Layton Burton sat at the table, blank empty, water-colored eyes facing forwards, into the pit of his own thoughts. His mousy, wavy and greasy hair hung in his face like vines of a jungle. His brow was furrowed into an expression that was almost sadness and almost anger, and almost nothing at all. And his stomach lurched.
("--has been found just outside of Hampton, in Lake Terrace, with no visible sign of any struggle. The police say it was a suicide. Our hearts go out to all of those effected and--"
"She seemed so pefect, I wonder what made her snap."
"Probably that drunk son of a whore husband of hers, always quick to--"
"--car parked a mile away, safe and sound."
"--must have been planned for quite a while.")
He thrust the bottle to his lips in one jerky movement that hurt his mucsles. It burned as it slid down his throat on that familiar path, burned in years ago, and he relished the brief moment of foggy perception that came and went. It was that fogginess that drove him to destroy himself every night, and most days as well. It offered an escape that he desperately clung, the only thing keeping him sane.
I'm so sorry Gena, I love you, I''m so sorry. It's my fault, I know You needed me and I turned away I TURNED AWAY!
Layton downed the bottle of Scotch and opened a bottle of Vodka. He didnt want to cry again. ...And yet....
There was that little voice in his head, only made louder by the drink, that he tried to ignore. However, he knew this voice to be the most true. She didnt do it. She didnt kill herself, the last night you saw her she said she was the happiest woman alive, would a happy woman kill herself? No. The answer was no. He hated this voice of hope, it spoke to him on a deep level of curiousity. How else could she have died? The police--
("--found on the shore of Lake Terrace, with a broken spine and waterfilled lungs, it must have been a suicide.")
He found himself wandering outside again, as he often did when he was beyond drunk. He stumbled about his yard that stretched for achres and achres, and wandered out into the streets, where he was met by headlights that screamed at him as they swerved aside. Layton knew where he was going, in some distant, far edge of his befuddled mind, and he shuddered internally at what he knew was going to happen.
The bridge wasnt far from his house, only about three miles. ("--car parked a mile away, safe and sound.") and he easily made the short hike up to the place. The sacred place. He had imagined her jumping many times, wearing a cerimounus white dress that flowed into the open wind as she drifted gracefully to the water below. Of course she had been wearing her favorite pair of blue jeans at the time, and a loose blue blouse. However, this romantic picture of the jumping angel always came to Laytons mind when he stood there. Where she must have been standing. He looked over into the dark swirling waters below, and a tear fell off of his nose. They began to flow more steadily the angrier he got at their existance.
"STOP CRYING YOU PUSSY! SHUT UP AND BE A MAN FOR ONCE!" He shouted into the empty air. Everything was empty now. He was an empty purpose, a faded light clinging to existance.
("Shall I compare thee to a summers day? Thou art more lovely, more temperate.")
She had the purest laugh.
("Oh darling, you have no idea how 'temperate' I am." A closing kiss of pure delight)
Layton collapsed. He peered through the bars on the bridge, tears and drink clouding his vision. "ALL YOUR FAULT! ALL YOUR FAULT! All your fault....all your fault." His body was racked with sobs. He lay there a while, finishing the tears and feeling the drifting sensation of slipping into sleep. Exept something was keeping him awake, something that small part of his brain was shouting at him to listen to. He hated it, but he usually listened to that voice of hope that rang about his head like bells. So he pulled himself from the dreamy state he had been nearly locked in and forced himself to stand up. The world turned upside down and he gripped the bridge for support. He listened more clearly now, trying to turn off the swishing in his head. And then he heard the most beautiful sound he had heard in a year and a half.
"Layton." It was little more than a whisper, but it was loud and clear. It was his dead wifes voice. His eyes widened and he focused his hearing as well as he could. It couldn't be true, of course not. Gena was dead and had been for a while. But then it happened again, this time with more merit.
"Layton." She sounded like she was right behind him. He turned around much to quickly and nearly fell off the bridge. All that lay before his frightened eyes was darkness. He swallowed down something that had risen in his throat. "G-Gena?" His voice sounded small in the huge night, with all of infinity stretching out above him. He was very frightened suddenly, of her voice and of the deepness of where he stood.
"Layton...." She was growing more distant. "Come." And at this point he had no choice. He followed the voice that was growing more distant, stumbling over his own feet. It felt like he had walked only a few feet, but he had reached the destination much to soon. The edge of Lake Terrace, that endless black lake, with the shadow of the evergreens creating a horrifying image of endless sky and trees and dark. He shuddered. Hair rose on his skin and he became suddenly aware of everything around him, as clear as day. The texture of the rocks beneath his feet, the rough bark of the evergreens that leaned over him like a cage. He saw it all.
"Gena?" He whispered into the dark, afraid of whatever creature might arise, and afraid of what he was summoning. He could feel the air around him creep and swirl as it was disturbed by something. The sound of her sighing silenced the stillness.
"Oh Layton." A hand touched his cheek, sending him shooting two inches into the air. Goosbumps covered every centimeter of his body and his mouth dried up. "I have been waiting." Her voice was breathy and toneless, but definately Gena's. Layton's eyes scanned the frightening scene, looking for the source of her voice and finding nothing . Her hand slid to the left and stroked his neck.
"You never looked for me." He could feel her invisible face closing in on his, could feel her soft damp lips carress his own in a kiss that filled him with great happiness, because he knew for sure that this was indeed his long lost wife he loved so much. But it also filled him with fear, because that little voice in his head was now screaming DANGER. When she pulled away, he could see her. Like seeing the face of God, she stood before him in a flowing white dress, her auburn hair flaoting about her perfect body. She was too perfect. No signs of lack of sleep, no scars. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Her pale skin glowed a soft blue and her feet never touched the ground. He reached for her cheek and felt the smooth, flawless skin beneath his palm.
"A-are you real? Is this r-really happening?"
Her pink lips pulled up into an emotionless smile that didnt reach her eyes. "Of course I'm real darling, why wouldn't I be?"
He couldn't bring himslef to utter the words, 'your dead', so he kissed her again. She was like the sun. Everything he had ever wanted gracefully drifted beside him. Nothing else mattered, he forgot the world of mortal men as he felt her in his arms, her skin glowing with warmth and beauty and light. She looked up at him through her long, dark, perfect lashes. "Come." And she floated into the deep forest made of darkness and trees. The effects of being drunk had worn of as soon as he had set foot on the rocky ground of this place, so Layton followed her shining image into the depths of the unknown without stumbling once.
She led him to a place with only one tree in a clearing, and that tree was tall and looming. That voice in Layton's head begged him to turn around. Turn around to what? An empty house with empty bottles of whiskey? There is nothing for me there. And she, my lovely Gena is here again with me. He tried to silence that voice as hard as he could, but it only grew louder. DANGER!
Turn around, it's not her.
She touched the lone tree and it opened along the middle, unleashing showers of blue light that washed over Layton. He squinted into it, unable to see past the black dot that had appeared in his eye. He was worried for a moment that the tree would close and take his love with it, but she wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him into the light with her. The light was as warm as she was. He closed his eyes and didnt open them again until he saw the redness of his eyelids fade away. Layton squinted. It was not at all how the inside of an evergreen tree should look. The walls that should have been narrow and dark and wooden, were lined with lamps that gave off a warm white light. It was bigger--much bigger on the inside that it had appeared. The ground was covered in a soft sand colored carpet that felt like walking on feathers.The walls were a deep shade of red, the color of blood, and a large black sofa lay in the middle of the room. Layton took in these amazing surroundings and his glowing wife and smiled at the perfect scenario. It couldn't have been better.
"What shall we do first dear?" He glanced at the sofa out of the corner of his eye, and she followed his gaze. She smiled that emotionless smile again and took his hand, walking towards the large black laced sofa.
Layton made love to his wife for the first time in a year and a half, and it was good.
Layton awoke to the smell of eggs and bacon. He didnt open his eyes at first, afraid to let the fragments of that beautiful dream go. He lie on the soft matress beneath him and tdeeply breathed in the delicious smell. Then he remembered he lived alone and HE certainly hadn't made breakfast. His eyes slowly opened to the deep red walls and perfectly aligned lamps and he knew it had all not been a dream. He heard humming coming from a room not far from where he was. It was definately Gena. Layton jumped up faster than he had in years and blood rushed to his head. He ran down the dark hallway, towards the delicious smell and smiled at what he saw.
Gena was stirring a pan and humming a song he didn't recognize, her auburn hair drifting about her shoulders. Her feet still didnt touch the ground. "Hello dear." She said in her new airy voice that seemed a million miles away. She seemed so Gena and yet--
She isint the same. Can't you tell?
She's so beautiful...
Yes, but she is too beautiful. Look at her, that's not the girl who cried over a burned dinner on you're birthday, this is a girl who is up early and glows. It's not--
Did you see the way she--
Shut up! What can I do to shut you up?
However, he didnt want to drink when he was with the one he loved in a perfect scenario. That would ruin the pure joy he felt. Instead, he walked over to her and watched as she poured pepper into the pan full of all of the best things in the world. "Hello darling." He said to her, love thick in his voice. She smiled an errie smile that somehow sent shivers down his spine. He ignored it, much against that voice's wishes.
"I made you something special. I invented it." The soft glow of her skin bounced off of the steel pan and back at Layton. The contents of the pan made his mouth water and he lusted after the smell.
"Sit." She commanded, and he did. There was a simple wooden table off to the corner and he sat at one of two seats. Soon enough, she brought over a steaming plate of her invented dish and he relished the wonderful flavor. Gena watched him eat with a very frightening fascination, as if she didnt know what to expect. When he finished she smiled the eerie smile again.
"Did you like it?" Her teeth glowed blue as well. Layton pulled his greasy hair behind his ears. "I loved it." She looked up at him through her lashes again in a flawless motion of beauty.
"Good. I have something to show you Layton." He scooped up the remaining bits of his meal and savored the taste, asperfect as everything was.
"I'm exited." Layton smiled, unale to control it. Gracefully, she stood up once again and drifted over to a black door in the wall. She turned and looked at him with a gaze that dared him to follow, which of course he did and took his hand in her hot glowing one and walked outside. Layton expected to be outside of the tree again and for the sun to be blazing down on their faces in in the clearing. But the moon was still high in the sky and the stars sprawled out like a blanket.
That's not right. No, you must have slept for at least six hours, the sun would already be high in the sky. And this isnt the forests of Washington. RUN. AS FAST AS YOU CAN AWAY FROM HER, AND THIS MESS, SAVE YOURSELF WHILE YOU CAN...
Red and black flowers grew along the path. Their shapes differed from hearts to skulls to mermaids that darted around the other flowers. They were like living animals. Some of them emited a soft red or black glow and made gentle sounds. It was magical and scary and awful.....and beautiful. Layton watched as faeries darted in and out of view among the dark flowers laughing maniachaly.
"I made it for you while I waited." She almost whispered. Layton however was to shoked to speak, as the moon smiled and started singing the song Gena had been humming. It was an eerie song that touched something deep inside of him and made him love it. She smiled at him and took him down the path. It wound up a steep hill and lead them to a smooth flat ground that was decorated with the flowers that grew up to the sky. Faeries flew all around the hill, hissing at them.
"Dance with me." She whispered into his ear. He held her waist and they twirled and danced to the eerie melody of the smiling moon, her skin, acting as it's own moon in the dark night. They danced for hours, hours that slipped away, gone to fast. He could have stayed there forever, in that perfect world where everything was as it should be and time had no merit. He could have.
"Darling." Gena whispered in his ear as the third hour passed.
"Yes my love?" His eyes were twisted with love, half open and dear.
They continued to dance to the rythmic music.
"Join you?" Layton looked deeply into her eyes that seemed somewhat void of the light he remembered.
"Become like me. Now you feel pain and loss and death, but I feel none of these. Only what's perfect and good. I want you to be like me. You could live here forever with me, never hurting again."
This is bad. RUN!
"That sounds beautiful." Layton's eyes were still too foggy with endearment to see her eyes blaze.
"It is. But you need to do something first, and it's going to hurt a lot."
"I need you to kill yourself."
Layton suddenly stumbled on his feet. His eyes cleared and he saw fire in her eyes, a furious, bitter flame. It was nothing like Gena. Gena was soft and calm and quite and warm, she never burned with this anger in all of the years Layton had known her. He drew back from the close positions they were in.
"You want me to die?" He muttered, watching the flame be fed.
"It's the only way we can be together forever love."
Layton paused. It was clear now. This thing was not, nor had she ever been his Gena. A sick feeling took over his stomach as he understood now what that meant.
She leaned over and kissed him again, her lips sweeter than honey. She seemed so real. "I love you Layton, please."
Her eyes became like wells as they filled and poured drops of pure silver down her face. The fire was gone, and all that was left was pleading. The old Gena he loved was in her eyes, they finally held some emotion. And Layton, no matter how different Gena seemed, couldn't stand to see her cry. He wiped away the pure silver tears and held her face. "ARe you sure?"
She nodded, most innocently.
Layton looked in her eyes one more time, searching for some sort of trick. He found none.
"I'll do it." He turned back down the path, leaving Gena standing on the dance floor smiling darkly. Her eyes became shadows.
They walked together down the path, back to the dark wooden cabin, that teetered slightly to the left. Right before she took the doorhandel, she turned towards him with, her eyes pleading. "Close your eyes."
He followed what she said and gently closed his eyelids.
--told you, this is stupid, don't listen to her.
"--car parked a mile away safe and sound."
"--the police say it was a suicide."
"It will be ok love." She reassured him softly. He swallowed a knot that had risen in her throat. She kissed him again and when he opened his eyes he was standing in the forest again, beside the lone tree. She lead him, back, through the forests and to the bridge that loomed over him and frightened his very soul. She stood beside him, her pure white dress billowing in the wind and smiled, knowlingly. Layton climbed on top of the bridge, the wind racking his hair and the moonlight bouncing off of his belt. The dark waters below looked like a giant mouth, hungry to take him into the unknown. He looked back at Gena who kept smiling and nodded. "It only hurts for a second."
He looked back at the deep, dark, sneering lake. "I love you." He whimpered, his voice faltering.
"I love you too."
Then, Layton Burton jumped to his death.
("--probably drunk at the time , and having lost his wife to the same accident a year ago he must have thought about it for a while. It was most certainly a suicide.")
Gena watched as he fell into the dark waters, and smiled when he hit it.
"Till death do us part." She whispered, and disappeared into the dark forests once again.