Once upon a time, in this land that we, dear readers, call home, there dwelt a saddened girl. We say she dwelt. We do not say she lived, for her lifeforce (the truest part of anyone’s living) was taken from her by a bad, bad man, and she was left without…
He was no burly monster, no green and slimed ogre, no friend of dragons, nor even an omnipotent king or unpleasant stepfather. He was the man she had relied on from her baby years, to work for, to trust… to live alongside, and in the care and hurt of—her daddy; her father; her papa.
But this man was not a good man. Dear reader, you already have been told that he was a bad, bad man.
And this he was.
So, let me tell you a tale of this saddened girl. And the un-good man.
One day, when the wind and rain battered the trees and hillsides around their mountaintop village, the saddened girl called her papa over, clearly in distress.
“Papa”, she sobbed. “Why does my heart beat so? Why do I cry? Why does my belly swell and my ankles tire? I do not understand. Am I sickened?”.
And her father looked into the eyes of the saddened girl. Then, with the bluntness of his oldest rustiest axe, he told her, without pretence, without guilt, without love and without shame that she was not sickened, but that she was with child. The child to whom he would be grandfather.
And sadly, also the child to whom he would be the father.
The saddened girl saddened further, for she knew he spoke the truth, this bad, bad man who made her a mother even before she had finished being a child.
“And what must I do, father?”, she asked. “About the being with child? What must I do?”
“You must continue. That is the way of it”, he said, “And when your belly fattens further, you must stay within the cottage until the day the child is born in blood and pain. And then you must leave the unwanted and badly begotten child in the stream until it dies. Such happens for all our female folk. Some few are chosen to live. Some many more are chosen to die”.
The saddened girl looked back into the frosted eyes of her bad, bad father and knew that this was true and unchanging—their law of death and life.
The old and rusty axe hung on a hook by the door. It hung there, glinting.
Her eyes moved between the bad, bad man’s frosted eyes and his old and rusty axe.
Her sisters. Her mother. Many, many babies… All victims of that trusty, rusty axe.
All victims of that bad, bad man.
She stood up as he began to fill his pipe and, grabbing the axe, she swung it at the bad, bad man’s head. He was soon dead. She knew. It had been the same when she’d seen him axe the others. A quick swing of the axe and the bad-bad man had despatched them all. It was a family tradition which she continued needfully. But she was now the last of the lost.
“Dead as a doornail”, she laughed to herself.
“Dead as the doornail that hangs up the axe”, she laughed a bit more—her little joke.
The now lifeless body of the bad-bad man lay where it had fallen, and where it would remain for many years to come. She wouldn’t smell it or see it. The bad-bad man was of no matter now.
The disappointed, hurt, confused, unstable, saddened girl rocked alone as she stared at the body, remembering bad, bad things.
The girl whose belly swelled with a fatherless, grandfatherless child.
A child who now may not be despatched as had been its kin.
The saddened girl replaced the axe on its hook and went away forever. The blood of the bad-bad man dripped to the stone floor, pooled and clotted, adding to the once-sticky stains there before it.
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