The Birch Lantern by Faydyn (critique requested)

The Birch Lantern

Yes I know
I know it
from the day that I was born
yes I know it
from the time I went to school
yes I know
from the time I was a teenager
I know
from the time I got married
hey I know
a million things are going to happen to me in rooms that are much like these
It'll never be enough
(you better come over here)
Cause yeah I know
I know


Delrick sat alone in the writing room, it was a ghastly experience that sent cold chills prickling down his spine. He had been too distraught over the last week to even imagine setting foot inside.
Today was somehow different, it was a new day and he had forced himself into the dark paneled room, full of the numerous literary awards he and his wife Arissa had amassed.

The house was ominously quiet without her presence, the only sound were the sounds of his own raspy irregular breathing and a clock incessantly ticking away the hours on the nearby mantlepiece.
It was 4:30pm. He sat down in his favorite chair and sighed looking out one of the frosted over windows. The bloody sunset refracted crimson off of the iced over lake.
A new wave of grief overcame him.
Another day was coming to a close and still no word, still no sign.
He knew that she had had only been missing a week but it had felt like an eternity.
He reminisced on days past, If Arissa had been here they would have gone out for a walk around the lake, and then curled up and warmed their paws over a blazing fire.
So many things were a constant reminder of her absence.
He grabbed his laptop and took it to the kitchen table

He checked his E-mails there were no fewer then three dozen messages all condolences from fans.
Why was everyone acting like she was dead?
She was still classified as a missing person, no body had been found.
She could very well be alive somewhere.
Delrick had read the rumors floating around the internet.
Rumors that his wife had been having an affair and had left willingly.
Still others believed that HE had something to do with her disappearance.
He had been questioned for over five hours and had been cleared as a suspect,
but still people were suspicious and rightfully so,
the young Caracal had left so abruptly and without word or indication of where she was going.
Delrick shut down his laptop he felt slightly better now.
The hours passed at a snails pace, it was only 6:00 but he was starved, he dug through the freezer and found the last frozen portion of beef bourgignon. It was the last thing Arissa had cooked before...she......had.......disappeared,
Delrick didn't want to think about that, it would lead to more tears.
He threw his dirty dishes in the sink he would deal with them some other time.
There was more oppressive silence, the only noise came from the drippy kitchen faucet.
He shuddered he had the entire place in all of its austere grandeur to himself.

He retired to the reading room. The reading room was a strange space just off of the dining room. There was a low bookshelf under the bay window that also functioned as a seating area.
He and Arissa had spent countless hours in here sitting drinking their morning coffee and reading one another's material and sometimes collaborating. Now the bench was unoccupied.
He sat down and looked out the bay window, it was a full moon, it would have been a beautiful night to take a stroll even if it was freezing cold outside. "Arissa," Delrick said, "you left so suddenly and without warning, no note, no phone call. That isn't like you, what happened?" Hanging from the ceiling was a large lantern that Arissa had made from birch branches she had found in the woods. Attatched to it's exterior were several fake birds and a large turquoise bow. The last time he had seen her she had been working on it. Delrick figured that if she really was dead, that this room carried some of her spirit.
He closed his eyes and imagined that she was sitting next to him on the bench. He felt the pillows depress around him, her hands on his shoulders, her warm embrace, as they nuzzled. He even thought he could hear the tiny bell and feel the ribbons attached to one of her earrings. It was like she was sitting with him, he felt at peace. He opened his eyes and the mental image dissolved and dissipated like smoke on a windy day. It was only then that he cried.

The sound of the granfather clock's chime roused him from his stupor, had he cried himself to sleep?
What time was it anyways?
Anther chime bellowed forth from the guts of the grandfather clock in the writing room.
He half walked and half stumbled to the bathroom. The young Caracal looked at himself in the mirror, and nearly screamed. Delrick barly recognized his own haggard reflexion.
He looked like he had aged twenty years, the black tufts of hair in his eartips looked gray, and his dusky brown fur appeared to be a faded beige. He quickly realized that it was a trick of the dim bathroom light. He sighed and doused his face with cold water, there was another chime from the clock, it was midnight. His ears rung and his vison wavered, the insomnia was taking its toll he hadn't slept in days, and he felt like he was ready to colapse
"I have to take better care of myself" he thought
He slowly walked back into the reading room and froze, it was then that the ringing in his ears became chirping he looked up at the ceiling twoards the latern and gasped, a chold chill ran down his spine to the tip of his tail. He tried to scream and realized that screaming was pointless.
The birds on Arissa's lantern had come to life!
They twittered and chirruped. Flying, swooping and chasing one another through the air. A sparrow came out of nowhere and landed on his shoulder, it chirped and stared at him with its beady little eyes,
it quicky took off to rejoin the small flock of mixed birs soaring around the room.
Suddenly there was a gutless thump as a starling fell out of the air and hit the hardwood floor it convused at twitched. Delrick walked over to it and realized that it was a fake bird again, the kind available at any craft store, it was made out of styrofaom, feathers and nothing more.
It was never alive nor would it ever be.
Delrick looked up all of the birds were fake. They were fastened, still liflessly on the lantern.
"I need to get some sleep, i am beginning to see things," He said to himself.

He put the bird on Arissa's nightsand next to the bed, it sat there frozen in time like some kind of primitive idol, a representation of his missing wife. He took a long hot shower and took an asprin for his migrane and quickly fell asleep.

Delrick rolled over in bed and looked over at the nightstand and noticed that the fake bird was missing, in it's place stood a creature that was somehow both his wife Arissa and the bird. It had her eyes and her head but bloody ruffled feathers stuck out of her fur in uneven and ununiform clumps.
When the perversion spoke time froze. The refrigerator stopped running, all of the lights in the house flashed, his alarm clock reset itself there was a loud pop as the bulb in the celing fan blew.
"I am still alive," it said drawing nearer, "the space between worlds in thin here, I will be waiting."

Delrick snapped awake. He remembered the dream and shudderd. He looked over at the nightstand and a cold chill washed over him, at first he thought the bird was gone, it took him several seconds to realizes that sometime during the course of the night it had toppled onto the ground. He picked the bird up and stuffed it in one of his pockets. He needed to go for a walk and think everything over He grabbed his coat and boots and walked outside. It has snowed several inches overnight, he truged through several snodrifts and down the path that led to the lake. It was a narrow winding path that branched off at several points. One branch in paraticular intrested delrick, it led to the old white birch where Arissa gad hewn the wood for her project. It was an old garled tree that had withstood hundreds of winters. He found the side trail he was looking foor and took a detour from the main trail. The path lead downhill and down a steep hillside. He looked down below and froze, there was a shimmering in the distance. What was it that had been said in the dream?
"The worlds are thin here, I will be waiting." Delrick ran downhill twards the shimmering light. He stopped at the old birch looked around and noticed something, it was the axe from there shed stuck in the tree! Had Arissa gone back to cut more wood? Delrick thought so.
Stared in awe at what he was whitnessing. There was an eye shaped window torn out of reality.
His mind buzzed with questions had Arissa gone through?
If they could go through was it possible that something else, something other could come out.
He turned towards the gaping hole in reality, He could make out a snow covered meadow, a path and the rizing sun. He wondered if returning. Somehow he doubted it,
"She would have returned," He thought even if their house remained vacant and slowly deteriorated through the ages, he would give everything up just to have her back. He walked through the gaping wound in reality and into another world. It was a lot like walking through fou, and for some time it felt like all time froze, centurys could have passed in those few short moments. When he emerged on the other side he looked back and there was no sign of any portal or wormhole of any kind. So may it be, he was never going home again. There was a whole other world in front of him, and his wife was here somewhere, he could feel it in his heart.
There was a strange sensation against his right leg where the fake bird had been, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a live bird. It sat on one of his fingers and looked at him knowingly.
"Show me the way," he said. The bird blinked and tilted its head and slowly flew down the path.

The Birch Lantern (critique requested)


28 January 2014 at 21:58:50 MST

Partially inspired by this
I was driving along in an unfamiliar town and i had this song blasting from my cars stereo.
I passed by a strange looking old church and for some odd reason i couldn't shake several mental images from my mind,
Including ancient dreams of my grandmothers house.
I believe the dreams are based around a specific visit when i was four years old.
I had always felt there was a strange energy pulsing throughout that house, it wasn't malevolent, just inexplicable and indescribable

Those mental images became this story
Sadly my grandmother passed away Christmas eve 2012 Rip Rhona

image credit :Wikipedia


  • Link

    I always did like this one. ^^

    • Link

      me too it means even more now that my grandmother passed away :C was never really close to her. Sadly divorce creates rifts and schisms where they shouldn't be the house and the lantern (i think it was a birdhouse irl) hanging from this room in her house. I used to go back there and sit in the window seat. The room had a strange almost arcane energy. I never understood it. In my dreams i wound go back to the visit with my cousins when i was like four before my parents divorced and the world was a much simpler place. It was sometime around Christmas/Hanukkah and we were all sitting in the living room. I would leave and go to the other room and the fake birds on the birdhouse would come to life. it was a repeating dream that i had for years
      . Also my grandfather's old office after he died, she never changed was frozen in time. very sad

      I sent my father a copy of this and i do not believe that he understood the significance XD