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Death is the end to all. But the beginning to some. From where she was, the trees danced. Lying on his hard chest. “What do you think of the new renovations?” she said, fondling around with his cold fingers. That’s the way they always were. Cold. His chest bulged out. She closed her eyes, reveling in the warmth of his breath. “…It’s more private now”. His chest vibrated when he said that, “At least we can be together without your friends looking at me like I’m the witch of Salem” She giggled. Let go of his icy fingers. Crept out of his arm’s firm embrace. And looked into his eyes, “Don’t worry. They’re just jealous that I have the best boyfriend in the world”
It had been nine months, that Alex had been with him. Scythe. His name always made her skin tingle. Her thin hairs, stand erect in warm excitement. She was just a normal girl. Not really generic to what would be the expectations for the girls he would date. Not blonde. Not popular. Not outgoing. Alex just had long, reddish hair. Most people also said that her eyes looked like a mouse’s. Cute. She spent her weekends watching T.V. Reading a good novel. Until Scythe came.
“Alex!” His voice snapped her out of her reverie. And there he was. Perfect. He wore a gray T-shirt. Poignant, with the fresh smell of bleach. Tight, around his hard muscle and brawn. Alex slid into his arms again. She watched as the green tress danced. She followed the dark plumes of clouds with her eyes. Slowly. Slowly crawling across the sky. The rain was coming.
Although Alex was resting on his thigh, she could feel that the park bench was cold. Her finger had drifted to tracing patterns on it’s old mahogany. She had felt a splinter of wood almost prick her. But she retracted. Fondled with his cold fingers instead. At least they were safe. “Skythe?”, she squeaked. He mused a while. Silent. She would ask him again
He interjected with a brief “Hm?”.
“Do you believe in life after death?”.
She felt his chest bulge. His breath, warm.
“What made you ask that” he said. “
“It…Just that, Kendra and the others were making an argument about it. So I was just wondering…If”. The words drowned deep in a pool of Alex’s own thoughts. Tainted with a doubt of whether he was listening or not. Alex couldn’t feel his chest bulge. She couldn’t feel the warmth of his breath anymore. The unresponsiveness got to her. “Skythe?, are you listening”
“Kendra’s crazy” he said.
A peal of thunder broke. Faint drums, rumbling somewhere among the thick of clouds. Just then, Alex felt his cold hand, grapple the nape of her neck. Before she could gasp, he gently pushed her away. Now she sat. Shocked. “We have to go!” Alarm tainted his voice.
His face was hard. Drawn with crease lines where his dark eyebrows met. He kept a strict distance from her. Alex now leaned on the cold steel
of the bench. He did the same. His jaw stiffened. “Alex we have to go!” This was said through clenched teeth. Alex submitted. “Okay” she said, the annoyance still clinging to her tone. Skythe sprang up from the bench. Alex saw him take one swift lope, which was too fast for her eyes to see where he was going. She had just seen a flurry from him, then he was gone.
Dry. That’s the way she had always felt, whenever he left. Alex hugged her waist. A vain attempt to keep warm from the piercing breeze that seeped in through her pink hoodie. Greenwald park had it’s own unique selection of trees. The only park where you would find thin peach trees, sprouting with pink buds in spring. Left as a ghoulish claws in winter. There was also a rich selection of willows, providing a canopy of tendrils, and cool shadows to bask in. Alex’s dad had caught her trying to scramble up a
once. He had shouted. She had jerked. Her foot had clumsily slid down the rough bark. She had thought she would fall, only to drop in her dad’s firm arms. That was the last time Alex had seen her dad. That night, she had groped through the darkness, seeing her mother kneeling on the living room floor. Cold tears streamed down her red face. Then she said the words” …There’s been an accident”. Alex reassembled her thoughts. She would find Skythe.
A red haired boy swept past Alex. Running. He was followed by a girl. She ran. Then stopped. Gasped out a few breaths, “No way! You’re cheating!”.
“I have not!” the boy’s shrill voice rang somewhere behind Alex. The girl darted out of Alex’s view. Alex plodded down the snaking road. Occasionally stepping on twigs with a snap. She had to find Skythe. But seeing the boy play; seeing him zigzagging in an exuberant game of tag. She had once been like him. She had once been a child. Alex flickered a wistful smile. She would try to find the swing her father had often pushed her on. But then she heard a familiar voice call out to her, “Alexis!”
Alex swerved backwards. The only person who called her by her full name. Juan Clarkson. He peeped behind drooping willow. It’s tendrils stroked his shoulders as he strutted forward. Alex stretched out a forced smile. But her cheeks throbbed. She forced a surprised look instead, gaping. Like Skythe, he was muscular built, which is why Alex saw a huddle of women gawk at him. He was oblivious to this. Just kept walking to Alex, short brown hair being ruffled by the wind. But like Skythe, he had a spontaneous ability of making things seem planned. Smooth. Somehow his hair was back again. Well groomed, with a manly rugged cut to it. “Alexis”, he said with a wide grin “Hi”
Alex had always thought he looked more of a sasquatch than a human. She flushed,”Hi”
“Saw ya mate a couple’o’ yards back”. Juan’s accent was Australian. Rich. Firm. “Boy did he run…more ‘o’ whadda’I’d like to call at a ‘ghostly’ speed. His eyes locked into Alex’s when he said this. Shifted into a glare, then an imperceptible leer.
“Y-You saw Skythe?”, Alex stammered.
“Yeah” Juan still glared. Eyes fixed into Alex’s. But Alex reassembled her posture. Her speech. She would not allow to be beaten down by him.
“Well…where did you see him?”
“Already told ya. A couple’o’ yards back.”
He had countered. Alex faltered. Her eyes were already ferreting to the trees. The children playing. Away from Juan’s tenacious glare.
“There are thousands of places in this park mister Clarkson.” This was said looking away from him. “A couple of yards back doesn’t do anything justice”. Alex had been tempted to imitate his accent when she said that. But his eyes rebuked her. He went mute. Alex struggled to oppress a satisfied smile. Her mouth twitched.
Juan took a slow breath “Yeah I guess” he mumbled, “But at the speed ya mate was going, I’d be right to think he woulda reached the Sydney Oprah house by now!” He chuckled softly at the pun. “I’m a ghost hunter Alex. The only way I’d know where your ‘lover’ was is if he were a ghost. Catcha later!” He winked, and somewhere through his pearly clenched teeth, clicked his tongue. Juan was gone.
The exit had just been a small gate, no higher than Alex’s waist. She ran, suddenly catching a glimpse of Skythe’s black Mercedes. It hadn’t been his in such. He had said he was keeping it for a friend while they were away. Alex shuddered, Juan’s words reeling in her head. Juan had always acted strange around Alex. Said strange things. But mostly when she was with Skythe. Once he had passed them, sharing a milkshake in a small bistro. He had grunted a quick” Hi” to Alex, and darted past Skythe like he wasn’t even there!
The gate was locked, a tangle of chain pulling it to a short wooden post. It rattled, Alex, tugging at it with her cold hands. It was cumbersome. The knots were too tight. She couldn’t open it. Alex blinked. Opened, to see Skythe standing on the other side of the gate. His hand reached out, securing the bundle of chains with a firm grip. He yanked at it. The chain snapped. Fell to the floor with a quiet clang. Alex looked up at him. The display of strength touched her as both impressing and partially frightening. “Skythe!”, she gasped out.
“The chain was rusted,” he said “Any other man could have broken it. Even with more ease than I” He must have seen the awed look on Alex’s face. But she shook it off. She would pretend as if seeing boys break chain like they were snapping a piece of string, was a norm to her.
Skythe flashed a gleaming smile” You look pale. Did I scare you?” He seemed amused by this. Alex raised her eyebrows, challenging a silent “Ya right!” to him. Her shoulder brushed past his chest, heading to his car. What he had done refused to ebb away. Seeing him break the chain. It wasn’t normal. But she would discard her curiosity. Most things in life were not normal too. She would accept Skythe as he was, sudden mood swings and unexplainable displays of strength. The thunder drummed through the clouds again. Seeing him break the chain. The still slide of that, refused to ebb away.