Little Black horn

 

Horn

LITTLE BLACK HORN

He’s a wounded animal. A dying breed who I keep here with me. I never intended him to stay after the first night. There is no selfishness with Little Black Horn. This is what I’ve named him. He’s a dying breed. I was draped over him, trailing my fingers down the prominent blue veins on his arms.

‘What are you thinking about?’ He asks me. I’m not thinking about the accident. That is what he is implying. I’m not thinking about how frail you have become.

‘That we really should be eating something. You know I want to, but we can’t be laying on top of the bed all day.’

‘Then how about we lay in it?’ He begins kicking the duvet down around our ankles.

‘I really need to eat. Let me cook us something special.’….


(Highly recommended and free this weekend. Click the images for link. For more information on Harley Holland, visit his blog here.)

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YOUR EYES WILL BE OPENED

It wasn’t so much that the dark frightened him, the shadows suited him well; casting a cloak for his deeds in the middle of the night. It was just that, the darkness heightened what he already felt inside, desertion and loneliness.

The small town nestled at the bottom of the valley, cupped neatly in the hand of the dark hills that surrounded the collection of houses and farmsteads. The hills were high and the weather was dreary, casting a perpetual gloom over the small town. The lights burned away from inside the cottages, flickering eyes in the darkened face of a place mostly ignored from the rest of the world. The occasional dog would be heard barking out into the night, disturbed by the nocturnal animals which snuffled around the market place looking for vegetables and food cast aside from the day.

Andrew usually waited until around ten o’clock to leave his house. The locals were mostly tucked up inside their own homes by then, and he found he could prowl the streets with ease. Tonight, he hadn’t heard any dogs barking. Not a leaf rustled or car rolled past. Even the full moon, which burned brightly above him, could stir up the restless of the townsfolk or awaken the crazies. All aside Andrew, a fact that was lost on him as he unlatched the gate of Yew tree cottage and slithered up the path, keeping in the shadows.

He’d been here before of course, he’d been to nearly most of the houses in the village after dark. But he liked Yew tree, he was always guaranteed what he wanted when he came. He felt tonight would be no different. His stomach fluttered thinking about it as his found his way around the side of the house where the rubbish bins were kept. He hoisted himself up onto one of them, the one marked specifically for garden waste, a few stray twigs reaching out of the lid like fingers. His trainers squeaked slightly as the slipped on the plastic and he held his breathe in an effort to quieten himself.

They were both there when he looked up. He didn’t have to crane his neck at all, his raised view let him gaze easily into the top window of the small cottage which seemed to lean over to one side. They were usually in bed, Mr and Mrs Sampson. The elderly pair would usually turn in around nine o’clock, sat up reading books as the night-time swirled outside their single glazed window. Andrew couldn’t make out the title that Mr Sampson was reading, he sat further away and the words were too small, but he could see Mrs Sampson was enjoying ‘The Pale Horse’ by Agatha Christie.

The room looked cosy, the lights on the night stands they each had cast a comforting glow around them which seemed to hug their old bodies. Andrew watched as Mrs Sampson nestled closer to her husband, riding down a bit lower in the bed. Turning the page of her novel.

Usually Andrew would watch a bit longer, observe them closely as they hung in his eye line like creatures in a zoo. But tonight something within him stirred strong and he was eager to start. He pulled across the bag he’d been carrying, and pushed aside the hair which had fallen over his eyes as he turned. His keys inside jostled noisily, and he silenced them quickly, reaching in to retrieve the smaller clear bags. Two tonight. It was always two at Yew Tree.

Inside each bag was a small baby white rabbit, each beginning to stir now as the effects of the ketamine were wearing off. The bags had holes in them, allowing the small creatures to breathe but as he handled them carefully out of the bags, they felt limp and lifeless in his hands like small softs bags of bones. He stroked one of the small rabbits with his chin, lifting the tiny creature up to his face. He could smell the warm musky smell of the hutch he had his garden. He closed his eyes for a moment and pictured the other bunnies, nested under their mother. Warm, safe and content.  The one in his other hand jerked suddenly and Andrew nearly let go of it. The muscles beginning to spasm back to life.
He must be quick.

He placed his phone carefully down by his feet as he crouched now on the bin, the two rabbits in each hand. He had their number of course, it wasn’t his first time. He hit the button of his phone which glared alarming out in the inky dullness of the night. The line connected. He heard the ring through his phone, and then moments later her head the returning sound coming from the Sampson’s house. He watched Mrs. Sampson look across alarmed to the phone. Her old fashioned sensibility on edge as she knew no good news came at such hours.

Andrew watched her reach across and lift the receiver, the copy of the Pale horse nestled now on the bedsheet between her and her husband who craned over to hear who the caller might be. This is when he had to be quick, this is when Andrew had to be focused. He held the two bunnies in his hand and waited, waited for the sound through the line in his phone and echoing above him through the window disappearing off into the night.

“Hello…’’ came the timid voice of Mrs Sampson, and that is when he began to squeeze. The more lively rabbit jerked frantically, but Andrew drew his thumb up into its neck and pressed harder. He could hear the old woman now, repeating her answer and he watched as her husband leaned over to listen down the line as if expecting his involvement could produce a response. Andrew stayed silent, slowly squeezing the life out of the animals he held in his grip like hands on a railing. His body shivered, a sense of connection travelling up and down his muscles as they tingled with every feeling of disappearance he craved.

And then suddenly, it was all over. He watched as Mr Sampson reached over and hang up the phone. Speaking hurriedly to his wife who seemed alarmed and confused by the intrusion to their evening. Andrew came back to where he was, the tunnel disappearing and the mist evaporating. He placed one of the creatures back into his bag, wrapped carefully in the small plastic baggy. He then hopped off of the dustbin and walked a few steps to the side door of the cottage. He lay the other dead animal on the mat by the door, it’s head flopping first to the floor as it’s small eyes gleamed up like a dolls. It had been the more restless of the two and Andrew stepped back and admired it there on the mat, forging it in his mind for the moment just as it started to rain. He then turned and left quickly, but just as silently as arriving, getting back at his house in less than ten minutes. He hurried quickly to bed, not changing out of his clothes, brushing his teeth or washing his hands; anxious to get to sleep. He did have school in the morning after all.

YOUR EYES WILL BE BURNED

A Place in the stars

(Not part of, but in conjunction with ‘Echoes in space’)

Lots of people were afraid. Rationale and irrational fears grew like ivy in the cluttered world he lived in. As Jerimiah grew up, he found fear was just a pat of life. His sister had always been afraid of spiders. Snakes too, though spiders were a more every day hazard, bringing out an alarming response from her no matter who was around. He never forgot the day she found one in her bed when she was going to sleep, the screams had echoed down into the street making the dogs in the neighbour’s yard bark. They had shared a bedroom in the old house then, out of necessity more than anything else. It wasn’t until he was five years old that he had a room of his own. Of course, this came with the collapse of his parent’s marriage and he would have traded in a second the large bedroom at his father’s house, for the pokey one he shared with his sister. At least that way they would still be together. But people, like marriages collapse. His sister departing only a year into his larger bedroom life, not from a spider attack, but from the leukaemia that had corroded her from the inside.

Jerimiah was afraid of one thing, and one thing only. He was afraid of time. How it snuck in on him and those he loved. Snatching away those things, and people he held dear. Turning, tumbling and changing his little world that he would want to keep secret and safe under a bell jar. He would look up into the night’s sky and see the stars blinkering above him. Fixed into position like reliable Christmas lights, always there like the season, waiting to bring joy. It wasn’t until he was much older that he learned the true nature of space. The twirling chaos that attacked the cosmos, with everything in flux. But for that six year boy within him still, he would always see safety and security in the stars. His friends that were always there like jewels in black cement.

Jerimiah though was understanding about people’s fears. He understood why his sister had been afraid of spiders. How her mind would run with a thousand possibilities of what could happen, and the deathly mist that surrounded them and the poisonousness possibilities. Much like he understood people’s fear of flying. He had met an old lady on a flight to Rome once before, sitting in the aisle seat next to him. She was so afraid, her white knuckles had gripped onto the armrest for the duration of the flight, her eyes closed as if in silent prayer to keep her aloft, and to land safely in the eternal city. He had wondered what she was so desperate to live for, what in her life was she so afraid of losing. One’s death being usually a horrible climax of pain and distress, but momentary. What was she so afraid of not completing? What had her life really been about?

He had sat there himself on that small plane, thousands of miles above the French Alps, watching the snow-capped peaks shimmering in the sun. If they were to descend; collapse in a fiery demise and be strewn in wreckage across the snowy landscape, what was he missing out on? What in his life was he left to accomplish or leave behind? He would be missed of course. His partner would be distraught, and tears would be shed. But life would go on, time would cover the hurt up in sand and silence. Changing once more the nature of things.

Time. His biggest enemy.

He had landed in Rome safe and sound, the flight not having crashed like many unfortunate others had. He had quit is job that very day, enjoying a nice little holiday there instead of the work he had come there to do.

If he had known he were to die at the age of thirty three, Jerimiah would probably not have done things much different than he had. He would most likely have avoided a lot more arguments. Those stupid back and forths with people over things that mean nothing to wider universe. He knew time was always against him, under his feet like an escalator he couldn’t stop or slow down. In this way, he lived a full life. He understood the preciousness and fragility of life. He squeezed his partner a bit more when they hugged and kissed. He meant it more when he said I love you. Perfection was not to be a part of his existence on earth, yet Jerimiah saw the bigger picture. It was all a blink in the eye of God, and he knew he had no time to waste.

When at thirty three, he reached the top of the escalator, he glanced over the side to see how far he’d come. It all looked so small and crushable from his vantage point. He was alone, but he wasn’t sad. He could see his friends glittering their celestial magic as diamonds across the inky black. Their luminosity radiant and strong like a million burning suns. And he took his place in the stars, content and happy that the clocks had finally stopped ticking.