Short Story or Long-Winded Poem???
It’s been a long time since I tried my hand at short stories, and I’ve never really tried one in such a poetic style. But I kind of liked writing it, so I guess that’s all that matters.
Under normal circumstances (if there could be any such thing) Connely would have just raised his shield. But there was something that fought back, something that fell like an anvil between one side of his lifelong rut and the other. Something not quite like the other times.
Slowly, he lifted his shaded eyes to steal a glance at this passer-by. He had to make sure this time; there could be no mad rush, no clattering headlong, arms flailing and heart flying; the meeting of worlds was too austere for such behavior, he’d learned that (finally). If, of course, such a meeting was about to take place. There could be no certainty of that anymore, not now that his own world was buried somewhere in the shifting sands of his consciousness.
The glance was enough to confirm his anticipations and fears: their guards had come down, their eyes turned in at least a hint of interest at his own shadowy figure. He thought for a moment he saw a gleam, a spark, like the light he had so often heard of–what was it again? a star, a sun? something like that–but he couldn’t be sure; his shades had slowly grown darker over the years. It wasn’t wear and tear so much as the slow and deliberate hand of bitterness, wielding a pitch-black paintbrush in deadly strokes.
There wasn’t much use in walking on now–they’d seen him, and they knew he saw them too. He could try putting up his shield, maybe then he could–
No, it was too late now; his arm had gone all limp and tingly again. It looked bad enough from the outside, and the quivering shield left more than a few bruises. It had taken Connely years to put that shield together, forging it from broken ships that had wrecked on the outer reaches of his world and painting it carefully in the style of the day. But he’d never been trained in metalwork, and his hand was always too shaky to get the colors within the lines.
Not to mention he distrusted the thing, just like he distrusted everything else.
So he walked slowly to the group of faces now locked on him, trying to keep his cool. The usual introductions, the ceremonial lifting of the shades–
Connely reeled back, gasping, hands groping at his eyes. It was as if a billion lights had pierced his lungs and snatched away the mist hanging over his heart, like a thousand suns suddenly piercing the clouds and burning up the oceans.
They had looked on his world. Not just the stiff and proper outskirts–they had dared to look into the skylines, the slums, the steeples, the very streets themselves, teeming with life that was crying to be let outside the city walls. And yet it was so sudden that every last pulse, every internal tick, had fled deeper within to some ancient stronghold, long littered with broken memories and echoing with fearful whispers of phantoms that refused to die.
But they had seen his world.
For a moment, for once, he had a clear black-and-white choice: drop the shield and the shades and dive into their worlds as they dove into his, or stay safe behind his self-made walls and various defenses.
But he didn’t want to be safe anymore. Someone had dared to look into his soul the way he looked into theirs. Something about that was worth the fear of destruction.
So he lowered his shades and shook himself. “Sorry, the sun caught my eyes. What are your names again?”