Today I bring you an excerpt of a story I wrote, the full length of which is roughly 2,500 words. I won’t be including the full text because I don’t want you to spend all your time here. Go, frolic among the other Coffin Hop participants once you’ve finished. If you want me to post the full story, scream your desires in the comment section. Or, if someone would be kind enough to extend a publication offer…
Without adieu, here is The Silence in my Smile.
It was a night like any other for me. I wandered the dark streets, with so many homes filled with families that were not aware of my presence, cold and alone. Not a single house light could be seen, but after all, 2 A.M. was not an hour in which most people were awake. The night sky was black and the darkness unbroken, except by a few defiant stars. The frigid wind blew through my chest, but no cold nor isolation could ever compare to the hollow emptiness inside me.
On more than one occasion, my friends had attempted to pry me from my shell with invitations to parties, drinking games at the local bar, or other such menial delights. On all occasions, I responded in the negative. One of my few remaining friends, Donovan, brought me aside on such a night.
“Look, I know you’re hurt. I know that you must be going through some really dark times, but you have to get out and live just a little.”
“Why should I?”
“You don’t do anything anymore, and we haven’t even seen you smile. We would know you’re okay if you could just give us one damn smile. It’s rough seeing such a great guy so miserable.”
Well what did they know? I stalked through the night like a wounded animal- desperate for attention, yet ready to snap at anyone who came close. I soon noticed I was coming close to my street, Darnell Court. I didn’t want to return home yet, so I took the sharp left onto Way Street, as if ready to face the creeping memory of death. I tried hard to repress the memories that ripped at my mind, so I shook my head and continued my somber sauntering.
Unfortunately for me, I soon happened upon the town park. I stopped by a thick birch tree, my head suddenly swimming as memories flooded my mind. I fought this, but I could not stop the cruel images from playing in my mind. The colors and sounds mocked me with their unrelenting progression.
I saw the same park, only it was day time. I remembered this scene from just a few months ago; I was pushing my dearest daughter, Emily, on the swings. She had a bright yellow sundress on, and her soft voice was laughing with childish delight. She begged me to push her higher and higher, and soon leapt from the swing, sailing across the play set and landing triumphantly. I couldn’t help but admire her brave spirit. She was always trying to prove she was as mature and as bold as any adult. Sometimes, she actually was, and would prove her bravado despite any danger it might pose to her.
Turning on her feet, she ran suddenly and jumped back onto the swing. Using it like a fulcrum, she swung and jumped once more, this time tackling my chest. I laughed, stumbling, but caught her. She had wrapped her arms tightly around my torso, her narrow arms squeezing tight.
“I love you, daddy!”
That was it. My heart once again shook with pain; my body tensed as I struggled to hold back tears. How cruel must nature be, that I am always reminded of how badly I have suffered? I wrapped my arms tight around myself, praying the other memories would not return as I sprinted for home, unwilling to walk Memory Lane any longer.
My footsteps were loud, echoing through the streets, but I did not care. I shut my eyes, but behind them I saw the darkness in even greater detail. All I could think of was getting home before any other thoughts chose to break my heart again. It almost worked, but I had the growing sense that I could not outrun the pain of my past. I sprinted fast, then faster still, nearly breaking down my door as I slammed into it, but the memory returned regardless.
It had been another bright and warm day. The sun shone brilliantly, with warm air gusting through the streets. Birds chirped merrily, and I smiled up at the pleasant day. Emily and my wife, Elizabeth, had just been out to the supermarket. I couldn’t wait to see them, even though they’d only been gone a short time. I loved them both, and Emily was the spitting image of her mother. They both had wavy, golden hair, a smooth complexion, and an honest, kind, but witty personality. I once remarked that Paradise had nothing on those two.
I waited on my front steps to help them bring the groceries in. I squinted down the road and saw their car driving up Way Street. The bright blue paint sparkled in the sunlight, and I could just make out Emily’s smile from the other side of the windshield. I smiled, stood, and waved to them. I saw Elizabeth laugh as Emily waved back. The joyous expressions were still in place when a black sedan crumpled the driver’s side of their car.
Walk with me over the coming week as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…
For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!