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the lost boys

All sad stories are easier to tell as fairytales. You'll see.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, in a house that bordered the forest of birch trees lived a woman with her husband and three children.

One day she had a dream of a large dinner party. A candle was fixed to the back of the chair of each guest, and all the candles were burning but one. The extinguished candle was on the back of the chair occupied by her son.

There are no witches in this story. Only an evil spell maybe. Perhaps a curse. Because not long after the woman's dream her young son starts to bleed. From his nose, from his ears, from his pores. There are no cuts. There is no clotting. There is no cure.

The bleeding is not heavy, but it is constant. The drip drip drip of it. He grows weaker and weaker and it takes him three days to die.

The woman was my great-great-grandmother. She of the lush gardens and cookbooks that featured recipes like : 'Buy enough parsley for a ruble' and 'Beat three hundred eggs'. There are images of her. Stories. Photographs.

But the boy has slipped between the pages of history books. He is lost. What age was he when he died? What colour was his hair? Nobody knows, nobody remembers his name - not since my grandmother died.

When I grieve for her, sometimes I grieve most for the untold stories. For the threads I will never connect. I have a good memory, and I scavanged what I could but mostly it's just fragments of things.

All that remains is a history of loss - dogged and terrifying and unstoppable. Visiting almost every generation. Taking mostly the boys. The women of my family are survivors. They are the bearers of history. Small ghosts follow them. They wait in the corners. They twitch curtains. They hide in the wings of ravens and owls.

And the women say: this is what was lost. And who.

Like the others I carry what I have been given. Sometimes it's the stories I've been told. And sometimes it's dreams that inhabit me like a raincloud descending on pines.

Like the dreams of places that I know but have never seen. Say, an autumn day. A sun-dappled wood. A path through white birch and golden leaves. Birds. A cloudless blue sky. Linen trousers tucked into boots. The far-off barking of dogs. And amidst it all a drop of blood, falling, blooming -unstoppable and deadly, like the curse in a fairy tale.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
chiller
Sep. 22nd, 2009 12:04 pm (UTC)
Gosh, what a sad story. I wonder why it happened.
rainsinger
Sep. 22nd, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
I think it's a case for Dr. House.

I've been trying to figure out what kind of a disease it was - obviously something that prevented his blood from clotting - but no idea whether it was down to illness/inherited disease or that he had poisoned himself/been poisoned in some way.

Was aspirin/some such anticoagulant available in the mid 1800s?
chiller
Sep. 22nd, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
My first thought was haemophilia, which only happens to men and which would mean he wouldn't clot, but haemophiliacs' skin doesn't bleed (they bruise like crazy).

http://www.haemophilia.org.uk/?content_id=91&parent=278

... so it sounds like a sort of hemorrhagic fever/disorder because of the bleeding from the skin.

http://www.talukderbd.com/lectures/Haemorrhagic_disorders.pdf

Clinical Character of Haemorrhagic Disorders:
• Spontaneous bleeding in the skin, mucous membrane or internal tissue.
• Extensive or prolonged bleeding following trauma.
• Bleeding from more than one site.

yiskah
Sep. 22nd, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was thinking haemorrhagic fever too - like Ebola, but I tend to associate them with Africa rather than Europe.
chiller
Sep. 22nd, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's what confused me. Plus they're highly contagious and lethal - so it looks more like a disorder than a fever.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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