This is my latest entry into Chuck Wendigs’ Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. I had to choose a one word title from the list he published and write a story for it. I chose Permanence and this is what I came up with. Enjoy!
She watched from behind the glass. Everyday they came to look at her, to sing, chant, leave gifts, plead and pray to her. Everyday; hundreds of faces, hands and mouths.
They started, these faces, hands and mouths, coming to her as children. Over time, though she could not say how long, children became teenagers, then adults and then old and infirm. And then they didn’t come at all.
The room that she looked at from behind the glass became empty. It changed, only in small ways, dust growing on things, paint peeling, glass cracking and stones falling. But it was always changing. The light changed regularly. Sometimes the empty room was filled with golden sunlight that would shine through the floating flecks of dust and she would imagine that the room was filled flocks of fairies flying around her, performing tricks in the air just for her. At other times, the room was dark for long stretches of time, the only light was a pale blue that came from a crack in the ceiling that illuminated a thin line across the floor. Then it was gone. But then the light would come back and so would the dust fairies, but this time of light was growing shorter.
Soon the dark took over completely. She hadn’t been expecting it. There had been a cacophony of noise, and everything shook and broke as if the whole world was falling in on itself. Then there was only darkness. Not even the small knife cut of blue light shone through from the ceiling. There was nothing. And she sat there in the nothing. Staring out from behind the glass into nothing.
Sometimes she slept. At least she thought it was sleep. When she closed her eyes she saw things that she hadn’t seen in a long time. Things from before the glass when she had walked through streets and towns and rooms like the one she now sat in. She remembered the mothers, the lessons they would teach her about the glass and how one day when a thousand years had passed, she would sit behind the glass and the people would come to her, and oh how they would love her. They would come to her and look and sing, and chant, and leave gifts, and plead and pray to her. And she would live forever.
Sometimes when she slept, she saw the time when she was ready to go behind the glass. She would see the knives and the needles. She would feel the flames as they pushed into her veins and she entered another kind of darkness. A darkness so terrible that it was all she could do not to die. Then she opened her eyes again and she was behind the glass and the people were there as the mothers said they would be.
She slept and saw these things again and again but every time she opened her eyes there was still just darkness. She thought that would never see anything else. But then there was something. Something moved in the darkness accompanied by a scraping noise. It went on and on until then there was light. Just a small pinprick at first but then there was more and more until the darkness crumbled away revealing a hole in the wall of the room that had been her prison.
Into this hole of light came two shadows, looming over the glass and they held up small lights of their own. She saw their faces, unlike any she had ever seen before and she rejoiced. The faces spoke, both quickly and at the same time to each other and not to her but about her. Then more faces appeared and more speech was made about her but not to her. The darkness crumbled away to reveal more faces. Not only faces but huge machines. And these new faces, and machines spoke not to her but about her.
Then the room moved. It dropped slightly below her then started moving past her and she realised that it wasn’t the room moving but the glass. It was she who was moving. Then something fell over the glass and it was dark again. She could still hear all the faces and the machines, but she saw only darkness. And she wept.
Then, the new darkness was lifted and she found herself in another room, full of light and all around her were hundreds of people. They were clapping and smiling, raising glasses in her direction. Some of them pointed boxes at her. Boxes with round glass in the middle that flashed blinding light at her so that she was soon seeing coloured circles. They filed past her one by one, peering closely, pressing there faces right up to the glass. Some even tapped it. Some of them even spoke to her but most spoke about her. She didn’t mind. This was better than what the mothers had promised her.
Then after they had filed past her, and drained their glasses which had been refilled several times, they left. The light was dimmed and a silence fall over her. She hoped the people would come again. All that time, alone in the darkness had been unbearable and she couldn’t suffer it again.
She was just drifting off to sleep again, just starting to dream of knives and needles and the mothers again, when something in the room moved. She opened her eyes and there was a new face in front of her. It was old, even older than the faces of those which had been children had grown to be. It was smiling and then it spoke to her and her only.
“My love,” it said. “The time has come. The Mothers said you would live forever and so you shall.”
Then old, frail hands opened the glass. She didn’t even know that it could open. The hands reached inside and she left the room. She never looked from behind the glass again.
Thanks for reading,