Apart from the water stands a tree

Concealed from the road by ditch brush and magic

There it caringly and diaphanously writes

On the ruthless white sand the sounds

Not casille er erruc

And Someone asks, What is this

Nobody answers, “Tree speak

Different dialect than I’ve

Ever Seen.” I’ll tell you, the

Lake wind rushes in to whisper and

Languorously translates: To another glorious year

In the dark wild is a strange and rare creature that

Sleeps in the forest to forget to miss its friends

 

 

 

Happy birthdays, A and E!

Much love,

C

 

 

 

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The Curse of Blackwood Hollow: Part Three

Being dead, you know, gets confusing sometimes. I have to really work at things alive things don’t have to worry about. Like sitting on chairs. I only ever need to for Sybil’s sake, so I seem more like a person and less like a thing. Or like remembering the dimensions of human space. Humans have a lot of rules. Walk on the ground. Sit on things, not through them. High fives are supposed to kind of hurt and make a sound. Use past tense for things some things and the future tense for others. I always mix them up. Everything is present for me, and things don’t end where humans say they end and begin where they say they begin. That’s a thing you learn as a former human. Things is jumbled. All jumbled up. Everything.

I say that a lot to Sybil, and she thinks she gets it, and maybe she does get it more than most.

I can’t really say that I’m old. Sybil can say it, and does say it. A lot. I think she must be making jokes that are funny to humans, because she laughs a lot when she’s referring to my age. I don’t get them. I don’t feel old. I don’t really understand time anymore. Like I said, people have a lot of rules. For some reason it comforts them.

Not that I can say I’m much better off, being beyond the rules. I get wretchedly lonely. I talk with the trees sometimes. That’s a perk. And I have Sybil. But sometimes she misunderstands me and I never know what to do about it besides wandering around the earth and letting myself flow through underground places and high, unreachable-by-humans places.

The worst is a recurring moment called All Hallow’s Eve. It’s hard for me to separate seconds from the ones before and after, and days from years. But I always know when All Hallow’s Eve is now, and I hate it every time it comes.

Every time, I go to my gravestone, and Sybil goes with me.

I go to Blackwood Hollow graveyard—sorry, I guess I should say went. I went with Sybil to the little patch of dirt and weeds where us “old folk” are interned. I wasn’t the only one buried there, but I’m the only ghost. I don’t like to think about it.

I laid my hand against my gravestone. It took all of my concentration, and all of Sybil’s. I can’t do it without her. Then, suddenly, I feel the cold. In an instant, I feel the boundary of the stone. I feel where it begins and ends. Humanness seeps back into me. It’s a terrible feeling, in a way, like accepting a chain around your neck. But there’s always lurking in my mind the reason I must retain the feeling of limits, of a body. Why I must fight to stay on this earth.

I’m waiting for someone.

Now I feel the groundedness, the rules flood through me. I am renewed/ re-enslaved. Things can be both. That’s another thing you learn. A lot of things are quite simply “both.”

“I feel eyes.”

Sybil looks—looked at me judgementally. I didn’t mind. There was no point to.

I tried to explain. “Not… my eyes. His eyes.”

“Whose eyes?” she asked.

I closed my eyes and focused. My eyes. So I could feel them! That felt a bit good. “Someone watches.”

Sybil scowled out at the dark graveyard. She didn’t like people doing underhanded things. I was pretty sure she didn’t like people, period. “Who?”

I put a hand on her shoulder, and reveled in it. I could feel her shoulder. I could feel my hand. “Pretend I am still here. Talk. He will not see me.”

Sybil did not say anything for a moment, but after I moved away, she began muttering conspiratorially to no one.

He did not see me approach his tree. He did not see me loom behind him. He only heard my voice when I boomed, “Puck” and raised my hand.

It had to be done, every All Hallow’s Eve. That was the price of my staying. I had to do its bidding on this one night, and it always asked for blood. I hadn’t liked Puck from the beginning, but if I could have then, I would have told him to run. I raised my hand and brought it down until I felt his face split beneath my nails.

He howled unlike anything I’d ever heard, and I couldn’t help wondering what he was exactly. Then his eyes closed and his head fell back, but he wasn’t dead—I would know. So I went back to Sybil and told her to get him help. I had other things to do.

I went to the top of the hill, and sunk down beneath the earth, and waited for it. It got darker and darker, and the stars refused to shine, so I knew it was coming. At last it came, and I spread the blood before it. The blood sank into the earth and I knew it was pleased. A whisper ran on the wind, and for just a moment, I could feel the back of my neck. It crawled.

You do not wait in vain. She is coming.

Vanquished Glass

All the glass in the world has vanished. The tall grasses thrash against my bare legs, dress pillowing and sucking against me alternately. Shelby is beside me, both feet planted firmly on the ground for the first time in his life.

The moment this strikes me, I can’t help but look over at him and shout over the wind, “How does it feel to stand?”

“A little dizzying,” he says, grinning back. “Lot farther to fall.”

Shelby’s the kind of person who loves the ground too much to realize he was born with wings, says Mr. Mellark. Whenever provided the opportunity, he always chooses to sit on the ground, sit on something, or even just lean.

But today, tonight, he stands with us. We all stand in a line on Cherry Hill, holding hands. Except for Shelby and me. He didn’t offer it, and I don’t feel like taking it, so I just let Aunt Josephine clutch my other hand fervently. I try not to look at her, because she’s the type of person who would notice, but I can tell she’s crying. A lot of people are.

And singing.

It started out as a dull rumble, as we were marching out to the hill.

It was barely dark out when we all left our homes and banded together on the road, in one lumbering mass. Somebody near the front began a song, one of the sweet, melancholy folksongs that were made for campfires and nights of endless chess tournaments and knowing that you were part of something much more immutable than yourself.

“Why are we signing?” little Connie, barely awake, asked, tugging on my hand.

“With the proper high note,” said Mr. Mellark, contemplatively, striding beside us with his smoothly gnarled walking stick, “a signer can shatter glass.”

The Wall lies in the valley below us— or what is left of it. It looks more like a trail left behind by Connie, who didn’t realize she was tipping the salt container upside down. Nothing but a strip of white powder from up here— maybe a few sparkles if you squinted your watering eyes against the wind.

“What does it look like?” comes a croaking cry on the other side of Shelby. Blind, old Addison had, when he was very young, elected Shelby as his favourite. Intricate descriptions of the world he’d lost sight of was his favourite treat, and he was always instructing us children not to tell him that the moon was shining, but to “show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Shelby doesn’t say anything for a long time, and when I turn my face toward him, I see he has his face in his hand.

I swallow, reach out, and pry his wet hand from his wetter face. His April-storm eyes blink at me, red around the edges, scared and hopeful and alive. I wrap my fingers around his hand and squeeze.

“What does it look like, Shelby?” I say.

A shuddering breath rips through his body.

He says, “Freedom.”

“Mr. Addison,” I shout, as wind buffets us, “blue moonlight glints on the winding trail of shattered glass.”

Shelby squeezes my hand back.

I’m waking up.

I feel it in my bones.

We don’t know what lies before us. We never knew what lay beyond the Glass Wall. But it is ours. Whatever the future holds, it belongs to those who sang until the prison glass came crashing down.

The ones who see the glint of light on broken glass, because the moon shines for us tonight.

How Often Turns Into Dream

She stared at the setting sun. It was like a beach ball at day break, all bright and round and red. Sometimes hard to tell if it was rising or setting.

“Help,” she said quietly, almost to herself, or to the setting sun. What would have helped at that moment was a broom, she decided. She could ride off into the sunset and ask the sun herself.

She had transformed since her last visit to the shore. More crabby. She wanted to belong on that beach. She knelt beside a particularly slow and grumpy looking crab.

“It’s nighttime,” he said.

“Not yet,” she said.

“It will be,” he said, ever the pessimist. “I’m a realist.”

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