17. Elsie’s Pragmatism

Future birdCertain moments replayed endlessly in your head, is that love? The irrational desire to relive tiny fragments of time over and over? What is a person? What is it to know someone? What does it mean when they become your default thought? Danger I’d say.

This is how it was for Elsie, but she told herself she did not love Abel. She was obsessed with Abel, she’d admit that, it was irrational but somehow necessary. When she first discovered he had gone she’d looked for him down the tunnels of the Piccadilly line, crept through god knows what for days in the darkness. A stupid crazed search which now, in the light of the Arts Admin office, she saw as a type of madness. A breakdown perhaps.

For what had really happened? Abel had gone off without telling her where he was going – that was very like Abel – and a drunk had told her he’d gone down the tunnels under London. Why had she believed what a drunk had told her? Why had she risked her own life chasing after someone who should be capable of looking after himself? Someone who certainly wouldn’t bother chasing after her!

So she stopped. Forced herself to be sensible about it, got back to work, got busy, tried to forget. She always remembered though, in the quiet periods, those moments when he’d seemed so close.

Although it had been the potential rock-god Abel that first attracted her, it was the weak, vulnerable Abel she had perhaps fallen in love with. The one that couldn’t cope with complicated situations. The one that needed a hug. The one that kissed her as though he really needed her. She knew by the next day he’d forget her. Even she would admit that it was partly the uncertainty, the waiting and wondering, that fuelled her obsession, made her desire him like nothing else.

Now though she was being pragmatic. She had a good job, she had prospects, her boss needed her.

Changes were sort, she vaguely dated other men. What was Abel to her? Just a series of moments now past. Or at least that was what she was trying hard to pretend.

16. The Sin Eater

16. The Sin-Eater

Image - an eater of sin.SIN EATING, described in studies of folk culture as a form of religious magic, has been practiced in many cultures. In rural Wales the ritual was still in practice up until the last century.

A village would often have its own Sin-Eater who would live as a hermit outside the village. Shunned by the villagers for being the associate of evil spirits the Sin-Eater was only sort out when someone in the village was dying. Then he would be brought into the village and taken to the dying person’s bedside. The family would place a loaf of bread on the dying person’s chest. The Sin-Eater would enter and approach the body. Kneeling down at the bed he would give a short speech;

“I give easement and rest now to thee, dear man. Come not down the lanes or in our meadows. And for thy peace I pawn my own soul. Amen”.[2]

Then the Sin-Eater would eat the bread from the dying person’s chest and a bowl of ale would be handed to him from across the body. By drinking the ale and eating the bread he was eating that person’s sins. The bowl and platter would then be burnt by the villagers.