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HAYWIRE Issue 10 Fall 2017

HAYWIRE

HAYWIRE Issue 10 Fall 2017 24 “Aye,—the selfsame. He used to visit, sometimes. Alas, many years have since passed and my head is no longer quite so sturdily perched atop my spine. Yet his visage has made quite the impression in the deep abyss of my wit. He was a liar and a fool—“ “How darest thou accuse my father of these things when thou hast hardly known him?” I demanded, outraged. “Ah young man, I hath known him for many a winter before thou wast conceived. Doubt not my intellect and keenness of perception. He claimed to be a doctor and yet slunk his way into offices he sought to do no good to.” “What meanest thou?” “Thy father was not of noble birth nor a particularly eloquent speaker. He spent his days in waiting,—lurking behind closed doors. He was a fraud. He sought to acquire the ways of those learned in the arts and humanities, though his temperament and restless hands kept him away one night too long. Your mother decided that she simply would not tolerate his insomnolent self any longer and cast him away. His mistress along with him.” I regarded him skeptically, though a cobra curled its way from my gut up toward my heart. “And what knowest thou of my grandparents? If thou art so well informed?” “I cannot pretend that I am an expert in the history of your family,—in fact, far from it. Especially on the subject of your grandparents. Your grandfather died early and no one ever knew of his spouse. Your mother often told me of how she would find him laying in bed with a stranger, both in a drunken stupor, no less. Much like your father.” He smirked. “I refuse to believe this nonsense. Thou art a strange man in a strange place that my parents might once have called home. This gives you no right, however, to assume the role of storyteller.” “If not I, who then? I knew your mother better than anyone. Better than your own father, even.” The man watched as a fly drowned in my beer; he looked amused. I coughed, impatiently. “Now what is this contract that thou hast spoken of? And what of that mysterious treasure chest?” “Ah, yes. The contract your mother signed with him. The devil himself. She promised to walk the winding roads of the underworld forever, if thou beest absolved from your terrible personality.” I blinked. He chuckled. “Thou dost not appreciate my wit. Just like thy mother. Alas, she must eternally suffer for the sins committed by us all. The Art by Ella Jackson, 9c chest contains her heart. It beats in a wooden trunk buried in the woods beyond this very alehouse.” “Thou art lying. What kind of a fantastical fairytale is this?” “Ha! But how I wish I were. I once encountered her there - on a gloomy night in late November. There she sat—“ he pointed to a large, flat stone outside the tavern. “Her hair and eyes ablaze. She told me I might encounter thee upon a day; that I would be responsible for thy knowledge on the most holy of divine truths. Magick.” “RUBBISH! I refuse to listen to an old, sad man who spends his nights at bars and days,—well, the Lord knows where. I came here for insight, not counseling.” “Oh please. Hear me out, young lad. Let me show you your mother and then you can decide whether or not thou wishest to go on hearing my stories.” I attempted to make an exit, but the man had gotten in my way before I could blink. “Let me show you the way to thy mother.” I pushed past him impatiently. When I arrived outside the man was standing on the road,—impossible, he had just been standing behind me, with both feet planted firmly on the ground. He started towards the forest and against my better judgement, I felt compelled to follow. The woods were dark and smoky,—like a wildfire had gone rogue. The man stopped at a clearing, where the moon shone through a break in the trees. When I arrived at the place in which the man had formerly

stood, he had disappeared. There was a rustling in the eaves and a bird sang its last lament. The smoke in the wood thickened until a putrid smell of burnt flesh surrounded all and drenched my gangly frame in a perfume of death. A shadowy figure emerged from the fronting side of the trees and stood just outside the puddle of moonlight, stretching out it’s hand out, so as to be illuminated. The hand was thin as a skeleton and smelled rotten and old. Its stench reached all the way to where I was standing. I peered into the darkness to see if the man might have made a silent entrance. When I turned back toward the clearing the shadowy figure was gone, and I suddenly felt ice-cold breath on the back of my neck. A croaky voice whispered, “Hello darling,” into my ear, as I shuddered. The figure spun me around and I looked suddenly, into the eyes that had been my first sight upon this very earth, if that was the planet on which I found myself yet. “Mother,” I said, disdainfully. “I haven’t seen you in years child. I’m so glad that you’ve finally come to claim your destiny.” “What nonsense sayest thou? Thou hast always dwelled between reality and the world of magick. But I refuse to believe that the woman who raised me promises the devil more than her own kin.” The woman’s foul breath found its way through my nostrils and up to my brain, where I became intoxicated. I fought with all the strength I had garnered, against the evil forces toying in my head. “All my life thou hast hidden something from me. Thou art a liar.” “Ah, my love! Thou knowest not what thou sayest!” She smiled, moss pouring out of her teeth like molten rock. “Prithee peace! Thou canst not know the dark immoralities that lie disguised beneath the fond cloak of a sinner. That hellish fire will burn immortally blacker than the devil reflects in thine milky orbs. Thy face, with ebony complexion, shall never more see the starling light of day with raven eyes.Thy miserable, lowly life as an alchemist, a witch, has come to an end now, for forever hast thou misguided my trembling hand on the search for my noble father. Why canst thou not enjoy my pleasure. My satisfaction in having sought the truth and yet, having, after all these years, been led so astray! You deserve no higher praise than that which a shepherd might instill upon his lamest sheep. Who art thou to hold my life in thine shriveled hands! Who art thou to mandate my eternal place? Enough!” “As thou wishest, my dear.” The woman, the smoke and all else disappeared. When I awoke, I lay in a dimly-lit passage and stars shone ice-cold through cracks in the ceiling above. Rapid footsteps approached. I could not stay. I stole behind a large outcropping in haphazardly-shaped rock, grabbed a piece of the ancient artifact and ran straight from the paths of hell, to our earthly world. * The galaxy swam beneath my pounding footsteps and an old crow flew over my shoulder, clutching a sprig of elderberry. I raced the sun as it ascended from its midnight prison and I beat the lovers to their beds. I felt liberated as I took to the skies and sought out simpler tales. I watched a boy’s fingers trail along the grass, the morning dew streaming down his hand into the starched fabric of his satin jacket and the fairy castle that existed inside the milky bubble cascading down along his veins until it came to a stop and buried itself inside his still heart. I observed orphans toiling in the fields,—the face in the clouds not their mother’s and yet straining down to fall up against her. I beheld the woodchuck nailing himself into his own timber coffin. Alas, I am but a storywriter who longs for his mother’s love, his father’s courage. I cannot sleep. My head is pounding. I’m warm beneath the sheets. I’m worried about what I will stumble upon in the morrow yet with my love I you bequeath. 25 HAYWIRE Issue 10 Fall 2017

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