There once was a woman who was not happy with her word babies.

There once was a woman who was not happy with her word babies.

The woman lived in a small roofed stone cottage on the edge of a cliff.  Not a cliff by the sea where the air is filled with salt spray and the smell of dead fish and bird shit but a sheer jutting edge of mountainside with lumpen clutches of grasses tracing an exponential curve down to the deep valley floor.  She lived with sheep for company, who mostly ran when she approached, and the occasional mobbing by not unbeautifully blue and green bottle flies drawn to their excrement or the sagging rib cage of a wrongfooted corpse – fleece discoloured and dripping until it can be hurried in its decomposition by a dousing with lime.

The woman would withdraw into the darkness, out of the storms which came and whipped the rowans into their creaking arthritic poses, and kneel by the hearth, bent double glistening and acrid with her work.

The sun would rise every morning.  Not a golden small sparkling hue stretching out to caress the edges of silhouettes with a dimple creeping giggling optimism but a whitening RGB static purple emanating from the heart of an indiscriminate cloud sea.  The woman would emerge from the quiet of her stones into the whistling semi-brightness and pick her uncertain way across mossy clods of grass along the cliff edge.  The spongy edge was broken up by outcroppings of rock, bare except for the nuggets of soft faeces left by the nervous sheep.

Sometimes the clouds would come down and envelop her world in a milky blanket of forgiving mist.  From inside they lost their metallic darkness and the woman could still find her way listening to her feet with her inner ear.  In her white dream state she could run over the land top to bottom with only her fingers and, closing her eyes to appearances – and the gaggle of sheep – , she transformed into any number of shapes.  She danced in satin slippers covered in chalk across wooden boards; she grew hooves and galloped through oozing puddles under a canopy of leaves.  She grew softer and harder with nut brown forearms from a summer of t-shirts and swimming in midgy sunlit lakes till she could grasp at the root of her desire and spunk guiltlessly over the cliff edge into the abyss.

The raven would return when the clouds lifted signalling his presence with a gulping clunk echoing off the stones.  The woman, firmly herself again, would find his circling shadow unsettling and return to her cottage and her work.

Shivering out of sleep, another blood smeared specimen waiting on the floor, the woman will steal towards the cliff edge without the stomach to peer below and hurl another word baby into the gulf.

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He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

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