Sunset’s Song

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I slide into the living room and close the door behind me. Like clockwork, I step into my slippers waiting on the floor, remove my tie and sink into the armchair. The television stares back at me from the other side of the room, gleaming as if recently polished. Most of the things in here are gleaming. The window-panes, the fireplace, the old piano. They all sparkle in a conspiratorial manner, attempting to distract me from the fact that actually, the telly is never on, the fireplace hasn’t been lit in months and the lid of the piano is always shut. I wish there was a bit of dust around here sometimes. Something to show the mark of time, the mark of life. It’s like a showroom – perfect but empty, and I’m just part of the display.

What happens next?

Sand between my toes

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All year round I shook out towels,

Unpacked bags, dropped pebbles in bowls.

But dust keeps dancing across the glass

In golden moats ‘round castles and holes

 

Where dunes still murmur all our secrets,

And pools of light still shift in form,

Where salty hair cascades in curls

And skin feels weathered, gritty, warm.

 

And once again I taste the spray

Once again I smell the air

Once again I hear the whisper

Once again I feel you there.

 

 

Remember

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Chimes. Gentle chimes roll in waves from the edges of a world confined to blackness. Lilting and harmonious, the music drifts through the bars surrounding me, covering me and comforting me and lifting my face upwards like it did before in a half-remembered dream.

Coloured birds are flying brightly in the dark above, moving in graceful circles. Round and round they soar, silent and beautiful in their simple outlines.

And though their path is marked and unchanging, predestined and cyclical, their flight is one of possibility and potential. Because every night, no matter how high I stretch my arms, they dance beyond my reach.

They are infinite.

The other day I read that all memories of a time before the age of five are constructed. Fiction. Perhaps my parents told me about the musical mobile, or I remember it hanging above the cot of one of my younger siblings. Perhaps it was a dream. All I know is this: when I hear that lullaby, I can see soft shapes gliding above me. I can feel a burgeoning sense of wonder that whispers of things half-understood, hazy and hopeful. And I know that somewhere deep down, real or imagined, that child filled with awe is still reaching up towards something she’ll never fully comprehend.

Prologue ~ Noctis City

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DARKNESS fell upon the city, stealing down alleyways and skirting hastily around flickering street lamps. Night in Noctis was never heralded by glowing sunsets; on the contrary, it swept across the city’s skyscrapers, the tall buildings obscuring any distant sun rays fighting their way across the horizon. Only an extremely high vantage would allow some real glimmer of dusk to be felt upon the skin. Otherwise, the darkness itself was the thief in the night, coming so quickly that it was common to be caught outside in the sudden flight of day without any warning.

Tonight, something was different in Noctis City. Crowds of people were flooding through the streets, not with the brisk efficiency of returning workers but with a bristling fury that ran along the roads like electricity. They were running, shouting, pushing, crying. Smoke poured from buildings around them, glowing a murky orange as it seeped away from the fires burning beneath it, and the sound of shattering glass continually followed the crowds as bricks were thrown in soaring arcs before crashing through nearby windows. Some kicked down doors and began to raid the shops and houses, but most surged forward with a universal urgency towards the city gates, armed with weapons or passports or crying children as they reached the barricade waiting for them.

The gates were no longer there. They had been blocked in, built up, now part of the endless wall that circled the city’s perimeter.

There was no way out.  Continue reading