by Tom Brennan
Breathless from climbing, Iwan crested the hill and looked down on his village and its fields of yellow and green. He tried to blot out the mill beside the river but the dark stone building gnawed at him, just as in his dreams.
Again he remembered the words trickling from his father’s ruined face: “A little blood, son, a little pain…”
Iwan spun away from the edge and ran to the pool under the arching trees. As forbidden as mirrors and polished metal, the pool threw back Iwan’s pale reflection. He stared at his features in the clear water as if concentration alone could seal them there forever, make them indestructible. But now a breeze rippled the water and imagination dissolved his face; he saw the mill’s grindstones descending, lower, lower, felt the altar vibrating under his body, smelled powdered grit as the whirling stones inched closer. Closer.