This story is rather darker than the ones that I usually write, but I find it very deep to write and I hope you enjoy it!

Tick. Tick. Tick. My eyes open, my vision blurry with sleep. Is a bomb about to go off? I glance over to my sturdy bedside table and glimpse the faint orange glow of my alarm clock, still ticking steadily. 12:00. Midnight. Witching hour.

 I slide out of the covers, the AC chilly and fresh on my skin. My crumpled sheets are in a sweaty ball at the end of my bed. My eyes dart to the blue halo my computer casts as it purrs softly. I reach across the rickety desk and click the off button. The room plunges into darkness.

The only light is the silvery rays of moonlight filtering through a gap in the curtains. I yank them open less than gently, with a jarring screech that snaps me to attention. I wait, tense, for the clumping, muffled footfalls of my father on the carpeted stairs. Nothing.

I restrain a sigh of relief and lean on the pane, my breath misting up the glass. The street is deserted. Ghostly. The cobbles glimmer with a bitter winter shower. Harsh shadows flicker on the walls, thrown by the cold, moonlit cars, lifeless in their garages.

I turn to the mirror and stare at my pale reflection, distorted by the fractured shades of light and dark. Beads of sweat glitter like jewels on my forehead and my face is a death mask, shadowed with violet. I look like the walking dead. I chuckle humourlessly and check the clock again. Only five minutes have passed. Impossible. I squint closely to be certain. Sure enough, it’s only 12:05. The thrum of the engines of the cars on the main road in the distance buzzes in my ears.

I push back my damp mop of dark hair and slip back into bed, staring blankly at the smooth ceiling.

Then my eyelids grow heavy and when I open them again, shafts of sunlight are shimmering golden on the walls, slanting across my door and my creased pillow.

I can hear my father’s grunting snores from the next room. I clamber tiredly to my feet and shuffle to the next room, bundled in my sticky pyjamas. I peel them away from my soaked skin and step, relieved, into the icy shower. The water runs from the tap and pools at my feet, and before I realise it I am ankle-deep in frigid water. I bend down and swirl it with my fingers. Lovely. I keel over backwards and let it drench my hair and creep silently across my face. I watch calmly as my last bubbles of air leave me and spiral upwards. I feel trapped in a cocoon of frightening serenity. Echoes reverberate in my head and shadowy hands pull me down, down, down, and cool fingers slip down my throat, plucking at my terrified voice, crooning hungrily.

I gasp, rising and breaking through the surface, body dripping. Swathed in a fluffy towel, I emerge, shivering, afraid. The voices in my head are now no more than a mere whisper. Imagined, I tell myself firmly. So, I get ready for school.

I tread wearily out of the swinging front door and breathe in the damp, crisp air. Fallen leaves, in beautiful autumn shades of orange, brown and green, crunch underfoot. Swallows dip and dive and swoop around me, snatching oblivious, drifting mayflies out of the air. “Hey! Loser!” Big-boy and his mates cycle past, on their flashy mountain bikes. I shove my hands deeper into my hoodie’s pockets, a scowl on my face. They’re just big babies.

I clamp some headphones over my head and blaring rock music fills my ears, drowning out their immature jeers and taunts. Glittering necklaces of frost adorn every bare tree branch, and I run my fingers along the icy school gate, pulling my hood down, my snug jeans hugging my hips. It’s already a horrible morning.

The lessons pass quickly, flooding me with information I’ll never need. I sit alone during lunch, tucking into some watery peanut butter sandwiches, trying not to grimace at the taste. Halfway through the day, a teacher peeks around the door and calls me in a ringing voice. I reluctantly get to my feet and follow her to a plush pastel- blue sofa in the centre of a neat, carpeted room. I frown and stare down at the flawless material, before sitting on the arm, my feet propped up on the spotless glass table.

The woman follows me into the room, and her flaking scarlet lips purse slightly as she sees my position. I raise my eyebrows questioningly-a challenge. She ignores my posture and perches on the opposite chair, her cold eyes, like chips of the bluest ice, fixated on the ground next to my feet. “Well-it is the school’s wish that you receive counselling.” I hear her voice soften and my fists clench at her next sentence. “I know things have been hard for you since your mother died, but-”

I interrupt, my eyes blazing with fury, my voice clipped. I am scarcely controlling my anger. “No.” I say, in a voice dripping with warning.

“Don’t go there.”

She flinches as if I have struck her. She gestures to the door. “You will be back. The session is only over for today.”

I storm past her, into the corridors.

The piercing bell is clanging throughout the school, and I am jostled back and forth by excited children and my ears ring with incessant chatter. The thumping of my heart increases and I am relieved when I am swept along with the crowd into the cool, breezy outdoors.

 A kestrel skims skilfully over the expansive school field and I watch it, mesmerized.

I hear a terrified yell and turn around to see a scrawny first-grader cornered by big-boy. I feel my hands ball into tight fists. Before I can stop myself, I am storming over, ripping my hood down, my hair flopping over my furious face. “What do you think you’re doing?” I cry, grabbing the sheaf of cash he’s stolen and tossing it to the ground so that the notes flutter into the grimy puddles.

He swivels to face me, a razor-sharp rock held in his hand and flings it into my face. It barrels into my cheek, and I taste the salty, metallic tang of blood in my mouth. I put my hand up to my mouth and see scarlet spots jig irregularly in front of my eyes, my vision blurring. A ringing noise, punctuated by susurrated voices, blasts in my ears. I crumple to the ground, clutching my head. Big-boy looks frightened. He backs away, his expression one of utmost horror. He drops the wad of money he’s foolishly tried to collect from the cobbles and flees.

I curl up in the road and moan, rocking myself from side to side. Sobs wrack my body as I sprawl there, helpless, dark blood trickling down my face and bleeding into the rainwater, like a scarlet flower in full bloom.

After what seems like hours, I climb, slowly and painfully, to my feet. My boots sloshing in the chilly water, my hoodie bloodstained, my pride stung, I drag myself out of the alleyway, and beneath the open sky. Then I break into a jog, every thud of my feet a promise of vengeance, my rucksack jolting on my back, my hair whipping my eyes, tears streaming down my cheeks.

 Attracting stares because of the state of my face, I run faster and faster, flying past bicycles, racing the electric scooters as I swerve past the grassy park and onto the bridge, flanked on either side by shrieking and snarling vehicles trundling past. I look down into the glassy, still water. Leaning wearily on the rails, I watch one of my tears trickle from my eyes and ripple across the river’s surface as it lands with a faint splash.

“Hey, sonny, you okay?” a man walking a pittie on a thick chain leash asks. I turn round.

“Woah.” he starts. I bite back words and begin to hurry in the opposite direction.

Then the whispers start. Soft and slow, growing to a rushing roar in my ears until I stumble to a bench and wrap my arms around myself, screwing my eyes shut and praying, sobbing. I begin to gnaw on the inside of my cheek, biting it harder and harder until I taste more salty blood in my mouth. 

I grab my headphones from my backpack and clap them over my ears. Cranking up the volume, I listen to my music until the voices are drowned out and I am engulfed in a wave of calm.

I gently reach into my jeans pocket and remove a battered golden locket, staring at the small, grainy picture in it. My mum. Her rosy cheeks and flaming hair stand out even now. Her joyful smile is unknowing, carefree. I let my emotions flow freely.

It’s almost 10 o’clock when I get to my feet, wipe my face, stow the photograph back in my pocket and stride down the narrow lane to my front door. The porch light is turned off and the curtains are drawn.

The house is wreathed in a frosty halo of watery starlight and the weeping willow trees in the unkempt front yard are shadowy soldiers standing in the gathering darkness. A skeletal stray cat flees from the scene as I shimmy up the dripping drainpipe and duck through the open window, landing on my hands and knees in my empty room. A dark shape falls across the gap in the door and I see the silhouette of my father. His bloodshot, baggy eye peers through the crack and then vanishes.

 I fling my fleecy jacket on the floor, kick off my scuffed trainers and collapse onto my bed. The steady tap, tap, tap of the drooping branches on the thick glass lulls me to sleep.

When morning dawns, I stumble from my bedclothes, weak with tiredness. The voices visited again last night.

I’m broken. My lifeblood is bleeding from me drip by drip.

I trace the puckered scar that big-boy’s rock made on my jowl and twist to observe it at every angle. A dry grin curves across the length of my face and I dig fervently in my wardrobe, producing a pair of sunglasses. They make me look like a stranger. Just how I like it.

I slouch against the front gate, on the veranda, and stare at the neighbours going by. Happy and normal.

The dull shine of my bike catches my eye. I swing round to the shed and grab it, gripping the handlebars with vigour. I jump on and begin to pump my feet furiously, zooming down the right side of the road and ignoring the honks of the horns. I reach the crossing but keep going so that the squeal of tyres reverberates around me and I am momentarily disorientated by the bright white of the headlights.

I screech around the corner and into the main street, making dogs lunge and snap at my heels and people curse loudly as I whizz past. I head for the country road, that leads into nowhere. Tall pine trees line the road now, and sweet-scented ferns lash at my thighs. I keep going until I reach a concealed pool, lined with rushes and bobbing with floating lilies. Throwing my bike to the side, I dive in, still fully clothed, feeling the cool water submerging me completely, my clothes billowing. I sigh and lean against the rocky outcrop, at ease.

 Removing a speaker from my bag and blaring rock music into the depths of the woods, I feel alive for the first time. As I watch, a barn owl swoops down in broad daylight, hooting serenely. It’s an omen.

I get to my feet and climb out of the pool, my fingers slipping and sliding on the slimy rock and mud, my hair plastered to my forehead. I swing onto my bike, splattered with muck, and cycle through the leafy terrain until I reach the road. From there, I wheel my bike through the wrought iron gates into a sombre graveyard. The tombs shine marble-white in the gathering darkness, and sitting astride them are cherubic angels, their sculpted wings spread wide, their faces blank and lifeless, their eyes like white marbles, emotionless, dead.

My mum’s resting place is beneath a proud oak, with gnarled, creeping roots and a thick trunk. I walk up to her grave on trembling legs, my rage boiling inside. Anger rises like bile in my throat and a tortured scream escapes my lips. I beat the crumbling headstone with my fists and then sink slowly to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. “It’s not fair.” I choke.

When I finally rise and trudge, my spirit crushed, back to my bike where it leans against the railings, purplish twilight has set in and the night rings with the chirping of concealed cicadas.

When I arrive at my house, I feel my heart sink even lower in my chest. The kitchen is brightly lit, and a pale, aureate ring of light ripples outwards from the fractionally open window.

I sneak round the back and make to climb the drainpipe like last time. Too late. I see the silhouette of my father outlined against the netting of the door. “Inside. Now.” his voice is dangerously low, poisonous.

I walk through the door, my hands clenched, knowing, dreading, what comes next. He shuffles up to me, staring me directly in the eye. Then he raises his hand and gives me a stinging slap that echoes throughout the room. I flinch, my face burning, willing myself not to cry out. Screaming means another painful hit.

His breath reeks of beer and his shouts are slurred as he yells, brandishing a plate. It swooshes perilously close to my cheek, past my ear, and smashes against the opposite wall, shattering into a million jagged pieces of broken china.

I watch the last shard of ceramic land on the tiled floor with a tuneful tinkle, then make a break for it. My feet pounding on the carpeted stairs, I race into my bedroom and shove the door closed, fumbling with the key. It clicks satisfyingly in the lock, and I collapse with a sigh of relief.

 I hear the thud of my father’s shoe on the door as he vents his fury on it instead of me, then listen as he hobbles back to his room, muttering ominously under his breath. I am safe. For now. 

Morning brings with it more whispered voices that thrum in my ears, accompanied by the joyous chirrups of robins perching outside my window. I bury my head in my shirt and steady my frantic breathing until they die away and only the birdsong remains. I peer nervously up and down the hallway, then tiptoe down the staircase as quietly as I can. Tightening the straps of my rucksack, I set off down the street with no set destination. I just want to get as far away from home as possible. 

I find myself at the congested petrol station, next to a dusty railway. The putrid fumes make me wheeze as I stagger away from the queuing cars and down onto the gritty gravel. I can see a train chugging towards me in the distance, spewing out smoke and flames, a groaning metal creature advancing at a furious pace.

 I stand at the side, awe-struck, as it thunders past in a whirlwind of fury, whipping my clothes and hair to and fro and leaving me breathless.

Without thinking, or even wondering why, I step, coughing, into the smoky wake of the train, onto the blistering hot tracks. Already another fiery beast is on the horizon, outlined against a blue, blue sky.

Ravens explode from the treetops, shrieking a warning at the top of their lungs. I stare, detached, at the oncoming train, feeling as though this is happening to someone else because it just can’t be happening to me. 

Sparks fly from its screeching wheels, and it obscures my whole field of vision, bellowing and spitting fire like a wild thing.

Every muscle in my body screams at me to run, but I am rooted to the spot, fixated, hypnotized, by its glaring yellow headlights. I feel as though I am watching myself from afar. The voices in my head have vanished, drowned out by the growls of the train. Silence. I see a cloaked figure on the edge of the tracks, a twisted smile stretching the whole width of its face.

And then the rhythmic thud and crack and


and THUD and CRACK

and THUD and CRACK…

Published by Mara

I am a literary lover with a passion for animals (particularly ducks, geese and swans!) writing, and reading! Along with my precious pooch Maxy (who's also a Class A destroyer) and my little budgie Woody with a BIG attitude, I will make you laugh, cry and learn through words! Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: