Gargoyles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A story about a girl and her dear friend the gargoyle.


They perch atop their building, their stance unmatched by any natural being. Grotesque, created from the pits of a man’s greatest fears. What architect would dare to ruin their beautiful building with such a monstrosity?

I hadn’t understood these creatures before; I understand now.

   The bustle along the grounds of the marketplace bring little notice to me as I glance up at these monsters, guarding the skies with snarling faces and merciless, stone eyes. I look frantically for one in particular, scanning the line of brutal monsters, with mine nowhere to be seen. I sigh, rubbing my temples. Why couldn’t people learn the beauty of stillness, just as the gargoyles had? I shudder deeper into my coarse, woolen jacket, pulling the hood past my ears, as if I could kill the sound of the people’s voices.

 Today, more than others, my legs turn antsy, and my hands twitch around the cloth tote I’ve positioned carefully across my shoulder, keeping one hand over the lapel to keep the thieves away--a lesson I’ve learned from my--(ahem), casual--pickpocketing.  The white noise of their single buzzing voice grinds at me, shredding any ounce of patience that I had from my week of solitude--leaping from rooftop to rooftop and gazing for hours at the cityline, a child lost in the midst of the giant city.

 Necessities drive me to France’s bustling streets, for food more than anything else, and for something else. Someone else.

I sidestep a half-drunk middle-aged man, slipping the wallet from his back pocket inconspicuously into the flap of my tote. I smile grimly at his slumped back, slipping fluidly into the crowd as he pats the hollow of his empty pocket. I bark out a laugh at his ignorant, infuriated look, the crowd too thick between us for his dimmed brain to even notice me.

 I make for the Notre Dame, sweeping past the tourists that have no mind to the rest of us, yapping and taking photos and swaggering along the pavement as if they had too much to drink--and by the look of them I would guess they did. I travel quickly to the back of the building, where only a few stragglers wander helplessly, frantically asking the smug natives directions, who all pretend toseulement parler français. I clamp my mouth with my hand to keep from bursting out in giggles.

Inconspicuously--I hope I’m inconspicuous--I shuffled to the carved pillars lining the side of the building, wrapping my steamy arms onto the cool stone. I sigh as the chatter of voices slowly dims, until only the whistling of the wind can be heard in tune with my pulsing heart.

As if on an impulse of nature, I climb the carved stone, gripping the stone with my small, nimble fingers, scaling the pillar quickly--in time with my beating heart. Up here, the wind becomes music, and my pulse is the drum, thumping melodically with Earth’s sweet song.  I hum a melody to the world’s song as I balance precariously on the flying buttress, climbing higher and higher with each step, my lungs swelling with the natural tune, bathing in the silence Notre Dame has given me. I hardly had time to look down in the midst of my symphony.

 Soon, I’m climbing onto the balcony, looking upon Paris in all its glory, undisturbed by the presence of its obnoxious people. Here, I balance carefully on the ledge, across to the gargoyle, snarling silently at something in the distance, his stare blank, though not really. Somehow, I knew and still know he’s in there, hiding in his terrifying shell.

Underneath his pedestal, I feel around, gingerly picking up the terribly chewed up teddy bear that he always found a way to protect by himself, even before I had found my way to him a year ago. I stroke his stony head, whispering softly into his large, crooked ear:

“Hey, Sleepy Head, wake up.” I wave the bear in front of his unmoving, transfixed face. “I’m home.”

Slowly, his two bulbous eyes blink, and his maw opens, and his yowl booms through the empty air of Paris. I smile a genuine, happy smile, cupping his long jaw in my hand. His small wings gently unfold, and his hideous, upturned snout grins crookedly at the sight of my face. I laugh softly, crying at the sight of his adorable, monstrous face.

 “I missed you, buddy.”

   A low, animal whimper escapes his throat, and he nudges my hand with his grotesque head, noticing the tote that I’d forgotten I brought. I unwind myself from his stone head, hopping down from the railing. With a shudder, the gargoyle lifts his feet from the cement, leaping down gracefully from his pedestal to join me. Smiling, I nudge his ears away playfully so I can open the bag, pushing away the multiple wallets to reach what I found at the very bottom. He ponders the mysterious bottle, sniffing it, eyes turned questioning at me.

“Bubbles.” His head tilts, like a deformed puppy, and I laugh at him, the nameless gargoyle, the only friend I’ve ever known.

Slowly, to add to the dramatic effect, I unscrew the cap, pulling out the wand, and blow out the sudsy residue inside. The translucent bubbles, their internal rainbows cascading inside their translucent selves, float up into the forever galaxy, Earth’s stars joining their brethren in the sky. The gargoyle stares transfixed, swatting up at one nearest to him, gaping in awe as it disappears into the air, just as quickly as it got there.

I chuckle, blowing more and more into the atmosphere, half-laughing, half-wheezing as I watch the gargoyle’s unmoving face twist into a wicked grin as he paws at the bubbles. Earth’s stars fill the sky, floating high in the air to form a canopy of internal rainbows. The two of us stare in awe.

As if guided by a string, the bubbles soar out across the expanse of Paris, out the side of Notre Dame like a giant, flamboyant cloud. The gargoyle and I rush to the balcony, balancing on the railing to get a closer look at the magnificent sight. Entranced, the monster stands on his hind legs, following a particularly large bubble with the arch of his neck. The bubble floats out farther and farther, out to join his crew, and my friend, with a predatory roll of his back, before I have the chance to stop him, before I can scream or yell at him to stop, leaps out into the open air, in pursuit of his bubble.

There, my first and only friend in the lonely city of Paris, after pickpocketing for money and escaping the police, sleeping on rooftops and under canals and eating stolen food and buying clothes with stranger’s money, using pruning shears to cut my hair with no other life than what my Angels have given me, teetering in midair, paw extended and mouth half open in a pained yowl. Suddenly, I remember our long nights on the balcony, our one-sided conversations, our picnics, curling up beside his cold torso and warming it up with my body heat, and finally, most painful of all, the first day I had come to the Notre Dame, climbing the flying buttresses and seeing his life-like stare, the sudden fear and love for such a creature swarming me as he first descended from his pedestal. All this love, bound to an innatime, living being, as the hiatus of his final living moments disappear, and he begins to fall, tumbling through the air with his useless, stone wings, screeching and crying from his inevitable doom. I scream too, but the blurry streaks of my tears blinds me, and I stand there, the wind no longer a song to my ears, as his final, somber yowl rings out across the empty streets of Paris, silenced abruptly by the crack of his body on the pavement.

I tremble. I step off the balcony. I lean against the pedestal, his pedestal, as people’s voices begin to swarm me once again, tourists looking out across the deck, not even sparing a glance at the girl, hidden in the shadows of a gargoyle’s stand, clutching a bag of stolen wallets and a chewed up teddy bear, whimpering softly in mourning of a monster.

And atop the pedestal at which this little girl leaned against, a gargoyle stood, as grotesque as his monstrous counterpart.

Except she knew this gargoyle was not hers, because it could stand the sound of people’s voices.  

 


Submitted: January 16, 2018

© Copyright 2021 halle schaffer. All rights reserved.

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