Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Beast in the Wall

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

The grate is a foot by half-a-foot—metal painted white. The thick wire mesh cuts its maw into bite-sized squares. On my hands, and with my cheek pressed against the honey-wood floor, I can see the hallway through it, and watch the dogs ticky-tac by.

When winter came, or what passes for winter in such a temperate climate, the open maw belched dust and old, stale air that it had been digesting since the last winter.

At night, its inky blackness blends into the shadows created by my bookshelf. But sometimes, the grate groans—a heart-wrenching cry like Prometheus trying to shake his chains before the eagle returns in the morning. For nearly a month, we’d hear the groan, like some beast was being kept in the basement, which was really just a fruit cellar prison for the tormented heater.

The beast has been silent since November, no longer complaining. Perhaps, it realized it couldn’t chase us out so easily.

For a few months, it tried to freeze me out. Its always open double-mouth exhaled warmth only into the hallway. So we covered it with a board, forcing the heat to push itself into my bedroom. Still, it seemed that every room but mine was warm, hospitable.

Only in January, month of gloom and bringer of news of cancer and how it was eating Uncle Joe’s insides again—only after that did the beast take pity. Now, it’s nocturnal embrace is comforting, as if it realized there is enough coldness in the world without a faulty heating vent.


Danne Cole said...

This is a great piece! I felt like I was right there looking at it, feeling everything you described. Really great!

Rachel said...

I like this one the best.

Christina Rundle said...

Wow this is amazing. I have a picture this reminds me of. I hope you add this into one of your novels.