The adults shunted the old man into a corner with a rocking chair and lukewarm cocoa, little Maryanne deposited on his knee. His crumbling lips hardly made a sound, croaked syllables wobbling on the tip of his tongue and tumbling to the carpet. Maryanne said he sounded like God sneezing, accidentally erupting frogs, and the adults blushed and her mother sent her to her room, but the old man didn't mind. His hands told his stories, gleaming with candlelight, broken like his horses, thin veins and tendons sticking rod straight over his bones, bulging against his skin. He reached out over Maryanne's head and spun cobwebs around sleeping beauty’s castle, set winged demons loose on the rooftop, floated a tiara down on a princess’s head, sparked sunlight in an airless cave. The adults were embarrassed for him because they thought he was obsolete, but Maryanne knew his power.

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