Light the wings, set the whole bird alight, I beg him.
We are two children, cast out of what remained of our lives. The world around us is almost familiar, almost a forest, but flatter, chewed, charred. Hansel looks at me as though he were a visitor from the lands of light. Light the wings? he repeats, cradling the blue bird to his breast. Light the wings? I can see the bird's staccato pulse hammering under its feathers.
Then we can follow its blazing trail, and it will lead us to the house of plenty, I urge him . Imagine Hansel, the sugar spun windows, the chimney shadowed with burnt treacle, something golden to stor your morning tea with. The bird fixes me with its song-furied eye and spoke in magic:
Mirror mirror on the world, who is the cursed girl of all?
I don't care. I am texting my fairy godmother for a soul candle to light the dark room of my heart. Right now, I need a warm bed, high above the forest floor, away from all the vermin. I punch in the letters. Oh Godmother, it would seem I am trapped in a broken story, and all I have is ash and clinkers.
Hansel takes my arm, and turns my palm upwards. His face, in the shadow of his bird, is as dark as a ghost's, his pale eyeshadow contrasting with the blood on his cheek.
Come to me Gretel. See.
He invites me to touch the bird's soft breast, to feel the braille of its heartbeat beneath my fingers.
We cannot set light to this, it may be all we have.
The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele