Such a tasty-licky thing, kiddies. Mhm, yes. Scared and dripping with sweat. Oh! Bones stuffed with despair. Not old stringy flesh, no, no. Young and tender. Long, long time since I had one.

Them runs too quick.

A grumble from me stomach. No. Not grumble. Echo. Like in them vast empty caves squeezed under a mountain. Not a single bat nor a dried out cave worm. Water that wore the stone away is gone too. A hollow craving. It desires to be filled.

Aye. So hungry. Thirsty, too. Throat dried itself shut. Me windpipe barely manages to wheeze. The air must be nice and fresh in the forest. But it isn’t meant for me. Breathing it is like inhaling sand. Trying not to choke makes me eyes water.

Tongue is swollen. Dry and cracked. It tries to lick the sand off me parched lips, but it cuts itself on me iron teeth. I could bite it off if I’m not careful.

Water aplenty everywhere. Fresh apples in the orchards. Dew trickling down the blades of grass in the morning. The stream that cuts across the forest clearing. It bubbles and ripples like a happy damned fish.

I hates it all because it can’t be mine.

Well… It doesn’t have to be anyones. Does it? I’ll give them something to drink.

The ancient oaks stare from above as I put me finger in the running water. It boils me skin, so I clench me jaw and hold on. One rusty iron nail scratches another. Rusty flakes swirl off. I knows there’s a village downstream. Go on, have your fill.

Me mangled reflection in the stream stares at me. What is it? A frown. Too late for frowns, sister. This is who we is now. Fault. Not ours.

Me feet carry me away from the reflection. The hateful stare clings to me back like a sweat-soaked shirt in sweltering heat. Let her stare. Not much else to do where she is. Lonely. Abandoned.

The grass caught me clogs. I almost trips. One swear. The grass retreats to the soil in fear.

A pair of thin, mouselike voices reach me from a distance. Or so I thinks. Is someone coming? I strain me ears, but can’t hear them because of the rushing stream.

“Silence.” I snaps. Upstream, the obedience spreads. A ripple of stillness. Trapping lots of stupid fishes mid-motion. Panic. Them wants to wriggle free, but can’t.

Two small voices. Closer. A pair.

…A pair of young ones.

Stomach, stop rumbling, you! They have good ears. What if we frightens them?

Lie down, pretend you fell. Kiddies always kind to old grannies. That’s why they’re tender, not stringy like the adults.

I watch.

Them’s preoccupied with picking conkers from the shrubs.

“Aw!” The girl has pricked her pink little finger on a thorn. She raises it to her lips and sucks on the red bead. Me insides turn themselves out. Nectar of life. Warmed by the beating heart. Mixed with despair. Sweet and innocent. Lovely vintage, too.

Them notices me with me hand extended longingly towards them.

“Help,” I croaks. Throat filled with sand. Too thirsty. I try me voice again. “Hello? I’m an old woman. Me knee hurts.” The words come out properly squeaky and desperate.

I see them small faces staring from between the trees. They exchange glances.

The stomach groans again.

Stop rumbling, or you give us away! I swears if they hear you and scares, I’ll stuff you with raw eggs and poultry.

“Oooh, it hurts so much,” I adds, seeing as they don’t look very convinced.

The wind in the grass whispers of an unnatural order of things. About me.  Trees think I can’t hear them whispering. Oh, I hear you all, creatures of the forest. You are weak things. Made of wood and water. Try standing in me way, and I’ll burn you down to the last timber.

…. This story continues in part 2.

 

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