Title:When The Clock Strikes
The dead woman was heavy-unwieldy-and on her father's horse---the only one who stayed-the other, less-loyal, frightened creatures having bolted at the fire and not returned-
--on her father's horse she rode, through snow and ice-sheet thick and crystalline glass-slick until she came to the clearing-
The cold, dead, enormity of the tree pierced her heart like a cardinal's beak.
She dismounted and very silently began to dig-unaware that the snow had paused only here-within these grounds.
It was an eternity of digging, but Griffin was forced into silence by her mere location, and she found a sort of strange peace in it all.
Apologising twice for the lack of a coffin, she rolled the shrouded woman into the half-deep hole and began to fill it with dark snowless soil.
**Will she sing in my head now that she's gone, too?**
But it fled as she paused over the Hessian's grave-her nameless secret---
--she had learned, quite recently that he'd been buried in haste-his head chopped off by his own sword-and thrown into the earth without ceremony.
"For that I am truly very sorry, " she said, and came to stand atop the mound, removing her glove and placing her bare, white hand upon the thorny dragon's head. "though I'm hardly a priest…I cannot bless this ground….though if blessings are only as holy as the men who deal in them I can guess that my blessing carries just as much weight as the Reverend, who-by the way---is not, what I think people would call-a good man. A God-Fearing man, yes, but not a Godly man. By any count."
She stayed there for quite some time, the cold invading her-chilling her blood-and she drew her cloak around her.
"I've no choice but to leave her with you, my dead friend---the only one who hasn't left me-excepting, of course, Griffin---but it's a mite difficult-disconcerting at best when one has a ghost within one's own head."
A pause again, and a deep breath.
"She was a wise woman, in her madness---and may she honour you with her company-for she, too, would be forgotten, if not for this place, my father's horse…and me, I suppose."
A few more words and she made her way back to the manse, this time finding foxes by the hearth.
And so she woke one day, from her dreams of forts and nails-the droplets of rain splashing her face only thrice-for it was the remnants, she found-of last night's fall-and most of her rooms remained dry, save a small puddle in the corner, fast evaporating as she unwillingly lit her fire.
A salamander fixed her with its small, dark stare and she bent down to catch it in her hands-surprisingly agile in her wakeful-sleepiness.
Trailing her foot in the water-puddle, she kicked a bit of it toward the hearth, speaking softly as she did so, "Salamander, salamander, turn fire to water, under this house, and over this house."
He slipped through her fingers and skittered off.
And then, so did she.
Things were not the same.
Not at all.
She had found the soil loose and the sword half moved-turned only slightly-but in eight years of visitation, she knew this place as well as her own features.
"This is all wrong," she said, and turned away, once again, as before, tears stinging the backs of her eyes and threatening to spill over.
They froze upon her cheeks-the tears-and a tight knot had worked its way to her stomach-spreading slowly-the way the blood had spread through her bedlinens the day Griffin had died.
"Someone has disturbed you-and you only---not Granny---and I thank you for watching over her---"
Something else was not right.
She could not place her finger on it-and her heart grew restless.
She did not feel quite at home here as she'd had for so long a time.
"Violated." She said, staring at the earth-repacked. "Someone's violated this place. That is why it is not right."
The knot remained.
Of course, she had always been more at home with the dead than the living.
To be sure, that was-truly-the culprit, here.
Something was very wrong.
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