A City called Safety

 As the light of the setting sun glints off the city’s steel facades, an explosion of movement spreads across the landscape. Those few seconds lend a magnification of power, gifting precious energy to those who were trapped outside when the blast hit.

Just as quickly as it began, where moments before was a flurry of noise, stillness falls. Occasionally a grain of sand gets carried closer by short-lived breezes. Then the sound starts. Lungs torturously filling themselves with the oxygen expended moments before. Moans of agony escape chapped lips as muscles rebel against the forced action. And then they wait, yet again, for the next day’s only reprieve.

If desperation had a taste, it’d be flesh and dust and sand mixed together, but taste is hard to sense over the stench of the rotting corpses littering the running field. The ones who didn’t make it this far. Those on the outskirts know that taste. They know they’ll never make it in time, not before they wilt or waste or get picked off by the roiling clouds along the horizon.

Those clouds inch closer every day. The acid rain rolls languidly along, melting everything it comes into contact with as it approaches the city. That’s what Safety was intended for. To withstand the predicted acid rain. But the blast came too soon, locking the populace in throes of despair with their beacon of hope but a shiny wish on the horizon. All that’s left is that daily frantic burst of speed. That one hope.

A thing at my feet whimpers, and I reach down with a twist of my hand to silence it. The sickening crunch is followed by the thud of the body and I smile. The sun can’t reach in here – it can’t touch me or my meals. I stand and watch, waiting for my food to reach me. The incoming supply is being delectably roasted out there.

I wonder what they’ll think of this city they call Safety.

Before Now

I saw it in her lines, in the soft fall of her pale hair, in the curls that hung just the right way accentuating her eyes and nose. It was there in the soft rosy tint highlighting her cheeks and lips. Those lips and their penchant for turning down, a slight frown marring an otherwise perfect face.

It was always there, in the way her delicate fingers danced over the keys of a piano, holding the bow to a violin, or caressing skin she had no right to be touching – to rouse feelings no one human should be able to inflict on another.

In the gentle flutter of her eyelashes and that coy way she wound everyone around those same delicate fingers, tugging with deceptively strong hands to tighten the noose once she bound you to her. Pulling you closer and closer until you wanted to suffocate, or give into her every whim.

I always did and I gave up my world for her, for one look of approval from that otherwise icy expression. For just one sign that I melted her exterior, found her inner warmth. But even though I glimpsed it, there was never any permanence. Just fleeting temptation of what she never let anyone truly experience.

Controlling, but in a way no one saw until they were under her spell. Like magic, but real, and just as deadly. Sakura in name, and in nature, fleeting and yet consistent. Beautiful and tasty, hurt by the winter she could never overcome.

By the winter she would always imitate in the hopes that no one realized her true self. Empty and lifeless, like snow clinging to the branch before the spring light sends it plummeting to be devoured by the hungry ground around it.

The snow has melted and the frown is gone from her lips. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen her truly at peace with herself.  Dressed in lace and satin, she’s made up like a porcelain doll.

I lean down to kiss her cold, dead lips, my knuckles white as I grip the sides of the casket. If only she could have shown us this beauty before now.