Aphelion Issue 281, Volume 27
March 2023
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Scratching the Corners

by Michael Fernandes

IN A GENERAL WAY a lot of houses at the end look like the same bones arisen from the ground. Flesh, blood and nerves come later, waiting for the blow of soul. Finally, and less than a grain of while ordinary lives stake to comport life. And what this life – human life – shelters in there along the years may wander to its summit of good or evil; since sowing in order to harvesting someday are an irrevocable law for everyone. For ones just bones, but for others – it’s included me – just another coffin you let the life and nature or deity (although I had ever met one since, particularly) decide for you to come through.

     A house

     A nest

     A realm…

     The breathing to nurture its lungs for a long had stopped.

     (Something you can learn at the time through pain or after death).

     And had passed too much time since my coffin had lost the utter sense related to the previous words about humans and my own knowledge about these ones at all, and it gave for noticeable as far as I was concerned to after (years? Decades? Or weeks? Or just a twain vastness of hours or perhaps minutes?) I saw that girl, small girl sneaking into the house. Not necessarily stepped in but slung like a fugitive who had just fled straightly from the state prison. She was very keen in gesture and as soon as set over there, managed her own way to become invisible to whom was seeking for her, perhaps.

     She held on still, crouched beside the main door, clasping her knees, and benefiting from the absence of light. Thoughtful, scared, her chest had gone quiet after a circle of weeping gasps. I always was meticulous to attend any sort of details, therefore watching her in that position like a kid playing with others in glinting excitement – what it depicted farther from the real true – … um I guess hide-and-seek (Goddamn memory!), lifted a slight idea on me she might have at least between eight and teen; nothing more above that. I smiled at her, ever loosing away of my hands the wonder of what the heck she might be doing inside there in that desolated, mangled house for so long misled from any life, and for an instant, a brief one, I supposed she could who knows? be one of us. It lit in me something I’d thought it was dead and buried in the fish’s belly along the thirst, at least the truth one.

     Her hunched mild shoulders lowered after a while and I saw her breath drawing in slowly, huddled with smooth gulps, to then blowing out in trembling gasps. Then all of a sudden she stood up and flew to the door aside, yanked it open and a second later a man snuck into slamming it shut behind him, closing outdoors an unknown, hopeless world that now enhanced unfamiliar hues and hums. The tall man with few blond-rusty haired spoke as wheeled to the girl: “Are u okay?”

     The girl nodded. And I felt like wishing to hear her voice that much. Nonetheless, I turned out to hear other thing. It was animalistic and in nonchalant mock. A laugh, which turned into many others in cunning amusement. I knew what was about to come and glanced at the man and girl who were discussing something like if they’d find out ‘em over there? It was her voice oh yep it is, thanks thanks!

     “They won’t, honey, no way, and I won’t let it happen, okay, friihi?” The man gulped air. Spoke jovial. He was already running across the house.

     “Daddy, why do they want to take me? What there’s wrong at these people? My will doesn’t count in this, what I wants?” her voice sounded upset, weary, distraught. But I saw reason and no wisp of doubt drawing on her face.

     “The bigger question is: they think they’re doing the right thin, dig? But they’re nothing more or less than simply a bunch of soulless scumbags that have nothing to do better but wantin’ to fuck the others.” He had tried the switchers unhappily. Cursed.

     “We have no place anymore to go.” Her voice mused.

     “Look around Emmi!” The man broadened her arms. “This’s a house or what? Stupid question for Christ’s sake!” Then something started ringing laboriously. “Shit!” the man turned and took off a small black thing straight from his coat pocket, whose he touched quickly through on a shimmering screen. I noticed (whatever that stuff shall be) the annoying ring came out of there. The man pressed something making it quit, and brought it against his left ear. He started talking alone (or directly to that thing, it seemed; I went confused). “Yeah, yeah, Bob. They-yeah that’s right; the guardianship council appeared there and almost took Emmi. No, no she is here now… no she was the first to run; uh? Yeah, course with me! Who else? I am her father. She will stay here with me, no matter what those fuckers are sayin’, neither of those creatures are her family. I am goddammit!!” he pitched to the other empty room aside still speaking aloud over that thing, and becoming outsight instantly, words fainting. The girl, owner of a messy blond-haired she had let to removing away two times already of her pale forehead, stood alone within there. Her eyes surveyed around, mouth half open, a critical look scooping the most what could be helpfully described in the lack of light; likely, I supposed, a bricked-blocked fireplace and the moldy and tore off wallpapers that covered the length of rooms; stiff strips of them curled on the baseboard like old growing-nails; some other places had gotten just peeled off.

     Friihi, friihi,” Her dad stomped into the room again. “Look, Emmi, I was talkin’ to Bob and he said he’ll try to give his way to help us; while that doesn’t happen we will stay here. I checked some candles and… I remember the owner of this house; that’s okay. The fucker’s died at least fifteen years ago.”

     “Ohut, even before mom...” She remarked.

     “That’s right. I guess I don’t believe the family wants this crappy; never wanted so… so I gather it shall be easy to keep us up here to staying for awhile, maybe. The calefaction also won’t be a problem since this current heat’s boilin’ even ticks.”

     “You’re thinkin’ on staying here so?” She settled what unfurled a bit more relief, and agreed. I supposed it was what she expected, although in the bottom she might be afraid of hearing other thing rather than that.

     “What do you think, honey? Cause real choice, to be honest, we’ve passed to have few by now.”

     “For me it’s fine daddy.” They exchanged smiles, opening their eyes to the house around.

     With reception.

     The following day – after a whole night scurrying down in slow paces, watching all their moves and ways to speak and act – they awoke early. The father was the first one to get at the window of living room and set still there peering out through the acrid greenish shutters. The girl soon followed after him. They seemed not mind that much the house’s spirit state; the partial decaying condition of walls within many others like the complaints of rotten boards and so forth. “You stay here, quiet, silent, none a whisper, are u hearing me?” The man said.

     “Where will you go daddy?” she promptly asked.

     “Where else? To work.”

     “And I’ll get alone here?” she counterpointed.

     “Like there, ain’t it? Between many asps nothin’ has changed at all. In case now we have a house to live in and a ceiling over us instead of stayin’ under that bridge in that old shack, breathing that whole cold. Hah, and furthermore, we need eatin’, ain’t? We aren’t robots.”


     “So?” he stomped to the entrance, the girl following his ankles. “You did hear me so: quiet to not call attention and stay away from the windows and… lock the door as I leave, kay?”


     “Ha! I was already forgetting; there’s bread on the kitchin.”

     “I saw. I’m gonna make me one.”

     I regarded the girl in her details, someone saving hope and acting as if in her inner it was the last thing on world could have saved her, like her weapons. Also there was something more I allowed myself the attempt to discover in her. She breathed that, and the sort of possibility her green eyes fetched around could reflect much without saying; I believed she didn’t fear the lonely, even though protesting against her dad leaving. It just showed me her lack of sense of place and space; I didn’t know whether it was funny or curious on finding out. However, and at some way that new possibility her eyes showed had much to do with all around and above her (despite the house I’d awoken up someday was almost entirely empty at all, and wretched in many ways). In calm steps, with neither apparent concern nor aim where to go to she just shuffled through the house - albeit, not before brushed her hair and teeth neatly. It made me wonder about the others peering upon. She spent the day doing that, enjoying gaps and cracks where some shafts irradiated from and it was what happened. Mostly after she had fished out of a closet a battered broom and swept all main floor’s ancient dust, and it tempted me to following her and it was what I did, imagining how and how long would take to the others attacking that absente-minded-girl. I wanted to see that. She seemed unaware of them moving toward her, and suddenly she began speaking out loud by her elbows and even knees. 

     “What awesome house you have, missus. Really? Ohut thanks. I’ve always known it. Daddy’s bought it but it’s been mamma who chose the house and decoration. Mamma’s taste has always been the best. What? Yeah, we have much to do here before I goin’ to school. Yeah tomorrow’s the parent-teacher conference. The cellphone? My cellphone I was speaking to Sarah… Who is Sarah? No one, unfortunately…”

     It seemed to keep them away, stunningly.

     Her dad came home, whiter like a piece of chalk and sweating like he had run on a marathon. He was blaring and repeating several times he had lost his goddamn phone (almost the same name the girl had illustrated before).

     “Did you let it drop?” Emmi asked. “Where?”

     “The dammed guardianship council caught me by the way when I was comin and I got to flee, and they came after and within this, I dunno, I musta’ve dropped it along the way. Shit! It’s a plenty shit! Everythin’ what we’d needs now.” He was painting.

     “We gonna get a way.”

     “And now this headache that’s burstin’.”

     “Do you want me take you an aspirin?” the girl said.

     “No. That’s okay. Friii, it’s everything we’d need now.”

     “We gonna get a way, daddy.”

     “Yeah? How now without…” he shook.

     So the girl took his bigger hand in her smallest, then put the other over his larger shoulder. “Don’t worry dad, the things, I believe, I do believes it’s going to get better, and it soon than ever, you’ll see.” I conveyed the natural picture of her lines to see there was another mask underneath that visage of wishing belief and faith. The trepidation beneath shrank back, for some reason. The girl went on, “Do you believe me, right, when I say this?”

     The man smiled and seemed to enjoy listening to that or the sweeter way the girl used to speak that. “I believe, honey; just in you, nobody else.” He said with his jaw clenched, and for what looked like a long moment he stared at her, as though contemplating her daughter, perhaps and truly the only important thing he still had. He hugged her. “Hungry?”


     “What about a pizza?”

     She kissed him on the cheek, badly shaved.

     By the time the pizza came – he had gone to fetch it and swiftly scuttled back – they bent over it clawing piece after piece. That smell brought me closer and as I gave for myself I had striven nearer them on the kitchen. A fellowship of candles burned in magnificent orange. That warm flavor of candles melded to that food and shambled along the lazy pestilent odor skidded on my back. Emmi was propped on the counter, eating and chatting something my hearing had vanished from. The funny thing was the sense of the previous day and what it’d yielded up within me as I saw that girl… Now closer it, in a… different way it was like getting ushered into an alley you knew the tepid walls.

     Another step sprang up without my consenting and suddenly Emmi dropped the pizza’s piece on the counter and pitched over to the sink to throw up everything she had eaten thus far. I came backward but it was too later.

     “Are u alright?” her dad glared at her, alarmed.

     She took a while before standing up from the sink; it made me flinch even more backward and I returned to my place. “I… I’m fine now, it is just… I dunno, it’s felt like my stomach went sick.” The dizziness dawdled a little bit, then settling away of her semblance minutes later.

     “Much better now? All that is anxiety for the money I’ll save in an account for u?”

     Emmi plucked other piece of pizza off then dashed it in. “Now I’m fine.”

     Later, a crude rasp pinched the candle’s flames and the nocturnal inner of house creaked… squeaked, a carillon in squabbling. It maneuvered upwards and downwards. A procession just let to stop dead by the door of man’s and girl’s bedrooms. It flung back, clawing in stoop the ochre rim hammered in the insidious dead silence of house. It had started breathing the breath of living, I took notice. And it felt like it’d taken place in two levels within the realms. Stronger.

     The man left early the next morning, and the girl soon locked the house altogether. After a longer time being a dead part, fragment of that house that was somewhat quaint, maybe a beat to seeing life resonating in constancy, like a nourishment of a flooding river. A yellow flash in dagger’s shape crept along wooden floor across the window. It made me wonder of the days the tears cupped on my eyes, and harm just made part of my unusual nightmares. First when I peed on bed, then, afterward, when the pain in the heart usually let to strike me since my mother, then my kiddo of four had gone away to somewhere I came aware – as I got dead by… (how has that happened so?) – I didn’t make part. Maybe ever could. They used to call me Jimmy… and I even liked to be called that way. I enjoyed my name and never concealed this from anybody. Reminiscences were a bad idea. Ever was.

     Don’t do this.

     Emmi sat on the much-more-clean-now-board-floor, a knee upright and the other downright while she, faraway, cut great chunks of fabric off; she had needle and line nearby, I observed, interested. The scissors had worked some times before fitting in subtle rest on the floor. The lamina stands dull, no blood. So Emmi arose on her knees, came over to the window of living room whilst brushing a strand of hair away of her eyebrow. She did the same at the greenish-worn long-shutters. Particles of dust whirled around. Only a slight scant space at first so that she could peer out.

     From outside there could be heard yells and laughter, and I shall know that, once that street in specific ever had been known as a family-street which many children biked and ran and played baseball at some or other hour along the day or evening. The girl smiled hesitantly, her hands groped along the drapes, then with the same dithering moved her fingers by the edges of shutters and pushed them a bit more aside; a reflection of her will enriching, I supposed. She stood there for a while; her hands had scooped down on the windowsill. Her eyes simmered, veering past that sunshine chiseled across the board floor behind her. I wondered how long the lightness had absented that ancient path. It at least maintained the others backed away. I turned out realizing (I guess I had forgotten that) they hated it, aiding back into the darkness and vast coldness of corners. It was different in relation to me, always has been. I could no problem stare at the light, the sunrise, and even stay at a good approximation of that. It was harmless.

     The head rollin’-

     Emmi looked around, then back to the window again. She licked her lips, went on tiptoes. Then her eyes widened in sudden terror, and she popped down, squatting below windowsill. The tips of her bitten nails grasped the plan surface, ever abandoning it. She grimaced, sweltering an outcry behind lips. She stayed still there. Gazed the floor before her, the breath barely leaking out. Scarier than ever, I realized.

     Perhaps being invisible was easiest than stand out to the world. After a while she closed her eyes, her mouth moving in mute curses. Emmi crawled on her knees the most farther she could of window and with caution to ever sticking a single part of her body into view.

     By the time her dad arrived his face’s features was of a stiff one and it hardened in profound reddish as he let to hear what her daughter had just told him. “Do u what?!”

     “I didn’t mean, but—“Emmi began.

     “Are u outta of your mind?!”

     “Sorry daddy, I—“

     “And what we gonna do now, uh? Did u think that? If any of those kids you’re tellin’ me saw u, everything is over, can you understand it? It’s over! Even after… friihi!

     “They didn’t see me, dad… at least not straight.” She was weeping and the sense on seeing her in that plight, instead of providing in me the slight old peace with myself, bloated another thing. Not just uneasiness but…

     “How do u know that!? Christ, I’ve told u to stay away from the windows, goddammit! Friihi! It’s so difficult to dig that?!”

     The head rollin’

     AAHHHHAAAHHAHAAHAAAHA God it was rollin’—

     little Louis

     I drew back against the warped corner, returning to the dichotomy of peaceful just the murkiness allowed to greeting me like the windows.

     She sobbed. “I… I got hidden since that, I swear… sorry. I know neither of em have seen me.”

     The man stood before her covering her small, tiny body. He said: “Do u know what it feels like me to do, Emmi? Do u?” his hands slid at the length of his narrow waist, as though in searching. “Shit! Take my belt upstairs. Go on takin that!”

     “No daddy, please. They didn’t see me, I swear, swear, please!”

     “Come on, I waitin!”

     It was when a knocker on the stale main door salted their voices in. They dove silent. The man gestured to the girl to shut up, almost clapped her mouth, since there had been some muffled sobs yet. He engaged to make them to stop. I ambled after him under the depression of the gloom lights with which the scattered candles provided up on some strategic peaks around the house. He stopped at the door; my gaits too (of course always holding a good distance; I didn’t want him to happen what had happened at Emmi), and went subdued twining where he was eying as he propped his hands on the door, leaning forward. He listened.

     The knock came again, this time rather strong than the first one. He glanced at the girl, who was a frozen stick out there, defying none tread away.

     Then the out-of-compass voice that snapped next seemed to have changed the tension, which loomed in mid-air, throughout. The girl was the first one to run towards door. The man opened it, yet with wary hands, before a woman, not so older than her energy could transpire have plunged into. “Where is she?”

     “Eva!” Emmi threw against the woman and hugged her strongly. The unknown woman did the same. Her semblance went silver as trembling each of her etch lines.

     “Oh my God, sweetheart, I’ve thought… forget.” They withdrew. “Are you okay?”

     “Yep.” Emmy nodded.

     “No, you aren’t. You’re burning.” The woman had withdrawn her hand away from the girl’s pinky cheek. She looked up at the man with poignant eyes.

     “I’m okay”

     “No. No, she is not okay. Stupid question.” He interjected. “What do u think I’m?” The man roared.

     “What I think, Martin!?” she rose on her knees. “I think, no, no, not think I just can see an irresponsible guy who’s preferred to keep his daughter sleeping inside an improvised shack under a fucking bridge instead of thinking in something better to her! And now this house; invasion, right?!”

     “Hahh, u wants to tell me of better, so what’s better, uh? So what would be the better for her queen of shit? Lady of morality!”

     “Don’t offend me ‘cause I’m not offending-“

     “Bullshit! Since the first moment u step here you are offendin’ me.”

     “Stepping here? I am her sister, do you forget that? And I concern at her, and if I hadn’t followed you I doubt if you’d be generous enough to bring me to see her.” she was holding the girl near her, ever letting her go a further step.

     Well, don’t tell me, how did u know I’d do that? Amazing.”

     “See? How do you want me to stay away when you are making everything and anythin’ to fuck this girl’s life!?”

     He stood gazing at her, glassy-eyes. “It was u.” he said, his features sloping down.


     “Ahhy, come on. You needn’t any longer to pretend. Friihi.

     “Pretend what, for heaven’s sake? What crappy are you talking about?”

     “It was u, accourse it was u who call, denouncing us, denouncing me to the guardianship council.”

     “Are you losing your fucking mind, Martin? Now this, too.”

     “I know it was u, fuckin bitch.”


     “Stay outta of this, Emmi, I know quite well what I’m doing, and what’s happening over here. Now I know. Bob knows too, ain’t he? Since beginning he is with u, right?”

     “Ahh, give me a favor for heaven’s sake, I don’t really need to hear this from someone like you, no way. You’re ridiculous, guy.” She spat.

     “So what u’e wating for to get outta? Come on get otta!”

     “Great idea, Martin! But not before I take my sister with me.” She promptly said.

     The voices on the corners laughed, teasing as though having fun.

     His head rollin’.

     “Ha! I want to see that happening.” The man snarled. The woman had already gripped the girl’s hand but halted as the man set both feet before the door like a huge brick-wall.

     “Get out my way; I’ll trespass, Martin, and with Emmi with me.”

     “Like I said I want to see this happenin’. U have no such courage to do that.”

     Voices crackling like branches lurked by the wind.


     “She stays!” The man dragged the girl away from her sister’s hold. “She is my daughter, my daughter! She’s under my custody, not u, not anyone, dig it? Now get otta!”

     “Do you know a thing, Martin.” The woman gasped. “I can understand pretty well now what my mom must’ve passed with you all those goddamn years and how you got to kill her after so tryin’.”

     The man slapped her.

     It was like a lengthy spark. The glimmer of it echoed along the radiating pain.

     “Dad!!” the girl shouted.

     The air condensed and it allured sluggishness, without them noticing.

     I approached a bit and saw the instant she, the older sis, held upon her jowl, startled as fixing at the man, who, if needed, was apt to catapult another hit. She offered her gaze back to her sister, who so fearful with tears on the verge of eyes stood motionless at that point.

     She outstretched her hand in other opportunity so her sis took that. Yet the girl, this time, didn’t dare take it. Emmi avoided her sister’s hand as if it could burn her, the fright ever relinquishing from her.

     “Get otta, friihi!” The man growled.

     Then the woman went out. She had yet uncertain steps, but did even so. The door bumped.

     “Eva…” Emmi quavered, she had started sobbing again, and it made up a burden growing into form and solidness inside me and for a long while I doubted if it was exactly what I should have been feeling at. Somehow it ached and even after a step forward later on it could still be felt stinging in, as though throbbing within me.

     It was fantastic, maybe awesome and yet upset; the last one sounded unreal, alien in many single ways. Confident trails like that had no longer or centuries narrowed to nil. Just a distant imagination in which the fogged dreams rubbed by you from now and then. Nothing more or less than that. However, regarding the suffering of that girl nothing breathed so both tangible and pungent than the land under my feet appeared like so pure and alive now. It was on there again like… like someday.

     “Let her go, Emmi. Did u see what she did? It was her who’s called the guardianship council. It was only her fault. For her will now you should be in some of those criminal shelters, kay.”

     “She’s said it wasn’t her.”

     “And did u believe that?”

     There was tension and a slight smell of booze. An older friend, I recorded. The man’s face was of an oiled one, and the frenzy still wiped sparks out his stoic eyes.

     The man walked away, leaving the girl alone on the room. The ebony mass wheezed beyond him and like an extension of his thoughts ensued onward to his ankles. She was brushing away the tears. Then did the same with her blond hair which was jabbed behind her ears. She pursued for a rebuilt. I came another step toward her, then paused. The memory of she throwing up was in fresh rags yet. I opted not risking.

     Thereupon, the riot bulged in frantic spasm and haunted after the man into other rooms. Like a darken team running against the object of victory they waved to the man. To the end the miasma had gotten sanctified, reached. I glanced back at the girl, who remained so unawareness as the world outside. A laugher so alike a clown one fulfilled each distorted corner of house. Still, Emmi gestured as if nothing had just happened. And once again it made me wonder how that could be possible? It’d started to drive me mad.

     The night prickled as the hours came down in its cervical seeping. Everything looked too silent according to the past days (live days, I’d rather have told) and I knew what might be happening. Or growing to happen. I unglued out of wall, the piercing pain and the rawness flared up along my being, screeching. So I strolled along the house, to then start up the stairs. The girl’s room’s door was ajar, and my footfalls felt like rushing into it. As I got in I stopped dead.

     Her dad was sitting at the far end of bed, contemplating her daughter. The girl was entirely unaware of his presence over there like a gargoyle skimming down. There was a cushion beneath her blond hair, and other cushion between the man’s hands. Then my gaze released up at the darkening corner in the bottom of room and I saw that black taller shape, which within a blink unclouded a gaunt figure. Its arms dangled freely along the board-floor, its finger tips tapped it like it were in use of an invisible trampoline, given by the gasping move of its larger shoulders did as jogged up and down. It was grinning to me, a friendly smirk I recovered I knew pretty well and regretted for the first time, it felt.

     I was hoping it said something, but it spoke only through its body that perspired tiredness, the breath blowing out and drawing in rhythmically. I glared in its silver coins-like eyes just the eager to that happen. It could have been almost the same resemblance from the one belonged at the man, sitting on there. The man trickled exhausting on his expression – whose split into many stages; some more unknown than others. His idle sunken eyes lacking direction or any more love for nothing mirrored the thin tissue had finally gotten to its summit at all and for all at once. The so hoped and undesired moment had come. His eyes absorbed everything into the stone pit that landed on that special place (who’s dwelt in him).

     The dull moon outside fantasied thenceforward a ghastly eidolic ablaze to the bed where Emmi slept.   

     “No!” I echoed. My footsteps snapped steeply, but the certainty settled in my mind told me I had only gifted myself the sense of knowing that, yet nobody else. Nobody, let alone the man who in deliberate sly gesture stood up and strode forward no caring about who lay on that bed, and without a drip of remorse about what he was ready to do at that little person in that instant.

     I came closer to him.

     Nothing happened, though.

     I leaned upon him, the booze scent cocking on the air, strangling. The stained air that hovered along the grisly stench began to wobble beneath me.

     Nothing kept changing miserably.


     For Christ’s sake!

     He’s gonna kill the girl!

     In an urge attempt I skipped over him but there was nothing so much abstract than touching those dingy, impregnated bones, emerging up to the greasy and austere flesh.

     Don’t do that! I wanted to yell.

     But couldn’t.

     Then a likely hint of idea flashed through me so I hurried to paddle up in regarding to what had happened when I trotted closer to Emmi (much closer than I could). Fina yeah, it was a chance, not just a choice but a chance, actually the only chance I could embrace as to prevent that bastard from doing that for hell’s sake, hoping for God it could work.

     I stepped over in her direction, who still lay in utter unconscious about all blinked around her in that minuscule uncanny piece of cosmos. I slanted upon her tiny and fragile body that wore an old and faint-color flannel’s pajama.

     Nothing happened out of change, though.

     Bemused and in complete despair, I couldn’t figure out what the hell was so different now that hadn’t been back then to not work. I hauled my eyes straightly back to the tallest figure, which straightened up at the other corner in vigorous contentment, just waiting, then back to the man as he bowed, arching his bony back. In slow-motion I accompanied hopeless as his arms reached out sticking at a certain length the pillow ahead of him, as if to achieving that necessary distance so that he could do that. So it came down no lingering a single second of hesitation. It went down smashing the girl’s head, who stirred a little. Then that, in cadency, brought her to try to move her legs in increasing tizzy beneath the blankets. And all at once the arms followed the bounce her body thickly unrecognized and felt like fighting to get over and away from. There was now just despair as well, intensifying.

     I stood behind them, bolted in feverish agony watching each detail that drained off the life of that child. “Sorry, baby, I… so sorry. Don’t resist, don’t resist. Soon it’s goin’ to be finished.” Her dad croaked. Her body twisted wildly underneath while her hands struggled on surface against the pushing pressure. He kept her hands away from with success. In sickness I glanced back to the thing stalked at the bottom and at the instance it looked having shifted two or three steps forward to savoring the triumph. The hold which perpetuated me on the place and had been the principle thief from my moves broke and I launched over to the hideous figure. I couldn’t reach some more closer than I had expected I could. Still, something changed, mostly in the electric bag suspended on the air. The green, sick steam spread apart. The gurgled whimpers took form and scary hymns, and I turned to see that the man had loosened the pressure slowly, then lifted the cushion, letting air to thrust into his daughter’s lungs again.

     She was not dead.

     The girl like a trapped mouse restrained back against the wall, and I realized – by her wild eyes flared in tears – for her will she would have gotten through the wall to get refuge if possible.

     So I darted back to the noxious thing before me, whose had engaged like a hook its bulky. It seemed to have doubled its size, its shoulders delved in uneven lapses. Its head now inclined to the left side as though dipping the weight as well as the height. It threatened to swerve past me. I wouldn’t let, though.

     I wouldn’t let it happen again. He wouldn’t get this time.

     Suddenly I could feel pain again and it came as though all age I would have owned, if I did breath yet, had crammed up my whole body. (Body). Hungry and, abruptly, the most thirst of world dwelled on me. I couldn’t stand that. I still could hear the echoes from the man’s voice walling in begs and sobs. “Sorry, sorry, sweetheart… sorry I didn’t mean, sorry. I love u, just u in all this world, I love u, do u believe me yet? Beliuve? Sorry, baby… sorry…”

     “Whiie… are you doin’ that daddy?” She still coughed, trying to gasp. “So killer me’s the better… that’s what you did want since beginnin’?! That’s it!”

     “No! No, never, baby!” his countenance was of an ill-yellow color, in trying to be rescued from that stone pit. He was dripping profusely; spit was blabbing out his mouth. “Look, look… rahaaa now listen to me, I want u to listen to me the way a good daughter listen to her father, kay?” he swallowed. “…Daddy wants u to stay here… don’t move ou this bed, kay? I wants u to stay here in this bed. Come back to sleep, kay, love? You stay here very quiet, ruhh. Daddy’s not kay but tomorrow daddy’ll be and everything’s gonna be okay then again, fine?”

     “Where will you stay?” Emmi asked, her dead pale face becoming so tiniest I thought she would pass out, what didn’t happen at all as she blazed the man, her daddy, getting up of her bed, no answer, and straddling out of room at last, without looking back. The door was smoothed closed like the nest of light the room cradled yet. Emmi stared at it for a moment as though sliding out of her solid domain. So she pulled up her blankets and began crying.

     The thing burst out a howl sounded like it was a cargo ship in anchorage’s process, the squelch swallowed level after level adrift of madness, and unleashed it beyond. Then it floated its huge back against the oblique corner with a thump, spilling its whole shape along the shadows like a black paint. It was gone.

     However, it made me move not a single foot away from there, since the others had gathered around us like a chain and shortened the distance. I crawled backward nearer the girl, who sat on bed yet.

     They wanted to come closer, were in unsettling whirl as staggered toward us, tightening the space. Hands, distended cadaveric arms grew forward and their jotted shadows twisted back and forth.

     Suddenly I knew, not knew but urged to sure. They couldn’t hurt that girl; that barrier, they could not trespass and I was the treacherous trench their errant will to stiff the pleasure and get nurtured from that poor soul hadn’t expected for. I looked down at the girl, who had snuggled uneasily between her blankets on her side. She was still sobbing as the shaking of her body suggested the cold she must be sipping perhaps (like me) at that moment. I stayed there surrounding her bed as drove my eyes from her to the others to the darker blue window and past it to the life running in secret silence. And thereby for other few live souls that wandered along it, and to the amount of dead ones that shared with them their energy and inner sacrileges likewise the pains and sorrows of ancient places and oblivious traits and rituals they had had some day in the remote past.

     The night gave place to the first hays of silver beams of morning, and those ones became then a burning yellow-orange.

     It was amazingly to survey around and seeing nothing any longer stalked us, shrouding my pretty baby… They had gone.

     She had fallen asleep within two or three hours ago; a disturbed sleep. The light was ornamenting her head, making her hair to seem like cozy flames. Her expression was of a tenderness one only a greater place or something almighty to get engendered such a well-crafted being, so like at the nature. The traces roughened a little bit as sirens shrieked aloud outside, and those grew madly as it got nearer and stuck below us. It didn’t stop squelching and after brief knockers a bump followed against the main door. The door fell out apparently. Then heavy footsteps sounded sneaking around in accurate move… a mouthful of them revolving, faceless, downstairs.

     Careless bangs and canvas noises. Boots. Clumsy whacks. Almost at the very next the same hums and footfalls hastened upstairs, making at that length with which Emmi swung awakened at once. She looked afraid, swollen eyes, and they widened in a miserably way when a policeman tramped into her room like a chivalry.

     “I found the girl!” One of the men yelled to the others, which clattered along the dark corridor. They bore opaque-black and silver guns in hands, and stern semblances. The man who yelled at the others approached. “Are you okay, darling? Did you get to stay up?”

     Emmi said nothing. She just stared at the man, stupidly, puzzled, while the others took hold of their fulfilled belts and chatted within them. Then a sudden bellow cut the alloys of her body momentarily. She skittered out of bed, the blankets fluttering until planned dead on the floor. The next human creak came up, announcing, “Hey pals come to see that over here!”

     The thick scare had sharply given place to a worry statement (I could feel weakly) she grabbed for a few whit of a second before headed off the room to the hallway. But little yards ahead a cold pressure around her waist got her trapped. Thick-damp and unknown arms impeded her from approaching the room aside hers. “Let me go… it’s my dad! Let me go!!”

     She couldn’t have seen what had happened in that room.

     I could, though.

     The man, Martin (according to the older sister), her dad, sat with his legs sprawled onto an airy taint of blood had scurried along the wooden floor. Both wrists open and all life leaked along the peeled board; the blood had taken on a darkened tinge and reflected minimal of fresh. His head angled down to the stiff chest. He was dead and I felt odd seeing that… there was… I got closer but I couldn’t see his eyes any longer. Idem to his crisp try to get over all difficulties they lived in, whereas they had intended to overcome it together no matter what waited beyond the clogged layer – something I always doubted if Emmi did believe at all, mostly at the end.  

     The girl’s screams squeaked out on the corridor aside and I could hear her struggling to get rid of those arms and run over there to see what lay in real focus. And what she might as well have known already. The girl was dragged outdoors and, by the window of room, I observed as soon as she met her sister out there and both embraced each other unflinchingly. The news were evident now, I pondered, with that thing yet poking inside me.

     The policemen – later on – along the coroner remained in the house, lingering to depart. But it was not before Emmi and her older sister got into a policeman’s car and it pulled slowly away, slithering over an empty, quiet and secretive street barely I recognized now. The corner at the far end of street was the deadline of sight, and the last of the breathing my chest powered tickly… perhaps reminding me one last time.

     The policemen kept a longer while more to then, after all process, primary investigation and finally removal of the body inside a black-lack-luster bag, set off, too. Their gone thriving little by little away the clear view until taking the corner at the bound of street, on the opposite side from where the girl, Emmi, went. At last, all em had gotten off.

     I came down feeling a sort of candescence weakness, and as I lay against the wall, which ever fostered me, the darkness couldn’t have been so harder eerie than ever. I asked myself what had changed? I scrutinized around. (All). And adding at that, for my entirely surprise, there was nothing any longer mocking at the corners. The others had gone too. And what for a long time frightened me as hell was whether they had gone after Emmi or not. (Could they?).

     It made me wonder for a long and long and long ti-… darkening, lightening… darkening, and so the evening replacing the sun likewise the rain stages of seasons and so forth


… and so forth…

     Until the hinges gummed the leafs surreptitiously and the short melody jeopardized still, reverberating a wry quiescence for my ears. The flourish pulse obligated me ahead, as if it had tied me utterly by the call and a funneled light had started to lead me – no refuse – to that bright fountain, which appeared like a sundial. So a woman appeared, came up on the midst of room. She walked firmly, acute, easily across the room up till getting hold of a spot in front of the window. It was on the living room. She was well dressed in a black thick coat and cream-clear pants. Her blond neatly haired spilled past her nape in disquiet move aback. She glared around and suddenly I saw, going stiff. I knew that woman. All her traces now in slight depth and stories, the accentuating tallness and a renewed kind of idiosyncrasy that let the characteristic only on the surface, because I could yet distinguish it apart to what really flickered, glitzy, beneath. The same girl she had been in the past.


     I was in dizzy disbelief, and astonished for not figure out how that could be and supposed to be… How my eyes had been unable to register the life going faster before me (maybe as ever) that way, and not even taken note of it as long as the couple of decades had skipped from my reality and illusory grip. It felt like a stab of frustration.

     Just at that very moment my eyes were invited to look round. The wallpapers had become darker and thousands smallest dots spotted here and there along the now-inclined walls. The time could be indistinct but not invisible at all; I smiled in grim distaste.

     I tried to achieve her, but I couldn’t. There was a sort of threshold between us. The girl-now-woman gasped, nodding, her eyes momentarily lost in the innermost of thoughts, where I couldn’t be able to have reached. She surveyed the whole place around. Her green eyes bearing the wooziness of age now went wet. So Emmi turned again toward the window: the same she had watched out other kids playing and got hidden from what those eyes could have reported and, thus, let her and her dad in bad sheets. An eminent possibility of being discovered and the real threat of losing the little they still kept.

Lose each other

     She chuckled, shook her head, maybe in distaste for that reaction. I didn’t find it non-sense, and almost told her that. Yet I chose to not say anything.

     (Dammed it’s always hard to remember myself they cannot hear me)

     Emmi took a deeper breath, stood for a further while staring out the window. Then wheeled one more time around, before marching in slow paces to the main door. She opened it

(muffled-lull hinges)

I wanted to touch her, how I wanted it.

, glanced back one last time, so walked out, bringing the door to slam shut on her back. An ultimate thud. I watched her going into her car, switched the sooth engine on, pulled back off driveway – which corrugated with parched leaves – and jotted forward.

Someday woulda I get to get outa of here?

Will I?

A few yards from me another figure stood nearest the window.

     I looked at it.

     It was the man, her dad. (Martin?). He was standing over there, likely observing her lovely daughter now a growth woman setting off. The sadness portrayed his semblance. I tried to say something to him, but I couldn’t, and perhaps he had got sense of that attempt mine once he turned to face me. The man, so tiniest than ever and in the same cloths the day he had committed suicide, got sunken to the wall as though a flush of wind had snatched him back with urgency… to the darkness of corner.

     There were scratches, then reticence. In the dark he was still looking at me but somehow I knew he couldn’t say anything. My gaze held locked to his and just within that second – endless second – I could figure out something in his eyes.

     I saw something and I pretty knew what it meant.


© 2023 Michael Fernandes

Bio: In his own words; "I am a graduate of West Virginia University where I earned my B.A in English. I came from Brazil. I've been living in Idaho for two years. Today I work as High School teacher and ESL teacher in a Brazilian school. I live with my fiancée Jade and our three dogs."

E-mail: Michael Fernandes

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