the man in the seat across from me on the train

entrancement

he wears the smell of blood, and death, upon him, as if it were a perfume. the scent entices me upon him entering the carriage. it draws me to him, dark and cold. the death is new, but also old, a sign of a longtime…memory? a death committed long ago, but still raw. he sits in the empty seat across from me, smiles over at me. it’s a sad smile. soft, gentle, like a slow piano mix on a rainy night. it calms me but i don’t smile back.

he makes no attempt to remove anything from the small bag now seated beside him on the bench, just sits there. sits there and watches. watches the quiet, empty meadows flick past outside. his shoulders have dropped now, but the smile is still there. if one didn’t look hard, watch close, he would come across as happy. but he comes across, in reality, as calm, soothed, but sad. it’s as through there’s a memory haunting him still. a long passed memory that he cannot get over. he reeks of death close up, and yet, the scent isn’t fresh. it’s old. very old. the death has long since been, the body buried long ago. but it’s kept alive in his brain. kept alive my him.

the man continues to stare out the window. his eyes are lowered, almost attempting to watch the tracks we roll along. they’re sad. blue. pale blue. ice blue. but sad. there’s nothing there. nothing in them. they’re empty eyes, empty eyes for the empty man. he should be full of life, his eyes full of joy, happiness, youth. but they’re not. they’re filled with despair, sadness, age. they’re the eyes of someone who has seen one too many battles, bore witness to one too many creeping shadows. i understand that. that makes sense.

as the journey progresses, he shifts slightly. his posture becomes stiffer, his back straighter. but his shoulders stay slumped, eyes stay lowered, smile stays still. the carriage rolls quietly onward. he watches the mountains pass, the rivers caressing them on their routes downward. it’s as though he’s seen them before. at times, the scent of death he emits becomes stronger. heavier. the smell of blood fills the empty carriage. he makes no attempt at covering it. no attempt at masking the scent now wafting about the cabin. maybe he doesn’t notice it, smell it. he has lived with it so long, it mustn’t smell of much now. usually, however, one would cover the scent, no matter whether he could smell it or not. the scent would be masked somewhat by a vanilla, a lavender, a calming chamomile perhaps, but not his. his is spread wide, no attempt even, to hide it. to hide the pain he seems to have suffered through.

that’s what it is. it’s the scent of pain. the scent of blood and death. it’s pain. whether it be his, or that of another, it a different story, but it is the scent of pain. perhaps that of suffering, but that’s unlikely. it’s pain. a sharp jab of a needle, the aching wound of a knife. and yet, here he is, looking through the window, acting calm. it’s as if he believes that nothing has ever happened. those memories have been shot down, down, down, deep into the crevices and creases of his memory. maybe, now, he doesn’t remember where the pain was. but it’s still raw. new. fresh. it’s current, yet far, far, far away.

so far, he has not turned. seemingly, he has not noticed my watching. my staring. he has not noticed the things i have taken in. his short, sporadic breathing, irregular and seemingly unnecessary. the fact that his body stiffens slightly as the carriage drifts to the side, turning with the path of the track. that smile. that soft, sad gaze. full of pain and memories. events from long ago. i watch him a little longer.

the sky slowly darkens with the approaching dusk. he stays watching it. watches as the sun slips below the mountains, as the sky turns from grey to pink to yellow and finally a deep, murky blue. i continue to watch him. he does not seem to notice.

‘what are you here for?’ my voice, echoing around the silent carriage, does not startle him. he does not turn from the window, darkness outside roll by. the world outside is no longer visible.
‘i’m ready,’ his voice is deep, yet somehow, soft. it’s quiet and melodic, like notes blown slowly from a flute. ‘i’m ready to go now.’


So that was a story I wrote a couple of days ago following the prompt I found on Pinterest, ‘he wears the smell of blood and death like a perfume’. I don’t know how or why, but it somehow clicked and this story was born. I’ll let you decode it as you wish, come up with your own theories and the like. But I hope you enjoyed it and it made you feel something, anything really. It was a lot of fun to write as well, which is always nice.

emily xo

motif

car radio

motif

the stereo on the dresser emits sound. a piercing, quiet melody plays, the artist’s unknown, the voice unfamiliar. it sits at a distance, there, but not there. it casts shadows through the papers, steady and still, unmoved. the song plays out, comes to a close. nothing plays after. it room falls quiet.

a car drives past. through the silence, the sound of its tyres on tarmac echo. a burning sound, paper consumed by licking flames, crackling and crying out. it fades out as the car proceeds on its way. it’s no longer there. the room rearranges itself, falling back into silence. nothing passes through it.

a stomach rumbles, a sound like paper crunching underfoot. the gurgles slowly fall away. they’re a reminder of the uneaten meal downstairs. it’s untouched, now forgotten. no one will remember it. only when they do will they realised what’s happened. the growling stomach come back, begging for the food it deserves. it’s complaints fall upon deaf ears and it recesses.

echoes of the wind down the chimney creak through the air. the fire goes out, confidential letters left with their edges blistered, yet to be destroyed. breathy whispers swirl through the open network, wind muttering untold secrets to the still, unwoken world. the quiet mutters die with the breeze, slipping into silence again.

a dog barks, falls silent. a siren plays, dies as someone attends it. a plane flies overhead, becomes quiet once passed. another car, another fire. it dies as quick as it came. a distant cow cries out for its child, stops once reunited. the world falls into a silent disarray.

the air allows thoughts to excel themselves into the silence. they echo around, fearful, bizarre formations of illogical concepts, quietly emptying themselves into the unknown. the peaceful tranquility broken by fragmented images.

through the open window, cold breeze flows. crisp and sharp against the warmth of the room. it cuts through the air, a single channel of cold. the wind blows in steadily, soft and nurturing. the corners of the journals lift, fall to the ground, dead.

heat ribbles against the chills, a stark comparison. it’s quickly overtaken, left to mingle amongst the layers of vellum left on the floor. the more the waves fight, the less they achieve. they allow the bitterness in. the gusts become stronger. a silent chill falls over the room.

the curtain billows open, a shadow flicks itself across the wall. branches from a tree outside illuminated across the empty wall. they cover the papered surface, empty thoughts and images, each full with a story never to be told. they move with the light and the breeze. fall back to their original, empty states as the curtain lowers itself once again.

the stars through the window blink. they sparkle and glitter through the dark, each a burning ball. they’re sparse, freckled throughout the universe, white dots on a dark canvas. they blink expectantly, hopeful. their prayers go unheard, called out through the silence.

the lights outside dim, an unwanted reminder of the ever-approaching dawn. a hint of the soon to be disturbed quiet. the air that will soon be touched by the warmth of the sun. the bright, intrusive colours will presently be surrounding the world. everyone will be awake, she will fall asleep. everyone will know no more than they did, no less they have.

yours,
emily xo