• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 05

Burning Wood

He entered stage left with a rose between his teeth, rows of soldiers between his teeth, row upon row of foes between his teeth. He entered stage left just as we were striking the set, just as we were dismantling everything in sight. His face was bloody, his jaw set. A rose beneath his feet. He threw us his leftovers, the grey remains of a shrieking feast. When shall we three eat again? We stirred the pot. A little water, a lot of blood. He entered stage left, singing, swinging his sword, slinging his words. He entered stage left. He entered stage, less sage than he’d been an age ago, an act ago, once upon a, in the beginning, as you were taking your seats in the red auditorium, before the first speeches, before the first breath, before his last breath, before his death, a wordless song on the red stage, before the red auditorium, before us. He entered. She lay wracked behind him, backstage, offstage, off-centre, offbeat. A little water. We were striking the set, dismantling it plank by plank, dismantling the wood, carrying it before us into the wings. His face was wet, his teeth bloody. When shall we three? When shall we ever? What shall we ever? He entered just as we were exiting. He probably expected or at least hoped for applause. We were down on all fours, but we rose, we rose as one to greet him, to meet him, bleat him and cheat him. We chewed his name, tore his name, bit his crown. We swallowed him. Hell is murky. When our limbs cracked and split, we fell awake, we saw the lake, the burning lake, the petalled snake, the woods, the set, the words, the woods, the burning woods, the burning, burning wood. He entered stage left. When you yawned, we saw your teeth.