The name whispered on the breeze, sounding near and far all at once. Close to my ear it almost resonated within me, muffled yet each syllable caressed me inside. I heard a soft groan roll off my own parched lips. Somewhere in the distance beat the sound of drums. A rhythmic pulse yet so faint seemed more than a ticking of a clock than what it really was.
And again the voice spoke, wavering from afar like a lingering echo. Its lilt seemed assured, assertive even in its resonating hush, not spoken in question but more in statement. It still had the power to both stir my senses and yet simultaneously chill me to my very bones in wonder of what it pre-empted. My lips twitched, head rolling to lift from the horizontal, unsure whether in the depths of a time unclear I was conscious or not. Such was not a feeling alien to me yet even after all this time I never felt what one might call comfortable with it.
The room lurched. Even without physical sight of the walls that surrounded me I felt the sensation of swaying like a ship upon the rolling waves bringing with it a subtle lapping of nausea. Despite the darkness I had roused within my eyes felt the usual aching behind ruffled blindfold. Reaching for its tell tail sticky fabric I carefully rebound the knot tight beneath my hair before touching together fingers and thumb, smearing blood between my fingertips and knowing its source lay warm against my cheeks. Such again I was used to.
The voice seduced, final uttering accompanied by an almost playful chuckle, sweeping the still of the room before only the sound of my own slightly rasping breaths could be heard breaking the silence. Was as if even my heart had ceased to beat just to savour the sound of coveted feminine call.
Sitting upright now I let one hand down to explore where I had lain, rumpled sheets indicated a bed, my bed, digits leaving a reddened stain in arching curve. As further I sought warm softness met cool glass, fingers tracing shape of a bottle and then another beyond both chiming high in pitch as struck knuckle against each in turn. Intoxication rather than sleep had stolen me away as usual for never truly did I slumber, potent vapour still laced in the air and expelled with the deep sigh accompanying long, slow exhale of breath. Demons cannot find sleep as mortals do, only brief respite and escape within unseen cocoons of their own making.
Around me the darkness shifted, merging shadows parted and entwined in new formations near hypnotic in my haziness. Slithering about me they passed as I pulled myself to stand, rolling shoulders until heard satisfactory crack. Wooden floorboards creaked and whined as half dozen slow footsteps took me to my waiting chair. As I sunk down into worn fabric and loosened springs I heard my own voice mutter gruffly as with index finger and thumb I smoothed outwards against my blindfold then massaged at groggy temples. “Floods and fates, ghosts and graveyards…enough for one night, will you grant me no rest?” I sighed, brow raised in question to the empty room though I knew they heard me in some way, they always did. I learned by now I was never truly alone.
“Nice touch though…a new voice, playing games with me now hmm?” I chuckled as if mildly amused by childish antics. “Or perhaps not” my head bowed as more serious demeanor settled upon my features. The distant strumming had returned; gentle vibration felt against the soles of my boots as they rest upon the ground, one leg outstretched the other bent at the knee. Somewhere, perhaps in the room below I imagined briefly some poor soul drifting away on some narcotic high to the pounding soundtrack of drum and bass. Everyone had their own ways to escape.
“Why her voice?” I asked the room thoughtfully, fingertip tapping in time against my chin. “Why now?” I sighed leaning back and closing eyes behind blindfold, the aching as ever persistent yet bearable for now. I had two empty bottles to thank for that. Frustratingly I neither heard nor perceived an answer. Typical, I thought bitterly though without the inclination to rage about it. I had neither the energy nor the will to break the near quiet I preferred to seek seclusion within.
I pondered for a long time. Minutes passed, perhaps hours yet I could not tell nor wished to know, instead my mind drifted foggily through all that had plagued my waking dreams trying to find something new amidst much repetition yet for now all I kept coming back to was the rousing voice, not a voice unfamiliar to me yet one not heard in such context before. Her voice.
“Afira?” I chanced, narrowing my eyes in distain at the obvious hope I heard laced in my tone. I grit my teeth “Fool” I spat in whisper, shaking my head and balling my fingers into a fist against arm of the chair. Stirrings of ugly emotions awoke and churned in my stomach, bubbling away like poison of nasty concoction. Guilt for all its strange cleansing elicitation that did often spurn us to seek balance could often felt like the worst of all sins when it fueled ones brooding. For a moment I thought I heard hint of that alluring chuckle, its echo caught in the still air yet I knew it was not there, more just a reminiscence I begrudged to let go.
About me my own aura crackled like stirring thunder ready for a coming storm, an ominous swirl of dark shadow and glinting flecks of crimson that wove all together like a cloak about my form. Slipped away were my desires for reflection and more tranquil rest. Instead I felt the need to sate my stirring appetite and find a new escape from grim realities and haunting past. Rising from my seat I drew up my hood and felt way to the door, slipping into the shadows of the hallway and tracing the peeling papered walls to the stairs as the repetitive pulse of drums grew louder, drowning out the hesitation that might normally have held me back. No holding back today.
© Rachel Ellen, 2011