Saturday, June 23, 2007

Chapter 22 : Summer dying fast

Summer is dying, you told me so long ago.
And it had been a hot, long summer. We could feel it in our very bones the waning of summer, and the coming fall, one that promised to be short, so tragically short.
We were lying in bed listening to the wind outside, a wind that howled with the voice of a thousand melancholic wolves.
The branches of the trees beat lightly on the windowpanes, and the leaves wept savagely.
Ghost-like noises prowled the streets, as if mighty armies were clashing in a storm of swords, dragons dancing under the great silver eye.

“Even the man who is pure in heart
and speaks in prayer by night
may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms
and the winter moon is bright”

You laughed your most evil laugh, one that would have been so much more impressive had you not used Donald Duck’s Voice.
We laughed, and kissed. Then we fell asleep, our bodies entwined like veins.
Outside, the first winds of winter blew.

Days later, we were playing our little seduction games, and you just didn’t want to give in.
You played with me, teased this, suggested that, but when I came closer, you always drew back.
Nothing I said seemed to work, and however sweet my words were, they were simply not enough.
“You must beg me”, you said, playfully, your voice full of pernicious desire.
“Beg?”, I laughed.
“Beg, little one?”, I repeated. “I do not beg. I take.”
You laughed with a laughter that took hold of your whole body.
“I will tell you a story”, I said.

“My oldest known ancestor took an active part on the conquest of this country. One day, and after he was awarded lands and title by the King, an enormous wolf invaded his lands, and devoured the village whole, his family included.”
“Because he had been away on a hunt, he avoided the carnage. But on his way home, he saw the sun setting in a bloody hue, and the giant shadow of a wolf covered the mountains.”, I said, sneaking up to you.
“When he got to the village, he beheld the massacre : everyone he had sworn to defend, the villagers, men, women, children and elderly alike; none escaped alive.”
“Their bare bones were their earthy legacy.”

“He unsheathed his great sword from his back, and entered his home. Nothing could have prepared him for what he knew had happened.”, another srep, and I am closer to you.

“Aaaaaa-ooooooo”, I howled, and you jumped with dread.

“The wolf beckoned for him. A single wolf, howling his challenge for all creation to hear.”
“He fought the tears away, got out of the slaughterhouse his home had become, sword in hand and went to meet his nemesis.”
“When he finally did see the wolf, he saw that he was grotesquely huge from his banquet. In fact, the wolf could barely move at all.”
“So he thought, this is going to be easy.” He thought, “Soon I will weep for the departed.”

“Snake-like, he slithered up to the wolf”, I whispered.

“When he was halfway to the wolf, though, he opened his eyes, two enormous circles that seemed as suns by the pale moonlight, and right away the wolf assumed a battle stance.”
I got down on all fours to better illustrate.
“The mighty howling of that great beast would have been enough to make a coward out of the greatest hero, but my kinsman’s cause was a just one, and he did not falter.”

“Little lamb”, the wolf howled in a guttural voice, borne from the very depths of hell, “Do not think that I have eaten too much”, he said, licking his bloody snout.
“There’s always room for a small morsel”, and, just as he was done talking, attacked, an attack so swift and fierce that his small adversary lost his shield wielding arm.”
“In shock, my kin of old was blinded by rage, that bloodlust seen in battlefields, and attacked the wolf with all his might.”

I paused for a few seconds for dramatic effect.

“And then”, you asked, curious as a cat.
“To no avail. For every blow he landed on the beast, he got three in return. Soon after he lay limbless on the floor.”
“The great wolf looked down at him, his eyes hungry.”, just as I am looking at you, and said, “Little lamb, soon your life will ebb. Though you are a brave little lamb, and you deserve to be a wolf.”, he said, as he swallowed him in one go.

“Soon this tale reached the court, and all cried for his death; he was a veteran of hundreds of battles, a hero so some, a God to many.”
“And this would have been the end of the story.

I paused again for a few moments.
I let silence creep in, until it became unbearable, and forced you to speak.
“Go on”, you asked, anxiety in your voice.
“It is of note, little girl, that some months later my kinsman did appear in court, before the King, shrouded in a great wolf’s skin, his winter pelt.”
“He was a changed man. His eyes, like molten gold. His teeth sharper, longer, like fangs. His face had acquired a… a lupine look.”
“For you see, he had been reborn inside the great wolf’s womb, and came back to this world as snow. And that is where our name comes from, and why we say our words.”
“You see, I am of the blood of the wolf, and the blood of the wolf, does not ask, it takes.”
“Little lamb”, I said, a wolfish smile playing on my lips.

I didn’t even see you coming, but you jumped at me, wolf-like, and pinned me to the floor.
“Liar”, you said. “That story is such bullshit!”
You kissed me for long, long seconds, it was as if you sought to suck the air out of my lungs.
“Maybe”, I said, with an enigmatic smile.
I rolled over you, and you looked at me from the floor.

“Summer is dying”, you said.
“Yes”, I agreed. “And you know what that means.”
It wasn’t a question.
But when was that? Yesterday?
So long ago. Years ago.

Now, as then, as in the last time I was with you, I kneel before a tree, and I pray.
I pray for me and for you.
Made-up prayers, directed not to one God, but to all, to He who is many, to the God in nature, in the nature of the world, and in the nature of people.
I pray to the full moon rising, and to the God in the tree.

It’s not very cold now, or maybe I just don’t feel it anymore.
I pull up my jacket’s hood to shelter me from the falling snow, and turn my back to the tree.
The wind sings in the trees, and carries a melody that is so well known to my ears.
All around me the cypress trees whisper those words that we both know of old, my love.

“Winter is coming”, they sing.

"What does it take to turn you on,
now he has gone?
now you're over 21?
now your animal's gone?
Animal, he was animal, an animal."

Suede, Animal Nitrate


Cris said...

So beautifull... when i finish reading this chapter i felt some sadness...but at the same time, a huge inner peace... strange, but real...

and it's so additive... i can feel the story... and i'm in a struggle to fully understand it... and i'm starting to...


Ad Astra said...

I can safely say that the fun stuff is (mostly) over.
Now comes the hard parts, the bits where all the stories start interwtining and making even more sense.

You are the second person to tell me so, and they are words of praise that bring such warmth to me heart.

I believe if, when this is all done, you read it again, the whole will be much more satisfying...


sil said...

the quality of your writing is really stepping up.

Great storytelling!

Ad Astra said...

Why, thank you, Sil!
You did notice that this was a story inside the story, right?
And there are going to be a few more still!