When darkness falls and eyes stay shutA chain of voices opens up.Let wax not wane give breath to death.p.s. Shhh” -Yvonne Woon(Dead Beautiful)
Kestrel's eyes slipped shut. She faded in and out of sleep. When Arin spoke again, she wasn't sure whether he expected her to to hear him.'I remember sitting with my mother in a carriage.' There was a long pause. Then Arin's voice came again in that slow, fluid way that showed the singer in him. 'In my memory, I am small and sleepy, and she is doing something strange. Every time the carriage turns into the sun, she raises her hand as if reaching for something. The light lines her fingers with fire. Then the carriage passes through shadows, and her hand falls. Again sunlight beams through the window, and again her hand lifts. It becomes and eclipse.' Kestrel listened, and it was as if the story itself was an eclipse, drawing its darkness over her.'Just before I fell asleep,' he said, 'I realized that she was shading my eyes from the sun.' She heard Arin shift, felt him look at her.'Kestrel.' She imagined how he would sit, lean forward. How he would look in the glow of the carriage lantern. 'Survival isn't wrong. You can sell your honor in small ways, so long as you guard yourself. You can pour a glass of wine like it's meant to be poured, and watch a man drink, and plot your revenge.' Perhaps his head tilted slightly at this. 'You probably plot even in your sleep.' There was a silence as long as a smile.'Plot away, Kestrel. Survive. If I hadn't lived, no one would remember my mother, not like I do.' Kestrel could no longer deny sleep. It pulled her under.'And I would never have met you.
Close your eyes and stare into the dark. My father's advice when I couldn't sleep as a little girl. He wouldn't want me to do that now but I've set my mind to the task regardless. I'm staring beyond my closed eyelids. Though I lie still on the ground, I feel perched at the highest point I could possibly be; clutching at a star in the night sky with my legs dangling above cold black nothingness. I take one last look at my fingers wrapped around the light and let go. Down I go, falling, then floating, and, falling again, I wait for the land of my life. I know now, as I knew as that little girl fighting sleep, that behind her gauzed screen of shut-eye, lies colour. It taunts me, dares me to open my eyes and lose sleep. Flashes of red and amber, yellow and white speckle my darkness. I refuse to open them. I rebel and I squeeze my eyelids together tighter to block out the grains of light, mere distractions that keep us awake but a sign that there's life beyond.But there's no life in me. None that I can feel, from where I lie at the bottom of the staircase. My heart beats quicker now, the lone fighter left standing in the ring, a red boxing glove pumping victoriously into the air, refusing to give up. It's the only part of me that cares, the only part that ever cared. It fights to pump the blood around to heal, to replace what I'm losing. But it's all leaving my body as quickly as it's sent; forming a deep black ocean of its own around me where I've fallen.Rushing, rushing, rushing. We are always rushing. Never have enough time here, always trying to make our way there. Need to have left here five minutes ago, need to be there now. The phone rings again and I acknowledge the irony. I could have taken my time and answered it now. Now, not then. I could have taken all the time in the world on each of those steps. But we're always rushing. All, but my heart. That slows now. I don't mind so much. I place my hand on my belly. If my child is gone, and I suspect this is so, I'll join it there. There.....where? Wherever. It; a heartless word. He or she so young; who it was to become, still a question. But there, I will mother it. There, not here. I'll tell it; I'm sorry, sweetheart, I'm sorry I ruined your chances - our chances of a life together.But close your eyes and stare into the darkness now, like Mummy is doing, and we'll find our way together. There's a noise in the room and I feel a presence. 'Oh God, Joyce, oh God. Can you hear me, love? Oh God. Oh God, please no, Hold on love, I'm here. Dad is here.'I don't want to hold on and I feel like telling him so. I hear myself groan, an animal-like whimper and it shocks me, scares me. I have a plan, I want to tell him. I want to go, only then can I be with my baby. Then, not now. He's stopped me from falling but I haven't landed yet. Instead he helps me balance on nothing, hover while I'm forced to make the decision. I want to keep falling but he's calling the ambulance and he's gripping my hand with such ferocity it's as though I'm all he has. He's brushing the hair from my forehead and weeping loudly. I've never heard him weep. Not even when Mum died. He clings to my hand with all of his strength I never knew his old body had and I remember that I am all he has and that he, once again just like before, is my whole world. The blood continues to rush through me. Rushing, rushing, rushing. We are always rushing. Maybe I'm rushing again. Maybe it's not my time to go. I feel the rough skin of old hands squeezing mine, and their intensity and their familiarity force me to open my eyes. Lights fills them and I glimpse his face, a look I never want to see again. He clings to his baby. I know I lost mind; I can't let him lose his. In making my decision I already begin to grieve. I've landed now, the land of my life. And still my heart pumps on. Even when broken it still works.