The storm was so strong it brought down the oak tree in my garden. Amongst its wreckage I found a bedraggled youth, who told me he had been living in the tree. Now he had nowhere to go. When I took him into my home, he was grateful, but showed no respect for the people in the village. He spent most of his time playing pranks on them.
One day he disappeared. As the weeks went by, I couldn't help hoping he would never return, even as I prayed for his well-being. When a naked body was found in the river, we all assumed it was his. Then one summer dawn I drew back the curtains of my French windows and found him hiding there. He wanted to know who I had been messing about with in his absence.
The House that Jack Built
I entered the museum that contained the house that Jack built. The original purpose of the house had been to keep everyone out, and I thought that the game would be to find the secret door. I found instead a house without walls. A man with a strong, kind face was cooking broth on a stove for two boys in nightshirts, who had fallen asleep over a kitchen table. The scene looked warm and welcoming, yet I felt increasingly irritated by a faint waxen glow surrounding it. Moreover, ever since entering the museum I'd had the distinct sensation that the fingertips of my right hand were brushing against the bottom of someone's front teeth. I decided to have a word with the museum attendant.
She's still not safe. The criminal gang who robbed and assaulted her have threatened to kill her family if she doesn't drop the charges. I try to reassure her. Surely they will understand that the consequences for murder would be even greater. But she won't stop crying.
'I will talk to these thugs and sort it out,' I say.
All day I go wandering through the city in search of them. I find their house at the edge of a lake. Bathed in light reflected from the water, it is so beautiful that I forget what it is I came here for. If only I could stop my thoughts from floating around, I tell myself, as I walk away up a steep street towards the setting sun.
Ian Seed's latest book, Makers of Empty Dreams, is published by Shearsman. He is lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Chester (UK) and editor of www.shadowtrain.com. His "Four Short Prose Pieces" appeared in Issue #23; "Trick" and "Bright and Early" in Issue #42; and Travel, A Life, and Investment in Issue #47 of The Cafe Irreal.