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Air (standard:drama, 2997 words)
Author: DougAdded: Jun 21 2003Views/Reads: 1812/1208Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A boy riddled with thoughts of his crazy parents, his loveable sister, and his forlorn God.
 



Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

“What kitty?” 

She pointed her tiny forefinger towards the cat in the front yard.  Our
father looked unkindly.  Beth spoke again.  “I let him in.”  I shook my 
head slowly.  She never could keep her mouth shut. 

Our father, his hair disheveled and him still naked, became irate at
this last comment.  “Why the fuck would you do that?”  His face turned 
a shade redder than it always was. 

“Because he was scratching at the door, and I couldn't just let him sit
out there.  I love kitties.”  Beth, shut up, I thought. 

Our father reached out and slapped her, as well.  I grabbed a vase that
was near my hand, on a shelf in the wall.  He turned, knowing my 
intentions well, as my sister began to cry.  He slapped me again, 
harder this time, and I dropped the vase, an expensive vase, on the 
tile floor.  It shattered, and staggering from the blow, I stepped on 
the glass and began bleeding steadily from my heel.  “You little 
bastard,” our father said.  “That costs money.”  He had calmed 
considerably.  He leaned down, took a large chunk of the vase, and 
threw it out the door at the cat laying in our yard.  It hit its mark, 
stabbing the cat in the back leg.  The cat jumped and hissed again, and 
limped off towards the road, mewing and screaming. 

My father turned to Beth.  “Get your ass upstairs.”  She ran, crying, up
to our bedroom.  He looked at me angrily for a few seconds, a cold, 
piercing stare, and said, “Clean this mess up.”  I happened to see when 
the cat was run over by a passing vehicle. 

I had another good dream that night.  It involved my sister and me
living in a house much smaller than the one we had, but happy, and with 
parents who were not the parents with which we lived now.  They were 
loving parents, and didn't fight. 

I awoke in a sweat now.  My father had not treated me for my cut, and it
had bled heavily for an hour or more.  I had to clean it up off the 
floor.  I thought it was infected, and I could barely walk. 

Now I looked over towards my sister.  To my surprise, she was sitting up
in bed, staring at the door.  I could not tell if my eyes, not yet 
adjusted to the dark, were playing tricks on me or if she was 
concentrating intensely on something.  I listened myself and now I 
could hear it—a strangely soothing sound, the sound of Bach being 
played on a classic guitar.  “Air”.  Slowly transcending through the 
house to our young ears, the sounds of torture and terror.  Fear 
swelled in my heart.  I could hear only the sound of the music, the 
eerie music, and the beating of my own heart.  My sister was not 
breathing.  I shook her violently and she started.  I clasped my hand 
over her mouth and whispered for her to be quiet. 

I rose, naked, and walked to the door and opened it slowly.  I only
opened it so that I could peek out with my one good eye.  I could see 
downstairs and I could see my father sitting at the table, drinking a 
bottle of vermouth and next to him, an empty Chianti flask.  In his lap 
was the guitar from which the music had formerly protruded.  My father 
was very talented, especially when he was drunk and naked.  I knew from 
the look on his face that he had finally killed my mother.  He had 
always tried to kill her too.  This time, he had done it.  And I knew. 

I shut the door back, being careful not to make noise and disturb my
father.  I turned to Beth and walked slowly toward her.  I whispered to 
her softly, and she looked deep into my eyes, and I into hers, “Get 
dressed.”  She did as I told her, and I did the same.  I threw open the 
window and looked down at the ground below us.  It would not hurt us 
terribly to jump. 

My sister was shivering violently.  “It's cold, Jon,” she whispered.  At
least she knew to whisper.  I gathered a comforter from her bed and 
wrapped it around her.  “Jump out the window,” I said, “and roll when 
you hit the ground, or you'll break your legs.” 

She did as I told her, and I followed soon after.  My heel hit the
ground and I gave a yell.  I got up quickly and gathered my sister, 
saying, “Stay close to me,” and running, running away from my father 
and my murdered mother, running towards the woods that seemed so 
inviting as opposed to my naked and drunken father.  It had not snowed, 
though it was very cold, so our journey was not hampered by anything 
other than my sister's sickness and the gash on my heel, newly opened 
by the fall.  We ran to the edge of the woods, and I turned back toward 
the house a final time.  My father was staring out the window, naked, 
his eyes colder than the woods could have ever been.  We turned and ran 
through the trees. 

We ran until we could no longer feel our legs beneath us, stumbling
among the thicket and Beth tripping on the giant blanket still wrapped 
about her.  There is nothing so blind as flight.  I could not have 
foreseen the consequences of my cowardice.  The air was freezing and 
Beth was coughing.  It was only autumn, and cold as cold can be.  The 
leaves had turned beautiful shades of yellow and orange and red, though 
none had yet fallen.  The moon shone bright and full, lighting our path 
through the tightly grouped trees.  We ducked and weaved through the 
forest, fleeing from our evil past and toward our desolate future that 
we had yet to behold. 

We had known our past life, and now this one, and we had seen no
pleasure.  Our mother was dead.  We could only assume that no pleasure 
existed ahead.  We came to the river running through the woods, frozen 
with the air.  This is where we decided to rest, for we knew our father 
had not given chase.  I lay down in the frozen grass beneath a giant 
maple tree, and Beth lay next to me, wrapped tightly in her blanket.  
“Look, Jon,” she said.  “I can see my breath.”  She breathed heavily 
and I could see the plumes of her breath under the light of the moon.  
I smiled and said, “Yes, you can.”  I breathed also to comfort her. 

“Jon?” 

“Yes.” 

“Why did we run away from home?” 

“Because we had to.” 

“Why?” 

“Father's eyes are evil.” 

“What?” 

“Nothing, Beth.  You should sleep.” 

“But I'm cold.”  She coughed violently, spitting blood intermittently. 

“I know, Beth.  But you'll have to go to sleep.” 

“I'm hungry, Jon.” 

“Ok.  I'll go find some food.  But promise me you'll go to sleep after
we eat.” 

“I promise.” 

I smiled and kissed her forehead, caressing her young, beautiful face,
before I stood to go.  She turned away from me and tightly shut her 
eyes, the plumes of breath flaring out from her nostrils.  Smiling 
still, I turned to spare myself the depression of watching her sleeping 
so peacefully. 

I limped slowly through the woods, barefoot and freezing.  My toes were
already frostbitten, and I could only imagine what had happened to my 
dear sister.  Her young body could not withstand the cold much longer, 
and I knew that I would have to find some food, and in the morning, 
shelter and warmth for her.  The blanket, I hoped, would have to 
provide her with heat until then. 

I guessed it was around two in the morning; I had checked the clock
before we left, and it had just turned a quarter until one.  Reaching a 
small clearing in the woods, I looked up at the beautiful night sky, at 
the bright full moon and the sparkling stars.  A meteor shower was on 
that night.  The Leonids, they must have been.  They were beautiful, 
and I watched them for half an hour or more, I guessed.  When I began 
moving again, I could not feel my arms any longer. 

I proceeded to waste some more time walking in the woods to see what it
had in store for us in the morning.  I found nothing.  Nothing save the 
trees and their dying leaves. 

I turned to go back when an icy wind began to blow through the woods.  I
had not worn my jacket, for I kept my jacket downstairs in front of the 
door.  I crossed my arms and rubbed my hands against my biceps, trying 
to generate a little warmth.  I had little success. 

In the woods, there were no animals, and this confused and scared me a
little at first.  But by this time, I could not care, for I was getting 
hypothermia and my cut was infected.  I stumbled through the woods back 
towards Beth, back to where I could get some rest and find some food 
and shelter in the morning.  At this I halted.  I had not found food 
for my sister, as I had promised.  I started again.  In the morning, I 
would keep my promise.  But I soon found something that disturbed me 
greatly.  A wolf.  A mangy wolf, the only animal I had seen since we 
had lived her besides the cat.  And now he was looking at me with blank 
white eyes.  I shuddered with the wind and in fear of his cold, white 
eyes.  He sniffed at the air.  It seemed he had discovered my presence. 


“God no,” I whispered.  But it was too late. 

The wolf started suddenly, darting towards me with a quickness I had not
anticipated.  He lunged for me, and I threw my hands up, and fell 
backwards with his force. 

I awoke in the middle of the forest.  It was morning now, and bright.  I
guessed it was ten or so.  The dream about the wolf had not awakened 
me, for it was terrible and completely plausible.  I rose now and 
completed my journey to where Beth still laid, in her blanket, the 
plumes of smoke still rising from her with every breath.  Her tiny 
figure rose and fell in a quick rhythm.  I smiled and shook her gently. 


She awoke slowly, rubbing her tired eyes.  She looked up at me and
smiled.  “Good morning, Beth.”  “Good morning, Jon.” 

I kissed her forehead and she hugged me around the neck.  I offered her
the nuts and berries I had found in the woods the previous night.  She 
devoured them happily, while I smiled and watched, fidgeting with my 
toes as I did so. 

“What are we going to do now, Jon?” 

“Well, we'll have to find some place to go to get you inside.” 

“But it's warmed up now, Jon.” 

I perceived that the temperature had risen a great deal.  “So it is.  I
guess we can stay outside, if you want.”  She smiled at this idea.  
“But we'll still have to find someplace where we can get food.” 

“But Jon, can't we just get nuts and berries.  They're terribly good.” 

“Of course we can eat nuts and berries, but I'm hungry too.  I can't
just let you eat everything I find.”  We both laughed.  “I'm hungry for 
a steak, anyway.” 

She got excited.  “Yeah, me too!” 

I played her game.  “And we can eat hamburgers and hot dogs and French
fries and ketchup.”  She loved ketchup. 

“Yeah!” 

“And then, if you're good, we can get a cat!” 

She squealed in excitement, and hugged me again.  I stroked her hair,
and kissed her forehead.  Our joy could not have been shattered by the 
cold stare of our father, or of the wolf. 

But I realized something.  Something was terribly, horribly awry.  No,
it could not have happened this way.  Please, let it be a coincidence.  
Oh, God, no.  It was this way, and I could not change it. 

I had awakened my sister.  I never awoke before she did.  Oh, God, no. 
Let this be real.  Let it be so real and so good.  I do not think I 
could stand another awakening as sharp and as cruel as the ones in my 
bed at home.  I could never overcome this.  Please let it be real.  But 
it could not be.  Joy could not have been in any life, and this was no 
exception. 

I awoke, as in the lovely dream, in the middle of the forest, the
morning sun beating down on me.  Indeed, I had not found any food, and 
I would be forced to find my sister, who was probably already wandering 
about the woods.  She always woke before me.  I rose to return to the 
spot where I had left her, so as to have someplace to begin my search.  
I hoped she had stayed put, but I knew it was in vain.  I cursed my 
sister's naïveté. 

I stared at the ground as I walked, for I had no feeling in my toes and
could not know if I had stepped on something on which I was not 
supposed to step.  Before long, I saw the familiar blanket.  But again, 
something was amiss. 

My sister was still there.  I swore aloud and knew I was dreaming again.
 I played God's cruel game and shook my sister, violently this time, to 
awaken her before I was forced to awaken again myself.  But she did not 
stir. 

I did not notice that her chest did not rise and fall.  I did not notice
the blood running from her nose and mouth onto the ground.  I did not 
notice that the plumes of steam coming from her nostrils had stopped.  
My heart fell, and I kissed her forehead and stroked her hair.  The 
cold air had killed her in the night, and killed me as well.  But I was 
not so lucky as to have died physically, like Beth, my dear sister.  At 
least she did not have to return to my father's cold, uninviting, naked 
stare.  Nobody loves naked men.  Especially not me.  But I had to 
return to him, because I had nowhere else to go.  And God would not 
kill me.  I knew he wouldn't.  I returned to the house as the first 
leaves began to fall. 


   


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