The One Who Was Seen

Here is the next little bit of the story that I began this morning and that I hope will grow into something much longer and stranger and wonderful. It is a tale that I think has been brewing in me for years, ever since I first started writing, with characters I have long known. You have already been introduced to Abby, and now it is time for Nevermore. I have tried to write in two distinctly different styles as a device which I hope works, a more realistic, prosaic one for Abby and what she sees and thinks and feels and a more arcane, poetic, fantastical style for Nevermore. I think these pair well, but as always, I would love to here what any of you think. Happy reading, and cheers all.

Her eyes chased him from the cafe, dogging his boot heels as he spun out into the twilight streets, long, black coat tails billowing scraps of deeper night behind him. He was pinned by them, two spikes of deep blue twisting in his mind, he was crushed by the weight of them as if the whole sky of all the late summer afternoons was bearing down upon his shoulders. She had seen! She had seen him! Impossible, ludacris, inconceivable, there was no way, there just wasn’t. He stalked down the sidewalk, the early evening crowds absentmindedly swirling out of his way, closing behind him without a thought, he was a salmon cleaving the waters and leaving no mark or sign of passage.

Still his mind reeled back from that one single thought. She had seen! No one had ever touched him with their eyes, not from the first to the last, not once in four billion years had any eyes caught his reflection within them. He turned up his high collar, hunching his shoulders against them, still they fluttered about him, malicious blue jays swooping and diving as he quickened his pace, not a run, but a swift clicking stride, long legs unable to outrun the eyes, the memory of them. He jammed his fists into his deep, deep coat pockets, brushing against his new treasure. This calmed him a bit, breath leaving his lips in a long sigh. At least he had managed to snatch up what he had come for before those eyes had so savagely stabbed at him. His fingers uncurled and brushed lightly over the delicate, trembling souvenir, stroking, caressing…he knew it would make such a lovely addition to the tapestry and that thought brought a smile to his thin, austere lips.

As he walked the quaint, trendy downtown streets twisted beneath his feet, for a moment he was walking over grime crusted cobbles, then wood planks, then grass, then smooth brushed chrome, his boots changing their tune rapidly as he wound his way deeper and deeper into The Border. The buildings too became a strange mix, modern sleek white cubes beside Georgian brownstones, mingled with Tudor thatched roofs, Grecian arches rubbed elbows with antique pagodas, halogen street lamps shared their duties with gaslights or rushlights or strange floating globes of eerie luminescence yet he spared these not one thought. Fragments of every place and time all seemed stitched together haphazard, leaning over drunkenly beneath strange, wheeling stars in a sky of perpetual gloaming. All passed by without so much as a glance, in fact for him, the familiarity of the strangeness wrapped him in comfort like a thick blanket as he wound his way through this jumble of broken worlds, mind bent on nothing but the thought of getting safely home, where maybe he would stop seeing her eyes.

Ahead, towering over all rose a twisting spire of pitted and blackened iron and smoked glass, twined about with arches, buttresses, parapets and walkways that crawled like ivy, a soaring impossibility that stabbed up into the sky, the needle from which the disc of night spun widdershins. He paused at its great feet, spread out like the paws of an old, faithful hound, slim fingers reaching out to trail over the massive iron doors that were there, then weren’t then were again as he crossed the threshold. Inside the first great hall appeared like a flea market, heaps and piles of junk as far as the eye could see. Through this he passed, lean scarecrow shadow flicking behind him until he reached the stair, steps nautilus shell spiralling upwards, mother of pearl thin, crisp echoing to his boot heel tattoo as he ascended, still feeling.

Landing after landing flittered by until at least he alighted from the stairs, passing along the landing through an arch that could have easily been at home in Notre Dame into a room that had in fact clearly once been a cathedral. Behind the pulpit, hanging from old blackened beams, drifting dusty in the light of ten thousand fat candles was one of his artworks. Another smile stole across his lips as it fluttered softly, thousands upon thousands of powdery wings creating a sucerous like that of a single drawn out sigh, a tender lament that washed over him, calming, soothing.

From his right pocket he carefully drew his latest prize, fingers dripping the dust of a fresh, bright pair of moth’s wings, panels of iridescent green and blue and purple shimmering between thing leaded canes. In their depths, shifting constantly in the same way scenery is broken up as you walk past a mullioned window, was a face, a body, flashes of copper flame hair, fair skin, freckles, bowed full lips…and blue eyes. Even here they stared back up at him as he held the shy latte drinking poet’s longing in his cupped palm. His fist nearly spasmed, almost crushed them out as they laughed at him from within the fluttering, but he checked himself. No, he had watched for far too long and this ache was far too sweet not to be a part of his tapestry.

“Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos, come my ladies, please spin for me” His voice was low and soft, the sound made by ancient wooden boxes richly carved as they sit in spiced perfume silence holding the bones of dead saints. In answer, from the ceiling descended three graceful spiders, legs long and shapely. The first, new shoot sap green, alighted on his shoulder and scampered primly down his arm, taking up the still fluttering wings as her sisters swung on their own shimmering chords to a bare spot amongst the other pinned and woven longings. The second, a fat, nut brown, began to weave a lattice of fine thread upon which to stick the new addition, forelegs knitting and spinning as her sister finally ascended with the prize, helping to fix it in place. The third and last, ancient, bone white circled around, cutting, tying off, finishing the weaving with swift, sure knots. He loved to watch the sisters work and he stood back, able still even with all of the confusion around it able to pick out each individual ache, each subtle and wonderful desire unfulfilled. It was his monument to melancholie and among his various works was one which brought him the most comfort and quiet joy. It reminded him of the deapths of the heart, and that was always good.

Save now, where he could still see sapphires winking at him, needling him, SEEING him. With nearly a sob he spun away, his great black coat swirling around him. He fled his cathedral of snatched desires and bounded up the staircase once more, actually running now until he reached the top, panting even though he needed no breath, icy beads of sweat trailing lines of cold fire down his weathered copper skin. His chambers were open to the sky, the walls simply a series of great arches looking out into the plum purple ever twilight of his realm, holding up the vast dome of the ceiling that he had stolen from Constantinople before it could be finished, bright Byzantine tiles creating a maze that would have given Escher nightmares. From all around there was a welcoming flurry, soft, redolent of feathers as inky eyes trained upon him from all corners. They could see him, but that was fine, that was how it always had been. Slowly, then in growing chorus, from all corners they welcomed him home as they always had done, magpies, crows, ravens croaking slowly “Nevermore, Nevermore”. When he had first awoke so many and many dawns before they had been there and this was all that they had said then, so he took it to be his name.

Nevermore walked from the landing towards his favorite arch, pausing here and there to stroke purple black feathers, feeling the comforting weight of Skergaal settle upon his right shoulder, wings rustling in stately fashion, a courtier preening and proper. Nevermore however did not ask for his news and knowing his master’s moods well, Skergaal remained silent. The lonely, tall figure stood at last on the precipice, toes of his boots brushing the circumference of the tower top, a sharp border between something and nothing, almost a metaphor yet his mind could not appreciate it, could not as it usually did find solace in the view of The Borderlands sweeping below in dizzying crazy quilt tumbled confusion. No, he was disturbed, deep within something was wrong, something undefined was out of joint and the breeze that whispered past his lofty erie had upon it the distinct, cloying funerary scent of myrrh. His face was turned outward, yet before him he could only see her eyes. She had seen him, and that was wrong, she had held him within the prisms of her irises, caged him, defined him in the world of The Real. It had taken all of his might to shake off her clinging gaze, pulling the voices of nothing to whisper her mind back asleep. Yet still, for all his might in nothingness, she had seen, the girl who saw.


3 Responses to “The One Who Was Seen”

  1. hooam itoo seigh Says:

    firstly – am unqualified to comment on this genre of writing
    secondly – to quote KV’s rule 4:
    “Have the Guts to Cut

    It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.”

  2. hooam itoo seigh Says:

    beware the danger…

    Letting people taste the cookie dough is not the same as seeking approval for the final, baked recipe.

  3. Waiting for more.

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