Iron Memories

January 15, 2010
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
“Good night, Bea,” I bowed my head as I blew what air I had left in my lungs, turning the dancing flame to a soft grey silk, and so did she. Beatrice still hovered around me as I worked on my chairs. While she drifted in my mind, she lingered around me every night while I carved intricate illustrations on the frayed wood. Sometimes I let my mind wander; I would deny the fact that I was trying to fill in for my lost time with pictures, yet I was.
Every step I took on the aged, wooden stairs sent chills up my spine. But instead of dwelling on my past, I nestled onto my chilled, wiry mattress and let myself drift into a heavy sleep. I dreamed profound visions of the incident. Although I strived to erase it from my mind, it fused to my brain like hot wax on iron, only wax could be peeled off. Through a dark, black hole, I could see Bea as she struggled to escape. Any progress that I made trying to save her, just pushed me further away from grasping her tiny, porcelain hands. Bea’s flushed face was stressed with suffering, and before I could clasp my hand over hers, I would again awaken. Sweating, I would lie in bed; anxiety flushed out of me in the form of warm tears. I have had this dream before.
However, before I fell back into a deep slumber, I heard a small crash from down in the shop. Another peasant, I thought angrily to myself, Can’t they find warmth elsewhere? I aggressively sat up, snatched my lantern, and darted downstairs, ready to shoo the fool out of my shop. Searching for the peasant, I crouched down, looking between the shelves, and grunting heavily when I could not find him. Disappointed, I trudged up the narrow staircase. It reminded me once again that I was becoming too old for this job, and I would soon have to move away from Chalcedon. But there was something there, and I could hear it stirring behind me. Whipping around at the peak of the staircase, I could distinguish an outline of a man crouching. He held an item tucked under his right arm. Squinting and raising my lantern, the man sheltered his face with his left arm, peaking slightly through the crease in his elbow to stare into my frown. As I began to separate my lips, I suddenly felt no anger.
“Hello.” It was all I could stammer. Gazing into his immense brown eyes, I found sorrow and fright. It reminded me of Bea. The twitching man clutched my Beatrice doll and backed away as my face grew red. The anger churned in my stomach and I seized my beloved Bea. I reached for the iron rod resting on my workbench, and pounded heavy blows across his chest and hips. After I became too tired to lift the iron rod, I collapsed onto the floor and leaned my head against the cold, hard wood. Exhausted, I fell to sleep, and dreamt of the man crawling out of my shop, leaving Bea on the tattered workbench.
Golden light emptied through the gap in the wall just above the front door. Delicate beams shot through and reflected off of my silver art. What a peculiar dream, I thought nervously. Edgy, I began organizing the materials on my workbench. Lead always went beside the lantern and the oils adjacent to the wax. The Bea doll nestled behind my tools, to remind me of what kept me living. I gathered the silver jewelry that I had whittled and shaped the previous night and carefully placed them into my cotton sack. With a kiss to Bea, I shivered as I left the shop.
My journeys to the market once a week took me through a poor section of Chalcedon. Although we are recovering from the Black Death, there are still some peasant villages that emerge. At these times, I feel vulnerable and scared. I moved from village to village, surviving nasty glares and vulgar comments thrown on me as if choking me with iron rope.
As I slung my cotton bag over my shoulder, I slowed down to observe a peasant apartment. Large, black rats scurried from the decaying holes in the dwelling. Taken aback by shock, I was uneasy. A disgruntled man with a bloody face was shoved out his second story window. I gripped my cotton sack and slowly crept to the suddenly still body.
“And keep ‘er too!” shouted a bearded man who dumped a thin, black-haired child right after him, “We ain’t no Jew hospital!” Hurriedly, I knelt on the soft dirt with my arms ready to embrace. The young girl collapsed into my shoulders, and I gasped at her sickly, pale nature. Shocked, I laid her peacefully on the damp, yellow grass.
“Hello there!” I said to the bearded man as he angrily closed his shutters. My friendly behavior promptly left just as soon as it had appeared. When I stared at the bloody man, immense brown eyes glared in return.
Without another word, I left for the market. As tempting as it was to glance over my shoulder, I kept my view forward. When I arrived home from a long day at the market, I settled onto my workbench - looking twice at the iron bar. Covered in red stain, the iron rod sank into my dry, wrinkly hands. Dropping it to the floor, I held my hands up to my face, How could these hands achieve such dreadful things? Over the next few days, the vision of the immense brown eyes caused me to thrash in my sleep. Each night, I would remember more events of what the peasant had spoken during my attack.
“Please! Let me go! I cannot die! My daughter is extremely ill and needs my care. If you allow me to be free, I will pray in your name!”The peasant would cry. But I would pound him again with the iron rod. As he would attempt to escape, he would shout, “I cannot afford a doctor, but I can pay you in work!” Then the vision would slowly blur, and I would awake.
On these mornings, I knew something had to be done. My overwhelming guilt was a result of my painful memories and sins. This peasant was trying to save his daughter from what I had attempted to save my Beatrice from – the bubonic plague. Truthfully, I was having immense trouble with letting go of Bea, my five-year old daughter. Today would be her thirty-fourth birthday, and it’s time for me to go with her. Although I am now an old man, and she has been gone for 29 years, I still have not forgotten her porcelain tone, and her blue twinkley eyes. But it comes time to say good-bye to loved ones, even if it feels only like yesterday that you last kissed their warm, lively face. For I, too have become immensely ill, and would soon leave earth to reunite with my precious Beatrice.
Coughing heavily, I left the shop for the very last time. My last destination was to the place where I last saw the man and his young daughter. When I arrived, I found an old paper scrap on the yellowed grass, and began a letter. I directed him to the finest healer in Chalcedon, and attached a bag of my most delicate gold work, which he can exchange with an old friend, Miep, for special healing herbs. I sat in front of the building, awaiting their return with the letter and my Bea. It began to get very cold, and I let my eyelids close to shield from the early winter wind.

Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

killowammy678 said...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 10:17 am
You are my inspiration for living.
ilovegreatteens453 said...
Feb. 9, 2010 at 7:31 am
Please keep writing! You inspire me!!!
ilovetaywatts said...
Feb. 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm
You should get published!! So many people would buy your books!!!!! LOVEEE IT!!! keeeeep it up
lilmissravenclaw said...
Feb. 7, 2010 at 9:07 am
I loved it! Keep writing!
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback