Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chapter Sixteen

The pig of brick gasps awake. Still half in nightmare, he cringes from the angry claws of his dead brother.

But there’s no one here. He is alone, safe in his house. The embers from the hearth even bring a dying light to the room, so he isn’t in darkness anymore.

And he’s long since learned to ignore the scratch-scratch-scratch at the front door, where the pig of straw still waits, rotting and patient, eternally trying to visit his brother.

All is silent.

I’m alone, thinks the little pig, but then he hears it again, that sound from his nightmare, the thud of spade against skull.

It’s the door. Someone is knocking at the door.

His throat tightens, and his thoughts flee wildly to the cellar, where the pig of sticks is buried under the cold earth.

He’s back, he thinks. He’s back. He’s here. He’s back.

Scratch, scratch, scratch. Knock, knock, knock.

They die once. They come back. You kill them. You bury them. They still come back. There’s a knock at the door, and he remembers his dream. It’s the pig of sticks, come for his body.

Two brothers - one a corpse, one a ghost - trying to enter the house for one final reunion, one final trick to play on their still-living sibling.

“Go away!” squeals the pig of brick. “I didn’t want to kill you!” He falls from the bed and crawls to a corner. “Leave me alone!”

The knocking stops.

The pig of brick bursts into tears.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

“Hello?” A voice at the door. His brother’s ghost.

The pig swallows a few times until he has the strength to answer. “Yes?”

The voice: “Are you all right?”


The pig of brick thinks again of his poor brother, how kind he’d always been. “Are YOU all right?” he asks.

“No,” says the voice. “I’m lost.”

Aren’t we all, thinks the pig. He gets to his hooves and reluctantly steps to the peephole, where the pig of straw still scratches. It’s hard to stand the sight of his brother, all withering, running flesh and a buzz of flies.

“I can’t see you,” says the pig of brick, no longer sure if he is dealing with a spirit or with his own madness, or if this is still a dream.

“What?” says the voice. “I’m down here.”

Standing on the tips of his hooves, the little pig looks down through the peephole, unsure of what he will see. It isn’t the ghost of his brother, and he cannot help but laugh at the sight before him.

And the little wooden puppet at his doorstep, encouraged by the laughter, smiles back with a hopeful smile.