The shadow of wiry tree branches cast cracks across the perfect pearly white of the moon. Old paint peeled away from the frame of the window, as icy winds blew through the broken glass. Blood seeped from the skull of the man who lay there motionless on the floor. His heart had stopped beating hours before, but the hand of his watch still ticked.
“Can you clarify the time at which you discovered your father, Miss Skylark?” inquired the police officer, looking up at her briefly before returning to his notebook.
“About 10.a.m.” She replied
“Was it coincidental that you should visit the house the morning after your father’s death?” A sense of accusation and suspicion beaconed from his eye as he glanced up at her. She hesitated for no more than a second, as if in a fleeting attempt to deduce the look she’d been given.
“Your implication being?”
“Well, our sources tell us that the last time you visited your father was March 20th 1986 - that’s approximately 4 years and 7 months ago, that was in fact the last time he had a visit from anyone.”
“You can prove this?”
“Your father lived just outside a very small village in Cumbria, with hardly any connections with anyone - let alone friends - and no living relations with the exception of yourself. So unless you have any other pieces of information that you think we’d benefit from, I’ll repeat the question: Was it coincidental that you should visit the house the morning after your father’s death?”
“Yes. It was.” She confirmed, sharply. She wasn’t going to take any crap from a man whose heart, she had decided, was as dark and dingy as the office she sat in.
“Understood. Thank you for your time, Miss Skylark.” Rebecca refused to respond with anything more than a solemn nod and an eager exit.
The air bit at her face with frosty teeth as she stepped out onto the pavement.
“You’ll be behind bars by the end of the week.”
She turned on her heels to face the voice – which stood to the left of the door as a tall individual with mystery oozing out of every pour in his pale skin.
“Excuse me?” she inquired, astonished at such an absurd allegation.
“I said - they’ll lock you up.”
“Who the hell are you to talk to me like that?”
“On the street, they call me Caelum. My birth name remains between me and the sky.”
“You and the sky?”
“Yes. The sky gives me information, so it seems only right that I return the favour.” Rebecca scoffed and flicked her hair over her shoulder as she continued down the street. He called after her, “Watch your back, birdy.”
As she arrived at the station (which seemed almost amateur compared to the London ones she was used to) and took a seat on the platform; she couldn’t be bothered to get a ticket – it was only 4 minutes away, she’d do it on the train. Throwing her bag onto the seat next to her, and tossing her eyes to the sky - she stopped trying to hold herself together and let her heart fall to pieces. All of a sudden, going home wasn’t an option. Her father might be dead, but he was still here. She couldn’t leave him. There was probably a hotel near by of sorts – and that would have to do.
She pushed her way through harsh, hammering rain - which had conveniently chosen that moment to descend upon her – and finally came across an old motel, which looked more haunted than comforting or warm. But she’d managed to rope herself into an emotional contract, so there wasn’t any going back.
After throwing all her weight against the enormous, wooden door, and realising that turning the handle made it swing open easily, she entered the reception and shook herself dry with the vigour of a dog. Black and white tiles covered the floor, and the room was dominated by an enormous mahogany desk - from behind which a small receptionist poked her head. Mousey brown hair dragged back into a tiny ballet bun perched on the back of her head, dark shadows under her eyes, and dainty, pale lips that formed the words
“A room, ma’am?”
Each step she dared to take seemed to push the unstable staircase further towards collapsing - as she stepped onto the landing, she gazed around in her dazed state of half existing. Tall portraits of aristocratic looking adults and solemn looking children - all in fancy frames. Every set of eyes was on her - the paintings, of course, observed her every move with intense attention; but her palpitating heart told her that she wasn’t alone. Her suspicions were confirmed as she turned to find Caelum.
“Birdy” He greeted her.
“Stop calling me that”
“What a coincidence seeing you here.”
“No its not.”
“You catch on quick.”
“How did you know where I was? Were you following me?” he shook his head and extended one finger towards the sky.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake” she retorted. He smirked at her exasperation, as if this was all a hoax specially designed to wind her up. She felt her heart plummet as she realised that the number on her room key matched that on the door that Caelum was leaning on.
“Do you mind? I’m both physically and emotionally exhausted and I don’t need some random lunatic giving me any more problems” He responded only by producing a business card that read:
Specialising in unusual happenings
0XXXX 1X2 3X4
“Is this also what they call you on the street? Or has the sky decided to speak up?”
“This is business - it doesn’t pay to be interesting. And might I add that I am in no way a lunatic, I am bonded with the sky, not obsessed with the moon.”
“So the sky really is the limit.” she dismissed, forcing her way past him.
“You’ll need me”
“Of course” she continued to open her door, not caring enough to even glance behind her.
“Watch your back, birdy.”
When she awoke she was greeted by a tear stained pillow and overly floral bed sheet, both of which gave her an uneasy feeling in her stomach. She rapidly began to regret waking up, as the memory of yesterday’s events accumulated in her mind. Any hope of falling back asleep had flown out the window as soon as her eyes were open - though she was sure it could be no later than 3.a.m. So, with no more than a thin cardigan to protect her from the cutting night air, she decided to get some fresh air.
She sat down on the cold stone steps that lead up to the door - tucking her knees up under her chin as the sky cried with her. The time disappeared easily, and she soon found herself beginning to walk. Not looking, not even thinking, just walking. She kept walking until she hit the hills, where she left everyday life with the people who cared for it; breaking into a run. The wind howled in her ears and blocked out any ideas of going back, and she made sure she ran so fast that regret couldn’t catch her.
But as the night swallowed her up She could feel everything change…
The wind that had once whipped past her cheeks
The rain that once fell softly and comfortingly to the ground
Silence flooded the land and suffocated sound.
It was a funny thing... night time... She’d seen the darkened sky millions of times - but the view from here was different. It was overwhelming. It had some kind of warped ability to shut out the world and let you listen - turn off the TV and turn up the music. She could almost see her worries get dragged over the horizon - letting her breathe, and focus, and watch.
As she let herself get lost in the view before her - the word magical hardly began to cover it. Every star shone brilliantly in it’s own right. The black ocean of sky was more than what it had once seemed, it wasn’t just black, it was deeper than that - her heart danced as if the universe was trusting her with its secrets. She found light in the darkness; she found her everything in nothing. And for the first time - everything seemed, well, to just make sense.