Sever and Lir
Halloween isn’t really a “thing” here in Sweden. It’s starting to be, mostly because the US does it so the Swedes are like, “Sure, why not?” Interestingly, Easter is when kids traditionally dress up as witches (not scary witches, but cute, ragamuffin witches) and go knocking on doors searching for candy. There’s no tricks though, and if you give them candy then you get a nice handmade card. It’s cute and fun, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss Halloween.
So thank you for stopping by and reading, and thank you to everyone who’s participated in helping me celebrate the day.
As for my story, I hope you like whimsy.
Here’s the list of folks if you’re wondering where to go next:
Sever and Lir
by Sara C. Snider
Sever dug his shovel into the ground and hoisted up a heap of earth. He beat his wings against the air, flying up out of the hole he created and deposited the soil on the ground above.
Sever turned at Lir’s voice and found the snail creeping towards him.
“Nice day for digging up bodies, I guess,” Lir said.
Sever returned to his work. “What do you want, Lir?”
“Oh, nothing. I was just out wandering, you know, thinking about things. Pondering what’s the point of it all, stuff like that.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Sever said.
“Yeah, no one seems to know.” Lir sighed. “It’s just, it seems so random. I mean, you have wings and… and bones. Why don’t I have bones? Why do I have this stupid shell and flabby body? I mean, what’s the point of that?”
Sever closed his eyes and shook his head. Having Lir around was always depressing–even for a faerie digging up bones.
“Who will bother digging me up when I’m dead?” Lir continued. “Without any bones, there’ll be nothing left of me. Just a slimy smear on the ground.”
“You have your shell. That’ll be left behind.”
“That’s true, I guess.” Lir paused. “But is my shell really me? Does it represent who I am, as a snail? I mean, what makes it unique from all the other shells out there? Will it show how I lived? How I died?” He paused again. “Do people even bury shells?”
Sever glanced at Lir. No one buried shells as far as he knew, but he was reluctant to mention that to his friend. “I’m sure some do.”
Lir seemed to relax. His gaze shifted to the hole in the ground. “So, who’re you digging up now?”
“Charlotte Moon. She was hanged for witchcraft and then buried here.”
Lir’s eyestalks shot upright. “Really? How exciting!”
Sever frowned. “I’m sure she didn’t think so.”
“Oh, but it is! No one would ever accuse me of witchcraft. Just because I don’t have bones or hands doesn’t mean I’m not capable of it. In fact, I think you’d be surprised by what I can do. But does anyone ever fear the cabalistic snail? Nooo. We’re reduced to nothing more than garden pests. It’s unfair, that’s what.”
Sever leaned on his shovel as he eyed Lir. “What, so you’re practicing witchcraft now?”
Lir’s eyestalks twitched. “Well, no, but that’s not the point. I could be practicing it, and I could be menacing, but no one would ever know. That’s the problem.”
“If no one knew, then you wouldn’t exactly be menacing, now would you?”
“No… I… that’s not what I meant…”
Sever shook his head. “Here, hold this,” he said and handed Lir the shovel.
Lir disappeared into his shell, letting the shovel fall to the ground next to him.
“Real menacing,” Sever said.
Lir poked his eyestalks out from under the shell, followed by the rest of his body. “You know I don’t have hands, Sever. How am I supposed to hold anything without any hands? You can be so cruel sometimes.”
Sever grinned as he hopped down into the hole. He brushed away some dirt, revealing a shard of bone. “I found her bones,” he called to Lir.
“Come on, don’t sulk. I know you want to look.”
The silence lingered. Then, after a while, Lir’s eyestalks peeked over the edge of the hole. “Is she magnificent?”
Sever looked down at the bones in the dirt. “It’s just bones, Lir. I wouldn’t call them magnificent.”
“You’re always so insensitive. Thumbs are wasted on the vertebrates.”
“That makes no sense. You need a skeleton for thumbs. Otherwise you’d just have loose, flapping appendages.”
“Oh, yes, remind the snail how loose and flapping and disgusting his body is. I think I’ve had enough of your cruelty. I bid you good night.” Lir slunk away.
Sever closed his eyes and sighed. “She’s magnificent,” he murmured.
After a moment, Lir reappeared at the edge of the hole. “What did you say? I didn’t quite hear you.”
Sever took a breath and said, louder, “I said she’s magnificent. Charlotte’s bones are glorious.”
“I just knew it. How marvelous! I’m so happy for her.”
Sever shook his head and brushed away more dirt to expose the bones.
“So, what part are you going to take?” Lir asked. “Not the teeth again, I hope?”
“Teeth are easy.”
“You always take teeth. Why not take something else? Like the skull, maybe. Or a femur. Wouldn’t you like a femur?”
“Femurs are bigger than I am. How am I supposed to fly hauling one of those around?”
Lir’s eyestalks drooped. “What does your master want with all these bones, anyway?”
“I don’t know. He says they’re for research, but I think he just likes collecting them.”
“Not any more creepy than you calling bones ‘magnificent.'”
“That’s not creepy, it’s respectful.”
“Uh huh.” Sever gripped one of the teeth and, putting his foot against the skull, pulled it out. He put it in a pocket.
“So, I guess you’ll be going, then?” Lir said. “Must be nice, being able to fly.”
“Sure, I guess. What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll stay here. Traveling is so slow, takes me forever to get anywhere. It seems pointless to try. But then, there doesn’t seem to be a point to anything, so I guess it’s fitting.”
“Do you always have to be so gloomy?”
“Easy for you to say. You have wings and a skeleton. You can do whatever you want. Me, I get to lurk in the grass. If I don’t get stepped on, that’s a good day.”
“All right, sorry I asked.”
Lir sighed. “See you around then, Sever.” He turned and left.
Sever put a hand over his eyes and said, “Wait.”
Lir peeked over the hole. “What?”
Sever pressed his lips together and grabbed the skull by the nose socket. He beat his wings against the air, pulling the skull up out of the dirt. He flew upwards, slow and wobbly, until he cleared the hole and dropped the skull on the grass next to Lir. Sever landed and rested against it as he caught his breath.
“So you are taking the skull,” Lir said.
Sever shook his head. “No, it’s for you.”
Sever shrugged. “Don’t get all mushy. Just thought you might like to have it, is all.”
Lir crawled in through an eye socket and settled inside the skull. “Thanks, Sever. You’re a good friend.”
“Yeah, whatever. See you around, Lir.”
“See you, Sever.”
With the tooth in his pocket, Sever then flew off into the night.