T W E N T Y N I N E

14 2 0

She had stolen a moment in the sun, basking in the caress of the mild lake breeze, like that of an early summer morning. Even so, there was a submissive orange tint lightly buzzing about the air that was unmistakably of autumn, as the viridescence borrowed from the trees had still faded from the world, forever and unbreakably espoused to their season of thanatopsis. The great oak tree on the grassy hill overlooking the water had shed much of its leaves and allowed specks of sunlight to breach its shady canopy. Relaxed beneath the fleeting colors, the two lay there, a boy and a girl, squinting through the papery crevices of the oak's waning arms of the afternoon sun; not knowing at the time that it was their last together that it would feel quite like this, reveling in the stolen laziness of a second summer. The times were changing with their adolescent bodies, the inveterate buds of youth were beginning to show the blooming heads of two wholly different lives.

She swept a fallen leaf out of her auburn bangs, exposing her round, pinkish forehead as her hair spilled out into the grass like a dashed rose, tickling his arm from underneath. It would be the last time that he would be able to hide such a blatant fixation on her tits, which had grown a substantial amount that summer, without being teased by the other boys for the subsequent tent he had pitched. That was the last day. So when he was gone, it was comforting to keep him in that one spot, affixed to a lonesome, happy memory.

Wake up... a soft voice whispered.

Wake up...

Since it was their last night together, they didn't mind sharing Audrey's bed. Audrey was there with Rey, who was fast asleep with her chin nestled across Audrey's shoulder, and the air from her nose tickling her neck. She pet Rey's hair as she watched her eyebrows wrinkle and her body writhe in her sleep. She wondered what she was dreaming.

The one window in the room painted the wooden floor in a desolate blue, the color of a varicose vein coursing through the shadows, giving them shape. One dark mass consumed all the others like a black hole, blotting out the meager starlight and yielding a smoky aura. It was a silent, restless, lazy phantasm guiding her weary gaze into the nothingness— nothing was stirring; nothing she could see flitting and darting about in the blackness, she questioned why even a part of her believed there would be.

"Hello?" she whispered.

Nothing came from the silence. So she listened closer.

"Who's there? ...Hello?"

She lurched forward with her neck to see. An outline of a man.

He raised his tool above his head and swung it down as Audrey let out a shriek and a spray of blood burst into the air.

"Rey!" she cried, as she tumbled off the bed and onto her butt. "Oh my God, Rey."

"Rey?" The muffled voice sounded surprised behind the headpiece. He removed it to get a better look at what he'd done. It was still too dark, but she could see enough of him.

His face had been sliced rugged by his emerging grief and guilt. It looked a hundred years old. There were shadows underneath his eyes, awash with an overwhelming despondence, and a raging panic in his heaving chest, and a frenzied scattering of his black pupils, like those of a manic beast possessed by a phantom terror.

"How could you do this!" she whimpered.

"It wasn't supposed to happen this way. It wasn't supposed to— Audrey..."

"No. No no."

"Audrey, I love you. You were supposed to love me."

"William, no."

"You were supposed to love me!"

"William!"

"YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO LOVE ME!"

Northland ✔️Where stories live. Discover now