Winner: Jude Gerald Lopez, II BA English Copy Editor
The City of Lights
When night came, the city of Light shrouded by a canopy of darkness hid itself from the prying eyes of the world. Even I knew that when night came and the sun rested, each and every object in the city would have to succumb to the wishes of that familiar canopy of darkness. Tired from their uneventful routines of day, their lives that had turned into a mere habit demanded from them rest and rest in the warmth of darkness was what they got. As the dwellers of Light slept, twisting and turning in their beds caressed by darkness and stroked by slumber I sat plotting.
It was not easy choosing between the two. I must say that I had put myself in a rather awkward position in which any decision made turned out to be a paradoxical and contradictory one.
Rebecca lay there motionless as I whispered into her ear “Are you awake?”
Silence answered. But I already knew the answer.
“Are you cold?”
The palms that had stroked my hair a million times were cold as ice.
“I know you are tired, get some rest.”
Indeed she did get some rest. Not a muscle moved and even her nostrils (thanks to my persuasion) welcomed inactivity.
When I met the Other a few days back a few sparks flew. Sparks that sought to expose the barbarian within, even Anna who was just six could see the change that took place in Daddy’s eyes.
Darkness entered the room bringing with it a kiss planted on my lips along with a wave of different scents that accompanied her. Anna was asleep and in stealth I decided to disappear, to get lost in the labyrinths of my guilt, accompanied by the Other and clothed by my sin. I stretched out my hand and found the arms of Darkness, she moved forward and I could feel her warm breath on my neck, it was ironic that not even the perfumes of Persia could hide the stench of its breath.
When I left with Darkness by my side, I had ceased to notice the little details of that all too familiar room. Anna stood there concealed from my sight as a witness to the actions that had now caused quite a few sparks to fly around the room. The sparks with time grew as my Anna watched, turning more bolder and finally breaking free like a butterfly from a cocoon. The wood work were the first to accommodate the flames that were seldom seen in the city, the upholstery next, and slowly those white hot bastards called flames started to devour the entire room, as my love watched helplessly my un-awakened half.
Apart from the homes that were consumed by flames, there were no broken homes in the city of Light.
Honourable Mention: Vessislava Liubomirova Savova, Bulgaria. The author is a member of the Union of Independent Bulgarian Writers since May, 2011 and has published academic books and collection of short stories and poems.
Bare feet on the cold tiles of the veranda. The cold slowly was going up her child’s fragile body. The short white gown wasn’t able to heat her blood up. When you’re about completing four and staying completely by yourself at night, no thoughts that can warm you up exist.
The house was burning but the tongues of fire were making her thrill. Her hands were ready for a hug but remained hanging in the cold air.
“Sylvia, Sylvi-a-a!” – the girl heard someone calling her by name.
At that moment she recognized the voice.
“Run, gotta run,” – thought Sylvia.
But where? The fire was in front of her and the unknown, hidden in the cold arms of night, town – behind her. Sylvia started feeling how fear made her big blue eyes water. They resembled two mountain lakes – calm at the surface but nobody knew what was hidden at the bottom. The girl fell on her knees and let the memories lend on her fragile consciousness.
Sylvia still couldn’t understand why her daddy – the millionaire Joe Phil - had lied to her. Why did he put that ugly wax doll in a coffin and made her say farewell to mummy? Then… then he started being tardy and not smelling as her father. It was unknown but frightening smell.
One night her father, accompanied by a very young woman, came home much earlier. He said, “Meet each other, my girls!” and ordered Sylvia to be a good child.
Since then she had always been cold. Because of the young woman’s claims. Because of the young woman’s complaints. Because of the fear of some punishment she didn’t deserve. By the loneliness to be with people who didn’t like her.
“Sylvia, where are you little rat?!” – the freezing voice came closer and closer.
The closer it came, the more she felt the bliss of the flames. They didn’t hurt. They didn’t blame. They slowly started their gentle song. A reminder of her mother’s voice was the last sound she heard. The last thing she saw was a figure resembling her father but all over in flames.
A year later the rich widow of Joe Phil hired workers to start reconstruction of the burnt house. The only thing she couldn’t overcome was the nightmare of her stepdaughter’s hands reaching out for a hug.