She looked beyond her pane of glass into the world below, gazing down upon the swirling pools of frigid rain beating upon the tired earth like a steady drum. She watched the teardrops of the sky stream down the frosty glass in tiny rivulets. She felt the need to reach out to the crumbling shoulder of the earth and wrap her arms around it and whisper into its ear, telling it not to be sad. But she could not; the brush of her fingertips against the craggy hillside would not be enough to send the storm away. She did not understand what had made the earth so sad, causing it to spill its tired eyes into the world below. She pressed her face to the transparent barrier, longing to be a part of the world outside. Its coldness surprised her, shocking her nerves to the bone. The harshness of its touch reminded her of something all too familiar.
Her mind drifted backwards, rewinding the hazy film reel once again. She brushed her fingertips absentmindedly over the scars, tattooed remnants forcing her to remember something she had all too often tried to forget. She blew the dust away from the sill, and it fluttered upward around her, quickly joining formation with the other drifting particles in the air. She sighed and turned to look again. Her ashen eyes were faintly reflected in the glass pane in front of her. They did not sparkle with a fiery intensity; they did not glisten like a thousand brilliant stars. They were dead. They looked, but they did not see. She gazed upon her own eyes in the reflection and looked right through herself. It was as if she wasn’t there at all.
The rain had picked up its pace again, pounding the earth like a thousand flailing fists. The lightning continued to split the sky in two, the thick gray blanket ripping at the seams. Suddenly a clap of thunder stirred the sky, spitting out rage like a serpent’s tongue. The steady growl slowly made its way across the horizon and dissipated, never to be heard from again. She watched the murky water running swiftly across the saturated ground, trying to escape from the chaos of the storm. She imagined that she was there too, running steadily with the current, determination carrying her to a place far away from here. But she was not running with the turning tide, she was standing still behind the glass. She always seemed to be standing still, a once brilliantly fierce and untamed creature, now faded from being trapped behind the metal bars of her cage.
She turned her wrists, clasping her hands together, twisting them every which way, observing the shape of her fingers, and then stroking the palms of her hands. The hands she saw were not unlike the hands of those who had struck her down before. She placed them uneasily by her side, unnerved by them, fearing that her own hands would turn on her too. She continued her watch of the narrow strip of the world outside her window.
Her eyes shifted between the fading façade and that dim reflection of her countenance smeared upon the glass. She traced the outline of it with her eyes, drawing the sections of her nose, her lips, and her hair. These features were not unlike the features of those who had struck her down before. She was just like them: parts combined to make a whole. She couldn’t stand to look at the reflection any longer. She pulled herself away from the window in a sudden flash of flurrying emotions. Was it out of anger? Was it out of fear? She herself couldn’t even be sure. Tears began to pour from her eyes, and the reflection of her own tears in the glass were hard to separate from the streams of water trickling down the foggy windowpane. She and the sky cried together, rivulets streaming from both sets of weary eyes. She had to separate herself from it all, to distance herself from the hands and the faces that ran together in her head like melting asphalt. She longed for the raging storm to hold her in its arms and hide her safe above the thunder, never afraid.
The girl stepped out of her cage into the wild and terrible world, and the wind and water greeted her with a greedy embrace. She suddenly became caught in the current of the rolling tide, swept from her feet with a swift and sudden snatch of the river’s silent fist. Her mouth moved, but no sound escaped her lips, for a crash of thunder interrupted her cries. And so with the water and the wind and the rush of the shore, she was carried away, becoming a floating specter among the ash heaps. This is what she wanted, though. She had escaped. She was free. The clouds soon cleared away and the sorrow of the earth became only a memory.
And like the storm, she was gone.
© Copyright 2017 CL Hotchkiss. All rights reserved.
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