The Lurking Menace

The boy sits on his haunches, watching the world as it passes him by. His heavy coat is as black as his heart. His eyes are narrowed like a cat’s. He drags on a cigarette, long and hard, sucking the smoke into the furthest reaches of his lungs. With a flick of his wrist the butt is on the pavement, ground out beneath the heel of his steel-toed boot. He waits.

The girl leaves her apartment. The door slams shut behind her. Outside the air is cold, her breath manifested in a cloud above her head. She fiddles with her earphones, tucks her phone into her armband. She pulls her hat down low and starts to jog.

He sees her approach before she is aware of his presence. Seizing his advantage he springs into her path, grips her firmly by the shoulders.

She screams as his hands are upon her, shakes him off with surprising ease, runs faster, and is gone. Safe from his grasping reach.

He slinks back into the shadows, this wolf in men’s clothing, his face twisted into a grotesque smile. Because he knows something she doesn’t: His capacity to wait far exceeds her capacity to run.

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The fading of the light

Tap tap tap.
The sound of security, purpose and direction. Vibrations of a life being lived, if not well then at least with intent and without surrender.
Tap tap tap.
The sound of derision, laughter and pity, a spectrum of emotions-all but one of which cut deeper than a knife.
Tap tap tap.
Decisions made, promises broken, friendships lost. Even the kettle is a mountain.
Tap tap tap.
A tangled web of lies, not driven by malice but by fear. It’s for the best, they say. But who are they? Who are they really?
Tap tap tap.
Loneliness creeps like a thief in the night. It wears a cloak of shame, its swag bag groans with regret.
Tap tap tap.
Feeling your way, everything is new, everything distorted. Complacency is dead.
On. Off. On. Off. Blinking like a defective strip light. Soon you too will be stripped of light, and terror will seep into your bones like tea diffusing from a bag.
Tap tap tap. You’ll learn to cope, the doctors say. Other senses will prevail, like knights in shining armour they will rescue you from the dark-from yourself.
Tap tap tap.
Not long now. Nothing to do but wait.
Tap tap tap.
Darkness falls.

The fading of the light

She wasn’t ready when the darkness came, but the darkness didn’t care. It rode rough-shod right through her dreams, obliterating all that lay in its path. From that day forth there would be no violin concertos, no marathons, no travelling alone. For how could these things possibly be done in the absence of sight?

Nobody could believe how suddenly her vision ceased to be. At family gatherings the more superstitious members of her clan would posit in hushed tones over the buffet table that the gods had accidentally gifted her with vision before realising their mistake and taking it back.

Whatever the reason for her misfortune she had little choice but to bear it, though to her life without vision seemed devoid of hope and joy. She wouldn’t take her life, though in the early days she had certainly considered it. Her parents wouldn’t bear the strain, nor did they deserve it. Instead she merely existed from day to day, counting the seconds of the clock as they ticked by, wishing things were different.

Then one day a stranger came upon the house. He claimed to be in need of water and a bite to eat. Her parents tried to turn him away but she said no, what harm would it do to take him in, feed and water him and send him on his way?

But the stranger didn’t leave, not that night or the night that followed. He sat and read to her long after her parents were asleep, and told her stories of his travels and the world. When, a whole month after he arrived he asked her to go with him when he left, she didn’t hesitate. What else did she have?

And so they left, with her parents’ guarded blessing leaving a hundred gossiping mouths in their wake. And he kept his promise of showing her the world through his vivid descriptions. On her birthday he bought her a violin and encouraged her to play. A year later they ran a marathon together, him acting as her eyes.

Through him she realised sight was not everything, but rather love. For the first time in her life she realised she was not alone. And she felt blessed.