In Blues and Greens – Daily Story Project #21

Three weeks! 21 days in a row! I can’t believe I made it this far!

This one is from an old dream I wrote down in a journal.

I am a child… I am helping Father in the garage, and I reach for an electric saw above me on the work bench… I feel a tug at my right wrist, but no pain… the hand falls off in a short arc, tumbling to the ground…. Father does not speak, but Mother comes out and shakes her finger at me, “Terrence Othello Arthur, now look what you did!…I stood there looking down at it….

I woke with a start. The darklight that passed for day made eerie shadows amongst the trees. I reflexively reached for my right hand with my left, to reassure myself it was still there. It was numb, the circulation cut off from its position as I had slept. I sat up and twined my fingers together, then lifted both arms over my head and stretched back, shouting out a great yawn to clear my thoughts of that horrible dream. Its images remained, however.

I bind up my wrist to stop the blood flow, and I put the hand in the freezer to preserve it… I act as if I had not lost a hand at all… Mother seems amused at this; Father does not say a word to me, but when he and Mother go out of the room, I hear them arguing over it… I sit in my room, light streaming through gaps in the curtain, illuminating dust specks, and turn the cold dead hand over and over, trying to force it to stay in place against my wrist….

I shivered. This new-found power to travel between worlds by will alone still frightened me. When I had unusually vivid dreams, such as this one, I feared that I would awake to a world I had created in my sleep. It had never happened. But the power was new to me and I did not know it’s limits. Perhaps I would ask my traveling companion if it was possible. My right hand flexed and shook, working the blood back into it.

I sit to the right of Mother on the bench seat, barely able to see over the top of the dashboard… She had spoken to me in soothing tones, “Terrence, come along now, I’ve got errands to run”… I cradle my cold dead hand in my lap, longingly tracing its outlines… She had promised me a treat, later… I shout when I saw the doctor’s office, and put up a fuss; I beg and plead and demand for her not to take me to the doctor, that I am fine, that nothing has happened. I strap the hand to my arm like a bayonet on a gun, and pull my coat sleeve down over it… Tears in her eyes, she acquiesces to my ultimatum, and drives the car out of the parking lot, and back to home we go….

We had searched for the girl for hours, I and the boy. The sun had stayed in the same position high in the sky, spoiling my sense of time. We searched up and down the beach, and along the jungle’s edge. But the boy warned me not to go into the jungle. He wouldn’t explain why. All he would do is implore me to search for the girl, that we could not give up. He wouldn’t explain that, either.

Later, several of the other men and women of the group had joined us. I had us form a line, each in sight of at least two others, and we combed up and down the beach and into the jungle. I had read of searching techniques the military used, but I had no experience of it, so I blamed my failure on my lack of knowledge.

My companion played in the sea with several of the beauties of the group the entire time. When night fell, he and they retired to sleep amongst the rocks near the edge of the jungle, making beds of the large leaves from the almost-palm trees.

When night had fallen, it had done so by simply getting dark – or rather, darker. The light had drained from around me, and the sun above had faded to be replaced by multicolored stars gauzy strands across the sky. By that point, I had been awake for 12 hours or more. At least by my watch.

The boy found a simple meal of nuts and fruits, which I hungrily devoured. He and I ate; the rest did not. Had they eaten before? I could not recall. My mind was too dimmed by the frantic activity of the search. Later, the boy had curled up beside me and was swiftly asleep. I had yawned once, then leaned back against the warm sand, then had drifted off to sleep.

And now, as I sat awakened by my strange dream, I watched their peaceful faces as they slumbered. Gentle folk, fun-loving, living in a bizarre paradise… with a devil among them.

I brooded in the dark, remembering the warm reds and orange colors of a room with a fireplace as the only light. The area we were searching in was too dark, too large, and too strange for me to find this girl. And what did my young friend mean when he had said she had the smell of fear? As if it was fear that would kill her. He had spoken like it was a tangible thing, not a metaphor. These people did not seem the type to employ complicated metaphors, at any rate. The others did not think it odd that she had run away. Yes, they had searched for her, but they had done so because I had asked, not because they were concerned for her. All except the boy.

My companion slept also, tired out by physical activity of a more selfish nature. I glared at him; he had his head rested on the (green) belly of one girl, his hands resting on the (green) breast of another; their arms encircled him, their legs intertwined with his.

I stood. Directly overhead, there was a hole in the night sky where the sun had been during the day. It was almost as if the darkness poured from there, the way the light had come from it earlier. I could see it through a break in the jungle canopy. I began to walk down to the sea, unable to sleep. I angled towards a small rocky area, filled with tide pools and strange ocean creatures trapped there.

As I approached, I heard sobbing, and a wet flopping sound. I continued towards the sound, unafraid of anything I might find on this lonely beach. I crossed the tidal pool area and reached the far edge; there was a drop off below me of several feet. Laying in the sand was a sea-creature, the size of a medium car, its striped skin rubbery and smooth, fins sticking out and flapping against the wet sand. It had obviously beached itself. Its mouth was wide and round, and wide open. Half-emerged from its mouth was the girl. She was still, and I thought for a moment she was dead, but then she cried out and turned over onto her back, flinging her arms against the sand. Her face was contorted in fear, her eyes pouring out a high tide of tears, nearly drowning her simple beauty.

I jumped down alongside her, and brushed her hair from her face. “Quiet now… it’s all right. You’re safe. We’ve been looking for you….” She was conscious but she did not move. The creature rocked from side to side. I thought it might break her legs, still in the creatures mouth, in its movements. It looked at me, and snorted, but it was too strange for me to interpret that. Finally I grabbed ahold of her underneath each arm, and pulled her free. I blushed when my hand brushed her breast.

When she was out of the thing, I set her down. She sobbed once more and flung herself onto her stomach, covering her face with her arms. Her hair, wet and full of sand, stuck to her (green) back.

I touched her back, then stroked it. I ran the tips of my fingers softly along her neck. She felt cold. “Come on now, let’s get up… are you all right?” It seemed an odd thing to ask at the moment, and I laughed. A short bitter bark.

“Why did you save me?” She turned her head towards me. I smiled, and tried to think of a jaunty answer. She did not look at me, but stared down the beach, a million miles away. I stroked her cheek with the back of my hand. Softly, she closed her eyes and pushed up against my hand. Tears still flowed from under her closed lids.

On a sudden impulse I leaned down and kissed her. She did not move at first. I cradled her head in both hands and gently led her into a sitting position. I kissed her again. The ocean crashed on the rocks and beach.

After a moment, she kissed me back.

Sitting on the big overstuffed couch, reading the Sunday comics… I reach back and tap the cold meat of my hand (no, no longer my hand, but simply a hand, the dead hand) to remind myself it was still there… I dislodge it and it falls behind the couch, to land with a thump… I panic and pull the couch away from the wall; the hand lies palm up amongst the dust-bunnies… I pick it up and it seems flaccid and lukewarm… I wash it in the kitchen sink, but the flesh falls away, revealing the bones underneath… I cry, long and loud, and Mother comes in the room and watches me, without reaching for me, an indulgent look on her face… I cry for the loss of my hand.

When I awoke for the second time that day, her body lay beside me. But she was quite dead.