[part one available on the liberal canon.]
Through the darkness of the room he stumbled forward on stiff legs. The way outside was dark too, he didn’t have it in him to light the lamps anymore. He grappled around helplessly in the corridors and down the stairs, like a man lost at sea. Occasionally, his hands would find one of her marble sculptures, and each time they would come away wet, dripping with a warm sticky liquid – blood her red blood shimmering in her hair glittering on the walls – He remembered it all clear as day, even as the hammering of his heart resounded through his skull. Intertwined with it was another faint sound. The thud of a marble statue, the splitting open of her pretty head.
He threw open the front door and the wind came thundering inside. His feet felt even more rigid against the rain. He thought he might die before making it to the back. Perhaps that would be a more merciful release than whatever he imagined awaited him. When he reached her grave at the edge of the forest, he could no longer stand. He collapsed onto the fresh mud and just barely heard himself erupt into guttural sobs.
For just one, brief moment, his eyes closed – and then he could no longer open them. His skin had grown so stiff and so cold that it was frozen against the ground like a sheet of ice. It was like he was trapped inside it. Panic shot through his body. He screamed, but his lips wouldn’t part. Only seconds later, everything went numb. He couldn’t feel anymore. Within the empty abyss of his mind, he could only mourn his punishment.
The next thing he remembered would be in the morning, and it would be warm. Sunshine filtering through the trees in halos of light. He would breathe a sigh of relief that he was able to see again, but it would only be momentary. Because then the concerned villagers would come – they would gather by his wife’s grave and peer down at him, muttering something about a headstone that seemed to have been replaced by white marble overnight. As for the man of the house, he was nowhere to be found.