Thursday, November 6, 2008
Ashes and Silt (cont...)
Raven sat on the porch watching as the goanna stealthily stalked its prey. She wanted to talk to Ranger about all the strange things that had occurred. She loved the house - isolated and surrounded by bushland with scenic views of the mountain ranges in the distance - but there was just something about it that made her uncomfortable. From the first moment she'd set foot in the house, she could feel it, that whisper of sadness in the air. She'd often wondered if Ranger could sense it too. Sometimes she'd catch him gazing outside the window, his brows drawn in confusion as the sadness descended upon him. He'd shake himself out of his thoughts and turn and give her a shy guilty smile, like he'd just been caught eating the last piece of cake. She'd often asked him about it, but Ranger's response was always the usual, "It's just cabin fever."
Last night wasn't the first visit she'd had from the shadow man. A few weeks ago, Ranger had taken her swimming in the dam. They'd come back to the house, laughing and covered in mud and had quickly hosed themselves down in the yard. Ranger teased her about the streak of mud still stuck on her forehead. With a saucy look over her shoulder and a flick of her long wet hair; she had informed him that it was there on purpose, a new kind of facial mask she was trialling; before shutting the door in his face. Shrieking with laughter she ran to the bathroom with Ranger following closely behind her, and barricaded herself in. Retribution was always swift. This time, it was interrupted by the ring of the phone. She could hear Ranger's muffled conversation through the locked door while she quickly undressed.
The warm water felt like heaven as it cascaded over her naked body, washing away the last of the mud. As was her habit, she said a quick prayer of thanks and protection to the universe while she watched the water drain away. With a blissful sigh, she got out of the shower and wrapped herself up in a towel. She could still smell the rich earthy scent of the mud, as she towelled herself dry. She must have missed a spot, she thought to herself, stepping towards the mirror. She paused in mid step. On the mirror was a muddy hand print.
For a split second her heart stopped beating as fear slammed into her chest. She moved towards the door. It was unlocked. Then it hit her, Ranger must have somehow unlocked the door. This was his way of getting her back. She stuck her head out the door and said, "Ha, ha."
Ranger was listening intently to the person on the other end of the phone. He smiled absent-mindedly at her, before turning away. Raven hastily threw on her bathrobe and then set about scrubbing the mud off the mirror, humming softly to herself as she went to work. She stopped suddenly when she felt someone gently caressing her hair. A single tear slowly made its lonely journey down her face. Her heart felt like it was being torn into a million pieces. She closed her eyes against the onslaught of emotion. When next she opened her eyes, she was lying on the bed. Ranger stood beside the bed, prodding her awake, "Wake up sleepy head. You've got mud stuck in your hair."