Ecclesiastes was born into a world out of balance. He felt it even as an infant, the power in both his mother and father, strong, stubborn souls who would not back down, who would not let the other assume dominion. Neither willing to subjugate.
So there were the inevitable fights. His parents screamed at each other, and Ecclesiastes screamed in his crib. Then one day his father went away and only he and his mother remained, and for the first time in his short life, Ecclesiastes felt calmness in his world. His mother was big and strong, he was small and weak. Balance.
As he grew older, he saw and understood the balance in nature: cold, icy days and hot, steamy days; heavy rain and brilliant sunshine; trees bare of leaves, trees a profusion of green; soil cracked and dry, soil wet and boggy. Nature, it seemed, knew the importance of balance.
People on the other hand…they were the problem.
Some took and never gave. Some allowed themselves to be loved, but never returned it. Some hoarded all their money, never giving to those in need. And some tortured and killed their fellow human beings, but were never caught, thus never paid for their crimes.
But those were not the people who concerned Ecclesiastes, for their lives were balanced, because for every twisted, selfish person, there was an equally good person walking the face of the earth.
It was the ones in the middle; those were the troublemakers. And they outnumbered the ones who kept the world in balance by the billions. A man might anonymously gift a homeless shelter hundreds of dollars one day, and the very next, break his wife’s jaw in an argument and tell her it was all her fault for making him mad. Or the nice lady down the street who treated her lap dog like a precious baby, might lock her own child in a dark closet for days because she took food out of the refrigerator without asking.
It was too much. His mind slid, dipped, turned upside-down. And he found himself locked away in a mental institution.
But the good doctors there had shown him the error in his way of thinking, had convinced him the world was naturally chaotic, that there was no order, no balance in the universe. It had taken numerous shock treatments, and hours of therapy, but Ecclesiastes had learned to deal with the tipsy-turvy world on its own terms.
Five years after his mother had had him committed, twenty-year-old Ecclesiastes walked out of Southwood Manor and into a new life. He went to college, earned a master’s degree in business, was hired by a well-known corporation, met a lovely woman there, got married, bought a mansion in Riverfront Valley, and two years later became a father.
That’s when things began sliding sideways. Again.
Some nights, he slipped out of bed, and leaving behind his softly snoring wife, padded barefoot into the nursery and watched his infant daughter as she slept. He loved her, oh how he loved his little Samantha. But something wasn’t…quite…right. And he worried, thought: Is something wrong with my child? Is there some disease, some abnormality that I, and everyone else, have overlooked? Ecclesiastes knew something was wrong; he just didn’t know what it was.
But eventually, he figured it out. Night after night of staring down at his baby girl’s face finally bore fruit. And it was so simple he wondered why he hadn’t figured it out months ago.
The birth of his daughter had thrown the world out of balance. There had been a time of being born, but not a time of dying. There had to be a death to bring back balance. Tears filled his eyes as he bent over the crib and placed a gentle kiss on Samantha’s chubby cheek. “I’m sorry, Sammie, but I have to fix it,” he whispered, his lips resting against her smooth skin.
With a resigned sigh, Ecclesiastes shuffled off down the hall to his office. He clicked on the desk lamp, then reached into the bottom drawer of the nearby file cabinet and pulled out the loaded snub-nosed 38 he’d purchased illegally from a pawn shop on Third Street when he and his wife had moved into their new home. Just in case.
Gun in hand, he moved at a snail’s pace back up the hallway, dreading with every fiber of his being what he had to do. But he had no choice; he had to put the world back in balance.
He crossed the cold, wood floor of his daughter’s bedroom. Tears streaming down his face he leaned over the crib railing and placed a final kiss upon her forehead. “Goodnight, sleep tight, sweet dream, Sammie,” he said softly.
Then Ecclesiastes shoved the 38′s barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger.
I have always loved The Twilight Zone–not the movie but the old, black-and-white TV series. Show me a still from an episode and most likely, I can tell you what it is about.
There were many outstanding tales told in the five years The Twilight Zone aired: My favorites include: “It’s A Good Life”, “The Eye of the Beholder”, “To Serve Man”, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” starring William Shatner; and the first runner-up on my list, “Time Enough at Last” starring Burgess Meredith”. You remember that one: the meek, bespectacled man who happened to be reading in a bank vault when the world ended. Oh, the irony, the horror, when his coke-bottle-lens glasses fell off when he leaned over, and were broken. I, as a voracious reader, felt his pain. He now had all the time in the world to read, but was unable to do so. Hell on earth. Might as well have been killed along with everyone else.
Topping my list as THE very best episode of The Twilight Zone was a little story titled: “The Hunt”. It was written by Earl Hamner, Jr.–who later on created The Waltons based on his book, Spencer’s Mountain, which in 1963 was made into a film bearing the same name. Whew…long one there.
What made this particular episode special to me was the lead actor, Arthur Hunnicutt who, like me, was born in Arkansas. He played the character of Hyder Simpson, backwoodsman, to perfection. Growing up in the backwoods myself, one generation–give or take a little–removed from the time period in which this story takes place, I had older relatives who reminded me of Hyder Simpson. It was sort of like revisiting my early childhood. His wife, Rachel, who was played by Jeanette Nolan, put me in mind of Grandma Workman with all her superstitious talk of “blood on the moon” and such. And Hyder’s coon-hunting dog, Rip, looked like the skinny hounds that lazed around on the front porch–and sometimes under it–of the old, weathered house I grew up in.
I loved those lean, long-eared hounds. When I was elevenish, I went coon hunting with my daddy and one of those dogs one night; but that’s another story.
“The Hunt” boils down to a yarn involving Hyder Simpson, Rip, an ill-fated coon hunt, heaven and hell. I’m not going to tell you anything else. If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend you look it up on Netflix, Hulu, or some other such website and give it a watch. You won’t be disappointed, especially if you are a believer in the Hereafter, a dog lover, or both.
And now, to where all of this leads.
My husband has known from waaaay back that I loved ”The Hunt” with a passion usually reserved for such types of fodder as The Walking Dead and Alien. But something about this simple story captured my heart the first time I saw it more years ago than I care to recount. And so with the thoughtfulness he has always reserved for my wants and needs and anything else he thinks might interest me, my husband did a little research on Arthur Hunnicutt and found where he was buried–and it turned out to be a fairly short drive from our home.
So one day last summer we took a drive to the Coop Prairie Cemetery in Mansfield, Arkansas to pay our respects to a man who had made a career portraying grizzled old codgers. Arthur Hunnicutt had played in numerous films and television shows, so Husband and I expected to easily find his gravesite. Perhaps it would be roped off, or maybe a rectangle of bricks might mark it. That, in the least, we expected. But when we arrived at the cemetery there was nothing we saw calling attention to any grave in particular–on either side of the highway. (US Highway 71 bisects the cemetery.)
So, we got out of our vehicle and started looking. My husband soon gave up, his COPD making it extremely difficult for him to breathe on that hot, humid day, but I was determined to find Mr. Hunnicutt’s grave–for both of us. As I wandered, sweating like a hog, among the headstones, I saw Husband talking to a couple of men who were standing next to a truck parked beside a building I supposed housed equipment used to maintain the cemetery. (Later I learned from Husband they were employees of a funeral home, there for the purpose of setting up a headstone, and had no idea where in the huge cemetery Arthur Hunnicutt might be buried.) By then, I was quite some distance away, still searching. The only clue I had as to where I might find his grave was a picture I’d seen on the Web of his headstone, shaded by a small tree. So I looked around trees. No luck.
I gazed across 71, and seeing a few likely looking trees there, crossed the busy highway. And began hunting again, reading every headstone anywhere within spitting distance of a tree. I was close to giving up–lord, was I ever roasting–when at last I found it. Under a scraggly, little oak on dirt so dry hardly any grass grew, was the headstone I’d been seeking. I yelled and motioned to Husband, and he got into his Explorer and drove up the highway and parked on the side of the road close to the gravesite.
It was a sad thing to behold. No flowers, no mementos, nothing to imply that here lay a well-known actor and his wife. I repeat: nothing. I noticed that there was no date of death on Pebble Pauline Hunnicutt’s side; just the date of birth: 1913. Must still be alive, I thought. Then I noticed a little plaque on the other side of the headstone, and when I went to investigate saw that it read Pebble’s date of death was 2010. But it had never been etched upon the headstone. I wondered why.
Husband and I discussed this a little, and came to the conclusion that they must have had no children. He said when he’d researched Arthur Hunnicutt he had seen no mention of children, or any other relatives for that matter. I thought then of my parent’s grave, how most of us kids visited on occasion, how brother Mike and sister Mary, who lived the closest, made sure their resting place was kept neat and tidy. But there was no one to do this for Arthur and Pebble Hunnicutt.
My husband and I sort of adopted them. We have plans to return for a visit, and he is seeing into getting Pebble’s date of death inscribed upon the headstone. It’s the least we can do for a man who had entertained so many people–and still continues to do so–people who have no idea that in death, he has been forgotten.
But I haven’t forgotten. Rest in peace, Arthur. I’m sure you passed through that holy gate without a hitch.
People are looking at me funny, especially the ladies at the registers, ’cause I come here nearly every day. But I can only buy what I can carry home. Mama can’t come and we need food, and if anyone finds out Mama can’t come, me and Lizzy and Josh will have to go to one of those foster homes. And they ain’t good places to be.
I know ’cause I was put in one last year. Lizzy and Josh was put in them too.
My third-grade teacher, Miss Fincher, had seen my busted lip and had called someone and they’d picked me up at school and taken me to this place where a woman in white had looked me all over, my privates too–I hadn’t liked that one bit–and then she’d told a big fat woman with red lipstick that I had been physically abused. I didn’t know what abused meant then, but I found out later in the foster home they put me in when Mrs. Loudermilk stuck my face in the toilet and held my mouth and nose underwater ’cause when I’d washed the dishes, I’d left a little bit of stuff on a fork. Becky, an older girl with boobs who was also staying there, told me not to tell the social worker ’cause the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I kept my mouth shut anyway.
And before too long, me and Josh and Lizzy were back with Mama, and her boyfriend, Rick, was gone. Rick was the one who’d busted my lip, not Mama. She never laid a hand me or Lizzy or Josh, but sometimes her boyfriends did.
Everything was fine and dandy for a while. Mama went back to working nights at the diner, and since Lizzie was twelve now, we didn’t need a babysitter no more. Not that Norma who lived across the hall from us had every done much in the way of babysitting us—unless you called smoking weed and watching soaps and yelling at one of us to bring her a cold Coke, babysitting.
Then Mama brought Michael back to our house one night. And he was still there when morning came. He was downright mean, and there was no getting away from him ’cause school was out for the summer. And pretty soon Mama was sticking needles in her arms again. Michael did it too, but not as much as Mama.
She stopped going to work. All she wanted to do was lay around in bed. That Michael–he brought men to our apartment and they went into Mama’s room for a little while, then came out and gave him money. He bought some groceries with the money, but mostly he spent it on the stuff you put in needles. And you’d better not ask him for more food. Josh did and now he don’t talk no more. Michael hit my little brother right in the face with his big fist, walloped him hard enough to knock him down. Josh started crying and that made Michael even madder. He kicked Josh with his pointy-toed cowboy boots, and kept on kicking him, calling him a snotty-nosed little nigger bastard, until finally Josh stopped crying. He just layed there, curled up on his side in a puddle of pee, quiet as a mouse.
Michael staggered off to Mama’s bedroom, and Lizzie and me cleaned Josh up and put him in the crib. I found a dishtowel we could use for a diaper, and Lizzie pinned it on him. I knew something was bad wrong with Josh, not just ’cause he’d peed his pants and hadn’t done that in over a year, but by the way his eyes looked: in one, the black part was bigger than in the other one. And his mouth just hung open, slobber running down his chin.
And the next day, he was still the same.
I hated Michael for hurting my little brother. I wished he would go away.
But he didn’t.
And in a few days it got worse.
He tied Lizzy to her bed and ripped off all her clothes. She started screaming real loud so he wadded up her panties and stuffed them in her mouth, When he saw me watching, he slammed the door shut in my face.
I don’t know what all he did to Lizzy, but since I was ten, I knew some stuff–like what the men did to Mama and that it could make babies. Off and on all night long, I heard my sister’s muffled screams. I heard my brother making wet, gurgling sounds. I heard Mama singing to herself.
And by the time Michel came out of Lizzie’s and my room, I knew what I had to do.
I waited until Mama and Michael stuck the needles in their arms and their minds went away.
I started with Josh. He was easy. I put a pillow over his head and held it there a long time. He didn’t even wiggle, just lay there and let me kill what was left of him.
Lizzie wasn’t much harder. She was already bleeding bad down between her legs, and both her eyes were swollen shut. She didn’t even see me when I came over to the bed and gently put the same pillow over her face that I’d used on Josh. Her legs kicked a little, but since her hands were still tied to the bedposts, there wasn’t much she could do to stop me. And I don’t think she really wanted to stop me anyway.
Next was Mama. I used the same pillow on her. Like Josh, she didn’t even stir.
I saved the best for Michael. No soft pillow for him. I pulled the double-edged knife from its sheath attached to the belt of his jeans that laid in a wrinkled heap on the floor next to the bed. I didn’t think twice about what I was gonna do. I took that big old knife and made a nice deep cut under his chin, from one ear to the other. His eyes flew open, wide and scared–and hurting. He tried to say something, but the words came out as bubbles from his bloody throat. I held up the wet, red knife right in front of his eyes, let him take a good, long look. His hands came up a little like he was reaching for it, then dropped back down.
I thought about something someone had said on TV a while back, and it made me smile. I leaned over and whispered the words in his ear: “You want some more, I’ll give you some more.” And I raked the blade across his blood-soaked throat, again and again until I came up against something hard and couldn’t go any deeper.
And now I’m home with the food. I empty a can pork-and-beans into four bowls and go into the front room where Mama, Lizzy, and Josh are sitting in the floor against the wall in front of the TV. I put a bowl and spoon on the floor in front of them. I don’t take any to Michael who’s still in the bed ’cause as far as I’m concerned, he can starve to death, the mean sun-in-the-ditch. Then I sit down next to Mama and we all eat our supper while we watch Everybody Loves Raymond.
When I was a little girl, my mama’s last words to me every night were : “Goodnight, sleep tight, sweet dreams.” Occasionally–I suppose to break up the monotony–she would add: “And don’t let the bed bugs bite.” I had no idea at the time what bed bugs were, and probably it was just as well I didn’t; it would only have added to the considerable heap of fodder that made up my nightmares.
I don’t know about the general population, but I had a lot of reoccurring nightmares as a child. My sister, Linda, did too. Hers involved snakes for the most part, and mine the “Spotted Dog”. I can understand the fear of snakes; it’s hard-wired into our mammalian brain, was and is hard-wired into Linda’s.
A fairly good-sized stream wandered a lazy path at the base of a gentle hill below our house. Sister Linda, brother Mike, cousins Lesa and Jennifer, and I spent many a spring and summer day when we were kids catching crawdads in the shallows there. But there were a couple of big pools too deep to scrounge for our pincered victims except in the dry days of summer. And it was in the pool directly down the hill from our house that Linda’s dream-snakes abided.
If I remember correctly, my sister’s reoccurring nightmare didn’t involve her being bitten, but our mama suffering that fate instead. Linda dreamed that for some reason, Mama was standing on the bank and had a pole she was using to poke around in the pool of water. And snake after snake crawled up that pole and sank their fangs into our wonderful mama. I remember how upset Linda was after those dreams. Anyone would have been, and she was just a little girl.
My dreams involved the dreaded Spotted Dog. It showed up many nights and in many different places. Yellow eyes peering out of the forsythia bush. On our front porch. In the house behind the fireplace. (Don’t ask me how such a thing was possible; it was a dream, and all things are plausible–even reasonable–in dreams.) The dog never bit me or anyone else. It didn’t ever growl at me. But for some inexplicable reason, that dog struck terror into my heart. And I’m not scared of dogs and never have been. To this day, I don’t know why I dreamed of the malevolent Spotted Dog. Lord, I didn’t even know if the dog had spots. But that is how I always thought of it: The Spotted Dog.
The mind is a strange place, especially our dreamscapes. I have read that when we are in REM sleep, the stage in which dreaming occurs, most of our muscles are paralyzed. I would imagine that is a good thing or else while in the throes of a nightmare, one might injure themselves or someone else.
But why do we dream? This is a question that has never been answered. Many theories abound, but no proven facts. And why do children have more dreams–thus more nightmares–than adults? If stress is the cause, and problem solving is the purpose of dreams, why do children have more dreams than adults? Surely, an adult has more stress and problems in their life than does a child.
Or do they? Something to think about there.
And something else to think about, something I have pondered on more than one occasion: Is what we think of as life an illusion, and our dreams the reality? And if we could, would we chose our dreamscape as our reality?
The Spotted Dog has been absent from my dreams for many, many years now. But every so often I think of it, think of the fear it inspired in me coiled like Linda’s snakes in the pit of my stomach. And I hope that if life is the illusion, I continue to live in that untruth. The little girl inside this woman never wants to cross paths with the Spotted Dog again.
I’m tired of killing babies. I have been doing it for months now, and my sister, Linda Smith, has been my willing accomplice to these horrible crimes. Every single one we slaughtered was almost more than I could bear. I’m sure Linda suffered a little bit too–though she told me on more than one occasion she enjoyed it. But it’s not her babies we killed; they were mine! I’m so sick of the color red I could throw up.
At long last, I’ve come to the point where I can take a break from it. My remaining babies will be safe–for a while. Now Linda’s is another matter. How will she feel when the shoe is on the other foot? Though come to think of it, we have dispatched a few of hers along with a multitude of mine, and she did the butchering gleefully. I think that woman is a natural-born baby killer. I’ll admit I helped her a few times, (After all, payback is fair.) but I don’t think I felt the sick thrill she did when we snuffed out the life of some poor innocent whose only crime–if you can call it that–was that it was too pretty.
If you are a writer, you probably already know what I’m ranting about–and it is not the literal killing of babies. In the metaphorical sense, “killing your babies” is a term used when describing editing out of your story or article the unnecessary fluff, no matter how beautifully it is written. And it hurts, really, really hurts, to write a descriptive passage that when read, sounds as if it is the music of the gods, the words shiny and bright and perfect. But too much.
So one kills their glorious babies.
In writing classes I have taken, and in books I have read on creative writing, all agree: less is more. Include a few well-chosen descriptive words and let the reader’s imagination fill in the rest, then cut to the chase. I see their point. I’ve tried to read some of the classics, and the pages of description bog down the story. We live in a society of instant gratification. Readers get bored with too much description. They want action. They want emotion. If writers fail to give it to them, television and movies will. And we will have lost them. Far too many have abandoned the written word already; we as writers can’t afford to lose more.
So here sits my manuscript, all 403 pages, clean and white, no red slash marks and comments marring its beauty–now. It was a bloody mess for months and months while my editor and sister, Linda Smith, (Who just happens to be a damn fine writer in her own right.) and I emailed it back and forth, killing babies left and right.
I wondered at times if we would ever get through taking out this, putting in that, fixing typos, and correcting what auto correct screwed up. And you wouldn’t believe the heaps of notes, red-marked pages, and folders of research that are now ready for the shredder. (Though I think I’ll hold onto them for a little while, just in case…) I hope too many trees didn’t sacrifice their lives to bring Quoth The Raven into the world; and I pray those that did think they died for a noble cause.
Now begins the search for a literary agent who will love my story as much as I do, love it so passionately they will take its hand and lead it out into the world. And while the search is on, I begin anew. I already have close to 100 pages written on another story. For now, I can relax and just write. But I know lurking in the future is yet another bloodbath, another round of baby killing. I just won’t think about it right now.
And by the way, the two little boys pictured at the beginning are my grandsons, alive and well.
I need a Gerda Koontz. Desperately.
“And just who or what is a Gerda Koontz?” you might ask.
Gerda Koontz is the wife of Dean Koontz, the prolific writer who in my opinion is second only to Stephen King–and I’m not as certain as I used to be on this–in the horror genre. A lovely woman, yes, but more than that, a supportive wife.
Dean Koontz married Gerda in 1966, the same year he graduated from college. In that same year his short story, “The Kittens”, won an award from the Atlantic Monthly magazine. He continued to write and sell science-fiction short stories while teaching high school English in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; and during that time period, he wrote three novels that didn’t sell.
This is where Gerda comes in. She offered to support them for five years so Dean could concentrate solely on writing. And in 1968 his first novel, Star Quest, was published. The rest is history.
I need a Gerda Koontz. I need someone to subsidize me so I can stay at my desk, butt planted in my chair in front of my computer and write. Just write. I need a Gerda Koontz so I don’t have to work a full-time job, keep up a house, do laundry, cook, pay bills, do yard work. I need someone to take care of my regular life while I live inside my head, clearing out spaces in the old gray matter for other people–interesting people with interesting lives–to take up habitation. And as they sip coffee in front of the crackling fireplace in the cozy living room I created in my mind, they can tell me the story of their lives spent fighting demons, ghosts, goblins and monsters–both human and otherworldly. One might whisper in my ear about the murder they got away with, a sly, sideways smile telling me how much they enjoyed it. One might confide in me a story of unrequited love, their eyes exposing a life filled with misery. And one might tell me of a wondrous adventure in another place and time.
But to listen, I first have to clear out the here and now; and doing it takes time. It’s not like I can flip a switch inside my head, one second my mind dealing with my bill-paying job and all the other things that demand my attention, and the next second become engaged in whatever I am currently writing on. By the time I metamorphous from your ordinary Josephine-working-stiff, to W. K. Tucker the writer, an hour or two has passed, the time spent rereading and editing what I had written during my last session to immerse myself back into the story. Then I spend a few hours writing, and it’s time to clean up the bathroom, or give the kitchen a much-needed scrubbing, or vacuum the floors. And this is just the weekend; Monday through Friday, my brain and body are so wiped out when I get home from work it’s impossible for me to concentrate on writing. I need my rest. After all, I’m not the proverbial spring chicken anymore.
So if any of you know of a Gerda Koontz who would be willing to support me for a few years, send her my way. I think if she could take care of the things that to me are unimportant but necessary to life, I could take care of what is important to me: writing.
A week ago I posted part of “A Speck in the Cosmos”. I thought to avoid confusion, I would post it in its entirety in case you, the reader, missed the beginning. I hope you enjoy where my mind takes us.
We are that we are. We are the ones who learned to free our minds from our bodies. We are the ones who will exist forever. We are the ones humans call upon when they are in need.
We are gods.
All who came before us are no more, not even a thought upon the solar winds.
The ones who came after, the humans, we use for our amusement. There is no afterlife for them–only an eternity of nothingness.
And for some inexplicable reason, I find that sad.
Deeson says that I should not concern myself with them, that their short lives mean nothing. But weren’t we all once like them? Our race, I mean. Scurrying all over the surface of a tiny, insignificant planet, in a tiny, insignificant galaxy. A speck in the cosmos. Tied to a place and time.
So many eons ago…I barely remember…
I think I was once a human male. I think this because it is the female humans I am drawn to. When I ponder their shape and size and form, my core warms, pulses like a giant quasar into the ether surrounding the mass of energy that is me.
And there is one female whose prayers draw me back again and again. I want to be the one who answers her prayers, brings her joy.
And Deeson tells me this is a bad thing, a dangerous thing.
The female is lonely…sad. I sense this in the aura that surrounds her physical being–as it does all humans. It is as gray as the ashen sea of the moon that circles Carpithia. I watch her as she goes about her life: cleansing her unclothed body, putting the unneeded paint on her beautiful face, going to–what is it now? Oh, yes. A job. Something she does to sustain her life. She goes to this job when Sol is on the other side of the Earth, to a place where males watch her take off her garments. They watch her like a pack of starving dogs and she nothing but meat to be consumed.
Then she goes back to her resting place. Alone. She is always alone.
I watch her when she sleeps, the glow that is my physical manifestation lighting up her face. Dark hair the color of a collapsed star from which no light can escape, surrounds a face I find so exquisite I would cry from the beauty of it–if only I could. I watch until her emerald eyes open, then I retreat.
Something is wrong; the female has quit praying. She has given up for I cannot provide for her what she needs and wants: happiness.
I see the small, flat thing laying beside the object she uses to clean the bones in her mouth. I see her take it in her fingers and draw the edge of it across the first finger of her other hand. I see the thin line of red blood. She looks up and smiles at her reflection, and in that smile I see so much pain. And though Deeson has warned me against it, when she lays down to sleep, I slip inside her mind. I have to know the cause of her misery.
And I saw and it was terrible. I saw her as a child, the act called sex being forced upon her. Not once, but many times by the human that had fathered her. I saw her a little older on the streets of a city. Here, sex was not forced, but it may as well have been; without giving it, she would have starved. And later still, sticking needles in her thin, pale arms.
Then light. A smiling man walking beside her as she cradles an infant to her breast. Crossing the street, the car slamming into them. Her waking in a white room, the man and infant no more.
Then the return of darkness.
And the beginning of hopelessness.
And I know what she is going to do.
I cannot stand it! I cannot bear it! I cannot lose that which I have found.
I jerk myself out of her mind. She opens her eyes, sits up in bed, and stares at me, awe written upon her face. I slowly move closer until I am hovering in the air so close she could have reached out and touched me. My light paints her face golden.
“W–what are you?” she says.
I can’t answer; I have no mouth. So I show her. I flow toward her, pouring over her skin in waves of light. I enter every orifice of her body, my warmth easing the coldness in her veins. I travel throughout her in the river of her blood. There is no place inside her that I do not go. I fill her completely.
She falls onto her back, her body arching. “Ahhhh…” she and I breath out as one. Then we are still.
“Don’t ever leave me,” she whispers.
I won’t. I can’t.
I have become human, and there is no going back.