by Kevin Phillips
Wrap me up in the night sky. That comfortable darkness. That velvet dark dotted with twinkling stars. ‘I want to be shrouded in nightfall,’ she says to him.
He smiles. She doesn’t see him, all she sees are the stars. They move through a small garden surrounded by a forest of tall clinical buildings. The night is saturated with celestial brilliance.
‘Are you cold? You look like a little steam-train puffing along,’ he says.
‘I’m fine. I hear smoking is hazardous to health. Steaming? Not so much,’ she says.
She sits starry-eyed, bogged down within his jacket and slouchy woolly hat. She looks like a kid in adult clothing. So small and light, she’s attached to a large metal cylinder that stops her floating off. Her cardiac slip, tripped-up emotional beat of love pumping through her veins. She breathes the night. Eyes as wide as the sky. She doesn’t see him, all she sees are the stars and the moon.
‘Aren’t they beautiful?’ she says.
‘Yes, you are.’
‘Not me, silly. The stars.’
‘You are the stars. You light up my endless darkness.’
‘Don`t be silly, you can’t have one without the other,’ she says. ‘The stars and the dark are the same thing. They’re one.’
‘I hope so,’ he says.
‘My favourite thing on earth is the moon,’ she says.
‘It’s not on earth.’
‘No, but it wouldn’t look so beautiful from any other view,’ she says. ‘What secrets the night has. All its mystery in plain sight, but we just can’t see it.’
‘I see you,’ he says.
‘I love you,’ he says.
‘Stop it, you’ll make me cry again,’ she says.
‘Will you think of me often when I’m gone?’ she says.
‘I’ll never not think of you.’
She adjusts the nozzles that are tube-looped around her ears into a broken infinity symbol across her face, and wipes her eyes and nose. She doesn’t see him, all she sees are stars as he pushes the wheelchair back towards the ward.
‘Wait. Just a little while longer,’ she says.
He looks into her shiny-wet eyes, but all he sees are stars and the moon.
‘Ok, just a little longer.’
Her voice is projected purely by whisper. The kind of Marilyn Monroe talk, but just a semitone too low to be husky.
‘Never a shooting star when you want one,’ she says.
‘They say it’s never long until one flashes past.’
‘Well then, we’ll wait just a little while longer for one. I hope final wishes are the ones that come true,’ she says.
‘What would you wish for?’
‘Everybody knows that if you tell a wish it doesn’t come true.’
She begins talking less, and breathing shallow gasps more. Then the night goes silent as a falling star streaks straight down. A fallen dream, a wish too late, a teardrop shed by the night.
He kneels holding her now uninhabited hands to his cheeks.
‘Wait, just a little while longer,’ he says, stargazing into her eyes.
Kevin Phillips is an emerging Leeds-based writer. He often writes with a minimalist, idiosyncratic, rhythmical prose that utilises damaged grammar and crumpled punctuation to mimic the way the common folk talk. But these rules are also often broken to insinuate death, loss, time passing by, or even just to give better rhythm acoustically as his work is primarily written with performance in mind. Kevin lands emotion-evoking, and thought-provoking stories in and around a thousand words.
Kevin can be seen at many of the open mic venues in and around Leeds. You can find him on Facebook Page of Danger author page and Twitter @pageofdanger. Check out his YouTube channel – Page of Danger – and hear him read Nightfall and other stories.