025. The Seven Ravens

by crfricke

*This post is part of A Grimm Project, a series of short fiction pieces using each of the Brothers Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as writing prompts. For more information about the project, click here. For more about the story which inspired this freewrite, click here.*

What you’ve carried: A three-legged stool, for sitting. So that’s five legs in all, which makes any journey shorter. A pitcher, for water, for it’s winter here, below the stars, and a jug full of fresh snow will last you till the Glass Mountain and beyond. And a knife, that too, though when you started you didn’t know what for.

What you’ve been given: Most helpful directions from the stars themselves, who arranged themselves in a perfect map to point you to your brothers’ home. A lesson, from the sun and moon, that what looks friendly from far away will devour you if you get too close. A key of bone — oh, where has it gone?

Now you stand, your little boots filling with snow, before the door in the side of the Glass Mountain, and they key is nowhere to be found. You bend your eye to the keyhole. Look there! A table, made of finest wood that you recognize from the forests of home, lovingly varnished to a gleam. Steaming pies — apple and peach — whose scents condescend to find you at the keyhole. Ah, don’t they smell just like your mother’s. As though, for lo these years, your brothers have made a copy of the home they remember, here in this wintery place. But there is no one at the table but birds. Until you are there, it is no home.

Quick, little one, lift up your finger. It will just fit into the lock. A slice, a break, and you will not miss it. Seven brothers, with ten fingers each and more tales than even that, will be your reward. Alas, no one returns home all in one piece.

Cate Fricke
November 2014

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Illustration by Arthur Rackham