The Bright Place

They came from the dark places. They crawled from the tunnels and the sewers, from under bridges and underpasses. They crawled from the sheds and from the garages and from all the places that are forgotten.

They called it “The Bright Place”. Every Sunday afternoon they would gather there, away from the shadows and the mist. Spellbound, they would watch with gaping mouths, afraid even to blink in case they missed a single instant of the splendour in front of them. In the Bright Place, a woman danced for them. Accompanied by a quiet recording, she moved with a purpose and grace that was utterly unlike the humped shuffle of the Dark people.

Eljan was ten. With his dark hair and dark eyes he should have been a handsome boy, but his eyes were sunken and his skin faded to a pale shadow of its natural hue. He shared the cold spot by the water with his sister, Ashia. What colour their clothes might once have had was long since gone, and in their eyes a bland cynicism had long replaced the innocence of childhood. They were two alone against the world. The Dark People had a community of sorts, but they had little language, and their children less still. Barely more than animals, they survived.

Every Sunday, Ashia would tug on Eljan’s sleeve and wordlessly lead him to the Bright Place. In an old and ornate building, through the cellars and up through the back where the pipes were, the children of the Dark people gathered. Behind the concrete, they peered through the cracks and drains, the braver ones hiding amongst the plush red seats. They could barely hear the music, but they could see the light. The single spotlight threw the Dancer into areas of light and shade until she was barely recognisable as the same species as the watching children.

You can find the complete version of The Bright Place in issue 62 of TBD.

Joanna McKenzie