Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Challenge 16: Snow globe

There is a shop in Romania that used to sell homemade children’s toys. It is closed now, boards over the windows and graffiti on the wall. The owner died many years ago, shortly after the disappearance of his daughter, Rosanna.

The toys, so carefully crafted, lie in boxes now – gathering dust. On a shelf in the back room, sits a snow globe, about the size of your palm. Look beyond the tired, frosted glass and you will see a miniature world, built with such detail that it might just carry you away. Everything is painted in soft blue hues. There is a little mist and you can see a single tree, coated in snow on the mountain closest. Further back, a citadel is nestled among the ranges, a basilica sitting proudly above the rest.

The door to the basilica almost seems ajar. Look a little closer. Closer now, until you are sure of what you are seeing. The clouds swirl, light flickers behind the windows, you can almost hear the howl of the fierce wind. Pull open that door and step in, out of the cold. The church is lit with candles and a choir of boys sings ‘Ave Maria’ though they are nowhere to be seen.

Look to the altar; a young woman is kneeling alone. Approach if you like, admire the way her curling brown hair sits perfectly and her white dress fans out, framing her like a flower. She will not move, no matter how close you stare. She is a doll, handcrafted, just like the rest. See her glassy green eyes, her painted red lips, bare shoulders like porcelain, face frozen and empty. She waits for a groom who is not coming.

It was nearly fifty years ago that I crept down the stairs, careful not to wake father and disappeared into the night. There was a little church in the forest, only rubble now, where I waited for my lover and the priest who would marry us. But father found me first. You should have seen the fury in his eyes…

The glassy-eyed doll turns her head to meet your gaze. You can try to flinch, to look away or drop the snow globe, but it will not work. Her blood red lips curve wide. She has been waiting for so long.

“Rosanna?” you might say, and it would be a wise thing to try. The name of the beast is sometimes able to tame it. Sometimes, but not today. Would I be so foolish, to bring you here and then tell you how to escape? I need you, traveller.

It wasn’t a lie, before, so much as a careful omission. I was to be a bride. In fact, I married. I revelled in the sting as my husband’s teeth pierced my flesh, in the cooling of my blood as I died and was reborn. My father, religious fool that he was, believed my sin to be his own fault. He built this palace of ice in which to imprison me, to keep me from my beloved. For fifty years, he succeeded. But now you have come, traveller, and your soul is exactly the price of my freedom…

The doll-bride is gone. Walk to the door of the basilica and look up at the sky. See the single beam of sunshine, touching the stone paving before you and melting the snow. Look beyond the light, through the frosted glass and see me looking back. I will put you back on the shelf and perhaps, in another fifty years, you will call to an unwitting traveller of your own. If you are very lucky, she will answer…

Wordcount: 611

Images

First is Lady_of_Night__II by zemotion (Deviant Art) and the second is Adamant_Citadel by alexiuss (also Deviant Art)


3 comments:

  1. This was the first piece of writing I would describe as 'horror'

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  2. Horror, or maybe dark fantasy? Fantastic horror... horrific fantasy...? In any case, very effective :)

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