Romance & Filthy Rats’ Tails: A JAlice Story
24th December, 1939:
I couldn’t help but feel guilty as I walked through the thick, ever-falling snow. If I didn’t go, though, I would feel worse. It was just he thought of my past behaviour that bought the heavy weight of guilt to my head.
I think I was the only person in the whole street that was walking alone. Elderly couples shuffled along through the thick, hazardous snow, their arms linked; parents with tiny bouncy children and older, moodier teenagers wandered along, talking amongst themselves; unsupervised children were all around in groups of three or four, tossing lumps of the snow at one another and yelling excitedly. I smiled at them; if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that the world runs on child-like excitement and joy.
When I got near to my destination, I stopped walking. I stood before the gate; groups of people of all ages filed past me, some of them giving me funny looks. I stepped to the side, out of the way, so I could think without being noticed.
A place I hadn’t visited in so long. It stood before me now: tall, dark and foreboding, its intricate spires dusted with white snow. My eyes drifted to the sky; I could barely see the stars, because they were covered in a thick layer of grey clouds which promised more snow.
I waited for a few minutes, my hands in my jacket pockets, whilst the rest of the church-goers field inside. Then, taking a deep breath, I stepped through the gates and into the church-yard.
All the tombstones were coated in snow; icicles clung to one of the angel-shaped ones, just below her stone eye. A more romantic person may have thought she appeared to be crying. I didn’t.
It didn’t take me long to find who I was looking for, even though I hadn’t visited her in so long. She was the reason I hadn’t been to church; as far as they had gathered, from the small, incorrect snippets of the story they had heard, she was possessed by a demon. And I doubted the lover of a demon would be welcome in a church. I’d lost faith in the whole establishment, even before I learnt about her. The war had destroyed my faith in the majority of mankind; if God was so great, I thought, why didn’t he just wipe us all out and save everybody the hassle?
I cleared the snow off the front of her small gravestone, feeling the shape of her name cut into the rock beneath my fingers before I saw it in the dim light coming through the windows of the church. They had reluctantly buried her here, after her sister had demanded it. They’d laid her body in a very deep hole – perhaps in the fear she would escape a shallower one – and as far from the church walls as possible. They didn’t want her spirit getting inside the house of God.
I didn’t worry about her escaping, though. I’d seen her at the moment she died, and I had no doubt that she was content in her death. Just moments before, she’d been more maddened than I’d ever seen. But, as the blood seeped away and she turned an even paler white than usual, she’d relaxed in my arms, almost like she’d have sighed with relief, if she could have done.
Goodnight, I thought, before turning and walking away. I didn’t look back. Now, I could leave her in peace. She deserved that.