We were not of two minds but of one. He was the mind that found the darkness hiding in the open as the light filled the world. I was the mind that could find a flicker of flame in the deepest tunnel and claw my way out. She was the connection that bound us together, two beings that had never had the chance to meet.
Her name was Lark and she sang like the birds at dawn. Her voice bright and soothing, I found the warmth of love each time it tickled my ears.
His name was Kellen and he found no joy in the songs of Lark. Kellen found no joy in anything and he took comfort in his misery, wishing to share it with Lark as his way of providing for her. He saw bliss as pain for it could quickly turn to sorrow. In the time it took for a single heartbeat to occur he felt he could tear Lark’s entire world apart.
What madness was in Kellen that had spawned him? What sort of a man could see no value in the pleasure of another?
I have always been called Gage and this was a good description of my function. I could read people and find them no matter how hard they tried to hide. I saw the light open them up so every emotion was clear and luminous.
Kellen fought my light, the one creature in existence that could shroud itself from my watchful eye. He troubled me and that led me to fear that Lark was in danger. We lived on either side of her and both mused at her beauty. I sought to protect the innocence it held while he seemed to have poison always at the ready to corrupt her.
So we both watched with our blinds drawn discreetly enough that Lark would not know she was being looked after.
One evening another boy came to visit Lark, and Kellen and I stood readily at our posts as always. The muted voices tempted us to open our respective windows and let in some fresh air and sound, but I knew he too feared being spotted by Lark. So I did as Kellen and stood close as I could to the window without alerting either Lark or the boy visitor to my presence.
I could never see Kellen as he was in the apartment on the opposite side of Lark’s, but I always sensed what he was up to. It wasn’t hard. I simply looked at myself and imagined the opposite of that, of all I did and felt and longed for, and that’s what Kellen was.
This boy was called Devin and right from the start I could see the light all around him die. I had never found such a soul that seemed to suck his very aura out of being and conceal it beneath ripples of blackness. I knew that Kellen was enjoying this. What better man to steal the heart of our Lark than one who silenced all music as he passed through it?
Devin would not enter, as Lark did not invite him inside. This was good for me but bad for Kellen. I could feel the vibrations of his pacing feet which rumbled through Lark’s floorboards and landed beneath my heels. He was anxious about this one, as anxious as I, yet for very different reasons.
Devin asked Lark to come outside and join him but she found a clever way of refusing his offer without pushing him away. Devin stood in limbo at the threshold of Lark’s apartment.
Kellen could hardly contain the boiling anger within him. There was no sense to be made of any of this.
If Lark would not let Devin in, then why would she not come out? If she would allow neither to happen, why would she hold Devin there? Her lips perked into a smile as if she knew more than she should have. I felt nervous about that. Kellen felt my apprehension as well, and for once we were together in our mood.
This was all wrong. The light was dimming so I opened my blinds ever-so-slowly to chase it. It was too quick and it escaped me. I had never before lost the light. The darkness crept inside and fondled me like a drunkard drowning in desperate confusion. I felt panic surging through me.
Kellen burst forth from his apartment just as I did, neither of us able to stand this any longer. The light burned Kellen as the dark froze me. We were standing outside as Devin stood there motionless, his arms at his side and his gaze trapped by Lark’s beautiful song.
Kellen and I both saw her at the same time. She was smiling so sweetly yet had something in her eyes that did not belong. I opened my mouth to speak, to scream, to cry out as Kellen did the same.
Devin did not react at all as Lark stepped forward; one foot inside and one foot outside. He did not even flinch as she grabbed his shoulder gently with one hand and plunged a large knife deep into his chest with the other. Even as Lark held the handle of the knife and twisted it, turning the blade around and twisting his insides, Devin did not budge nor did he even blink.
Lark looked to Kellen and frowned, then looked to me and grinned. She turned her eyes to Devin and took a long soothing breath. She closed her eyes tight and her face found that place between the light and the dark where freedom lived.
I don’t need you anymore.
She sang the words as she pushed against Devin’s shoulder with one hand, the knife gripped tightly in the other. The long blade did not slide out of Devin’s chest. Devin slipped off of the blade and tumbled over the balcony. His body plunged to the ground three stories below. He made no sound as he landed in the grass. It was as if Devin possessed no weight or matter and he simply ceased to be.
The light set fire to Kellen and he was consumed by the smoke of his own being burning out of existence.
I too felt the agony that had given way to his screams as the darkness erased my light and I felt what could only have been described as nothing replacing me.
I saw Lark step out of her apartment and drop the knife. There was so little left of me as she walked toward me. She left her door wide open and I could see the empty apartment that remained behind her.
She dusted off one shoulder as she drew near to me. I was almost entirely gone as the black dust floated up from her blouse and blew away into the open air.
She went to brush off her other shoulder and a brilliant light erupted from it, her long hair blowing back as the bright light joined the dark smoke and blew away.
It took me with it.
I floated with Kellen over the balcony and spotted the empty spot on the grass three stories down where Devin should have remained.
At once Kellen and I made the connection and realized we had been wrong about everything.
All this time we had been watching Lark’s visitors, watching and waiting for our purpose in guarding her.
She had played us so well with her mask of innocence, pitted our forces against one another until at long-last she had won the game.
Free now to roam as she pleased, she no longer had to sing for us. She no longer needed to court the darkness nor the light. She watched as we spread out and faded, thinning and dissipating until we could barely handle a single thought.
For us it was over.
For Lark, it had just begun.
“Alan Dale Dalby is a 32 year old aspiring author who was born and raised in Colorado. He has incorporated much from his life and experiences into his writing. Stories such as The Shadow of Death, Lost in Endless Winter, and Time Past have gained him some acclaim from fans locally and worldwide.
Though he found his true voice in the short fiction format, Alan is currently branching out into the world of novels.”
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