Wing-Feather Fables: The Fallen

Church front, open to all

The broken church fit in the cradle of her lap like a misshapen, fractured infant. She’d never had a child. Giants weren’t famous for fidelity or comfort. Their ministrations were of the rougher sort when they chose to procreate. Thralia had never coddled anything until this unexpected reverence had slammed her in the chest.

Her rough, expansive flesh bore a wealth of scars which she displayed with a ferocity of pride. She’d never had a husband, sure, but she’d had her share of lovers, and the intimacies of giants were considered paltry without a spray of blood. There were also battles to remember in those jagged, thickened lines. Centuries of violence lived along her skin.

The remains of this particular village lay in rough heaps all around her. She had gorged herself on knaves and wenches, savoring the rotund clergy and the succulent pregnant wives, keeping the sweetest children for dessert. Sinewy warriors were less to her liking. They aggravated a toothache that had plagued her for a decade.

Smoke rose from the ruins as Thralia worked a splintered plank in between her teeth where a bit of bone had lodged. She belched a noxious cloud. In her lap, the church looked like a toy. She had tried to uproot the building gently, but most of the walls were cracked, the ceiling partially caved. Still, the front and all its glass remained miraculously intact.

Thralia read the stone’s inscription, its bold, emblazoned promise of inclusion. She whispered, “Open Sesame” and “Abracadabra,” then, “Ali Baba” and “Aladdin.” She remembered tales of hidden latches and prodded at the bricks and carvings. Nothing shifted. Nothing changed. A growl shuffled from her throat and she squelched an urge to pry apart the building, make it open to her girth. Over centuries, she’d learned that grace was never freely given. There was no easy way for her to fit through such a tiny door.

Panes of glass cast back a clarity of sky.  Thralia’s eyes felt scorched and bathed in azure. She caught the half-reflection of her snarled hair in windows shaped like fish scales. She knew she was no beauty. She hadn’t many skills. Destruction was her forte, but didn’t the building have to live up to its promise, even for the likes of her? She had come so far, across the world, following this rumor. Nothing but a fairy tale. She placed a large palm, flat across the windows and the words, blocking them from sight.

In the stillness of her desolation, Thralia heard an infant’s wail, away across the ruins. She rose to her feet and stuffed the church inside her satchel. The glass began to shatter. It sounded like the clairvoyance of the damned, the fallen, on the scrapheap of their chosen scars. Thralia followed the cry of the child, stomach rumbling. She would satisfy her hunger. Then, she would grind the stones and glass and words until they were nothing but dust, promises forsaken or grace misunderstood.

~ Photo by Brenda Gottsabend; Story by Lisa Ahn

Learn more about Wing-Feather Fables here.

14 thoughts on “Wing-Feather Fables: The Fallen

  1. Pingback: Wing-Feather Fables: The Fallen | How to Feather an Empty Nest

  2. You continue to amaze and inspire. With your words attached, my images take on such depth and meaning and emotional resonance. Thank you for that gift.

  3. Wow! This is a powerful fairy tale, for grown ups! Thralia is fascinating, and I wanted to read more about her. You are such a talented writer, Lisa.

  4. Another terrific fable, Lisa! I, too, want to know more about this vicious and terrible giant, Thralia. The story does fit the photo perfectly or vice versa, however you want to see it. Your imagery, as usual, is stunning!

    I know we mentioned this when you and Brenda first started this joint venture together, but I think these pictures and fables are worth publishing!

  5. On the verge of change, then pulled back by the behaviors that defeat us. Alas. This is grim, and I loved it.

  6. I want to think its a happy ending. That the giant embraces compassion and does not hide behind her scars and shear form. I think she’s only known the violent existence all this time, but deep down knows compassion and love. This is her last chance.

  7. Those last three lines say it all.

    We have so much inescapable misunderstanding from those who can’t comprehend, refusal to understand from those who won’t, and blind anger from those who ache for more than they see. And all along hunger is satisfied in the moments, in horrible ways. For me, this story feels close to the saddest tale of humankind. Thralia seems like the least of the giants who plague us. Some aren’t hungry when they devour the innocent.

    A sad, sad story, simply and beautifully rendered.

    • Thank you — and I love your point here about the giants who devour us, even when they aren’t hungry.

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