onion and skin

The Onion Skin


Once upon a time there was an Old Lady,

who died and went straight to Hell.

Despite appearances, this is in fact,

the Beginning of the Story.


Her neighbours didn’t waste much time mourning her passing.

The Truth be told (as it must be, because this is that sort of Story, where even the Lies are True, in a sense) they didn’t

mourn her passing at all, for she was possibly the meanest, most cold-hearted, and uncharitable person

who had ever lived.

She never lent a hand to her neighbours or even helped out her family when they were in need. She never made a donation to a Charity or a Church. Indeed, in her entire miserly Life she had only ever performed one, small, Charitable Act.

It didn’t help either, that she was also rude, foul-tempered

and a vicious gossip to boot.

But her neighbours were decent, kindly folk after all, so they gave her a proper funeral and a decent burial (according to the Customs of the Time), instead of just tossing her body out on the scrap heap for the dogs to eat.

They even put up a neat little marble cross to mark the grave.

boscgh old woman in hell

None of this stopped her from going to Hell though, because,

as mentioned previously, in her entire Life she had performed but a single charitable act.

This act of Charity, in fact, was nothing more than this; That once she had given an Onion Skin to a Beggar to eat.

She had eaten the Onion herself, of course.


But that was long ago and subsequently she had spent the rest of her long life indulging only her own extravagant whims,

in the process running through a vast, inherited Fortune,

and leaving her own heirs nothing but debts.

gina rinehart

So now the Old Woman suffered down in Hell

with all the other Damned Souls, and after an Eternity or so,

it happened that amongst all the other Wailing

and Gnashing of Teeth, her own voice rose up for a moment above all the others, and her cry was heard,

yay, even unto the Gates of Paradise.

Now up above in the Land of the Blessed was,

naturally enough, the innocent Beggar

and when she heard the Old Woman’s cry

she went to the golden balconies around Heavens rim

and peered down at the Under-World below.

(In this version we’ll make the Beggar a girl too,

to avoid any accusations of typecasting gender-roles.)

indian beggar girl

The Beggar Girl had died one Winter years ago,

from Starvation or Pneumonia or Tuberculosis

or whatever poor people were dying from at the time.

Though poor she had led a blameless Life, sharing what she had with others down on their luck, always showing kindness to children and animals,

and uncomplaining patience

with her own hard lot in Life.

Thus, the Good Beggar Girl was rewarded with a berth in Heaven, and as she peered down into the Depths of Hell below, she recognised, standing miserably

there amongst the hordes

of the eternally wailing Damned, the miserly Old Woman who had given her the Onion Skin to eat so very long ago.

bosch hell

And being Kind, the Beggar took pity on her

and went to the Top Justice God to plead for Mercy

for the Old Woman, and ask that she may be given a chance

to escape from the torments of Hell.

Being both Wise and Just (or so the story goes) the God

took an Onion and peeled the skin from it,

all in one long piece.

(You know, like kids do with an apple sometimes in play,

seeing how long you could make that continuous coil.)


It must have been a Magic Onion, because that narrow strip of Onion Skin was long enough

to reach all the way down to Hell.

(Or maybe Hell is just a lot closer than we think.)

Anyway, the God in question,

(It might have been Thoth or possibly just Jesus.)

gave the long ribbon of Onion Skin to the Beggar, saying that she might lower it into Hell and by that means the Old Woman might climb up and escape her punishment.

The Beggar did just that. Tying one end of the onion skin rope to the Golden Railings, she lowered the other end down, down to the depths of Hell where the Old Woman was standing and wailing with her kind. Calling down to her, the Beggar Girl told her that her long-ago act of kindness now gave her the opportunity to escape the torments she was suffering. She had but to climb the Onion Skin to Heaven.

The Old Woman eagerly grasped the Onion Skin

with her claw-like, withered hands and started to haul

herself upwards towards the Light.


But as she did so, all the other Damned nearby, who had been watching this little Drama unfold, saw their chance to escape the ghastly Land of Hades too, and they all started grabbing at the Onion Skin rope.

Fearing perhaps, that their combined weight would make the fragile ribbon break, the Old Woman kicked at those climbing up behind her and shrieked fiercely at them,

“Get away! Get off! It’s mine! The Onion Skin is Mine!”

And as she spoke those words, the Onion-Skin snapped and she plummeted back into the smoky depths of Tartarus

for all the rest of Eternity.


There’s probably a Moral here. There’s usually one lurking about at the end of Stories, like a Janitor, tidying up the loose ends, clearing away the clutter, turning off the lights..

Well, you can always just write this off as a case of;

Character is Destiny“,

or simply a reminder

that the Onion-Skin of Mercy

is a fragile thing indeed.

Onion skin abbott eats


Future Freeloaders


the rev burns

The REVEREND HELLFIRE is manifesting in Ipswich,

for One Show Only,

Tuesday, 6th September for the


at STUDIO 188.

Check out the link below for more details;

studio 188


reverend profile red

You know who I am.



~ by reverendhellfire on August 21, 2016.

2 Responses to “THE ONION SKIN”

  1. I enjoyed this, and it is well written like a Grimm’s fairy tale. Lots of great imagery, and it held my interest from beginning to end.

    Minor suggestions-I would eliminate the first parenthetical, and possibly some of the others to improve the flow. I would change to “God” instead of “the God”. In your story, it is implied that there is only one God who rules over all. You could also title the story “The Onion Skin of Mercy” and eliminate the explanation at the end. With my fables, I never tell the reader the moral.

    I wrote a fable called “The Sasquatch Who Spoke His Mind.” If you would like to read it, I am open to any feedback:

    • Thanks Chris for your kind words and critiques. Yes, it is a little rough round the edges, and needs some tinkering to improve the flow , but this is what happens when you have a Sermon Deadline coming up! Gad, I may as well be a journalist!
      I think though that I like the ambiguity of the title, to call it the Onion Skin of Mercy is giving too much away too soon. Besides, I like my analogy of the Janitor/Moral and it’s always good to have a joke at the end to “cut the Treacle” as the saying goes.
      Anyways thanks for your thoughtful response and I’ll certainly check out your own fable.
      Cheers, The REV

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