Written one afternoon to distract myself from stressing out about another project entirely. Oddly enough the other project went much faster once I’d written this. Originally published at Ourpennilesswrite on 10/07/12.
The fragile clumps hang precariously from their perch. A long tail hangs down from them, seemingly holding them all together. Every so often one of the clumps will twitch and they all take a juddering trip a little further down the stalk, but somehow manage to cling on. If you felt so inclined to anthropomorphise them, you might cloak them in red waterproof jackets, like a string of amateur mountaineers, ill prepared for the conditions clinging together to the rope that their guide had bid them hold onto tightly. Echo’s of their unhappy and uncertain, but not yet fearful; cries as they descend unwillingly might hang in the air. But perhaps their cries are too comical for some desolate mountain cliff-face, better perhaps to think of them as first-time abseillers, caught in unexpectedly inclement weather. Better to preserve both your and their hope.
Occasionally one loses its hold and plunges to its dusty death, imploding on impact. The others are still for much longer than normal after each fall, as though they remember that each twitch could send them all to that fate. Below them the ground is smooth and cold – where it isn’t littered with the remains of their compatriots – and patient.
Slowly, slowly, they descend the tail as though the shorter distance to the ground will save them. The lowest of them touches the ground. And implodes as surely as its compatriot that fell from a height.
As though now resigned to their fate the rest give up their fight and fall to the ground, pulling down the cord that had sustained them for so long. The faint red glow of the beacon above them dims to nothing and the dust settles.
The air fills with the lavender scented clouds of their passing and for a long moment: there is calm.