The Girl Who Cut Out Her Heart and Buried it in the Snow

Heart

“but a kind of yearning has hold of me – to die and to look upon the dewy lotus banks of Acheron”

Is there an animal with no heart? Does the absence of the beating rhythm stop all life or can one go on without a heart? Like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who yearns for a heart.

Aíma was a girl who had dreamed of having no heart. She was quite young, not yet fully grown, but curious. She worked in a butchers in the city and her long days were spent cutting, dicing, fileting, packing, selling. She was used to the feel of raw flesh in her hands and the red brown of blood under her fingernails. But she had always wondered about it – could a person live without a heart? Her dreams told her they could.

On this night she was lying in her bed in her apartment trying to cool off. She had a temperature, she was burning up and the night air was not cooling the fire that prickled under her skin. She wrestled with the sheets, fanning herself with the billowing material but try as she might, she couldn’t cool down. In and out of consciousness, her mind drifted to the dreams that were always in the back of her thoughts. She started to dream of having no heart.

After a while, the heat was too much and the open window was not helping. The chill of the winter air did nothing to quell her fever. Aíma had had enough and sat up in bed, her mind wandering as it did to animals living, breathing without a heart. She got up and without questioning her actions; she walked to the kitchen and found a pair of scissors. She gripped them in her hands and throwing her coat on, she left the apartment carrying the scissors under her clothes. She could feel the cold metal on her skin and it felt amazing. In the city at night there were not many people about. It was perhaps one or two in the morning. Few shops were open and Aíma was not distracted by other walkers. She left the apartment block and began to walk, faster with each step. She knew where she was going but at the same time she did not. She just followed where her feet took her. It started to snow.

On the outskirts of the city, she eventually reached a disused warehouse with a large car park. It was empty save a few bicycles chained to the railings and an old beaten up Corvette that had seen better days. Still holding the scissors under her jacket, Aíma walked purposefully to the corner of the car park where yesterday’s snowfall was backed up against the wall. The fresh snow was light and melting as it touched the white compacted powder on the concrete. But slowly, it began to settle. Aíma could feel it on her skin, cooling her hot, stinging flesh. She took the scissors and began to gauge a hole in the snow and ice. Deep she struggled with the scissors – they were just regular kitchen scissors – until she had a hole about 30cm into the snow. She took off her jacket and grasped the scissors before stabbing the open blades into her chest. The pain of the cut was alleviated by the cold touch of the scissors. Aíma dug deeper and passing through layers of flesh and ribs, she reached her heart. She felt it beating fast under the bones and cartilage and reasoned that she must cut it out. There was a lot of blood on her hands, on the scissors and spattered on the white grey snow. Drops of red and black mixing with the ice. She was sweating and shivering at once and felt as though she was about to faint.

But she persevered and cutting with the scissors at lumps and bumps of flesh and skin, she could feel her heart in her hands, She was used to holding bloody flesh from working at the butchers, but this was hotter, burning. She took the heart and threw it down into the hole she had dug before covering it over with layers of old snow. She wiped the scissors clean on her coat and crawled under the material, curled up on the snow next to where she had buried her heart. It was just as it was in her dreams. She rested her head on the ice and went to sleep. Her ritual was complete.

 

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The Bear with Pale Fur

Bear 1

 “you came and I was crazy for you and you cooled my mind that burned with longing”

In the forest on the west side of the island there was a deep woodland grove filled with life and excitement. There were animals and creatures, who had made the woods their home and they lived in peace among the trees and plants. In the fresh, moist soils the chokecherry trees grew, dark and slender under the oppressive skies. There were currant bushes with red, black and white berries, which became rich purple as they ripened under the warm sun, and cottonwood trees plentiful with white fluffy catkins, standing a hundred years old near the banks of the rivers. The woodland was made deep blue with fine spruces littering the forest floor and tall with golden aspens creating a vibrant canopy, home to birds and mammals of all kinds. Woodpeckers induced a cacophony of music in the trees, tapping on the bark to release the sap and feasting on beetles and larvae. At night, red foxes roamed the woods, listening for prey, hunting for frogs, insects and fallen apples, and by day garter snakes crawled through the earth, searching for worms and leeches, and hiding from predators. The forest housed thousands of honeybees, who produced the sweet golden ingredient that fed so many inhabitants of the land. They clustered around their hives, drones and workers all fast and busy, working for their queen.

In the forest life abounded and there were creatures of all sizes living side by side. There was a girl who lived alongside the flora and fauna. Her name was Agnótita and she was wild and beautiful, the most beautiful of the daughters of the forest. She was strong and smart and had dark eyes and long chestnut hair. Her skin was white and pure and from it drew deep red blood when she cut herself on thorns and branches.

With her home the forest, Agnótita made use of her skills in finding food and shelter. She lived inside a tree, which sheltered her from the storms that from time to time hit the island, but she was missing one thing that she longed for. She yearned for a companion. One day in the early morning Agnótita saw through a crack in the trees a tall upright shape, a figure. She was intrigued and came closer to see more clearly the person she had glanced. Immediately, on seeing clearly the figure standing before her, Agnótita fell in love. She longed to hold the bear with pale fur.

He was tall, present, and covered with a golden fur, which glinted under the early morning sunshine. He moved slowly and his pale fur was almost luminous as he did so. Agnótita found the bear and he too fell in love with her. But circumstances dictated that they could not be together. He was an animal, fierce and wild, and she was a mere mortal woman. Nevertheless, the pair decided they could not be apart. They hid in secret inside the tree that was home to Agnótita, the bear cradled his love, squashed and cramped against the branches and leaves.

For Agnótita knew that the bear was indeed a man trapped inside the body of bear. She knew that tragedy had befallen him and he was doomed to live out the rest of his days as the bear with pale fur. She did not care what he had done to incur the wrath of the gods which turned him into a bear, she cared only for he man she loved and decided to stay with him, hiding out of sight. The pair lived together for years until Agnótita grew old and frail, and eventually died. She was turned into a sycamore tree on the edge of the forest. This broke the bear’s heart once again and he roamed the forest day and night trying to glimpse the woman he had loved, but finding only a tree where she used to be.

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!