sympathy for the devil

Do you want to know a secret?

Never told this anyone before. Not even grandpa or mommy knows about this. But I tell you, sweetheart. You are my grandchild, and I know you will understand this someday. I can tell. It is one of my most treasured adventures… Oh, don’t be silly! Yes, of course, granny had adventures of her own. But this one was by far, the most intensive.

Once, I met the devil! Yes, I did, I truly did. The devil, himself! Don’t make that face, it will stay that way! What? You hope it will? Hahaha, you rascal!

It was a day, like today. Hot, filled with birds singing, and butterflies playing above the flowers. Summer was gaining power. The days grew longer and the sky changed from the spring grayish-white to the strong blue, marking the arrival of lasting heat… The lime trees were blooming. Just like today. You smell their scent? Isn’t this wonderful?

When I was young, I used to sit down under lime trees. No matter where they grew, I sat underneath their crown and closed my eyes. Passers-by looked at me, strangely. Sometimes shaking their heads at the sight.

Why do you think, they were angry? I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Just enjoying. You think, I was dirtying my good clothes? Maybe… It was long ago and I was young. I didn’t care.

Oh no, not that young… I was about four years older than you are now, sweetie. I sat down, no matter where that was.

With closed eyes I was waiting, listening to the wind talking to the leaves. Hoping it would talk to me too. The humming of the bees and bumblebees was calming. It helped me traveling in my mind. That’s when I get my best ideas! Yes, darling, it’s where the stories come from… Even today. I relax and nearly fall asleep when listening to the bees in the garden. No! Not only because I’m old and doze off, when sitting down… Don’t get fresh with me, young lady! I won’t tell you the story.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Daydreaming. I was sitting under a huge lime tree, daydreaming. Waiting for the wind to whisper to me, or for a story to show up.

Then a young man appeared. I didn’t hear him walk by. His “ahem” made me jump. Opening my eyes, I saw a black figure. Well, not much more than a dark silhouette, cause his shadow crawled over my face. He was smoking. But it wasn’t tobacco, it did not stink. The smoke filled the air under the tree with something strange – magical. I don’t know what it was, dear. Never smelled anything comparable to that ever again… But it made my hair stand on the end. I had goose bumps all over.

He was asking: “Do you mind me, sitting down on the other side of the tree?” I shook my head, but didn’t say anything. Why not? I don’t know. He was a stranger, and you know, it’s not o.k. to talk to strangers.

Plus I was very shy back then. It was even before I knew grandpa.

We were sitting there, quietly, listening to the bees and the wind, enjoying the warm day, the lime bloom. Eventually I fell asleep, everything was so peaceful. Everything was alright.

Suddenly the air turned cold. It stung. It really stung to breathe in. Looking around, everything was the same. Out of nowhere, a huge black dog appeared. It was bigger than you are. It growled angrily. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Yes. I was very scared. Terrified! I did not dare to move. It snarled at me. The black muzzle right in front of my face. The big blood-red tongue moving nervously over its flews. And my, what fangs it had! This big! Like my pinky.

“Don’t show your fear!” The young man said very calmly. His crystal clear voice sounded urgently. “Hold your heartbeat! It can hear it, as good as I can. It is way too fast. Calm it. Come on, I know you can do it!” Yes, he was trying to help me. No dear, he did not save me. I saved myself, from that beast. How?

I’ll tell you. I did what he told me. I calmed down.

Listen. He sat on the other side of the stock. The hound inches away from my face, slobber dripping on my hand and skirt. What could I do? He couldn’t be possibly fast enough, to do me any good, before that dog would maul me. I closed my eyes and swallowed. The snarling grew louder and more vicious.

“Don’t pray. There is no time. You can only help yourself now. Look it in the eyes. Don’t show your fear. It will attack, if you behave like a prey. Calm down.” He said it, as if he knew what I was thinking. What? Yes, he did read my mind. I’m sure about that.

Remember, what he has told me? Yes. My heart was beating too fast. And I was terrified, you are right. I looked that animal in the eyes. They were golden. I stared back. Stubbornly staring.

In that moment something happened. I don’t know what it was. It felt, like something broke and fell off. Inside. In here. It was confusing, and surprising, at the same time… What? There was no anger, nothing bad in the eyes of that dog. It wasn’t snarling anymore. How? I don’t know, sweetie. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I really don’t know… It could have killed me, easily.

What happened to the hound? That day, it went away, wagging its tail. Just like that. Are you disappointed, my dear? No, you don’t have to. This was very important for me and this is why I told you the story. Remember, nothing is more important than catching your heartbeat, and not behaving like prey. Never run away. If you remember this, then you are good. Forever.

How do I know, that the man was the devil?

He told me so, and I believed it. He said, his name was Lucius, the morning star. His smile was as bright as starlight, indeed. Oh yes, he was very handsome too! Dark brown rich hair, grey eyes. A well built young man, dressed so elegantly, that I was surprised, he has been sitting on the ground. His skin was bright, like shining from the inside.

No dear, I’m not blushing. It’s the hypertension; I have to take my pills, sweetie. It’s time.

Go ask mommy, if she needs more vegetables from my garden. I have some ripe peas, tomatoes and some raspberries too. Of course, the raspberries are only for you! Now go, ask mommy.

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