Our top entry for the Coral Reef theme this April is Ed Christmas – congratulations!
Curtains – by Ed Christmas
She looked up from the depths, towards the curtain shimmering in front of her, glancing around as she rose and stretched out of slumber. On one side, the palaces and grooves sprawled as far as the eye could see, and continued sweeping beyond. The colours vibrated as they swayed and breathed. She observed and absorbed the life that danced around her. She breathed it in too.
On the other side, was the abyss.
A light snow fell from above. Gentle and constant. It moved with everything else. This way and that, this way and that, as it fell slowly into the depths below. She looked down again, and felt the coldness rising from below. She noticed how the cold and the warm mixed and swirled, bringing new movements to the dancing of the snow – to the swaying of the curtains, fans and branches.
Somebody nearby heckled over – pinched at a corner of her skin. She retracted into herself. It always made her do this. She didn’t like much attention. Didn’t like close contact. It was in these moments that she became somewhat reclusive. Always in these moments that she preferred to watch the world go by from within her protective skin. From inside her home. She looked and looked, and stayed close. So close, she could see the changes happen, almost as if she were on the inside of things – part of the skin of the world. She could feel the changes. Notice them and feel them as if she were moving with them -as if there was a communication flow between all that was ‘out there’ and all that was ‘right here’.
It was comfortable and warm. The softness of the world around her was like a lullaby, whenever she connected down to it, swaying this way and that. This way and that. She stretched back out, reaching to the warmth that bathed her, and soaked up all the colour that was growing, shrinking and shifting around her.
Time went on.
It felt warmer. Warmer and warmer. The world around them became less colourful. Less wild. Only shrinking now. The electric blues and lemon yellows, the poppy pinks and scintillating opals – all the colours started to leach out of the skins, the walls, the floors.
Instead, the blue above became thicker. Shadows passed above, then caught on the edges of things. Bumping against them, stubbornly, like they were trying to drift through.
The blue above became darker. Muddied by an invisible silt.
Dusk was coming from behind her – a new kind was creeping along the ground.
Things became sharper. The protective cases that housed her and the others started to break down, and the world started to tingle. Started to stab. Some of the smaller ones were becoming more scarce already. She moved her arms to find food, but very little was there. So little snow. Very little in front of her. Very little above her. Less below her.
She wasn’t alone – many others were near her, hoarding the littl-ing space for food, a shelter, and home. But home was dying. Home was dying.
She started to become hungry. How long could she stay in her shell? How much longer could she simply observe?
Time went on.
She was starving now. Night was rising from behind, as the weeds spread voraciously. Always interested in more growth. Growing and growing. Suffocating and dying. Moving on.
The home had shrunk to a point now – all the colours had almost disappeared – blanched to white. Pale, transfixing skeletons. The curtains had stopped moving – stopped breathing. She was choking, her world was choking. Losing its stir. Lost it to the suffocated currants. Its breath. Losing.
She too, soon, would stop breathing. Soon. Soon.
How much longer?