A Man of Snow and Glass

by Cooper Young

The villagers found him out behind the woodpile under the shelter of a small stand of trees. They guessed from the layers of dead leaves that had decomposed around his shins that the witch had made him some years ago–a man of snow and glass, whose skin shone like the light off the mountain’s peak on a winter morning and whose eyes were as radiantly humble as the moon in love. She’d never brought him to life. They wondered where her lack was–in talent or in time.

For the witch had died earlier than they thought she should have done. Earlier, certainly, than she expected.

But inside they found her books, and they found the spell that would have done it, and despite their general lack of knowledge they all agreed that it looked no more difficult than any other they’d seen her do. Certainly not so difficult as the one that had brought John Miller’s cow back from the dead, or the one that had saved little Maddie Pinker last August. Not by half.

And in the margin, in her narrow, almost stretched looking hand, were the words “Not time yet”.

Next to other spells they found more notes: little stars by those which would have made him kind and wise and obedient, little insertions that would have made him speak gently when she gave him speech and move gracefully when she bade him move. They found the spells that would have made him do, and her little scribblings of how he would. A perfect man planned out in grammar.

And now and again “Not time yet”.

More telling were the pages with no notes–the spells for beauty and wit and grace and youth and infatuation. They were faded, stained, and ragged. They were cherished unchanged.

And where they had been sad for themselves at the loss of their witch, they became sad for her, and sad for the unaccepted perfection in the garden who’d always been told “not time yet.”

Written for Trifecta: Week Sixty-Eight