This short piece by AK Alliss maybe become something more…maybe not…I enjoyed this piece as it is. I hope you do to.
Avenues of Dawn
His eyes open hesitantly, unfamiliar sounds laced with some distant memory that he can’t quite recall, that déjà vu feeling at the back of his skull, pressing with urgency. The sounds get louder, a clinking, rhythmic beat that closes distance. His eyes are greeted by a flaking ceiling, the colour of old paper, an errant spider web billowing in a hidden breeze. His stomach feels folded inside out and he wonders for a second if he has been drinking, but instantly dismisses the idea as being inaccurate.
Sitting up, he stares for a moment, at poorly painted bars that grant him a view of a railing and a narrow catwalks, and still, he cannot remember how he got here. A flash in front of his eyes, warm, liquid irises the colour of a summer sea and hair that spirals in infinite repetition replaces his view of the bars, but then is lost to sight. He tries to get back that face but it vanishes as quickly as it appeared, a phantom that does not belong in this place of muted colours and cool barriers.
A man appears, military grade haircut and eyes that are as stern and unforgiving as the sea, a tray held in a gnarled hand that could as easily be carved from wood. The man studies him and grunts, sniffing in his inspection before tapping the bars once with a nightstick, producing the same sound that has awoken him from his slumber. He moves as if he will tap the bars once more but appears to decide against it, hanging the nightstick from a loop on a broad leather belt. The jailer replaces the nightstick with a ring of keys, reaching forward and unlocking a small panel inset between the bars, just wide enough to permit the tray.
The tray is passed between the bars and he can see now that he is being offered food, if that definition could apply to the assortment of green and grey smears held in small compartments on the tray. A flimsy plastic fork, edges rounded, sits in the mushed food and is nearly knocked from the tray as it passes through the gap. The guard holds the tray through the gap and he blearily realises that he is supposed to take it. He nods once and the guard ignores him, releasing the nothing food into his grip, rehanging the keys from their clip and reacquiring the nightstick.
He gives one more tap with the long, solid looking piece of steel, the sound more of a bang than the tap of previously, before moving on to the next cell. As he departs, he begins whistling a tune, and he recognises it as something by the Rolling Stones.
Paint it Black.
That collapsing feeling wells up unexpectedly and he swears that he can smell hot coffee, as if from a great distance. He squints as sweat coats his forehead and runs into his eyes, swiping furiously at them without managing to clear them of the sting. He hears a woman’s voice and he knows at once that it belongs to the face that flashed across his mind just prior to the guard arriving.
The tray in his hands twists as if it is made of nothing more substantial than an elastic band and he feels at once as if his body is doing the same. He is all angles and planes of uncertainty and his legs collapse, the solid green of the concrete floor rushing towards him. The guard’s whistling draws away, faster than a speeding vehicle and the concrete smashes into his face, only to be replaced by the smell of loam and spring. The whistle reaches a piercing shriek and moulds itself into the call of a bird, somewhere high overhead, it’s cry broken by a woman’s, warm and sultry, low of timbre. And yet, he can still hear the Stones singing about a red door that they want to have painted black, although this time its sound is blurred and buzzing, produced by a small radio next to him.
“Caleb, where were you?”
Caleb feels her thighs, held close together beneath the bird’s nest of his hair, bright and penetrating sunlight hurting his eyes as he opens them. She is there above him, her face occluded by the sun above her, making her features become lost, a silhouette that he reaches towards. She laughs and tilts her head up and he knows now why he doesn’t want to remember this moment, to be here with her. Pain fills him as he gropes internally for a reply, settling on something that feels as ominous as the moment he has just returned from.
“Somewhere you weren’t.” is the only answer he can give her.
(c) AK Alliss 2016