Tuesday story! Or Wednesday? Anyways a little bit longer but hope it will still pose interest!
Ten thousand rainbows
An hour just before the sunrise lights up the sky a trail of people makes its way from the center of the city up to the hills. Kyle watches them from his hideout behind a broken tin fence. He’s holding onto the sharp side but his hands are too cold to feel pain. The night is cold itself. But he remains in his position, curious just as always. He wonders where this people go so early. In the moonlight he studies their faces – even in such fragile light they look pale around the sides, bearded or just dirty, hungry and tired. Lips dry, hairs tangled and filthy. He knows some of them from the day work and the construction site. Their clothes are ragged, and grey, with holes big enough to see the skinny flesh – they’re barely even clothes, but once they could have been expensive suits, or fancy dresses in green or blue or red. Kyle doesn’t know that. He names them colorless. The boy continues to observe.
Some feet are bare, purple from the early air of the autumn month, but firmly marching on top of shattered streets, broken lamps and charred pieces of paper, pages from books. Kyle looks at his own feet – without socks in an oversized rotting boots that hurt him. He doesn’t care. The chain of people is more important.
Kyle wants to go with them. The expression in their eyes amuses him – they are wide open, glimmering, shared excitement can be read in the hollow dark orbits. They are in anticipation.
The body movement, the slow pace tempts the boy to stand up and find a spot in the strange parade. The quietness calls for him, and Kyle holds his breath to hear the words. He shifts a little further, peeking from his sanctuary.
Then Kyle spots how each of the people are carrying a plastic tub or a rusty bucket. He takes another small step, holding his body close to the ground. He tries to see, is there something in those objects out of the ordinary. Pieces of mirrors. His curiosity becomes more aroused.
One man notices Kyle, and walks towards him in large fast steps. There is no trace of humanity in him – his mouth is twisted, teeth are visible, dark with many missing. His eyes pierce with rage and fear. He is scared, threatened by the little boy before him. The man almost grows while picking a stone and lifting his hand with it to throw it at Kyle. The boy freezes, shock displayed all over him.
“Joseph! Don’t!” a woman hisses and makes her way to catch the man’s hand. “His only a boy Joseph…“ She speaks calmly looking up at the man’s face then looking down at Kyle.
“And that forgives him for spying on us? He could be working for the squads as far as we know! Are you boy?” Joseph roars at him, a new wave of fear and anger rushing through his body.
“No!” Kyle yells back, trying not to cry. The woman with a yet unknown name moves past Joseph and kneels before Kyle.
If he had intentions to turn us in he would have done it by now. You have been watching us before haven’t you?” She gives Kyle a half smile. She takes a closer look “You’re Roger’s son aren’t you? What was your name?”
Kyle nods and speaks his name in a whisper.
“Okay Kyle…I’m Charlotte. This is my brother Joe“.
“Have you followed us up in the hills? “ Joseph interrupts
Kyle shakes his head. He has never dared to do so.
“Go home then. Don’t say a word to anyone; don’t ever think of coming back here. Or I swear I’ll smash your skull with a rock. Understood?”
Kyle stands on his feet and begins to withdraw, his tiny feet shaking.
“Wait. Boy. “Charlotte speaks out “Why are you up so early, hiding here, watching us?”
Kyle hesitates. He doesn’t know why. What these people do is brave, different. He wants to be brave as well so he sneaks out in night. He needs difference. But he can’t speak his desires out loud, so he keeps silent, eyes fixated in the ground.
“Let’s go…time is short on us” Joseph walks back in the group.
Charlotte stays. How old is this boy? Ten-Eleven? And all he has ever known is death, hunger and cities in ruins. She reaches out a hand to him “You’re a brave little thing you know that? Want to come with us? “
Kyle can’t believe, neither can Joseph. An outsider is about to be initiated in the sacred circle. The boy takes the offered hand. His heart triumphs.
A few pads on the back and Kyle feels indeed accepted in this strange group of people. They don’t turn him down. They know what sadness the world has shoved down his throat choking his childhood and his future, but that smile dancing on his lips makes them feel human again, warm and ashamed of having thoughts to chase him away or worst.
They resume their race with the soon to come sun, walking silently faster and faster, higher and higher up the road. They still remain within the restricted area borders. The landscape brightens, the day emerges but there is still time before Kyle has to go back home and hide his absence from his father. He worries not about that at the moment.
Soon they reach the hills and in their hug lay’s the old village and its monastery. Kyle has only heard about them. He meets a naked field, black grass and a well in the middle with the stones scattered around, almost dug into the ground. No houses, no people.
Parts of the monastery still stand, mocking the shackled belief of people. True, in the half-light there is nothing holy about it – just bricks and crumbling walls. No cross. No bells. No power. Kyle wonders why it hasn’t been completely destroyed by the army. Just left to decay.
To the boy’s surprise the group heads towards it.
Kyle trips over a few larger blocks even though his vision is used to the darkness. He is blown away by the remains of this massive once construction. Even destroyed there are spots where Kyle sees eyes and golden halos painted on the walls. His father has told him tales of saints and angels. Now Kyle is at their home. Maybe this people come here to perform that ancient ritual of praising God?
He is kept uninformed. The group passes underneath a barely holding on its foundations arch.
They come around the east side of the monastery. The tiles are missing there as well; two of the four walls are completely gone, except for one solid, untouched, the stone preserved and its opposite wall mostly gone, but still there like a ghost. Kyle is unaware of the fact that this place has once been an inner yard garden. He turns around to ask have they reached the designated area, but finds the people gathered up closely. They wait.
Joseph and one other man approach something Kyle can’t see. He runs back and pushes his way through a sea of elbows to have a better view.
Surprisingly in the middle, vertically positioned a marble fountain still exists. It’s become green from the ages, pieces of the corners chopped off in ugly shapes. But the planks on top of it seem out of place. They look relatively new.
Joseph and his comrade start removing them, and Kyle exclaims when the last one is put aside. Clean, clear water calmly rests there, the stars reflecting on its black surface. The people gather up in line, take the mirrors out in hand and one by one fill their plastic tubs with the crystal cold water. Just by looking at it Kyle becomes thirsty. But no one drinks.
Instead they sit in front of the solid wall facing east, put down their tubs and dip half of the mirrors in the water.
The boy is confused.
Charlotte calls Kyle to come and sit with her.
“What are we waiting for? “ He whispers.
“You’ll see“The woman replies.
Above the sharp features of the broken wall something begins to glimmer. A line of fire dances, climbing from behind the wall. Kyle shivers from excitement. The sun approaches slowly, but he has never seen it like this. In fact he has seen the sun so rarely so bright. He knows the clouds, the rain and thunderstorms. The rays feel good on his face. Tender. Like a mothers kiss on the cheek. He blinks from the shining light and before he could close and open his eyes again the sun is higher in the sky, watching the peculiar group of people from above.
Charlotte grabs her tub and mirror and begins to adjust them. The others do the same. Kyle watches their kneeling figures and what they do looks weird to him. They seem to follow some invisible trail, their hollow eyes tracing the wall, searching for something. Then someone cries out, a happy note in his voice and in a split second others cheer as well. Kyle spots something jumping on the wall, but then Charlotte takes him by the shoulder and addresses his attention to the lower left corner of the wall.
Kyle’s voice dies when he tries to speak.
He doesn’t really know or understand beauty but the only word his brain can think of to describe what his eyes see is indeed “beautiful“. He is afraid that if he breaths the miracle will go away. It’s a blend beyond amazing, symmetry like non in nature. Colors gathered in a most unbelievable combination. He names them all – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. He is infatuated by the presence of this phenomenon on the wall of a crumbling monastery. It has no flavor, no smell, and no sound. But Kyle can hear it laugh and sing. He can smell the green grass, the air in the blue summer sky, the red apples, the yellow tulips, the oranges in a garden, the ink from a paper and the violet candy of which his mother always spoke. He was six when she died.
Kyle snaps from his memories. Fear overtakes him. What if the squads find out how amazingly this little beam of joy trembles on this oh so holy wall? What if they come and take it in their hands, stealing it away from Kyle? He cries, the tears fall large and salty on his lips. He cries both from love for this and for pure terror of it being taken away.
“What is this?”He finally speaks. He has to know its name, to remember it forever, until he dies.
Charlotte speaks softly “This is the rainbow Kyle. This is magic. Look.”
With watery eyes Kyle looks to where Charlotte points.
On the wall more rainbows dance. They seem ten thousand to him, each so perfect, floating and dancing a mystic dance, meeting each other in a collision of colors. Breathtaking. He now knows. This is salvation. This is the real sanctuary.
“Thank you… “” he mumbles.
This is the most amazing thing Kyle has ever seen in his life.
* * *
Some hour later Kyle walks beside his father for another exhausting, bleeding day of slavery and torment at the construction site but a barely visible smile tickles his lips as the colors of a giant rainbows light up his soul and heart.