The Brent Weeks Network

For fans of The Night Angel Trilogy and The Lightbringer Series

My first short story, dating back to 2006

                             I once heard that a smile can save a life.

                                 But not returning it ruins the magic.

 

I stand out as the only living thing around and watch the water far beneath. Looking down, I see the foamy waves crashing on the rocks below. Actually, in the darkness I can’t make out almost anything but the roar and white crests were helping my imagination. I could imagine how romantic it would all seem to a side observer. The full moon, the rocks, the sea and the lonely, melancholic figure I was. A real painting.

 

For a moment the moon came out of its fluffy cover and flooded the area in pearl light. I moved my eyes to the feeble grass that deemed my current location as home. I felt sorry for it. Unlike me, it could not escape. It had to be satisfied with the little and raw soil, to bear the burning hot sun and feed on the sea water. And despite all, as if it was mocking Fate itself, it was blossoming. It was covered with numerous small, but bright nameless flowers.

 

The moon hid again, separating me from the little angels, leaving me alone with the memory of the stubborn will to live that I myself was lacking.

I heard my horse, disembodied voice asking the last question that my hearing would detect.

"Do you have something to live for? I don’t."

And I made a step toward the abyss.

 

Why then? Why?

I don’t know, but the melody of my cell phone startled me. I had forgotten all about it and I even had no idea how it got in the bag that was left a few meters and a life away. I turned around and stared at the bag, listening to the familiar tune. Wasn’t it amazing? I hadn’t been called for months, maybe years, but I had still charged and carried the stupid device with me without even realizing it.

 

I looked back at the rocky bottom that the water was exposing periodically.

Although I have had a fear of water ever since I was little, now it seemed astoundingly attractive. The thought of the sudden end was seducing my soul like nothing before. At the same time I realized that the only reason for the melody could be someone calling the wrong number.

 

With effort I broke away from the edge and went to rummage in the backpack. I guess that a drowning person really does try to grab onto even the smallest straw.

 

While searching for the cell the person on the other side got tired and hung up, but that didn’t make me stop. The realization of my actions painfully reminded me of how I was desperately searching for hope for months on end. When I opened the lid I had to narrow my eyes because of the bright light of the screen, but after I blinked a few times, I saw the name on the screen.

 

I can’t say that I meant a lot, but I can’t deny that I knew it. Then she rang again and this time I picked up, almost mechanically.

 

“Hello, I'm Zornitsa from your previous class, do you remember me?”

“W-What?” I stuttered rather in order to reassure myself she was talking to me. I wasn’t excited or even curious. I just hadn’t used my voice for so long that I wondered if I even still can.

“You sounds strange, are you sick?”

“No...”

“Anyway, I'm sorry, I know it's late, but I suddenly thought of you and decided to call you. I know it was long ago, but at school we were friends for a while and now I would like to see you again.”

Nonsense. I remember this girl and the only contact we had was when I borrowed her eraser.

“You’re lying.”

The voice paused, then continued with a slightly more moderate enthusiasm.

“Yes ... But I’m not lying that I saw you in my nightmare.”

“Oh, yeah? And what do you want?” I was getting annoyed.

“For you to live. That's all. I know it's silly, but in my dream you were hit by a car, so please be careful. Again, sorry for the late hour, and good night.”

She hung up, leaving me listening to the silence and mad with questions, unable to move.

 

When I came to I was back home. Another family scandal was in full swing and my father was beating my mother again. I hated them. Both of them. Initially I was bemused at how they united when facing me, but then the blows became stronger and the insults - more sincere.

So finally I reciprocated their feelings, and I started hating them too.

But apparently some things are stronger than us. I never wanted to betray them to the pedagogical council, blaming myself for their madness.

 

Well ... today was different. Today I would gather the courage to act. I had a plan. I was going to raze this family to the ground.

 

Tonight for the first time in three years, I smiled.

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