03. Gold and Myrrh

Someone else lived in that white stone house. Someone has decorated the windows with wood cut patterns and painted them green, and in all its simplicity the house looked as welcoming as it was stone cold, at times blending in with the snowy landscapes so exquisitely that a mirage felt more straight and solid at a stranger's glance. At those times only the window frames stood out - green googly eyes, peaceful and poised in comic relief, always watching over me as I made my way down the birch wood to its front door where an oak tree stood in a welcoming gesture. The wide open green eyes of the house that peered from behind the oak could have been the eyes of the tree himself. Were they? Another rhetorical question I have been entertaining myself with for a while, but as long as he was watching over me, I never bothered to ask... and he never bothered to tell me.
Someone cleared the path to the house - the snow was pushed to either side taking up so much space that the road narrowed down in size dramatically - there was barely a passage enough for one person at a time. I wondered what will it be if the wall of ice and snow were to collapse encompassing me in a ring of gold and silver. Will I stay forever in a white stone house with green window frames - just the oak tree and I?  Will I ever settle down to make pizza crust out of acorns and collect Colorado beetles from the potato leaves?

A wind bursted through the tree tops bearing a whiff of melancholic notes of myrrh and jasmine, but soon turned yeasty and fermented like the inside of a pickling jar and sent shivers down my spine. I knew the recipe so well. Upon my grandfather's request I used go down to the garden and ask a leaf of every bush and tree - the dill, the maple, the black currant and an oak, and they all bended their branches and shed a leaf or two. I returned with this wild bouquet to my grandfather and he carefully rolled the leaves and stuffed them in a jar with pickles. And as he tightened the lids of each jar I wondered what it would smell like inside a coffin when they shut the lid and throw some earth atop. But what could a pickle tell me? It sat inside a glass jar, like an unfortunate foetus in a laboratory blessing me with a morbid stare, slowly growing pale and limp.
I stood by the tree for a while counting the number of leaves he still held and tried to approximate the number of pickling jars I would need, but the numbers resounded in a rattling noise as if I was throwing coins in each jar, or like when you hit a jackpot in one of those machines at the casino and the coins come spilling out, burying your body beneath that filthy brassy smell of money you cannot keep - a lucrative error, an illusion of happiness.


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