Whispers & Walls

By Leila Romanes

That night, silence had a colour. My ears rang with the silver of the night’s hush, swirling like liquid mercury. The field was a desert after the harvest; I didn’t think that anything could have survived the conflagration of dry stalks. My fingers, coated with charcoal, traced spiralling patterns into the dirt.

One moment of unbroken peace, the night a cool blanket, damp air against my flushed cheeks. Breathe in, out. In, out.

The sudden, cutting edge of a shard of metal stopped the exploration of my hands through the ash.

A broken blade, perhaps. A piece of a tool, discarded during the frenzy of the past few days. I picked it up, marvelling at how sharp it still was. As I wiped the dust off of the surface, it became a makeshift mirror, reflecting the few stars visible through the skyglow of the Inner Ring. Tilting it side to side, I caught constellations in my fingers.

The shadow of the Wall cut mercilessly over the metal, swallowing the stars as I twisted the shard towards myself. Always there, always looming behind me, the reminder of where I was and where I had to stay. 

Unable to look any longer, I curled my hand around the shard, covering the Wall with my fingers.

A slicing pain burrowed into my palm where I had been cut. My blood was only darkness in the new-moon night, seeping insidiously out of my wound. 

Stars on steel fell to the ashes of the field.

I ran.