Sunday, 21 November 2010

Wood Intensity

I should never have played with the book. Mistress Sapienza told me that words have power and meaning, but I wouldn't listen. I borrowed the book, determined to learn all that the Mistress knew and show her my abilities were more than I thought she guessed. I ended by proving myself an impetuous fool and cursed into the bargain for a while.

I had opened the book at random and amazed at the enchantment I read it aloud. It was a mistake and I knew it instantly. The book fell from my hands and shut itself. I felt nauseous and dizzy before I fell from my chair almost lifeless.

When I awoke I realised with awful sudden-ness what I had done. I stumbled from the room with all my senses on fire with the intensity of everything around them. I could smell the polish upon the wood, the dust upon the glass, the carpet fibres. The tiniest of sounds were loud in my ears, every living thing's heartbeat, the mites in the dust and the house creaking as the timbers expanded and shrank with the change of temperature.

Every detail was suddenly visible. I staggered from the house, my hands over my ears and struggling with the smells that overwhelmed me. In the back yard I fell to my knees and groaned. My senses were so sharply aware that it was painful. I was vaguely aware of the Mistress glancing out of the window. She frowned and then raised her eyebrow before looking directly at me. She closed the window and turned away. 

I felt suddenly abandoned. I struggled to my feet and staggered forward. There was a pile of cut wood against the woodshed and the scent of them washed over me. There was oak, elm and on top silver beech. The mixture of the scents fell upon me and I fell again, sobbing. The sound of my own tears falling and my own sobbing, my heartbeat - even the blood running in my veins were all loud in my head. I opened my eyes and saw the fine detail of the wood and the woodshed. The bark of the cut branches as it slowly peeled. The black patches and the white bark of the silver beeches. I struggled to rise but the intensity of the wood was too much for me.

The sound of silk swishing and boots upon the ground made me cover my ears with my hands. I cowered upon the ground before the approach of my Mistress. She said nothing, but lifted me in my arms. I smelled her perfume, her silk dress, her skin and her hair. Her hair, her breathing, her heartbeat, I heard them all loud in my ears. Had she spoken I should have been in considerable pain. She took me to my bed and laid me upon it. For a moment she stood gazing upon me. Then she crossed the room and opened the window. I heard every sound from the garden and the woods beyond. The scent of flowers rising up into the air filled my room and my senses.

She left the room and I lay struggling not to sob in my agony. Instead I wept and the tears falling along my face felt hot and I heard them upon my skin. A little while later she returned with the book and sat beside me. I turned to her and wept but could not speak. I apologised and begged her to help me. She pondered this and shook her head sadly. Then she arose and left my room. I felt abandoned again, but suddenly I found my body shivering and the world returned to sensory perspective again. She entered the room and sat by my bed.

"I will not repeat myself boy," she said sternly, "The next time you open a book you will not speak the words. I have told you that words have power and meaning and you ignored my warning. Do so again and I will let you suffer for a whole day or a week. If you live I will punish you. If you die there will be no need. I will have your obedience while you are learning. If you will not obey me, then you may find yourself another teacher in the Arts. Is that clear?"

I sat up and wiped the tears from my face. I swore to her that I would obey her in all things and that I would not presume again. She nodded and took my words as true. I remembered vividly the horror I had brought upon myself and promised again that I would obey her. I knew without fail that I would too. Since then I have obeyed her. I still have a long way to go before I am fully qualified in the Arts, but I learned a considerable amount in that one day.

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