“Hello…” she whispered calmly into my ear. I felt the grass underneath the palms of my hands and in between my toes. The sun was kissing my skin softly, while the subtle breeze nudged my hair away from my face and rustled the leaves of the ancient oaks that sheltered us together. She led there, with her back up against the tree; she seemed completely content with everything around her including me being there, saying nothing. Her hair was tied back leaving just the fringe tucked behind her ear, and a long strand of grain hung from her mouth.
“Paradise right?” She sighed, looking out onto the vast view in front of us. I nodded in agreement as I watched a squirrel chasing another across the field that was laid out before us before the dramatic view of hills and towers that seemed to cradle us in this safe place. The sun glistened off of every leaf above me, and it was truly beautiful when one glided down to the uneven ground besides me. But then another followed, and then others did the same, the breeze picked up to a strong wind. I was shaking uncontrollably. So confused by this weather change, something others might have seen as a natural shift, I was petrified, like it was foreboding sign of a terrible danger. I couldn’t control my feelings when the storm clouds tightened the space around me. I started to breath heavily and my limbs turned numb in pain. The tree was bare and I was covered in its sharp leaves, ‘Raven..?’ I stuttered through my shallow breaths. She was turned with her back to me, her head slumped down. I tugged at her pure white cardigan that hung over her shoulders in desperation. But when I pulled her shoulder towards me, her lifeless corpse slumped over my arm. I cried out to her but she was gone, her bruised skin was already decomposing, attracting the buzzing of flies around us. Her sunken in eyes stared to the ground, with no light behind them. I turned away and pulled out my arm from under her body. As I took a step away from her, everything turned so much darker, it was freezing. I couldn’t stop shivering, when a coarse hand slivered down my arm, my fathers loving eyes stared at me with icy hatred, “ why would you do this” he said weakly, I tried so hard to tell him I didn’t, I didn’t kill him! But if I hadn’t done anything to be guilty for why did it consume me and my every thought like it did. I reached out into the darkness for his forgiveness, but as I did his bloody and bruised body crumbled to dust that slipped though my trembling fingertips. Gazing down to see where the ashes would fall, there she was, on her knees by my feet. She stared up at me with eyes like empty pits. “Look at what you made me do…” she breathed shaking her head in disgust. When I saw Raven, I felt grief. When I saw my father I felt shame, but when I saw my mother I felt anger. I did not miss her, I wanted to grieve for her, to say I loved her, but all of my trying to gain her approval made me give up and resent her, I was sad for her death but I did not miss her, not like I did my fathers voice or my aunts face, or even Ravens innocent smile. I missed her like a cat misses the barking dog next door. Flashes of her final moments overwhelmed my thoughts and I couldn’t understand who she was anymore, I wanted to forgive her but I couldn’t. I felt sick and dizzy, when I looked around me I saw Saff. He stood looking down at me, behind him were Lily, and Isaac, they looked confused and upset, it broke my heart, “ why did you leave us…?” they whispered staring at the floor, tears in their eyes. I looked back at Saff, he had a soft face, but it was contorted into a cruel expression I couldn’t bare to look at. He looked disgusted, and for the first time since I left home, I felt ugly again. Sweating all over, I struggled to move but it was useless, I was trapped in my own body without a voice or any control.
Guilt’s flames consumed me, and whole body started burning hotter and hotter. I felt as if my whole body was in flames. I could see my skin peel and burn off of my bone; it was absolute agony so I squealed in pain.
“ Ash! Ash, calm down!” came ravens comforting voice above me when I opened my eyes. I sat up sharply “it was a just a dream” she whispered, beckoning me into her arms. I gladly went and she wrapped them around my sweating body tight, and kissed my forehead softly, the dream seemed to take hours yet happen in a seconds. Slowly I remembered where I was, and why I was there.
I looked up to the night sky, it was full of stars winking down to earth through the constantly changing canopy of clouds. Now fully awake I perched my self up on the old dusty pew that I drifted into sleep on, and watched the small bats flap past the cut out windows, which were missing the glass. The church was oddly poetic just before dawn, its four chipped stone statues stood intimidatingly in the front of the humble chapel. Two women and two men in all four corners of the room, with delicate hands touching the aged ceiling. Infatuated with them I rested Raven’s weary head on my cold bag, and lingered around the densely packed little chamber, that we found. Curiosity over came me when we saw it but as soon as I sat in a pew the shock from the exhaustion and starvation hit me.
Sleep was a necessity that put any human on their back no matter how strong or wise. A statues life would be surely simpler? , I contemplated as I stroked the impressive detail of the expressions and body posture injected into the lifeless stone corpses that decorated the room. The two women stood at the back of the room both sides of the heavy wooden door that creaked whenever the night’s breath disturbed it. One woman stood with the palms of her hands meeting the icy damp roof, with elbows bent and posture twisted, with a torn and ripped robe slung over its shoulders which hunched to her neck. Facing her head towards the front of the church, her body was left her body facing the opposite statue. When I turned to the other women, I noticed the difference in height and stance, she had a much sweeter face which seemed to be inspecting the floor, while her arms reaching up, and hands spread out so that the very tips of her fingers just met with the ceiling. She was a very humble statue, clearly hand crafted with love and care, her features were fumbled over, and clumsy details, but not a single speck of dust dared to touch her dainty shoulders. I ambled on to the front of the chapel where the two rock boys posed as pillars, past the timber arc that split the pews from the stand for a preacher. I stepped up to the slightly raised platform and faced back to the church that was falling apart from the seams, yet when I looked from this angle I saw nothing but beauty in the building, all of the cracks, and holes were hidden from the preachers stand, I pondered this for a second, and then swiftly moved on to inspecting the other statues, one was a bulky man, with rugged body that was covered by a robe effect carved into the stone. He stood with feet shoulder length apart and both hands holding up the mould-ridden ceiling that was falling through, leaving the rain to corrode away his muscular neck, which was left exposed by his head bowing in what look like straining. This contrasted with the small boy on the other corner, without large muscles or strong appearance he stood with a smirk on his young face, that emitted a boyish charm, he stood casually with one hip out and one arm stretched up joining the ceiling with ease. I couldn’t help but to laugh at his minimal effort, that was abundantly clear when I looked at him but when I entered, I didn’t see at all, I only appreciated the effort shown in the other. “life’s a bit like that in some ways” I muttered to myself laughing at my seriousness, that had developed recently, most likely as a result of sleep deprivation. I had not slept properly in two days, yet instead of sleeping now I decided to investigate lifeless pieces of stone. I didn’t know why I did things like that; I just knew I wouldn’t have it any other way.
By the time the sun was peeking over the hills outside I had drifted off again, by the frosty feet of one of the sculptures. The peaceful strands of light flowing over the windowsills warmed my face and neck gently, which slowly woke me up. I blinked my eyes hard and pushed my knotted messy hair back behind my ears, and looked around the little room full of hazy summer glow, I noticed the tiny specks dancing in the sunrays warmth and couldn’t help but leer at them for a moment, which was cut short by the sudden feeling of being watched, of someone’s energy being spent scrutinizing my movements and atmosphere. Like a sixth sense that only comes into play when its needed, and cannot be controlled. I turned my head cautiously the slim ancient cutout windows, and caught a glimpse of a mans figure walking away out of sight. Into the distant forest that stood sturdily on the top of the hill, resilient to any winds or storms that poured onto the prehistoric woodland. Yet their branches spread out so elegantly, that it looked fragile and untouched by people. I watched as the silhouette sauntered over the field, like he knew this place like the back of his hand, almost like it was his home. His oversized backpack hunched him over, but he walked light he was weightless through the velvety tops of long grain, that he swept his hands over, and tickled his fingertips to free the seeds into the light twists and turns of the air stream, leaving a trail that only I was a witness to, because as soon as he was gone it was as well, and it was like he was never there, and maybe never would be again.
That whole day seemed as blurred then as it did when I looked back on it days later. Dreams mixed with reality to make a concoction of delirious confusion about who and what was around me. Raven slept for the whole day, or at least for the time that I was awake. I wish I could say that I would rather of been awake that day but even my nightmares were an escape from this place.
By the time I had recovered it was almost mourning, but both the sun and me couldn’t be bothered to rise yet. So I led on the floor amongst the cobwebs and dust with my head settled against my bag. I checked the room to make sure Raven was asleep, and reached into my rucksack to bring out the little chest that i held so dearly yet so secretively. I placed it on the floor besides me, and flicked open the catch, I missed Wendy so much, just her presence, just the simple comfort of her being there, nothing more. She was like a mum to me, she was loving and kind, and without her I don’t think I would have known what it was like to have someone like that. I pushed the case back into my bag, and went back to lying there, with just my thoughts for company once again, this was where I most comfortable. That moment was the moment I wanted so badly to live in, to never leave, but like all good things moments are always passing. My mind couldn’t stop wondering, playing out the worst possibilities of the future, asking questions that I had no answers too, and when I thought I did have an answer it opened even more questions. Thoughts drifted back to Wendy, she could have been put anywhere, hidden away, with no one to look for her now, she could even be dead by now, and I feared I would never know. I wondered if Raven was thinking of these thing, if she really cared, or if the teaching that was drilled into her actually worked and her emotions were like pieces of clothing she could swap and choose to show, just like our mother did, I saw our mother in Raven a lot, and it scared me, I loved Raven, the real Raven the one I knew when we were little, and she didn’t just see the scarred child, before she put so much pressure on herself, before she tried to destroy the person I loved and cared about. I suppose that in her innocence she expected me to do the same, to try to look and act like we were told we should, but then I never understood the word should, who decided what we should and should not do, what we should and should not look like?
Why? Why should I be that person, because someone wants me too? That didn’t matter o me like it mattered to her. I cared, of coarse I did, but if you take the phrase of should away, they had no real argument, and without an argument they had no point fro me to listen to, and without that why would I hold a conversation with them? I lived by this, I lived with seldom friends, but I lived with no fake friends, I missed a lot of heartache through this, which Raven had to bare, but couldn’t talk about in the fear of disappointing our mother.
Thinking about it, I started to understand better just how hurt and confused she must have been when I left her, in a world she never had a chance to understand through her naivety. I don’t thing she ever really understood why our parents didn’t take an interest in me like they did her, you see I was a lost cause, a flaw in the family, not worth the effort. If it wasn’t for Wendy I would of believed it all about me, but the truth is, no one is a lost cause, because, no ones story can end before its begun, and those stories are always worth reading, no matter how far through they are.
I wish Raven knew this, but she never listened to Wendy and I could never find the words to say. If only I could explain everything to her, without actually having to explain anything to her, as that was something wasn’t very good at.. “Hmm…. Maybe in a perfect world… But then again, maybe in a perfect world I would be able to talk to people without being scared as hell of them rejecting me, and definitely not be scared of my own sister suddenly hating me for no real reason..” i mumbled to myself, “ that a stupid fear” I thought, not because it wasn’t a genuine fear, but because it was inescapable, unpredictable, with no real consequence, if she did, the situation would not become that much worse, just slightly more unpleasant, so why be scared, not wanting that to happen seemed fair enough but to be scare seemed dramatic… I couldn’t help but laugh at my own thoughts, even though this didn’t make the fear any less, it did make me smile.
The sun was starting to fill the room again, but I longed for just two more minutes of rest, as I did most mornings no matter what the time.
I decided we needed to get out of that chapel, I couldn’t quite figure out why, but I knew that the twisted appeal of it was wearing off, and revealing a creepy undertone that made me do nothing but sleep. Like a drug, I didn’t feel safe anymore.
It felt as if, this was my only chance to leave the comatose state, now or never.
I missed it though, like you miss reading a book after you’ve finished it and worked it all out, although I hadn’t worked it out, I was lost. Never before had I not put a meaning to what was in front of me, books, films, art, all of them I could always decipher, no matter how long it took me, it could be months until I did but I would always obsess until I could, or someone else gave me the explanation, I wouldn’t let it rest until I got it.
It was just people who remained mysterious, people like that chapel.
I wanted people to get close, but then one day I suddenly couldn’t stand the thought of them, I pushed them far away, but then I missed them, so much it burned. Just like I missed the chapel, but I didn’t know why, it felt like I would never know, maybe it didn’t matter.
Maybe it all just meant nothing…?