Day 176 – Of Blissful Dreams & Pitiful Hope

Sorry about the ending to this one – I was a bit rushed. I was on the 23:59 and had no idea how many seconds I had left! So I just finished it off before I no longer could!

Hope anyone who reads this enjoys. It was written to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Try playing that while you read.

Word count: 1883

Those fields might flow into the horizon forever; the gentle summer breeze might weave its way through the hedgerows and thickets and cast its spells to make the birds fly and of an early even the sun might conspire with the rain to form a smile across the sky. Of those childhood days of carefree fun, what remains but the endless fields of fear and regret; like a winding country road snaking through the quiet and gentle hills. How an autumn day that promised sun but brought rain might change a life? How lonely is the sun, tirelessly rising each morning and setting each night, later and later in the summer in the hope that it might not leave alone? When winter’s sharp nails touch the world it weeps. The trees die and those same warm, glowing fields are asphyxiated with snow.

A little cold house with a chimney billowing smoke stood atop a hill, a single oak tree saving it from complete isolation. The house was surrounded by fields, with a long stoney driveway, riddled with potholes, running for a mile before it met the main road. It was a strange house, almost as if it were drawn in charcoal on an ivory parchment. For years it was empty. No one had claimed ownership and the only reason it was still standing was that it was an invisible piece of architecture.
From the road no one looked; no one stole a second glance. It was as if the same magic that kept the birds in the air was charming anyone that came across the run-down house. Though it was falling to pieces, there were no warning signs and there was no barrier to stop trespassers from entering. It was a forgotten building; by the people who passed it, by the land and by the farmers who worked alongside it every day of their lives. But not by the little boy who used to live there.

That little boy was all grown up now. His hair was balding and most of his teeth had fillings and crowns in them: all from the sweeties he chewed on as a child. The boy was now a man with a beard and glasses and a crinkly forehead. His beard was speckled with grey and crow’s feet protruded from both his narrow eyes. Almost every aspect of the boy that used to run around these fields, playing hide and seek with his siblings and running home when his mother called for tea, had evaporated. This man and that body shared body alone and the only emblem of that smug and daft child remained locked and sealed beyond the furthest reaches of that man’s mind; at least, until recently.

Alan Moore divorced his wife after just five months of marriage. He was twenty-eight, she was twenty-four. There had been no one in his life since. He had no children. Though she sent him a birthday card every year until her death three years ago, he had lived the life of a recluse. He worked as a librarian in the local university, where he would hide for hours and hours, filing and arranging books until it was time to return home. Every night he would have meals for one and drink the remains of the bottle of brandy he had not managed to drink the night before. He would then open a new one.
Alan never went on holiday; not since his honeymoon. He had lost touch with all his relatives and he never grew close enough to anyone to regard them as a friend. He was a mystery to anyone that he encountered. Only his work colleagues and the postman knew his name. The neighbours would occasionally attempt light hearted conversation, but his brisk and sharp self would never allow more than a minute’s interaction.

Now approaching his fifty-fifth year on this planet, he was even more tired and exhausted than he had ever been and he had only just began to realize what his wife had realized within two months of their marriage. It began to happen around last May. He had fallen asleep in his garden – the early summer heat was as a lullaby – and he had dreamt something that he believed himself to have forgotten.
It was of him and his brother climbing a tree in their childhood home. He had just reached the highest point that any of his brothers had reached before. Being the youngest of three and aged only seven years old at the time, he had been very proud of himself. He stood on top of the branch as his brothers looked up in awe. They were cheering and waving at him. He had woken abruptly then and wondered and wondered to himself throughout the following months what it was that he had forgotten all this time. Why would that tree be so important? Why was it that he could barely remember his childhood? Why – for over forty years – had his earliest memory been when he was fifteen, and not when he was climbing that tree, or for any time before?

Alan had always known why, really. It was no secret to the world that this little house had been home to a terrible, terrible incident that had shaken the entire valley. When he was seven years old, his father – who had been a farm labourer – had returned early from work, where he had just been fired, and had proceeded to shoot with his shotgun Alan’s mother and brothers before finally turning the gun on himself. This fact had always been with Alan, no matter how deep he had tried to hide it. He was sent to live with a spinster aunt who died when he was seventeen. From that moment onwards he vied to never think of the matter again.

A few months after that May, he had more dreams about being on that tree and for the first time in his life he found himself wanting to remember more of that time of his life. As much as he promised himself from the early age of seventeen that he would never think of that period of his life again, he had never properly questioned why his mind had erased his entire childhood from his mind. As the dreams became more frequent, they progressed the storyline more and more. He dreamed of screaming – a woman’s voice – and the next time he dreamed of his brothers running back inside the house. The next dream he had saw him climbing down the tree and for weeks and weeks he was forever climbing down that tree as if it were never ending. Then, one day, he finally reached the bottom and ran as fast as his feet would carry him towards home. He stumbled in the doorway and found the reason his childhood had been stolen from him.

It was because of that dream that Alan was now back in the kitchen of his old house. It was exactly the same as it had been back then. No one had touched it save to remove their belongings. There was still chalk on the walls from where he and his brothers had marked how tall they were. The living room and beds were exactly as they had been when they had lived there. The furniture remained – moth eaten and picked at by mice and insects alike.
Sitting on one of his old chairs, cradling an old teddy that he had found stuffed under his bed, he was not sure how he felt. Being back here felt as a dream. Should he weep for something that for over forty-five years he had pretended not to be real? Should he feel sick at the crime that had been committed in this house? He had lost his entire family in these four walls: why did he feel so numb?

“I suppose you never thought you would return here,” he said to the frail old man crumpled on the floor.
The old man had tears in his eyes. Eighty years old, he could barely lift himself from the floor where Alan had thrown him not ten minutes before. The old man shook his head in reply to Alan.
“For most of my life I tried to forget what happened to my family. I blocked it out completely. Sometimes I truly forgot. Sometimes I would wake up and for the entire day it would not cross my mind once. Other times I would remember them only slightly – in the familiar way that the next door neighbour’s boy would dig up his parents garden in search for treasure; the way that someone smiled, just like my mother did when she had just been crying. For years I didn’t understand. For years I simply did not want to.”
The old man was breathing heavily, clearly in pain.
“I finally remembered it though. I finally remembered what my mind had been running from all those years ago. It was not the memory of discovering my family’s bloodied, dying bodies on the kitchen floor – this kitchen floor. No, I walked in on a slightly different scene….”
The old man shook his head and tried and failed to form words.
“What did you want? Money? Jewellery? My mother? And then my father interrupted, and you shot them both? It’s funny I don’t remember the shots. Then my brothers – they ran all together you see. Tiny little skinny things, they always could fit in the door at the same time. Did you think they were a threat? Shoot before you saw them? I don’t know if you know, but they were nine and eleven. Do you remember when you were that age? I don’t. I had that taken away from me.”
The old man was kneeling and clasping his hands together, begging.
“Do you remember me? For decades I didn’t remember you. But I remember you now.”
“P-p-p-please,” he begged.
“I ran in about thirty seconds after my brothers, I think. I saw you standing in over their bodies like a god who had just seen to destroy upon a whim. Do you remember what you did, old man?”
The old man nodded.
“Yes, yes you looked me right in the eye and you raised the shotgun to aim… but you stopped yourself didn’t you?”
“P-p-p-please, I’m an old m-m-man…”
“And so am I, old man, so am I.”
Alan got up from the chair and stood over the old man.
“Are you in pain?”
The old man nodded.
“So am I.”
“You stole my entire life. You took everything I had and you took everything that I might have had. I would love to say that I have hated you all my life, but you were such a despicable person that my mind deemed to block you from existence entirely. But it won’t block this moment. It won’t erase the day I brought justice.”
“Are you g-g-going to kill me?”
“No. No I’m going to leave you here. I’m going to walk out that kitchen door – the same one I walked in on all those years ago to the deed that you had done. I’m going to walk out and I’m going to lock the door and no one will ever see you again.”

~ by S.G. Mark on March 31, 2012.

3 Responses to “Day 176 – Of Blissful Dreams & Pitiful Hope”

  1. why pitiful hope? Why pitiful?
    Is it pitiful as a weak and pale thing after years of thin existence, of being denied?

    • i wrote the title before i wrote the story…….. but i kind of meant it in the sense that sometimes, no matter how much hope you have for something better, something from your past means it cannot be…

  2. Maybe the thing from the past is something which requires certain navigation to move past, otherwise it will keep someone spinning endlessly in a perpetual eddy. Hope is the first thing needed.

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