The Patch of Darkness – by MARIAH SCHLUETER

The Patch of Darkness

 

Purple cigar smoke choked the air, but the woman remained dead to the world on the corner frozen with the combined efforts of Jack Frost and General Winter. The nameless patch of darkness puffed again. He blew a smoke dragon. It slithered around the woman’s body.

 

The shadow saw kisses of rosy color blush into her cheeks. Her eyes fluttered open and she drew her first breath in over five hours. The shadow whistled into the wind as he flicked his hand toward the green shutters at the snow covered cottage across the cobble paved street. The shutters blew open fiercely.

 

A young man rushed to the window, his aim to pull them tight. Before he could, the woman fell into a coughing fit. This got his attention and alarm. The shadow watched as the young man pulled on his coat and boots, ran from the cottage and scooped up the poor woman in his arms to settle her gently by his fireplace.

 

This job done, his heels turned and silently clicked down the street. His soft black eyes darted from corner to corner. His lord would be pleased, and his lady, too. It was their gift in the month of feast – this stopping of death, if only given in sparse moments. The patch stopped and stared down at a little girl.

His heart broke at the sight. It was too late for her. Her pallid malnourished finger clutched an empty matchbox. Her whole face was frozen in the saddest expression. Little frozen tear tracks marked her cheeks.  

       

The patch cradled the child in his arms. He lifted his head and whistled softly to the moon. Beautiful, silvery spirited sleigh bells sounded gently down the cobble-paved street. The little sled was the incarnate beauty of the season, blue and clear with a silvery aura surrounding it. The patch of darkness nestled the child within the blankets. His warm lips touched her nose. Her cheeks stayed pale, but her eyes slowly opened.

       

“This will take you home.” Her smile bound his heart together once more. She stretched out her hands. He put the reins in her little hands and kissed the polar cub hitched as her steed. Then, the moonlight formed a starry patch and the child ascended into the night to be with her grandmother once more.

       

The patch caught himself waving. He lowered his hand, watching as she and her sled turned into twinkles in the winter night sky. Then he turned away, pleased that she was beginning the start of the dawn. He puffed his cigar once more, and then crushed it under his boot. Work was still to be done. His boots clanked silently down the cobblestones which wound through the lazy streets of Mont-de-Pellier. Finding no others to send along, the patch slithered into a corner of darkness beyond the street lamps and candle-burned doors.

***

mariah-schlueter-photo

Mariah Schlueter grew up in a Midwestern area that looked remarkably like Hobbiton. She is currently working toward her BA in Theatre and English. Her creative work includes photography, poetry, short stories, acting, and a current hiatus from her living statue alter-ego.
You can find her online at:
Twitter: @TheMariahNoel
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