Little deer (freewrite fiction #15)
But in the meantime, he would wait and things would have to go back to normal, if only for a brief period. There was nothing more that the man of lights could do. The King would summon the others, or perhaps, he would change his mind once more and forsake him and his burning world. After all, the Earth no longer belonged to him or his brothers – what should they care for the fate of a few errant mortals?
Alas, he had no way of knowing. All he could do was hope that Worros had done the right thing and turn up at the meeting ground on the appointed day. If he was wrong, then he would find a way of his own, or rather, consider the one that had already presented itself to him, made itself known as soon as he’d heard Cami’s story, but that in so far, he’d refused to acknowledge.
For now, however, there was still hope, so the man of lights would do the only thing he knew how. He would drive, he would find another and then another, and then perhaps, yet another.
The girl was young and pretty and he knew her at once. He’d seen her not two weeks before, inside a vision not his own. He’d seen her in the mind of a man, he’d hoped would have forgotten all about her by now. A man who’d longed to forget her, almost as much as she’d longed to forget him. The man with the eyes of a sinner. But to the man of lights, they were all sinners and one perilous path was much like another.
And perhaps on any other day, he wouldn’t have thought twice on this strange coincidence – that she should cross his path so soon after he had. The man of lights had promised he’d know her, had sworn it to the man with the sinful eyes, that he would know his Eve, whom he’d thought old and alone.
Yet here she was, alone, though not old. And as beautiful as an empress, with her eyes soft and hurt. She had the eyes of a deer, large and trusting, but there was something of a fox in her also, a sense of the hunter’s steps in a clearing close by, of the knife being drawn to slit her throat. Perhaps she’d survive this way.
The man of lights stood back, warm inside the inviting mist, watching her, waiting for her nightmare to unfold, for her demons to beckon. But he felt he stood too close. Suddenly, he felt as if he shouldn’t be there, as if perhaps it wasn’t right that he should witness it all, that maybe whatever this woman saw should be private, her sins and her suffering for her to bear alone. However, before he could do anything, before he could step back or shield his eyes, the nightmare trapped in her heart unfolded right before him and for a moment, Eve looked ugly in the changing light, not so much like an empress after all.
In her vision, the daughter of gods spoke to an old man she’d known once, as a child, an old man she’d failed by not being what he would’ve liked, by not being the child he would have deserved. He was too old, obscenely old, he could not be her father, and yet he was. Alone, they’d lived inside the bookstore he’d ran all his life, the daughter of a woman who’d hung around just enough to see her safely out of her womb and then had packed her bags never to be seen again. It had worked for the old man, he’d gotten a companion, a friend, and most importantly, an heir to his crumbling empire built on dust and old paperbacks. For Eve, however, it hadn’t worked out so well and many a night, after her aging father had gone to sleep, she’d sneak up into her tower of books, not to read, but because only there, she could look out the little round window, like a captain through her very own porthole, and wait and wonder and wish that her mother would come back to them and they could start being a proper family.
In the bright red light, the man of lights saw a tear-streaked child, as well as a grown woman, apologizing to the old man for all those years she’d spent resenting their incomplete family. She told of how each time, there had been the tiniest voice at the back of her head willing her to stop pushing, to let him in just a little closer, but how she couldn’t, because each time she tried, she felt a fire burning up her throat, suffocating her in thick, black smoke. And she couldn’t. She couldn’t.
‘I used to say I would, when I was older, I would,’ her words barely audible through her breaking voice. Between syllables, she would take large gulps of air, just like a child, because in her mind, she was nothing more.
And he saw how she’d never gotten that moment, that older, wiser version of herself she’d always fantasized about, because that Eve, she would know how to be kind to her father, how to not push him away for something that wasn’t truly his fault. How she’d fought and she’d bitten everyone that had tried to stand close to her, in her all-consuming rage. And then, it had been too late, as it often is.
The old man had died before little Eve had a chance to learn how to quench the anger in her belly, and part of her had been left nursing that anger for all time.
The man of lights did something he didn’t normally do. He closed his eyes, allowed the girl to say her peace to her father as unseen as she thought she was. He heard her kiss the old man’s cheek and the old man didn’t burst into flames or turn into worms, didn’t so much as cry. This was the chain the girl dragged after her and it was his serene face that fed her fire. She cried and held unto him, telling of how wrong she’d been, while the old man whispered soothing words in her ear and patter her on the back.
And in the make-shift quiet behind his eyes, it occurred to the man of lights that Eve herself had been a sinner, had been the sinner actually, the one to cast the entire human race into damnation, so perhaps it was her own eyes she’d seen reflected in her lover. And then, the world stood still.
Without any big moment or some significant event behind it, with only a wizened old man and a crying girl, and the shadow of a man hiding in the morning mist. With silence and thoughts that hung heavy, everything stopped and the man of lights didn’t move when he should have and Eve, the original sinner, was allowed to linger and make her peace, if one could call it that. From the outside, it seemed peaceful enough – she apologized, her father forgave, they hugged. But it was a bitter peace and inside, she was more furious than ever, raging and banging her fists against the walls of her mind. Inside, she felt sick to her stomach, for although she had no way of knowing what was happening, she knew this couldn’t be real, not truly. Her father was not here, holding her or granting forgiveness. Her father was dead, buried without ‘I love you’s or even ‘goodbye’ and he wouldn’t know how much she missed him or how sorry she truly was, regardless what she said in the odd lights.
Time unfrozen, the man of lights stepped out of the shadows and covered the distance between himself and the girl.
‘It’s okay now,’ he said, a lit limply, holding out his hand, though not quite daring to touch her.
‘I can’t leave,’ said Eve, clutching the old man tighter to her, but in her heart, already preparing herself for the moment she would have to let go.
The man of lights nodded. ‘I’m afraid you have to.’
‘And if I don’t?’ Defiant, bitter.
‘Then he will let go of you.’
‘In death as in life, right?’ she feigned a smile, but her eyes were filling with tears once again.
‘You will have forgotten about this by tomorrow.’
‘I don’t want to forget.’ Quiet, a whisper he could pretend not to have heard, but he had. It seemed all the world had.
‘Are you God?’ Eve asked, studying him out of the corner of her eye.
The man of lights shook his head. ‘I’m just a man who drives a car,’ he said, after a long silence.
‘Then how can you know I’ll forget?’
The man of lights let his hand drop away, having only brushed her shoulder and began walking back to his car, where he stood silent, watching until Eve let go and the old man vanished. And he saw that in the morning light, her eyes were clear and they searched for him in the mist, even though they had no way of seeing him. To the emptiness, she smiled, eyes bright in the tail lights. Then, she turned and walked away, back into the real world, still unforgiven and with no real wish to be.
And the man of lights found himself walking after her.
to be continued