He sat on the side of his bed, waiting, not knowing what for. To succumb to the thoughts? Or to let them pass? He did not know. But this was not the first time, nor would it be the last. He turned his wrinkled neck to look behind him and through his dirt riddled bedroom window. Mere inches from the glass was a pear tree. By day it was a staple of his front yard and the envy of his neighbors, but under the veil of night it had transformed into a hulking tentacled mass. It stood in the shadows, between the rays of moonlight, silently mocking him, defiling his precious memories of it. As if provoked, moments in time played through the old man’s mind, in vivid, loud flashes just behind his eyes.
Flash. His grandchildren on the swing beneath it, laughing louder and more free the more he pushed. A child’s laugh, music to his ears. A stoke to the fire of his heart. Flash. His late wife on an old step ladder that had come with the house, chips of paint peeling off it in every direction, some blue, some green, some red, hinting at generations of repainting. She was standing on it, picking ripe pears and placing them in a basket, handling them as carefully as a new born baby. Her floral hat, her gloves, her favorite yellow gumboots, teeth peeking out from behind ruby red lips. The smile that he fell in love with. It was always a fear he had, not being the first one to go. Left behind with the pain, with the memories, with the empty house, its musty walls whispering to you, reminding you of better days. He could see them all now, all the parties, all the laughs, visions so vivid that he swore that he had gone back in time. He wanted to stay here, this was the first time in years that the house truly felt alive. But he knew that it was but a memory, his long passed friends merely specters, highlights of their former selves floating around his house. It wasn’t real. Flash. Standing beneath the pear tree, a compassionate arm draped across his shoulders. His frail, shaking hand gripping a printed tribute to his wife. Her life, reduced to a sentence, “loved and never forgotten”.
Flash. He had returned. No memory of that tree mattered anymore, for in the embrace of night everything had changed. It had become alien. Its branches, huge shards reaching up towards the night sky. The rope of the swing that had brought so much joy in its prime had decayed, broke on one side and now resembled the ropes of a gallows, another victim of the inevitable cycle of time. “My time shall soon come.” He thought.
He turned away from the window and held his head in his shaking hands, looking through the cracks in his fingers at the moonlit floor. He felt truly, hopelessly alone. The night had won. Then, a light, as hot and bright as a star shot through his window, into his room and disappeared within a crack of the cold dusty floorboards. As his failing eyes adjusted and the sudden mist cleared, a figure manifested itself almost out of thin air. It was a man. It was himself, shining in a golden light, wearing a warm, comforting smile on his face. The other him approached as quietly and as elegantly as a ghost. He sat beside him and placed one arm around his shoulders. Neither of them moved an inch, both held in the soft embrace of darkness, the moonlight casting beams of gentle white light around the room. “It was beautiful”. He thought. A new strength boiled up inside him, a golden burning sensation from within. It rose and poured out of his mouth and into a loud, bright, golden laugh. The old man sat in the darkness and laughed, laughed for the first time in years. Tears rolled down his face reflecting the moonlight like diamonds and out of his mouth came his heart. It fell into his open hands, golden like the heart of a god. He felt amazing. He turned to face the other him but he was gone. Vanished as quickly as he had appeared.
Hours passed, and soon the moonlight was replaced by the sun, it streamed in golden between the leaves of the pear tree outside his window, like a thousand tiny golden shards, marking the beginning of a new day. He looked out the window and recognized his old friend again. It stood, branches stretched to welcome the sun, basking in its purifying warmth. He looked down at his hands, skin a weathered map, lines running in every direction. On one finger was something that could not be tarnished by time, a ring, golden like the sun, he would never take it off. The heart that had fallen into his hands was now gone, but he felt it close by. He felt stronger. He had endured another night. He would mention it to no one, never speaking a word of what had happened. He had lived to see another day. It was his very own miracle.
About the author
I'm Jack Newell and currently reside in Sydney NSW.
I'm 29 and the authors that inspire me are H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King and Ayn Rand.
I love writing about the unknown, the dark and the disturbing.