April 13th, 2012

A stoplight blinks, shifting through the spectrum of color on its own accord. Bathing the street with red, yellow, green, with no cars coming or going. Empty streets filled with the sound of an old newspaper blowing across fence posts. Catching and flying away again only to be ensnared soon after on another. The front page hits an obstacle undiscovered, the skinny leg of a human. She doesn’t move, doesn’t remove it, remains still and stoic. Her eyes turned upon the light, which changes without purpose. The sepia streetlight casts dark shadows across her gaunt upturned face. Her mouth hangs slack and her hair hangs listless against her face. She shivers, her body quaking under the force of her rail thin body.

A broad faced hand rubs her back, as if searching to draw out the the warmth that had fled her body. Instead, it only encounters the mountainous bones that jut from her back in place of flesh. He reaches over across her body and pulls her ragged coat tighter around her body to keep her warm. He says nothing as he does this, just watching her face with devotion in his own melancholy eyes. He pulls her coat tight around her frame only to watch it fall away as soon as he lets go. Her hands do not even flinch to close her jacket, hanging limply by her sides. Her eyes blinking like a fish as the green turns to yellow.

Blinks to red. He lets out a soft sigh and buttoned her jacket for her with slow patient fingers. Skipping the third because the button was lost a long time ago. He hesitated for a moment over the empty socket, wondering as he always did, where it had gone. When had they lost it? He moved again to her side like a faithful dog. He reached down and gently grasped her hanging hand. He held it, cradling it like a baby bird in his broad palms. It hung lose and unmoving but still he gently grasped it.

A tear fell down her sallow cheeks without a movement or change in her appearance. The only difference was the drop of water, which rolled down her face. Her makeup had been smeared down her face like a harlequin mask. With his other hand he reached up slowly and with the sleeve of his coat he wiped it away. The trail of the tear that had journeyed down her face was etched deep in the stain of her makeup and even he could not rub that away.

Blink. Red. A twitch of a finger so close to closing around his. He turned his drawn down face to hers with a spark of something close to hope in his tired eyes. But there was nothing. She stared still with her upturned face watching in the sepia glow the turning of the purposeless light. He turned away again; his face turned towards the sidewalk, as the street lamp cast their shadows right under their feet. He shifted them slightly but no matter where he went he stood upon his own shadow and it below him.

They stood together under the sepia glow, one hand grasping another but hope had left long ago. Lost under a couch with a button unfound, unilluminated by the street lamps shine. But still he held her hand as the stoplights changed and no cars came.

The newspaper, which had wrapped itself around her bone thin leg like a hungry child begging to be fed, flapped against her raw skin in the wind. The persistent tug of a child on a mother’s skirt on a soft summer day, it rustled against her. The crinkle of its skin deafening, like the drumbeat of sin. Her hand tightened around his as she began to scream. Her empty and changeless eyes reflecting the lights of change as her mouth contorted with pain. The wail of a banshee burst from her empty lungs, pushing outward with the force of a raging waterfall. Gushing forth with the agony of a childless mother and a motherless child, she screamed.

He held her hand with eyes t unchanging turned on the disappearing sidewalk that wound away like a snake into the darkness of the night. He gently pet her hand like a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. But he did nothing as he stood next to his wife except stroke her hand rhythmically and dutifully. His heart had nothing left to give. A gust of wind ripped the newspaper from her shaking legs and cast it into the street to begin its dance a new.

Blink. Swallowing the scream, which still burned like acid in her lungs, her face eased as if nothing had ever changed. Her fingers loosened and fell slack in his; he never let go even as she slipped away and red turned into yellow, yellow into green, and green into red.

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One Response to “Sepia Glow (Stoplight)”

  1. Luke Thornley says:

    I am trying as hard as I can, but can you give me a hint of the context? Just a small hint 🙂