In a house, in a town lived a man and a woman. With them lived the woman’s uncle.
The man and woman wanted a child, but no child arrived.
In the attic, the man made a boy from steel and wires. The woman watched as the steel boy walked down the stairs and stood in the hall.
Together they dressed him in a coat with a hood then took him out to walk. Uncle came too.
But the boy’s battery ran flat and he collapsed into a steely heap. Lifeless.
The man took the coat with the hood and held it up. “I give you life,” he said.
The emptiness of the coat filled and it began to walk, its steps resounding on the pavement slabs.
The man walked beside the coat, keeping pace with it. He pulled back the hood.
A little girl with dark hair smiled up at him. He took one of the girl’s hands and the woman joined them and took the other.
Together they walked home, the three of them holding hands. Uncle came too, carrying a tangle of steel and wires.
They lived together in the house: the man, the woman and the little girl in the coat. And Uncle too.
The little girl did not like the dark. At bedtime on that first night the man said goodnight and switched off the light.
But the little girl screamed and clung to him tightly, begging for him to bring back the light. The lights were never switched off again.
Come the next day the little girl in the coat made it clear she did not want the man, the woman or the uncle to leave the house. Ever.
Uncle said this was too much and got up to go. The little girl took his hand and he fell to the floor, his body lifeless but his eyes still open and alert.
He watched as the little girl gently took the man’s hand and soothed him to rest on the floor too. She then did the same with the woman.
She placed the three of them on the sofa: the man, the woman and the uncle sitting side by side. So still. With doll-like bodies and life-like eyes they had no choice but to sit and watch.
The little girl in the coat walked into the hall, then up the stairs to the landing and from there up to the attic.
She then walked back down again, her footsteps sounding heavy on the stairs.
She entered the living room and smiled at her family on the sofa, then turned and repeated her walk through the house. Again and again. Always.
Today I awoke from a dream with tears of sadness in my eyes and my heart racing with fear. This fable arrived fully formed in that dream. It conveys an underlying truth. Can you not hear her walk?