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On a winding road, amongst many acres of grass and in between two large forests, stood a quiet house, thirsting for some new paint for the fence and waiting to fill its empty walls with sounds of the living. The walls were cracked like dry summer lips, and moss peppered the beige walls like pepper on mushroom soup.

It wasn’t always empty, wasn’t always needy. It was once inhabited by a crowd of five and their dog only to be abandoned in haste one cold winter evening, with the approach of some corporeal men, holding machetes and fire sticks. The night air was unmoving, and failed to lift the scent of these men across to the family’s dog, so it was the light from the fire sticks that warned the family. What they had feared was nearing them, with increasing speed.

First the twins peeled their bed sheets off their bodies, and hurried to move the piano against the door. The noise alerted the grandparents who served as guardians for the house woke up, and with all the speed they could muster, they grabbed basic identification documents and their telephone book of contacts. Grand ma forgot to remove her teeth from the glass, but remembered to grab her most prized jewelry and hurriedly stuffed it into her bag. The eldest grandson did not stir from his position, though if he knew that this night were coming, he would have been able to give back to the family everything that he took from them.

When the parade passed by, earlier in the year through the town center, Horatio, like all the other boys, climbed up the painter’s ladder to get a better view of the performers. He wasn’t a very strong boy, most would call him frail and lacking much masculinity. What gained him the respect of those around him, his friends, was his quick wit and intelligence. He had on more than one occasion, pointed out wrong bill calculations at the neighborhood grocery store. That had saved the grocer, mountains of money, especially when Horatio intervened for the old man, when his supplier came down with hordes of goods. The larger the week’s supply, the more troubled the old man got with his calculations, and Horatio, taking pride in his intelligence always made it a point to be in the shop, when ever the supplier came round to sell the goods.

That year, there were a huge variety of performances. More fuss that what a town so small was used to: Jugglers, fire throwers, mimics, mimes, acrobats, clowns and many more had teamed together to put on a great show. There were rumours in the town that a band of gypsies had settled on the outskirts of the quiet green town, and it was in fact these people that had joined the parade. The town head claimed to not know who the new ones were, but because of the wonderful show that they put up that day, no one cared to know.

It was in this crowd, Horatio spotted a small but beautiful woman. She was silken, straight haired. The tips of her long tresses had been coloured a deep red, and it reached down to the curves of her hips. As she moved along, her hair bounced from one side to the other. She was carrying a small gas tank for the balloon the clown next to her was blowing into shapes, her hazel eyes scanning the crowd for something special, that she could use to remember the town by. And that was when Horatio’s eyes met hers, and that was how he met the lady who would make him go insane.

He met her again, the following week, when he was at the grocers, awaiting the arrival of the supplier. She was in the shop, whiling away time till the man who had accompanied her to the town, was done with his rounds of the town. They were cattle raisers, and once a week, she would come down to the town, accompanying this man, while he delivered the bottled milk to all the houses within the vicinity of the town. Every one who lived away from the town, had their own livestock, so there was no business else where for the fresh milk. This week she had chosen not to accompany the man to all the houses, as she had sensed that the boy that looked seventeen would come by the city square.

Horatio was there, he saw her coming through the front door of the shop, head stooped, her red winged hair in a braid. She wore a loose flower top, that fell at her chest, hiding what ever curves she had, and her skirt was a large fluffed patchwork quilt looking umbrella hanging down on her rather slim body. He gave a small whistle under his breath, he could not understand why she was so breathtakingly beautiful. His heart raced at the possibilities that might arise from this supposedly chance encounter. He yearned to see her face, hear her speak, touch her skin and maybe, just maybe, plant one on those candy pink lips.

What he did, in reality though, was spot the supplier's van pulling up on the front of the shop. He had his game face on, and spat out instructions and mentally crunched numbers in his head, paid the oaf some money from the till, that the old man gave out. By the time the transaction had been done, she had disappeared. And so, every week they met, where their expectations grew. Every meet was a seed, that was meant to father a field, instead these seeds suffered blight everyweek and died in their sorry sad soils.

And so this would've continued, but as most stories need more drama, this one has its fair share too. It happened a sunny, dusty afternoon. Our belle was getting off the truck that brought her into town. The man that she accompanied on the rounds was not a happy one, felt that his belle owed him more than she was giving him. He felt that she had found a lover, and imagined passionate interludes in the small alley way behind the grocers, where her red tints were crushed into a small ball, by a large, over powering masculine man. He had been sniffing at her hair awhile now, hoping to catch the scent that shed the sweat, he made himself believe her tresses bore. And when he smelt none, he went insane with jealousy: for while he was sure she was having an affair, it was what he didn't know about it that made him fierce.

And so he yelled out to the belle, commanding her not to get down from the truck and instead accompany him on his rounds. She turned around, and while Horatio watched from the screen windows of the grocers, she laughed a loud high pitched laugh. It sounded like a string of beads, falling off a broken chain on a metal surface, sliding off the edge onto cold marble. And while the belle wondered what had made her laugh with histeria, our man reached out to her mane, and got off the truck, pushing her back to make space for his exit.

He twisted her hair around her head, pulled her hair back and slammed it onto the side of the truck. No noise. There was nothing but magical silence, and yet a slow lazy crowd formed around the couple. Horatio did not move. He watched, while the man slammed the belle yet again onto the dented truck. He watched, as someone from the crowd, scooped the abuser's arms under the armpits and dragged him from the belle. When he tried to remember the event in the future, he knew it wasn't just one man that dragged the man. It was atleast three. And in the future, when he got to know the belle, and felt similar pangs of jealousy, he felt that he understood the abuser's language.

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