A Short Story by Eva Burke
The sky was streaked with grey. Heavy rain clouds saturated with water hung mercilessly abound the city. Gazing out of the window, her nose pressed against the glass, Cassie breathed a fog of air against the cold frame. It was minus one and oh so chilly. She was a winter girl through and through. She could hear the sounds of an ambulance in the distance and the distant pitter patter of rain and the gurgling, gushing sounds of rainwater trickling through the drain pipes. The glass was tainted with dewy drops of water as if hypnotised by time, remaining upon the clear window. They left tiny streaks of water in their path. Birds were soaring in the sky, their wings cutting through the air like tiny aeroplanes in the distance, on the way to extraordinary new lands.
It was a cold and blustery day, the wind howling through the trees, fresh gusts of wind would tickle the weeping willow on her front garden. Cassie sat there with a cup of tea, her two hands wrapped around the mug. She could hear a car in the distance. Her doorbell rang and it was her neighbour’s brother. Her neighbour Eileen had collapsed at home and she was being taken to hospital. She asked could Cassie join them and she did indeed, following in the brother’s car. She didn’t realise until she got to the hospital that Eileen was dying. On her deathbed Eileen reached up to her neck and unclasped her necklace. She gave it to young Cassie and said all her dreams would come true if she wore it. She passed shortly after.
Cassie had been adopted as a child. Her eyes were coffee brown. Cassie loved to daydream. In her mind she followed the river of her life back to the sea (the beginnings of the ocean) her family were said to be Spanish. She knew her river meant she would never know her real family, for her adopted family took care of her. She gazed down at the river of veins on her wrist and yes, at times she has cried a river. She longed to know who her real family were. She was very thin and had huge dark eyes. Like her Spanish heritage she had tanned skin and beautiful dark hair. She suffered from depression and from the time she put on the necklace she felt she could do anything. The necklace gave her magical abilities and although it was enchanted she refused to take it off.
Those were days the depression followed her, like rain water about to burst from a saturated pipe. She has long stringy hair she rarely cut. She imagined Spanish gypsies out playing in the sunshine with their long braided hair. She kept it long to feel closer to them and often wore headscarves. She discovered her real name was Cascada meaning waterfall in Spanish. Her adopted family named her Cassie. At this moment she suffered a panic attack as the necklace was slowly choking her and making her age rapidly. She remembered to focus on her breathing, one breath in, one breath out.
One night she slept on her back one hand over her chest. Her breathing was low and slow and she was peacefully embraced in another world of slumber, her hair fanned over the pillow. She was dressed in a long flowing white dress of chiffon and silk. Doves flew over her head and lambs bleated. Tiny white rabbits hopped at her feet. Was she in heaven. It was sunset.
The sun was beginning to descend and without warning, she fell down a hole in the clouds down a deep dark tunnel and she landed with a thud in a forest. A dark forest and before long she was surrounded by wolves. She struggled to get away but her feet were sinking into the ground. Her breath was like ice and her clothes were torn. They surrounded her, teeth bared, eyes blazing, ears back. She remembered just in time to squeeze her eyes shut so hard she woke up. Back in her own bed, the duvet on the floor, freezing in her night dress, it had been a dream. The darkness hung over her like a cloud, her tears fell at times like a waterfall. The necklace gave her dark dreams. She could hear the shrill cry of the banshee. She felt as though knives were sticking into her hands and feet. She felt sucked into the abyss of a deep dark tunnel of despair, lost like a frightened blackbird flying around its cage at night nowhere to be free. Her footsteps were dark and weary as if the footprints followed imprints of the night, walking behind her a ghostly shadow. Her clothes clung to her in sweaty patches, when she awoke from night terrors. She often got up and changed clothes before resuming her sleep for the night. Not only was she a winter person but a night person too. When her psychotic dreams kept her awake she would write into the night, in her diary. Stories of mythology and creatures of the other world. She continued to grow older yet she didn’t feel the passage of time. Unicorns mesmerised her. She would write about them, tall steeds with flowing manes and tails, golden hooves and rainbow dust at their feet. Their eyes carry the spirit of the wind and they would glide gracefully from place to place as if dancing on water, so delicate no ripples carried.
She would write about the elves of the woods who lived among the trees and the fairies of the outer world who would sprinkle sleeping dust on the eyes of children and dance among the stars. She wrote about kings and queens, princes and princesses living in real life fairy tale castles with their unicorns and pet wolves and servants. She wrote until her head felt heavy and her hands were weak from holding the pen and often would fall asleep at her desk, the passage of time and the onset of death at her door.
She went on one of her final days to the church. She was now very old. She knelt her head in prayer. She was older now and felt great solitude in the chapel. She prayed for peace. Her hands were gnarled clutching her rosary beads. Her skin was fragile and wrinkled with time, the outer concave like rivers of water over sand dunes, leaving behind the remnants of a journey past. There were few in the church this day, just hushed voices and the occasional cough. She prayed her depression would pass. She gazed up at the stained glass windows of the chapel and imagined what it would be like to step into a painting. She visualised stepping into a water colour of rivers and waterfalls and horses paddling in the stream. Her woes would be behind her and she would be eternally at peace. She reached up to touch the necklace her neighbour had given her. She had no idea it was ageing her and the time was passing twice as fast all around her. She just saw a beautiful crystal on a gold chain and refused to take it off. She was told the necklace would change her life and she believed it. She just didn’t realise that she would have dark dreams and spells of depression as it wove its dark magic around her. She believed the necklace gave her gifts.
She could paint the most incredible pieces of art and play instruments with such clarity and brilliance people outside her house stopped and stared. With this necklace she was somebody.
The necklace carried her into the depths of depression and sorrow. Like a ball and chain it would keep her prisoner into the final days of her life. Her dreams were dark and in her darkest hour she would dream of nightmares and dark mythology.
Those dreams were dark and morbid. She would dream of dark spirits clawing at her legs as she lay in bed. Winding, twining, everlasting world of dark dreams. Plumes of ash cloud and smoke rose from the ground and the earth split. Arose from it a house, a crooked house. It had smoke coming from its crooked chimney. Out from its crooked door stood an old lady carrying a black cat in her arms. The cat yowled and ran away. “Come hither my lady” the woman beckoned with a bony finger. However, the house was struck by a bolt of lightning and the lady and the house turned to dust. It was a pitch black night. She found herself standing in an echoey corridor. The walls of the corridor collapsed around her. She was suddenly in the valley of the dead, an open graveyard and a full moon. She got the eerie feeling she was being watched and felt a cold shiver down her back. She could hear voices whispering in her ear. She looked down after feeling a tickle at her feet and she discovered she was surrounded by rats. She awoke with a jump, sweat pouring from her. She was back in her bed but alas her time had come and she passed peacefully that night, the necklace had taken its final victim. She had been kissed by deaths lips.
It was the day of her funeral and many mourners gathered in the chapel. There was a solo singer and an organist. It was a sad day for her family. Her niece, a bright young lady, stood up to read a poem Cassie had written, before the congregation.
“Fly among the stars
May moon dust gather at your feet
Angel wings of gossamer silk
Chasing comets in angel dreams
Peace on earth you will be missed
Tranquil skies every cloud you lift
Fly among the angels’ friend
May every shooting star remind us of you
Dance among the moon dust
Be at rest now, renewed.”
The church bells tolled and it was time to say their goodbyes. There were white lilies along the aisles and the priest gave his blessing. Mourners were dressed in black and none knew it was the necklace that had killed her. None except her niece Mary. Her niece stood outside the church and looked down at the necklace in her handbag.
She knew just what to do and when the burial had taken place she walked to the local park. There was a stream and a small waterfall. It was also time to say goodbye to the enchanted necklace before it claimed another life and she threw it in with all her might. It glowed green as it sailed through the air and landed in the river, never to be seen again. “Cascada. Rest in peace”, she said. The river rushed and gurgled and it continued on to its journey to the sea. The circle was complete.