Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 8

8 | Psychopomp Magazine

own jewelry, a large vat of gold and silver that sparkled like honeyed dew, before dropping spoonfuls into their eyes, blotting out their sins from God, for if they could not see what they had done then how would they know? Still, there was only one thing that truly kept the spirits away. The children. They were the key. Foreigners no longer came to the village, but if they had they would surely think ‘How strange that such a small child was bound with such a heavy rope,’ but they were just foreigners. The villagers tied tiny bells to the children’s limp, broken feet when they finally died and the soft tink-tinking would lull the ghosts to sleep. This was so effective, in fact, that they began to build a wall.

—Can you tell a different story, Mademoiselle?

Be polite and listen, dear. It was simple.

The butcher cut off the hands and the feet of whichever child was brought to him and then he drained their blood with a funnel into a large bucket. It was hard work at first, but as the days passed into weeks the process became easier, and the buckets began to overflow and soak into the ground like thinned sap. The blood was vital, you see, because they needed it to water the hands and the feet that they had mounted on sticks and placed in a giant circle around the village where the candles used to be. With enough time and enough patience the limbs began to grow, up and up, taller than any man. The flesh was cultivated like exotic flowers, and they wove red and purple string between the toes and the fingers, the bright colors weighed down by giant bells. Each bell was different and each bell sounded different. The outside was carved out of a thin sheet of copper, twisted vines creeping along the edges. Couples fell in love under these bells, made love under these bells, and married under the bells. It was a beautiful sight and slowly the spirits began to leave.

—And so the story ended?

—Don’t sound so hopeful, child. What kind of ending would that be?