by Katie Green
The prompt for this was 'a descriptive piece of writing of an event that disturbs a moment of calm'
The small group of friends lay on the soft blanket of grass, thoughtful eyes turned to the fluffy white clouds drifting with the gentle summer breeze across the azure sky. They lay with their heads together in the middle so low their low murmuring could be heard over the silence, their stretched bodies creating a star on a verdant background. For a while no one spoke. They listened not to the words from a crafty tongue, but to the hushed whispers from rustling leaves. They watched the shifting skies, revealing its secrets in mysterious shapes, if only one could decipher their code. They smelt the sweet scent of a blossoming lilac flower, that had no name, nor needed one. For now, they were content to watch the birds flit across their vision and then flit back carrying the perfect twig as the little homemakers built their nest, while tasting the slight tang of life upon the tips of their tongues.
Eventually, when they had absorbed all they could of nature's tempting offering and wily wishes, they began to speak.
To begin with, just a quiet comment, the words leaking through the dam tiding back the flow, then a trickle, until the dam broke and the torrent of thoughts, feelings and meaningless phrases tumbled free. They laughed ad chatted and squealed and gossiped, mastering the art of talking, yet saying nothing at all. At last, when they had skated around the crucial topic for long enough, and had exhausted the will to do so any more, the true motive for coming to this glade of isolation, the evergreen walls a shield against anyone and everyone else, emerged.
"Greg?" Gina quested, tentatively.
"Yes?" He subsequently responded.
"What are you going to do?" Silence. Not merely the absence of sound, this was something more. This quiet sucked the noise out of the world. The birds stopped tweeting, the trees held their breath, until -
"Nothing" he finally replied, the permanent valleys between his eyebrows deepening.
"What do you mean, nothing?" Cried Ciara. "You have to do something! It isn't right! You have to tell someone! You-"
"I have to? I don't have to do anything!" Roared Greg, finally snapping, unable to hold back the tide of anger, fear and confusion that had been building inside him for months. When his fit had passed, and his rapid, shallow breathing that never fully filled his lungs and kept perpetually gasping for the next quick breath had subsided, he collapsed back down with a muffled 'umph' from the half-upright position his yelling had pushed him into. Again the only sound was the song birds chattering and the crickets chirping. Eventually Ciara spoke again.
"I'm sorry Greg. It's just, I-I can't stand seeing you like this. Seeing you hurt." No response. The other three members of the group had yet to utter a word.
"He knows," the words, softly spoken, originated from the only other girl present, Melanie. A deep sigh. Then,
"Look, he knows all of this and at the end of the day it's his choice. We can't force him to do anything. Just-just let's be there, ok? Through all the...stuff." This speech came from the fourth teen, Daniel. He lingered over his words, unwilling to say the forbidden phrase. But none the less, he couldn't prevent his eyes from hovering over an angry crimson rivulet of blood, now dried on a split lip, or the beginnings of a purplish bruise still in its infancy upon a heavily lidded eye.
"Thanks. He's my dad. I couldn't do that to him. I just couldn't"
This time there was no reply forthcoming. The words were coaxed on by the gentle breeze and the serious, strained atmosphere lightened with their departure. They lapsed back into fanciful stillness. Calm was restored. And then the world changed.
There was no fiery ball of death, no catastrophe that would horrify the world for ages to come. No,life as they knew it died with a few pathetic, rattling, stuttered coughs, and...then it just gave in and faded away, like a dream retreats into your subconscious when you wake up, leaving you with only a few faint impressions, however hard you try to resist.
The beginning of the end was heralded by snapping twigs and clumsy footsteps. Then all at once a figure stumbled out of the trees. At first their shock stopped them from seeing the ashen pallorof his face, the strain and desperation etched onto his features. But then it could hide no more and they saw. Saw how his blood stained hands clutched at his stomach, desperately trying to stop his glistening g entrails from tumbling out. A scream. No one could tell whose, not even from whom the dreadful wailing sound was emitting.
The man paused, and fell, crashing down and down until he lay at their feet. He tried to speak, a few pitiful groans leaking through his pale lips. He coughed weakly, spattering his lips with a misting of scarlet.
"Come...closer. Please." He managed. Warily, they edged closer, all of them holding back a torrent of bile. Ciara was not successful and turned away to heave.
"I must... I have to tell you..." Drifting in and out of consciousness, he fought to make his final words heard. "A lie, it's a lie. Be...careful. Be cautious, rely on...yourselves, and you will be okay. It's okay. I found you. And remember...an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Remember..."
And that was how it ended. How everything ended. And something else began.
A harsh sob choked out of a tight throat shattered the stunned silence that had fallen. Greg's throat, Greg's sob, Greg's tears.