinprick of light on the horizon, illuminating her face. Looking down at her converse, she had stifled a smile, covering it half with her hand. She had a strange fascination with sunrises, they were breathtaking. The way all the colors suddenly appeared, cracking the world open with a sudden explosion of bright oranges and yellows, a hint of light blue at the tip of the darkness as it had receded.
Looking at the view below her one last time, she stood, wiping paint remnants from the back of her jeans. She tapped her lip, humming a rhythm. Perhaps she was wondering another new question. Or she might have been finding the answer to something. No one could ever be sure. She was as complicated as any secret had ever gotten.
I shiver, the cold air sending pin prickles of ice rocketing down my spine. I pull my jacket further around me, puffs of willowed mist escaping my lips as I breathe. The sky above me has turned dark long ago, the stars that I wish to see hidden by the dark clouds, hiding it all from view.
I sit upon a rusted windmill, the peeling red paint flaky and the forgotten structure a fragile skeleton of what it once was. Behind me, the blades of the mill rotate lazily, just enough to blow a light breeze, uncovering loose strands of hair and disturbing them.
If it had been a few years ago I might say I was afraid of being out here. Alone in the dark, surrounded by nothing but an empty field and row after row of pine trees. But I’m not, the darkness doesn’t scare me anymore. There are much worse things to be scared of.
I flex my bare feet, curling my toes instinctively. Ready to move and work the growing hint of cold out of my small body, I stand, holding loosely to the metal supports as I edge towards the ladder. A small clang echoes in the emptiness as the heels of my feet hit the first rung on the ladder.
The cool grass is soft beneath my toes, comforting, even. I lean down, picking up a pair of cashmere boots way too expensive to be worn out here. Not that I care. I slip them on, wiggling my feet into the boots to get the right feel.
Rotating in a circle, I survey my surroundings, taking in every inch. I’m not a stranger to this place, I check every time I visit, just to make sure it’s all the same. Nothing could change, I’ve never liked change. It’s scary to think one decision can just switch things up in a second, turn your whole world upside down. If this placed changed then there would be nothing left of us.
Sighing, I begin to walk back home. Not that I call it that really, when people say being an only child has its benefits I’m highly excluded from that group. With a mother who drove herself to death, found inside her car when I was seven, it was a Monday night. She’d gone out drinking, got herself killed. Old news to me.
My father isn’t any better, he’s too busy following in my mother’s footsteps, drinking his days away. Too busy ruining his own life to notice he actually has a daughter. Well, life sucks. I get over it, it’s not like I ever had a close bond with him anyway.
The darkness of the pine wood trees encloses me in a blanket of silence, the only sound being the subtle crunch when I stand on a leaf. Ahead, there was a hint of orange as the sun began its peak over the horizon. I must have been out all night, what with my desperation to stay away from my father and his growing obsession with alcohol that had begun the night my mother had died.
The Beginning of the End
Sunlight shattered into fragments, splintering across the sky. The blue sky turned a deep purple, streaked with blood red, unusual for one o’clock. Cars screeched to a halt, and pedestrians ceased walking, some frozen in fear, others looking up at the sky with a look of wonder in their eyes, interest piquing in their minds.
As the sky continued to darken, the temperature began to drop, as the sun no longer showed its rays. Instead, it lay shattered across the sky, slowly dying before disappearing all together. Soon, the sky was black, nothing but the car headlights and the occasional phone flashlight to illuminate the darkened street.
Everything was silent.
The sound of honking horns and shouting had ceased. No more laughter left the lips of happy children dancing down the street followed by their frantic parents. The world had stopped. No one dared speak in fear of breaking the silence.
A scream rang out, slicing through the stillness.
Another followed. Then another. Then one more. And it all went silent once more.
Tires screeched on pavement, cafe doors slammed shut. Curtains were drawn, and windows were locked. Those left outside began locking themselves in abandoned cars or banging on doors, begging to be let in. No one wanted to be the next victim.
This was the beginning of the end of the world.