Light scattered through the wintry trees, their shadowy arms stretching across the boulders. What was left stood in spite of itself, as if it were procrastinating, in its own precarious way. Yet, this place, hidden surreptitiously by the trees, was safe. My feet crunched on the thin layer of snow as I made my way through the thick brambles, as snow continued twirling and swirling around me. The discarded house stood skeletal behind the torrential stream. Stripped of the splendour, it withered under gravity, dying gradually, rasping in the gusting wind. It was not the beauty I remembered. The timeworn house seemed to have collapsed inwards on itself- the roof sagged and the roof tiles stuck up in places like jagged bones dug out freshly from a grave. The shattered windows seemed quite irregular opposed to rectangular. And the grass, which was once copious- so plush that grew it in thick tussocks, was now dried and coarse. The only thing remained was the sturdy willow tree at the end of the yard. I glanced at the tree, remembering the moment my life had changed.
Smiling faintly, I made my way past the rickety house to the back yard, stepping over the discarded bricks. There at the end of the yard, was what I had journeyed a long way to see. In front of me were rows of gravestones that stood straight in silence- left and right, in the front and in the back like a sea of the deceased. I stepped onto crunchy mud and gazed into the horizon. Most of the tombstones were eroded with the weathering of centuries. Majority of the graves were overgrown and untidy, for now, it looked like even their mourners had joined them underneath the soil ground. I headed towards the back of the yard searching for the one. I glanced at the inscription on the headstone, when I found it:
THADDEUS ALEXANDER KRUM 1835- 1850
Kneeling down on the muddy ground, I whispered, “I have avenged you, dear brother”.
The meadow flowed like a sea of green over the hills, dotted with the blood red of poppies. The deep pasture waved in the June breeze. There were tracks running here and there as if children had been playing hide and seek…
“Thaddeus, come out come, out wherever you are. I’m going to find you!” yelled Adelaide into the wind.
Adelaide snaked through the grass, hoping to catch a glimpse of her older brother. She scampered up to the single oak tree, hoping for a breath before she set out to find her brother. The great, sturdy tree provided shade from the sun – which was pouring out brilliant shades of hot red ands oranges in the sky. Thankfully the tree turned out to be a breezy and stimulating respite after the mid-summer sun. The meadow looked serene in the condensing light of the late afternoon.
Deciding to get a better view, Adelaide started to scale up the tree. Gripping on to the stake-like branches she heaved herself up onto the thicker branches- gradually getting higher and higher, until she could see the whole pasture. She gazed onto the horizon; exhilaration pumping through her veins speeding through each artery, capillary. Looking around, she tried to find her brother. Suddenly, Adelaide’s world began to shift. Her vision blurred. Her ears began to buzz. Gripping steadily to the nearest branch she tried to keep herself calm.
There on the brink of the meadow was a boy. His body faced towards the sky on his back. His glassy eyes stared without blinking. His guts were ripped out- the ruby red blood dripping everywhere and his pink intestines were spewed on his corpse. His severed leg lay discarded beside the boy. And his eerie pale skin-the same complexion that Adelaide herself had- glowed iridescently.
It was Thaddeus.