Hand Me Down

Writing prompt: New Moon

A new moon was in place. Darkness encompassed the small town and its dusty roads. Davidson let a smile slip from his mouth as the gate closed behind him with a bang. His heart started racing, he told himself it was nothing. Just nerves. On a dark night like this, with no city lights to cool the dark night, anything could give a man a fright if he let it. He felt where the ring once was. The golden surface still had its shadow etched into his skin. Much like the lost light of the new moon, yet dark, you could tell where it was. Where it should be.

Wandering down the path into the main town he counted his steps. It was simply a way of forgetting the shadows, the creaks and sounds that lived deep in the towns’ veins.

“Twenty two, twenty three twenty four…?” he tilted his head. She stood there, blood dripping ever so gently from her left hand. She wore what appeared to be jeans and a jacket three sizes too large. The jacket had worn buttons, but he couldn’t see that. He couldn’t see the details that she had memorized. She knew this jacket back to front and inside out. Davidson remembered the numbers again. He was up to twenty four. He put his head back down and took the steps firmly. The path took him right next to her. He could smell the blood on her, he could hear her breath. He felt cold. He just wanted to get home.

“Twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty” he let his voice turn into a whisper and started rubbing his hands together. Breathing through his mouth he felt his throat drying as he went. He felt the silence getting louder and wanted to fill it again.

“Forty one, forty two/”

“Forty three” he froze. Her voice was crisp. He turned around and found she had followed him about ten steps. He hadn’t even heard her. The blood gently dripped onto the dirt. It didn’t bounce, not like it does on snow. The ground was thirsty, it had been a long time since the last drop of rain. Mum would be waiting. Dad as well. But Mum was expecting the farm report. Davidson shifted his legs out a bit to match his shoulder width.

“What do you want?”

“Forty three” he nodded and took a second before turning around.

“Forty four, forty five/”

“Forty six, forty seven” he smiled as her voice came after him. He kept walking, counting each step from the gate. The house was closer to the town than the homestead. He didn’t mind staying at the homestead, but his brother was recently married and well, the couple needed privacy. He missed that. Parents had moved out to retire. If they hadn’t moved Dad would have found an excuse to keep working the fields. Mum didn’t like that. She just wanted to spend time with him. Davidson looked over his shoulder. Her hair was dark, blending in with the darkness behind her. Lost light gently illuminated her eyes. The blood was drying ever so slowly, he thought.

The path ahead was slowly warming with the country lights. The old lights from around fifty years beforehand were still working well. A few upgrades, but they still looked the part.

“Seventy two, Seventy three” he kept the numbers rolling off his tongue. “Seventy four/”

“Seventy five, Seventy…”he had stopped and she had stopped the counting. She was now under light. He looked at her, her eyes, her fingers, the jacket three sizes too big. He remembered the handy downs from his brother. The jackets lined with old mud and paint, the jeans with tears slowly going at the knees. One summer he was lucky enough to get his leather jacket. It still had a strong smell, that smell when you first buy it. He wondered where that jacket was.

“Do you know where the leather jacket went?”

“In a box in the attic. You grew out of it, remember?”

“Of course” he shook his head gently. Pity. He never bought a new one. Maybe that could be his birthday present to himself. “Seventy six, Seventy seven” he liked numbers. They had structure to them. Strength, but they could also be flimsy. Three was a strong number, solid. Whereas one was quite weak in comparison. Maybe it was the shape of it. He stopped at the fountain. He waited as she caught up. She knelt down and gently washed her hands in the freezing water stemming from Pans hands. It was an odd statue. Pan in all his glory, stepping slightly forward with cupped hands. Water trickling from them, creating an everlasting flow. Legend says that one day the water stopped and in his hands were gold coins.

She cupped her own hands and washed her face gently. The gaunt fingers matched the face, the sunken skin aging her far beyond her years. Davidson lent over, as gently as he could and put a hand on her shoulder. She ducked her face towards the water once more, splashing the last spots of blood off her cheeks. The light was better here. But not brilliant. He dragged his hand to the back of her head and pushed as hard as he could. Pushing her into the fountain he felt her struggle, could feel her nails dig into his skin, felt the bubbles of air escaping from her lungs to the surface of Pans bounty. It took a while. He was wet, the water seeping into his jeans and his shirt. She was a splasher. Eventually she waned. The water filling her lungs took over. The oxygen starved brain making choices, trying one last time to preserve life. He felt sadness bubbling deep below but suppressed it. He gently let go and watched as she bobbled on the surface. She must have gashed her head on the side of the fountain whilst struggling. Or perhaps when he first pushed her. He frowned gently and shook his head. Mum would be waiting.

As the sun rose over the hills her body was being tugged from the waters. Pans hand offering blood stained water, sparking in the light. It was a generous offering, really.

The priest was performing his ritual, talking to the big man in the sky. Davidson stood shoulder to should with his brother. This must have been the forth one this year. The second time with her. The priest opened his eyes.

“She should be at peace now, but it’s hard to tell. How did she die?”

“Tractor accident. Major accident. It eventually rolled on her which you would think is impossible. Her arm was crushed but she managed to get herself out. It wasn’t until she reached the homestead that the real problems arose…Internal injuries as such” the priest nodded his head, remembering.

“Well, after the third time we will have to use a concrete bedding, unless you want to take the precaution”

“We’ll go with concrete. We can’t have my wife wandering the streets after hours” he had reached Seventy five this time. Last time was a brief thirty two. Seventy five was a stronger number.

 

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