There once was a little girl, who liked to warm her hands and heart by the fire. With a finger, she would trace shapes in the thin grey film of dust and ashes that lay by the hearth, the gleaming black marble of which perplexed her eye, while the flicker-flame fire made its salamander nest under her skin.
Later, when the bonelight moon rose through the night, and her mood was feral as the watching cat’s eye, she would wander through the silent-wakeful house, with its sleep (forever, sleep) and secrets, and staircases to nowhere. Her blackened hands would sketch out whorls and patterns, the magic found in a glossy beetle’s back; her reality.
Come the morning, she would wonder at the scolding. The cat only turned his baleful pirate’s eye on her, and the blackened hands, and the soot-stained trail to the door.