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the status quo

by zali wheeler 2 months ago in Mystery
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The evening sky was beginning to bruise. Night would be here soon. As usual there was a yellow sheen growing on the horizon which marked the city and made the air bitter and cancerous. Pretty soon, the night would arrive properly and everything would be black. In the meantime I sat on a cold bench in a graveyard and watched patches of stars prickle into life overhead.

I was shivering badly. Round here- perhaps more than anywhere- you could sit and catch your death. Right now it felt like an option.

The breeze rustled the unkempt grass between the headstones, which in this light became a decomposing shade of grey.

When night fell completely, it would lose even that. The colours would be washed away from the world; from the grass, the trees, from everything.

My brother Tommy was from here, but got sent away to do horrible things. To strike, to fight, to murder. Creating disaster, destruction and devastation. It could have been a heart attack that got him, who knows? Who will ever know?

Maryville is depressing at the best of times- even in daylight. It consists of immense coils of thin streets where nobody wants to live, circling graveyards where nobody does. The district is shaped in an ’S’, with the cities two main cemeteries resting within the curls.

Stones sit at angles like broken teeth; grounds overgrown and unattended.

You can tell that there used to be religion here at one point, but now it feels cursed and abandoned, as though no one could be bothered believing and something dark and lazy replaced it.

Nobody ever comes here. You die and are buried and nobody visits. Maybe thats how it happened, maybe Tommy just crumbled to the horrifying acts committed.

As the dark settled- so did the dread. It was like sitting inside a tomb with a stone door rolling slowly shut. Night would fall and it felt like if I didn’t get out soon then I’d fall. Fall deeper into Maryville and be trapped.

I pushed off my frigid bench.

As I left Maryville and entered the district of Mensfield, my stomach dropped. Something was different. The atmosphere was different.

Tommy didn’t have much of a future as it was, he was never at school, never at home, I hardly knew him. But I did know that he would make a good soldier. He was proud, ruthless, strong and determined. He had will. I knew it would be the best thing for him. All that danger he embodied, could finally have some use. He was loyal and caring, always putting others before himself. Thats how i knew he would make a good soldier, a good comrade. But i never found out if i was right.

The stench of gunpowder filled the air.

A single explosion lit up the sky in an orange gust of heat. Pop…pop…pop. Chaos. Boosh; Boom!

An eruption of smoke choked me. The burning sensation of chemicals- like an eye popping explosion corroded my throat. Blasts of glitter. Bang!

Colours exploded; crackling down to earth. Whistling showers of rockets quick descended.

Many of those celebrating tradition stood caution less. Like sarcophagus in the graveyard I just left.

It could scare those too young to know the difference or enlighten and touch the heart of those experienced enough to understand its beauty. Framed amongst the trees, it brought me home.

Was this how he died? I imagined that Tommy had died this way. With joy and amazement, with happiness and warmth. The same warmth that I felt as the fireworks sprinkled down to an end. Stranger cheered, I stared.

The night sky returned to the status quo as a pitch black curtain draped over the sky and the twisted, warped shapes that the stars made against the blackness. The milky speckles twirled and danced along the sky in various patterns, tugging at the corners of my lips in a way that almost made me smile. I was alone. Not a single thing could warm me.

I stared up to the sky and saw the slow silver flush of the moon lighten the bruised sky. He smiled down at me. I imagined that Tommy died in honour and with pride on the battlefield. His love was so intense it warmed my soul. Finally, i was no longer alone.

The tears that were starting to form in the corners of my eyes melted down my cold face with a flush of relief. They weren’t where I’d left the cold flowers at days end.

The sky had brought me home. Whenever I was lost, I could find home. Whenever I was lost again, I could find home. Find Tommy. In the stars, in the sky. In the meantime, I sat on the front steps and watched patches of stars prickle into life overhead.


About the author

zali wheeler

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