Halloween Tale 2021

Drawing of an angel with flowing hair, hands raised to hold a star

Excerpt from the everlasting work in progress, a novel which is as yet untitled, or rather has been subject to many working title changes, none satisfactory. Having our Paddock Garden land project ongoing, having many extra shifts, and a further list of stuff that must be done, it's been a while since I wrote a serious short story. There are plenty to find on here, try searching 'Halloween Tales' if you need more :-) In this chapter, Vivia realises she has lived many lives and always gets killed by something other than old age, and she is close to finding out why. [Contains one death, nothing graphic.]

Chapter 31: Vivia And The Piano

At the point of death you must be thankful.

Vivia is surprised by this thought.
She had left the house to take a walk in the spring air which is circling through warm and cool as though it has not decided whether to give way to summer or winter. High above a pegasus has enough thermal to drift; she is watching this rare sight as the words form in her mind without any obvious prompt, and they continue as she cranes her neck upwards to follow its flight:
The point of departure is not always clear, it is more of a gap. Overall it is an experience, something that ignores time, that is both in and out of body.
Vivia stops her walk. She has to steady herself, leaning on a wall. The words in her mind are shifting to pictures. The pictures are memories, multiple memories of dying, as though she had lived many lives, dying and returning, dying again:
She blinks through the liquid light of her mother’s womb, waves her baby arms as she hits a tile floor, sees a haze of machine lights from her hospital bed- A flash of burning shoots through her skin- She grabs at a tabletop, her throat blocked; has a snapshot of herself falling by a tidy shoe rack (what lovely shoes!)- The jolt of a truck hitting her car- Falling again, in a kitchen, overlooked by houseplants-
Clay pots, her mind emphasizes, all clay-
There is a cord around her neck, tight, there is a wall of maps.
Gratitude, the word-thought says, breaking her from panic to wondering if, in any of these events, she was thankful?
If they were real?
She pinches her arm, it hurts. She reaches out to touch an ivy leaf.
The gloss side of the leaf is patterned with bright veins, the underside is greyed with cobwebs. One spider foot is glimpsed pulling back into its hideout. She lets go of the leaf so the creature can be left in peace, turns her eyes to find the source of a sudden knocking sound: a thrush is bashing a snail, tapping it on a rock at the base of a small tree.

Breakfast for the bird, cessation of existence for the snail.
‘Cycle of life,’ she says out loud. The thrush ignores her.

Again she can see liquid light, waving arms, machine lights, burning sparks, the tabletop, the shoe rack, the jolted car, plants in clay pots, overlapping maps; again and again she is travelling in this memory tunnel: the light, the movement, the objects; fluctuation, action, image.
She has never hallucinated before.
This is either the first time or these are, in fact, prior life recollections.
Prior deaths. 
Imagined, or real?
She presses her hands on the wall, on the rough-hewed granite, closes her eyes, breathes deep.
Whatever else is happening it is a beautiful spring day.
Vivia decides she can occupy herself with walking to the cafe, distract herself with the choice of ice cream, if she is warm, or a hot chocolate if the wind chill should pick up. Or the whole menu if she feels like it.
Daisies dot grass verges, saplings wiggle in the warm-cool breeze.
Everything speaks of abundance, not death.
But that is the abundance, her mind pipes up. The fullness. The fruition. 

She looks to the sky where the winged horse is circling out and down towards the ocean. She guesses it will alight on the beach, to gallop across the sands. It is a beautiful thing to see.
All of this is beautiful.
Must one die, to appreciate it?
The sunset, the sunrise, her mind reminds her, always more revered than noon.
Vivia smiles.
‘So I am lost and recovered,’ she says to the sky, ‘like day and night.’
With these words she feels an odd sense of solidity, as though she has been made of air and is filling out as flesh for the first time. It comes and goes in a wave, exhilarating then exhausting.
‘Okay.’ Vivia hugs herself for reassurance and keeps walking.

She walks onto the street that leads to the eaterie without any further flashbacks. The pegasus has whirled out of sight but there are still daisies growing through tarmac, and toadflax poking out of walls, and the pavements are wonky with tree roots. A butterfly lands on a sunny trunk. A bird sings.

She walks past the sign without reading it. No one stops her: she stops herself as she feels the shadow.
To her right is the window where the piano shop displays a baby grand.
To her left is the van waiting for its cargo.
Above her is the winch, and the sold piano that twists a little on the rope, the rope that snaps.
Lost and recovered, Vivia remembers, like day and night, so this will be fine. I am thankful for-
All this

People on the opposite pavement, the poor chap who was in charge of the pulley: they cry out. 

A frayed rope swings in the breeze.

No one sees Vivia walk through the wrecked pile of wood and push up into the air to catch a thermal with expert ease-
nor do they note the gleaming creature that follows her.


It is v early year and I am not at my most articulate best. Thank you, thank you, thank you is the best I can manage. With a quiet 'more please'.
Lisa Southard said…
Little by little the words are stacking up! 'Thank you' is lovely to hear, 'more please' is even more pleasing :-)
Thanks for sharing this little taste. Best of luck in pursuing this story further.

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