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05 March 2012 @ 08:57 pm
 
Something Strange I've written. I rather like it. It's unexpected from my typical stuff.



I.

The rain drips on the gutters, pattering little lullabies on the tin. A boy turns over in his covers, the cotton sheets twisted around his thin ankles, and presses his face against his pillow. He knows nothing of the storm.

The windows shudder on old, crooked houses while the wind passes and each home, on its foundation, heaves a sigh. Water leaks into rusty pots and cracked bowls left out for the storm to fill, but no one wakes. Come morning, each citizen will rise and wander the old cobble stone streets, drinking from the bowls and pans, as though no water in the world else existed.

The boy wakes to the sun in his face, warming his freckled skin and he rolls over, tangling himself even more so in the blankets. He scrapes at the blankets with his fingernails, trying to tug it around his clammy, cold skin.

Somewhere below, past the rickety stairs and the rotten wood of the door, he can hear his mother bellowing alongside a record as she cooks breakfast.

The smell of bacon and eggs wafts through the house, covering up the smell of dust and ammonia– old and tired. Tangled as he may be, the boy groans, wrestling with the blankets around his sticky, thin body. He rises. His feet, pressed together by the wooly fabric, shuffle awkwardly across a toy-littered floor towards the door. He kicks a jack-in-the-box along the way, raising his foot away from the pain and stumbles, his body thudding against the floor with a sickening crack.

The floor boards creak, the sunlight plays with the dust rising in the air and his mother's voice crescendos with the music down below. She doesn't hear the thud, and only dances around in her kitchen with her dishes, placing them in various places on the counters. Each one is particular -- the set of plates on top of the bread box, the bowl haphazardly hanging over edge of a worn, wooden cutting board, the set of dulled silverware littering the stovetop.

When Castle comes down from his room, blood seeping out of his nose, she doesn't notice. She whirls around her kitchen, setting things on end, making the pristine countertops appear cluttered, unkempt. She takes a few steps backwards, singing a bold and tawdry song about the strength of the nation, the strength of the people. There is a coat rack, leaning to one side on a rickety leg, that she has every intention of decorating. She spins, hurtling herself into the sight of Castle, frail, sweaty and bloody. She screams, dropping the white porcelain bowls, leaving them to shatter on the peeling linoleum. The pieces ricochet across the kitchen floor, the sound of cracking glass no more pleasant than the shrill sound that escapes the woman's mouth.

Frozen in her place, fingers gripping tightly to the edge of her dress, she stares across at Castle who looks tired. She does not see the thirteen year old, but the weary lines of an old man, the sweat-stippled hair belonging to a man on a death bed, the slender form of nothing but bones and dust.

"It's okay, mother, I'm fine. Just an accident," Castle pushes past her, gingerly stepping over the large, jagged pieces of porcelain on the floor. From the sink, he draws one of the old dish rags, crinkled and stained from years of use. He scrubs at his face, smearing the blood over his top lip. "Just took a spill."

The woman, her frame rigid, fingers shaking around the fabric of her dress, says nothing but stares at the glass on the floor. Castle lets out a low, labored sigh before he takes up the broom in the room and begins to sweep away the danger. The farther the pieces are from her, the better off she is-- her fingers uncurling slightly, her shoulders slumping, her forehead unwrinkling. When Castle has tossed the pieces into the waste bin, the woman begins her flourish of dance again and reaches to the sink, only to stare down into it.

"Oh, Castle!" The woman has a bright laugh and she turns, looking at him with empty eyes. "Do you know where I put those bowls? They need to dry!" She fusses with a few other dishes, some being laid across chair bases or the handles of cabinets. She empties the sink but fills the counters, fills every surface with dishware.

Finished, she places her hands on her hips and turns to observe her work, breathing out and allowing any residual tension to sink away. Only then, does she see him. His mother seems delighted, and steps up to view him, cradling his face in her hands.

"Is that a painted moustache? Oh how clever! But silly boy, you don't have red hair. You'll never have red hair."