James Fogarty is an award winning medical journalist and aspiring fiction writer. He studied English and History at UCC and Journalism at DCU. He has just completed his first novel and is writing his second. He is originally from Templemore, Co Tipperary but is now living in Roscommon.
The Axe’s Tale
I am the woodsman’s axe and I never get the credit I deserve.
How many bloody wolves have I turned into bloody ribbons?
And have I ever been thanked by the gobbled girls and grannies who, with precision surgery, I have freed?
Have I fuck.
It was getting on top of me.
I was thinking of packing it all in. Lose the head and become a simple pole. A lump of solid wood. Useful for propping a door open. Knocking fruit from trees. Beating people.
Himself was chopping wood near Mount Leinster. Clearing land for the sulking, grasping farmers. I felt sorry for those trees. I’m nine tenths wood after all.
Towards the afternoon, he was getting bored with the saplings we were felling and he set off to find a “challenge”.
“A tree worth of my mighty axe.”
Anyway, we came upon an enormous oak. This tree was something. The woodsman was a big man and he couldn’t even reach half way around its trunk. He spat on his hands, raised me high into the air and brought me crashing down.
If I had any teeth they would have chattered right out of my head.
“Oh Jesus wept,” the woodsman dropped me and held his arms against his belly. He whimpered there for a few minutes before he pulled himself together.
He shortened his reach and tried again. Whatever else he was, he was as strong as an ox, and soon a fleshy notch was exposed to the crisp autumn air.
For the rest of the day, we worked on that notch, turning it into a gouge and then a canyon. Darkness forced him and me home.
He didn’t sleep that night, pacing up and down, waiting. The next day, he hacked and hacked and hacked and still the tree stood. On the walk home, he was quiet. Usually he’d whistle or sing. He slept that night, snoring loudly.
Dawn found us at the tree and when dusk came we were still there. Between axe falls I could hear him talking, he was talking to the tree. Something about respect, honour. Love
That was the reason he didn’t hear the bloody wolf.
With one last oath, he buried my blade into the trunk. I could feel the tree begin to go. Yes it was definitely going.
It was only then that the woodsman saw the danger. He made a grab for me but I was stuck. He ran but didn’t run far. The wolf was on him, its chance to turn him into bloody ribbons. All the while, the oak was moving, tilting, falling.
Falling out into the forest.
Falling straight down.
Falling right on top of the wolf and woodsman.
The tree and their bones are gone now. Even my haft is rotten. Only my head remains.
And I still don’t get the credit I deserve.