Rain made a rhythmic pitter-pattering against the window, filling the room with the sound of a thousand tiny drums. Flames burned softly in the fireplace, spreading warmth and light into every corner.
Thomas and his sister May were seated on a thick rug, looking up at their father who sat in a large armchair. Their mother sat beside the fire on the only other seat. Their father’s voice carried above the rain as he read from a weathered old book. The children listened, completely enraptured with his words while even their mother leaned in closer as her hands worked a sewing needle.
“…And so the valiant knight defeated the demon and soaked the trees in its blood. Its body was killed but the knight had no means to destroy its spirit. Shapeless, the demon took to wandering the forest, seeking what it had lost. The knight warned the locals not to heed any voices they may hear upon the wind and so the demon was unable to tempt any but the naughtiest of children.” Continue reading
The death happened on a sunny day down by the peaceful brook where families often picnicked in the warm days of summer. Who among the villagers would have guessed that a venomous snake lurked among the dark bushes that lined the silver stream? The girl Pinocca, who was entering into the cusp between child and woman, certainly didn’t. As she picked the sweet smelling flowers of dazzling colours that grew beside the water, the snake had struck out and plunged its fangs into her rosy flesh. In her shock she had staggered back, lost her footing and plunged into the chill waters. The bite was not deep but the venom spread through her veins and froze her limbs. She drowned, her lips inches from the air that they so desperately sought.
The villagers grieved for a time, then moved onwards. The girl’s father, a widowed carpenter, was driven mad by the loss of his only child, his dead wife’s only legacy. He locked himself away in his workshop, living on the stale bread, potatoes and small wedges of cheese that an elderly women left on his doorstep each week. Friends and neighbours feared for his health, but no amount of knocking or calling out his name summoned him forth from the decaying house.
Night and day the steady sound of hammer and chisel reverberated through the house. The carpenter worked to ease his pain, his tools the vassals of all the emotion that could no longer flow from his body. Numb was his mind but skilled were his fingers. A single image was burned into his mind, all the more vivid in the troubled dreams that filled the scant scraps of sleep that he could not fight. Continue reading