These Final Moments

Some time after it happened we returned to that house: that monument to ruin and chaos. It struggled, collapsed and distraught, against a sky washed out by the faintest glow of a dimming sun. Crows collected on the broken spires, cawing and shifting on the ashen bricks. Beneath the shadowy place we used to call home, where only the whistling gate remained, we stood – a trio, sentinels at the final outpost of a dead time. I turned to him.“Do we go in?”He stared cold daggers at me.“We shouldn’t,” Came her dissonant tones.He smiled a crooked, cracked smile, baring too many teeth.He broke through the last of the grass, crunching beneath him the brief field of charred wood, shattered glass and broken brick. At the top of the steps, from the framed pillars of his funereal palace, he called to us.“So, are you coming?”I hesitated, looked toward her: her eyes avoided me. Head held low, she floated by, appearing to me as if underwater; flaccid, the buoyant tendrils of her hair shifting in stiff cross-currents carried from the north. Tugged along by melancholy, she passed through what remained. Frail smoke whispered from her dark lips, rose up and became smudged out in the last of the burgeoning heavens. Ashen trees mourned winter. A far off stack belched black blood. The clouds were going to break.I felt: impotent, swollen with it, unable to act or prevent the inevitable. I was going to break.I followed the others, gripping on to what remained of the whistling gate: it broke off in my hand. I thought of dropping it there, on the scorched earth to rust into the ages, and I should have, but I could not. So I went on. Inside the guts of what was left I propped it against a rotten wall, creating a moment of order.They stood, bi-polar, in the shell of it. He stared at the sun, praying for blindness. She latched onto me and lifted my head up to hers. Her eyes spoke pain. I pulled away.I took a look at the choked remains. An empty staircase led up to nowhere. Those crows cackled from a towering precipice over a yawning roof. The rotten stench of an animal tenant now dead filled my nose. A wing-backed chair sat bloated with polluted rain and blackened mould.“There is nothing left here, is there?” I asked, one last time.Silence and musk. She feathered my face with hers, wrapping her arms about me. The memory of a heartbeat came back for a moment – it passed. Her chest remained in permanent pause. She pulled away. I wiped white ash from my shoulder. Back in the end days, she liked to do that for me.He muttered: “I’m off now,” and dropped through the ruined floorboards. I stared in reverie at the space he used to occupy. She caressed a smile of midnight at his departure.After a time, she surgically removed the cigarette from her bloodless lips, and lit another off the embers. She said: “Me too,” and out of reality, her form faded.Some days, when I remember what happened, my heart rises in my throat and gets stuck; and then I struggle to breathe.

These Final Moments

betajones

Waterlooville, United Kingdom

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