Mixed media on birch panel, $750
The woman and the boy lived in the forest. She taught him to be kind and accepting and friend to all. He was surrounded by friends of all sorts: badger and fox and hare and owl and in particular, one great stag, who was most true. The woman went out to hunt, always alone. There were demons in the forest that desired to feed upon living hearts. The woman was strong and fierce and could defend herself.
When the demons would crowd in, she would surrender the dead hearts from her kills for them to devour. The boy never saw this. The woman was away, when one of the boy’s small friends simply died. The demons came rushing to claim the friend’s heart and the boy was ill-prepared and did not know demon from friend. The boy was not afraid, though the boy’s friends knew the demons all too well, and fled—all but the great and faithful stag.
The boy did not know what was happening as a demon easily overpowered him and grasped his heart. The stag knew and fought and tried to save him and died. The demons ate the stag’s heart. The woman returned and seeing the demons and knowing them, threw down her kills, but, having hold of a living heart, the demons did not desist. The woman realized what she must do. She tore her own heart from her chest and threw it to the ground. The demons eagerly sought and fought for the still-beating heart.
The woman stabbed and slashed and fought and killed and drove the demons away, but it was too late. A demon had already eaten the boy’s heart. She retrieved her own ripped and shredded heart, and the faithful stag’s skull, and took up her spear. She lives on in the woods, eternally on guard, for a mother’s heart, even if torn by demons, does not die.