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TMFFC – The Names Upon the Waves

23 September 2013 4 Comments

It’s been a while since I wrote a short for one of Terrible Mind’s flash fiction challenges and actually posted it. It’s about time… and I really like this one. As my daughter would say: “Oh, the feels!”

The Names Upon the Waves
by Jodi Lee
© 2013 All Rights Reserved
Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge – The Cooperative Cliffhanger, Part One

I heard them again last night, the voices whispering from behind the moon-tipped trees. I know they were voices, real voices, not the breeze shifting the branches, not the frogs and toads down at the edge of the lake, not the loons out on the water.

They were voices, whispering, low and with such malevolence, as I’ve never heard before. It broke my heart, enough so I could not rise from bed this morning. The clouds came in and it rained; both were my favorites to be out walking in. Morning rain. Still, I could not rouse spirit nor mind to step one foot from the downy covers that cradled me.

The voices whispered names of friends and family who have gone on ahead and made way for those left behind. Me, they’re making way for me to join them over there, beyond the waves, beyond the edge of the sky. Beyond, beyond.

Forever, in the cold grey mists of time.

No sunlight here, just the darkness and middling light, dusky light of dawn that lasts all day. Does the sun dare not peek from behind the clouds, dancing across the sky like Austrian dancers gliding across a gilded floor? Does the sky not part in the depth of the night, a blanket of sparkling velvet above us?

No. No sunlight.

Is it a wonder the melancholy has such a tight grip, pulling the very heart, beating, from my chest and dashing it upon the floor? It should not be. No more can I take solace and comfort in the rain, it only serves to further my pain.

Even in the early hours, I hear them, whispering my name and those of my ancestors; angry and hostile, they beg for my life to bleed out on the beach below the house, below the trees and yard. It would take a blink of an eye and I could be dashed upon the rocks below the cliff, away from the slippery rock stair.

Broken and bleeding, I would give myself to the earth, ending my pain and hers.

But there is too much spark yet in this old machine. Too much energy deep inside, past the blackened lungs and wizened heart. It bleeds into me, slowly, irreverently, seeking a crack or niche, seeking a way to break into the darkness and draw out the light.

It will not win. I will win. I will win back my life and my light.

But not today, today I only wish to remain wrapped in the safety and warmth of my feather bed and duvet. I’ll stare out at the grey and steel clouds as they slip past, seeking adventure in warmer climes. How does one do it, I wonder, waking every day at the same time, dressing, eating and leaving at the same time. Coming home to an empty house, with an empty heart and emptier soul? So many years of vigilance has left me wondering about the cost to my sanity and my life. Did I think I could get away with this forever, hiding away in my bed, hiding away, far from friends and family, breathing but not alive?

No. I only hoped. So much hope. Why can they not leave me alone to do as we wish? The voices are louder now, trickling in from behind the flowers in the first garden. I am patient. I will wait.

The fire is burning low in the fireplace. I must drag myself over to add fuel, a piece from the dried up lengths after the wind-felled trees last fall. The flames lick at my hands, tempting me, taunting me. I know I can’t put my hands in there, I know that. But I want to, so badly. I want to feel the heat, straight through to the bones of me.

Even they are cold with nothingness.

Instead I return to my bed, feeling ridiculous but somewhat warmer. I reach for the rosary – my grandmother’s rosary –and attempt to wrap it around my wrist. My grandmother Tatham had given it to me before she crossed to the beyond. I treasure the delicate beadwork like nothing I’ve held before. It is beautiful, like she was.

The day slips almost unnoticed, unchanged, into night once more and the voices become louder. They want me to speak, to recite the poetry, the names of the ancestors. I want to, I want to sing them from the top of the cliff. I want to breathe them as I crash down on the waves, on the rocks below.

I cannot stay one more moment alone in my melancholy, I must rise, I must seek out the voice, I must sing with it. I leave my bed, flee down the stairs and out the door to run across the damp, cold grass, past the trees. Past the path, and down to the cliff. I stand there, listening as I catch my breath… heart pounding in my chest, warming the blood racing through my veins.

I feel tears slip down my cheeks, and I smile, the sadness broken. The yearning heart settled now that I am where it wanted me to be.

And I hear them, I hear the names upon the waves. I begin to sing in response, sing the names of each of the ancestors, sing the names of my family. Finally, the last call of a look echoes as I sing my name, floating from the cliff, to the rocks below.

Hope you enjoyed the story…
<3 JL

Check out Terrible Mind blog owner Chuck Wendig’s Under the Empyrean Sky!