The Hairpin turns sharply upon itself and within its clasp are tiny threads of woe, for some poor forgotten souls. An acute turn in the same direction leads him back from whence he came, only when he can defy his own natural reaction to danger, and continue straight can he finally reach, his darkest hour.
Approaching a hairpin bend, his father is suddenly blinded by an oncoming vehicle. He struggles to regain his sight, now frozen in darkness by the light their journey tragically comes to an end—a young boy strapped in his seat drifts in and out of sleep. He hears his mothers fearful cry; now tormented by the light, his restless heart seeks the night.
An old woman sits waiting, spinning a silk-like thread, for when the lake once again becomes frozen there is a chance he will return to seek the light.
There at her side, lay many hairpins straightened, and only a few that have broken.
By A I Moffat
A bitter wind swept across the open fens of Lincolnshire, snow had been falling for most of the day. As night came, the wide expanse of water edged in ivory brown reeds had frozen. Heavy were the feather-like plumes which now yielded to the bitter wind.
On the far side of this frozen landscape was a small cottage. There an old woman sat spinning in front of a small fire, she was content, warm, yet fearful of the sudden gusts. The windows creaked and moaned. Here she sat nattering away some awful, dreaded tale. Then the door latch sprang suddenly from its rest.
It was his sheer image of bewilderment and fear that made her cackle when she glanced over at the door, ‘Oh, there you are Johnathan. I was wondering what’s you’ve been doin’.’
The boy stood there very still, staring down at his feet, ‘Nothin’ — I’ve done nothing.’
‘I never said you had; now come’s over here, where’s it’s warm.’
Ever so slowly, he moved toward her, sliding one foot at time across the bare knotted boards until he stood before her. She cast him a glance then continued spinning. He remained very still, his arms still straight and rigid in front of him. Until finally her head rose in a sigh, ‘Over there boy, next to the fire.’
In a gulp he turned and shuffled over to the soft dwindling light. There he stood rigid with fear, listening to her mumbling’s fearfully until the old rickety spinning wheel fell silent. After a while the boy half turned in agape. Instantly he swung back when he realised she was standing right behind him.
The weight of her hand fell heavy on his head, ‘I know where’s you’ve been boy, an what’s you’ve been doin’ all this time.’
His eyes closed tight just before he felt her hand fall heavy, on his head. He struggled to break free at first, but then her long nails dug deep into his scalp. A sudden jolt bought his head up; his vision was a blur as a flash of light passed across his tired, weary eyes. In the distance he could hear them, his mother insisting they should have turned. Then another jolt forced his head back even further, and he heard his mother’s voice fading in a scream.
Through night and darkness, a hapless soul wanders.
Weary days pass in a scorching light.
Sudden are the bursts of fury.
An endless search, darkened by the light.
The old woman held him tight in her grasp, his blood now slowly seeping from her razor-sharp nails, his eyes opened wide in defiance, ‘Where is she?’
‘I told’s yer to leave them’s alone, didn’t I?’
‘Where is she?’ He cried, attempting to break free once more.
‘You fool,’ She cackled, pushing his head to one side, ‘You should never have come back.’
⊃ The Hairpin ⊂
She sniggered, looking him directly in the eyes, then slowly she began sucking his fresh warm blood from her fingers and hissed, ‘you’re nothin’ but a foolish little boy.’
The old woman turned gradually with narrowed piercing eyes and then in a grim strain of a moan, she lowered herself down in front of the fire, lifted a narrow steel bar and began poking it vigorously. As the embers swirled about her, she pointed with a long curled finger to a small pile of logs insisting the boy gather her some wood.
She was just as he remembered; nothing had changed; everything was exactly as it was all those years ago, even the cry of his mother. He had been trying to get back to this wretched place all his life, but now found himself as he was all those years ago, a mere child, a boy.
‘I’s — expect’s your’s a wondering how’s it, your’s not all grown up, like?’ She smiled, looking over a tatty old shawl.
Original short story by A I Moffat
Illustrations by justanemotion.com
Book cover illustrations by darksouls1
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