Dead Cry No Tears
Roy stood on a corner. His head turned to one side, as though he were reading a foreign language. One that he could not make heads or tails of. His nose was running, and he sniffled. Roy stood for a number of minutes. His eyes working furiously like a sewing machine needle up and down, up and down. Tracing and retracing the words. The man’s wife, Luna was in the nearby hospital, and she had recently given birth to a premature daughter. Roy took out a small pocket book and scribbled an address down. Placing the book back in his pocket, he half bowed and mouthed the words thank you to the posting.
Then he was off. Strutting his way along the streets. His mood noticeably improved from his somber walk from the hospital. He ran the last two blocks. Taking the stairs up to the seventh floor; Roy arrived panting, and out of breath in the doorway. Luna lay on the bed. Her naked body half covered in sheets. The hot smell of blood still hung in the air. It was the kind of hot-heat that wolves breathe. Of fetid meats and hot days near water. He stood there looking over his wife. Her stillness was unnerving, and he reached into his pockets to pull the book out. He made an attempt to find the page he had scrawled his entry in. His breathing slowed as he gulped air. His heart’s thunder rolled away as he found the page. Luna lay there on the bed. Frozen in an unending sleep. A sleep that no amount of shaking would stir. No amount of shouting would bring those eyelids to flap open. They were butterfly wings pinned to the wall.
“How are you holding up?” asked a nurse quickly approaching. “We’re doing all we can.”
Roy looked at this woman. There was so much color locked into those cheekbones. Her eyes opened, wide, like a lighthouse lamp shining out, piercing the darkness. Like sunlight falling on a snow covered land glinting and shimmering in fresh white patches. A hundred crystals catching, winking, and shining back. He took a slow blink. He tried to recall the image of Luna, before the color had run from her face. Before she had turned a ghostly white. He wanted to look on her bright eyes. He wanted to hear her voice. He wanted so much, but could do nothing but wait. He still held the book in his hand. His thumb stuck in the page with the answer to his desires.
He could have what he wanted. He could wake Luna. He looked down at the address he had written. He looked up at the nurse.
“Thank you. I appreciate it,” he said. Then he turned from the room, and tucked the book safely in his pocket. The address 2987 Gillington view rd. Was only a few miles from the hospital. A small, square house with a flat roof. He stood on the road looking at the plain home. A concrete walk crossed the lawn up to a dark wood door with a window. The walk was clear and clean. To either side on the lawn were matching white patches of speckled mushrooms. These grew in close knit lines like threads woven side by side. He crossed the path. As he approached the door, he looked to see some sign of someone within. He could not see any light, and although the home was in good repair, he saw no sign of someone living there. Still, he approached the door. A wind looked to brush the curtain at the window. He stopped. Could there be a wind indoors? A fan, or some draft? Or had he seen a pale hand, curl fresh white-petal fingers, and lightly pull back the curtain to look with a ghostly face at his approach. He stood dumbfounded. He felt that he had seen a face but its image was so brief that it was a rapidly fading sun spot in his vision. He thought about Luna, and forced himself to reach for the door. He knocked. A somber stillness followed his knock. It was like branches touching in the middle of a silent forest. He wavered like a stifled breeze. Unsure of which way to blow, he remained on the stoop for a moment. Then that pale sun-bleached face was at the window. The hand too had returned to push aside the curtain. He heard the sound of latches being lifted; locks being turned. The door opened. And there in the dark of the house stood a woman. Her hair was a tangle of vines, white and matted like sickly roots. Her hair stuck out in every way, and her eyebrows were giant caterpillars above her eyes. She smiled a toothy smile, and all at once, her face was a broken mirror of fragmented glass. Deep valleys cut across the track of land that was this woman’s features.
“Come in,” she said. Her voice was like two plates pushing past each other. Grinding like two continents colliding together. He stepped inside the house, and she quickly closed the door behind him.
“I saw your posting,” he said looking about the darkened home. A blue light resonated from within, and it gave the feeling of being under water at midnight. Nothing but darkness. Swimming in emptiness. Like an astronaut, untethered. Floating, eyes shut so as to not see the distant stars. Trying to shield out the vast, inconceivable emptiness that is space. “Is it true,” he continued. He caught the hint of decay in his nostrils. A citrusy mold, like over ripened limes left unpicked on the branch.
She made soft chuck-chuck, sucking sounds as she moved about the small space. He watched the woman sweep past a table with many glass bottles of various shapes and sizes. The glasses sounded like they were whispering to one another in bell like voices tinkling softly at her passing. Speaking excitedly to one another. She seemed to take no notice of him standing in the room, watching her. He checked his pocket for his address book. He found the address, and was just about to ask if he had come to the right place when he watched the woman go to the table with many glass bottles. Roy watched her pick one up and hold it to the light. He watched her pick up several vials. Each she held to the light, turning her head as though there was some kind of riddle she was trying to solve.
“Excuse me,” he said. The woman glared at him over the top of one of the vials she was examining. “Is this 2987 Gillington view road?” She looked at him through one of the vials, and her lines were magnified. She made a noise like she was sucking on her teeth. She put the glass down, and stepped out from behind the table to approach Roy. The smell of limes and mold strengthened. Roy caught the hint of ancient things. Rain water left stagnant in a pool, never swept away. Roads that have no end. He caught the smell of endless winter, and countless ages of Autumn roiling for many years instead of the traditional season. He felt a prick of a thorn bush in his mind, and he wavered like he might collapse. The woman moved closer to him. Now she stood in front of him. Sucking on her teeth. Her face a broken mirror of glass, as she continued making chuck-chuck sounds.
“I saw the posting,” said Roy. He stopped a moment, as though trying to catch his breath. “Can you?” She looked at him with a quizzical eye. “Can you really bring people back? From the dead?” The prick came again to his mind, and he winced like a needle had been stuck into his forehead. In his mind’s eye he saw a field. Crystal blue with mountains of white. There, the moon shining pale and magnificent. Catching hundreds of winks and shimmers in this dark land. Bones heaped in large piles jutted over ice. And there, in the middle of a circle was his wife Luna. Her image was illuminated from within. She looked to have swallowed moonlight and it now poured from every inch of her. Then, the image was gone. It shook like water and retreated to the back of his mind.
“What was that?” he asked breathless. He felt the icy chill of that dark land shone to him only through the window of his mind. The woman said nothing, but gave a light smile. Her head turned to one side. It was then that Roy noticed a single tear was on his cheek.
“I can help you, for a price.” She reached out a hand as though she might grab Roy by the shirt collar. Roy moved uneasy awayily from her. There was a hint of eagerness in the way she spoke. Roy took another step back from her. She kept her eyes on him, watching like a tiger. Waiting for the exact moment when to strike from the jungle wood. Waiting for the exact way to bring a claw across a throat. To make the kill as easy and as quick as possible.
“Bring her to me,” she said. Roy was at the door. He stepped back outside. Crossing the walk with the speckled mushrooms, he started off at a slow, lopping pace. His mind felt like a deflated balloon. He tried a few times to recall the image of that icy blue and white land. He tried to bring back the image of mountains of bones, and in the middle, the glowing visage of his wife. No matter what he did he could not bring it back to his mind. And he wrestled with the idea. Could this woman really bring people back from the dead? And what was the price? Roy shambled down the road. He watched his feet and did not look up. He got to the hospital and took the stairs. He had no more answers now then when he arrived at the seventh floor earlier that day. For a while he sat on the steps. He felt unable to move forward, and, unable to move back.
Luna had always been so decisive. There was no this or that. She was very black and white in her thinking. He knew he had to make a decision. He paced the seventh floor hallway several times. He wavered by the door to the chapel, but decided it best not to enter. In the end what made his decision was the sight of his wife. He stood over her. He thought her perfect. Like a doll kept under glass for display. She would always be perfect. Age would not touch her cheeks. Wind would not cause her hair to fall out.
She would be captured in a single moment in time and kept there forever. She was now a block of stone that would never taste ice or sea surf to erode its perfect shape. He felt tears on his cheeks hot and streaming. They ran like rivers, dropped like waterfalls. He knew he must pay any price this woman asked. He must have what he wanted, even if it cost him everything he owned. He made an attempt to sleep, but he was much too alive. His body hummed with a kind of electrical surge working on overdrive. There would be no chance for sleep. Not until Luna’s soft breath could be heard in the dark room alongside his own. He took hold of the bed. He wheeled it from the room. It was late, but he knew the nurses and doctors would not let him leave with his wife. He checked hallways, and made a slow go to not be discovered. Then they were outside. He felt a vigor in him. Like he was nearing the end of a long journey. He left the bed in the parking garage. Luna laid across the backseat of his car. He drove in silence to the woman’s home.
Luna was light, and Roy easily carried her weight on his shoulders. He kissed her on the cheek and started walking for the house. In the moonlight the mushrooms looked like tiny umbrellas. There were no lights on at the street, and a gloom hung over the house. Roy felt a wind of an ancient land sweep over them. Dark clouds filled the air, and the smell of rain grew thick in his nostrils.
He reached the door, and knocked. A pale luminous hand swept the curtain back; that bone white face looked at him. The door was unlocked, and he and Luna were let inside. The sick smell of moldy limes smelled even stronger than Roy remembered.
“I hope it’s not too late for you,” he said.
“There is plenty of time,” she said. She had a hungry look about her. “Come, bring her over here.” Roy did as he was instructed and carried Luna to a bed. All around was that blue light. It shown up in a circle around the bed. The woman watched Roy place Luna down. She smiled and immediately went to the table with the many vials and glass jars. She started shuffling them. Reordering them. Now and then, she picked one up and held it to the light musing. Chuck-chuck. It sounded in her throat now, deep and guttural. Roy stood nearby and watched the ritual. He felt his own heartbeat growing quicker. It raced with anticipation, almost expecting the crash that lay around the corner. He could not look away. Roy was transfixed by the movement that this woman had. It was a kind of graceful dance. All to the rhythm of the chuck-chuck in her throat. The perfume of limes began to make his head swim, and Roy fought it for as long as he could. He blinked hard blinks, tried to grab his mind. Shake it. Stir it into submission. It did not listen. His head filled with darkness, and he felt sick. At last his head dropped forward and his chin hit his chest. He remembered no more.
He woke up. Opening one eye he looked into sunlight. He was still disoriented, but he was alive. He starred into the ceiling of an unfamiliar room. He wasn’t alone. He could sense someone close. Someone breathing. He turned his head, and nearly jumped straight to standing. Beside him, lying asleep and alive was Luna. Her chest rose and fell. He felt and heard the air being drawn in through her nose. The inflating of her lungs expanding with life and breath. He was so happy he thought he might burst into tears. Roy kissed her. He felt the heat on her cheeks.
Her eyes opened. They flapped once, and she stared up at him.
“Luna, my love, are you awake. Can you hear me?” said Roy.
“I can. What’s wrong?” said Luna. She rose up on an elbow and looked at her husband. The two embraced one another.
“I’m so glad you’re alright.” Luna started dressing. The two left the room where they had slept. That woman must have been kind enough to let us spend the night, thought Roy. The room was attached to the home on Gillington View Rd. And they crossed the lawn, mindful not to step on any of the mushrooms that grew along the sides.
“We should thank that woman,” said Roy. They had reached the street, and he pointed Luna to the car. He went back to the house. He knocked. She was fast to the door. Latches were lifted and the door was opened. Her pale face with its toothy smile of broken glass greeted him.
“I wanted to thank you,” he said. “Please tell me, what do I owe you?”
“quite alright, I have my payment already.” Roy noticed that the woman carried a small crystal vial in her left hand. It caught the morning light, and Roy could see it was filled with some clear liquid.
“Well, thank you again.”
Then the woman with her ancient smell of limes, visions of bones and ice, was gone. The door locked. Roy turned and went to his wife in the car.
“Let’s go see our baby,” said Luna.
Together they drove back to the hospital. The nurses were certain they saw a ghost making her way down the halls when they caught sight of Luna. But ghosts are usually pale like spilt milk. And they did not smile and hold the hand of a loved one. Roy and Luna were the happiest couple. They found their daughter, and the family gathered in an unused room.
They were all so happy. Their daughter smiled. Luna felt a sweeping of emotion in her stomach. It spread through her like a gasoline fire. She started heaving and shaking. Her body twisted, and she made sharp bursts of air.
“Luna, are you alright?” asked Roy.
She waved him off, nodding that she was fine. Her face twisted, and she turned red. Her eyes clenched then flapped open. Still, she waved him away. She stopped. Luna faced her husband.
“Roy, something is wrong. I can’t cry.” She paused, letting the last tremor pass through her. “I’m so happy right now, but I just can’t cry.
Roy felt a startling realization sweep over him. All at once he felt like he was standing at the top of a mountain cliff, facing a fast wind storm. It battered him, shaking him like a tiny ship in a hurricane. He felt worry grow in him like a balloon filling with air. Roy trembled to think and wonder what he had given up to bring his wife back.