by JMD Reid
The grotesque enjoyed winter. It was his favorite season. He perched atop the Gothic cathedral, forever frozen in stone, gazing down at the square before the church. His eyes never closed. For centuries he had watched.
The grotesque didn’t mind forever watching over his church. He was proud to perch, carved from Oise limestone, giving him that cream-gray warmth weathered dark in the crevasses by his centuries of watching. His face was shaped into a fierce beast, his mouth open and bristling with jagged teeth, his hands ending in sharp claws, and his wings half-open as if he were at any moment about to spring down and defend his cathedral.
It was his duty.
The grotesque embrace his duty. He was no gargoyle, which he was often mistaken for in these days. He was a guardian, not a fanciful drain spout jetting from the side of the cathedral. His job was not to protect the stone but the soul of the building.
He was one of dozens forever frozen on the cathedral. He was right over the entrance, crouching on a ledge on the mighty steeple.
From here, the city itself was laid out to him. He could see it all. He had watched the buildings come and go, rising and falling as the humans forever changed and reshaped their world, erasing the past for the future.
But the grotesque remained.
He watched the ebb and flow of humanity coming and going, the fashion slowly changing year by year. He witnessed great festivities, terrible plagues, wars, funerals, weddings, christenings, revolutions, surrenders, and more. Every facet of humanity had at one time passed beneath him.
The seasons ebbed with the year, bringing cold rains, blustering winds, beating warmth, and fluffy snow. It was too cold for the drenching rains that every year ate away at his form, blunting his sharp edges and wearing away at his flesh. He hated the rain.
But he loved the snow.
The snow transformed and made everything beautiful. It hid all the ugly vagaries of the world beneath blankets of undulating whites.
As the year drew to its end, the snow became more common. The attitude changed. The holiday seasons had arrived. The gargoyle enjoyed watching the pageantry and spectacles. The mood seemed somehow lighter despite the cold gripping the city. Children played and romped while indulgent parents watched. Revelers sang in the night.
He could never partake of the celebrations. But he could watch.
Vicariously, he enjoyed the fellowship, brotherhood, and companionship the holidays brought. Gifts were exchanged, families reunited, hope burgeoning for the coming new year. The grotesque hoped they all appreciated what they had.
Freedom. Family. Joy. Hope.
All things he would never know. He was a grotesque. A statue carved by men dead almost a millennium. A soulless thing content with his purpose.
Winter was his favorite season, even if the snow sometimes built up on his head and robbed him of his ferocity.by