Mercy Street

November 21, 2010
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Where you’re inside out…dreaming of Mercy Street…
Anne reminisced, in a dream-like state halfway between fantasy and reality. Her silver hair echoed with her home town, a small village at the top of a cliff with one road; Mercy Street. She stood at the end, the remains of the village as silver, worn and old as her hair, bent fragile behind her. She stood as close to the edge of the cliff as she possibly could, and looked down. The wharf below was full of ships, its character full of everlasting youthfulness. They jumped up and down as they had once done when Mercy Street was just as young and alive as it was.
She had only been down to the wharf once; a one time she did not particularly want to remember. As the cool, fresh wind flicked around her face, tangling her hair, it brought with it a soft mist of sea water. The sun on the horizon was setting, moving the shadows of the buildings cast behind her around so that they were no longer in view. It reminder her of an old grandfather clock, aging as its hands represented months, years and decades instead of the usual seconds, minutes and hours.
She refused to look at the devastation of her old home, knowing that the horrid memories would return when she looked at the buildings. She knew by the shadows that had been cast previously that all the windows had been blown out and not even the smallest of creatures inhabited the rotting, dying architecture.
It all happened in a great fire in 1956. She was only twelve years old living with her widowed father. A tear rolled down her wrinkled cheek as she remembered…
“Anne!” he father had called out as he rushed into their house. She could still remember how old he looked with his ash covered face.
“Father, what’s wrong?”
“The old mill is on fire and it is spreading quickly.” He flittered around stuffing contents into a bag while Anne followed on his heels.
“You’ll stop it though, won’t you father? You’ll stop the fire?” She was worried. Her father was behaving strangely, stranger than he ever had before.
He looked at her with wide grey eyes. “Darling, the fire has already destroyed half of the buildings along Mercy Street. I can only guess how long it would be until it reached our house.” He watched as villagers ran past the window in panic. “The fire is strong and if we don’t get out, we won’t survive.” He pushed her towards the front door, swinging the bag over her shoulders. “Run, run to the wharf, and whatever you do, don’t look back.”
“Aren’t you coming with me? Where are you going?” She watched as her father ran backwards down the street.
“I’ll meet you there” he said before turning around to join a group of men with buckets and hoses.
Anne ran; ran as fast as she could to the small dirt path that led to the wharf. She fought all impulses to turn around and see what was happening. The wind that pushed the wall of yellow, red and orange dancing flames further down the street pushed black smoke past Anne. She coughed, inhaling the growing cloud around her. She couldn’t see, blinded by the fast approaching death behind her, but she could hear the voices of scared citizens heading toward the wharf. Their vision was just as clouded as hers, using their feet to read the familiar road like Braille. The voices grew louder, as stampede of frightened voices running toward her. Her face hit the ground as the stampede finally makes contact. The cloud of black disappeared from her eyes for they were now buried in the silver dirt. A fresh cut appeared upon her forehead as it grazed across the ground, the dirt instantly caking itself with the blood.
“Anne!” Her father pulled her up off the ground and covered her mouth with a handkerchief. She saw that he had already tied one around his mouth, and then gasped at the vision behind him. Buildings were slowly collapsing, one by one like a row of dominoes. The heat of the flames licking hungrily at the walls made every window smash in its frame, sending fragments of glass raining on the ground.
They ran down the path, twisting their ankles among the roots that arose from the ground. A large boat had been prepared to take them away and was quickly filling up.
Her father held her closer and kissed the top of her head. “We’re safe, we’re together and that’s all that matters.”
After the last of the people got on the boat, it slowly took off from the dock. The day was unrecognisable as the cloud had turned it into a night that would last for a while. The buildings continued to fall, bits and pieces falling off the edge of the cliff. The smoke glided around the cliff top like ghosts, warning them never to return.
“Father, will we come back?”
He looked up at the cliff. “I don’t think so.”
Anne opened her eyes and dared to look at the remains of Mercy Street behind her. It was exactly as she imagined. The buildings all aged and withered like her, leaning over like the stems of dead roses. Shards of glass still remained on the ground after fifty years, someone not bothering to clean the place up.
She bent down and picked up a shard of glass, a piece of her memory. Maybe, when she actually returned to Mercy Street, she may find that it still has life; rebuilt, new and joyous. It could be better, all the buildings repaired and everything back in working order again.
Maybe, some day before she died, she would once again walk down Mercy Street and look upon the harbour. She would remember the memories created there, including the fire. Maybe, just maybe. One day.

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