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Portrait of Kurten

by

Garry Linahan

Smashwords Edition

Published by Garry Linahan and Smashwords

Copyright 2012 Garry Linahan

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Chapter one

Winter bites at the outside walls as an icy wind whips down from the mountains, crosses the paddocks and hits hard at the side of the house. This day has been the coldest so far, and although there is little food in the house, and less money to buy it, we thankfully have a roof overhead and plenty of wood to burn.

Mice run freely throughout the house and do so without a care. They parade along the mildewed skirtings then vanish through cracks and holes. I watch them and smile; how simple their lives, these strange, unknowing creatures.

Sleet skates suddenly across the window. It falls and catches my eye, a mix of ice and water on the sill. The view through the window, through the crazed and yellowed glass, is bleak. Winter winds have wrought havoc on the scant bushes, the ones that have survived the years without care, and the few bare trees that stand like sentinels, await patiently the onset of spring and promised buds of new life.

The room is cool and each new gust from outside sends a breeze below the door. Under my feet, the uncovered boards are cold and hard, and the high, grey walls that surround, bare and stark. Yet beneath the mantle there crackles a steady fire. It serves to take away the worst of the chill. I look at my hands. They are thin and bony, like those of an old man, and yet I am not old. My eye is drawn to them as the sun escapes from behind the clouds and flashes momentarily into the room, illuminating at once the skeletal knuckles and stick-like fingers that so surely hold my brush.

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