Autumn.B.Coleman

United States of America

“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Message to Readers

An old piece of mine, and it seems a bit dry.. what can I do to polish it up?

Dead Birds

November 9, 2019

FREE WRITING

1
    On the ground, just a few steps from the door, there was a dead bird. Lying face down, you could still see its iridescent tail feathers twitch. What made it worse was the second, the baby, refusing to leave its side. It hopped around its fallen friend, occasionally chirping and tilting its head in confusion. I don't like birds.
     I unzipped my backpack and ruffled through for my phone to re-read my father’s directions: 
    It's not that hard, Coraline. Just go in the house, turn off the lights, and grab my backpack.
    He's been making me do this since I learned how to ride a bike. I am assigned to make sure his "work-in-progress" houses are in order, and sometimes I get five bucks for it.
    My eyes traced the grains coursing through the wooden porch and I found the bird again. It was looking around as if trying to find help. It looked lost. I wondered if the demure thing would ever leave its companions side, or if it will stay there, waiting for the other to wake up. Something inside of me broke, ripping through me like the tide through sand. It's just a bird. 
    I took the key out of my pocket and unlocked the door. It swung open with ease, revealing cardboard covered floors and plastic wrapped doorways. The kitchen lights glowed, casting ghastly oblong shadows on the floor. Closing the door behind me, I realized just how high the ceilings were, and how dark the house actually was. My footsteps echoed through the dark hallways and crept up the walls, making a deeper part of me feel faintly alone. 
-
Something watched.
-
     The dining room was empty except for a low hanging antique chandelier. When my backpack slid off of my shoulder and onto the kitchen counter, three things happened:
  1. It started to pour rain, the drops drumming against the pristine windows.
  2. I noticed that the oven was open.
  3. My father texted me, “Remember, these people are so rich that they paid ninety thousand dollars to have a telephone pole moved so their view of the mountains wouldn’t be obstructed. Don't touch anything.”
    A laugh escaped my lips and I muttered, “Freaking rich people.” I placed my phone on the counter and shut the oven. Across from the dining room, a door was cracked open. The lights inside were off, but my eyes adjusted to focus on the rows upon rows of books that lined the back wall.
 No way. 
    Completely abandoning my simple instructions, I entered the library and felt along the walls for a light switch. The overhead lights flickered on exposing shelves upon shelves lined with antiques and novels. A small black book caught my eye and I carefully slid it out. The once gold text had long faded, and the canvas backing had started to peel off the edges. I flipped open to a random page and read a paragraph.
    Long in the woods she lay there, contemplating her own death. “How dreary,” whispered the trees through the rustle of leaves, “that you should be the bones that no one can remember.” “Dreary indeed,” said she, “that I would be the dream scaring children awake from their sleep.”
-
   It knew she could feel it. It was cold, so very frigid and lonely. Longing, longing for human flesh - the red lifestreams that poured through their very veins.
-
    Okay then. I replaced the book and looked around the room again, spotting a shelf across from me which contained old photographs. I found one that looked like a family on vacation. The wife rested a crying baby on her hip, and the husband had his hands on the shoulders of a very angry looking ten year old. Picking it up to get a better look, something slid out from behind it and onto the floor with a crash. Frickfrickfrickdadsgonnakillmeohmygoshimsodead. I bent down to pick up whatever priceless artifact I now had to replace, then saw what it actually was. My phone.
    My heart slid into my stomach. I must have set it down there when I was looking for a light switch. I placed my phone in the back pocket of my jeans and set the picture back. I need to find dad’s backpack. I took one last look around the room, listening to my heartbeat echo in my ears. Taking the cool brass doorknob in my hand, I turned off the light and shut the door, hoping I wouldn't see anyone on the other side of it.
    The house seemed quieter and darker than before. Shadows stretched towards my feet, their dark essence seeming to stain the floor.  Everything looked misplaced as if I had walked through to another day. I saw the oven open and walked over to close it. What would they do without me? I lightly laughed to myself, feeling more and more uneasy with every inhale. I breathed in questions but failed to exhale answers, and my lungs flooded sharply with nerves. 
I stood up and leaned against the table, then saw a dark staircase. My eyes caught the sharp metal rails, completely different from the soft antique touch of the rest of the house. 
Except for the library.
    Soon I found myself mindlessly walking to the staircase. My fingertips glided over the roughly textured railings, completely mystified by its diversity. The light dissolved as I walked down its steep stairs. It was as if the dark was eating away at the light, growing thicker and darker the farther down I went. My hand released from the railing, and I saw something shining dimly at the end of the staircase. Slowing my steps and forcing my eyes to adjust I saw it. It was a floor length mirror the size of a doorway. Carved wood painted a gruesome black swirled and cascaded down the sides of its tinted glass. It drew me in. Luring and pleading with my eyes until  I obeyed and came closer. A gleam ripped across it and I saw a crack that tore down the middle.  It was melancholy daydreams and promises left on the curb. My hands were drawn to touch it, to find exactly what had made it brake. My palm pressed to the cool glass and felt a soft pulse like a heartbeat drum against it. 
    Then I saw my reflection. A black the shade of tainted obsidian, as dark as a damaged murderers’ heart, it stared back at me.
    Then grabbed my hand. 
    A black ooze spread down my arm to my elbow and froze every fiber of my body. It pulled me in, sliding its hand up my arm onto my shoulder and to the back of my head. 
    “Long in the woods she lay there, contemplating her own death.” It whispered to me through my head. It ravaged me, seeping into my very veins, searching my brain for light.
    “Long in the woods she lay there.” The black spread over me like a blanket, and I couldn't feel the pressure of Its hand anymore
    “Long in the woods she lay there.” We spoke in unison, its syllables merging with mine.
    “Long in the woods…”
---
    My eyes opened to the slick plastic and I felt cold seeping out from the inside of me. My head rang out with pain as I sat up. 
    What happened? 
    I walked to the door and left, closing it behind me with a slam of finality. Looking down at the ground, I saw that the other bird was dead. 
I slid my back against the door and landed on the welcome mat with a thump. Screw dad’s backpack. A single hot tear streamed down my cheek.
    The thing about experiencing death, is that you cannot leave without awakening something and taking it with you.

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