Sometimes, driving, you hear a tiny part of a news story, just enough to jolt your mind, but, you never hear the resolution, so, a half story, a partial image stays with you and sometimes becomes a piece of fiction.
Yesterday, I heard such a piece, a woman in the North of England, on trial for possibly, allegedly, starving her child to death and the body, almost mummified, still in the cot 2 years after his death.
This is almost a fairy story, but, you, the reader, make decisons, set the path, choose your route at each fork.
Once upon a time,
far far away or in the kingdom of long ago or in a town of dark satanic mills or round the corner where the poor people live or in the house next to yours where the curtains are never drawn
a sad princess or an evil witch or a woman in league with the devil or a victim of the legacy of Thatchers’ Britian or someone who should have known better
her home was
the darkest tower in the darkest corner of the dark. dark castle or a cottage where briars and brambles grew, engulfed the windows or the attic of a home where everyone ignored the noises that came creeping downwards or that house, the house with a fridge in the garden, the dog at the gate, barking and barking and barking
and she was blessed or cursed with
a golden haired son or a noble little princeling or a secubus, suckling or a changeling, lying blank-eye in the crib or a baby who cried and cried or something, something else, that she forgot to take care of
rose with the larks or lay under a spell, eyes too heavy to lift or shouted out at the voices in her head, when it all got too loud or measured her days in spliff and rock and cheap, cheap wine or moved the piles of paper, the rotting bin bags, backwards and forward, trying to make a space
the baby or changeling or seccubus
lit up the world with his smile or judged and cursed her with his dark reptillian eyes or lolled in the cot, too small, too weak to make any noise but a mewling, but even that felt too loud
and then one day
he kissed his mother and went out into the world to slay or one dark night the faries came and stole him away or finally sated, on leather wings, stomach heavy with her milk, he flew, slowly, unsteadily into the dark or face presed against the bars of the cot , that cot, his cries grew so faint that finally they made only a sound memory, unremembered
the beautiful princess stood at the top of the tower, waving her silken handerkerchief or the evil witch laughed and in the woods the wolves joined in or the woman, released from her secubus’s hunger fell, drained onto a nest of rags or tugging her hair tighter into a scrunchie, face pulled straight, she sat wishing she had money for the meter or closing the bedroom door, skirting the lpiles of clothes and bags and something worse that filled the stairs, she picked up her mobile and ordered a pizza, extra hot, no anchovies
time passed or time passed or time passed
then one bright day, there came a knocking on the door
a wandering peddlar, laden with a sack of gaudy treasures or a woodcutter, carrying a tiny wooden boy or a neighbour, complaining again about the barking dog, the smell, oh that smell or an almost proper police woman – hi viz marking her out before she even enters the street
and then it all falls apart
the princess falls from the tower, head smashes on rock, golden hair fanning behind her or the dragon, tiring of the games of maidens and warriors, opens his mouth and devours, teeth splintering on bones or a doctor, afraid to put her bag down, clutches it to her chest, tries to step over the piles and heaps and holds her hand over her nose to mask the stench or a husband stands, rabbit in the headlights, keeps saying.. I knew nothing, I knew nothing
and finally, the big finish
The princess is buried in a glass coffin, hard to see where coffin ends and tears begin or the villagers, pitchfork armed, torches blazing drag the witch towards the pond or facing the mirror for the last time, truth outed, empty glass smashes images into smithereens or at the end of a search, the tiny bundle, bones and bear, actually unbearable is carried from the home.