I have read that long ago there was a land of glass castles that sank beneath the sea. It was not called Atlantis, but Lyonesse. This happened before history and across the ocean, but when I was little I wondered about that place, how it could be so beautiful and so lost. Sometimes it seemed that the land around my New England home was like that flooded country, with mud where the streets of gold should be and mayflies swarming where there should be lovely fishes, but here and there a shard of crystal to call the heart to beauty.
Mr. Cilley lived down in the village with his candy jar and his workshop, where he carved farmyards with great red barns more complicated than dollhouses. When my daughter was very small, I entranced her with stories about those barns. It has become a common thing, the image of an old man with toys or candy, and it is true that when I was eight he did things to me. I have thought more about it since my daughter was born, and I would still say it did not hurt, but as early as when I was in high school they told us about men like him and called them predators. He did not strike me as a predator, when I thought back to him from high school, not like a lion or a wolf or even a snake. More like an opportunist such as a Venus fly trap, which, we learned in high school, can catch creatures as large as mice.
And maybe I was like a mouse then, of the sort they now breed in laboratories to see if they will grow addicted to sugar, because I kept going back to Mr. Cilley’s house for what he put on my tongue.
(The rest of this story appears in print in Phoebe 39.1. You can usually get back copies from journal publishers. If you’re intrigued, please support literary journals by sending in an order.)