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Image: "Fallen Angel" By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)


It’s strange when the days are devoured by the dark so soon after the golden glory of summer. The long, shadow-striped evenings, when we were wrapped in warmth, are still within fingertip touch when the Equinox locks them away and carries us into cold October. It showers us with crimson leaves and cinnamon apples and tells us to embrace the night. I struggle, I admit. Not with the crimson or the cinnamon; I adore both. I love frost, I am magicked as much as the next person by crisp, clear nights pierced with silver stars and milky moons. I love the Solstice and the flicker of firelight, sparks flying upward as surely as men bring trouble... Ok. That’s a mis-quote, but it makes me smile...

Yes. I struggle with the dark. I love the warm velvet that carries me off at sleeping time, but that is precisely the trouble. In these so-called civilised times of electric lights and battery power, computers and twenty-four-seven service, we are expected to Carry On. Past sunset, well into the night. We are meant to party, apparently. As I say, I like the dark as a place to sleep and dream. It’s perfect for that. I will wait for the dawn to do anything more energetic. In fact I’m tempted to cut my losses and wait for Spring.

I look around the garden. It’s dark now. Not the purple-grey, wolf-coloured twilight that crept in earlier, but night-dark. Black shadows and the silhouettes of trees against indigo sky. The moon is full, the stars bright and I... I’m going to bed. It’s a silvered paradise outside and I feel a certain sense of achievement already in just having been there, past sunset, outside in the chill air. I don’t need to prolong it.

I turn into the cottage - my cottage, my lovely, stone sanctuary with a fireplace, log-heavy and laced with leaves, with herbs growing on the windowsill and incense lingering on the air.

There is someone there.

Not inside, but as I turn to shut the door, I see its shadow fall against the drapes at the window. It is behind me, close behind me in the garden. A pale figure, bathed in moonlight that makes its clothing - flowing-like-mercury clothing - shimmer and shine like another moon. It turns its head slightly, looks at me - looks into me and through me and turns me inside out with its eyes, its beautiful, haunted, golden eyes that make me ache, brimful as they are with longing, yearning, loss...

I invite it in. I cannot do anything else... Or at least, I don’t consider the possibility of doing anything else. Its eyes are irresistible. I think so, anyway... Perhaps I’m just being weak... I am Eve, this is my Lucifer. The world might die and humanity fall but I am lost in one glance of the angel’s eyes.

Its voice is soft and dry - an old voice. On its breath ride images of deserts, oceans, mountains, images of the Nothing before the Word was spoken. The voice sounds parched, thirsty. But the word it utters is not ‘water’. It is ‘light’. The angel needs light.

I open the door wider and it moves ahead of me into the room. It sits beside the window, moonlight draped around its shoulders, its face lowered a little but its eyes still upon me. I take a deep breath - I am beginning to feel shadowed, suffocated... The breath helps. I tell the angel to wait. I go to my bedroom and bring my lamp.

I switch on the lamp and I watch as the angel begins to drink. A thirsty, frightening consummation that draws the light out in a stream, on and on until the lamp explodes in a shower of sparks. The angel catches the sparks and then there is darkness. I hear its sob of despair and see, on its cheeks, two golden, luminous tears that tumble to the ground.

I have Seasonal Issues. The capital letters are necessary. They are capital issues. For this reason, I have a lightbox. It does its job. Stops me from hibernating, gives the world an excuse to tell me to carry on through the darkness. The lightbox lives in the corner of the living room, beside the computer. I turn it towards my guest.

Again, the same hunger and thirst and relentless devouring. The electricity meter is spinning, a blur, a costly, more-than-I-can-afford gyration.

Eventually, some time before dawn, the lightbox dies.

For the first time, I feel something other than pity, something beyond enchantment and stolen love towards this lost angel. I feel resentment. I wonder whether I should have turned it away - whether I made a mistake, inviting it in...

Day dawns. It is a pale, insipid, English Autumn morning. It is pretty in pastels and shows the blushing leaves to their best advantage. But the angel’s hunger is not satisfied and I watch as it opens its mouth to consume the morning.

I suggest, the electricity meter whirring in my ears, that the angel might be better off elsewhere. The Equator? The Antarctic? Anywhere but London in October. I can’t bear to see it any longer. I cannot carry the depth of despair that flows in its tears. I cannot bear the guilt.

I go with it to the garden and stand there, drops of dew and sunshine rainbowing my eyelashes. The angel looks back once, twice as it leaves. It turns and then is gone, vanished into the slanting sunbeams and I wonder whether it was ever there.

I sit, bundled in jumpers and snuggled in scarves, soaking up the fresh light of morning. It is a golden morning - not rich, Russian gold but pale gold that comes with images of Faeries. It is the colour of champagne. The dew drops are bubbles. I do not move. I’m sitting on the step - the cold, stone step in the garden, my bottom on cushions to catch the worst of the chill. Soon the chill is too big to catch.

I sit as the world grows colder. I watch as noon-beams stop slanting and curve to the east. I watch the warped sunset, the crimson orb stretching upwards like elastic, striping the sky the wrong way. It is not a metaphorical bleeding. Metaphor is lost in the literal strength of the End. I watch the stars as they appear one by one and each explode in a shower of sparks.

I watch the emptying sky...

Across the dark horizon I see the golden glow of the fallen angel as it leaves the blackened earth and dives into eternity, looking for light.

Infinite cold freezes the lock on the garden gate, the fire in the grate, the blackened herbs and the air - all too cold for fragrance - as my bodiless soul follows the angel to emptiness.

The earth is in darkness and everything is dead.

I thought I could feed a fallen angel.

I invited it in.

It fed.

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