>> Monday, May 28, 2007

The dazzling stars winked and played illuminating the little form lay shapelessly huddled on the ground in a tiny lump with a large hound sniffing at its contents. A lesser informed mortal would have attempted to 'rescue' the contents in the wrapped cloth and merited the wrath of the hairy animal as it guarded the bundle voraciously from predators and protectors alike. The beast kept guard until the sun began to profess his bountiful wealth waking the thing in the bundle as it wriggled to life and gave a shrill cry making the hound prick its ears and become more watchful. The hound yawned wide, displaying two rows of sharp, white teeth that looked incredibly ferocious as they glinted in the morning sun.
The forest swelled as they passed by and every movement they made echoed through the emptiness making the hair on the back of the animal stand ever so often.
The beast stopped in a clearing and placed the bundle on the ground as it paused to catch its breath and hung its huge tongue making strange noises. It dragged the bundle to the nearby lake and turned to lap up some water for the long way ahead. It turned its head sharply and looked at the bundle. The cloth remained empty and its contents had vanished. With a hyperactive muzzle it prepared for an arduous hunt; its nostrils flared and its eyes glanced sharply in all directions as it scoured the area for miniscule noises. The trouble was spared as the troublemaker had just crawled to the beast's side attempting to mimic its action of lapping the waters; the bundle proved more trouble than anticipated.
As the beast hobbled along, the trees suddenly cleared away to reveal a cobbled street that showed no traces of end or beginning as it stretched endlessly winding at irregular intervals to avoid embracing an occasional oak or thicket that protruded lazily with a cloud of shadow around it. The animal wearily placed the bundle on the ground and paused as it waited for something to happen, when suddenly, a faint jingling of wheels could be made out in the distance. The hound dragged the parcel into a nearby thicket, but none too gently as the bundle, surprised by the sudden asperity, broke into a wail. Taken aback, the beast glanced around for a solution but managed, nonetheless, by gently nudging the bundle with its muzzle. The thing inside seemed satisfied by this token of affection and halted its wail mid-sentence in gratitude.
The cart that came along carried a hayrick and a cheery driver whistling a broken tune against the sylvan sunset, unaware of the hound that stealthily clambered into the cart behind him and rested motionlessly. A couple of passing children giggled noisily rousing the animal from its comatose slumber as it craned its neck to discover the infant sources of noise. Its neck moved slowly as it followed the road they travelled, to discover that the green thicket and forlorn path had long been abandoned for a little hamlet dotted with stone houses generously smothered with moss that presently shone dully with the dying rays of the sun as weary farmers laughed and clapped each other noisily on the backs slowly making their way back home.
The hound had become more aware of its surroundings and waited patiently before crouching and suddenly jumping off the cart with the tiny bundle swaying from between its teeth. Presently, it landed on the cobbled street before making its way along a path. The animal slowed down and sniffed the surroundings to ensure its destination.
Laughter and noises emerged from the house as shadows swam across the curtains with the flickering candle teasing the forms even more. The animal watched motionlessly for a few moments before he heard the gentle ringing laughter of a woman inside. As if on cue, the beast made its way to the door and nudged the door with its muzzle.
A deep timbre came from inside, “Sonya, get the back door!" A fair haired woman opened the door and looked at the hound in shock as she mouthed "Fyodor". The voice from inside asked, “Who is it Sonya?" She didn't answer, instead she kneeled and took the bundle out of the hound's mouth and she literally jumped out of her skin to find a baby gently sucking its thumb with a crumpled piece of paper on the cloth beside it. She opened the letter with trembling fingers. It read-
"Infidel Sonya,
If you assumed I would never catch your brazen affair with Mikhail, you give very little credit to an unpoetic simple housewife and you must be very happy to have wrenched what little joy I have in life with you verses and rhythm. Mikhail, Natasha and Fyodor were the only joy of my life, two of whom are beside you(with God's kind blessings)...."
Sonya raised her head and stared at the duo as her eyes gleamed with fear then slowly reverted her gaze to the paper.
"...and the third whose blood stains my hands. You horrible ingrate! You must be ecstatic with to have ruined the lives of three families and, heaven knows, innumerable lives that were joined.
I may be simple but I'm not an idiot, Sonya. I cannot live with myself after what has surpassed so Mama shall take care of my sweetheart Natasha; and as for Fyodor, he will do just as his mistress has ordered him to.
And you, you worthless wretch, shall face the wrath of an honest woman…"
The words shook her like a tempest as realization dawned upon her but no sooner had she lifted her head to stare at the hound, than Fyodor lunged at her throat with a deep growl as blood oozed from her fair neck without giving the maiden a chance to scream for help in her dying moments. The hound merged with the darkness just as Sonya’s family realized the gruesome murder and abandoned baby at their doorstep. Her father, brother and neighbors scoured the villain in the darkness armed with pitchforks and sticks, but to no avail.
As Sonya’s mother wailed beside her pale body, the blood from her neck meandered and smudged the ink of the letter with mischievous shadows dancing on the sheet, whose last words echoed-“…One life for another, Sonya…you will pay with yours…
Your dearest sister,
Marie. ”