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Losing the Key (Breaking the Spine)

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When Snufkin first came over the hill to the utter lack of a moominhouse he thought, 'well that's odd, i could have sworn I was following my map'.  When Snufkin found that yes, this was the place, and no, the moomins weren't there, he thought maybe the whole house had lifted up in a new flood and he'd find them uphill somewhere.

But if there was a flood surely there would be some kind of wreckage?  Moominmama's garden, or a bucket caught in the tree.  The forest and fields and even the mountains looked undisturbed, tranquil and untouched.  

There were no other buildings.  There was no anybody.  The birds were disinterested in his questions.  He didn't recognize any, but birds moved about so much that wasn't quite new.

He checked his map.  He checked it again.  He walked, leaving solo footprints along the beach, just in case somehow everyone was just a tad bit further along than before.  He backtracked, found landmarks that had existed long before him and most certainly couldn't be new, walked back again and it was the same damn empty valley.

It was empty.

There was only so long he could play his tunes before his thoughts were louder, before the only thing vibrating was him, before he had to stop to eat and struggle to keep enough attention to tell if the berries were safe to eat and the bark good for tea and the stream full of fish.

He went back to where Moomintroll was not.

He went back, and the breeze blew around him like an old friend.  He sat in the grass and watched it sway around him.  Picked some, tore open the strand and picked the seeds out.  It smelled sweet, and familiar.

He watched the sunset, the sky change colors around him.  And then, in the dark of night, his tent tossed aside somewhere and his stuff scattered about, he cried.

It wasn't like anyone would see him, anyway.

He kept himself quiet, just in case.

Nothing happened.  

He fell asleep.

The next day he woke up and stared at the clouds.  He hadn't his hat over him, and he could feel the warmth of sunburn on his cheeks.  He got up, and walked to where Moomin's house was.  Sat down in the dirt.  Watched ants crawl about, other little bugs, living their lives in a world more limitless than they could fathom.  Watched them walk across his clothes, across sticks, across bricks.

Bricks?

Snufkin jolted, grabbed the brick and tugged, the ant running away at the intrusion.  It took one pull, two, and it came out, revealing rolly pollies and centipedes and a worm that was diving into the dirt once more.  Looked at the brick.

It was the same color as Moomin's fireplace.

It was Moomin's fireplace.  Look, there, a piece of wood, damp in the soil and almost decomposed, but flip it, there it is, flecks of blue paint still on it.  And there- a shattered piece of roof, a cracked piece of white window pane, a piece of glass, it cut him as he clenched it close like a prize.

It was gone.  The Moomin's house, it was, it was completely gone.  Snufkin looked at the pieces of brick, wrapped up in new dirt and growing buds, and began to shake.  He...

He ran to the creek, saw the pieces of bridgestone partially smoothed by the water, shoved them in his pockets like he could fix it himself if he just got everything together.  He ran around, he grabbed what he could.

He tore up the grass, he tore up the roots, he grabbed pieces of rubble and threw them together in a pile, and his nails chipped and filled with dirt and he couldn't see through his tears and

nobody came.

There it was, pieces of moominvalley.  Displaced spiders running across, grubby with dirt and a few specks of blood.  

A shrine.

They were gone.