Drenched departure

Untied the silence while the rain came.
Blanketing this world is a quiet monsoon.
Layering and prevailing over me, and all I see.
Let it seep into those muddy bones.
Washing everything. Purify and personifying a state of being.
Fresh like holy water.
Stinging the sins like acid.
Drown and choke underneath those silent waters.
A vast tide that you wash over me.
Those days that were always numbered.
The borrowed time and delicious decay of it all.
How sour those words met my mouth when I asked you to leave.
Tying my tongue into confused states.
Separate states and traumatic time zones.
The flight into a new world where the clouds coughed around me.
And the skylarks sung our demise.

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Prophet

Stepping into the church after so many years made him hesitant at first. He lingered in the doorway like an uninvited guest, hovering on the threshold. Some tourists excused themselves in broken English as they brushed passed him, entering the cool relief of the stone sanctuary away from the blistering hot sunshine outside. Holding his breath, he stepped inside; glancing quickly high up to the ceiling as if looking for God.

The church was quiet, despite the added tourists who had passed him and who were now inspecting one of the older tomb covers towards the rear of the nave. He turned in the other direction and made his own way towards the collection of remembrance candles which twinkled out from a small alcove. Despite the sunshine which streamed in through the stained glass windows, the small candles held their own air of magic and brilliance. Tiny twinkling eyes danced together in their own little rhythms. They were why he was here today, the only reason he would ever step inside a church.

He noticed the small donations box propped up next to the candles, the unlit ones lumped together in a small metal box like a collection of teeth.

‘20p per candle’

The sign suggested, though whether this was indeed a suggestive price or intended one he wasn’t sure, either way it didn’t matter. He dropped the £2 coin into the metal coffin and was saddened to hear its solitary ring out from below. Clearly not many people needed remembering today. He picked up a candle from the box and then turned suddenly to the sound of footsteps behind him.

“Good afternoon.”

The old man said, smiling at him as he came towards the stand where the candles were. He wore a trench coat that did not suit the day’s weather, and he carried a hat in his hand as which he held down at his side. He was dressed for November, not the glorious spring Elysium that covered the world outside the door.

“Afternoon.” He replied in return, smiling at him, though annoyed he would have to share his moment with someone else now.

“Lovely day isn’t it?”

The old man had stopped a few feet from him, and seemed eager to engage in a conversation. Though annoyed somewhat, he had no intention of being rude and instead smiled and replied to him.

“It is indeed, a little too warm for me though.”

“This little church provides a nice little oasis from the outside world I find.” The old man said.

He nodded in agreement.

“Yes it does. Sorry, did you need to get to the candles too?” he asked him, motioning out of the way to where the candles lay.

“No, thank you. Please carry on. I didn’t mean to disturb you too much.”

“No trouble. I was just lighting a candle for my mother. It’s her birthday today.”

“I see. I shall leave you to it then. Though I should say, we never truly know what is coming our way, and must always prepare for the worst; but hope for the best.” He said.

He looked at him a moment, unsure of what he meant.

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, just being philosophical. Please, I shall leave you in peace. Enjoy your day.” The old man said, and he suddenly turned and walked away, his loud jacket echoing off the small stone walls as he departed down the church.

How odd, he thought. He watched him go, then turned back to the candles that lay before him. Only a few were still burning brightly, the others dying out and completing their mission and sending the prayers into the sky. He held the small candle by the base and stuck the wick into a bright burning flame. The wick inhaled quickly, bursting into life. He placed it away from the others on the rack, letting it glow in its own lonely beauty. He thought of his mother, who had died a year ago. He watched as the wax dribbled down the side and remembered her quiet tears when she’d heard she was going to die. The cancer that had lain within her which had accelerated with an ungodly speed, to prove salvation impossible. His mother, his rock; gone practically overnight.

He closed his eyes and prayed for her, thinking how devoted to god she was and knowing if anyone were to be in heaven, it would be her.

The tourists who had entered before him had found their way to where he was now. Their foreign tongues licking at his neck signalled him it was time to leave. He turned and left, making his way towards the door, dropping a pound coin in the donations box near the entrance; but never looking down the aisle towards the alter, or taking in the sad pictures of the saints that peppered the walls.

He pushed the huge doors open, shut since his entrance into the small church on St. Collin’s street, and stood just inside the doorway. Nothing divine was calling him or pulling him back. There was no need to sprinkle himself with holy water or skim the bibles in search for a hymn to ease his soul. He stood in the doorway like a kid on a dock, because it had just that second started to rain.

Somewhere in this memory

The snow had begun to fall early that evening. Though the sun had long since slumbered down, it was around six o’clock when the few flutters of snow started to whip past his window. Daniel had left the curtain s open like he did most evenings, watching the wild sky drip away beyond the horizon. It had rained lightly that day, and it took a while for the snow flurries to leave any impression on the ground. But as he watched from his small window, his face illuminated by the Christmas lights, he watched as some people came out of their houses to investigate the snow. A few kids ran about under the street lights, already bunching up snow into cold balls to throw at one another. It was shame, Daniel thought to himself, that Christmas had passed already and the snow had waited until after. Another bleak grey day that offered only the magic of the season than from the endless possibilities of the weather.

He went to the kitchen and made himself a spiced tea. The smell of cinnamon and spices hung in the air, warm and inviting. He then went into the main room to where the Christmas tree was, sipping the tea which burnt his lip. He’d put it up alone this year, the first time the ceremony had ever been performed that way. He looked at the huge golden bell that sat a top of the tree; sparkling, like everything else did, in the strung Christmas lights that dotted the place. He couldn’t remember ever buying that bell, yet it appeared every year to tip the tree they always had. He sighed and placed his tea down, pulling one of the boxes towards him. He hated taking the tree down, or the Christmas decorations. As a child he’d always pleaded to his parents to keep them up longer. But they were bound by the laws of the season and the far away court, and all the decorations had to be down by the twelfth night. Why? No one could ever tell him, that was just how it was. Yet this was how things were now, every year it seems. Him, alone taking down the very things that were put up to enliven his life if only for a few weeks.

He started to take off some of the ornaments, some of which he remembered putting on the tree even as a child. These must be so old he thought suddenly; vaguely aware of his own decent now into adulthood. His phone began to hum into life nearby, but he ignored it. He wasn’t in the mood to argue again, and that’s the only thing that phone was offering to him this evening. He placed some of the baubles carefully into their homes, snug in a box that would keep them safe for another year. He turned up the music he had playing, his new tradition; Christmas songs to ring out in the stripping of the tree. In a way, such a violating act. The trauma of the season. He hummed along to some of the carols, there religious message washed away now he thought in the progression of the years. He felt old, and tired. Like his youth had slipped away without him even noticing it. He might as well be boxing up his memories instead of these decorations, freezing all he ever wanted and all he dreamed off in these magical days of Christmas. Spun up like candied sugar and placed away safely, to be removed once a year along with his heart.

He sat down on the rug, patches of glitter peppered the tufts still from the wrapping paper that had been destroyed last week. He closed his eyes as the choir music filled the room, taking him to a place in his memory. He watched as his younger self ran down the stairs, eager to see if Father Christmas had been. His parents, holding hands and smiling as they watched their children tear at the presents that had been carefully placed hours before beneath the silver Christmas tree. Though the tree was fake, over time it had faded and fallen apart, much like the marriage and the moments he now saw in his mind. The presents, along with this love within the family had been torn apart and forgotten about. Thrust up each year like some special spectacle. Packed away when all were done.

His phone rang again, bringing him back. He opened his eyes and looked at his phone on the table, lighting up and convulsing in an epileptic dance. He ignored it again and went back to the tree to finish off. The lights were always the trickiest. It was easier with someone helping, and fun too he thought as he remembered how they had joked around putting the lights over one another, pretending they were trees. The time when one of the fuses had gone and the whole house had been plunged into darkness, not before the sparks had succeeded in frightening them both. Lights were always a pain to put away, but he resigned himself that it would be another year before he had to worry about them, and balled them into the old shoebox he kept; sealing the lid and the doom of the lights till next year. The rest of the decorations found their way into boxes relatively quickly, only a few things were placed around his small house as it was. He nearly forgot about the wreath on the door, only remembering it when he glanced outside to see how the snow was. It had come down pretty heavy now and he thought about going for a walk later when he was finished to enjoy the winter landscape.

He finished his tea and snatched up his phone, looking at the missed calls. He sent a message quickly and then stood back looking at the barren tree, back now to its natural coat. They usually had a fake tree, but this year they had gone for the real thing. It stood now, just a hair smaller than him, shedding pine needles below itself like some defecating potted creature.  He closed his eyes and could smell the aroma of the tree, the fading pine of a dying spirit. He wondered where it had grown, what bird or beast had called it home in the time it grew to its seasonal perfection. To be adorned and beheld for a few weeks only to then be thrust out with the other junk of the season, left to decompose in the street awaiting to be whisked away to somewhere out of sight. In that moment he saw the death and cruelty of Christmas. How things were cherished, only for the moment, then forgotten about and placed away. His phone nearby rung a reply, and he glanced at the preview from where he stood. A small tear appeared, and rolled down his cheek, the air leaving his lungs before a gasping inhale.

Daniel went to the french doors and cast them both ajar dramatically. The cold winter wind swept into the room, and some snowflakes fell onto his carpet. He snatched up the tree by the middle trunk and took it out into his garden. His bare feet sank deeply into snow that had settled already, but Daniel did not care. He went back inside and picked up matches that rested by the Christmas candles. He returned back to the garden and struck three matches at one time, letting the oxygen breathe life into the flame. He threw them onto the tree and lit some more. The snow whipped around both him and the tree, but eventually the flames took and it began to burn. Flames licking the innards of the branches as he stood in the snow that numbed his feet. Drifting from his living room, ‘O Holy Night’ lifted into the air and encased them in that moment. Frozen for that blink in the eye of god.