Romance, Pieces, and Stories

So it’s today, which means a lot of different things for different people, but for me it means a day with someone who seems to match my madness stroke for stroke in her own unique way.

Someone I can be myself around, which is good as it’s the only way I seem to pull off with any sense of confidence. today we’re going to breakfast somewhere out in Manchester, and then after, we don’t know.

Maybe we’re going to head to the beach, which if you don’t in England is a place full of stones, grey skies, and all year round stall dedicated to strange little things. We may decide to go to the cinema, and try and easy our weight in ice cream, or we may figure something out in the middle involving trains and books.

It’s not always been like this though, and my life as i’m sure so many others have had, has been full of troubles and tribulations in the ways of love or at least lust. People are wonderful, magnificent in their own way, but they don’t always fit together. Too many end pieces, when all you’re looking for is a matching piece of sky.

Here’s a story about someone trying to find that bit of sky, but perhaps they’ve met one of those funny little shaped pieces, which seem so different that you can’t help but learn from them.

Meeting by Midday
By
Bradley Heywood

Dawn was staring at her wardrobe, wondering what on Earth she was going to wear. There was something about certain significant meetings that would show just how much of a slob you really were. Nothing seemed to fit right: from the slivery shimmers of lights first breath, to the bright and bubbly beams of the midday glare. She found herself sucking in, as the corset the colour of shimmering water embraced her tightly, it didn’t work, and it was too Moulin Rouge. She tossed it on the abandoned pile without a second glance, and found her favourite jeans. There was a reason they were her favourite jeans, tight yet flattering, suggestive yet sensible, and the colour of fluffy knitted clouds. These would do, they had worked before, and every time she wore them everyone would look, yet as she stared into the mirror all she could see was the rising muffin-top above, and the shrinking bottom below. So she threw them into the pile with all of the rest. Was this it? Was this all that the Duchess of the Dawn had to choose from? Overcast rainy days in which to frame her once slight and petite frame, now plumed from far too many feasts and merriment. Gloves the colour of the finest gardens, and smelling of springs first rain. Her’s was a kingdom of the hours of the day, yet as she peered through her wardrobe all she could find was crap. There would be no alternative, she’d have to call the date off. What was so special about the day that it would captivate someone even for a moment? Everyone knew that the night was it’s most romantic, filled with candlelight, fireworks, and snuggles under the stars sky. The night was a place for incense and smells that captured the very nature of life and lust. Compared to the night what was the day, but a time to see the crap on the floor, and the litter in the stream? A time full of funny smells, and worse people. A place for wars, where boys would come to finish the work that stupid men had in their arrogance started.

Dawn had decided on the only items that made any sort of sense which included: a shirt of summer, spun in such a way that you felt your worries wash away. A skirt of the first flowers, picked from the finest spring. Sensible shoes that would keep you calm as long as your heart was pure and your intent was to succeed. And a cardigan created from the oceans gentle breeze, which was so thin and cool it would handle even the hottest of days. Yet here she was, fidgeting by Midday, wondering why she hadn’t bothered to just wear a bin bag and be done with it. He wouldn’t notice, and even if he did he’d be smart enough to know just how much of a mess she really was. This is why she didn’t date, it was just too much, and she knew it. Dawn wasn’t fit for the troubling stress of the world, she was at her strongest in the beginning, when the world was covered in a blanked of darkness. She felt most comfortable when she was allowed to be herself, as loud, and bright and vibrant as she needed to be. He probably didn’t like bright people, probably preferred those that didn’t announce themselves so dramatically that the flowers would literally open in their wake. He wasn’t likely to be use to people that could blind the world with their brilliance, illuminating every crack and space as they stretched and yawned, and greeted the new day. He probably didn’t like it when people really looked, and saw all the little bits people liked to hide, and he’d probably get made when she’d ask “OOO, that’s a nice looking broken bit, where did you get that?”

Someone approached. He approached, all clad in darkness, thunder and fire. His face obscured by a massed tangle of steely-grey hair, only the twinkle of the stars in his vast eyes.

‘Dawn?’ He asked in a voice like the harsh winter wind. I nodded silently, rose to greet him, and took his cold, grey hand in my brown warmed one. ‘Please sit down.’

‘I am sorry if I am not so charming,’ he said, stifling a great white yawn with his hand. ‘-but this is not quite my time yet, and I fear I may bore you to death.’

‘Not at all,’ said Dawn, waving a hand. ‘I only asked if we could meet in the day because, and try not to laugh, I haven’t seen the night before.’

‘I would not laugh at your words, unless they truly touched me,’ he said taking my hand in his. ‘I can understand why you have not ventured into the midnight hours, they are truly secondary in comparison to all of this.’

‘This?’ said Dawn, looking around in dismissive disgust. ‘It’s nothing in particular. It’s just the day.’

‘That is where you have me at a loss, for I have only heard stories of the exquisite beauty of your realm, a place that can be anything it chooses, and belongs to animals, and humankind alike.’

‘You speak as if you don not experience the same in your dark and reclusive world?’ asked Dawn, then when seeing the look on his face, wished that she hadn’t.

‘You have to understand, my lady. I am the Duke of the Dusk, and my realm is one that is forever held in mystery and fear. Those that inhabit my world are forced to in waking dread that they may never find their beloved dawn.’

‘You talk as if your’s is the realm of monsters, have you not noticed the troubles of history?’ asked Dawn. He was smiling, the twinkle of a jest in his eye, as he bade her to go on.

‘The night is a place to be feared, but it is the day in which the monsters come out. The tribes of the Inca, the Aztec, and the Mayan, dragging those hopeful up to the tops of their square ziggurats, and carving their hearts so that I may rise again. If they’d paid any attention they’d know that i’d rise regardless. I don’t want their blood, their slaves, just their smiles as I wave my shinning fingers to greet them.’

‘Mine is a time of shadow gods, of cold dangerous nights, and wherever I hold sway the beasts of the dark do their bidding.’

‘That’s not fair,’ said Dawn, waving her hand, desperately trying to get a waiters attention. ‘You’ve got all the strange cute animals, like badgers, I love badgers.’

‘You do me a great service, but badgers are not entirely of my domain, they belong to neither the night or the day, but those funny hours at either edge. There’s a word for it.’

Dawn raised a perfectly formed eyebrow, the shade of summers grain. ‘Crepuscular?’
He nodded, and the waiter came over. He was a servant of the world itself, governed by the wills of the seasons, the sun, the moon, and all the power of the hours themselves.

‘What can I get for you both, on this fine day?’

‘Perhaps some wine?” said Dawn, with a big bright smile.

‘Just a coffee for me,’ said Dusk, with a wide yawn, as he rubbed his bleary white eyes. ‘I’m not use to being up so early you see.’

They ordered some food, which seemed as strange and varied as the two that sat on either end of the table. Croissants, and stuffed mushrooms. porridge and lamb Tagine. It would be a meal that the world had not deemed to name yet. One fit for the morning and the evening.

‘You know,’ said Dusk with a smile. ‘I heard the most interesting stories about the day. Is it true that you have birds that sing throughout the day? Matching songs to the veritable beauty of your beauty?’

‘Yes and they’re bloody annoying, especially when you’re trying to relax first thing, but all you can hear is “Squark squark squark”.’

‘There isn’t much singing at my time, just the nightingales, singing their requiem for the end of a yet another day.’

‘I don’t think that’s why their doing it,’ said Dawn, in-between mouthfuls of Tagine. ‘I think they’re just happy for the coming of the night, a time where they don’t have to worry about the great sighted predators that hunt so freely in my time.’

‘There are more than a few predators that hunt in the dark,’ said Dusk with a sniff, as he tried to stomach a few mouthfuls of porridge.

‘You should take credit for those that work within your dark times. Those are the ones that hunt with more than skill and guile, but intellect.’

‘You do me credit, but I cannot take credit, when yours is a day dedicated to true intellect. While I haven’t seen the shifting colours of the trees, I have witnessed the majesty of the artists who capture it utterly. Yours is the realm of art, while mine its resting place.’
‘Nonsense,’ said Dawn as she sipped her chardonnay. ‘Artists thrive in your realm. Without the night, the great melancholy works of the 19th century would have suffered indeed. Your’s is a time of broody introspection, while mine is full of stuff works that are nostalgic the moment they are realised.’

‘Then what does that make mine?’ suggested the Duke of Dusk, as he raised his coffee cup skyward, the light already dripping away into the early evening. He seemed more powerful and substantial by the moment, while Dawn felt pale and light-headed.

‘They are timeless.’

‘Is there a difference?’ he asked, his lips the soft shades of a red set sky.

‘Only where it is important.’

‘I will say that I find all of this talk quite engaging. It is a shame that we cannot take it further into my own time. I’d love to share with you the beauty of the setting sun, the shifting shades of the eve as the seasons flitter from Spring to Summer, then shudder and pale from Autumn into Winter.’

‘I did not know that there was such a thing as a different type of night?’ asked Dawn. ‘I’d very much like to see that, but I fear i’d be wasted there. A nobody, ignored and forgotten, and I don’t know if I could handle that.’

‘Trust me,’ said the Duke of Dusk, with eyes slightly more awake. ‘When you’re with me, you shall never be forgotten. I do not think there is a force on this Earth that would not be brightened by your mere presence.’

This was madness. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to go, but then again he was a creature of the night, while she a thing of the sun. Could she trust him to keep her safe? To let her be herself, and not just ignore her as so many did even in the day.
‘Come with me,’ he said, taking her hand. Dawn resisted at first, and then allowed herself to be taken away.

They walked through the slowly darkening day, and strolled into the setting sun. Dawn felt herself swallowed by the sheer intensity of the night, but with each passing moment there was dusk, growing ever brighter. Not in the same way as her. She was brightened by the things around her, emboldened by their brilliance and desire to come out of themselves as she pattered past. The Duke of Dusk seemed to emanate light from within. As he took moments to appreciate the world around him, he would glow, shimmer and shine, inspiring those dark and cloudy minds to shift and shakes and shine themselves.

‘I want you to meet some of my friends,’ he said, taking Dawn to a gathering in the dark glade, where three individuals stood. ‘These are some of my friends: Winter, Wolf, and Fire.’

Winter was a vast thing, imposing and cold in manner as form. Wolf was shaggy, and smelt of sweaty fur and faint blood, while fire was small bright, and desperate to embrace everyone warmly. The Duke of Dusk persuaded me to keep my distance.

‘ ‘o’s dis you’ve brought wit ya, Duke?’ said Wolf, as he nibbled at his great a sharp paw.

‘I want you all to make a special warm, welcome for the ever beautiful Dawn.’
Wolf stared up with a great yellow eye, sniffed, then resumed licking his paw. Winter puffed and paled, while fire stared up in interest.

‘I’ve heard about you. People like to put me out when you come swanning about, how do you think that makes me feel?’

‘I’m sorry,’ said Dawn, wondering what else to say. ‘I don’t mean any offence.’

‘Any offence,’ crackled Fire. ‘I spend all my time trying to get people to come closer, spend a little time, and warm them up. You pop your head through the clouds and then nobodies interested in me.’

Dawn turned to the Duke of Dusk, who shook his great grinning head side to side, as he ran cold fingers through his great curled hair. ‘Do not take any heed of him, he will war, up as the night progresses.’

Dawn turned to the great mass of wind and fury that was Winter, and attempted her bold and brightest smile, but seemed about as warming as a slug against his granite-clad mood.

‘So, I haven’t spent much time with you, how are you?’
Winter turned its great frozen eyes towards, her and fixed her with a jowly stare.

‘So now you’re interested in me?’ he huffed, sending air so cold up into the trees, that it froze them stiff. ‘You’re not to bothered to talk to me most of the time.’

Dawn cast a quick glance back at the Duke, who didn’t notice, his head lost upwards, as he stared into the night. He looked strong now, imposing and dangerous.

‘I don’t mean any offence, but I have a lot of places to be, and whoever you’re there it’s just such a bad time.’ Winter sniffed once more, his wrinkly red eyes giving a look of undisguised disgust.

‘All the people talk about is when is the light going to come back. They don’t like the snow I give them, the chance to grow close in the home and harth.’
‘People love the snow,’ said Dawn helpfully. ‘Well maybe not all of them, but the ones that do look forward to it always.’

A great grey tongue slid slowly across his craggy lips, revealing a mouth of blue craggy teeth. ‘Nobody appreciates me when you’re around.’

‘What is going on?’ asked Dawn, standing to her feet. ‘Why is everyone ganging up on me?’

‘Fire’s my friend,’ puffed Winter. ‘And if there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s a self-centred clot.’

Fire cracked and cackled, spurting embers all around him, and Winter allowed himself a brief sneery smile.

‘What about you?’ asked dawn, pointing a finger at the wolf. ‘What have you to say about my short comings?’

The wolf opened its mouth, revealing cruel, yellow teeth as it yawned. ‘Me? I Fink you’re alright, but nothink special.’

The words while seemingly kinder than the other two, cut deeper. She suspected it had something to do with the seeming ease in which he dismissed her entirely. It wasn’t something that Dawn was accustomed to, it wasn’t something she liked at all.

‘Now Dusk ‘ere, ‘e’s somefink special.’ The Duke of the Dusk too a deep and theatrical bow, as if suddenly aware of his surroundings. ‘Wiv ‘im dare comes da moon. Big, bright, and pretty of light to go ‘untin’.’

‘Well i’m sorry i’m not more accommodating,’ said Dawn with a huff.

‘Your’s is alright ‘spose,’ sniffed the wolf, then blinked his great yellow eyes. ‘If i’m buggered I don’t mind the odd amble in your part of the day. Needs must and all that.’
‘Well i’m glad for you,’ said Dawn. ‘now if you don’t mind, i’d like to talk to the Duke in private.’

The wolf nodded. Fire brightened, while Winter ignored her completely. Dawn sighed as she took the Duke by the arm, leading him deep into the wood, much to the whoop and cheers from the drooling wolf. She could have died from the embarrassment.

‘What is it my dear?’ asked the Duke.

‘I’m grateful for introducing me to your friends, I truly am, but they obviously don’t like me, so I think it’s best if I go.’

The Dukes great lantern eyes dimmed as if pained.

‘But you cannot go, yet,’ he said, taking her cold hand in his much colder one. ‘There is so much to talk about, we have barely begun. Give them time to get to know you, and they will like you as much as I do.’

Dawn nodded, and let him lead her back to the other three. There they sat, regaling tales of the night, of it’s fierce and frozen nature, the warmth that comes with it’s fires, and the tastes of cooked meat. They spoke of cold frolics in the lunar kissed streams, and the silence of those moments when everything slept sound, save those who frequented the strange little hours just before the sun came again.

Dawn tried to understand, but when she asked about details and facts, the three would laugh and joke, while the Duke pretended not to listen. As they taunted and mocked and eventually ignored her altogether, Dawn felt worse than she had done so in her life. She had promised herself that she would not be cast aside and ignored, and here she was: cold and bored, while these strangers bickered and boasted about things she couldn’t possibly understand.

When the darkness receded, giving way to light, the three said their goodbyes, leaving Dusk and Dawn alone. Before he could say a word, she raised her hand up.

‘You have done what you said you would not, and left me sat in the corner. I seen you night, and it seems fit for gaudy talk, taunts, and little more.’

‘You are probably right,’ said Dusk as he rubbed his tired eyes. ‘But you should have made yourself more clear, communicate, talk.’

‘How can I talk to them, when they dismiss me so entirely. I am a foreigner in their lands, and when I speak I am considered too forward or crude.’

‘I don’t know what to say,’ said the Duke. He looked less than before now, while Dawn felt herself growing stronger by the moment. She knew what to say. She’d make things right.

‘You can say that you will come with me in the Day, where I will show you just how much better we treat people.’

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