She was born in the blood of her mother's love and became the wings on which her father flew.
They walked in the woods when she was 3. The tree was as old as the world; its branches as long as the oceans.
"That one," she pointed.
He laughed. "It's too tall for you" in his voice that was the world, but cut the branch cleanly and carried it home.
would travel to their hut from far and around, seeking the help of her
father. They would speak to him privately, then often pat her head as
they left, as though for luck.
Some brought food, some
clothes, some tools and after every visit, her father would be quiet. He
would leave her to play on the rug by the hearth, trusting her to be
safe whilst he worked in the shack of a shed she could not enter. And
after a few days, they would walk into town to find the person who'd
come, his footsteps echoing the joy or anger or sorrow with which they
had approached him.
The staff lived in the corner by the fireplace. Sometimes, she would
collect it, carry it to him, and he would laugh in his love and tell her
not yet. She would show him the pictures and he would carve them out
with shick, shick, shicks of his sharp whittling knife in the light of
her dark eyes.
She grew (as
children will) under the sun and the stars of an open sky. Each time she
took the staff he would smile and say "Not yet," but the laughter grew
sadder as the lines around his eyes deepened. Until one day she held it
and his deep voice trembled "Not yet. But soon." And a tear fell.
was cold, the day the ghosts came. The two were warming by the fire,
but he saw the path of the ghosts and hid her in the roots of a tree
that grew by their home. She curled small in her fear, but didn't
whimper as the ghosts and the men with dog-heads passed.
found she could see without moving as they entered the cottage, but no
sound as they threatened her father seated in his chair by the fire. No
sound as the first drew his sword and slashed at the one she loved most,
just the spray of his blood and she squeaked and withdrew so missed the
fire they set in the shed.
They left and she raced to the shell of her home.
life of her father was leaving, blood through his skin, but he pointed
and said "It is now. It is yours". And she grasped the staff and fed it
with her tears, but it had no power yet and could only take in the blood
of her father's love.
She left for the village.