Darkness’s Melody

   Darkness protects her own. She is a loyal mistress to some, a protective mother to others, and, to a rare few, she is a constant companion. She hugs her lovers’ figures with a sweet and cool caress. She throws a warm blanket over her children. She kisses those few who live with her eternally and teaches them the secrets of the senses that no one else possesses.
   Melody had woken up one morning in her narrow bed to discover that she was one of those few that Darkness chooses to initiate into those secrets. The sun was barely over the horizon – the nurse told Melody – and the ground was white with the snow that had been falling all night. Melody held her hands out in front of her face, stretched her eyes wide, and began to wail.
   It took a few days to calm her down. She had hysterics that exhausted her still-weak body, and then she would fall asleep for hours. During those blessed hours, she dreamed of a world awash with color and lit by sunlight. That world was locked for her, now forever.
   She missed it terribly. She cursed the Darkness over and over again, screamed her throat raw and lashed out violently at anyone who dared come near and try to comfort her. The narrow bed that she lay in gave her the only joy she was able and willing to receive because it allowed her to disappear from the Darkness.
   Eventually, there came a day when she was strong enough to get up – so the doctor told her. He was a kindly man, and she remembered his pudgy face, so at odds with his withered body. Everyone knew that he had been sick for many years now. How he clung to life, how he’d managed to keep the rosy boyish cheeks from sinking, nobody knew. Melody remembered him, but whenever she tried to look into his face – she didn’t stretch out her clawed fingers to him, because he seemed to bring calm into any room he entered – she could see only Darkness.
   Once the doctor left, she tried to sleep. But she couldn’t. She was too strong now to fall into bouts of healing sleep and her legs were shaking with the wish to move, to run, to sprint, to dance. She had loved dancing. She wondered whether she’d ever be able to dance again.
   The room was quiet as she slowly swung her legs over the side of the bed and found the warped wooden floorboards. Nobody sat through the day with her anymore – she’d made it abundantly clear that she didn’t appreciate such attention and that she wanted to be left alone. Nobody was there to see her take her first faltering steps, arms stretched out in front of her, reaching out to make sure that Darkness wouldn’t try to trip her up on a table or chair.
   She wondered whether all the other girls who’d used to be in her room were dead. The sickness had taken many of them. Few survived. She knew that, because she could hear the Sisters talking in hushed voices in the long hallway. For the first time, Melody felt guilty. She hadn’t thought about the other girls in her rage against the Darkness. She didn’t know whether or not any of them was suffering the same fate as she.
   Hush! the Darkness seemed to whisper. Listen! Melody paused. Her eyes closed of their own accord. She could hear the wind softly touching the curtains of the cracked window and making them sway. The fabric moving sounded like a small child shifting in its sleep. From above, she could hear the creaking of a bedstead as someone climbed onto a bunk. She knew it was a bunk because there was a rickety sort of rattling that came from the old wooden ladders that still clung desperately to the three-tiered bunks.
Footsteps in the hall. Melody felt them in the floorboards before she could even hear them. All the Sisters walked barefooted and had the trick of walking silently, avoiding the squeaky spots on the floor. A knock. Melody turned and slowly walked to the door, letting her arms drop to her sides. She used to walk to the door in Darkness even before, whenever she had to go use the bathroom at night. She knew how to get there. The Darkness seemed to smile at her encouragingly. Yes, we were friends even before, she seemed to say.
   Melody could smell the cheap varnish on the door before she reached it. Putting her hand out, she found that she’d stopped at precisely where she would stop if things were normal again – she wasn’t too far and she wasn’t too close. She turned the handle of the door and opened it.
A warmth emanated from the Sister standing there. She moved closer and Melody stepped back. She didn’t want anyone to be too near, yet. A combination of sound and feeling told her that the Sister had raised her arm and was going to put it on her cheek. And there was the hand, caressing her. There were callouses on it.
   “Sister Hannah,” Melody said. The hand stopped for a split second before moving up to smooth her hair. Not knowing how she knew it – maybe the hand trembled just a tad – Melody knew that the Sister was crying silently, and she could see, as if an image was imprinting itself on the Darkness, the way the Sister probably looked, tears rolling down her face and collecting on her round chin.
   The Darkness danced around Melody. The weight was becoming familiar, like a serpent draped around her shoulders.
   Stepping into Sister Hannah’s embrace, Melody held out a mental hand to the Darkness and joined the dance.

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3 thoughts on “Darkness’s Melody

  1. This was a very nice read. I loved how rich it was in emotion and the thoughts of the character, in spite of it not being first person narrative. Very good!

  2. Erin M says:

    That was so interesting! Strange and disturbing and really, really cool. I felt so immersed in the scene!

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