When Noyeme came to me that night she was carrying one of the lanterns her mother had brought her all the way back from Heraklion.
“I have something to show you.” She said and she took my hand and led me out into the once dark cloud fields behind her parent’s house. There was a new sort of moonlight in those days and the locals blamed the outbreaks of sporadic madness on its beckoning beams. There in the distance I saw it, raising its monstrous hippopotamus head with eyes like the sorrowful glare from a lighthouse lamp. I covered my face with my hands as we edged closer but still the vision of the thing stayed looking straight at me from under my own eyelids.
“I don’t wish to see it,” I begged Noyeme but she pulled me on, and soon I found myself so near to the beast that I could smell its breath, and it reminded me then of being a child and how long ago it was and what an intangible thing to be so young. I can’t tell you exactly what that smell was but even now it haunts me when I catch the ghost of that scent on the wind.
The creature saw me, and I got the impression that it knew how I had fallen by the wayside of life. Then as Noyeme fed it ground butterflies and fingernails I felt a sadness coming on that was somehow joy too. That was the exact moment when I understood the people of the town had not been plagued by a new madness, but by a gift of being able to see past the old failures life forces upon us.
The beast blinked, and in that instant the cloud fields vanished…
And I was a boy again.