THE CHILD

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The Child
Van Turner, 1990


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary...
In the howling wind comes the stinging rain...

An old man sat alone in his large, comfortable home, the fire in the fireplace - warm, red. Outside it rained.
Alex turned the page of his book and sighed. He was tired. But storms had always upset him, since he was a child he remembered. And now that he was old, rain aggravated his arthritis. The medication he had taken hadn't helped any. Never did.
It also didn't help that he had moved to Sunderland, right on the North Sea shore and near the Lake District; the rainiest part of England. But at least it was away from the city. The hustle and bustle, the traffic and the noise...


...suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping on my chamber door...

Alex, disturbed from his reverie, got up to answer the door. His mind filled with why’s and wherefore’s about people being out at this time of night. His service revolver wasn't far away.
The door swung wide and there stood a small child, shivering in the rain.


Only this and nothing more...

"What in heaven's name?" Alex asked, bewildered.
The child was ghastly white with deep, dark eyes; streaked with tears, her face full of fear. Her nose was bleeding she was holding her left arm in her right hand.
"M-my m-mom...th-the car...we-we..."
The poor child can hardly speak she’s so scared, Alex thought. And not very properly dressed for this sort of weather.
The girl wore only blue jeans and tennis shoes and a light jacket over a black shirt. Her golden hair and her clothes were soaked.
Alex knelt down on one knee and took the girl by the shoulders in his big old hands. “Calm down, child. Tell me what happened. Are you hurt?”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was bleak December...

The girl stood shivering in the door way and Alex remembered his old English manners. It was very cold out and the rain didn’t help.
“Come in, child,” he said.
“There isn’t time. Mom might be hurt,” said the girl excitedly, starting to cry again.
"Let me get my coat."
Alex hurried to the closet and got his grey overcoat to cover his body. He hadn’t bothered getting undressed when he had come in from his trip to town earlier.
Alex hurried back to the little girl, still in the door way: waiting, shivering.
"Come on child. You’ll have to show me where she is."

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for...


They found the girl’s mother.
The car had obviously slid on the wet road and had flipped on its side, glass on the road mixed with driving rain, which now was driving nails into the ground and the wind shook the wrecked car.
In the locust wind, comes a rattle and hum...
Alex went to the car’s front end (new model, he noticed) and got down on his hands and knees. he peered into the windscreen.


I am he who is blind...

The girl’s mother was unconscious, bleeding from her nose and mouth. There were bruises on her face .
Alex couldn't reach the door handle nor could he turn the car over. He sat down in the mud and kicked the windscreen with his shoes heel until it the glass finally shattered. He kept kicking until the way was clear to get the woman out of the car.
Alex crawled through the glass and grasped the woman under her arms. If she had been lying any differently he’d never have gotten her out.
Alex pulled her out little by little until she was completely on the road and sat down to rest.
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer...
The girl came running to her mother.
"Mamma, mamma, mamma!" she cried excitedly.
The woman stirred and that was all.
“Help me get her into the car," Alex puffed as he got up.


See the face of fear running scared in the valley below...


Midnight, our sons and daughters;
Cut down, taken from us...

“That won’t be necessary,” said the little girl calmly, no longer crying.
“What?” said Alex, bewildered, scared. He was truly too old for this.


As we are born alone,
We die alone...

The girl’s dark eyes turned red. She smiled.


From the firefly, a red-orange glow...

The woman sat up, unstable; her wounds almost healed.
Alex was unable to move, paralyzed by the girl’s eyes.


Suit and tie comes up to me
His face red like a rose on a thorn bush...


The woman smiled, her eyes deep, dark; her face ghastly white. Alex felt weak.
“What are you?” he asked, scared.
“My name is Chistine Belle,” said the woman, her voice deep, full, sensuous.
“What are you? Alex asked again, feeling his age; older. And the woman appeared to be getting younger; her wounds healed. She was beautiful, with long golden hair and icy blue eyes.


Allow me to introduce myself:
My name, if you must know,
Is Death


"Soon you will know who I am, old man" said Christine Belle. She rose slowly to her feet and advanced toward Alex, smiling.
Alex's thoughts ran together, to gibberish, thinking: “Christine Belle sounds like oh but that's impossible but it sounds like Christabel!”
His last thought before he died was that Coleridge never finished "Christabel."
And the little girl --


Nameless here for evermore...

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary...
...suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping on my chamber door...
Only this and nothing more...
Ah, distinctly I remember it was bleak December...
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer...
Nameless here for evermore...

(Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven")

In the howling wind comes the stinging rain...
In the locust wind, comes a rattle and hum...
See the face of fear running scared in the valley below...
From the firefly, a red-orange glow...
Suit and tie comes up to me, his face red like a rose on a thorn bush...

(U2 - The Joshua Tree, "Bullet the Blue Sky)

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for...
(U2 - The Joshua Tree, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”)

Midnight, our sons and daughters; Cut down taken from us...
(U2 - The Joshua Tree, “Mothers of the Disappeared”)

I am he who is blind...
Allow me to introduce myself: My name, if you must know, Is Death

(Van Turner - "I Am He")

As we are born alone, We die alone...
(Van Turner - “Alone”)

 

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