It was the evening of The Danby’s dinner party; the weather outside awful with rain hitting the ground like bullets and the thunder and lightning fighting above and through the barricade of clouds. To those in attendance, however, none of that mattered. The dining room was warm and filled with the rich smells of marinated meat and roasted vegetables; the wine poured as easily as the conversation and all were prosing about their daily lives. All except two. The first one was a woman in her early twenties, pale, perfectly pleasant and sipping on her wine instead of making small talk and smiling when the need called for it. The other was a man of a similar age. This man, on the other hand, was sitting straight with his hands on his lap and was doing nothing but staring at the procession of diners and, occasionally, into space. It was then that Dolly chimed in, this time trying to get her dear friend Nathan to join in on the conversation.
”Well Nathan has an unconventional talent”, she says putting an arm on her friend.
Ms Danby tilts her glasses on the edge of her nose and tried to appraise him with an eyebrow cocked playfully, “Oh! Is that so? Now I see why you brought him here Dolly. Is it true Nathan? Do you have a unusual talent?”.
Nathan remained static but his head and his eyes briefly locked on the overly familiar Ms Danby, “Apparently. Although I don’t believe it’s any kind of talent that you currently need right now”. A small smile crawled on his face as if he had seen something he wasn’t supposed to.
“Yes”, Dolly continued, it appeared she had noticed it too, “He sees things. Isn’t that right? He can look into a persons eyes and know everything about them”
Mr Danby, who was apparently the brother to Ms Danby and not her husband, spoke, “Oh like that Derren Brown fella? He’s amazing! Never get tired of watching that man, apart from that casino episode - bit of a let down. Go on the Nathan show us your trick”. Nathan rolled his eyes, the man had clearly more wine in him than food.
”It is not a trick and it is nothing that has been put there to amuse people. Some of the things you see can be harrowing and disturbing; I once met a man who had fantasies about his sister, there was another who was obsessed on turning everything into ember and another that wore his mother’s dress as he slaughtered his family. There is nothing entertaining about that”, Nathan returned to his untouched red wine. He wasn’t going to drink it but he did enjoy the smell.
”So you can’t do it then?”, Ms Danby chimed in.
Nathan’s eyes rolled again, “Of course I can”.
”Well go on then! We’re all on the edge of our seats”, said Mr Danby.
”Go on Nathan”, Dolly said. Her voice with all the persuasiveness of an annoying little sister.
”You want me to show you what I can do?”
”Yes!”, the three of them said in unison.
There was one voice that hadn’t said a word during this and that was of the silent guest opposite Nathan.
He appraised her, “You there what’s you name?”.
She jumped slightly and some coloured returned to her otherwise pale cheeks, “R...Rose“
”Hello Rose. I don’t want you to do anything but stay still and look at me”
Her eyes became glass and the glass became windows.
“There’s a girl on a swing…”
“No Nathan stop, not her!” Dolly begged but the process had already begun.
“…the girls is along, her hair is in a neat plait and she swings”, Nathan’s head jolts from right to left, “There’s a man there now, standing behind her with a hand on her pale shoulder, the hand is coarse and the girl’s face is scared…”
“Nathan I said no!”, but Nathan could not hear her, his eyes has become as pale as marbles and he was lost within the memory.
“Years drag by and the girl is a young woman, the swing remains but has become worn as nature slowly attempts to take it back. The man is there again and he pushes the young woman against the tall oak tree”, the scene disappears with the summer breeze and the green of the garden disappears and is replaced by the opulent glow of the moon.
“Years and years now”, Nathan continues. “The swing is in a state of disrepair, hanging on only by a singular rotting rope. The clouds part and we see in the veil of the moonlight the man once again; he is hanging by a rope from the tall oak tree, the rope is the sister to the one that holds the swing. His face is in a permanent state of shock and contortion and below him stands the woman; her hair is plaited and she is wearing a white muslin gown”.
Nathan’s eye once again became clear and sharply looked towards Rose, “That was you. And the man?”
Thick angry tears fell from Rose’s eyes, “My father.”
The evening came to an end and no one said a word.