Ali decides it’s ready for Gwen to see. He’s waiting for the right kind of sky – thunderclouds in the distance, the promise of lightning with a hint of ozone.
If he’d mastered weather, he’d only need to inject some heat into this damp August. Since he didn’t, he has to settle for a cloudy evening.
When Gwen sees the circle, her face darkens.
‘Recite rule number one,’ her voice rumbles.
‘Do not speak of our magic.’
She points at Ali’s miniature Stonehenge.
‘Actions, Alistair, speak louder than words.’
It seems Ali has found a way to summon a thunder storm.
I wrote this a couple of months ago for the Luminous Creatures Summer of Super Short Stories, where it came third. I will get round to writing a sonnet (the tenth and final Writing 201 assignment) over the weekend, I hope – you see, I’ve moved again. If you’re a long-time reader, you may be thinking, ‘my, she moves a lot’. If you are, spot on. It looks like this might be the last move for the next twelve months, though.
I tell you all this because I’m behind on replying to comments. It may take a while, but I’ll get round to it.
Filled with a happiness I haven’t experienced since chasing birds as a boy, I stand in the coffee shop queue. I can’t stop glancing her way in case she disappears again. From this distance, it seems no time has passed – she’s even wearing, as a headscarf, the turquoise shawl I bought her once. From across the table, she’s almost translucent.
’So, how’ve you been?’
‘Death comes to everything, sooner or later,’ she says. ‘To me, it’s coming sooner. I wanted to see you before I…’
They are so alike, happiness and birds – any sign of trouble and they take flight.
She drops the Romanian accent along with her crystal ball and hides in the darkest corner.
‘Get out,’ she spits.
‘Tell me what you saw.’
I know. But I need her to tell me.
‘Six crystal pillars. They spawn these… creatures. From the distance, you’d mistake them for angels.’
‘Tell me what they look like.’
She comes out of hiding, fetches pencil and sketch pad. I close my eyes – the suffocating stench of incense has given me a headache. Or maybe it’s caused by knowing she’s sketching faces from the nightmares.
Gripped by this creeping fear that somethings’s watching me, I try to wake myself up. But slumber clings to me like early-morning mist to the ground. I’m trapped, neither awake nor asleep, in a room filled with eyes.
It must be a dream within a dream, like in that movie I didn’t understand. Once the dream dream is over, I’ll wake up alone and the sun will be out. Calmed by the thought, I close my eyes to get it over with.
I’ve almost drifted off when the sound of hundreds of eyes blinking reels me back into the trap.