The Girl and the Bear

The Girl and the Bear

Third Part

She had become resentful and full of fear. And she was yearning for her tree, but this was very confusing for her because the black bear was full of kindness and had only ever shown her care and goodness. Nevertheless, every day the girl would wake and want to scream so loudly, but she was gagged. She was trapped too, tied up in a strait jacket and unable to escape the consequences of her own actions. Not but two days or so ago, the girl had allowed the bear, encouraged him, to shoot her in the heart, but she never thought that this would be the result. The arrow had become lodged, but her heart had begun to hurt. Hurt with a strange pain. A terrible guilty pain that came to infect her brain too. The girl was so angry and hurting and sad inside. And she knew that it was her fault. The problem was that there is not room for two arrows in one heart, and the girl had already been shot. Two punctures in one heart can lead to a great loss of blood. So in spite of all the honey and gifts that the kind and gentle black bear had bestowed upon her, the girl could not help but feel a horrible pain from inside of her beating chest. The pain was long and dirty and oppressive, and felt like a darkness crawling inside of her mind, eating at her thoughts, and taking away her soul. She couldn’t help but feel that she was doing something very wrong, that although she had love in her heart, it was poisoning her from the inside out.

The days went on, for the girl was strong and kept the sense in her mind. Though she was suffering this strange pain, she could still hear the voice of her reason telling her of all the more pain that she might release if she let herself act upon her feelings. She remained constant, closed and quiet. Silent. She kept to wearing the gag and the strait jacket, and she stayed with the kind black bear, trying always to keep loving her friend, to ignore the place inside her chest where he had shot his arrow. Never did she cry out, only tears came inside. Tears of sadness and shame and guilt. And one can get used to pain if one doesn’t cry out.

One day the girl became especially aware of the pain, and she thought she just couldn’t stand it any longer. She was terribly confused. And perhaps she ought to have realised, but no, she could not. She could not see clearly, she could not remove the gag, but then too she could not supress the indignation or pain. It was agony in her body. She lay that night beneath the moon, inside of the home she had built, but her mind was restless and her body full of discomfort. Itching and sweating, she writhed. Her skin was hot and sore, and the hurt was burying all the way through to her organs, and to her mind. She tried very hard to sleep, to remain, to calm, but at last her body was boiling so much with the wretch emanating from her heart would not stay still. Like a beast residing within her, he was eating her insides and finding his way out, preventing her sleep. So the girl sat up, she leapt up and climbed out of her tree. She hastened out, fast, fast and she didn’t care that her bones bashed against the trunk as she clambered. And she didn’t care that the air was so dry and painfully cold as to kill. She was so hot. And compelled. So she ran through the forested area, though she tripped and fell upon the uneven frozen ground. She ran to the edge of the trees until she fell down onto the snow, for it was snowing at this time of the winter.

Everywhere was under layers and layers of snowfall. White and thick. Too thick even to feel the grass and mud beneath as you ran across the surface. The sky was very dark blue, and very vast and high. The girl stopped for just a second as she reached the forest edge. She breathed in. then she began again to run, following the path by memory, as the floor was only white. Not so fast now for she was beginning to feel the cold eating at her skin. Her body was in part burning, sweating, gasping for air and cool refreshment, and in part numb and frozen, unable to move for lack of energy. At first she couldn’t feel this, or at least was not concerned to notice, but after a time of running, her feet simply couldn’t continue onward. She stopped as she came to a number of trees beginning another forest area, and leant upon a dark and dirty wood, a wide tree trunk, moist and cold. The girl breathed for quite some time. Heavily, and leaning upon the bark. Her arms and legs and stomach were sore and stinging, hot still and itching. And she closed her eyes for a time.

Bear

Fourth part coming soon!

The Girl and the Bear

The Girl and the Bear

Second Part

For a time she didn’t know this bear, but one day he saw her laying down in the sunshine painting husks and kernels with the berry juice, and he came to sit with her a while. Then they became friends. This bear was a brown bear with soft thick fur, shiny and pure. He was tall and large and had a kindly face. But more than kindly, his face was so terribly beautiful. He was a terribly beautiful bear. His eyes were grey and blue and they were speckled with honey gold freckles all around. They were nearly transluscent, and very beautiful indeed. But the girl didn’t realise this when he came to sit with her a while.

Everyday the girl took good care of the animals in the forest and all around. The days were becoming warmer at this time of year; the flowers were showing their faces too. Yellow and purple and white, they snuck up from below the grass, small but many. And they smiled at the girl, they laughed with her as she walked through the green, green grasses, through the cool and shady families of trees, as she painted, and as she collected fruits and herbs for her remedies and potions. Oh what lovely days these were with the sun shining upon her hair. Now and a then she would see her friends the raccoons, she might swim with the fish, or pass by the beautiful brown bear, and she would be happier these days. She was not so scared of herself, and she was certainly not afraid of anyone else. No, these were calm and warm summer days. The mountains were very beautiful, the sky very blue and very wide.

But of course as is its nature, time began to pass, and the days came to be a little shorter, the sun a little cooler, and the sky a little lower. The summer reached his hand out to shake that of the autumn, and though the girl wished it was not so, she had soon to admit that it was getting too cold to continue her days in this fashion. She had seen it coming, but she was sad to see it arrive all the same.

The girl was strong and resolute. So as the winter came, she did her utmost not to let in the cold. She armed herself. And she made many more friends in the green wide lands of her home. She met dogs and bears and saw once again friends she had not seen for such a long time. And times continued, the winter making things just that little bit harder, colder. Sometimes friends shot her in the foot, sometimes the dogs got over excited and the insects inadvertently poisoned her, yet she remained. She met, among others, a black bear. And she saw too the brown bear. She lit a fire outside her tree every night for light and warmth, and though she made mistakes, she persevered.

The black bear got to talking with the girl one day. This bear was quiet, shy, black and strong, and the two became friends. He was very kindly, and brought to her tree gifts of fruits and honey. And he would brush her hair also. What a very kind bear. Time passed and continued, and the girl remained. In spite of the tumultuous weather, the cold, the winter. She looked forward always to the summer. Yet soon the girl began to get a strange feeling inside of her guts. And she realised that it was caused by the black bear. Wait, was it the black bear?

Third part coming soon!

The Girl and the Bear

The Girl and the Bear

First Part

There is a place in the mountains just far from here. This is the most beautiful and exquisite place you might ever see. It has much green grass and plenty of water and strong green trees. In the morning the sun rises up over the mountains. It creeps high into the sky, bright and yellow. Warm and powerful. It comes every morning, save for those especially clouded, grey, white days, and heats up the soil below. It melts the ice crystals that blanket the land so that round shining water droplets collect upon the leaves and grass. Then it warms them more and more until they evaporate and the ground is hard and dry, sandy with mud, but mostly green with grass. Well this place is very beautiful. The trees give fruits, nuts and berries, great red berries. And forest flowers grow upon the floor during the summer months. The nuts are varied and scatter upon the ground. They are sweet and nutritious. The place is very vast, it covers many miles and very few people live there. A lumberjack every now and then. There are areas where trees run for hundreds of miles, and here live sparrows and jackdaws and robins and grey tits and spiders and mice and fat caterpillars and woodlice. Then there are clearer areas where trickling water splashes down through the rocks and ledges. The water is clear and cool. Maybe it derives from a spring somewhere up in those mountains. The animals can drink.

Quite high up, perhaps into the higher of the mountains, is a place where the snow threatens, but never quite reaches to submerge. Here there is a reasonably sized clearing surrounded by forested land. As one ascends, there is one particular area of forest on the right hand side of this clearing, an area very vast and dark once one delves into its heart. In this part, among the insects and animals, the birds and the tall evergreens, lives a girl. She is a girl who lives here. Her home is a hollowed out tree, and her work is in the forest. The girl lives alone; though she is not lonesome, save for on occasion. For she has her work and her thoughts to occupy her time and mind. She cares for the animals when they are unwell, she mixes potions from the plants and flowers and fruits around her, and when she is done, she climbs the trees to look out across the mountains, or makes talismans and mascots from the forest detritus. She can make such like from the empty skulls of long dead creatures, from the husks and shells of the fruit that the land has consumed, from the seeds and pines that the forest sheds. And she can paint them with the blood and juice of animals and fruits. Her own home, inside a very large and tall tree, is decorated too with such objects as these. Red, brown, dead and immortal, hanging from the entrance to her home.

This tree that she calls her own is of quite large circumference with a hole in its side just a metre or so from the ground. Though the girl has covered the hole with a fabric so as not to allow the moths in each night or the bright light in each dawn, one can see that beneath the thin curtain, there is a room furnished inconspicuously and providing residence to a one individual. This is where she lives.

Sometimes the girl is cold. But that hasn’t been for quite a while now, and these days she sees more light. She can see the sunlight and feel it on her skin, and she can see the clean, white moonlight, and the hot, kind light of the night’s stars. She has friends in the forest, but mostly she is contented to live alone, to speak for herself. Some friends are raccoons, chipmunks, a few woodcutting folks, and of course the fish and the trees and the insects around her. And she also knows a bear.

Second part coming soon!

Fried Fish…

Other Friends to Fry

 One time a small croaky house on an island quite far north was the home to a young woman. She was named Mëli. And she was quite a find.

Well, the island of which we speak was quite light and grey, and it did not have such a great many human inhabitants. Just a few. One of whom, of course was Mëli. Her small house was constructed out of very small square rocks of a silvery colour, all sandwiched together by the whitest cement adhesive. There were two square windows for eyes upon the front façade, and beneath them a little red door for the nose. A door underneath which Mëli had planted the most lovely plants and flowers able to withstand the rainy, grey climate that was common to the island. The flora collected and tangled either side of the red door like two sides of a shuffling caterpillar moustache. A moustache of Wild Bergamot, Queen of the Prairie, Bee Balm and, of course, the terribly mischievous Azure Pickerel in the most damp and boggy regions. Such a very small house did Mëli live in, but not so pathetic to crack and crumble under the constant drip drop of the grey, grey rain. And fortunately, Mëli was rather small herself and so fit quite snuggly into her little home. Thank goodness.

Well although the house was terribly grey, as you can gather, it was positively technicolour in comparison to the island that surrounded it. In fact, the blood red of the Bee Balm and the little cherry door must have been the brightest thing for many kilometres, excepting of course the fluorescent front window of the only restaurant upon the island. This restaurant was the Red Herring, and was not, if the truth be told, a veritable restaurant. Rather, the place was the island’s finest, and only, vendor of the most splendid and salty fish and chips you might ever eat. And it was also Mëli’s workplace.

Everyday she would walk from her square, grey house down the flat, grey street for around 19 or 20 minutes, until she reached the Red Herring, where she steadfastly served the island community with the tastiest deep fried sea treats: a necessitous role you understand. It was usually quite a pleasant way to pass the day, and of course it enabled Mëli to afford the electricity and gas needed to heat her grey abode. At the beginning, it must be said, she was a little apprehensive to watch the slippery sliver fish slide from her fingers, glassy flat eyes wide, wide open, plunging deep into the rich batter mix, but soon enough she became accustomed to fishing out the slithery creamy coated creatures by the tail, and then dropping them into the vat of hot yellow oil. She could see the transformation from silver, scaly friend to crispy, tempting morsel of gold right before her eyes, and after a while she no longer felt like an accessory to murder. Nevertheless, she continued to flinch just a little for each little fish.

These fish were mainly Kolja and Silvertorsk, native species that were extremely common to the area, but occasionally the great swarthy fisher people might trawl in a rarefied Hälleflundra, Rödspätta or Svärdfisk. Hälleflundra was Mëli’s most favourite fish for supper, so sweet and delicious it was, wrapped up in a crackling coat of paralysed fat and batter.

For many months, maybe years, Mëli had been working in the Red Herring, from ten in the morning to midnight everyday, save for Saturday, when she had the day for her own. It was quite a sure way to live, every week more or less the same pattern to follow, and as cherished piscatorial caretaker to all the island’s inhabitants, Mëli became acquainted with a great majority, if not all, of her neighbours.

How pleasant it was to get to know and also to provide for the folk of the island, to make the kiddies smile with snacks of golden crisp fishy friends, and to warm the cold bony folks’ insides. A terribly agreeable, if laborious way to pass the days. It must be noted that Mëli was not alone in the Red Herring. Fortunately she had the helping hands, as well as the unceasing requests, of the two young fellows who owned the place, to keep her from solitude. They worked along with her most of the days, one or the other, and so the daily tasks of gutting and descaling the fish, peeling and chopping the potatoes, and ensuring that the shop was spic and span, were shared and seemed a little less arduous. These two were brothers, perhaps twins, although they were quite different in countenance and character. The one was named Okän; he was surly and ireful, always with furrows cut into his forehead where his eyebrows were compressed in miserly grief. He wore royal blue trousers with a pattern of tiny white fish racing up and down them.

Then there was the other. He was named Yani. He was surly also, but wore red rather than blue trousers with the shapes of tiny white fish upon them. And very occasionally he might become just slightly less gruff and crack a good joke. Mëli found the two of them to be usually good colleagues, both very competent and hard working, if a little on the quiet side, and they were kind to invite her for a fish supper now and again in the room above the Red Herring, which was where the pair lived.

On a day in November, or perhaps it was October, Mëli had been invited to dine with the brothers, as was quite usual. This day was most especially rainy, the water just ran and ran down from the sky, then ran and ran off the pointed roofs upon all of the island’s buildings, then ran and ran down the grey roads and straight into the grey sea. Saturation really was the name of the game. Well all day had Mëli been working, gutting, filleting, scaling, slicing, frying, salting and packing up hot meals for her fellow islanders, because although the rain poured and poured, the people still flocked to the Red Herring. For it was, as previously mentioned, the only restaurant upon the island. On this particular day she had worked alongside Yani, for Okän was running an errand, but at midnight all three prepared to eat together around the small table upstairs, looking out through the grey lace curtains at the rain. Okän had offered to cook as he had not been in the kitchen all day, and the other two remained upstairs to prepare. Mëli fetched a jug of water, while Yani laid out the lousy, tinny cutlery. He was hungry now.

Yani smiled at Mëli and let out a terribly clownish joke. Blundersome and familiar it was. Mëli and Yani grinned. Quite an awful joke. At this point Okän joined them but without any supper, a fact which aggravated Yani terribly. Okän said that he was in need of Mëli’s help downstairs, though she could not think why. Perhaps he had lost the condiments.

But then again, perhaps not. Downstairs, Okän shut the door that led to the room upstairs. Then he locked the door. He proceeded to grab a hold of Mëli’s hand and drag her towards the fish service counter, twisting her small wrists in his enormous callused grip. She very much wanted to shout out, but before she could, his other hand smacked upon her face, stopping any breaths or cries at once. For Okän was terribly strong and much too big for Mëli to challenge, especially in this instance, as she had been caught unawares. Oh dread and terror started to burn inside of Mëli and her heart was running so fast, she thought she would die. Her pores were sweating, her cheeks were on fire, and her ears were ringing as Okän tied a cloth around her face so as to gag her. Her tongue felt feathery as the cloth cut the sides of her mouth and saliva dribbled down her chin. Oh my, she really thought she was choking.

Okän slammed her down and her head began to bleed where it hit the surface. Her hands were taken and she was getting so tired out trying to scratch at the awful man, to punch him somehow. But his face was so terribly close, his hot breathing so disgusting and loathsome. With all her might, Mëli wriggled her knees up towards her chest and kicked out as hard as she could. She struck Okän a dreadful blow as she pushed up and kicked under his chin. Her laced up shoes were fortunately heeled and thus cut Okän’s face so that his chin began to bleed bright orange tomato juice. This blow threw the man from before Mëli, and she had again her arms at her disposal. She pushed him away and scampered to try to unlock the door, but Okän prevented her from escaping as he crashed across the small restaurant area, smashing glass in his trail. Little crystals and green gems of shattered glass sparkled over the tiles and the blood smeared over the metal counter top. It was a terribly revolting sight and so contrary to the smell of the battered Kolja that was sizzling away in the fryer. Mëli searched for some means of defence but it was in vain, so she tried again at the lock. Now her hands had become bloody too.

At this point, the door was opened and Yani, perhaps driven by hunger, or perhaps out of concern for his brother and colleague’s absence, came into the kitchen space. His eyes were very blue and beautiful like the ocean, and a little grey like the island rain. They darted around as he came to understand the mess before him. He pushed Mëli out of the kitchen before reaching, quick as a fox, for a great metal pan. Well, Yani was at this point so very angry, he had flames in his eyes, flames that at once blinded and illuminated his vision. And with this ire he hurt his brother very badly. The bashing and thrashing, gutting, cutting, pummelling, pommelling and battering that Yani had perfected so well with the silvery creatures of the sea that they served in the Red Herring, proved somewhat handy it seemed in this unfortunate and detestable scenario.

Mëli cried and cried behind the dirty door that was sullied with blood, then after a time, Yani opened the door, helped Mëli to her feet and walked with her through the back door out into the pouring rain. She was shaking, and Yani held her hand. They began to walk along the grey, grey road towards the sea, the rain washing the terrifically red blood from their skin and hair, cleaning their faces of sweat and tears. It was so dark, around one o’clock by now, and the cold, black sky was mellowed a little by the grey constant rain. Mëli and Yani stood beneath this sky for a time. Yani was no longer so hungry.

After this occasion, the Red Herring could no longer provide the community with the most wonderful of fish and chips. Mëli left. She fled the island in search of the sun. She did not return, and you can be certain that never again did she dine on a late fish supper.