She waited patient as a stone.
Autumn leaves fell, drifting against her back, filling in the curve of her waist, the hollows behind her knees.
As the air cooled, sharp as a knife in her lungs, frost webbed across her skin, grew needles in her hair. Her heart slowed.
Gradually, the earth thawed. Buds grew plump and sticky on the trees, birds plucked moss from her eyelids to line their nests. Mulch vanished under bluebells, azure spears slicing the brown. Her heart beat faster.
One morning came the sound she had waited for – a voice echoing the blackbird’s call.
She rose, stretched, limbs stiff as wood, gazing at the cottage walls, at the faces . Her hands ran over unseeing eyes, fingernails searched gaping mouths. She remembered every one of them: blond haired children lost in the woods, burly shepherds chasing stray lambs, foolhardy youths more brave than clever. Each she had greeted, took as her own, bricked into her walls. They didn’t come often, but she was good at waiting.
The voice drew near, sweet, high – young.
Her mouth stretched into its widest smile.
After reading calmgrove’s wonderful review of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – and after our ensuing discussions on the perils of dealing with faerie folk, I felt inspired to write a tale with ‘Grimm’ overtones. You never know what waits in the deep, dark, woods …