This nasty little tale is my contribution to the ME4 writers short and nasties collection, which can be downloaded at: http://roysmith.podbean.com/
He throws open the shutters that have kept out the past few days and wicked light invades our hidden world. I had watched you drift into endless sleep, as your tiny nails cut into the palm of my hand, waiting whilst your breath whispered to pathetic silence. A man of straight lines, dressed in black with a coachman’s hat and cane; his servant carrying assorted boxes, as he stands stiff at the centre of my room. Through thin wire glasses his yellow eyes flit from my chair to the bed where you sleep no more.
I heard you cry that night; a choking fit then nothing. Left alone in silence with your porcelain skin and gentle face, hoping for one more sign of life, but knowing it would never come. Your father sent this shade to solve his guilt, to grab one last glimpse of his fading creation and free himself of the obligations his family would never allow. He never met you, but I saw him looking back at me every time you laughed or smiled and even when you lied. They kept us well, or so they had me suppose. A terraced house upon a hill overlooking the banks; a small house, but clean, surrounded by boat builders, dockers and their whining wives. The family sent us money, just enough, but not so much, yet we were happy and I loved you dearly. They will send no more, after today I am worthless, and despite this I know your father cared for us, though was far to weak to show it.
The straight line man and his bulky assistant pull wood and metal apparatus from their weathered boxes, building a scaffold to hold the heavy machine they move with such care. They bolt and screw and tighten each part, so the thing stands firm in the centre of the room, pointing down at where you lay. He powders your face and ruffles your hair, not happy with your sweat stuck curls, twisting them around his fingers and pulling to spring. You lay too straight my beautiful boy. He turns you to the wall and puts his knee behind yours, forcing a bend with a crack, before flipping you back to face his lens, propped up on a tear soaked pillow. My nails scratch at the arms of the chair and I feel my blood racing as I watch him manipulate your fragile limbs. You mustn’t fear my child, you have no more need of this broken body.
I met your father whilst I was working at his mother’s house. She rarely spoke, but everyone obeyed; her few words were bitter-cold and empty of kindness. He was the life in that house, as you were in mine. When he was away the days dragged on in mechanic isolation, unchanging and grey. That long summer he left a trail of smiles behind him, I ached for the relief of his presence, the lightness brought by his casual words. We loved one night, time caught and kept and there you were, a secret in my belly. Her screeched orders sent me packing, hidden behind these prison walls; to birth you here and raise you, in silence away from him and her.
He hides beneath a darkened cape that flows from atop the metal box. The cloth of his pristine suit stretches over his hunched back, close to ripping and I swear the daggers of his shoulder blades protrude in the way of severed waxen wings. I cannot watch and bury my head within my hands, he twists and turns the dials of his vicious lens, clicking and snapping into some ghastly configuration. I look up at your peaceful face and feel your love beaming back at me from your unnatural pose, your painted eyes staring into nothing, but somehow pleading.
Click. I scream, as searing white floods the room, blinding it hangs and fades in a permanent instant. I find myself caught between light and dark, your image burning into my mind. You glow, outlined with streaks of colour and wherever I look you follow, inescapably staring into my soul, accusing, reaching out to cling to earthly things.
I am alone now in the fading day; the room is empty, cleansed of any memory of you. Upon the bed lies a husk. There is no sign of who you were, all that is left is a featureless form, dried of emotion, there is nothing inside. It is not you. He has taken any part that remained, stolen away the only thing that kept me. And as he walked away, I swear those boxes seemed to sit heavy in his servants arms then in the sunset glow I caught a sideways glimpse of unfolding leather wings.