On a Darker Note

by Andrew Foote

And Still Life Goes On

The wind rattled around the raven sky, black clotted clouds menaced, a pebble-dashing of needle-sharp rain, fist-flung from the howling struck the cold street, dark shadowing its cripple-cracked slabs like saliva collected and spat out of an unruly mouth.

A pencil moved in a thin grey arc within the mans fingers. He feather-smudged the mark and made it smooth as the subjects shoulder he was drawing.

Knife slashes of water bled the window, the curtains river-rippled a shaft of last light broke free from the led above and fell to frame the form of a lady fair as she sat with the silence of one before the hand and eye of an artist's execution.

The man's thumb rubbed the paper. He played down a line or two, took out a small bruise, blew a fragment of carbon dust away and smiled. He straightened to stretch his stiffened back and the woman shook her September corn, sun-shone hair.

Strong a single buffeting blow sounded like the report from a rifle, the rumble of the gust caught amongst the hills came as cannon fire, dull, muffled, almost reassuring in its distance away, not as disturbing as the close cry whining which wept down the hollow-throated chimney and moaned from the ornate iron opening; some specks of soot settled on the red tile hearth and a fragment of pale blue eggshell, a brittle puzzle-piece from a past season. Where is the song bird now or as fledgling was she swallowed by the feline night, stub winged, helplessly held in a hunter's jaw, the juice of the capture, sticky on a rough tongue and running a broken tooth's edge.

Against the banded billowing, the angry stains of the storm filling the gasoning grey spaces stood the woman, naked, unashamed, her soft skin soiled over by the desperate drumming of wet and the lengthening ebony spillage, she let her body bathe in the drowning depth which wailed outside the pitted pane then picked up the pink crumbled silk of her mourning robe and wrapped it around, her sudden shivering that raised a thousand tiny prickle-points on her flesh captured each curve, warm enough for caress, a heartbeat almost visi ble beneath the slope of her breast, and her face, gentled as in sleep with the hint of a sensual dream playing upon her lips. In her hand she held a perfect rose, pale petals by imagination giving off their sweet fragrance and the memory of perfume lingering like a ghost in the autumn air.

The man sighed and shut his eyes.

"Yesterday….."

he murmured, only his breath now as a companion.

"Yesterday….."

A dog began to bark, an empty echo from the somewhere did not reach his ears, the endless emptiness like creeping cat's stalk the undergrowth of his mind. He pushed the picture aside and cradled his lowered head upon his folded arms; the sobbing heavens heaved, natures tears trembled then began to tumble-torrent in sorrowful sheet;

"And still life goes on…."

This is not truly a story as such; it may even be a poem. There is an introduction, which you may have missed. No matter. Find it on Andrew's index page. You do need to read it, please.

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