Second son

The Toymaker stared at his opponent, his eyes agape and filling with tears.

“You are too late,” said the Butcher. “Too late.”

The Toymaker grieved mightily, for the Butcher had killed his first son also. “You have killed him! Now you have killed both my sons! My first son, who knew only love, was killed by you. And now, my second son, who knew only truth, you have killed him. You have killed love and you have killed truth!” The Toymaker wept, for he had made both sons as gifts.

The Butcher grunted, dismissing the Toymaker’s tears, and retorted: “No. I have only killed a single truth, your truth, and there are many others. Truth must be desired, sought after, earned to be valued. Your wooden son’s simple truth would have given freely, cheaply, and by its cheapness would be worthless, whilst all other truths were left unexplored in its wake.”

He turned his back on the grieving father, returning to his tools and hung the sword up into its place, between an ancient two-handed nail-driving iron mallet, still bearing droplets of blood from its last act of violence; and a wicked silver axe, clean and freshly forged, waiting its turn like a promise. The Butcher continued speaking.

“And as for your first son, I killed only a single love, a love for you, and there are many others.  Love should be passionate, should be wild to drive the emotions and stir the blood. Love should cause the lovers to strive. Your first son’s love was a cold and hollow love, which leads only to worship and stagnation. All other loves would have been smothered, criminalised.”

The Butcher walked past the Toymaker, who sat on his knees, weeping for his lost sons, and threw one final barb as he started to leave, “They deserve more than your toys.”

“HE WAS NO TOY!” The Toymaker roused himself from his tears, and shouted at the Butcher’s retreating back, “He would have become a real boy!”

The Butcher did not stop, did not turn around, but a sneer could be heard clearly in his voice, “A real boy? Indeed. If I had let him live, he might have become a real boy. But then we would all be your puppets.”


Hi folks, my first post for a while – the flu that hit me last week had a fun gastro-laden second Act, which slapped me and the rest of the family down pretty hard. On the plus side, I lost 2 kilos in two days (4.4 lbs), and eventually had those weird fever dreams I was looking forward to. This very belated Jacopo della Quercia #PopQuizHotShot (four days ago now) stuck in my mind and combined with flu symptoms produced this short weird bit. I think the key to this story came from the halo that seems to sit over Pinocchio’s head.

I’ll try to get back on the writing horse again now, so let me now what you think of this Uncertain Tale in the comments! Does it work? Is it terrible?

Where would you have gone with this picture?






3 thoughts on “Second son

  1. This is very powerful to me. I feel like it could be interpreted in many ways depending upon who is reading it. I read it twice. The first, it brought great sadness, as I correlated the metaphors with much of my own life’s past. Reading it again, with the POV of the Butcher, I could see jadedness. This was a little more difficult to do for me, having such a strong relationship to the story already, but i could see how it could easily be done, almost as a quest for justice somehow. Again, very good. Really love your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It still surprises me the different takes that people might have on a single piece of writing, particularly a short piece. Every reader brings their own ‘stuff’ to any story, and it necessarily casts a shadow over interpretation.

      I think its great though.

      When I wrote it, I think I was sitting solidly in the shoes of the Butcher, denying absolute values for truth and love (however prettily packaged) in exchange for choice of my own truths etc. That said, being a father myself, it was impossible not to invest a bit into the Toymaker too. In the end, I didn’t want either party to be completely ‘right’ or completely ‘villainous’, and its up to others to determine whether I managed this.

      Thanks for your comments, I appreciate the insight & am glad you enjoyed it.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I definitely got the base of the story being about absolutes. But leaving it open that neither the butcher nor the toymaker were completely right or wrong.
        You have true talent in these type of stories. I love reading them.
        Cheers, CC

        Liked by 1 person

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