pieces > ensemble
piano, string quintet
On the label, in big letters: NOT TO BE OPENED BY CHILDREN.
Carrying it home safe in my grip, I would tread with a mixture of pride and fear. What if I should slip in the snow, and the bottle were to break? Then home again; the hearth prepared, my sisters crowding round as Mother took the bottle, ordering us to keep back in case anything went wrong, and she would stoop beside the fireplace with the precious flask held level in her hand. Slowly, carefully, she would unscrew the lid, and out would trickle a single golden bud of fire, its scent exactly like our medicine, gathering and swelling on the lip then falling into the dark nest of coal and waste papers.
At first nothing, as if perhaps it had died, and we would wait a moment holding our breath until there it was again, leaping out from its hiding place and skipping around the tinder, leaving flames wherever it touched, and soon it would all be going, a regular fire, you could feel the warmth starting and my sisters’ faces would be red and smiling with delight, and Mother would take the bottle and put it in a special cupboard high on the wall, the only one in the house you could lock, and I would look up at that cupboard and long – how foolishly I would long – for the day when I would be tall enough to reach it.
Text from ‘Water Of Life’
copyright © 2008 Andrew Crumey.