There was a small village, counting just above twenty houses and as many families. The village was surrounded by a forest on one side and by fields on the other. A small road lead to the village and just before the village there was a small bridge across a small river which ran into a dark green lake where children spent their afternoons swimming and laughing.
People living there knew each other very well; they were all like one big family, always helping each other. They grew crops together, just enough for them to survive. They also had animals – horses which helped them out on the fields; cows for milk; pigs for meat and sheep for wool. They didn’t need much.
In the centre of the village stood a church, with a tall bell tower and in front of the church stood an ancient oak. Villagers hung a swing from the branches and made a sandbox next to it so that small children could play there and someone could keep an eye on them.
There were also a couple of benches and tables where the villagers met in the evenings and talked while the older children were playing hide and seek and smaller ones were in the sandbox building castles. Theiy all lived in harmony, peacefully and happily.
On a cloudy day in late autumn five men were on the fringe of the forest chopping wood for winter. A tall black-haired man in a white shirt noticed how wonderful the trees in the forest are; a multi-coloured forest always impressed him. Autumn was his favourite time of the year because it painted trees in beautiful red and gold. He always wanted to fly like a bird so he could see this wonder created by Mother Nature from the sky.
It was quiet in the village; all children were by the lake, playing and taking their last swim before the winter, every one except a little blonde girl who was sitting in front of the house at the end of the village. She sat there on the bench, quietly, and waited.
She waited for her mother to come out of the house and tell her to do whatever needed to be done. She waited for hours when her mother finally came and looked at her seriously.
Run. Run fast.
The girl stood up and ran as though her own life was in danger. She ran past the houses; she ran past the church and the oak with the swing hanging down from it, moving in the wind even though no one was around to swing on it; she ran over the bridge and when she crossed it she turned left on a small path leading to the forest. She ran though high grass, almost as tall as she was.
When she approached the five men who were chopping wood she slowed down. The
tall black-haired man in the white shirt noticed her and dropped the axe to the ground. He stood there for a moment and then he ran towards the village. He ran so fast that he didn’t notice how beautiful the forest was. He didn’t notice the red and the gold. When he ran over the bridge he didn’t notice the river peacefully flowing underneath him. He didn’t notice the church or the oak with the swing. He only saw his house and he wanted to get there as fast as he could.
The black-haired man quietly entered the house and a tiny old woman with grey hair came towards him from the next room.
You have to decide. She said.
He looked at her and felt empty inside. Save her. Save my wife.
The man sat on a chair and looked through the window. He didn’t notice the menacing black clouds coming from the south. He didn’t see anything; he just heard the screams coming from the next room. He didn’t see the small drops falling from the sky.
He sat there for hours listening to the screams mixed with the sound of rain falling on the roof. An angry storm arrived, with heavy rain and blinding lightning. Thunder was so loud it drowned out the screams from the next room. But the man didn’t hear or see any of it. He was praying with his eyes closed and waiting.
He was sitting there for hours, quietly praying and waiting and hoping that he would see his wife one more time. He wanted to tell her how much he loved her one more time. He wanted to hug her one more time.
After hours of waiting, a chubby young woman came from the next room. He looked at her inquiringly.