The Sweet Root
A novel in progress
I am not tempted to make an idiot of you. So I have not even begun the story and before I do, I am going to reveal something important about myself.
I am a building.
I like this word, ‘building’. It is one that humans get all romantic about. You think of great cities, Rome and Athens, palaces of glittering stone and columns pock-marked by time; all your doing, your invention, your cleverness.
Something else you should know is that I am a magnificent building, and you may think it lofty of me to say so just like that, but modesty is another of your inventions, and what’s more it is a symptom of the English. Let me make things clearer. I am not magnificent like the buildings of Paris. I cannot match the beauty of the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur, with its milk white tetons thrust in the face of God. I am not considered a feat of engineering, like the spearing Eiffel Tower, which is somewhat redundant if you ask my feeling, serving only to prod the soft bellies of idle clouds. I am not even winked at in the pages of history books, but I at least have a purpose, and more importantly I have a talent. It is something very special, a gift, and I found it because of a little girl, who was also magnificent. She was extraordinary.
Before going any further, I should introduce myself, give you some sort of name as is the custom among humans.
Je me presente. I used to believe I was built with only one purpose: to be a factory, the sole producer of Le Chaudron, sweet and succulent liquorice in billes and batons. This is exactly what I was doing to the best of my ability at the turn of the last century, when this story begins. But this is not a tale of architects and engineers, nor is it a manual on the upkeep of ancient monuments. It is not even a recipe for the best liquorice in the world, though I do know all the secret ingredients. Do not be mistaken. I am made of brick and timber, and glass and clay, and my bones are wooden as a puppet’s. I am chilled by rising damp and I creak and groan. Yet you should not judge me on these things.
This is a love story.
© Eleanor Thom, 2009