Sunday, 21 February 2010

View through a Window


Untitled Girl looking through a window - by Loretta Lux whose photos are utterly mesmerising.

Magda was one of the sweetest little girls I ever knew. Her mother would always do up her hair and put on her a charming frock. Magda would then go out into the garden and play. One day, in the garden she met an old woman who wore a green dress the colour of grass over which was a red apron the colour of holly berries. Magda was quite fascinated by the old woman who told her stories and offered her food. But as Magda's mother had placed a small iron horseshoe pendant about her daughter's neck, the food did not seem very appetising to Magda. So she politely declined the food, but could not help but kiss the old woman's hand out of kindness and respect.

The old woman was in fact a faerie who had longed to take Magda away to her home in the clouds and bring her up as her own. Yet, Magda was well-protected by her mother who had seen her father go off to find work in the city and did not wish to lose her daughter whom she loved deeply. Still the old woman persisted, trying to charm Magda in all kinds of ways. But Magda listened to her mother and would not be charmed into leaving her home overlooking the fields.

Now, it happened that Magda and her mother soon received a letter from her father saying that he was coming home, for he had finally made his fortune. It seemed that he had worked for a rich old woman who had promised to give him a large fortune if he would give her the first thing that met him when he got home. Magda's mother thought that marvellous, but Magda who was wise in her own way suspected that the old woman in the garden and the rich old woman in the city were the same person.

The day her father was to come home, she drew up a chair by the window and a book. She sat and read for a while, looking up every so often to gaze across the fields along the road. All morning she watched and waited with her little dog Pickles at her feet. She saw two sailors striding home with their bags on their shoulders. She saw Michael on his cart with Samson the big cart horse trudging along. The cart was empty, for Michael had sold the vegetables he grew at the market and Michael was slumped over the reins for he had drunk quite a lot of beer. She saw a man with a large dog and a gun over his shoulder and a pair of women walking back from the market, their baskets heavy with what they had bought. Their hats were red and black and contrasted against the greens and gold of the fields. She saw a mother with three little girls and recognised Lore, Hanne and Sofie who were in her class at school. Their voices and their laughter could be heard across the fields and through the window.

Magda went back to her book and read a little more. Her mother brought her lunch and kissed her.

"Papa will soon come home darling," she told her daughter.

"I want to be ready," Magda answered.

Her mother smiled and kissed her again. Pickles wanted his lunch so he followed Magda's mother to the kitchen. Magda stood up and placed her plate of sandwiches on her chair. She stood by the window and ate slowly and deliberately. In the garden, the golden roses had a faint blush to their petals and the white jasmine twisted and spread little dark leaved wings. The flowers were tiny stars against the darkness of the leaves. The camellia hedge her mother had worked on so carefully was full of glossy green leaves with the big pink and red flowers opening up. Magda glanced at them a little and looked along the road but nobody came. The breeze blew gently the wheat in the fields and the tall grasses of the meadow. It even ruffled the leaves on the few trees that seemed to stand sentry over the fields.

Magda finished her lunch and took her plate to the kitchen and washed it up as her mother had taught her to. Her mother looked up from her work - she was a dressmaker and, called Magda to her. Magda dried her hands and went over to her mother. She admired the dress her mother was making and her mother took Magda in her arms and hugged her tightly. Magda placed her arms about her mother's neck and kissed her protectively.

"Do you miss Papa, darling?" her mother asked her.

"Yes mama, but he will soon be home and we will be happy then," Magda told her gently.

"I love you very much Magda, more than the wheat loves the sunlight and the sky loves the land," her mother told her, kissing her hair.

Magda smiled a solemn smile for a little girl, but she knew what had to be done to protect her mother and father. She had read a great deal and understood much - more than many grown-ups in some ways. She kissed her mother and returned to her chair by the window. After a little while, Pickles joined her again and fell asleep with his head on her feet. She patted him gently and read her book.

It was mid-afternoon when her mother had put the kettle on that Magda heard soft music coming from the garden. She put down her book and carefully slipped her feet from her shoes so as not to disturb Pickles. She stood by the window very still and listened. The music seemed to draw her into itself and to leave her almost breathless. She clutched at the little iron horseshoe pendant that she wore and somehow the music seemed dark and malevolent now instead of sweet and charming. She frowned and shook the sound out of her ears.

Coming along the road was a man. He was trudging along, for the day was warm, but Magda knew instantly that it was her father. Slowly he came, his hands in the pockets of his jacket and his head drooped as he walked, thinking of his wife and daughter. He did not hear the music snaking about the house and trying to draw his daughter out to greet him. He turned at the foot of the lane and paused to look up at the house. Magda waved to him and he smiled and waved back. Now he seemed to be refreshed and he strode up towards the house.

When he was close to the house, Pickles raised his head and barked. Magda hushed him and opened the window. Without a sound she took her iron pendant and threw it out to her father. He caught it in one hand and suddenly the music stopped and a scream shattered the peace of the afternoon echoing out across the fields. Only then did Magda run to the front door and pull it open, opening her arms wide to greet her father. He seemed as if a great weight had been lifted from him then and he ran into the hallway, sweeping her up in his arms and holding her close. She wrapped her arms tightly about him smelling the sweet scent of tobacco in his hair and the tweed of his jacket and she wept for she had almost lost him. Pickles barking roused his wife who came and embraced them both. They stood in the doorway then and across the fields an old faerie fled from the touch of cold iron never to return.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

what a clever child

Jodie said...

Fantastic ! Right to the very end I though pickles was going to be a goner !

Rosemary in Utah said...

The zig-zag part in her hair is so precious, yet I long to straighten it!

Is the word "zig-zag" used in the UK? "Part", meaning the line on the scalp where the hair goes in opposite directions, is that the same word in UK?

I get that the iron was repulsive to the old fairy, (how long does it take for a fairy to get old?)but I don't get why the iron ruined Magda's appetite.

Griffin said...

Rosemary, yes we have zig-zag... a word last popularly used by er, the Spice Girls!! We call the part a parting tho'.

Faeries are as old as the earth and elements from which they come. The iron didn't ruin Magda's appetite, she ate slowly and deliberately because she was a very serious little girl.

She flung the iron out to her father so that it would be the first thing that met him when he got home.

Faeries are not the only ones who can be tricksy!

bad penny said...

oh I seem to be a nonny mouse again ... that first comment was from me squeak squeak !