- Vol. 03
- Chapter 09
You took me under your wing when no one else would look at me. You came on an easterly wind, dressed from head to toe in black, your belt like a whip of amber, too terrible to look at. But look I did. I looked for a long time at the serpent head clasp and wondered whether it hissed and spat venom when no-one was watching. You laughed and said I had a wild imagination but I wasn't imagining things. I saw the serpent blink its large onyx eye at me.
We stole away into the darkest heart of a forgotten forest, where old wives' tales dripped from the devastated branches and crows' feathers littered our way. You told me not to look back, that wasn't important; we must look forward into our future.
My foot struck an upturned root and I fell onto my knees, shredding them, the feathers like obsidian razors. I screamed, turned around and saw the trees closing in like elastic shadows, all stretched out of proportion like liquorice laces.
You hoisted me up onto my feet again, your hands firmly clamped beneath my armpits.
'I told you not to look behind,' you said. A faint rose bloomed across each cheek.
We made it to your hut just as night turned into day. A shadow crossed your face.
'You shouldn't have done that. Now they know what you look like. They'll have committed you to memory.'
'Tell me what I have to do.'
Rumours spread fast. Gossip spreads like wildfire. And this was like nothing I had ever seen before. The world opened up to me, revelling in its ugliness, a wave of debauchery lapping at my sight. I saw hatred and revenge, lust and despair. I saw people carving words into sacred places with their own cranberry blood. They were outside of themselves, unresponsive to the horrified few who stood on the sidelines watching this madness unfold.
I looked at you, a well of unshed tears bursting to escape.
'Drain me,' I said.
We stand on a cliff top, a hundred feet above civilisation. Up here, I am nothing, floating, forever freefalling and it is peaceful, calm.
I stand with my arms outstretched in the shape of a cross and I become this symbol.
You come up behind me and fasten a length of ribbon around my eyes, blinding them from the wickedness I see all around. You knot and double knot it, any chance of it slipping down torn away, meant for another day.
Below, the surf is loud. I picture a mob of foam-topped crests dying on the jagged rock faces, protectors of this hateful land. A single tear escapes the blindfold before it is frozen by the arctic air, captured in the moment.
And then your voice, hot and alive, snakes its way into my ear and delivers the question.
'Do you trust me?'