Did you miss Part 1? Read it here!
It’s late in the day, so I make us dinner. As members of the faith full, we eat only what we grow ourselves. I cut potatoes, carrots and leeks and boil them in water the twins bring from the well. When they are cooked through, I find dried spices in the pantry to add flavour.
The twins loiter in the kitchen while I work. Sometimes they watch me, but most of the time they look out the window at the bonfire. It’s still burning, and will likely burn all night. Threads of black mist rise from its depths like the legs of a spider.
“I’m getting spooked,” says Ro, as we eat.
I’ve lit the table with candles because Father Nerve doesn’t like us to use the electric lights if we can help it. The twins’ faces flicker in the uneven light of the flames.
“Spooked by what? The dark?” I nudge him with the end of my spoon.
“The apple. That apple.” He rubs his temples. “You can’t trust apples. Remember the fairy tale?”
“The poisoned apple,” says Ro. “That’s how the Queen killed Snow White.”
“I thought the story was that the Queen eats the apple,” says Ray. “Father Nerve told me the Queen ate the apple, because she knew she would never return to her youth. It was suicide. Snow White ran into the forest and lived alone for a long time.”
“No,” I say. “The apple she gives to Snow White doesn’t poison the girl. It contains a body-swap potion. Snow White bites the apple and changes places with the Queen. Snow White won’t be the first to be tricked by the Queen; she won’t be the last. This is why the Queen is always the fairest in the land.”
We look at each other. Outside we hear another muffled explosion as another fruit bursts its skin.
“I heard a story about a woman who used to live in the next farm,” says Ray. “She came here a few months ago, to pray in the temple, but she fell and hurt her leg before she arrived. She died out there, where the bonfire is now, and the snow piled up on her and no one found her until it was too late”
“Where the heck did you hear that?” Ro asks. “That’s rot.”
“I heard that story,” I say. “I didn’t think she died. The way I heard it, the faith less took her away in an ambulance.”
“Maybe that’s what they told you,” says Ray.
“Why did no one tell me anything?” Ro appeals to the ceiling.
I go to the window and press my hand against it. The sky is dark now, and there is no moon. The flames of the bonfire leap high. The fields beyond are touched with reds and oranges. I wonder what the god thinks of our straw-and-twig dolls and their burnt hearts.
I wonder why Father Nerve wanted us to light the bonfire there.
“It never snows here anyway,” says Ro, hitting his brother in the shoulder. “You’re a liar, Ray….”