The path in front of me is surrounded by green leaves and sunshine, sudden and shocking. I glance over my shoulder and the snow is still there, the impressions of my bootsteps slowly filling in with fresh flakes.
In the sunshine by the side of the path stands a robed figure, stern and serious.
I say Hello and the figure nods at me but says nothing.
Who are you, and what is this? I ask as I unbutton my coat, already uncomfortably warm, rogue snowflakes falling from my eyelashes and melting on my cheeks
I am the guardian, and this is where you leave the Old world for the New, the figure says in a low voice that is only slightly patronizing. You will have to leave your things behind.
The guardian shakes its head when I move to put down my bag and as I start to ask what it means the guardian reaches a hand into my chest and pulls out my heart.
But before I can react the still-beating heart in the guardian’s hand becomes a feather, and then the feather floats up and over my shoulder and back into the wind and the snow.
The guardian gives me a small, satisfied nod and leads me onward, my new heartbeat pounding in my ears, hard and fierce and light.
About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.