The Transformation Story Archive The Visionary Saga

Depth of the Darkness

by Brian Eirik Coe

The sides of the room seemed to extend upward to infinity, the actual height obscured by darkness. It was cold and dark all around, but in the center of this was a tiny movement of warmth and light.

She didn't notice the walls as she slowly rocked back and forth. The only thing in the universe to her at that moment was the tiny bundle she held. The pure quiet was broken only by the soft humming of a lullaby.

The soft humming was only broken by her occasional sobs.

She rocked back and forth for hours, but nothing changed. The darkness remained and approached. The tiny infant, too exhausted to cry, in too much pain to sleep, seemed to whimper despite his silence.

Unsure what else to do, she kept rocking and humming.

She didn't know the darkness was closing in on her. Slowly, the walls of the tiny nursery started to lose the bright colors and shapes that adorned them. But, intent on her rocking and humming, she never noticed. She kept staring at the angelic, tortured face of her son.

A hand moved into her line of sight, hands that reminded her instantly of her great-grandfather. With the back of a knuckle, the hand gently rubbed the infants soft cheek, wiping away a dried tear. "A beautiful child.", said a kind voice.

She sobbed once, quietly, then said, "He is my son. My beautiful, wonderful son."

The figure knelt down to get closer to the child, but the mother never looked up to see him. The old, gentle hand rubbed across the infants head. For the moment, he seemed soothed and quietly fell into sleep. "He's in pain."

She nodded, continuing to rock back and forth. "I know. You helped him sleep, can you make him better."

The hand stopped above the child's head for a moment, then resumed its gentle caressing. "I'm not here to relieve his pain. I'm here to help you."

She started to cry more profusely. "Help him, please.", she quietly begged.

"I cannot. His time has long past. You have to let him rest."

"But I love him."

"I know. That will never change."

"It hurts."

"That's a pain that will never go away."

She hugged the child closer to her. "How can I let go? How can I let these be my last memories of him?"

The old hand stopped again, longer this time. For a heavy moment, there was no sound in the room. Then, the hand moved again, once, down the length of the child.

She never really saw the change. She seemed to be aware that time passed, that it wasn't instant. All the same it happened in an eye blink. She continued to rock back and forth as she looked at the tiny bundle now in her lap, even smaller than it was only moments before. She gazed at the form for a long time before she quietly said, "A mourning dove."

She sensed the man nod, but still had not looked at him. "He is. It seemed appropriate."

She lightly held the small bird in her hand while she rocked back and forth slowly. "I can't let him go. I love him. . . "

"You won't be loving him any less by letting him go. It's time."

"It won't make me feel any better."

The man shook his head. "No. Yours is a pain that never goes away. But you must move forward."

She buried her head in her hands, crying. "I'm not sure I want to go on."

"You must."


"You still have life within you."

For the first time, she looked into his face. "Is this what Death looks like?"

He looked at the infant sadly, "At times, but not today."

He reached down and picked up the gray and yellow dove, carrying it to the dark window. She watched as he slid it open. After a moments hesitation, the tiny bird spread its wings and flew away.

Then man slowly vanished.

The darkness didn't recede, but it stopped its slow approach.

A hand fell on her shoulder and she came awake with a start. She found herself looking into the worried face of her husband. "Honey? Are you okay? You were crying."

She looked furtively around. She was in her son's nursery. Her eyes fell on the long cold crib. She tried to tell him what had happened, tried to explain the dream, but the only thing she could voice were hard sobs. Her husband knelt and hugged her tightly, and they rocked back and forth.


"It looks like it's letting up."

She nodded as she looked out the car window. The streaks of rain were beginning to thin out, the shapes of the low headstones becoming clear again.

She wasn't really looking at them, though. She couldn't shake the image of the dream she'd had the night before. She had never had one more vivid. She kept running the images through her mind, but she found that she couldn't recall it all. The only images of her son she could bring to mind were the quietly sleeping infant and the tiny bird he had become.

A few minutes later, she felt his warm hand on hers. "It's stopped." His door opened and closed, and he came around to open hers. He reached in and gently took her hand.

As they walked between the silent stones, she realized this was the first time she had looked up from the grass. She let her eyes wander to the trees and bushes that dotted the small cemetery. Abruptly she stopped, gripping her husbands arm a little tighter.

He stopped short and looked at her quizzically. "What is it?" he asked quietly.

She couldn't tear her eyes away from it, perched on the bare tree branch. A single mourning dove. It seemed to realize it had been seen and it leapt from the tree. It flapped a few times, going into a glide as it passed over their heads. A moment later, it was gone.

"What is it?", he asked again.

She looked at him, "That dove... It reminded me of a dream I had last night."

He seemed to want to ask more, but she continued on down the narrow path.

They arrived at the grave a minute or so later. The small granite headstone was still dripping with water from the recently ended rain. But her eyes fell on the item on the top of the stone. It was dry, as if only laid there a moment before.

There was an odd surge of warmth as she gently picked up the single white lily. She moved it to her nose to smell it when she realized that there was something else amidst the petals.

A single gray feather.

Depth of the Darkness copyright 2001 by Brian Eirik Coe.

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