|Under the Rainbow
Author: Kneecap PM
There is no pot of gold.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy - Words: 941 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 2 - Published: 10-08-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2581658
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Under the Rainbow
'I just want to hear you say it,' Peggy screams into the old tunnel, covered on the inside with slime: gangrenous growths.
'Bloody say what?' he bellows back, the air blasting out of his lungs in a vortex of vapour.
They're so close they can hardly hear each other over the howling of death. It's a dark night for Coventry. Black and white flashes bloom everywhere, like lilies in a film documentary. One can feel the city levelling out under the bombs in an endless undulation. Flames, rubble and dust explode into the cloying air as somewhere behind the couple Mr. Westwood's hardware shop implodes from a direct hit. There is something of the ludicrous about their standing there, locked in a private duel, while all around them fall the pummelling fists of war: a monochrome couple, their words as their weapons, leaping between one another like a Russian folk dance, uncompromisingly angry.
'That you love me, you stingy bastard! Tell me that when this poxy war is done, you'll take me away, like you promised,' she hisses the latter part into his face, her talon-like fingernails springing out to grab hold of his arm. She's a tiger in my mind, one of those ferocious animals you see in the zoo, which our brave explorers brought home from India. Peggy's not as scary as a tiger, she's just my sister, but she looks as angry as one in her starchy black overcoat, reaching down to her ankles. The way her hips stick out through the coat so boldly makes me think of hippopotamuses, from the storybooks at home.
In my head, I can't see the blooming lilies any more or the swirling black water of the night. I see purple skies and yellow sunsets and people as dark as coal chasing wild dogs the size of deer with their big bows. I hear ocean waves tickling the shore and harrumphing elephants calling to one another. I smell dust from the savannah and leather drying in the sun. Breathing out, I can feel my storybook Africa, but the words have become my thoughts, a part of me, and the pictures are gliding across my eyes.
Somewhere far off, in a place where wandering thoughts can scarcely breathe, I hear Martin whispering things in a fatherly voice, all honeyed up. Blue birds warble in the place of screeching bombs and people aren't hiding any more, they're dancing in the air, like me. I'm somewhere over the rainbow and beyond the smoggy chimney-tops.
'No! Even if we could get there, you know we ca– shit! Is that your sister? There! by the –'
'What? I – Erica? What the fu– ERICA!' I think that's Peggy. She's going to ruin my blue skies, so I'll open my eyes and glare at her and…
It's not –
Blue. Black. White. Yellow. Brick. Fire.
'RUN!' they scream together, and I can see them racing out towards me from under the old, sad bridge, with his droopy arches and rotten bricks. Martin's oiled hair is all straggly now and grey with ash.
Running, running, roaring, screaming, begging, folding, and I hold Teddy close to my heart and he whines like a dog. Peggy's mouth is wide open in the distance, a silent cave of despair, and I just want to tell her that I'm safe, that it's ok, Teddy will look after me, there's no need to be worried. And then something beside me finally sags and slumps, sighing slowly like the curtains closing at the end of a play. Peggy and Martin vanish behind a cascade of searing clay. I crumple and feel my skin peel away from my bones like old rubber gloves.
Looking back now, all this time later, it was a wall that did it: one of the walls from Mr. Westwood's hardware shop. She must have wandered up next to it as the flames finally collapsed what was left of the front of the house, crushing and burning her with it. She always thought there'd be blue skies and endless rainbows after the pain, but she and Teddy must've done something wrong because they're still here, the ghosts of Wymond Avenue. A phantom and a teddy bear lost in a ghost town.
The bridge still stands, Greyfriar's Bridge, and some nights she sleeps under it with Teddy and they dream of Africa. Eternally the mossy slime drips down from the droopy arches, an endless paroxysm of grief, and she feels the bridge shaking with its sobs. A fierce compassion for her abandoned friend smoulders inside her – a connection through mutual loneliness. Some nights she climbs to the top of the bridge in the dead of the night and continues calling out to Peggy until long after dawn has broken.
Peggy must be old and grey now. She doesn't know if she can be heard or if she ever could, but the bridge groans too, yodelling into the silence. If they can't live in hope, at least they can dream of it.
No flowers grow under the bridge or anywhere on Wymond Avenue; she can't make flower chains or even push daisies. If only they could leave a mark on the world, if only they could –
Catch a rainbow. Sometimes it seems so close, but they can't find the pot of gold and she just – they just –
Pray to God and beg him for Peggy.
And sometimes, just sometimes, the bluebirds answer.