The Dark is Rising Sequence is by Susan Cooper and the characters used in this story belong to her. No money is being made from this story.

She Shows You a Picture

The city covers them. She hides her own, tucks them up deep in her shadows, in her lonely places. You can see them, though, if you look hard enough, and in the right way. She will pull aside the curtain and show them to you, if you want.

There they are, in a room at the top of a tall building. Not quite at the very top, but almost. Can you see in through the window? There's a light burning inside the room -- you should be able to see. Condensation forms on this window at night, and then it dries out during the day, leaving dirty tear tracks running down the glass. But you should be able to see, because someone's rubbed at it, rubbed a ragged, blurring hole in the condensation. Perhaps they wanted to see out.

Look in then, and see them, and oh! Aren't they a sight? On the bed there, half sprawled across it because this is what youth does. It doesn't lie down neatly and properly, with flannel nightgowns and folded hands. It scorns nice comfy lightweight quilts in favour of naked flesh and sweat cooling on it slowly. It leaves the light on because it wants to see everything.

Look how the light shines on them. Him, there -- look. The boy with the round, open face that seems to show everything but actually shows nothing, even when his eyes are open. The city isn't sure about him. She shows him to you, but she isn't sure he belongs with her. She thinks he's a country boy at heart, but even then ... she wonders. He sees more than she does, and she's always wary of that.

Ah, but this one, though. This one here, with the colourless hair and the eyes like an owl's. This one makes her smile! He seems made for her, although he doesn't realise it yet. She claims him. If they hadn't left that light on, she'd have the moon shine through the window and press his white skin into silver. She'd like to see him under neon, with words written on him in red, in blue, in yellow. She'd like to graffiti him with the static-fuzz of her own thoughts. Walk. Don't Walk. Half Price Sale. Live Sex. Drink Pepsi. She'd like to colour him in.

Look at them both there, lying on the bed. The one tanned arm thrown across the other's chest, as though it were an accident. This boy (and he's so real, so solid, but he has shadowed places in his mind) breathes sleep into the fold of the white neck. Little fine hairs move in time to every outward breath. There -- can you see it? You could almost feel it, couldn't you? His breath must be warm and, you think, sweet? Perhaps there is a trace of alcohol there, because after all, this is the city, and there's oh, so much to do here!

Do you see how their legs tangle together, as though they've forgotten whose are whose and which is which? Does it make you blush, just a little? Can you feel the heat there, in that bed? It practically radiates, it fills up the small room and the two of them are breathing it. Breathing in their own heat in their sleep. One of them moves. The pale one. A little breath, a little jerk, and the other moves away, curling into a ball on the far side of the bed. A small sound, and the silver boy, the city's adopted child, is awake. She coos to him, sings him a lullaby of traffic buzz and car alarms and thudding nightclub bass.

But it won't do, of course. Because the boy has woken up, and perhaps nothing can soothe him back to sleep now. Perhaps nothing.