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by Angela Slatter

They buried me beneath the foundation, watered the earth with my blood and all my decaying fluids.

They built a hill-fort over me. I held it firm for many years, kept its walls strong against all enemies, protected all those who bore my blood. Listened to them lead lives denied to me. Their time ran out eventually and it didn’t matter how bravely I held the walls. The elements took their toll; roofs fell in, walls tilted out of true, stones tumbled.

The earth shifted as the years rolled by. The hill flattened, levelled out, my bones moved with it, my bones and the fine dust particles that had been my clothing and my skin. I let the walls crumble, let the hill sink down; sank down with it myself. There was nothing, no one to care about; no one to protect, no blood calling to mine, no family.

The land lay fallow for a long time, cattle grazed above me, foxes barked, badgers dug, grass grew, died, grew again. A farmhouse was built. The sounds of children startled me out of sleep, making my bones dance with forgotten joy. I loved the foundation once more, reached upward, threaded myself through the floors, walls, stretched my soul across the ceiling, wrapped the home.

Three hundred years passed, six families sheltered inside, each personalising, making it home. After the last left (the children grew and flew, the parents stayed until they could no longer negotiate the crooked stairs), the farmhouse lay empty until a new family came: a father, two sad children and a new wife, a not-quite-mother.

I heard the noises of a family uncomfortable with each other, trying, learning, failing to find steps to a dance none of them knew; how to be together. How to be happy.

The new wife cries a lot, wallows in self-pity. She doesn’t know how to live. Her tears seep through the boards into the earth, are sucked down to the place where the last of me lies. I whisper to her as she lies on the cool flags of the kitchen and listens. Soon enough I will rise, making my way upwards as particles of dust; I will settle on her skin, sink into her as I once sank into the earth. I will make her family a foundation upon which they can rely.


Beautiful, thrilling, intriguing... I want to read more!

Posted by: meg | February 11, 2009 5:03 AM

This was lovely, really evocative. Not sure why but this little snippet reminds me of Mary Stewart's arthur books. Well done!

Posted by: Jason | February 11, 2009 5:08 AM

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