Pete Davison: Midnight

Posted on September 13, 2011 by

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The night-time was always the most difficult. It was in the dark of the night that the pain worsened, mentally and physically. Often she chose to forgo sleep in the twilight hours and rest during the daytime — it was not as if she led an especially active, social life, after all, and the sunlight kept the demons at bay.

Tonight was bad. Her whole body ached, and her mind throbbed with panic, frustration and fear. The worst part of it was that she couldn’t reach the bottom of it — every time she felt like getting closer to some sort of explanation, it darted out of reach, just around a corner, like a mischievous gremlin determined to prolong her suffering for as long as possible.

While her body was old and broken and her waking mind often clouded with thoughts that should not be, her imagination was still as lithe and agile as a gymnast, and it was with this she often kept the pain away long enough to see the sun rise from behind the houses across the way.

So it was once again tonight. She sat in the chair she always took, positioned next to the window, at a slight angle so she could lean her elbow on the windowsill and look out without putting too much strain on her frail bones. The light of the moon was bright tonight, and illuminated the garden with an eerie glow that brought to mind images of ethereal spirits darting around, just out of eyeshot, constantly avoiding the curious gazes of those few who did not succumb to sleep during these peaceful hours.

She knew this was not really the case, of course, but for the majority of the time, the fantasy was far more appealing than the reality. Rather than picturing sinister, malevolent spirits, to her these were peaceful, tranquil spirits of nature, keeping a watchful eye on the world as its supposed masters slumbered. They knew that their job was futile, that mankind had already changed the world beyond recognition, but still they flitted to and fro, making their adjustments here and there. She stared through the window, picturing their machinations in her mind’s eye, not even blinking.

As she gazed into the garden, the images became more vivid, and suddenly she was among them. She couldn’t tell if she was still in her body or if she had taken on the translucent, ethereal, almost-invisible form of the spirits, and she didn’t care. She flitted around the garden as delicately as a fairy, glancing at the leaves on a bush here, the petals on a flower there. The freedom of flight was liberating, exhilarating, and soon enough she shot up into the air, leaving her erstwhile companions below in the garden.

From high in the sky, the rows of tiny houses all looked identical. She was hard-pushed to identify her own, but she felt she had it, and swooped down towards the ground in a vertical dive to prove herself right. She giggled in delight at the feeling of the air sweeping past her face, something — her hair? Her clothes? It didn’t matter — billowing out behind her. She pulled herself up sharply just before hitting the ground and looked up to see the familiar sight of her own back garden — the wobbly clothesline pole, the unkempt bushes, the lawn that was several inches too long (when was that nice boy coming back to fix it again?) and the solitary light in the upstairs window.

She gazed up at the window where she had left herself, a low light glowing providing just the faint indication of a presence, but not enough to see the figure she thought she would see gazing into the garden.

Then she was flying again, forward this time, at incredible speed. She skimmed the rooftops of she didn’t know how many houses — one, two, a thousand? — until civilisation stopped and the rolling hills of the countryside began.

Out here was peace and quiet and solitude, but not the lonely kind. The full moon bathed the landscape in its soft, cold light and she felt that she was alone, but for once she was at peace. She came to rest atop a small, natural but aesthetically pleasing arrangement of rocks, and sat. The longer she sat, the more she felt a growing number of presences surrounding her. But this was not threatening — there was nothing in the hearts of these spirits but peace and love, and they were accepting her as one of their own. She felt ethereal hands reach out and touch her, so soft and delicate that they might have been made of gossamer. And she let them envelop her with their feelings of peace and love, because here there was no pain in body or mind, only the soft, cool glow of the moon.

When morning came she watched from a distance as the men in the bright coats carried her out under a blanket and placed her in the back of the ambulance. On her doorstep was the kindly nurse who had been so good to her, shedding a few tears. She was sorry she hadn’t got to say goodbye to the few people left who cared, but that didn’t matter now. She was free, and no longer did the night hold anything to fear.

She was free.

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Posted in: Pete Davison