Village of Fire  

by Eline




concerning visitation.

She pushed herself to her feet and dusted down the front of her dress. A little bit of soil had gone into her mouth so she spat it out and walked on. Behind her, the new moisture seeped down into the soil.


Up ahead now was blessed daylight; Emily was never afraid of the dark but at this time of the day it just wasn't right. Around her feet and soon tickling her ankles was grass, patchy at first but longer and healthier as the church's rear wall came to the corner and to a point where the sun's rays were a regular visitor. Out ahead now, as well as the cliff face still standing to her right, was the small church yard with erratic rows of gravestones, every single one of them partially covered in moss, apart from two in the far corner, which, despite having another small yew tree shading the area there, seemed to glow in the morning sun. The fence surrounding the graveyard, being wooden rather than iron, was intact. Here was the other wall of the church, too, with the same buttresses and windows punctuating it; as Emily walked alongside, careful to avoid the areas around the gravestones where she supposed the bodies were lying beneath, she noticed that, just like on the other side of the church, there were no doors. She came within a minute back to the front of the church, back to the front door; still locked. At the far end of the church, a tiny crack of light illuminated a tiny sapling near a small rock.

To get into a building with only one door, which is locked, Emily thought, one needs a key: that key is chained to a post in the village square. Emily dusted down her dress once again and walked quickly but with affected nonchalance to the priest's modest memorial. She knelt down beside it, as she had seen some of the older residents do, although she did not know which words she was supposed to mutter they were never loud enough or near enough when she saw it being done. The iron key was secured to an iron chain, and the iron chain was secured to an iron pin driven into the wood of the post. She tugged on the pin but it would not come; she tugged on the post, too, but it also would not come. She tugged again on the pin, in vain, and then stood up. Standing with her hands on her hips, she wondered; then realisation came. Pulling gently on the key itself, it came away. The chain swung gently, released of its weight. Emily smiled but did not wonder how she had managed to get the key from the chain.


Looking around briefly there was still no sign of life in the village, but it was still early in the morning Emily ran back to the church, pushed with surprising ease the child-sized rock out of the way, and carefully, reverently, inserted the iron key into the lock. With a great scraping sound, the key turned in her hand, and the church doors opened for the first time in fifteen years. Emily did not notice the birds singing in the trees as she took her first step into this great old building.





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