{1} Arks, Blood and Crypts

This is my A-Level Coursework story, I hope you enjoy it! ''Oh Noah,'' she sighed, slowly caressing the silky fur on the crown of my head. Her words were few, but I could feel what she wanted to say in the way she stroked. The small snatches of her talk; although insignificant; never went unnoticed. I tilted my head and licked her hand, staring into her deep brown eyes. They looked so loving, and yet, they were empty, at least for others of her kind. She had been sitting on the cold green plastic bench now for over an hour, (me on the floor by her feet.) The bus that would take us back from where we had come had passed by many times. But board it, she didn't. Inside her mind I knew there was a battle going on, survival fighting it out for the final say. The bus stopped again. She didn't flinch, but remained motionless, staring at the badly laid paving at her feet. I could nearly see tears welling up in her eyes, and the inner willpower to control them. I stayed by her side. In the last four years, I had not left it more than twice, and was not intending on making it habitual. Even at night; when the cold autumn winds pushed the leaves into piles, and the chilly morning mist settled gently on the scattered trees that grew between the gravestones; we would curl up together, sharing warmth in the dark crypt. We had broken in three summer's ago, when a surprise thunderstorm left us unsheltered. The scent of rotting flesh that crept up on us from the stone-encased coffin, we minded not, nor the roof that seeped water. To me, it was the only home I had ever known, to her, it was the safest. I followed her everywhere, staying by her side as much as human law would allow. When she entered the shop, (quite rarely) to purchase a morsel of food, I waited faithfully outside – of course; unnoticed by many – spare a few warm-hearted farmers who passed by on the lane and bestowed upon me the odd scrap of meat. We shared everything, her and I, and when she talked I listened, responding occasionally by licking her hand or laying my head upon her knee. Sometimes we just sat in silence, or lay together on the grass under the old oak tree in the summer, whilst the sun beat its last rays of pink across the dusky sky, and waited until the last stars had flickered, before turning in. It was often times like these when she fell asleep immediately, head resting on a musty blanket I had once salvaged from a rubbish bin. Even then, it was still hours before I eventually lay down to rest, and even then I would still prick my ears up at the slightest disturbance, be it the scurrying of rats across the stone floor, or even the howl of the nocturnal birds that swooped down and landed on the tin roof. It was nights like these I was grateful for the few snippets of sanity and strangeness that surrounded the normality of the situation. It was these times when I did not worry about her state of mind, nor whether she would bleed into unconsciousness and the world beyond our obligation. But several times, I had sat and watched her retract into a tight ball, knowing I could do nothing to stop her rocking back and forth like a boat being tossed about on a stormy sea, and yet to her it was none other than soothing. The last time this had happened was in late spring, before the summer sun made the days long and weary: The night was dark, and she had been rocking for hours. Tears rolled shimmering down her cheeks before splashing onto the stone floor. She reached gingerly for the rusty penknife she was given by her brother before he went away; and yet gripped the handle tightly before slowly carving words of hatred down her arms, many times. Over and over she cut, deeper, deeper until the blood trickled out, like the stream that ran between the oak and the church, gently; very gently flowing, and strangely calming. I feared, as she grew silent. I waited as the sobs emerged, her voice hoarse. And then: ''I hate them!'' she cried, ''I fucking hate them all!'' And then she was gone, back inside herself to find a safe place to rest. She was oblivious to my presence, or my nestling under her arm. But she eventually surrendered to the floor, and the silence descended upon us both. Gently, she wept, tears streaming like rivers through the blood that lay in puddles by her shuddering body. I nudged my head under her arm and the crying stopped momentarily, but that was the only indication that she recognised my company. That night passed slowly, and her subdued sobs were heard throughout the night, even after she fell into the seemingly tranquil world of sleep. For a few days she remained silent and I observed her as she sat staring blankly ahead. I know she often thought of home, and yet somehow I felt like she would never return. It worried me, because I knew that she would probably exist long after I had turned to dust in the ground. When we walked through the graveyard she stopped and stared at the faded messages on the gravestones, hesitating on those of children. I wonder what it'll say on mine. She would remark casually, and yet I know the desire burned deep inside her. After the wounds had scabbed over she returned to normal, laughing and playing in the hours between dawn and dusk. I cherished those hours; though they were a rarity; they are the clearest reflections in a pool of distant memories. And yet, even after the night's events faded into the horizon of the past, the small reminders remained. The scars glowed like parallel writings, shining white against her dirty skin. The blood stained her off-white cotton handkerchief and I caught her trying to scrub it clean in the stream, hours before the sunlight began. Only once or twice we had ventured into town, but on the last occasion she had caught sight of her picture in the evening paper. She must have been about seven or eight years old, standing with her brother and sisters on the beach at Marshall. Her face had been circled and the headline blared out, ''Missing.'' I saw the nostalgia flutter in her eyes as she stared at the photo. She turned her head away, blinking back tears for the lost memories of long ago. She never spoke of it. Since then we just tended to steer clear of any public places, apart from the quiet village shop down the end of the lane by the church. We preferred only each other's company, and with each hurdle we climbed together the bond grew stronger. And yet, here was one hurdle she was climbing unaided. In her pocket lay the crumpled twenty-pound note, more than twice the amount for the bus ride to back where we had come, all those years before. I could not stop her if she wanted to go, only remain a shadow to her wanderings, and protect her from whatever danger may come her way. Sitting in the bus stop, her touch felt distant, and I did little to distract her; knowing she had to make the decision on her own. The dusky shadows began to draw closer around her feet, tightening the air around us, and the lone overhead streetlight began to hum. The bus hadn't been past in over an hour. She glanced down the lane, and I followed her gaze as a white van drove past. Then she stood abruptly, clinging tight to the small carrier bag, containing our last scraps of food. ''Come on boy, let's go.'' Her voice shook, as if unsure, but she turned sharply and I followed at her heels. And like two musketeers, riding off into the setting sun, we walked side-by-side down the road leading us away from the village, and its unknown dangers. As we disappeared into the shadows, we thought of the future, heading back to the small, unkempt graveyard, and damp wooden crypt; that we called ''Home''.
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