Close your Eyes When the Cóiste Bodhar Passes
The ivory shavings fluttered down, blanketing Lower Market Street with their eerie glow. Gren watched the desolate street from the window over his desk. He had seen no reason to venture out into the cold unnecessarily. After desperately trying to block out the excited squeals of the local children as they hurled lumps of mush at one another, Gren relished the tranquility of the late hour.
He huffed, his bloodshot eyes dragging across the page in front of him, pen poised.
Nothing. Blank as the crisp white landscape beyond the glass, which he returned his gaze to, feeling too disheartened to think about his writing, or rather lack of it.
The LED studded trees stood guard at every shop front hollered yellows and greens and blues to each other, their voices amplified by the alien landscape. Gren had decided not to go home for the big day. He would phone his sister in the morning, she would be up early to make sure that Santa had visited the twin’s stockings. Thinking of his nieces, he made the pen flutter across the page, conjuring blonde girls with green eyes in the snow. He managed to write a few sentences, before the clang of the Clock Tower found him.
But wait, he frowned, eyes searching. There’s something else.
A body of ebony lacquer on wide, spoked wheels. Drawn by four horses, their coats glossy and well-kept up to the neck. And above the neck – nothing. It hadn’t been a clean cut, the jagged wounds seemed fresh, yet no blood flowed from them.
Gren couldn’t move, couldn’t utter a sound.
The driver, clad in black like his horses, sat at the top of the coach as it glided effortlessly uphill, making no marks in the ground. Gren felt sure that the rider would turn as he passed, but he didn’t. He merely stared ahead, concealed by his hood.
The doors at the back of the coach weren’t secured. Two small, blue hands emerged, swinging them fully open. A bundle of grey dropped out of the coach and landed in the road, disturbing the perfect snow. The driver’s head snapped back, but before he could pull over, the twelfth chime rang out and the coach melted into the shadows.
His mouth hanging open, Gren couldn’t help but stare as the grey shape moved. It stirred until it was standing. Blue bare feet sank into the icy ground. Green eyes travelled up to the window.
It was a child.
She moved stiffly, creeping closer to the front door. She tilted her head, lips murmuring a song in her scratchy voice.
Hold my hand in the dark.
I’m scared when I can’t see.
If you’re decent, be my host.
Come into the darkness with me.
Gren could hear his frantic heartbeat knocking against his ribcage. Is that noise coming from outside or…? A high-pitched giggle cut through the air behind him and Gren swerved in his chair, losing his balance and toppling to the floor.
When his eyes opened, sunlight was scorching his cheek through the window. Gren could see the dripping snow receding outside. He sat up, dismayed that he had lost valuable writing time.
Outside, excited children were laughing and playing in the Christmas snow, their shouting loud enough to cover the singing that echoed through Gren’s head.
by Ceire Warren