The Bench Under the Streetlamp

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers
This story was supposed to be one far from horror and blood but you know what they say, the leopard can't change its spots! Ha ha
I'm really proud of it anyways and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. :)

Submitted: September 16, 2016

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Submitted: September 16, 2016

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It was a dark night; the kind where the ocean can't be told apart from the sky. A deep dark blue night.

After having walked all afternoon, I stumbled upon a wooden bench with black metallic outlines. It called for me louder than any cliff on my drunken nights. I was exhausted and desperate for some kind of shelter. My feet had forgotten how to move from all the pain I had dragged them through and my mind was worn out. The sight of it felt like Salvation.

The bench was conveniently placed under a slender streetlamp which was like a light beam descending straight from Heaven to guide me. So, I gladly accepted the holy invitation and sat my tired ass on it. To my surprise, it was very comfortable; more comfortable than the expensive couch I had spent all morning on. And there I settled, unapologetically giving away all my precious time to a strangely attractive bench.

 

A few minutes in and I was already assaulted by sharp thoughts wrapped in ribbons of darkness. I wondered how much more running my life would involve from this moment on. I remembered the sound of my keys dancing in my hands when I locked the door behind me. I even thought of going back.

I feared for a minute that I would once again drown in a sea of toxic thoughts but the bench kept me afloat. I took a deep breath in and let it out slowly. I could see the dark ship full of guilt, pain and shame sinking as I remained on the surface. I kept staring as if the weight of my empty eyes could push them faster to the deep-sea trench. I wished they would never resurface.

 

I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of Nature being brought to life by the dead of the night. There was no wind. It was peaceful, except for my heart beating out of my chest. I opened my eyes and looked straight into the source of light in an attempt to numb my brain. Then I shut them tighter than before. Perfect. All I could hear was the sound of the waves hitting the rocks in the distance, it helped me fake a sense of safety. This blissful melody soothed my mind and did a better work than any pill ever had.

I kept my eyes closed a little longer and breathed in the salty air that was staining my mouth with a smile. Loneliness never felt so good. I had never felt so good, so relaxed; calm. I liked it here. I never wanted to leave again. I turned around, arranged my small backpack as a pillow on one end of the bench and lied down for a few minutes, which eventually turned into hours.

I felt free, lightweight, as if the shower of light had cleansed me. The streetlamp kept sweeping away my misery to the point I almost forgot what was troubling in the first place. But my mind was stronger than any bliss, any happiness, any drug. It never allowed me to escape fully and the harder I fought, the harder it would punish me. Such a cruel machine contained within the pale walls of my head. As much as I managed to stray away from it, now and then I would get hit by the still very fresh memory of his voice; the screaming, the fighting, the blood... Smooth waves that cut like words.

I couldn't run from the guilt nor the shame. I knew that. There were things that the blinds just couldn't cover and I was forced to face full-time. I just wanted a break from all this madness, no matter how short. I wished the streetlamp would make all the darkness in me disappear.

I was used to losing myself in daydreams, imagining what my life would be like in a few years. But right now, I didn't have a choice. The few bridges left connecting me to a past and a present were all crumbling behind me as I lied on the bench under the streetlamp. Looking forward was all I could do and so I did. I pictured my whole future on this perfect bench and sank in my fantasy.

 

I saw myself with kids.

We were laughing under the midnight sky, making up constellations and creating backstories for all of them. There were two of them; a boy and a girl. They were beautiful. They had my eyes and so much better hair than I did. I could feel the happiness fill me each time they'd smile at me. Gazing at the stars, together, was so much fun; my belly hurt from laughing.

Then, the days started passing by so fast. The sun would barely fall behind the horizon that it was already high up in the sky, yet my children never seemed to age. We were a happy family. But losing the count of days had me worrying so much I felt my demons start running again behind my face. However, this time I forced myself to look fine for my kids. And so we kept laughing and hugging each other.

When, all of a sudden, the bench didn't feel comfortable anymore. My body didn't appreciate the wooden touch at all, it was like sitting on concrete. I felt my body getting weaker and weaker. The children were crying and so was the sky. I saw them as they slept underneath the bench. My body lied motionless on its wooden planks and it protected them from the rain, fulfilling my duty as a mother from beyond the grave.

 

I quickly opened my eyes and spat this horrible vision on the ground. I grimaced. My imagination had always been missing a few wires and things tended to take weird turns unexpectedly. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and laid back down.

In spite of it being a death trap, I still liked it. It was pretty strong and made me feel things I rarely experienced; like the overwhelming happiness that made my cheeks tingle when my kids laughed with me. It was a nice tool to fill in the holes in my soul when lying in bed at night. But, then again, it often made things take a turn for the worse in the blink of an eye. I couldn't blame this corner of my mind though; I had seen darkness pretty much everywhere and in everything, everyone, so it was hard to pretend life could be a peaceful walk in a park.

I strayed from these thoughts and made the endless sky my main focus. The cold midnight breeze gently blew through my messy hair, making me feel like a pretty girl from a movie. After another good fifteen minutes of intense gaze, I once again felt a smile taint the colorless expression on my face.

I was staring mindlessly at the sky, giving it my eye sockets to fill with its infinite depth when it happened. Finally, the moon showed up. But she didn't come alone...

 

It came swirling down from the sky and like a tornado it swallowed the holy light of the lamppost. The heavy darkness that I was suddenly wrapped in cleared away my fake sense of safety, leaving room only for fear. My heart climbed up my throat and knocked as hard as it could on every wall it found. I could not see anything anymore; I felt terribly lost. The calm had left me, and for good it seemed.

The streetlamp's light was released progressively as it closed in on the bench and therefore getting closer to me. Once the light shone again, as bright as before, I saw the creature; an enormous snake-like beast.

It had a very thick body which reminded me of those empty water pipes I used to hide in when I was younger. It kept making its way downwards with its body wrapped loosely around the beam of light, only caressing it like the ghost of a loved one. It was hard for me to tell how big it was, it seemed to have no end nor beginning. When it was a few inches from the ground, it went on spiraling underneath and around the bench.

I was petrified; the beast had captured my attention.

It kept swaying in that somber vapor which oozed from its body and I couldn't seem to find its head. I feared I had summoned some kind of ouroboros demon or something with my silly wishes of eternity. I kept looking, I needed proof that it was an animal or something, but I couldn't find one. The only thing I managed to discern apart from its body was what looked like long hair floating alongside. How much more creepier could it get, I thought.

 

All of a sudden, it stopped.

This time, I felt the needles of fear stab my throat and spine, seizing my whole body. The dark vapor that its body released grew heavier and spread on the ground. I could see it better now.

The creature's texture reminded me of coal. It was oh so black that I imagined how sooty it would leave my hands if I happened to touch it. I was amazed at how dark it managed to remain under the very bright light of the streetlamp. It was as if the streetlamp had also been captivated by the beast's magnetism and couldn't resist the attraction. But it couldn't get a taste of the coal snake; the ray of lights cascaded down its majestic body not once corrupting its darkness. Opposite distracts.

The abrupt interruption of its spiraling motion had made me dizzy. I couldn't help but wonder why had it stopped. Was it going to... hurt me? I heard these last words echo in my mind but not once did they ring true to me. Something inside of me refused to believe that the creature would harm me.

My heart skipped a bit. It started moving again. With the same winding motion but a slower pace, it went ascending this time. I leaned on my right to see it from up-close. It didn't have any scale as I assumed it would. Instead, its skin was covered in lines. It was like deep scars perpendicular to its long body and covering almost all its width.

I felt the urge to touch it take over me and I wasn't strong enough to resist it. I lifted my hand but it froze midair. And so did my whole body. There was a warm breath caressing the back of my neck. It was behind me. I gathered the scraps of courage left in the coward I'd become and turned around as fast as I could.

 

Face to face.

It did have a face after all, and I was staring at it... A big head with a dense mane. I was face to face with the creature. It felt like looking at a live black marble statue. Without hesitation it came towards me, closer to the point its loud breath would brush against my lips. I closed my eyes for a second to appreciate the intimacy and once again, a smile found a way through the veiled maze of my soul to my dry mouth.

Apart from its eyes, I couldn't make out any more details about its appearance. It was staring at me like a child seeing its favorite animal at the zoo for the first time; with a mix of awe and curiosity. I felt as powerful as a lion in a cage — maybe not a lion; a zebra.

Under the slender streetlamp's bright light, the beast was like a solid shadow.

 

Its stare was starting to weight on me, so I allowed my eyes to meet its wide one. They were reflecting the moon. We locked eyes and Time stood still. It seemed the whole world had stopped to make way for this strange encounter. Every life had been put on hold for the purpose of us; every living thing had been momentarily denied their spark so we could burn in harmony. And I didn't care that the whole world had stopped for all that mattered was this moment, us.

Its eyes were even darker than its everything else and they pulled me in like black holes. A dangerous attraction that I just couldn't resist. My body was trapped in its gravitational field and couldn't help but obey to the laws of physics. Before I knew it, my hand was on its face.

Even though doing so didn't seem wise at all, I broke eye-contact to take a look at my hand and be sure that I had actually done it. I unfortunately hadn't imagined it for once. I was not proud of that move, rather petrified. My brain was already soaked in a sour pool of apprehension as I dreaded the consequences of my actions. What had I just done? I felt my heart drop to my knees and a stab in my throat as I recalled.

I remembered what I had done to him.

 

He kept screaming and screaming to the point I couldn't hear anything. There was a ringing in my ears and I began feeling dizzy from hyperventilating. Everything was happening too fast. I felt sick. I was scared. I knew I could pass out any minute; I wanted out.

The words coming out of his poisonous mouth didn't make sense. And although I couldn't understand them, they still hurt me. All the knives holding the letters together pierced the blurry curtain that had fallen before me. They found me, like always before, and hurt me, only harder. I was terribly confused and on the edge of collapsing. He didn't seem to care. He kept yelling at the top of his lungs and smashing his closed fists against the table and walls.

I couldn't take it anymore. I went to the counter to get my keys. As I did, he grabbed me by the wrist. The contact of his strong hand against my skin felt like dozen of cigarette burns at once. I could see my whole body going up in flames in my mind. God, it hurt so much. Tears were now running down my cheeks, only worsening the burning feeling. I reached for my keys with my other hand, held them firmly and scratched his cheek with it. But I didn't just scratch him.

He looked at me with a completely stunned look on his face. His blood flowed from the open wound while mine seemed to have stopped pumping at all, leaving my veins as dry as my mouth. I did not mean to. I wasn't aware of the strength I put into it. I just... I didn't mean to. I hated myself for what I had just done; I wished I could have went back and undo it.

Time stood still as I waited for the next scene to come. I was dreading the consequences of my actions but I didn't run away. I stood there and waited for the backlash. I politely froze in front of him, leaving him all the time he needed for his well-deserved turn.

 

It was the exact same feeling that was consuming my blood and disfiguring me at that moment, with my hand pressed against this enormous creature. A feeling of dread with a pinch of self-hatred. Once again, I had blacked out and opened my eyes only to face what I had gotten myself into. And, once again, it was too late for me to do anything about it. All I could do was stay here and live through the aftermath; survive my mistake. Taking responsibilities for your worst moves was one of the hardest things to do.

In the hopes of finding a trace of affection in them, I tried my best to scan the almond-shaped abysses still locked on me. It didn't appear angry. But I couldn't get a "Phew!" just yet. It had to react to my touch one way or another, it couldn't just give me the silence treatment. So, I waited on and on for some reaction, hoping for a non-negative one. But it did nothing. It just kept staring at me with its sparkling eyes and with the same strangely attractive intensity.

 

After a little while, I couldn't take it. The silence was crushing my lungs. So I spoke. "My..." I cleared my throat; my voice had come out weaker than I thought it would. "My name is Ashe. Who are you?" That was probably the stupidest thing I could have asked. I waited for an answer and the weight of silence pushed down on me again.

It exhaled loudly and my hair swayed from the warm gust of breath. It didn't have to voice its thoughts for me to hear them; it was as if they were actually coming from within me. They weren't words that were whispered inside me. It was like underwater sounds echoing on my bones. Beautiful, wordless sounds, and I understood every bit of it. It knew me. It knew my name, my life, my secrets; it knew about him. Like a whale's song, it soothed my spirit; it was intense and magic.

"Did you come to take me away?", I said, my voice faltering from the sensations it had engulfed me in. "Because I would love that..." It kept singing inside of me, only much quieter. My heart sank in my chest. I felt all its sadness and it hurt me; I didn't enjoy this sensation. My guts were clenching and the pins and needles were dancing fervently in my hands. The cracks on my soul were showing again, everything was quaking inside of me.

It closed its eyes and rubbed its head against my hand, it was so warm. I knew why it had come, it had told me everything. And the truth of this encounter broke us both. I came closer in an attempt to comfort it and softly rubbed its snout. The singing stopped.

 

When it reopened its eyes, the streetlamp's light went out. Then, the moon's. Anxiety was in no time eagerly climbing up my throat. I thought about taking my hand off of the beast but advised against it; it was my only landmark in this complete darkness. I couldn't stand it. I blinked as hard as I could and the lights were back.

"What the—", I gasped. The light wasn't coming from the lamppost nor the sky anymore but from the creature itself! It had traded its darkness for a bright dress. I was now facing a silver dragon, the color of the moon. I could finally see what it looked like; an overwhelming, all the while unsettling, beauty. It looked more like a monster even though it was now wearing such a blissful color. But I wasn't scared of it at all. I had heard its voice and it was sorry.

My eyes scanned its neverending body and I was amazed at all the details it was finally revealing. It was indeed very big. I could see all the details I couldn't see before, like the sharp teeth that its upper lip couldn't cover up or its wide ears. It didn't have any scale as I had assumed it would. Instead, its body was covered in lines, like deep scars wrapped around it and each with different lengths. Most covered three quarters of its width. I wondered if these were real scars or just the ones it took away in previous encounters. Where would mine fit?

My eyes lingered on its dense mane which I thought would be a bliss to sleep in. It had a long snout with thin nostrils and the widest mouth I had ever seen. On each side of its head, above its upper lip, there were... whiskers? Two on each side. One rather small and another one so long it got lost in the bulky mane. Another detail caught my eye and I found it adorable. The tip of its snout pointed slightly up almost as if it had crashed against a wall and then, it had this little bump covered in scales a few inches away from its eyes.

It sure was something to have nightmares about when I thought about it, but in the mean time it was so beautiful. Dangerously beautiful.

Its voice vibrated inside of me once more. "I know. I'm sorry too.", I said and looked into its eyes. "And I forgive you, I do..."

 

I was feeling the warmth beginning to spread inside my heart but it turned into a blazing cold when my eyes went to my hand still gently pressed against its silky skin. I swallowed my smile.

The creature was shining bright, but I wasn't. My hand, my arm and, actually, my whole body had been turned coal black. It was just as if I had become a shadow; its shadow? All my colors had been traded for the coal-like texture it had earlier. It had not only stolen the moon's and the streetlamp's light, it had also taken mine.

Tears freely streamed down my cheeks while I bit my lips in an attempt to keep the sobs in. I knew what was coming, it had told me everything; I couldn't act surprised. But I just didn't expect it to be this way. As I wiped my eyes, a tear ran down my finger and lingered on the back of my hand. It shimmered like a diamond drop under the dragon's light.

I heard it exhale loudly so I looked up and saw the hint of a frown on its gigantic head. I flinched as it abruptly came near me. But all it did was press its head against mine, its now golden eyes locked on my blackened ones. I held its immense head between my two dirty hands. "I'm scared...", I said.

We remained in that position for a while until one last tear was shed. The creature shed a single tear, a black one. It ran down its face and unto me. I jerked my hand as it reached my skin. It was boiling hot and left a red spot on the back of my hand. I looked back up and saw that my hands had left sooty handprints on its face; I smiled.

 

The silver dragon moved backwards. The Time had come.

It stared at me one more time and I gave it a faint smile. I heard it singing inside of me again; the Song of Dawn. A beautiful and haunting melody which had my hair standing on end. After the last note, it stopped floating. Like a piece of porcelain, it hit the ground and broke into thousand little pieces.

I got up and looked up at the moon. Then I recalled.

 

He kept screaming my name. "Ashe, Ashe! What are you doing? I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He kept spitting out those empty shells of apologies, only feeding my anger. He already had bloodstains on his shirt and almost-dry blood on his face. I had scratched him pretty badly with the keys earlier. But no matter how scared he sounded, his eyes were still as dull as usual. I had loved him so much but at that moment I hated him so bad.

I couldn't control myself, I had let all my inner demons take the lead and unleashed them on him. I had no idea why we were even fighting anymore but I knew this wasn't a fight I was willing to lose. A part of me still had no will to hurt him, he was the love of my life. But that was the tiniest part of who I was at that moment. This power that I had over him right now, this fear I was controlling him with, the way he looked at me, that made me feel amazing. It was the best drug I had ever known.

When I came to my senses, it was too late to go back; not that I would've had wanted to. My body was shaking through the intense bliss and I kept lodging my knife deeper and deeper inside his chest. I was freaking out so badly but I couldn't stop doing this to him. "I'm sorry...", I kept repeating in a weak voice. When my task was complete, I let myself fall to the side, still shaking.

I had made such a mess. I had no idea know how I would clean it all up, get rid of all the blood on the floor and furniture, on the ceiling... My mind was overloading. Guilt, shame, grief, but above all, I had so much adrenaline pumping through my veins and it felt good.

I got up and stared at his lifeless body on the floor. I picked the knife up and put it right back where it belonged in the kitchen. I picked up my phone and looked at the time. It was half past five; his work started in one hour, mine in two. I looked up at the lightbulb; I picked up a chair and broke it. Darkness, my old friend.

I threw my clothes on the floor and took a steamy shower. I picked one of his favorite shirt and put it on with my last pair of clean jeans. Then, I lied on the couch for about seven hours staring at him from across the room, until I gathered the strength to leave and meet my fate on that faraway bench.

 

I blinked.

The moon was really pretty now that it had gotten its light back.

I had gotten a taste of evil and it was the tastiest thing I had ever experienced. And God knows I had tried any sweet escapes I could get my hands on. They all have that same sour aftertaste, a corrosive one. But that's what keeps you coming; the familiar taste of poison. I had never gotten addicted to cigarettes or caffeine nor alcohol, no matter how hard I tried to hide behind these. It never seemed to work. But this, the blood, I couldn't run away from. I would want more, I felt it deep inside, like Nature's call.

As much as I managed to stray away from the thought of him when I was on the bench, the smell of blood and the tingling in my fingers was always in the back of my mind. Like a background soundtrack, it accompanied my every thought. I had tasted evil and I wanted to taste it again; I knew I would do anything to taste it again. And that was the reason for our encounter.

Like it had done many before, the silver dragon came to stop me. I was going to add one more scar to its neverending body and that made me sad. It didn't deserve to bear all this pain. It suffered so much just because it couldn't stand to see the world in pain. But I rejoiced in the thought of the brighter world that I would leave behind me. The dragon would rejoice too. Then, it would hurt again. The next misguided soul will find its way to the Bench under the Streetlamp and the darkness inside of it will be destroyed. The dragon will break and the soul will walk free. And it will never stop until all the sinners would have been cleansed and collected.

In the end, we would all become a scar on the silver dragon.

 

I smiled at the moon and walked towards the edge of the cliff. I knew what I had to do.



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