Eight

I was in the forest, again. I heard birds, and as I looked up, I saw a group of cranes flying by. They turned and started to fly in the opposite direction, as if they bumped into a wall and had to change course. Then they turned again, to and fro, as if they were sewing the sky together, and the distance between one end and the other was becoming smaller and smaller, and I saw that indeed there was a wall, one of water at either end, closing. I was not sure whether the cranes were bringing them together or the walls were pushing the cranes, but at one point they touched and the whole world submerged in water, including me. I saw sunlight filtering through, playing on the grass, and it was so beautiful, so peaceful…

But then I noticed something moving, something red, like a snake. When it came closer, it looked more like a Chinese dragon. It got quite dark, all I could see was a big, gaping wound, I don’t know whom it belonged to, but I heard my mother and grandmother panic “we should call a doctor”, telling each other what to do, shrieking, I couldn’t understand them anymore, and I couldn’t see them, either, or anything else.

Next, I was in the forest, again. It was almost night, and a group of crows were flying to and fro the same way as the cranes before, but it was not water they were welding together and pouring down on us but darkness…

When the night fell, I saw a figure made of bright smoke. I couldn’t make out its shape, but it had wings. As it was approaching, it looked more and more like somebody riding a winged horse. As soon as it reached me, it froze, went black, and made a clanging sound, like metal hitting metal, and I heard my mother say “it is cast iron, it’s from the factory” (my mother used to work in a cast iron factory called “Vulcan”). She went on clanging and clanging, but I could not see a thing, it was so dark. Little by little, it started to sound more and more like a bell, a huge bell… For a moment, I was in a cemetary.

I saw the group of crows again, tightly clinging together, facing me, cawing, and their cawing was more and more like words, until they were screaming “it was you, it was you, it was you”. I got frightened, couldn’t move for a moment, and then when I could have moved, I decided I would not, happens what happens.

Then, from behind me, came something like an old peasant woman dressed in a large, black shawl. She charged at the crows, “shoo, sparrows, shoo, shoo! shoo pidgeons, shoo, shoo!”, again and again. I recognized the words from a folk tale.

These words are uttered in the story when the young couple – who were kidnapped by the devil when they were children – decide to escape from him. The devil sends his servants after them when he realizes they are gone, and each time the girl can feel him coming, the boy casts a spell and they turn themselves into something else. The servant doesn’t realize it is them and goes back to the devil empty handed. First time the boy tunrs himself into a priest and the girl into a church. The second time the girl turns into a field of wheat, and the boy into a man guarding the field. When the servant of the devil comes and asks him whether he saw a boy and a girl running this way, he just keeps saying “shoo, sparrows, shoo, shoo! shoo pidgeons, shoo, shoo!” until the servant’s had enough and goes back to the devil. The third time it is the devil himself who comes after them, this time the girl turns into a lake and the boy into a golden duck. When the devil arrives, he knows the duck is the boy, but he has to go into the lake to get him. When he enters the water, the duck keeps swimming towards the middle where the water is the deepest, and the devil drowns.

I decided to let the woman deal with the crows, and slipped away. First I was going slowly, then I to run, and at one point the world was turning upside down, around and around.

When it stopped, I was relieved because I first thought that I was on the upper side, but then I noticed that what surrounded me were not winter branches but roots, I was below the ground, and I got really scared. I saw a pool of water, and as I started going towards it, the world turned around, again. I realized it was more like a river… I sat down on the bank and put my hands in the water. I saw something that looked like roots growing into the water, but they moved. They started to look more and more like human hands, and my own hands looked small in comparison. As the branches or roots were changing into a person, I knew I should look at my companion, but I just couldn’t get myself to. “it’s okay” – he or she whispered “everything is okay now, you don’t have to look at me, you will look when you are ready, it’s okay, it really is”. It felt warm, it felt safe, just sitting side by side, the sunlight playing on the water…

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