Watchers

by Brett Welch

I’m going to tell you a story.

When I was four, I realized that I could see things that others couldn’t. About a month after I had started preschool, the teacher asked us to draw what we could see outside the classroom’s window. Stubborn rubber desk feet screeched on the linoleum floor as we turned our desks to face the window, and then, we drew. Some drew the trees, some drew the sun shining in a tall blue sky. Only I drew a line of silent people, hair hanging still in the breeze, peering into our classroom. The Watchers.

The first time one of the Watchers spoke to me, he told me a story. I was sixteen, leaving my sweetheart’s house on a dusky autumn afternoon. He walked up to me, hair hanging still in the autumn breeze, face shadowed in the dusk, and he told me his story as we walked. I listened, hypnotized and enthralled. When he finished his telling he said, “Come with me. I have something to show you.” He walked away, and I followed.

Four days later my parents found me in a park near our home, curled under a tree. My skin was cracked and dry. My nose crooked and bloodied. Deep purple bruises circled by neck, ankle and wrists. My knuckles were scraped and bleeding. I had no memory of what had happened.

At age 32, I married my sweetheart, the woman I have loved for all of my forevers, the same woman I had loved when I was sixteen. I still love her small smile and her patient heart. I love her when we sit quietly and watch foggy blankets rolling over the city. I love her when she falls asleep and I love her in the morning.

But one night, after she had fallen asleep, he came again. I did not recognize this Watcher, nor did I remember his story as he knelt beside my bed and enthralled me in the darkness with his eyes like nets and his words like hooks and he said: “Come with me. I have something to show you.” I followed. To my everlasting sorrow, I followed.

Four days later, I awake. I am in a pool of blood gone sticky and dry, tossed blankets painted red, my wife, my love, beautiful and naked and cold and daubed in blood and lifeless in my arms.

64 years old. A lifetime of sorrow and visitations that i cannot escape. The bottom of a whiskey bottle is my only friend. The Watchers, commonplace now, are whispering, staring and pointing. I am slouched in my wheelchair and drooling onto my chest when a Watcher comes to me. Her face is dark and angry as she tells me a story of 16 years love and sadness, of cities draped in fog blankets. Of blankets daubed with blood and betrayal. Then she smiles a small, pointy smile and tells me she wants to show me something. That I should go with her, that I should see the face of sorrow for all of my forevers.

I agree, and so I go. And now I am here, Watching.

And I have something to show you. Come with me.

***

Krys and I will be publishing one ultra short story each, every week, here on this blog. The theme for this month is “Invitations.”

If you’re interested in following along, feel free to subscribe with your email address at the bottom of this page.

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