Autumn.B.Coleman

United States

“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Message from Writer

A lover of all things literature, pressed flowers and astronomy, here to attempt to empty my mind on a page.

Between the Stars

November 19, 2019


    Like a fox to a hound, they’re hunting me
    “Come on old man! You can’t keep this up forever!” A man's voice holds a slick laugh, his words bullets off the tongue. Although my legs are weak and my knees are tired, this is not where I die.
    Past the trees, there is a fence.
    I force these words to loop over in my head to distract me.
    Past the trees, there is a fence.
    Just as the wall of the woods ends, a hill emerges. On that hill, is an old wooden fence. I dare to take a glance behind me. Through the light of the moon, a few trees are visible, but no sign of lanterns. It's is easy for me, I’ve walked the length of this forest hundreds of times.
     From the top of the hill, is the view of the lake. In the summer the still waters reflected boundless shimmering stars. On winter nights like this, the light of the moon casts a soft comforting glow on the frozen lake. I used to spend hours looking over it, counting the constellations with Ann. Tonight, I don’t take a second glance. I crawl under the bottom post, snow seeping through my clothes. This used to be so freeing, so easy. A way to escape the ridged edges of society. Now it feels as if this fence is prison bars.
    I can feel fear slithering into my stomach and threatening me to accept my fate now. I quiet it. For in front of me, in the center of the icy cove, is a building. We called it the Island House. It’s an old cabin-like building that was used in the marina for checking in boats. After World War II, it was forgotten. Which made it the perfect hideout as a child, and now.
  A step and I am safe. Another, and I’ll be safe. Just as my foot finds the familiar wooden porch, the ice breaks under my back foot, causing me to fall forward and my leg to be soaked up to my calf. The cold bleeds into my skin chilling my bone. I pull myself onto the porch and quickly crawl over to the hidden wooden slat that we used as a passageway. Pushing it up, I can squeeze myself through the hole in the wall.
    A familiar smell greets me as I move to sit against the wall; musky wood and old beer. The walls have no pictures and the table is bare, it was looted long before we made it ours. The only thing left is the many beautiful pebbles I brought back for Ann as if I were a penguin professing my love.
    Ann. Not short for Annabeth or Annabelle, but for Andromeda. The chained woman in the sky waiting to be fed to the sea monster Cetus. Andromeda, my love, she dazzled me. Her honey blonde hair gleamed in the night sky and her green eyes sparkled like the stars. She was the one to find the Island House, the one to bring me here, the one to be killed by Them mere months ago.
    She was the bravest of the two of us. She dove the deepest into the lake, stole cheap beer from her father, and kissed me first. It seems so long ago when we were laying on the roof of our Island House, gazing at the constellation that gave Ann her name, and imagining our futures. Of course, being love-struck teenagers, there was the talk of marriage.  
    The next day, my father told me I was finally confirmed to be in the KGB, and that he wanted me to ship out in two days. On our last day together for many years, I repeated to her the same words she told me the day we met as children:
“Past the trees, there is a fence, wait for me there.”
    I told her I understood if she didn’t want to wait, for I would be away for a long time. That was the moment that I saw her cry for the first time. 
    “ I will wait as long as it takes for you to come home safe,” She told me.
    She did.
    It was twelve years before I saw her face again, though we did send letters. They were cheesy enough to make me blush every time people asked after her. Like I promised, I did return. Afraid I had changed too much for her, I waited an extra day before meeting her at the fence.
    I wish on every star in the sky I could have that day back.
    When we met, we made plans to marry under Anns’ constellation like we did when we were teenagers. We were soon married and had our son Orion. When I held him, I saw his spark, I saw hope, and he filled me with unspeakable love. I never wanted to leave him, I never wanted him to get hurt.
    Then, I was told I had to go back to working for the KGB. Orion was hardly a year old, I couldn’t leave him and Ann. Nevertheless, I was told it was urgent, so I left. My comrades called it a suicide mission. I resented going, telling my superiors that I had a wife and a newborn child. They told me that they’d be the ones to kill me, should I refuse.
    The assignment seemed simple enough. We were to assassinate a European leader before he was signed into office. Simple, yet, half my team never returned home. It took two years before I was released. At night, I dreamed my hands were bruised and bloody, and no matter how hard I scrubbed, I couldn't clean them. Afraid of being recruited again and losing my sanity, I moved my family off the grid.
    That was my first mistake.
    You see, when you work for the government and leave with no warning, no trace, they assume you have fled to leak information to the enemies.
    I had not known that.
    When Orion turned eighteen, he told us he wanted to move back home.  We begged him not to go, but he left anyway. That was the second time I saw Andromeda cry.
    He occasionally sent letters, news of his work. He told us he found a girl and was happy. He told us they were to be married. Shortly after, the letters stopped coming.
    A surge of sorrow floods my chest but is quickly cut off by a sound. My hunters are shouting outside. The glow of the moon coming through the broken windows turns from comforting to threatening, and I huddle a little closer to the wall, remembering Orion.
    After Orion stopped sending letters, Andromeda told me she wanted to move back. I told her it was unsafe, and we did not speak of it again for many years. About thirteen months ago, we moved back to our home town. Orion was nowhere to be found. We found his wife, who was now dubbed a widow. Through sobs, she told us that Orion had been taken one night by military officers and never returned.
    That was the third time I saw my wife cry.
    The last time, she was on her knees with a KGB officer holding a knife to her throat as he told the news of our son. He was tortured, brainwashed, and being used as a killing weapon for the Russian Government. Her limp body hit the floor in time with her tears.
    The officer left me with two gashes in my sides and the promise that he’d be back. Every day I wished so deeply that he had killed me at that moment. If he killed me, I would be free. If he killed me, my heart wouldn’t break every time I look to the stars. If he killed me, I could see my Ann smile just one more time. Instead, he left me living with nothing left but the title of traitor and the charge of treason.
    They came to my door minutes ago, and I ran. I had to see my Andromeda once more.
    Through the splintered glass in the window above me, I peer at her constellation.
    “Annie,” I say. “Annie, my love, I will see you soon. Past the trees, there is a fence, meet me there.”
    The shouts are much louder now, and I know they are on the ice, nearing my island house. I take a deep breath in and out and shut my eyes. Moments later, they knock down the door.
    I don’t struggle as they pull me up by my arms and out the door. They drop me hard on the ice and another vein cracks through its frozen surface. But I’m not cold.
    “Sive Radslav. You are charged with the crime of treason and are sentenced to death.” The man's voice is rich with pleasure. I sit on my knees, silent.
    “Look up man! Take honor in your death!”
    I glance up, and standing above me is my boy, my hope, my spark, holding a pistol to my forehead.
    A single hot tear streams down my face.
    “Ori-”
    He pulls the trigger.
    Then all is dark.
 
  • KGB: the Russian Secret Service

Print

See History

Login or Signup to provide a comment.