This story has a content warning for mentions of child abuse. Take care of yourselves!
Leandra and Gwen
The mattress beneath me was soft and comfy, but my eyes still refused to close. I stared at the ceiling, at the light clinging to it from the street lamps below. I could hear them moving; a shuffling and a scraping from the street. I tried to sleep, but, eventually, I got up and walked to the window.
I looked down onto the street and could see them walking, as if in a trance, on the side-walk. These shadows came every night. I wasn’t going to sleep, so I decided to join them.
The floorboards creaked and shuttered beneath my feet as I stepped down the stairs, but I didn’t worry. I lived alone. There was no one to disturb but me.
I walked out of my house and into their world. No cars drove down the road, and no other people were scattered about. It was just me and them.
I began moving, like I normally did, towards the kids’ park at the end of the street. A hunched over thing shuffled and snorted ahead of me until it swerved to cross the road. I watched it cross before it joined with a group of long, slim-looking monsters. Their multiple red eyes glared at me as I passed by.
I looked again at the kids’ park and spied a very familiar shape beneath the street lamps. He sat on a swing, clad with dark wings and a razor-sharp beak. He was as tall as a man and his dark glossy eyes beckoned me with a long blink.
As I reached the swings, a large black wing offered me the other seat. I sat down, slowly swaying.
“Good-night, Bird.” It was strange to use something that usually meant farewell as a greeting, but I knew from experience that Bird preferred it. He clicked his beak and stared at all the other creatures walking up and down my street.
His soft feathery wing touched my shoulder and he pointed his beak down a side street. It was particularly shaded over there, but I could just make out the shape of a very large, skeleton- like creature huddled in a corner.
I got up and walked towards the ally with Bird gliding alongside. As I reached that dark pocket of shadow, I could begin to make out the color of bone. I looked up and into two large empty eye sockets. They seemed very sad. I gently laid a hand on a very large femur.
Bird glanced at my hand on the pale bone and squawked as a wave of blue electricity shot from the skeleton. I closed my eyes in expectation but felt weightlessness instead of pain. When I opened them, I was somewhere else.
Angry, red faced, and yelling; both of them. He sat in the closet, hiding, clutching the little stuffed dog his grandma had gotten him for Christmas. What had he done? All he had wanted was a little bit of cake for dinner, maybe if he didn’t ask for it anymore it wouldn’t happen again…
I jumped back to the present night, and I could hear moaning from the skeleton. Bird brushed me off and looked me over, concerned. “I’m ok,” I told him, but he gave me a wary eye. “I’m sorry,” I said to the skeleton.
It nodded and, with a bony finger, petted my head. After a while it stopped and wrapped its arms around its knees.
Bird and I began to walk away. We made it back to the sidewalk where the other shadows were and joined the monotonous dance of the others; me with my hands in my pocket and Bird quietly gliding beside me.
“So, you’re a fear,” I said.
My companion bobbed his head.
I let that sink in. “Are you my fear?”
Bird just looked at me the way birds do when they study something new, and he quietly crooned.
I took it to mean yes.
We grew quiet, as the night drew to its end. Bird and the other shadows began to fade. I waved good-morning, and Bird waved a wing at me.
Until next time.