There was nothing extraordinary or fantastic about the death of the young girl. Just another bud that withered off before it bloomed, like the many who did in those dark days. Reason was still in her infancy and life had but a tenuous hold on her children, especially on the children. Plague, fever and a host of other maladies did not merely torment humans, but filled them with indescribable horror, for they were not mere malfunctioning of the body but curses and spells of unseen monsters and demons. And the supreme father of all these unholy spirits was death, that infernal devil who blew away the lamp of life with a single whisper of darkness.
Thus it was that this girl's lamp too was extinguished, before it even glowed.
We know not her name for she lived in a time when people were mere leaves falling in life's autumn for a God's evening of pleasure. But that eve in which she died was a glorious hour of tragedy, for amidst the many copper leaves that withered for His delight, she was the only golden bud that drooped and fell. And her tragedy was glorious for when He stretched out His hand to receive her, an icy cold draught of wind blew her out of His grasp. Therefore was her tale preserved and therefore it shall be told.
With her face we shall begin. For her face was a river. Limpid, kind, turbulent, silent and lost seeking an endless ocean. And her eyes were eddies of emotion that drew the unwary in and held them in thrall for eternity. Her form had the pallor that ails children born of a winter night. In all, she glowed faintly like a full moon viewed through foggy windows.
Such was a child that died under entirely normal circumstances.
She was a quiet pensive child. She barely spoke and when she did, her words seemed like tears of sorrow laden with meaning. In the early hours of dawn, she would seek the first rays of the sun and look up with earnest yearning. Her eyes which spoke of a darkness trailing her soul found succour in those golden rays. But then these are but conjectures. For the girl herself of a young nebulous mind could barely grasp her own thoughts and feelings. And we rush in where angels fear to tread.
So this is all then that we say. The girl was quiet and pensive.
A fortnight before she passed off, she played on the fields with extra vigour. She ran through golden corn like a bounding mare. Her mother looked on proudly hoping that the coldness that shrouded her child had at last melted away. She smiled now like a frozen moment of an endless summer. Her delight had a bit of innocence, madness and naive cruelty. She scared the chickens in her eager rush, startled the dog with her laughter and put the birds to flight in panic when she sang.
Yes, she was innocent, but not the innocence that looks up with sweet believing eyes when told a lie. Hers was the innocence that plucked a flower too fast that its petals came off.
Yes, she was mad, but not the madness that rambles incoherently in the night but laughs with equal mirth at both pain and pleasure, its own and others.
Yes, she was cruel, but not the cruel that makes little boys tie strings to dragonflies or pelt stones at dogs. Hers was the cruelty that seemed to pain mute creatures by her mere presence.
And thus she roved and roved as if all her life's energy were to be spent in a day's afternoon. Her father often remarked, 'It's as if some new blood has got into her; some new life.', which is rather remarkable. For her eyes shone with some other light, her voice sang in some other tune and her feet ran in some other gait. She had the glow of a mother who carries the seed of some other inside her. But these are mere fantasies. She was a vernal girl, her own soul running far ahead and far too swiftly for her to comprehend. And we with our souls ridden with mundane worries and morbid thoughts, what can we fathom of hers?
So this is all then that we say. The girl was now filled with some unseen vigour.
A week before she slipped into darkness and dolour again. It was as if a bright summer morning had turned into a cold winter night with a pale moon. For her form wasted away, her eyes grew sunken and her lips frosty. She shunned the windows at dawn, looking up to the sun with malignity. If a chance ray of light touched her feet she coiled away in horror. As dusk fell, her face lit up with the lustful yearning of a young bride. She pined away silently at the open door, her lips parted and hands clawing. And in the darkness of night when her parents happened to wake, they heard her laugh the cold contented laugh of pleasure or mumble incoherent sweet nothings of desire. She was a fruit ripened too early and sucked too fast. Her pure snow white heart now had unholy streaks of passion. And passion it is that drove her to beat the dog when he growled at her, bite the chickens when they clucked at her and scream curses at birds when they fluttered about her.
Passion it was that supplanted her innocence, madness and cruelty. She spoke words that dripped crimson, bore looks that shone like sapphires and walked in a gait that was at once weak and strong. Passion it was drover her to fury one moment, desire another and ecstasy immediately then. And while her soul shone thus in a red flame dancing on a glass of absinthe, her body wasted away like the peel of an open fruit. But these are mere imaginations. She was but a nascent bud, who barely knew what fragrance and what poison her heart held. What do we speak of her, we, with our rotting souls and waning spirits.
So this is all then that we say. The girl had slipped into darkness and dolour again. But of a different kind.
Then came her hour of glory and terrible agony. A pale dawn it was that day as if someone had commanded the sun to rise feebly so that her hour of darkness might extend. She awoke fitfully, her body quivering as her eyes opened. But she moved no further. Her father rushed to the physician while her mother wrapped her in hot towels. But her body grew colder like a tomb. Her lungs struggled to suck life out of the air and what life was taken in, it appeared like there was not enough blood to spread it over her. By the time the physician arrived, she was in delirium her hands clawing at her throat, her feet flailing in the air as if she were reliving some memory of a nightmare; only the nightmare seemed real. The physician, a frail old man took one look at her and shrank back. 'She is gone, lost.', he whispered before rushing back in an expression that seemed to suggest he had seen a ghost.
In her last minutes, she grabbed her mother's hair and drew her close. She whispered in some strange tongue,
mais je ne veux pas
J'ai dit oui
J'ai deja dit oui
And then she fell, a limp rag thrown to her bed by a strong cruel hand and breathed no more. Her brows were knit in anxiety. Her face was twisted in pain, as if her death were merely that of her body and her soul awaited more torture. Her hands lay about in despair. She lay there not a child asleep in peaceful death, but one has been snatched away at the fair by a stranger's hands. Above all, in death, she exuded fear. Fear of the most terrifying nature for it had no name and no form but mere darkness. But these are mere illusions. She was but a pure child, one so pure that even death and devil should have feared to touch for fear of the sin it would bring on them. How can we describe what her pristine heart felt, we with our sinful jealous hearts that is infested by green-eyed monsters?
So this is all then that we say. The girl died in an hour of terrible agony.
Late that night, when her father laid her in the grave that he dug in mad fury and her mother stood one last watch over her child, they spoke.
'It's as if her life, her soul were sucked out of her. It is as if her innocence attracted a terrible fate upon her.' Her mother wept.
'Hush, my dear. We do not speak of such things in the night.' Her father whispered while adjusting a wreath of wild rose with their branches intact around her neck, as far away the darkness howled in gleeful hunger.
And they spoke nothing of her anymore... till now.