The Common Store

All over Europe the sky is lacquered lapis lazuli and the Sun’s a glint in a wise hare’s eye. It’s a day for red cloaks, for skipping across bridges, and for chancing the big, wide world for a handful of beans. It’s a day for grandmothers and golden eggs, a day to believe in wishes without consequence, and a day to polish bottles and mirrors until they shine like stories. We swap tales for the simple love of patterns, reciting identical scenes in maybe two hundred languages, then circling shocked tongues round the raw edges of difference. There are always three pigs, three goats, three chances. The prince is always handsome, the princess beautiful. Love is instant and true. But hush and listen: in this version of the story, the ogre is faster than the axe; in that regional variation, the bears have locked all the windows and doors, and in a fragment whispered in the dark, dark forest, the last house is stone but the wolf has thermobaric ordnance and twitchy paws.




Oz Hardwick
Picture Nick Victor

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