If perchance we were to meet on a day previous to this, you would have heard me indulge in a complaint whether you wished to hear it or not.
Such ill mannered self indulgence would have informed you that from the very moment the drunken Sacristan and the wild eyed Priest interred me into this anonymous crypt, my tombstone has experienced a famine of human touch and the blindness of a curious glance. Indeed it could be construed that such a complaint is a commendation to them both, the Sacristan and the Priest, and that such a starvation of attention was in direct correlation with the secrecy with which they accomplished their clandestine burial, and indeed the remoteness of the grounds they chose to pollute with their murdered victim. For their act was as hasty as it was furtive, and necessarily undertaken, forgive my pun, within hours of them finishing with my disfigured and lifeless body.
But it is not yesterday; it is now a day later and fortunately I can spare you the deliverance of the self-piteous complaint a day previous would have brought. And as I now have a moment to tell my tale, I can now tell you different, for this morning my gravestone was touched by a girl.
They called me Dussatoir when I was alive, a name that does not appear on the stone that marks my discarded soul and therefore you will appreciate my need to identify myself. I was born free of family or relative in the Paris of 1848, and whilst beginning life, as a member of the orphan class is not one of recommendation, such a lonely beginning of my history does not reflect my earthly sojourn.
It is not my intention to inflate my story, but notwithstanding my short life, which expired violently and with malice at the hands of the above mentioned Priest two months into the beginning of my thirteenth year, I had many friends and plentiful acquaintances.
Some were loved with abundance of heart and a bounty of time, and in return, their protection, for many of them enjoyed a societal stature the envy of courts and dignitaries alike, ensured my health and my education became as precious as jewels and as important as aged wine, at least to those who could afford both. It is fair to record that my education ensured a continuous stimulation and my curiosity was rewarded by those with similar interests, and it is with a knowledge of my arrogance that I say I knew myself to be beautiful.
As a result of this kindness and direction, I expected my future to be fulsome and my marriage to be well chosen and perhaps it was this very cocoon of a comfortable mind that contributed to my death, as I naively presumed that the Priest would feel for me as others had done. I know now that perhaps he did, but in a manner entirely different.
Yet I must record that even in my demise I am eternally grateful for a patronage that allowed such an arrogance of confidence and a life of plenty, although it is with regret that I am unable to deny the probability that my relationship with such very persons of importance left the wild eyed priest with little alternative but to murder me once he had succumbed to his temptations and visited his beastly perversion upon me.
I ask your pardon at this point, as to provide you the details of his crime would not be proper, suffice to say that I am thankful it was achieved with speed, my demise and indeed his perversion, and my darkness arrived before the realisation of its finality. In truth I may have allowed some pity for the priest enter my heart as he struggled with his self disgust, but for the fact his eyes were the last of humanity to see me, or I to see of humanity.
Until this morning that is, when a young girl touched me.
I was pulled from the earth when her fingers caressed my gravestone. I was without body, but yet as I rose I disturbed the leaves in the tree that had sheltered me and I could smell the new air into lungs that I no longer had. The girl, with hair of straw and attire that I was not familiar with, was kneeling on the forest floor singing a tune I had never heard. She had a circular basket the colour of sunrise with images of flying girls with waspish wings and some lettering I concluded to read as Tinkerbell. Her young hands, for I presumed her to be late in her first decade, perhaps her eighth year, collected acorns that had fallen around my grave beneath the words on my stone that I could now see.
It simply stated OCCUPÉ 7/71861.
I forgot, nay ignored, my etiquette and deportment and touched the little girls hair as I hovered above her. She flicked her hand at me as if warding off an insect and I was startled to realise that she could sense my presence. I flitted excitedly around her face before another voice disturbed her singing and the little girl laughed as a man appeared from behind the gorse bush, whiskered and panting as he triumphantly whispered that he had found her.
My heart lifted at such a sight of family and I found myself soaring high up into the trees in an exuberance that was not fitting of a lady. I brushed the smaller branches in order to agitate their movement and turned into steep angles to feel the wind against my face. The birds scattered and I was sure a Rook eyed me suspiciously before he flapped angrily and elevated high into the canopy and away from the strange flying spirit indulging in inappropriate and joyful acrobatics.
I explored my new being and my fresh surrounding as the sun commenced its descent, and at the precise moment that a thought invaded my mind; (that such a lateness of hour was an unusual time for a family picnic in the forest), I heard a scream from the young girl below. Startled birds flew around me and as the beat of their wings disturbed the air I could feel my sprit fall and I collided with branches that were shaking from the sudden departure of their nesting inhabitants.
I was perilously close to the forest floor when my spirit, upon realisation that I could not die twice, divested itself of the remnants of human fear it still contained and retained control as if it were an arrow shot from a bow.
I found myself flying with ease through thickets and ferns as I followed the echoes of the little girls scream and the flora and fauna passed swiftly beneath me. Within moments I happened across a river and slowed to a glide as a muffled shout filled the air and was then lost to the fast flowing water. The riverbanks were dense and green carpets of moss provided purchase for brambles of blackberry and the choking of ivy. The sun closed its eye and as the last of the light succumbed to the darkness, the heart I no longer had, beat faster in my chest as the little girl screamed again.
My spirit lifted me, and I rose to the sky, hawkishly searching for the girl and her shouts. A rook, the same who had eyed me suspiciously, flew to a nearby Oak tree and caw cawed an urgent invitation that I duly accepted. He jerked his large beak to the floor below and I followed his direction, and there, lying on her back looking directly at the skies we occupied above her, with a mans hand clamped over her mouth and his prone body covering her shape, was the little strawed hair girl holding the orange and red basket in her hand, the unfamiliar attire she was wearing now torn and ripped.
Yet again I must ask your pardon, for it would be improper to outline my detailed vision of the man, other than to recall my recoil at his similarity to the wild eyed Priest, in action and expression, if not entirely in looks.
I am unclear as to what happened next because it was without my intervention that I began to glow. The rook caw cawed another invitation and more crows appeared beside us, hovering together behind my ethereal light. The girl’s urgent scream, now muffled and diluted, signalled our call to arms and the murder of crows, my spirit at their helm, descended in a frenzy that was both fearful and exhilarating. The communal flap of wings pushed the ferns and the branches to one side, creating a path that allowed us to dive with a speed that was breathtaking and a sound that was terrifying. Serendipitous synchronicity ensured the wild eyed man turned to discover the cause of the sound bearing down behind him at the exact moment we impacted upon his body. I looked into the lust of his eyes and saw my Priest, his perversion and his pleasure, and then, in a manner that was surgical and disciplined, the crows went about their business and the man’s deviant eyes were suddenly no more.
I turned my glow to the little girl and I was thankful we had arrived before his perversion had fully commenced. I caressed her cheek and whispered close to her ear as a barrier to the screaming of the man who was now blindly tripping towards the river. His britches were around his ankles and a cape of crows flew behind him as they nonchalantly avoided his flailing arms and took turns embedding their beaks into the panic of his skin.
The little girl smiled at my words and looked at me, my glow now subsiding. I moved her hand to her torn attire and assisted her in pulling it tighter to her body. I guided her to a standing and the collection of spilled acorns, and then the man’s screams ceased and the collecting of errant acorns nonsensically resumed. The crows momentarily returned and as they alighted upon every available branch and bush, the darkness became complete and the little girl began to cry. She stopped collecting acorns and called for her Papa, walking in a circle that was pitiful and lost. Sensing they were the cause of the girl’s further consternation, the Rook caw cawed his departure and the murder of crows took flight into the darkness of the wooded canopy and the trees groaned in acceptance of their return.
As they jostled for sky one of the younger crows dropped remnants of the man’s bloodied shirt into the now flattened ferns below and some paper fell from a destroyed pocket. It was the colour of light parchment with dark straight letters that were written in a manner I had never seen before. Each one was similar to the other in style and size and the regimental lines and columns were perfect in appearance and spacing. I was wondering what hand could have written such a tight and perfect exposition of the story of a ‘child killer’ when I noticed the date.
It read 7/7/1961.
My discomfort at seeing such a date was quickly sequestered from the task in hand and whilst my glow had subsided further it was still of a brightness that allowed the little girl to follow me in the blackness. I seemed to possess an instinct that was not present in my living state and as I began to guide the little girl through gorse and thickets, over the bog of rotting forest floor and beneath twisted boughs and badgers lairs, I assimilated to my new surroundings and the purpose of my newly gained freedom, a century to the day, from the date the Priest killed me.
My concern for the little girl overpowered my contradicted feelings of sorrow and joy and as I picked a path out of the wilderness, I watched her smile and I listened to her talk of her Papa. The foxes and badgers that crossed our trail were unperturbed by our presence and despite the despicableness of the circumstances of our initial meeting; we were both aware of the second chances we had been provided.
I had abundance of time for reverie, our forest exit taking longer than I had imagined, serving as a reminder to the remoteness of my gravestone and the resultant absence of touch or curious glance. I was unaware of hours but the darkness was beginning to lose its inkiness and the girl was beginning to tire before the trees began to thin and shadows of mountains could be seen against the fading black of the sky. I nudged beneath the little girls chin, making her laugh in a attempt to raise her from exhaustion, and as we finally left the last of the tree shadows behind us, we yet again heard voices calling from afar.
Partners in terror we froze to the spot, and a fox thought better of his following and scuttled to the undergrowth. The voice called again, followed by another and then, in an expletive to her exhaustion, the little girl ran in a direction outside my expectation and gamely sprinted towards the voice. My spirit followed her closely and my glow finally extinguished as she laughed with excitement and shouted ‘Papa Papa’. The voices, as more than one could now be heard in unison, were punctuated by the beating of bushes and the bark of dogs and as we broke free from the height around us and were beneath the comfortable expansion of a large sky, the first light appeared in the morning horizon and I saw a man standing on the brow of hill. He called into the forest and fields below, and the little girl ran towards him with arms outstretched.
The man’s voice was interrupted with a sobbing noise as he heard the little girl shout
‘Papa, Papa, Tinkerbell saved me’
She was gaining to the man when I stopped my flight and hid amongst the shadows. The fox had rejoined me and when it was only a matter of steps before the girl embraced her Papa, I turned to watch the sun begin to glow from the sky above.
I heard them reunite.
And now known as Tinkerbell, and with renewed visions of hope within the heart I no longer had, I was joyous that the first light I had seen in over a hundred years, was a little girl returning to her father.
I glowed momentarily at the fox, and moved on to explore my new future.
I am fascinated by the drawings and talent of fellow bubbler Jenny Nestor. One of her pencil drawings, entitled First Light, intrigued me with its color, despite the absence of it. Many of her drawings and paintings are illustrations to stories, so I asked her permission to turn the tables on her :)
Here is the story that her picture pulled from my brain. It’s not my normal style of writing but its what the picture seemed to require so I just went with it. If there’s one thing RB is for, its experimentation surely :) Thanks for the read and I hope Jenny doesn’t get too upset at my interpretation !