Daniel Returns
Written by mireasa

He watches his feet move unsteadily along the pavement as though the appendages belong to someone else. Daniel… That’s his name. Mustn’t forget. Mustn’t forget. His, no matter what he was turning into. He shuffles along, muscles protesting every movement. Every step seems to take monumental effort. He hurts and he… needs… something… anything to stop the shaking of his hands and the awful thirst clawing at his throat, worse than anything the giggle juice used to do to him.

But he has to keep moving, keep focused. The bitter wind cuts right through him. It’s going to rain, he knows. The sharp, crisp smell in the air is proof enough of that but he has time, time enough for this, one last stop, a last glance at heaven before he steps into Hell.

Snatches of song run through his head and he mumbles them, glad for something to keep his scattered attention:

Well, I got a gal, she lives up on the hill
Well, I got a gal, she lives up on the hill
Well, this woman’s tryin’ to quit me, Lord, but I love her still

There was a gal once… Wasn’t there? Yes, he knew there was. Dark and dangerous, a real looker, and she’d noticed him. Her husky voice gently laughing, “You got it bad, mister. I can always tell when a fella is dizzy with a dame.” No! Not her! That was…different. He cuts the memory off before it can hurt him, distracting himself by continuing the song.

She’s got eyes like diamonds, they shine like Klondike gold
She’s got eyes like diamonds, they shine like Klondike gold
Every time she loves me, she sends my mellow soul

There was a girl once, the girl. He could see her eyes, shining as bright as the sun that reflected off the chain he clasped around her neck. At his remembrance of the sun, his hand moves reflexively to cover his eyes. He lets out a sigh of relief when the pain doesn’t come; lowering his hand once he realizes there is no sun, only darkness. It slithers around him, closing in on him day by day.

And the cold, why is it so cold for July? It’s not July, he has to remind himself. (Daniel, still Daniel) Those days of summer are long passed.

He looks up at the familiar house his weary feet had dragged him to. His chest feels suddenly too tight, a rising fear creeping up. Dismayed, he watches helplessly as his hand rises to knock on the door. One knuckle rapping lightly before he realizes what he’d just done and he snatches his hand back as though burned. He steps back off the front steps, gazing up as memories start to trickle back. He knew this place, knows this place.

Knowing this was a mistake, he turns walk away (better to walk away). His hands clutch himself in vain to ward off this new chill. Taking a few steps, he hears a crash as though glass was breaking and the creek of a door.



A voice calls out to him; musical, beautiful…familiar. His heart fills with dread. It’s her. That girl from his song… the girl from before all this… Christine. A hundred memories rush back to him, settling like cold lead in his belly. (Don’t, please don’t…)

He had to see her, just once. He came all this way so he can allow himself that much, right? Slowly, he turns to face her, wincing at her radiance. She’s just as beautiful as he remembers. Her eyes are welling up with emotion; relief and worry shining bright in her eyes and getting ready to spill over her cheeks. His eyes drink in the sight of the only dame who ever cared enough to give him that look. The rest of the song dances at the edges of his memory, reminding him why he came here and why he never should have.

Well, you’re so beautiful, you’ve got to die someday
Well, you’re so beautiful, you’ve got to die someday
All I want’s a little loving, just before you pass away

He feels a warmth bubble up just being around her and it forces a wan smile to quirk his lips. He’s still got that feeling of dread and pain. His hands are shaking with it so he tries to still them as he wills his constricted throat and heavy tongue to form words.

“Oh, Chrissy… Why did you have to hear that?”