The Natural Darkness of a Phrase

When I was in high school, it was a requirement for every student to take a final for certain courses throughout there academic career. We called these provincials, sort of like the SATs in the States in which our performance can both help and kill our chances of getting into the university that we’re aiming for. The final provincial I ever took was for an english course which focused mainly on writing narrative compositions. The essay question or prompt given was: People find pleasure in many different ways. This is what I remember I wrote, perhaps with a bit of embellishing, extra editing, the works.

By Alan Delaney: LONDON AFTER DARK (1980-1990)

By Alan Delaney: LONDON AFTER DARK (1980-1990)

She. Head down low. Avoiding the looks, the stares, the jeers. The night was over for her. Money was always scarce, but some nights, she just didn’t have the energy. She wasn’t as young as she used to be. Pretty soon the drunken laughter and the burning feeling on her cheeks that she got from men calling her “darling” and “hun” faded away. When it felt like she was alone, she lifted her head towards the moon. It was bigger than what she thought was normal, but then again, she hadn’t stopped to look at the moon in a very long time. She closed her eyes, and though it was faint, she let herself bask in the warmth of the moonlight.

She took a deep breath and slowly reopened her eyes back to reality. The street was quiet as she began to move forward. Her shoes made a distinct clacking noise that made her feel exposed in the dark. Without trying to sound nervous, she slightly increased her pace, but the clacking noise followed her. She looked around for anything to focus her gaze on. Turning to her right, she looked towards the river. Her focus was caught on a silver shining figure that looked like it was drowning beneath the waves. The moon had once again claimed her attention. It looked peaceful, like it was accepting its fate. She shed a slight tear and quietly commented on their similarities. She looked back up to the moon, and made a wish on the surrounding stars that one day she could become like the moon, a beautiful figure that with a single glance, would cast awe into the hearts of the people. She hated how she saw herself now: an imperfect reflection with countless flaws, drowning under the waves of life.

She turned back towards her way home, getting further and further away from the river’s edge. She approached a street with various streetlights. Some of them were in working order, others appeared to be broken, and others still would blink on and off in an unpredictable pattern. She tried her best to stay under the lights of those whose beams were constant by weaving in and around the lights that appeared the strongest. All throughout however, something about her surroundings seemed off. Her footsteps didn’t seem to match when her feet landed anymore and sometimes when she stopped, she could swear she heard an extra CLACK. She decided that her nerves were just getting to her and that everything was just in her imagination. Though her path was methodical, eventually she came across a flickering light. She was never afraid of the dark, but tonight was different. Something about her surroundings evoked a sense a fear.

With her first step forward, the light turned off. She paused for a second, deciding whether or not she should move forward, or wait for the light to turn back on. While she was still deciding, she heard an all too familiar sound. CLACK CLACK CLACK. The steady rhythm was quiet at first, but she could hear it approaching her. She stayed where she was and begged the light to stay off. The light however had other ideas. When the clacking sound seemed to be the loudest, the lights turned back on. She saw the woman whom the the clacking noises belonged to. She immediately thought of the moon and the reflection. The two looked at each other for a brief moment. The woman gave a genuine smile and She, a slight nod, and then they brushed past one another.

She thought about the woman. The two of them looked the same. Messy makeup, and ruffled up hair indicated a night of regret. Their clothes gave insight to their social class, and the negative stereotype associated with it. Though something between them was different. The woman was clearly the moon, but She, She was the reflection.The night was quiet again, her footsteps didn’t seem off anymore and she finally felt at peace. When she had arrived at her building, she felt a gush of relief. She slowly climbed the steps, whispered a well-natured “good night” to her landlord and continued to the top floor. She entered her tiny room, closed her eyes, and imagined her existence away.

She. The morning was sunny. It’s rays filled her with far more energy and warmth than the moon did, but it lacked the mystery and beauty that the moon possessed. She laid in bed for a little while, but eventually, she got up and dressed to leave the building. She decided to take the same path that she had walked the night before. She couldn’t look up anymore because of the blinding sun, but she tried her best to at least keep her head up high. In the distance, she saw a small crowd gathering. People were crying and someone was calling for the police. She approached the crowd and broke through to the middle. There lying on the ground was the woman from the night before. There was blood all around her that seemed to poor out from her neck. The woman still had the smile that She had seen the previous night, however, something was different. On the forehead of the woman, someone had carved in a word: MOON


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