By J. A. Weymouth
Drowning. That is all he can remember. His mind was a blue haze of frosty morning and grey water. And drowning. He remembered the drowning again.
He approached the door in muddy gumboots with raindrops in his eyes. The soggy rain coat he wore did little to warm him. His mother shook him to answer but no words would come out. Only silent screaming. And the deafening memory.
Noah was running. Sunshine was in his face as he chased the cobalt fabric of the kite, its tail tickling his fingertips. Joy was in his voice as he called out to his little sister.
‘Mary, stop! It’s my turn,’ he laughed as she slipped through his fingers again. Mary had a natural talent in tricking Noah during their cat and mouse games. She would deceptively slow down so that Noah would be fooled as to think he could catch her but in the moment before he had his arms around her she sped up in an amazing reflex, easily avoiding Noah’s grasp.
Stopping, now giving up, Noah watched his little sister speed off into the horizon, the kite now gliding in the wind in tail of her. The blue of its wings stood out in the oncoming grey sky. Mary took enjoyment in the fact that she had control over the kite again.
A shadow crawled over Noah’s face as the dark clouds loomed overhead. The kite flew higher. The wind had aggressively sped up whistling in their ears. A storm was coming.
‘Noah, come here!’ Mary called with worry in her voice. She was beginning to lose control over the kite as it flicked and twisted and twirled in summersaults. The kite danced in complete obliviousness, alive in the domain of the sky.
They were on top of the hill. Noah had been trying to take the kite from Mary, but her fingers became entangled in the string as she attempted to control the rebelious kite. Its wild dances worried Mary as it flicked and twitched in painful pulls. The string strangled her fingers and she cringed in pain. She became determined to tame the kite becoming frustrated with the thing in the sky and her brother who had been challenging her for him to take over. With a ferocious tug, Mary broke free from her brother but rather suddenly – tumbling over her own feet – she fell. Shocked and winded by her fall Mary looked down at her free hands pulling up the loose string and the bare handle. The kite had freed itself.
Mary and Noah watched the kite fly off into the distance, the wind carrying it through the black shadow of the sky. Thunder rumbled softly, indicating a lightning storm hovered over the vastness of the Scottish Forests down into the valley. The tail of the kite flipped and waved goodbye at Mary and Noah in mocking submissiveness of the wind.
Distracted by watching the kite fly away and over a sudden sense of mourning, Noah turned too late to watch Mary run in pursuit of the kite.
It had become dark too quickly. Thunder boomed loudly overhead, shocking Noah and he shuddered all over. A coolness licked the back of his neck indicating the drop in tempretature and that rain would fall soon. It was like he was frozen by the idea that Mary was running towards a storm and the kite was leading her straight into the middle of it. Fear began to coil Noah’s insides.
He ran fast and hard. If there was lightning, the forest would be the last place they should be.
‘Daddy!’ Mary called out to the kite in nostalgic sadness. There was no way that she would give up that kite and what it meant to her. While running, Noah watched in dismay as his sister drew closer to the forest.
A memory of wide fields and windy weather, of a smiling face bristled by a bushy moustache watched over them with a look of paternal pride, the blue fabric flapped up above them all. The memory dissipated as Noah watched his little sister fade away into the forest. Dread sunk in and so he quickened his pace.
When he finally reached the forest there was no sign of Mary’s whereabouts. Noah looked out as he stood against the tall gathering of trees, their long trunks standing apathetically in faithful silence. A stir and a creek in their old, arthritic trunks voiced their ancient presence. The wind stirred their branches alive ruffling the dying leaves. An ominous feeling sat and waited inside him growing with each unsteady step. It should not be this hard to see. It became too dark too soon. He could barely see through the thickness of the trees as they gathered together further beyond, far deeper in the forest.
Overwhelmed by the overbearing forest, Noah had just stood there dumbfounded and lost. He did not know where to look first. And what was worse, he knew his sister was out here somewhere all alone. He looked up towards the tops of the trees to see if the kite had been caught, but miraculously, it must have made it through and avoided the trees’ cluttered branches.
Noah had decided to just move forward from where he entered, in the same direction he saw his sister come in. He journeyed onwards in the hope that the trees had caught the mischievous kite and had not led his sister too far astray.
As Noah moved quickly, a flash of lightning forked out across the sky, lighting the forest in a shocking contrast of bright white against the blackness. Another flash of light and a roar of thunder followed. The white light emitted through the trees emphasising their dark shadows making them look like elongated arms stretching out across the forest floor. These horrific hands reached out for Noah’s shadow as he ran, pushing past low branches.
The denser part of the forest closed in on Noah. Woodland noises became louder. There was something eerie in their boisterous noises, as they became more forceful with each loud bang of thunder – unsteady and nervous.
With another flash of light and roar of thunder, rain suddenly started to fall. Noah was really beginning to feel lost and desperate. He could not decide where to go, where to search, what direction to follow. He felt utterly alone. It began to pour and then he remembered.
Part 2 will be up soon.