Marja Hagborg

from Head in the Snow

My mother pointed out the house, a big white painted house with many windows, on the outskirts of the village. It was the house where the youngest son had gone crazy after the Finnish Civil War. They were rich people, my mother told me, and I knew already as a child that rich people can do a lot of things others can't -- it was a law of Nature.

We. my mother and I, walked past the white painted house, and the wet snow fell down heavy and silent covering the dark earth, the yellow reeds, the sighing woods, the houses, the human beings -- big and small.

The son of the people in the big house had killed a "Red" -- a farmer -- and cut off his head in the kitchen with a knife. The hatred had made him do such a thing, my mother said. Then he had kicked the head through the window; the window had broken and the head had fallen down in a drift of snow.

We walked slowly, my mother and I, toward the village and when we walked by the military cemetery, she went on telling about the son of the rich people, the son who had killed the man in the kitchen. The window that was broken by the head of the dead man, was replaced, the glass was changed several times. It didn't stop the son of the house from screaming every time he entered the kitchen, he saw the face of the dead man, the man he had murdered, in the window. Nobody but the son saw the face, only he saw it -- the face -- clear and sharp -- gray, unshaven, with blind eyes. The son screamed, realizing that the dead man's face would never leave the house. The son went crazy and killed himself in the same kitchen.

My mother took my sweaty hand, squeezed it so it hurt, and started walking faster, bending her body against the increasingly snowy wind.


donia carey said...

Beautifu story, very real yet dreamlike. A magical world of enchanted landscape and dreadful horror.

Nonnie Augustine said...

You chilled my bones, here, Marja. My bones and I appreciate it. Well done.