My beautiful Princess, Jennifer Norman~Mummy Loves you
Once upon a Time, (as all self-respecting fairy tales start), a beautiful Princess named Rowena was trying to find her way through the forest. She thought she had become lost, and she panicked to be alone so far from home. As she neared a clearing in the forest she was delighted to see a fine Knight upon a fine horse. The sun was glistening on his amour and he was a dazzling sight. He introduced himself as Prince Tarnish.
The gallant Knight offered her his hand, and pulled Rowena up behind him onto the magnificent steed. And as is generally the way in these matters they rode off into the sunset. The Princess greatly anticipating the happy ending she had been sold with her Prince. Eventually, after a bumpy ride they arrived at the Knight’s castle. Once again, the bright light of the…
I am honoured to share the latest songs from much loved Singer & Songwriter, Penny from Penny’s Scar. Her words are poetry flowing from the heart. Enjoy both lyrics and her haunting voice for free by clicking link to her page on SOUNDCLICK
I am once again honoured to share the work of the sultry and soulful songstress, Pamela from Penny’s Scar. I particularly love this track. Follow Penny on Twitter and listen to her catalogue of gorgeous alternative ballads for free on SoundClick.
I cried and I tried but I just can’t hold it in
All the pain
I scream when I dream all these thoughts in my head
They keep haunting me
Breathing in these things
The clock on the wall keeps looking back at me
Why are you screaming
The hurt well I tucked it away underneath
Well I still feel everything
Crawl every time but you won’t see me
I’m hiding from me
All of the pain that feels you why you bleed
There’s time to breath
Breathing in these things
Why does a heart start to bleed when it needs too much
Does it ever fade
Why do we love more than love holding onto it at all
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome back to EdenDene Books one of my favourite Artists, the beautiful and talented Penny from Penny’s Scar. Her voice transports me to a special place, her vocals are sultry, soft, sexy and lush.Her songs, deep, meaningful, mysterious and touch both heart and soul. Listen for yourself and hear and feel the magic that is Penny’s Scar.
“He’s in you, He’s in me…The gentle breeze rustling through the trees and sun kissed rain falling upon storm tossed seas”
The open road can be very long when you are weary and have travelled way too far with a heavy burden of baggage of life slung on your back. I see by your eyes you are tired and alone, so come join me, sit down. Warm your bones by my fire. Kick back, rest for a while. Hear me strum my guitar, we’ll serenade the night by the light of the moon and soft starlight. I can offer you to sup the fruit of the vine, some elderflower wine, maybe a drop of Moonshine, or Dandelion beer? Whatever your choice, a cup of good cheer.
In the words of my song, there’s a tale to be told, my story is not new but a ballad of old. You see I have walked this path for many a year and many a traveller has greedy an ear to sit down and share good food sizzling on the pan and hear the music retell the ‘Ballad of the Magical Music Man’.
He was the stranger I met outside my tent, just like you, when my soul was rent and this old heart heart has been broken in two. Chanced upon me singing the blues for those feeling old, battle worn and ravaged by time, strumming their stories in words and in rhyme.
He sat down beside me, kicked off his travelling boots and warmed his toes by the fire. I noticed the flames grew brighter and quite a bit higher. I saw the smile in his eyes, they laughed at it all, the highs and the lows, just how we can fall and how we can soar. Take flight, feeling fear like a Doe or face the good fight with a Lion’s roar.
“Met them all, without judgement”… he said, “those fizzing with life and the walking dead! Saw deep in their hearts and souls, secrets long buried, so easily read.”
The Magical Music man? I asked where was he from? He grabbed a banjo and just started to strum. Asked where he was heading? His cobalt eyes looked to a star strewn sky, “How’s that for bedding?!'”Came his enigmatic reply.
The tales he could tell brought laughter and tears. Taught you enjoy your life and face your fears. He’d easily pick up and play many a tune on a tin whistle, a flute lute or lyre. By the light of moon and fading camp fire. He’d make a Mandolin sing with plaintive desire. Told me he’d climbed the Himalayas, played both Bowls and Tingsha in Tibetan Temples on the roof of the World and the Banjo in the mountains of Appalachia. Said he’d sat with Siddhas at the banks of the Ganges and strummed a Sitar, then crossed the Mississippi to Memphis with his guitar. There was not a sight he had not seen, nor a place he had not been.
He was a Wizard, a Seer, both Mage and the Sage. He was an innocent child, and as old as time, a conundrum, paradox and rhyme. The soft, mountain stream, the sun on your face. He understood the rage of righteous might and black bayou’s in the dark heart of night. A gift of Grace and not of this time or this place.
When he left, I was a better man for him finding me when I had lost my way, pray one day he finds you too. The Magical Music Man, he’ll see right through you and set you straight on the path that is meant to be. No hiding, no defence or false pretence.
It’s no surprise he gave no name, without sin, without blame, the Magical Music Man? An Angel in disguise. A guiding Light through life’s dark night, illuminating God in you and God in me…
It is said every soul who walks upon the Earth is assigned a Guardian Angel ~ there are times the Angel may walk beside a soul, there are times the Angel may carry a soul and then there are times the Angel can only stand and weep…
Midwinter. A fog began to descend over the grey London skyline. Dusk had stealthily crept in and stolen the remains of the day away. White stucco walls cloaked in numinous mist and theelegant terrace of Victorian villas took on a ghostly air, Window panes glowing warm orange, reassurance that all was well within. Fire light, fire bright, all is well tonight. Smoke snaking from tall chimney pots into the chill air warned preternatural creatures of the night to stay away. One house stood apart from the camaraderie of its neighbours, no warmth or light was to be found within its walls. As dusk…
I have a deep love for Yeats sublime poem “Aedh Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven” from his collection “The Wind Among The Reeds” (published in 1988) as well as for the Pre-Raphaelites and these lush paintings by Edward Robert Hughes are just perfect…
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
I adore this line from “The Young Man’s Song” from “Responsibilities” (1916), which is your favourite Yeats?
“For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.”
I whispered, “I am too young,”
And then, “I am old enough”;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
“Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,”
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
Oh, love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away,
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.
The Lady beckons to you beguilingly. Obsidian eyes, flashing danger and delight. Her smile, enigmatic, promising delicious secrets to be shared. Tresses of sun kissed silken strands of gold, a river flowing down her innocent back. Mixed messages carried on an air of danger. Fascinated, intrigued you draw near.
She is an enigmatic paradox, formed from Light and Dark. Blessed by sunlight’s golden rays and kissed by the midnight hour, black magick and the devil’s claw. Heavenly Angel, hellfire Demon.Was her Soul star born in the fiery firmaments above or forged somewhere north of Midnight?
Her essence envelopes you. She is not physically there, yet she is everywhere. On your skin, in your mind, you feel her Presence. Bringing both delights and torments. You love her. You hate her. Want her and need her, repulsed at meeting the devil within fearing possession you push her away.
Is she a Succubus, or a figment of fragmented wanton lust rampaging through the caverns of your ravaged mind? Or is she a witch, adept at the Dark Arts and enchantment has placed you under her eternal spell? ✨
There is a woman I used to know Eloise, I helped her a lot with stuff over the years, younger husband falling for a younger woman, his cheating, the divorce that ensued and an old lover who put in a reappearance in more than one way…
Back in the day the love of her life, Carter, treated her badly, preferring bikes, beer and mates. They split but she never really loved anyone like him. Years roll on and they meet and seeing she is (as she supposes) happily married they stay just friends, with the occasional benefit. He wants her back but she knows it would not work. The friendly beers with the boys had long ago turned into addiction.He was a highly functioning alchoholic.
Anyhow, he died suddenly, his once fit body ravaged by years of abuse gave out way too soon. She was heartbroken. Came to see me for tea and sympathy and maybe hoping I may get my Tarot cards out. There was no need, as Eloise walked into my kitchen,Carter came in too!
I saw him as a large grey shadow by her side. I could ‘sense’ what he looked like but not see him other than this very tall, grey shadowy shape. I told her he was there and where he was standing.
She said she knew, she felt him come in too and hoped he would give me a message for her.
Then to my shame something happened I regretted.This was years ago and I didn’t know how to use the ‘gift’.
I heard him inside my head, his voice. Wanting me to connect my energy with him to let her Know he was OK.
I was scared I would not get rid of him, so I closed down. But not before he told me to let her know he had loved her, she had been his true love, the love of his life and he had thrown it away. I thought Eloise would be hugely upset, but she wasn’t, his words were what she needed to hear to lay the ghosts of their past to rest. Eloise left and she was happy…Until the husband’s skulduggery came to light, but that is a private matter, not my story to tell.
Now many years have passed, and many Spirit visitors later, I do know how to send them on their way, just always feel bad about that one!
The spooky stuff that has really happened to me, I have enough to write a book and not one of my usual fictional ones!! Maybe I shall…one day.
I am excited to welcome back to EdenDene Books, Penny from Penny’s Scar, sharing her lyrics and a link to one of her songs which I love very much. Please enjoy the haunting, atmospheric and poignantly beautiful ….
If I were to write the Colours of you, every single facet, every beautiful hue, my beautiful child woman Jennifer what would your palette be?
The lush green of the trees in a forest of old and the soft silver breeze rustling their leaves.A secret path through ancient woodlands, liminal rites to numinous sights heralded by the Song of the Nightingale, Supernatural Sight of the Crow, Owl’s wise words and peaceful flutterings from the gentle touch of soft Dove’s wings, feathers of black, brown, white and grey, birds singing and calling from night to day. The gossamer whisper of the Fey at play, dancing in a circle of iridescent light of violet, pink, chartreuse, champagne, larimar blue, citrine and cyan, then resting upon rich mossy banks and verdigris lichen covering bark. Drinking nectar from buttercup yellow and evening dew whilst Bluebells ring the song of the rich earth.
Will these colours do, are they the magical colours of you? There is yet more depth I see, that you reveal to me…
Azure Aegean waters fringed by soft sea foam running upon silver speckled, white washed sands. Shimmering dashes of silver dancing in cobalt blue, fishes darting through coral caverns over opalescent sea shell pink. Starfish and sea horses at play. Whales cutting through density, singing ancient songs of the Keepers of the Deep followed by chromatic Dolphins dancing on sapphire seas.
Your softness is that of a bird on the wing, the honey bees and a butterfly kiss upon the sweet meadow flowers and fragile violets, delicate snowdrops and wild roses. Yet, within you, the strength born of the ages, forged in the foundries of life. Black Granite and White Marble, crystal caverns of selenite, amethyst, jade, jasper, moldavite and Precious stones of many hues, ruby red, Sapphires blue, emeralds green, topaz, opals and pearls, dazzling diamond light.Your fire and your passion a lava flow, burning fires and embers glow.
All these colours of the earth, the sea and fire reside within you, yet most of all you are My Aniela, My Angel, my heaven sent child.
Sunset rays of red and gold, purple and orange, colours so regal, colours so bold. Moonlight on a star stud blanket of darkest night. Sunrise, proud and resplendent dancing in the morning sky. Clear raindrops kissed by light, rainbows dancing in delight.
My beautiful child woman with Alabaster skin, knowing burnt umber eyes and flowing locks of rich nutmeg hair and a secret smile of a wild rose. The colours of you, are all the colours in this beautiful world, for you, my daughter are all the colours of the world to me. Love Beyond Infinity, your Mother.
Phaedra lay half enveloped in the cold snow. Her body was becoming numb, her mind still. A deep peace came over her. The fear and panic of free falling through the air, the sheer horror of realising he had thrown her bodily from the bedroom subsided. Help was coming, was it not?
She had heard the wail of the ambulance; she would be safe in hospital. Disjointed sounds and fragmented voices swam in and out of her awareness, a vague sensation of being lifted, moving at speed, flashing lights, sirens whining. Then the people crowded over her, machines bleeping, monitors, pipes, tubes fixed to her body, aware of it all but not engaged in any of it. The circle of masked faces staring down at her, the bright light glaring, something over her mouth, a voice counting down,‘3, 2, 1 and, yes, she’s under.’
A rapid pulling and a sensation of release as she felt her consciousness detached from the broken body on the operating table. Detached from the drama unfolding in the sterile and white Theatre, she was aware of floating and looking down on the scene unfolding, watching events as through a curtain of gauze, the intensity and urgency of the doctors gathered around the body, her body, barely clinging to life, as the machines whirred into action. She wanted to shout out and tell them it was all right, she was free. The voice of authority cutting through the intensity of the scene,‘She’s going into arrest, stand clear!’
An intense pulsing flash as the volts from the defibrillator surged through her body, and as her body convulsed she saw a tunnel of pure white light, so clear and bright, pure like the driven snow and the light began crystallising and refracting a myriad of rainbow colours. Her awareness left the emergency room and focussed on the intensity of the light, which began to envelope her. In the midst of the light, the outline of a man began to materialise, his hand outstretched in welcome, calling her name, beckoning…
Phaedra became aware of her hand, stretching out to meet his, and her eyes connected with his deep cobalt blue stare and a feeling of joy as recognition of the man began sweeping over her. As their fingers touched, there was a charge of electricity, little blue sparks of light and then a tremendous noise like a sort of sonic rush and they were gone out of the white light and travelling at huge velocity along a tunnel of oscillating multi coloured stars.
Then they were there, but ‘there’ was nowhere whilst paradoxically being everywhere, and there they were but they were not. A realization of being without a solid human body, the man and she were numinous light bodies, floating, merging, at one with each other. A myriad of multi-faceted, vaporous colours, swirling all around. An incredible lightness of being and an understanding of being one’s true self at one’s highest octave, pure spirit. She felt a sense of being part of all that is, all that ever was, and all that would ever be, as her consciousness expanded into infinite space. The man was moving gracefully. Swirling her ecstatically, around and around in a beautiful waltz.
Dancing in the Light of Love.
Two eternal souls, in spirit form, dancing in the light, living in the moment and that moment was eternal. She was part of him just as he was of her, and they were no longer separate entities, but one being becoming the light. The feelings were so sublime, almost unbearably beautiful. In the Light, they became one in bliss. He looked deeply into her very soul, his thoughts resonated within her, and she knew everything else was an illusion and this was the Truth. And the Truth was beautiful.
Then everything began closing in and she was aware of becoming pulled once more, the light began fading and as she fought to stay in this blissful place, the force pulling her grew stronger. Her heart ached, torn away from the man. She was aware of a searing burning pain and she was back in the Emergency room, and the strong voice echoed around the sterile room, ‘Well done team, she’s back.’
Music is a gift from the gods, speaking the language of the Soul. There are certain singers who have a way of deeply channelling the human condition and when we hear their voice, listen, really LISTEN to their lyrics, something resonates deep inside. American Artist Penny’s Scar is one such talent. I came across this beautiful, soulful and sultry Chanteuse on Twitter ( Penny’s Scar @pennys_scar )and her music spoke directly to my heart and my soul. Waves of remembrance washed over me as her words, her tone, her heart itself flowed through her songs. With elegance and grace this beautiful lady takes pain and hurt and suffering and somehow transforms all of that into healing balm. Her gift to the World is of the heart. It comes from the Soul.
I showed appreciation, and we became friends. I love her and would like to share her music, and the magic that is Penny’s Scar with you…
Enjoy the first of a regular feature on EdenDene Books!
A little parable on knowing it is OK to ask for help if you are not OK…
Two strangers met in a forest.
“I can’t find my way home,” he said.
“I’m lost too, maybe we can find a our way home through the forest together,” she replied.
He looked uncertain, and shaking his head began to walk away.
“Come back!” she cried, “What if you are going the wrong way?”
“NO!” He shouted, “What if you lead me further into the deep dark woods?”
“What if I don’t? What if I lead you home?” Frustration burning in her dark eyes.
He shook his reluctant head. “You go your way, I will go mine. I don’t need you or anyone to help me, I will find my own way home, ALONE.” Without a backward glance he took off through the dense undergrowth.
Alone and afraid she cried out “Help me!” She thought she heard a whispering in the trees behind her and turning around she saw a feint ray of light shone ahead, just enough to see through the canopy. She moved closer and closer to its source. Realising it was coming from soft sunlight heralding the dawn of a fresh new day she began to run. She knew she would now be able to find a way out of the darkness, following the cookie crumbs the dancing motes of light threw upon the forest floor.
Turning, she called excitedly to him, for now they both could be free and no longer lost. But he was long gone, deeper and deeper into the undergrowth, ensnared and trapped by tangled roots and gnarled old trees in the forest of the night. Even if he had been willing, he was too far away to hear.
Knowing she had lost him, she ran forwards drawn by the intensity of the growing Light. The kiss of the morning Sun caught tears glistening on her face, tears of gratitude for her salvation and of sorrow for the lost stranger who could have become a friend.
They say that eyes are the window to the soul. This is a true story about a pair of blue eyes I once saw and never, ever forgot.
An ordinary day, an ordinary shopping mall. I was weighed down, not by shopping, but those concerns life throws at us time to time, heavy burdens we have to carry because there is no one else can take them from us. And if they did? Would we loose valuable life lessons? Only the passage of time, experience and the growth self awareness will tell.
So there I was, walking along alone, lost in thoughts. From a long way off I was aware of Him. Call it charisma, personal magnetism, kismet…I was brought back into the here and now with a powerful pull. He was beautiful, those eyes, those mesmerising eyes. They were a shade of cobalt blue I absolutely adore. I was all at once transfixed and shy, desperately wanting to go and say ‘Hi, how are you?’ But I couldn’t. Rooted to the spot, I watched him glide by, and something passed in his eyes. He looked at me and I at him and I just had an overwhelming sense of ‘knowing’ and a feeling of total and unconditional love, something that had been in short supply for a very long time. His body may have been broken. His Soul Light was mesmerising in it’s intensity!
He was maybe seventy years old, white hair and beard covering a tanned, weather beaten face. I no longer remember what he wore, just that his legs had been removed below the knee and he guided his wheelchair skilfully through the throng of people. I so wished I had chased after him, spoken, asked questions…But…
Many times I hoped I would see him again, in a small town you do tend to see the same ‘faces’ but I never did. I never forgot those cobalt eyes. He became the inspiration for Peter Cabot, Doctor and Spirit Guide, in my book ‘Wychwood’.
That day I believe I was touched by an Angel…And my personal burdens were somehow so much lighter.
An Angel with blue eyes, incredible cobalt blue eyes…
Phaedra woke with a start. Her heart shape face was wet with tears, the dream still hanging vivid and lucid in the room. Tears falling for the hurt child within this woman, tears falling for the passage of so many years, filled with too many hurts. Tears falling for all those other souls in pain, whose hearts also ached from so much sorrow.
Phaedra woke with a start. Her heart shape face was wet with tears, the dream still hanging vivid and lucid in the room. Tears falling for the hurt child within this woman, tears falling for the passage of so many years, filled with too many hurts. Tears falling for all those other souls in pain, whose hearts also ached from so much sorrow.
Closing her eyes, she became aware of a soothing sensation, as if gentle soft hands were caressing her face, wiping away the tears, stroking her hair, as one would a child. She felt strong hands remove her evil husband’s grasp from her body. In her mind’s eye, within that special screen where clairvoyant scenes had played since as long as she could remember, an image began to form;-
On a black velvet pillow, a red organic mass, which she knew to be her heart, lay pumping and pulsating erratically, weak feeble beats alternating with rapid panic-stricken throbs. The tubes and arteries extended out across the darkness, connected to nothing, going nowhere. Blackened and wizened at the extremities. The heart was whole, but slowly cracks and fissures appeared rending it apart, huge chasms ripping the breaking heart asunder from the ventricles which fed it leaked weak rivulets of blood. The erratic beats started to slow, the pulsations now just involuntary spasms, the heart was dying and darkness was closing in. Then a voice, clear, strong, and powerful reverberated in the dark theatre of her mind,
‘This is your pain born of this lifetime, these are your wounds.’
A pair of hands appeared over the stricken heart. Hovering over the heart drawing and pulling dark, shadowy shapes and forms from the crippled organ. As each dark mass was pulled forth, a fissure closed, the chasms began to shrink. The hands were now pulsating, beaming a high frequency of energy emitting particles of vibrant white light. Piece by sorry piece the torn and rent heart began to meld together. The hands of light picked up the heart from the blood soaked black velvet pillow and gently encased it within a warm and healing embrace.
Phaedra now clearly saw her strong, healthy heart. It was whole, complete, and no longer beating in the blackness, but held in radiant golden light. Suddenly filled with an electric jolt she felt the heart placed into her own body. The hands of light were now golden and held together in the prayer position. They slowly unfolded to reveal a holographic slideshow, of many people, times and places. The scenes played out and once again, the voice resonated over the moving picture show with the words:-
‘I have taken and healed your pain
Torn the hurst of many lifetimes
from the recesses of your heart’
As words and images faded away in a violet haze, Phaedra felt the soft brush of an Angel’s wing…Opening her eyes she saw a small white feather fluttering to the floor.
Please welcome a very special guest writer to EdenDene Books, my talented 15 year old son Ryan Nash. Here is Chapter One of a spooky tale, just right for a cold winter’s night!
Chapter 1: Almost Certain Death
I remember it well, now there were two boys they came tearing around the corner in complete fear and terror. I didn’t really understand what exactly they were running from as it was in a dark, narrow, treelined passage. I heard heavy footsteps getting louder and louder from around the corner. I felt as if I was about to find out what the boys were running from.
Then a loud spine-chilling roar came from around the corner and everyone froze. The two boys slowly turned around. A tall dark silhouette stepped out of the shadows as a thick supernatural mist rose from the ground. The footsteps became increasingly louder and louder. I became frozen with fear as the shadow grew.
The two boys began to run and barged past me with brute force. But, I, I was still completely frozen. I wanted to run but it felt like there was a force that was holding me back. I physically and mentally couldn’t bring myself to do it. Suddenly silence descended, all I could hear was the beating of my heart like waves crashing on a rocky shore. Electricity crackled in the air as the suspense grew even more. I looked back up the shadow… was gone.
The mist began to clear up I couldn’t believe my eyes, in its place was a small kitten sitting there cleaning its paws. The small black cat looked up at me and it had deep blood red eyes. It winked at me and scurried away back around the corner.
I was so stunned by what had just happened and I knew there was much more to it all than just a small innocent creature because the shadow and the vicious roaring was so much more than a kitten could have caused. Just everything about the situation seemed off, why would two teenage boys run away in fear and terror from something so fragile and timid as a kitten? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I wanted to find out what that kitten really was I wanted to find out the truth about why those boys were so terrified. My curiosity had gotten the better of me once again as I decided to follow the kitten even knowing that it might be something so much more… supernatural… then a kitten. I began to walk forward going down the dark avenue for trees and around the corner. I couldn’t quite see what was further down the passage looked like an endless narrow path covered in overgrown vegetation and vines.
I had been walking for about twenty minutes when I saw a light at the end of the passage. It looked like an opening to another place, another universe. I felt a warm breeze coming for the opening at the end of the passage. As I got closer to the end of the passage, I could see the small kitten sitting, looking into the distance. I began to slowly edge myself toward the kitten, but I stepped on a stick which alerted the kitten that it had company. The kitten twitched its ear and slowly turned its head. When the kitten looked up at me, so my eyes met its and I felt like it was staring into my soul but instead of feeling immense fear like I did earlier I was flooded with a sense of calm and weightlessness.
The kitten tilted its head slightly and slowly looked away, but as I begun to walk towards it and close the distance between us the kitten got up and slowly walked away from me, yet again going around another corner breaking my line of sight with it. As I came to the very end of the passage what I saw was breath taking. It was indeed like an alternate universe before I was just speculating the thought, but it really was. The sky was red and the sun or what I think was the sun was deep ocean blue.
I looked in front of me and it looked like a forest of some sort the trees were black with red leaves. I looked over and the kitten was sitting by a tree looking up at the sky again. The kitten got up and walked behind the tree but, what came out of the other side of the tree was no kitten. A young man with black hair and deep blood red eyes stood in the place of where the kitten once was.
‘I knew it!’ I said to myself. I knew that the kitten was something more than a kitten I just didn’t expect the kitten to be a man. He stood tall looking back up at the sky, I walked over toward him intrigued as to who or what he was.
A delicious collection of short stories, with supernatural undercurrents…
Midnight Movies ~Night, that strange nocturnal world, inhabited by amoral London drug dealer ‘H’ who may have just sold his soul to the Devil.
Beguiled By Beauty ~ ‘I am an actress,’ she said, ‘A weaver of dreams and a maker of magic!’ Maude beguiles a married man in a bar in MidTown, New York. Will he betray his wife?
Dancing To Darkness ~ Johanna choses to ‘Dance with the Devil’ when she takes up with Nick Mephistopheles only to find there is a price to pay. Nick already owns New York City and now he wants to own her, body and soul.
On A starlit Sea ~ “If you could, would you?” From her Manhattan Penthouse, Stella looks out over the twinkling lights of New York searching for something…or someone.
Angel Of The North ~ Darkness comes creeping in and Cassie is lost and alone under Newcastle’s iconic ‘Angel Of The North’. A beguiling stranger offers to guide her way home, to herself. Will she accept his help?
She was a dangerous secret, kept hidden from the world.
How could he explain that when he looked into her Obsidian eyes he was afraid of what he saw looking back, reflections of the darkness in his own soul.
Who could understand, when he could not make sense of it himself, the deep feeling of love he had for the Nightwalker dwelling in the tangled forest of his mind?
Many women came and many women went, as he tried to forget her. But he knew she was just a whisper away and if he were to say her name, she come. Yet fear kept him silent for he knew only she could assuage the longing in the dark recesses of his lonely heart …
Phaedra was aware the sun was hanging low in the sky and would be setting shortly. She would need to make haste if she were to avoid the impending gloom once it disappeared into the horizon. Her mind had been full of thoughts of the talking Owl she had met in the Night Garden at dusk yesterday. She had been eager to share with Hepzibah, who smiling, had observed, ‘That garden is full of witch’s weeds, you need to realise that some of those herbs can be hallucinogenic, My Lovely.’
Once again, Phaedra was left confused by the paradoxes she was encountering in Wychwood. Either the veil between worlds really was very thin or else she was suffering serious delusions. As the overgrown dirt track meandered downhill, her eyes were firmly fixed upon her next step in an attempt to avoid stumbling on the loose pebbles. Nimbly side stepping one of the many offerings left by an equine traveller who had preceded her on the ramble, Phaedra looked up as a glint of light caught the corner of her eye. Stopping in her tracks, she became aware of a perfect circle of chestnut trees as she watched the sunlight dappling golden light on the rich green leaves. The branches slowly swayed to the music of a gentle breeze, leaves quivering and dancing to the soft low hum of the wind. Golden light twinkling and sparkling on the rich verdant leaves and the deep brown nuts that littered the floor, cracked open from their protective spiky casings.
Gently stepping over the fallen harvest, Phaedra answered their invitation and stepped within the circle of trees, noting by the girth of their trunks and the strength of the long outstretched branches, that these were indeed Grande Dames of the woodland. Their age and wisdom were apparent from their gnarled and knotted yet strong proud and beautiful trunks. Their outstretched limbs intertwining and interconnecting with each other, embracing each other in an intricate lattice work of wood which seemed to grow tighter and more close knit as Phaedra moved to the centre,
‘Ah, the circle is cast!’ she thought.
Within their protective conclave she became aware of a quiet communication, first between the whispers of the wind, and then between each sister tree. With a jolt, she realised that the trees were speaking not only to each other, but also to her, to Phaedra! They were imbuing her with a sense of themselves, of what it felt like to have roots that sank deep down into the verdant rich dark soil, their root systems mirroring the branches above, all interconnected and intertwined. Phaedra felt tingles in the soles of her feet and with a start realised that she had sunk ankle deep into the earth, but she did not feel any fear, just an awareness that her toes; the bones and nervous system and veins seemed to be growing and extending beyond the confines of her flesh.
She was growing roots!
Roots that meandered through the earth, touching, connecting, wrapping around those of the trees that surrounded her, and it felt good. Phaedra raised her arms up high in sheer joy, and once again the tingle, and her fingers seemed to elongate, the flesh, veins, bones, nervous systems stretching, stretching up to the tall branches, connecting, weaving, latticing into those of her sisters around her, for now Phaedra felt at one in the circle of the Horse Chestnut sisters.
Above her upturned face, the sun in a final swan song, burst through the density of the leaves, bathing Phaedra in a golden light. It felt so good to pull the light of the sun into her body. She felt it travel through her limbs and trunk, and then as the sun sank on the horizon she became aware that all was suddenly dark. From the blackness of this void a light appeared, whirling before her eyes, as its motion slowed to a standstill, there hanging in the nothingness was a perfect golden hexagon. And within the six points of the star, a silver tree was transposed, its branches perfectly fitting the three upper points of the star, and its root system stretched out in symmetry over the lower three points of the star. Then a blinding flash of light in the centre of her brain and the symbol seemed to be absorbed through her crown chakra with the words,
‘As Above, So Below.’
In that moment in time, Phaedra knew the cosmic synergy of heaven and Earth and the importance of the trees as fully sentient beings upon the Earth, working in Divine Service of Source.
Then nothingness, the void.
The loud chattering of the birds stirred her to her senses. Phaedra was surprised to see the Sun was rising, no doubt awoken from her slumber by the sweet call of the birdsong.
She was lying curled up on a carpet of springy moss and sweet smelling chamomile, under the protection of one of the huge Chestnut trees. Stirring to remember how she had come to be here, a whirl of thoughts flooded her mind and senses…feelings of being one with the trees, of having roots that stretched deep down into Gaia’s warmth and received sustenance and grounding; of having strong branches that stretched heavenwards. She felt the warmth of the sun bringing life giving energy down through her body, she recalled the feelings of pleasure of having beautiful leaves, and bearing flowers and fruit that in turn delighted and nourished. She was pleased by the shelter she gave to the birds of the air, the insects, and creatures of the forest. Of the pleasure of the wood nymphs coming to dance and play, and the heavenly delight of being of service to the Light of Source and beloved Mother Gaia by providing oxygen on the Planet.
As Phaedra stood and stretched, she noticed a young sapling delicately rising from the rich earth just by the strongest and oldest tree. From one of its tender young branches a glint caught Phaedra’s eye. Stretching out her hand, she felt a familiar tingle, and there in her palm was a perfect silver six-pointed star pendant, on which a tree was wrought in gold.
The young tree seemed to whisper on the wind…
‘My gift to you, Mother…’
Phaedra knew her child, laying still within her womb, would be born with the wisdom and strength of the trees.
It’s Friday afternoon and here I am curled up on my favourite couch, pushed up close to the red brick feature wall, it allows me a sweeping view of the rest of the dimly lit interior, it is the best seat in the house. Comfortable and discreet and perfect for me to enjoy my favourite past time, people watching. I’m enjoying the enticing aroma of freshly ground Arabica beans brewing, all the better to tempt the taste buds of of our patrons. I also see a fresh lemon drizzle cake has arrived on the counter, baked by the fair hand of Cassie. I’m sure there won’t be much of that left this evening!
I’m Henry and I run things around here at the “Black Cat Café ”. That’s Cassie over there, with the fluffy blonde hair and huge amber eyes, if she were a feline she’d be a playful Persian Kitten, but you do have to watch her, sometimes Kitty has claws! Cassie is a people person. Me? I’m far more reserved, cool, detached and maybe even a little introverted. As you have noticed I am an actual Cat, a rather lovely Burmese, with silky black fur and jade eyes that miss nothing. Maybe I am biased but just like our downtown coffee shop, I am rather unique and special.
Could be “The Black Cat Café” feels like home from home, a little haven nestled amongst all the bustling commerce, catering to that strange human need to hang out with other humans. It’s cosy and intimate with discreet seating, an eclectic mix of distressed brown leather sofas and sumptuous armchairs covered in velvet hues of deep purple and forest green. We have lots of plump Liberty print cushions scattered about for patrons to sink into and enjoy a leisurely break from the humdrum world outside. Low, mahogany tables with fresh Freesias in china vases and tiny tea lights in coloured glasses add to the sense of being in an intimate space. An ornate gilded mirror picks up all the twinkling fairy lights strewn around the walls. Cassie happily hosts local artists, displaying their vibrant work. The vibe is vintage, eclectic and super cosy. There are plenty of little nooks and crannies for those desiring a quite tete a tete, friends sharing intimacies, lovers sharing secrets. We cater for those wanting to see and be seen too. Sat outside at our cast iron Bistro sets, they are welcome to light up a cigarette, sip an espresso and watch the world go by European style. And all from our Waterfront pavement in our quaint little corner of Providence.
Interesting what you see in a coffee shop, all the little vignettes of peoples lives, how they interconnect and entwine. I like to people watch, maybe because I’m such an introvert, a window on the world without getting too close. Maybe I am just a discerning cat. It is just like front seat watching your favourite day time soap opera as life’s little dramas play out. I can tell a lot by just looking at a person, where they choose to sit, what they are drinking. Now, you for instance, are a cat person, I can tell you will enjoy just sitting here and soaking up the atmosphere, the scents and sounds. Cassie likes to play the blues on the stereo. I prefer the sultriness of Lana Del Rey and Beth Hart, she plays them too. Says they capture raw emotion, love stripped bare. Cassie gets things, that’s why she is my person. I don’t like to share her.
Come and join me, I’ll be glad of your company and happy to chat for a while. Plenty of space on this old couch. Grab yourself a steaming mug of your favourite brew and people watch with me. Don’t be shy, I find that introverts like to join me, they don’t feel so obviously on their own with a cool cat for company.
“Why thank you Henry, don’t mind if I do. I think I’ll go for a Macchiato and a slice of that lemon drizzle cake. Let me introduce myself, I’m Tyler, I’m a writer, people watcher too. Like to observe the depth psychology of interpersonal relationships. See him over there in sports clothes, with the well dressed woman, what can you tell me about them?”
Ohhh…Those two…They meet in here every Friday, same time, same seats, same drinks. An English Breakfast tea for her and a Skinny decaf Latte for him. I admit I like them. Good. Decent. Married. The last six months I’ve watched it all happen and watched it all unravel.Observed the other players in their little world, too. They haven’t noticed me, noticing them.I can tell you it all, what went wrong, ripped them apart. Shame really. I would have liked to have said something to them, let them know they could make it better, but it would not have worked. They wouldn’t have heard me.I’ve had eyes and ears on them. I think this is a ‘make or break’ coffee date…I know Cassie thinks so too. The whole thing has put her on edge. Oh, my steamed milk has cooled down, just a few sips and I shall share my observations, my dear Tyler!
“I’m intrigued, Henry, do tell!”
He’s called Chase, he’s from the Mid West. Tough guy. Made it out of the ghetto and sidestepped the gangs into law enforcement, rapidly rose to Captain in one of Chicago’s toughest precincts. Had the heart of a lion, fearless on the mean streets, got burnt out, saw way too much too soon. She’s a New Yorker, Manhattan, a real UpTown girl. I’ve intuited all this from the stories they tell each other and things Cassie has said. Life brought them here to Rhode Island. He may be in his late thirties now but still has a great deal of stamina and physical strength, keeps himself athletic, runs marathons. Cassie said it keeps his head clear, I disagree. Who or what is he running from?
“What about the woman, she is beautiful, but a lot older, ten years easily?”
Her name is Venetia, she’s all Fifth Avenue elegance. Look at those pearls, the Chanel suit and those Manolo heels. If you get close enough, you’ll get a waft of gorgeous heady Italian perfume, classy dame. He smells of fresh pine, a forest of green stuff. My Cassie smells of fresh baked muffins, I think I prefer the muffins myself.
“They look like a mismatched pair, Henry, don’t look like they would have any meaningful connection?”
Looks are deceiving my dear Tyler, do what cats do…Look at those eyes, so dark but shine so bright. I wonder if that was the draw for him? Those eyes are cats eyes, see things that others don’t. I can tell that she ‘sees’ him. Knows him well. He seems to like that. She has a fierce intellect. He likes that too. Admires her for her depth, not threatened by her mind like some men would be in the company of a Psychologist. Her Practice is a few blocks from here, she’s been in with a few of her clients. The Black Cat Café is discreet, comfortable, puts them at ease to open up to her. Cassie is okay with her doing some counselling sessions here. Now if she were a cat, she would be a sleek and elegant Russian Blue, him he’d be a Savannah. Chase still has a wild side. Cassie says she has yet to meet the woman could tame that one and if the ‘one’ ever arrives that will be the last we see of Chase around here.
“So Chase is a bit of a dark horse, a player then, Henry?”
Hard to tell. His eyes are fathomless. They may be blue. They may be grey. Depends on his mood. I have wondered if he, despite all his physical strength, is desperately trying to keep bad at bay. He isn’t easy to read. But I noticed that Venetia saw down into that deep dark well and into the hidden place where he keeps those old hungry and angry ghosts on lock down.
“Oh, that is rather deep, Henry. It takes a lot to bare one’s soul. Somethings we never admit to, even to ourselves. World stays safe that way.”
Yes, you are right. The unsaid ‘thing’ … He knew she knew... and he loved her for it but he just could not tell her. It was complicated. Humans, funny things. Felines are so much further along the evolutionary scale, cats say what we mean, mean what we say. Demand what is ours. Take it if necessary…
“What happened, Henry? Do you know?”
Of course I know, I’m a cat, I know everything and I was right there, under his feet! Saturday night he was sat on my couch knocking back Jack Daniels, Venetia was at a conference in New York and Chase was badly missing her, couldn’t sleep, he gets these nightmares. Cassie was upstairs visiting the land of dreams so I decided to keep an eye on things down here. He called her. Too much alcohol, both of them, and it all came tumbling out…unsaid words, finally said…And he got afraid. Of her. The truth. Possibilities. Life… And she was ashamed, she crossed a line, didn’t know how to go back… Pity really, They were so good for each other.
“But he is still with her, sat over there? They are both wearing wedding bands. Surely it didn’t end that night?”
No, it should have done. Been cleaner. Better for everyone, and no one would have got hurt. Instead he did the craziest thing and ‘let the Stranger in’, took up with Maggie. Caused a lot of complications around here. I don’t judge, but I didn’t like that. No, not one bit. Cassie was very upset by all the drama.
“Who is this other woman, Henry?”
She’s the innocent looking blue eyed blonde at the counter, watching them, whispering in Cassie’s ear yet again. …wish Cassie would unleash her claws on that one, but she’s standing there listening to her … And because Maggie is her sister, Cassie is believing all her lies…Hiss…I wish she would get the hell out of MY Café and back to her Five and Dime store!
“Oh Henry, what a surprising turn of events!”
I wasn’t surprised, saw it coming, he was meeting her in here, right at their table! She tries to emulate Venetia, her wit and her wisdom, but she just isn’t her. A perverse thing in him needed to regain control. Shut those ghosts up. Make his world safe again. So he chased and caught Maggie . Felt pleased with himself until he realised that the hunter became the hunted and Maggie was not for letting go or keeping things under wraps. But something deep inside whispered, then shouted. His soul cried for the woman he truly loved… But to be with her he would need to be true to himself, stripped bare. Accept what she could and could not give to him. Would he choose to do the inner work she was willing to help him do? Or would Chase cut loose?
“This Maggie must have have something. Some people cheat because they can, others cheat because there is something fundamentally missing in them and they are seeking integration through another person, trying to find a way to make themselves feel whole again. What do you think, Henry?”
Maggie is the first, Chase is the second. Venetia told Cassie in confidence that in her professional opinion Maggie has a Histrionic Personality Disorder. She needs a lot of attention, demanding more than Chase could, would or even should give her, didn’t see past herself and that he was hurting too… God, how was he hurting. As a psychologist Venetia knew both of them had issues and thought she could help them both through it… She just ended up getting burnt in the flames of her own desires.
“All very deep, Henry, do you think he will choose Maggie? Or Venetia ?”
Hmm…Neither…I am hoping he wakes up, smells the coffee and plumps for his long suffering, loyal and understanding wife!
“I thought you said they were already married, Henry?”
I did. They are…
…just not to each other…”it’s complicated”… I told you it was like a soap opera around here!
Chase is married …to Cassie…
“So Venetia is?…”
Venetia is Chase’s therapist and Maggie’s too and er, also her wife!
“So let me get this straight, Chase and Cassie, Chase and Venetia and Chase and Maggie?”
They call me H, it’s not my name, it’s the product I sell. Work nights, late nights, all night. Suits me fine. I can’t sleep, keep going…the uppers, the downers, the highs and the lows. Night, that strange nocturnal world. For most people the darkness is a blanket to soothe tired minds, not me, I am unable to find a shroud to wrap my unquiet soul in peace and blessed sleep. You see, there are these wasps buzzing in my head. Angry, insistent. I don’t want to give life to them, those electrified thoughts. But they are incessant and won’t stop. Try to block them out, but the drugs don’t work, not now, not anymore. I did a deal with the devil, long time ago. Thought I wanted what he had to offer, fast cars, fast women, fast living. Respect. Power. Got it all then found I didn’t want it anymore. But there was no way out, no going back. You see, that old devil had sealed the deal in blood. I’d seen too much and done too much and he was there to witness it all. Told me the Man Upstairs wouldn’t want my sorry arse. No room in heaven when you belong in hell. And believe me, there is no hell worse than that of your own making.
It’s getting late, the night sultry,still greedily holding onto the heat of a scorching summer’s day. Somewhere sirens are wailing. I’m restless, edgy. I’m up, I need to come down. Take a few shots of Grey Goose and light a Dunhill. Pick up the phone and text my girl “Meet at the Heath in ten.” Didn’t wait for confirmation, knew she’d be there. Grabbing my keys I leave. It is a long way down from the seventh floor when the lifts are broken. I live a high life in a low life place. It’s a concrete jungle, and from the ground the sky is just a distant memory. The walls start closing in on me, feel like I’m at the bottom of a deep dark well. No way out. No light.Those wasps buzzing in my head again. Damn those thoughts, getting louder, shouting for attention. I need release and I need it soon. Firing up my Porsche, I kick down all 700 horse power and in just 2.7 seconds the turbocharger on the 911 powers 0 to 60 and I roar off into the night. A hungry beast looking to feed on fresh meat. In nine minutes the sprawling urban estate with all its edgy energy is far behind me, I’m in the lush lanes of Hampstead Heath and the pumping stereo is discordant and jarring here. But I don’t care, I want the noise distraction to shut those fucking wasps up until I get relief.
As I swing into West Heath Road, Kimber is waiting under the soft orange glow of a streetlamp. She thinks she looks good, all long blonde hair, killer heels and short black leather dress, with a tease of a lace stocking top on display. The bitch looks like a Hoe, just how I like her. Then like a miracle cure, the mind chatter stops. All I think of is her, wanting her , needing her, now. I grab her hand and lead her deep into the undergrowth. It’s easy to find a quiet place on the heath, there is enough space for all those other creatures of the night out doing their thing too. She wants to take it slow, I have other places to go. Goods to deliver, money to make. I wind my fingers tightly into her hair, pull her to me and kiss her hard. Its fast and furious and I am lost for a moment in time, caught in her sensuous scent and hoping she will bring me blessed release. She doesn’t and I push her away. I’ve seen that look in her eye too often, the ghosts of the women I’ve reeled in, beat them, cheated on them and then cut loose leaving them with kids, heartbreak, addictions, just walked away and all without a backward glance. No mercy, no remorse. Kimber could have been different, she was edgy, damaged and fun and took no crap from no man. I liked her, a lot, but she wasn’t the ‘one.’ Did I even know what I wanted?Someone to watch over me, love me for who I truly was and saw what I could be, not what I had become. Someone who would raise me up after my fall from Grace, and shut those fucking wasps up? An Angel, untainted by the filth that was my life? Did I even deserve a ‘one’?
“Go home to your husband, Kimber.”
“Yeah…” Knowing I won’t. We’re done here.
I walk her to her car, she leans in for a kiss and I light a Dunhill instead. That look in her eyes again, but I don’t care. Reaching into my pocket I pull out a couple of wraps.
“Something for after, Babe, for you and the old man.”
She pushes my hand away, “I don’t want drugs, the drugs don’t work, I want you, I thought you knew that? Wanted it too?”
Shrugging I slip the Black Leb back in my pocket, I have plenty others want what I got. I don’t need “it’s complicated.” Suddenly her heady perfume is overpowering, her voice annoying me. I open her car door, I see tears in her eyes, she’s got the message. But her tears don’t matter, she doesn’t matter. I need release, I need peace and she isn’t it.
Looking at my Rolex, it’s ten before midnight. I get in the 911 and my slate grey beast roars into life and I am gone, leaving her with her memories. It’s a short drive to Primrose Hill. When the noise in my head gets too much I come here, park up and walk to the top. Only me and the demons who like to keep me company, sitting in darkness watching the lights over London town. I pull out another Dunhill, take a long drag of nicotine. I don’t do my own merchandise anymore, Kimber was right, the drugs don’t work. The devil, he showed me these lights once, from a different vantage point. I liked what I saw and grabbed the life with both hands. Now here I am sat alone in darkness, searching for something but not knowing what. I’ve had the cars, the money, the drugs, the violence, the women, the life. A big player in my urban prison. The devil sold me a deal. I sold him my soul. Now, I’m feeling like I want it back. The wasps start up again, buzzing in my head, driving me crazy. I’ll stay here from midnight until dawn breaks, watching my own personal open air screening of the double feature horror show of my own mind movies.
I want to sleep but there is no sleep for the wicked…
As the Orchestra struck up the music and the dance floor of the Waldorf Astoria glittered into life, Florence stood up. She reluctantly took the outstretched hand of her long time dancing partner, Old Nick. As he swept her elegantly into the diaphanous throng of chiffon and lace she stumbled. His vice like grip on her arm and steely glare ensured she would not cause him further embarrassment. She flinched and blinked away hot tears of anger and shame. It hadn’t always been like this. They were so in step before…
Florence once thrilled at being in the company of rich and influential Nick Mephistopheles. He wasn’t handsome and his age was indeterminate, but he had charisma and a dark charm. Nick’s business practices were more than shady, but as long as she was on the receiving end of his largesse Florence didn’t give a damn what people said about him. There were rumours he was part of the underworld, they said there were other women but she didn’t care. Florence was a night girl, drawn to danger. Nick’s lifestyle was an aphrodisiac. They said he ruled New York City and went for the jugular of anyone who opposed him. Was she afraid? No, it didn’t seem to worry her, it gave her a rush. She didn’t give a thought that there may be a heavy price to pay for his patronage when their first dance had begun all those years ago.
“What kind of business are you in, Nick?” Florence asked with an engaging smile,
“I’m a people person, a collector,” his reply was enigmatic and further enquiries subdued by the string of exquisite black pearls he draped around her slender neck.
“How can I possibly repay your generosity, kind Sir?” She already knew she would do anything for him. The lavish Manhattan lifestyle was highly addictive for a girl from a Brooklyn brownstone.
“Oh, I guess body and soul should be payment enough, yours and others I send you to collect!” There was a twinkle in his coal black eyes and she thought he had jested. Back then. Back when the dance had begun.
Nick was generous. Florence only had to express a desire and it was hers for the taking, fabulous jewels, designer clothes, the Fifth Avenue apartment and the prestige of being on his arm. All the hedonistic delights the city offered were hers for the taking. New York was his plaything, a bauble in his hand. No one quite knew where Nick’s power came from. No one dared to ask…
Nick liked to work hard and party hard. He liked all eyes on him and he had a ruthless and vindictive streak with rivals in both the ballroom and the boardroom. Florence was a huge asset to his dealings. Nick rewarded most handsomely when she performed. With a Siren’s call her beauty brought victims to Nick’s lair. It was all a game to Florence, well paid with a hint of danger. She liked that. The glitter and glamour were as seductive as hell and Florence willingly checked in all morality and conscience. The years passed and she continued taking to the dance floor and dancing to Mr Mephistopheles tune. No questions asked.
Tonight, there was unease in the air. Florence was tiring of their ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’and told him she wanted out. She told him she wanted more, she wanted love. Nick laughed in her face then grew possessive and wrapping his strong fingers around her neck he drew her close.
“Florence, we have a contract. I own you, body and soul.”
As she tried to pull away he kissed her hard on her ruby lips. There was none of the usual passion, just a stamp of ownership. She shuddered. The ballroom had become a prison and her dancing partner her gaoler. They had sealed the deal a long time ago – When you dance with the devil, there is no way out…
It was time for a new dancing partner. Nick would have to go. As the thought crossed her mind, she saw the Stranger and he saw her. And Nick saw him too. Savagely he grabbed her wrist, and snarled,“Stay with me, Florence. Better the devil you know...”
Florence broke free and without looking back made her way across the empty dance floor. All eyes were on her, but she saw no one only the charismatic stranger. He seemed to emit a numinous light. Music sublimely filled the ballroom and she moved inexorably into his arms.
“Do you want to dance?” she whispered seductively.
“Only, if you are willing to forsake Nick’s protection and come with me to the end of time, Florence.” He brushed her face with beguiling lips and shuddering she realised his mouth was as cold as the grave.
“I will…” she paused looking back at Nick’s table, but he was nowhere to be seen.
As the stranger held out his hand, it dawned on her he knew her name, but she did not know his. Just who was this beguilingly beautiful man? With prescience, he smiled and answered the question swimming in her mind.
As she gasped, he swept her into his arms and onto the dance floor. The Orchestra struck up the music and the plaintive strains of Sibelius’ ‘Valse Triste’ filled the air. The Last Waltz would truly last forever as Florence danced with the devil to the edge of darkness…
I’ve always been fascinated by abandoned places and the fragments of the past lingering in the stale air. Is it the remnants of lost hopes, I sense? Fragments of dreams and burnt out desires? The Croft was one of those places with so many stories to tell and I wanted to hear them.
Tapping into residual energies? It is what I do and I’ve never questioned it, accepting it just ‘is what it is.’ They never leave, those old ghosts from the past, their memories becoming just another layer on the atmosphere. And if they chose to reveal their secrets, as a whisper on the wind, then I have a greedy ear to listen.
I walked over to a small wooden framed window, dirty panes of glass, eyes dully staring without seeing, the wild beauty of the land. The taste of sea salt hung in the air flung up by harsh waves beating down upon soft silver sands. Who stood there, looking out at me looking in? Did they ever wonder what lay on the edge of the horizon, what lay over the sea from Barra to Skye. Intrigued and wanting to know more I approached the door, coated in peeling paint of soft pink and covered in lichen. It beckoned to be opened. I reached out and grasped the iron handle, blackened and rusted with age, expecting it to be cold to the touch. Instead I felt it crackle as a jolt of electricity ran up my arm. The magic had begun, hands from the past were still imprinted on the handle. A melancholy creak and the door opened, allowing me admittance to a forgotten world. Who would be waiting and would they be willing to speak? Would I have too many questions, for which there were too few answers?
And then I heard her! A soft whisper in my ear as gentle as the kiss of a summer breeze.
“I’m still here.”
“Talk to me,” I said, “tell me your story.” And she did.
Flora was her name, a bonny lass with red hair, flowing like molten lava down her slim back. She shyly lifted her head to look at me, her eyes filled with innocent guise, and matching her simple muslin dress, a splash of cobalt blue in a grey place.
The impressions came flooding in, gossamer threads of the fabric of her life. She’d loved him and leaving the comfort and protection of her Father’s castle walls ran away with her Sailor boy, freely crossing over the sea from Skye to be with him in the croft.
Life was harsh but Flora comforted herself when it was cold outside the flames of passion and desire he ignited in her were all she needed. The warmth of his love and the fire burning brightly in the grate would keep bad at bay. Until the fire went out, leaving ashes and dust…
Slowly Flora came to realise she was not enough for her man. She shared him with his Mistress. It was a bitter blow to see his eyes light up when he heard the siren’s call, in a way they no longer did for her. With sad resignation Flora knew, once his Mistress summoned him, he would go. Much as he loved his young wife, when the sea whispered his name, he was lost.
Many a moon tide she stood waiting upon a lonely shore, looking out to sea and praying for his safe return. He would return. He always did once the yearning to be free and sail the seven seas had been assuaged, then he would hold her and love her and she would forgive and forget. Hope burnt brightly within her innocent heart. He was her lover, her friend and husband in the eyes of God above and father of her children yet to be born. Bonny bairns who would play at her feet. Strong sons who one day would go to sea and ease their poverty, such dreams had she!
I sensed the atmosphere change. Anticipation, excitement and the thrill of laying in his arms replaced by a dull dread.
Silence. She was fading.
“What happened, can you tell me?”
Outside the sky was blackening, dark storm clouds approached. I smelt the promise of rain, harsh and bitter.
“Ohh..Flora…” I felt her pain, “Talk to me…”
I heard the rasp of the door swinging open.She had no words left. It was time to go. I took a final look around and followed her out. The croft was empty, love did not live here any more.
The tide was going out and I made haste down to the beach, passing a rocky outcrop of granite monoliths. Had she too passed this way? Were the stones silent sentinels witnessing her silent scream as day became night and night day as she waited, fear descending as a clammy shroud.
At the closing of the day, as the light was fading away, I saw her standing there upon her lonely shore. Calling, calling…
But her love did not hear, for he was lost to the deep embrace of a cold, cruel sea. The siren had called. He would not return.
Her words were carried on the wind over the sea to Skye for no one to hear but me…
‘Would Sir care to join me in my bedchamber?’ Evelyn enquired, head tilted coyly to one side.
Adam was taken off guard by her request, this was a move he had not anticipated. Evelyn had been so elusive his normal confidence with women had subsided. The lady had spoken and he did not need to be asked twice. With gallant good humour Adam responded,
‘If the White Queen so wishes, then her Black Knight is honoured to acquiesce to M’Lady’s request!’ Adam made his way across the flagstones of the darkened Inn. As he followed the swish of Evelyn’s long Gossamer dress as she vanished into the all-pervading gloom, he smiled quietly. He had set out to play a game to win, a game of check mating her into the bedroom. Now the tables had been turned, Adam really did not care. He desperately wanted to be close to Evelyn, and not for any of the reasons he has started with. It was not lust that now motivated him, there was an almost magnetic pull to his beautiful, beguiling companion. They had started a strange journey together, and Adam was more than happy to see where it led to, somewhere across forever, he hoped.
At the top of the steep and narrow stairs everything was absolutely pitch black. He was aware his feet were treading on ancient wooden floorboards that creaked in complaint at their weight. Evelyn continued catlike down a long length of corridor. She did not seem to need any light to find her way.
Adam followed closely on her footsteps, not entirely comfortable in the pitch blackness. He heard a rasp as an antique door was scraped open across the ancient floor. Then totally unexpectedly light illuminated the darkness. He had gained admittance into M’Lady’s bedchamber and Adam Knight, arch womanizer was as nervous as hell.
Evelyn’s room was lit with a myriad of candles. They were on the stone window ledges of the two latticed windows and also placed in the hearth of the large inglenook fireplace in which a fire was lit and blazing with dancing red and gold flames. The heady scent of Patchouli filled the room.Momentarily, the thought crossed his mind that the entire evening Evelyn had not left the lower floor, what unseen hand had lit the fire and fresh candles? She walked towards her four poster bed which had been hewn from rich dark oak and ornately carved. The bed was draped with heavy silk brocade, purple and gold threads entwined in an elegant pattern. Adam was surprised. Downstairs the Inn had been so dilapidated. This room was fit for a goddess, for his own personal goddess of the Half Moon Inn.
And there she stood by the light of the fire in all her beauty. As Adam regarded his Eve, his heart filled with love. She was just so delicately beautiful and ethereal. He had never been a religious man, yet he found himself whispering to her a verse from King Solomon’s Song of Songs:
‘Who is this woman?
She seems to shine like the dawn.
She seems as beautiful as the moon.
She seems as bright as the sun.
She is as wonderful as the stars’
And in return Evelyn whispered softly.
‘My Beloved is mine, and I am his.’
Evelyn slowly removed the Gossamer dress, letting it slid down her body and fall in a gently crumpled heap at her feet, she delicately stood out of the dress and stood before him in her nakedness. There was a translucent quality to her unblemished porcelain skin, almost as if she were not of this world. In the soft light of the dancing flames she was timeless and numinous. Adam, enthralled, walked towards his prize and ran his hands through her long black hair and entwining his fingers in Evelyn’s luxurious, flowing locks. His eyes were fixed on hers, lost in their depths of darkness. She still held mysteries as yet unfathomed but the night was not over yet. He saw his own face reflected back in the light of her eyes, and saw softness there, he also saw compassion and tenderness. He saw Love. With exquisite tenderness she undressed him and taking a little vial of oil from the hearth, she kissed his head, hands and feet as she reverently anointed his body with precious Spikenard. The aroma of the heady amber oil filled his head as Evelyn, taking his hand in her delicate fingers gently led him to the little latticed window.
Throwing open the panes, a rush of cool air stroked their naked bodies.
‘Isn’t she beautiful?’ whispered Evelyn, looking skyward. The storm had passed and the night sky was a black velvet blanket covered with a myriad of sparkling diamonds. The moon hung low against this celestial backdrop, a perfect orb of brilliant milky white.
‘A giant pearl’, he smiled, ‘A moon pearl!’
Evelyn did not answer as she stood moon gazing. She was totally transfixed, entranced looking at the heavenly orb.
Raising her slender, milky arms into the air, her slender body swaying gently, she began chanting and intoning sacred words.
‘What are you doing’, he puzzled.
‘Drawing down the Moon’, came back her cryptic reply. With eyes closed and her body still slightly swaying she chanted melodic words.
‘I am the Maiden,
I am the Mother
and I am the Crone
I am the Hart and the Moon gazing Hare
I am the Holly, the Ivy, the Oak
I am the Owl, the Nightingale and the Crow
I am the Forest, the Meadow,
I am the Hearth and the Home
I am the Rivers, the Oceans and Seas,
I am the Light of the Night and Lilith’s Dark Moon
I am your Hopes, your Fears and all your Desires
….all that there is dwells in me
I am the Goddess of the Triple Trinity.’
Evelyn appeared to have an aura of shimmering light around her body. Her body was present in the room, yet he could see she was transported to another place that was not of this world. Adam saw she was lost in a trancelike state, caught between him and the magic and mystery of the moon.
Adam was not sure if the effects of the fire and candle light were causing him to see things. Her face was lost in rapture and she appeared to radiate an inner light. At that moment he did not know her. She was more than his delicate Eve, she was emanating a supernal light, a power and radiance. The moon beams were dancing in the room and there was a feeling of power and wonder. As Evelyn’s chanting and swaying increased he felt a surge of ecstatic energy course through his body, as if he were electrified and alive with her pulsating words. And then she was quiet and still, it all subsided and Adam, filled with emotion, fell to his knees, wrapping his strong arms around Evelyn’s slender waist. Burrowing his head in her soft belly he sobbed as he had never ever cried before. His hot tears ran in rivers over her soft skin, and Evelyn tenderly stroked his hair, and let the release come. All the pain stored in his heart burst forth. The dam had broken and the floodgates opened. Eventually the wracking sobs abated and he felt cleansed. Looking up at the brilliance of the moon, a peace descended upon him.
‘Thank you Mother’ he whispered into the night sky and Lady Luna shining her benediction down upon her son.
He felt the light touch of Evelyn’s skin on his. Tenderly she raised him to his feet, and dried his wet face with strands of her long black hair. Taking both his hands in hers, she led Adam to her bed. By the light of the fire and warm candle glow their bodies entwined. Every brush of her lips and delicate touch of her finger tips electrified his body. With a passion Adam had never felt before, he wrapped his woman in his strong arms and was lost in the sublime bliss of her love. Two bodies merged and two spirits soared. He felt as if he had left his body and was pure Spirit, as was his beloved. Two became one. Two bodies, two hearts, two souls unified across time and space. There was no Adam and there was no Eve, there was just unimaginable and unbearable ecstasy and Bliss. In the light of the flames and the half light of the night they danced in the light of love and experienced the almost unbearable light of being.
When their lovemaking was over, Adam held Evelyn as if he would never let her go. They lay together watching the moon in her beauty and fullness.
‘The Lady has blessed us Adam’, murmured Evelyn.
‘Ah, the Lady came alive in you my Love, Eve you are my very own Moon Goddess and I worship at you.’
Adam fell asleep in his lover’s arms, wrapped in her embrace. His tortured soul was at last content and at peace.
“If you could, would you?” He looked at her quizzically.
“Just askin’…” Her smile held the promise of a secret she may or may not share.
Intrigued, he decided to indulge her cryptic question. “Fly around the world in a day? No, too far! Climb a volcano, that’s another no, too hot! Sit on an iceberg with a Polar Bear in the North Pole, Brrr much too cold!”
“None of those things Cooper, they are too um…mundane… That isn’t the nature of the question!”
“Join a camel train and cross the Arabian desert to sip rosewater at an oasis?” Is that fanciful enough?” He saw a flicker of light in her dark eyes, decided to close her down, this was getting too deep and the game was about to start. “No, not for me!”
“Why? It’s not too far, not too dangerous, not too cold, hmm unless maybe at night. You could keep warm sipping potent Arak, and with the heady scent of incense burning wrap your arms around your true love and make love to me by moonlight and starlight! “
Cooper looked taken aback and out of his depth. He didn’t want fancy Arabian Liquor when there was a case of Coors on ice. Forget heady incense, the only smoke he wanted was twenty Marlboro Lights. And as for the desert, well his true love the New York Giants were playing in Las Vegas and the clock was on countdown to kick off.
“Is it because it is too hot? Don’t you like it hot?” Was there just a hint of sarcasm in her voice? “Afraid you may get burnt?”
“The Arabian desert is a big place just to grab a drink, and what if the Oasis was no more than a mirage, I’d be left very thirsty, can you grab me a Coors the game is starting in like two minutes.”
Purposely not taking the pointed hint Stella pressed on, “What if it isn’t more than a mirage? Unless you make the journey, you will never know.”
Walking into the kitchen, she filled herself a large glass of chilled Californian Chardonnay, took a slow sip and then another…The wine cooling her rising ire. It was all about him, it was always all about him. Saturday night, and all dressed up with no where to go, except another one way ticket to boredom city. She downed the wine, filled another glass, grabbed Cooper a beer and determined not to loose his attention stood in front of the T.V set.
“…In answer to my question ‘ If you could, would you?’ instead of sitting there watching life, what if you tried actually living life then what exciting, wonderful and amazing thing would you do?” Her voice had a sharp edge, the wine kicking in, unable to bite back the bitterness she felt.
He looked at her at a loss how to reply. Should he tell her if he could, he would shut her up, make her go away and let him watch the Giants in peace? Something in him knew he couldn’t give her what she wanted, never could, never would. She was different from all the women who had loved him and left him, a free spirit he had managed to trap and he was not about to let go, so he indulged her little flights of fancy, even though they bored him, then made sure the bars of the prison he constructed around her grew stronger and stronger, and her world grew smaller and smaller.
Seeing and mis-reading the panic in his eyes, she clasped his hands, trying to pull him up toward her. He remained seated, resolutely focussed on the TV screen behind her.
“Cooper! If you could, would you please put me first? If you could, would you please notice me?” And if you can’t would you please set me free to be with someone who would actually appreciate me?!”
“Stella, you mean everything to me, all I do, baby, you know I do it for you. Been a long week at work. The stock exchange is brutal, give a guy a break…Make it up to you. Can we set the world on fire tomorrow, You go to Nieman Marcus and get a fancy new gown and I’ll take you out to that new Fifth Avenue restaurant all the celebrities go to. The first game of the NFL season is about to start, so for tonight how ’bout you fix us a bowl of chips and join me on the couch.”
The weight of too many broken promises hung heavy in the air between them. Stella knew whatever Cooper did was all for him, none of it was for her. She also knew he was the one truly trapped, for in her mind she could always fly free…
With a sad smile she said, “I’m tired too Cooper, do you mind if I leave you to watch T.V you know ball games are not my thing?”
He nodded, relieved, “Sure thing baby, can you just grab those chips before you go?”
Stella walked back into the kitchen. Looking out over the glistening lights of the New York skyline she felt trapped in her Manhattan penthouse. Some where over the East River the stars were shining, but with all the light pollution she couldn’t see them. Stella downed the rest of her wine, wiped away the threat of hot tears and did as Cooper bid, as she always did. The Emperor called and the nightingale sang…
“Don’t get up to any mischief in your dreams, Stella!” A dismissive peck on the lips made sure she didn’t linger.
He knew where she was, safely tucked up in his bed. Once she was asleep he’d trawl through her emails and cell phone, just to make sure no hidden threat was lurking. He’d never managed to find anything incriminating, but that didn’t stop him looking. Couldn’t be doing with any one coming in and filling her head with nonsense. There was a way to handle sensitive types like his Stella, just pretend to go along with it all and then let her know she had hit a brick wall. He knew she’d tire soon enough and go off to sleep leaving him in peace. Dismissing her from his mind, comfortable in his T shirt and shorts he chugged his beer, lit a Marlboro and settled back to watch the Giants kick ass.
♥ ♥ ♥
Her pillows were plush filled with Canadian goose down, the sheets cool Egyptian cotton. Stella slipped off her blue velvet dress and eased into the king sized bed. She could have cried but her tears had dried up a long time ago.
As she drifted of to sleep, the reflection of Manhattan’s myriad of lights reflecting on the East River became a starlit sea. And in a tiny sailing boat Stella’s nocturnal journey took her away from her Penthouse cage to freedom. She travelled by moonlight and starlight to a distant shore where he was waiting, in a place where love lived forevermore. The man of her dreams. Together they lived, they laughed, they loved.
And when she asked him “If you could, would you…?” He answered “If I could, I would love you for eternity Stella!
“Would you?” She whispered.
“Stella, I would stop time for you and hold you in my arms forever!”
And sweeping her up, her lover carried Stella further into the land of dreams.
She smiled in her sleep, knowing she wasn’t doing anything wrong…
When a married man sets eyes on ‘the girl with the far away eyes’ he is beguiled by her beauty. Will his desire for the lovely Maude be reciprocated and turn into something more?
Is it Love or dark obsession…
Do you believe in love at first sight? If you had asked me that question six months ago I would have said categorically no. I am rational man with a rational job. That is until the day she crossed my path. I guess I was in the space to let her in. Life was getting mundane. You know yourself. You wake up, kiss the wife, go to work, come home, kiss the wife. Sleep.
Dreamless nights that pass too fast, then you wake up and do it all again. It’s what we do. Without question. The days of wine and roses, who needs them? Once the golden band is on her finger, then the deal is sealed. Job done. Then time, crafty, insidious time, starts eating away at you. The minutes turn into years and you don’t notice because you are so busy waking up, kissing the wife, going to work, coming home, kissing the wife and sleeping. Then somehow, without even knowing how it happens you don’t kiss anymore. When did romance die? Where did you loose yourself? Then all you have is this familiarity and distance and a strange feeling that something is missing. A longing. A longing for what? How can you even answer the question when you know something is wrong, but you are scared of the answer? Too close a look and the careful world you have constructed to keep the wolf from the door and the bear firmly outside your cave is suddenly not so safe anymore. So the indefinable something ‘wrong’ becomes the new normal. And everything goes on the same, evenings spent alone downstairs, my wife upstairs with some pulp fiction for company. Vague stirrings of guilt. Why did she need to read that stuff? Didn’t she have me? Vague stirrings of regret, we were all right weren’t we? What if the romantic fix she got from the pages of her books didn’t cut it and she wanted more, from me, or someone else? Would I have anything left to give, or even care? I thought about going up and joining her, taking the book out of her hand and telling I was here, I was real. Notice me. I wanted to tell her I had my own hopes, dreams and desires and if she would only listen then I would share them with her and she wouldn’t be white noise anymore. But how do you come back from too many years of comfortably numb? I didn’t want to look too closely at that and shoved the awkward feeling deep down inside and just let it go.
Time ticking away, your life ebbing, second by second. Every moment one-step closer to the grave and nothing in between. I had heard all about mid life crisis, even knew a few of the boys at work who had gone through it. Hit forty and hit a brick wall. The sudden desire for a tattoo, a Harley, a fast car, even a quick fling or two with whoever was willing. I’ve seen it end in tears, broken hearts and broken bones. Not me, I thought, won’t happen to me. No one told me about mid life madness. No one told me about Love, not love like this. Obsessive, crazy, can’t get her out of my mind love. I work, she’s there. I drive, she’s there. I’m sat across the table from my wife. We eat. We have nothing to say, apart from the usual catch up on the day stuff. It doesn’t matter, because she is there. Inside my mind. My wife is talking, but long ago I ceased listening. White noise. I smile. I nod. I agree. Whatever she wants, whatever it takes. Eventually my tactics pay off and there is blessed peace. I indicate I will be up in a while and she goes to bed, alone. Silence washes over me, a soothing mantle. And all I want is to go off, alone too. I want to picture her, be with her, the woman living in my mind. But it’s all a crazy dream. Or is it?
I first met her late one Friday night after a very long day in Manhattan’s Financial District. I wanted to relax and the old fashioned comfort of Harry’s Bar Midtown hit the right note. I should have asked the cab to take me home to Brooklyn Heights, instead I walked in off the busy street into a cavernous basement. The walls were lined with vintage photographs from Hollywood’s golden days. The décor was oak and leather, low lights, discreet booths and reminiscent of a gentleman’s club from a bygone age. Somewhere someone was playing smooth jazz on a saxophone. The bluesy notes washed over me, soothing, with the music literally hitting just the right note. Cigarette in one hand, single malt over ice in the other, I settled back into the comfort of a big leather chair. I took a deep drag of my nicotine hit. Through the haze of smoke she appeared. Long, long dark hair, falling in tumbling waves over her slender back. And her eyes. Oh those eyes. Luminous, lovely and inviting. She was a goddess and she was there, right in front of me. I sat up and paid more attention to a woman than I had in the last seven years. More attention than I had paid to my wife in the longest time. Did I feel guilty? No. There was something in me that needed her. And here she was, in all her radiant beauty and she was present, right here, right now, a timeless goddess of the silver screen invading the recesses of my hungry mind.
“The words you don’t say speak louder than those you do.” She was a mind reader as well. I covered my embarrassment with a slug of whiskey. I resisted the urge to ask her if she came here often. Despite her soft southern drawl it was obvious she was always here. I wondered just how many men had sat here and gazed on her loveliness. How many men had she looked at with those faraway eyes? How many men had thought of running their hands through her luxurious long locks, pulling her into a tight embrace and kissing those luscious lips. I was getting out of my depth. Stubbing out my cigarette and draining my drink I stood up to leave. At that moment I was lost and she knew it, catching my eye her gaze said, “You’ll be back.” And I was. I was finding reasons to go to Harry’s bar with the boys or alone. Never with my wife. I knew Maude would be there. Waiting. That seductive gaze, those eyes, I could drown in the depths of emotional intensity. My wife truly would not have understood. How would I find the words to explain just how or why another woman’s beauty had the power to speak to my very soul? Maude listened to me. I found myself pouring out how I felt about my wife, about myself. I told her I didn’t understand just how we had ended up in this big freeze. Where was the passion, the magic? When had the fire gone out? I told Maude everything I could not tell my wife. I got the feeling she would have liked to meet my elusive wife. But how could I introduce them? How could I explain Maude, who she was and what she meant to me? I loved her for her beauty, her glamour and mystery. She had the allure of an icon of the silver screen. She was there, she was present but she wasn’t. I could look but I could not touch. She had made that clear. But I could dream. You are innocent when you dream. Maude knew these things and she knew I adored her. She didn’t judge me. There was no blame, no weight of disappointment for things I had done, and things I had failed to do. With Maude I was free to be me. A man with hopes fears and desires and she understood and that was huge, and with all my heart I wished my wife would too. I was out of my depth and I was drowning. I guess it was only a matter of time before my wife found out.
The questions had started. ‘What time will you be home? Why are you late? Where have you been? Out with the boys again, really!’ I had no answers. No excuses. I closed down. Maude or my wife? It was becoming a very hard call. Maude was becoming my drug of choice. I needed her. I didn’t need the third degree. After all I was innocent, wasn’t I? Innocent when you dream…And dream I did. As I climbed into bed each night I envisaged she was there with me accompanying me into the realms of fantasy.
‘I am an actress,’ she said, ‘A weaver of dreams and a maker of magic!’
‘Maude, you are luminous! Do you have a gold star on Hollywood Boulevard? Take me there!’
‘My star is a long way from Hollywood. Search the night sky for the Morning star and you will find me. I am your Immortal Flame. I am your goddess of love. Always remember Love conquers all.’
Together we travelled the World and danced under starlight skies. We banqueted within Castle walls, she was my Princess and I her Knight and somewhere a Troubadour strummed a mandolin and sang of our love. We visited the Alhambra Palace, walked hand through the Court of the myrtles and beneath the Andalucía sun she whispered sweet words to me. In the shadow of the iconic monument to love, The Taj Mahal, I became her Rajah and whispered words of devotion to her, my beloved Rani.
The mornings came, I awoke next to my wife, with her back turned to me. The gulf between us was now an aching chasm and I felt a wrenching loss in the pit of my stomach.
The night they finally came face to face with each other is etched on my mind. A cold November and the big freeze between my wife and I was now arctic in its intensity. Something would have to give. Even a row would show there was some passion left, some depth of feeling. I felt so surplus to requirement, the weight of her disappointment in me was becoming a burden too heavy to handle.
‘Don’t wait up. I have to work very late. I may sleep at the office.’ And I was out the door before she could question me. I had plans for tonight and I would face the music in the morning. Right now there was a fire raging and if I didn’t quench it, then I risked being subsumed in the heat of my own desire and aching need to be with Maude.
I got to the bar early, before the evening rush. I wanted to be at our table where I had first set eyes on Maude. The bartender, now familiar with my order, started pouring my favourite single malt Scotch, Glenmorangie, over ice. I settled back into the comfort of the deep leather chair and lit a cigarette. This is where it had begun. Maude was waiting for me, beautiful as ever. Every time I gazed at her I saw perfection and paradoxes, beauty both beguiling and innocent. I wanted to reach out and protect her. I wanted to hold her in my arms and tell her I would keep the wolf from the door and bad at bay. I looked into her eyes looking at me from a distant place and time, and saw her sadness and saw her soul. She was a star from a bygone age that shone so bright she still lit up my lonely night. But she wasn’t real. She was a fantasy. No matter how much I longed to take her in my arms, to love her, Maude would never be mine for she belonged in the firmament above. From her gaze I saw she knew that I, as so many others before and after me, would always be hers. A captive of beauty. It was time to say goodbye. It was over.
‘Go home,’ Maude said, ‘what you see in me, you first saw in her. What you feel for me, you first felt for her and you will again.’
The weight of loss was too much to bear. The double life I had been leading, the freezing cold at home that had caused ice to form over my heart had been melted by the passion I had felt for a woman who was not my wife. I had been beguiled by beauty, Maude had touched my soul and I would never be the same again. A great wracking sob clawed its way out of my throat and I sat, head in my hands and I cried.
I felt her arms around me. Warm, loving and strong. She sat on the arm of the leather armchair and cradled me. Slowly she pulled my hands from my tear stained face and her soft mouth gently kissed my sorrow away. I looked into her eyes and saw the depth of love she felt for me and my heart began to beat fast. She was so beautiful, she was here beside me and she wanted me…I took her by the hand and asked her would she come home with me because I very much wanted to make love to her. She stood up and pulled me to her. I kissed her with a passion and intensity I had long forgotten and all the love and feeling inside me washed away the years. I was a man with hopes, feelings and desires and my wife understood, she always had and that was why she was here tonight.
‘How did you know?’
‘I know you,’ she replied. ‘I saw the way you looked at her photographs on the Internet, over and over. I watched you fall under her spell. How many men has she enchanted? You are not the first and you will not be the last. I wanted you to look at me that way, the way you did before we both forgot why we had been enchanted by each other.’
‘And you forgive me?’
‘Yes. Maude’s beauty is her gift to the world. Beauty that speaks to the soul. She spoke to you and her silent words told a story of love, romance, hope and desire. And I heard.’
As we walked hand and hand out into the New York night air we turned and took a final look at Maude Fealy, an Edwardian beauty and movie star from a bygone age, as she watched over us from her home encased in a silver frame on the ‘wall of fame’ at Harry’s Hollywood bar.
At that hour just before dawn wakes a sleepy world, as I lay entwined with my wife I happened to look out at the night sky. And there she was, true to her word. Venus, Goddess of Love.
A short story on the magic of nature and “All is One”
There once was a young peasant girl, known by the name Gaia, she lived in an ancient land, a land that was fertile and abundant in all good things. There were olive groves and fruit trees. There were honey bees and goats and cows that provided delicious milk and cheese. The skies above were azure blue and the seas around were warm and abundant with rainbow fish. The air was sweet with the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle. The birds filled the air with sweet birdsong. Life was good in this land of milk and honey, for everything one needed was there. Gaia lived with a large community of people and laughter and song and dance was the way of life. For they knew life was good and they knew that they were beloved and taken care off, although they knew not by who or what. This security engendered much peace and happiness, and they lived in gratitude. Their Land was an abundant Mother and the skies above their protecting Father. And as Night followed day, and season followed season, the people of this land gave praise for the bounty that was their gift from the Earth.
They honored their Mother Earth for all she nourished them with, her fertile soil in which many crops and flowers and herbs and trees thrived. Her flowing rivers and the sea around, providing an abundance of fresh fish and water to drink. And the jewels of the earth, beautiful crystals fashioned in colors of the rainbow. Their father provided his children with the radiant warmth of the sun, to bring life to that which was upon the earth. He gave them the cool evening breeze and the light of the moon, from which the people marked the passage of time, through the cycles of the moon. As night fell, the skies above were clothed in a brilliant show of stars and planets, and constellations around which they wove stories to inflame their minds and provide excitement. Every now and then, a magical light dance would happen in the sky, a multi colored display of fantastic and beautiful majesty. Shooting stars and asteroids tore across the heavenly canvas bringing wonder and awe. Life was indeed good. This island, although small, was clothed and blessed in the majesty of nature, and profuse in all that was good in creation. The peoples were tolerant of travelers who chanced their way. They provided hospitality and warm welcomes. They enjoyed hearing about faraway places, of different lands, cultures and religions. They did not feel threatened if the visitors did not have the same belief systems, knowing in their hearts that all was one and that there were many roads and paths to reach Divinity. It was an intangible thing that each and every heart had to feel for their selves. In this place there was no bigotry or intolerance.
One day, Gaia was out gathering herbs, for these were the medicine cabinet of the people, as Mother Earth (after whom she took her name) supported all life, she healed her children when called upon. The herbs rejoiced the child had chosen them, for they knew their path was to grow to heal, and they understood that all was one and that the child also knew that all was one. A beautiful butterfly caught the girl’s eye and with delight she followed after the delicate creature, marvelling at Gossamer wings as blue as the sky above. The girl felt good to be alive and part of all the wonders of nature around her, for although yet a child; she understood the interconnectedness of all things, that simply all was one. Gaia focused on the butterfly’s game of chase, and the creature delighted in this lovely child joining the game. The butterfly knew the child understood that all was one. In time this child would undertake the journey of initiation, such as she the butterfly had done, into the cocoon and transmuting into a thing of great beauty.
Gaia was unaware of the storm clouds gathering, very unusual in this land. Then suddenly there was a downpour of rain. Looking around for shelter she saw ahead the entrance to a cave formed in a rocky hillside. Gratefully she ran into the cave, blessing her good fortune to find shelter from the ensuing storm. The cave was dark and smelt dank. A rough path was hewn from the bedrock, and from deep inside she heard a strange resonance, a toning of sorts. Intrigued she followed the source of the noise, as she moved deeper into the cave the darkness enfolded her. Trustingly, she followed the direction of the strange toning and chanting of unknown arcane words. The darkness shifted to an eerie gloom, and Gaia saw the passage had widened into a cavern with a sandy floor. She heard the faint sound of running water. Above the cavern there was a light source, a hole in the roof of the cavern. From behind a large boulder a voice crackled ‘Who are you, what do you seek?’ The voice belonged to a tiny, misshapen form. A woman clothed in dirty ragged garments. They had the vestiges of a once beautiful blue material, patterned with stars about them. Even in the gloom the girl marvelled at the fragments of beautiful cloth. The woman’s hair was grey and bound tight to her head in thin plaits, and her eyes were small and black as shrivelled raisins. With sly interest she regarded the girl before her, dressed in a simple tunic of beautiful linen, her hair long and golden and flowing, her eyes a deep cornflower blue, alive and dancing with curiosity.
‘I have lost my way, and have taken shelter from the rain outside’ said Gaia. ‘They call me Gaia in honor of the Great Mother, the Earth,’ the child smiled happily.
‘Pah.’ Came back the rude, curt response from the wizened old crone..
‘What should I call you?’ enquired Gaia politely.
‘I am Alizza the Watcher, but you may not address me so. You have not the knowledge or status to speak the name of one as elevated and spiritually advanced as I!’
‘May I sit with you a while, and listening to your teaching, Mother? The child asked unperturbed by Alizza’s hubris.
‘You would know of my wisdom? I am happy to tell you child the ways of the world. Come sit by my side at the fire and pay heed.’ She rasped with a degree of satisfaction.
There was a fire pit set within a circle of small rocks, and from it the flames danced and swayed as a slight breeze played around them. Gaia stared intently at the fire, enjoying the pictures in the flames, and the sight of the Salamanders, those elementals charged with guarding the element of fire, and they in return regarded the child and knew she was one who understood them, and all things and that all was one.
The ugly Crone was impatient to begin her teaching and coughed harshly. In a voice that was deeply meaningful in tone, she began.
‘These, child, are words of wisdom given to me by Masters, and only those who are as spiritually advanced as I am can access the Wisdom of the Masters. For I am a Watcher, and follow the Path of the Star. Heed ye well!’ She jabbed a bony finger with a cracked and dirty nail at the girl, for emphasis.
The child smiled, continuing to watch the magical show the salamanders were putting on for her delight.
‘The purpose of creation, child, is to leave this place and ascend upwards to the Star. I, who have followed my spiritual path so diligently, by toning my tones and chanting my chants, will soon be able to leave.’ she said piously.
‘Do you not marvel at how advanced am I to be able to do such a thing? Do you not aspire to be as pure in spirit as me?’ she questioned.
‘Hmm’ mused the child ‘Are you alone here?’
‘Alone? What, with my incredible spirituality? I do not need mere mortals in my holy Presence. I need to remain unblemished and untouched from their germs. That is why I wait in the cave till I can leave heavenwards. I know I will not return here for I am just so advanced. The Star needs me with its celestial magnificence to watch over the minions below.’
‘Do you never see other people?’ enquired Gaia.
‘Ah, No’, said the wizened old Crone. ‘Once there were some who came to seek my teaching. I saw they were lesser creatures and just did not and could not understand. So I realized to keep myself pure in spirit I had to retreat deeper and deeper into this cave, where they could not taint me with their base natures.’
‘I would love to hear your wisdom,’ said the child.
She was a child who loved to experience all things and learn the different ways of people, understanding there were many different types of person and they each could choose different paths to travel up the mountain to touch Father Sky. And again the child understood that in all this diversity, ultimately all was one, for each in their own way would eventually touch Father Sky, whatever path they had chosen to walk.
Edward Arthur Hughes ~Day
Edward Arthur Hughes~Night
The ugly Crone continued…
‘The path of the Star showed me that by prayer and devotion I can leave this place and be one with the Light.’
‘Where does the Star reside?’
‘Why up there’ the Crone pointed to the hole in the roof of the cave.
‘What does the Star look like?’
‘Like this’ and she pointed to a fragment of starry material.
‘Can anyone see the Star?’
‘Oh, No, Only one who is willing to follow the path of religious observance. A Practitioner such as I, versed in knowledge of The path of the Star.’
By now, the storm outside had passed, and night had fallen. Everything was quiet and still. The ugly Crone bid the curious, chattering child be silent.
‘It is time for devotion; my star is calling to me. You may observe, but be quiet as I, an illumined one, will commune with the Holiest Highest Star.’
The child looked on, wondering what marvels the Crone would commune with. Alizza went and sat on a boulder under the hole in the roof, a thin taper in her knotty hand. She looked up and began the low chanting and toning noise again. Slowly a picture of rapture appeared over her ancient face, as her gaze went towards the hole in the cave roof. Intrigued, Gaia too looked up, and was perplexed to see a tiny star, which she recognized as Antares, a bright star that guides one to see the constellation Scorpio. Gaia knew the night sky well, for oft times she had slept under that heavenly canopy, watching the majesty of the waxing and waning moon, and the beauty of the constellations and the stories they told. She knew the magic of seeing shooting stars and comets blazing their trails across the universe.
Yes, there were so many wonders in creation, and once again Gaia smiled understanding that One was All and All was One; and that the magic of the sky was a magic that was in her and everything else as well. So it was with interest she regarded the Crone, lost in her rapture at the sight of Antares above the cathedral like structure of the cave’s roof.
Eventually sleep fell upon Gaia and she curled close to the fire and slept deeply. The child was content, dreaming of the many layers of creation and existence, dreaming of universes held within atoms and universes so large her mind could not hold the thoughts.
A raindrop on her nose startled her to wakefulness. The Crone was bustling around making a brew from hot water and some lichen she had scraped from the walls of the cave.
The insipid brew bubbled in an earthenware pot, placed precariously on some burning twigs. She invited the child near.
‘You looked so happy watching Antares’ offered Gaia to the busy old woman.
The Crone looked puzzled by the question. She clearly had no idea what, where or who ‘Antares’ was.
‘Child, I was in Rapture communing directly with the Star of the sky. I have sat in my cave for decades meditating on the nature of divinity, and I am truly blessed to have seen this wondrous sight. I know that because of my advanced spiritual understanding one day soon I will ascend and join Star! Pay heed to my teaching child; ask what questions you need to further your own limited understanding. Who knows, maybe one day you too will understand the advanced teaching of the Star!’
This time it was Gaia’s turn to look puzzled…
Tentatively she asked,
‘Mother Crone, why do you work so hard to reach Star, for is not the Star in you and you in the Star, for Mother Crone is not one all?’ she continued with enthusiasm and passion:
‘Does it not feel oh so good to travel on the wind as it blows through life? To feel the whisper of the gentle breeze that cools the skin? Or a raging, howling hurricane that sweeps away that which no longer serves? Knowing the wind is the Divine’.
Smiling happily Gaia chattered on excited to be sharing, ‘And the joys of letting your spirit become one with the Condor. Soaring heavenwards and riding upon the wind, majestic and powerful, magnificent wings outstretched and all at one with the wind, on our journey across the vastness of he sky.’ The excited child continued to share the excitement of her experiences.
‘To fall as a drop of rain, blown by the wind into the fast flowing river and feel what it is like to flow over the smooth rocks; and be tickled by the bulrushes, to move as one towards the vast ocean and just know that every raindrop is part of the vastness of the mighty ocean….’Smiling happily, the child continued ‘….and Mother Crone, that which brings me the most joy is when I become one with the beautiful trees and feel myself strong and solid upon the Earth. I love the feeling of my roots burrowing deep into the rich warm soil. I love the feeling of the goodness within the Earth sustaining me, feeding me. My branches reach towards the heavens, and I sustain life, for the birds and insects to come to find shelter above me and below me; as they eat the food I give from my berries. And my leaves glisten in the warmth of the sun, and cool to the stars above. Oh, to be a tree is truly magical Mother for then one is completely one with Mother Earth and Father Sky!’
Gaia’s eyes shone with happiness as she relived her shamanic journeys, she did not see the disgust and distaste on the old woman’s wizened face…
The acrid smell of the Crones infusion filled the cave. Helpfully, Gaia reached into the pocket of her robe and pulled out the little bunch of sweet smelling herbs she had gathered. Gently she added hem to the pot and said a little blessing. The bitter smell was soon replaced by the pure and healing scents the herbs released. Oh, that is so good Mother Crone; will you drink from our brew?’ Gaia tenderly asked.
She saw the Cones eyes were weepy, and her body was stiff and rigid from rheumatism. Gaia knew the herbs would help and heal. Nature’s apothecary had a cure for every ailment. One just needed to go to the trees, the flowers, herbs and crystals for their assistance.
With a howl, the Crone arose and with her temper boiling over, she kicked the earthenware pot hard. The hot contents spilled over and splashed onto the skinny legs of the incandescent Crone. Her ugly face contorted in rage as she screamed at Gaia:-
‘What witchery! What wicked sorcery! What foul blasphemy! You dark thing, you dare come into my world and speak such nonsense! Be gone bad thing! thou have NO knowledge!…..How could I ,an illumined, one teach you, whose head is so full of nonsense….all is not one foolish child, the star is all there is….now go!’
In absolute shock, and with tears streaming down her face, the child turned and ran through the darkness of the cave. She barely knew how she reached the outside. She sat with her arms wrapped protectively around herself, sobbing at the Crones cruelty. Could she have got it so wrong, after all she knew she was a child with so much to learn. But those people, who were her own, understood; wracked with longing for home she began to weep again.
Slowly, she became aware of a presence, and a warm feeling enfolded her. Raising her tear stained face. Gaia realized the Sun was shining brightly and the rain had bathed the world with cleansing water and everything looked so fresh and new.
A multi-colored rainbow arched across the azure sky.
The birds were singing their sweet songs and the insects were busy humming and the honey bees buzzing and so much life
was all about. A little white feather fell from the clear blue sky into Gaia’s hand, and above she saw a white dove in flight. Smiling, Gaia rose and turned for home for the child just KNEW all was one….
Later that night, deep in the cave, as the Crone settled down for her devotion to the Star, she was amazed to see a bright light streak past the narrow opening in the cave roof and as the comet passed by she heard the child’s wise words as they echoed in her empty heart and cave…
Jennifer went off on another of her little World travelling adventures, all on her own from London to Cambodia, passing through Vietnam and Hong Kong, to spend a month on yoga retreat on the beach at Siem Reap and to visit Angor Watt and other beautiful Temples.
I am so proud of my darling daughter, her beautiful smile lit her way!
I would love to share her picture journal with you 🙂