der Formschneider2

der Formschneider by

I’m meandering sluggishly across the flood plain of old age, toward the open sea. I am ‘der Formschneider,’ the block cutter, held in high regard by Kaiser Wilhelm.

I study the wood block I’ve been carving for decades but cannot finish. My eyes are inadvertently drawn to the field behind the young characters Ernst, Katrin and me, Dieter the Dreamer. Something menacing waits in the untouched wood.

I recall listening to Ernst tease Katrin. ‘Come on, take them off,’ as he tickled her ankles. ‘Have a paddle.’

‘Leave her alone, Ernst.’ He was disturbing my wool-gathering.

Katrin sat clutching her skirt tightly afraid Ernst might offer to help rid her of her footwear. ‘Ma will clobber me if she finds out,’ and she wriggled up the bank on her bottom. ‘You’ll get into trouble,’ pointing to Ernst’s wet shoes.

The sun slid behind threatening clouds. The wind began to whip the trees.

I didn’t give much thought to a sense of disquiet as I listened to Ernst and Katrin.  We were young, and like the brook, bubbling along, unprepared for a life-changing event.

Katrin scampered after butterflies. Ernst followed her. I dozed.

I recall waking and returning home in a confused state of mind. Ernst and Katrin were missing, never to be found.

They began to fade in my memory. I almost believed they were figments of my imagination until a particle of consciousness from that day slowly matured.

It flickers at the edge of my mind’s eye then flutters away with butterfly wings before it has substance. This madness, itching relentlessly inside my skull gives me no peace and confuses me.

I peer closely at the wood block. Whatever was in the field, is here in the grain waiting to be revealed. In the area that bothers me is a small, throbbing blister, black as pitch.

I feverishly start to gouge. The tool operates under its own volition. I have been this far before but fear always stopped me. Now I allow the tool to scrape and dig, enlarging a pulsating hole.

I surrender myself to it.

Stop.

Enough.

No, dear God, NO.

I throw down my tool.

It is not God in the spreading, oily, seething horror swallowing the beechwood and clinging to my fingertips.

Hopelessness permeates my body sapping my strength, suffocating me.

Ernst and Katrin call me. Sweet voices begging for help.

Casting the block into the fire, I honour their memory.

I sentence two tortured souls to constant chaos, perpetual pandemonium.

 

 


 

 

Linda is retired and lives in Essex. She started to write during the first lockdown and has work printed in two anthologies, and flash fiction littering the internet. She enjoys humorous writing but won’t hesitate to tug the reader’s heartstrings.

 

Illustration by Linda Hibbin

 

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