Short Story 4: Fallen pt 1
This one was very fun to write, largely because it's so experimental. It's weird, I won't dispute that. If you like, please let me know because this one's out there. It would take some creativity to make it work and not just be... weird. But I'm up for the challenge.
Also, this one's much longer than some of the others, so I'll be breaking it in two for your ease of reading. Again, standard disclaimer, it's only be lightly proofread and edited.
Please enjoy Fallen pt 1.
Don't forget to be awesome!
Father’s Durham’s office was dim. The light of a few candles flickered across his desk, danced over his large print King James, and rested merrily on his shelf, illuminating a baseball autographed by Mickey Mantle. Only the steady squeak of his old rocking chair parted the silence; it was past 8 o’clock, so his radio sat quiet. While Father Durham enjoyed the evening dramas, he wasn’t as fond of the jazz that followed for the rest of the night.
The Divine Comedy rested comfortably in his hands. He adjusted his glasses then licked the tip of his finger to aid in turning the page. His eyes scanned the page, searching, but finding only the imaginations of Dante.
“How close was Dante?” he asked aloud, his eyes never leaving the page.
“I wouldn’t know,” came the soft reply. “I’ve never been to Hell.”
Father Durham slowly lowered the book. She was once again in his office, quietly sitting in the large, green chair across from his desk, the chair where those who came to confess, to seek guidance, sat.
“It never ceases to amaze me that you insist on sitting when you visit.” Father Durham commented, closing his book.
“It’s a habit. I’ve found that it makes people more comfortable.”
Father Durham stared through his Coke-bottle frames at her. Her soft features, sorrow-filled eyes and ghostly appearance still perplexed him. There and yet not there.
“La Divina Commedia. It doesn’t really seem your style,” she said.
“I’m just trying to understand you a little better. The Good Book says a lot, but it doesn’t seem to cover much in your case.”
“Try Milton, then; Paradise Lost.”
Father Durham smiled warmly and nodded.
“I’ll have to do that.”
Quietly he stood, laying his book flat atop a few others. He straightened his sweater and took a seat behind his desk. His large, brown chair gave a soft swoosh of air as he settled in.
“So, Alicia, what brings you in tonight?”
The cold girl sat quietly for several uncomfortable moments. Her lips trembled, and tears seemed to impossibly swell in her eyes.
“He’s been born.”
Father Durham raised an eyebrow curiously. He pondered for a moment, then his eyes widened in realization.
“Oh, yes, your friend.”
She only nodded quietly, her gaze focused on the abyss.
“Well,” Father Durham replied with a forced smile “it’s about time, isn’t it? How long have you been visiting me? Twenty-two years or something like that?”
“I’ve been waiting for him for thousands,” she countered.
Silence commanded the room again. Her eyes continued piercing the floor while Father Durham fidgeted with a pen. The grandfather clock ticked defiantly in the corner of the room.
“Well,” Father Durham finally spoke “in any case, I suppose this is cause for celebration.”
“What do I do?” she replied.
“To celebrate?” he responded.
“When should I see him? I could speak to him now, but it could do irreparable harm. Should I wait until he’s a child? If I wait too long, he may not believe I’m there. If I go too soon, I might injure his childhood.”
“I’m not sure I understand…”
“What if he grows up and he’s different?”
“What if he’s not the man I loved?”
“Well, I suppose…”
“What if he doesn’t believe me? You didn’t believe me!”
“What am I supposed to do?” she bellowed.
Father Durham sighed with pity. He wanted so much to lay a comforting hand on her shoulder, even to hug her. This was impossible. Father Durham forced a sad smile as he leaned back in his chair, resigning himself to what he felt was the truth. “My dear, I’ll never understand why someone who’s lived so much longer than me would ask for my advice.”
“I’ve never lived a day, Father,” she replied despondently.
Without any fanfare or pomp, she dissolved into the air, leaving the old green chair empty. Father Durham’s eyes rested on the spot where she had sat.
“If you need to talk, Alicia, I’ll be here.”
Cindy sat alone in her bare kitchen. Her studio apartment bore the marks of a single girl with little money to spend on adornments. Bare walls. A second-hand sofa. Her mind had drifted off as she sat at the kitchen bar, munching on some marshmallow-laced cereal. Her dark brown hair was a bit disheveled and her green tank top wore a wet spot where she had splashed milk on herself a few minutes ago. Her bare feet dangled from the stool as she considered the small pile of papers across the table, each baring the name of a different class she was taking.
Cindy choked on her cereal, coughing for breath. She leapt from the stool, searching the apartment for the source before she had even regained her oxygen. Eyes still scanning, she reached out for the hand towel she had used a few minutes ago, wiping the milk and red balloon marshmallows from her face and chest. Silence. Her breathing regained its composure, but her eyes refused to narrow.
“No! Go away!” Cindy shouted, wrapping her hands over her ears. Quickly she rushed to a cabinet nearby, tearing through the contents until she found a small bottle of pills.
“Don’t do that, Cindy!”
Ignoring the voice, she quickly popped four pills in her mouth. She reached for the sink, turning it on and bringing her mouth to the faucet to drink.
“Cindy, I need your help.”
Cindy took a deep breath, walking back to her cereal. She stood over the bowl, her chest heaving and tears fighting to form. She picked up the bowl and spoon, forcing a casual walk to her sofa. She searched for a moment before finding her remote. Pressing the large red button, her TV sprung to life.
“Please don’t ignore me, Cindy. I’ve spent a long time being ignored.”
With the push of a button, the boy band on screen grew louder.
“Please, Cindy. I need your help. He’s finally been born.”
Cindy’s breathing was labored, but she ignored it as she shoveled more cereal into her mouth. She focused her attention on the four boys, probably younger than her, singing about some girl they thought they loved. Suddenly, Molly was there.
“Shit!” Cindy screamed as she reared back.
She had appeared. It had been years since Cindy had seen her.
“Leave me alone, Molly!” she shouted, trying to ignore the fresh milk spill on her pajama shorts and thigh.
“Please, I need your help.”
“Fuck you, Molly!” Cindy screamed, hurling her bowl at the pale girl. It exploded against the TV screen, sending marshmallows and milk across the wall. “You ruined my fucking life!”
“I’m sorry, Cindy.”
“No, you’re not! You never were!” Cindy shouted, leaping to her feet.
“I never meant to hurt you.”
“Then you should’ve left! It was all fucking cute when I was five! But when you’re twelve, thirteen, fourteen- then you’re mentally ill! I was in therapy for four fucking years!”
“Please, Cindy, I need your help!”
Cindy violently raised her middle finger at the sorrowful girl.
A knock came at the front door.
“Cindy? You okay in there?”
Cindy stood silent, retaining the gesture at her torturer. She, in turn, lowered her head in defeat and began walking, a little piece of her vanishing with each step. As her visitor vanished, she sank to her knees, body heaving as she wept.
She sat at the edge of the canyon. The sun was getting lower, but it was still a while from sundown. Her legs dangled over the edge as she took in each mountain crest and valley, every band of color etched across the rocks.
“I painted that, you know.”
She didn’t have to look to see who it was.
“You didn’t make the Painted Desert.”
“How would you know?”
“It was formed over a long, long time, Painter. The bands are nothing but layers of eroded rock.”
The Painter smiled and took a seat next to her. “I know. I designed it that way.”
She sighed, rolling her eyes, before turning to look at him squarely. “Neither you, nor God, designed it that way.”
The Painter’s smile refused to dissolve. He turned and marveled at the sight of the canyon.
“It still awes me, you know. The splendor. The beauty.”
“Is there a reason you’re here?”
“Is there a reason you’re here?” he countered.
She furrowed her brow at the Painter, standing and stepping away from the cliff.
“I can go wherever I want,” she stated defiantly.
“You know he’s not happy about this whole thing, right?”
“I don’t give a damn if he likes it or not. He can wail and gnash his teeth all he wants.”
“You really should listen to him,” the Painter insisted.
“Listening to him is what got me here!”
“There is no hope for this plan of yours. Your boy isn’t ever going to remember you. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.”
“We only have so long, Painter. Shouldn’t we look for whatever happiness we can find?”
The Painter remained on the edge of the cliff, admiring the layers of the rock formations.
“You and I both know there can be no happiness for us.”
“No, I don’t know that. We don’t know everything.”
“The sooner you accept that our fate is sealed, the sooner you can reach tranquility. And really… calm is the closest thing we can have to happiness.”
“We don’t know how it ends, Painter.”
“You know the law. You know how it has to be.”
She walked away, her steps leaving not a single print in the soft dirt. “I’m going to do whatever I can.”
“Good luck, Poet.”
She froze, fists clenched.
“I am not a Poet!” she screamed.
She was alone.
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Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.