A cold hand plays hero in this début by Elise Oliver
By The Light Of The Milky Way
By Elise Oliver
I’ve been here too long.
“You haven’t even been here a day!”
We were lying stomach down on the Grand Canyon sky walk. There was a lot of open space beneath us. A lot, of open space.
I have to go Andy.
“I’ll come with you.”
You’re nine Andy. You can’t come with me.
“I can so.”
What would your parents think?
He shrugged. He was so young.
“My Mum and Dad wouldn’t even notice. They say I’m painful and take up their time. That’s why I escaped and came here with you.” His face was pressed against the glass as he closed his left eye, opened it then closed his right.
You can’t come where I’m going though.
It’s not safe.
This kid wasn’t painful, just young. His parents on the other hand? Well, let’s just say if I could have been lying on this sky walk with them at midnight things would be very different.
I’m at the bottom of a very long list of people Andy. My job isn’t easy and mostly it’s pretty damn depressing.
“Don’t say damn, it’s rude.” His tiny blue eyes looked across the walk way at me.
“So, can I come?”
I paused. On one hand, if I took a child that I wasn’t supposed to, I would be in serious trouble. On the other hand, I could save this kid from a guaranteed lifetime of neglect and distress. Not that where I’d take him would be that much better.
I don’t come from a nice place Andy. It’s hot. It’s muggy. There’s no windows. People scream all night long. It’s dark. We work constantly.
He seemed to consider this for a second.
“I don’t care. I just want to be where you are. We can escape together.”
I couldn’t be here any longer I knew that much. I had to keep moving. If I didn’t keep moving I’d get stuck here. I hated being trapped in one place. That’s the way it had always been. The way it would always be.
I move around a lot. I’m never in one city, in one town, in one world, for very long.
“That sounds fun! I could see all the places in my books!”
“Yeah,” he was excited. I could see it in the way his tiny hands were gripping against the cold glass. “I read a lot of books when my parents are on work trips.”
A weird feeling gripped my bony chest. Was this what sadness felt like?
“I get left alone a lot,” his eyes glazed over, “so I read. Books are the only friends I have.”
Maybe I, could, take him. Maybe.
Do you think I could be your friend Andy?
He thought on that a moment. “I think so.”
Would you be happy to spend all of your time with me? Just me and no one else?
Another moment to consider.
It was against the rules.
The Milky Way was raging so brightly overhead. I was running out of time. If I was going to go I had to go now. Over the many lifetimes of travel I had endured I had learned how to use the Milky Way to my advantage, how to rely on it when I couldn’t rely on anything else.
Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones…
It came out like a whisper on the wind.
Andy’s tiny blonde eyebrows furrowed, “isn’t that a song?”
I slowly leaned back onto my knees my knee caps clicking and sliding against the glass. That was the problem with having no muscles or skin, traction on certain surfaces was, challenging.
It’s a song.
“I like it.”
Rules be damned. Sometimes, we had to be our own hero.
Andy, do you trust me?
He nodded his tiny head.
The faint glow of the galaxy was just starting to show through in the bones of my hand.
Do you want to say goodbye to your parents first?
Are you sure?
He pursed his lips and looked down at the cold cavern below.
“Yeah. They won’t even know I’m gone.”
Oh, they will.
The young boy slowly slid back up off the glass floor onto his knees, his eyes never once leaving the glowing light that was now pulsing from my hand.
Without a moment’s hesitation I wrapped my blazing hand around his wrist while my free hand slammed downwards. The glass beneath us shattered sending the boy’s tiny body plummeting to the Canyon floor. Andy’s ghostly white eyes were wide, an oddly excited expression on his pale face as his soul was ripped from his body.
Time to go.
…And I will try to fix you, he whispered back.