A gift from me to you. I want to make my books freely available as we all work through the global challenges of Corvid -19 and social distancing and self isolation. Amazon, who publish my books allow 5 free days. So this week I offer you a supernatural tale of a coercive relationship, where love￼ triumphs over evil 💕
✨For my beautiful, inspirational friend, Katie, with respect, admiration and love✨
The Goddess of Creation in Her heavenly realms above beheld her golden daughter with such love. For she radiated both the light of the sun and the star strewn night.
“Come, my child, My Lady Kate, I have a quest for you. Sit with me for a while, listen to what I bid you do. For there are many souls upon the Earth below, my teachings of Love I wish for all, especially the lost and lonely, to know.”
The Lady Kate sat by the Great Mother’s side, to her words she did bide.
“By your free will, Daughter of the Skies, if you should agree to my request then know the path is mighty perilous and you will be put to the test. The rewards will cause your eternal Soul to sing, for such treasures of love, kindness and knowledge you will bring.”
Created from the spark of Divine Will, the Lady Kate sat very still and reverently listened to what she was asked to do. She understood that once she left her heavenly place, she would be guided always by Divine Grace. She saw her path was perilous indeed, yet she carried Humanity’s need. Through the very halls of Hell, she would have to go, for deep experience to get to know. Through all these travails she knew Angels watched over her from just beyond the veil.
“My most beloved Winter’s child, with your spirit so free and wild, know as you go forth to this human life there will be in the Plane of Duality both experiences of love and laughter, grief and strife.”
And so, the Goddess of Creation decreed with Father Sky and Mother Earth there would be a special birth. In perfect balance of day and night, dark and light, the Winter Solstice was written in the stars above, for the arrival of a Divine Child born of Love.
As the moon tides passed on by, the Divine Child began to understand why the Great Mother had sent her to this place, for many had forgotten they carried the seed of Grace.
Through rising high above her own trials and tribulations, Lady Kate inspired peoples from many nations. For when her known world burnt to the ground and dark destruction lay all around, she summoned Courage and with her eternal wings arose from the ashes of burnt out embers, a Phoenix Goddess and fearless warrior the World would always remember.
Courage, wisdom, kindness, love and laughter were the gifts she freely gave to others. She embodied all the Soul gifts given by her Divine Mother. She encouraged others to be brave and strong, to fight for right and challenge wrong. And those who held hate and jealousy were shown a better way that they could be. Compassion, the key for humanity to be truly free.
On the whisper of the wind, the song of the seas and wisdom of the trees she heard words that were for no other, the benediction and blessing of the Divine Mother.
“I will walk beside you all the way, through darkest night and brightest day. For you, my Winter’s Child will always wear my Crown of Light.”
~Eily Nash (2020)
I first heard of Katie Hutchings through listening to Dave Thomas’ superb podcast show ‘Walk the Talk’. As her true life story unfolded I was moved to tears and at the end in total awe of this amazing woman. I followed Katie on Twitter, along with 35.6k other followers, and continued to be inspired by just how wonderfully kind, funny, courageous and generous she is in selflessly giving encouragement and support to others. She champions not only heart transplant & organ donation but also many people from all over the world and their causes and we all love her for it.She is a Northern Goddess, who has done her parents, husband, children and family proud. I am honoured to be her friend.
I encourage you to listen to Katie’s journey to and through her heart transplant journey and life beyond.
Have tissues at the ready!
With grateful thanks to Dave Thomas for allowing me to share his show!
Spellbound, I held him in my arms✨ summonded by magick, candles and charms✨ Illusions of distance and linear time✨dispelled by a bewitching rhyme✨that which I desire shall be mine✨My Beloved will come to me✨So mote it be.✨
It was a beautiful Spring day, blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Sun was bright in the Northern sky, glinting off tiny eggs lining soft Milkweed in the hedgerow. A kindly cow, stood watching. She had seen this magic many times before. From the eggs little hatchlings emerged. Not birds, nor snakes but caterpillars.
Hungry, they scattered over the leaves that had housed their homes and started to munch. They were voraciously hungry and intent on feeding empty bellies. Apart from one.
The little caterpillar started at the sight of the cow. The cow gave a low, reassuring ‘moo’.
‘Hello, youngster. Welcome to the world, my name is MayBelle’.
Shyly the caterpillar retreated under a leaf.
Each day the cow would amble over and say ‘Hello’. The caterpillar grew to love the warm greetings from such a magnificent beast. The cow would gently lower her head and let the caterpillar crawl onto her soft neck. They would both go for a wander across Ten Acre field and down to the babbling brook. The cow would take a long drink of pure Spring water and the caterpillar would watch the silver and gold of darting fish.
‘Dear MayBelle, can I feel the water like you do? Can I swim like the fishes too?’
‘’Not yet, M’Dear. But one day you will.’
The days and nights were full of delight. And MayBelle showed the young caterpillar many things. She spoke of life and love, beginnings, endings, both the Goddess and God above, Mother Earth and Father Sky. For being a wise cow, she had sought teaching from many sources and was not afraid to ask questions. A gift she passed to the little caterpillar.
One day MayBelle wandered over to the clumps of Ragwort the little Caterpillar had made home. Only to see the cycle of life had moved on. The wheel of the year began to turn again and her friend had entered into a deep sleep, wrapped in a warm cocoon. She smiled, knowing she had taught her pupil well.
The long sleep ended and the little caterpillar emerged. Refreshed and energised from such a deep and nourishing rest. And there was MayBelle, waiting.
The sun felt so good and the little Caterpillar basked in the warmth of both the celestial orb and her friend’s love. A sparrow hawk took to the wing and riding on the warm air currents glided gracefully across an azure sky.
‘Oh how I wish I could fly! MayBelle, do you wish you could fly too?’
‘Why, M’Dear, you can fly, just spread your beautiful wings and try! And as for me? Once you fly free, know my spirit will be with you and so I will fly too. ‘
The little caterpillar climbed on MayBelle’s soft face and the kindly cow wandered to the stream.
‘Look, M’Dear, what do you see? The things I taught you have come to be!’
In the glistening water, the little caterpillar caught sight of a beautiful butterfly, delicate wings fluttering in the breeze.
In awe she asked ‘Is that me?’
‘Go fly! Fly high, fly low. There is much to know. I always told you M’Dear there is so much more than we can see, so much more that we can be…’
It was a beautiful time, constructing castles and creating a fairytale land. Until one day the sea of reality came crashing in and washed the magick clean away. There is no never ending story for that which is built upon sand…
Henry the cat here with a little coffee time tale from my home at the ‘Black Cat Café’ in Providence, Rhode Island. My person Cassie owns the place. Whilst she is busy brewing and baking, I like to curl up on a cosy couch and people watch. Entertaining business for a fabulous feline with an interest in depth psychology.
A quiet Monday, mid morning and I saw her, one that left a mark. A woman of a certain age, nicely dressed and sat there on one of the big leather armchairs. She’d nabbed a place tucked in the corner of the coffee shop. I watched her nursing her cup of strong black coffee, pain etched on her face.
She did not she me. Her eyes were fixed on something or someone in her own private mind movie. I wondered what hurt she was reliving and was it somewhere back in time or a fresh memory? No matter, really. Heartache is heartache. It all hurts the same, be it old or new.
I padded over and jumped up on the seat beside her. Maybe I could help? Sometimes humans find it good to talk, especially to a handsome and understanding chap like myself.
She became aware of my presence and blinked away threatening tears as she came back into the space we shared. But the shutters were down. I had intruded on a private thing. It was if a huge wave of emotion had washed over me and I felt the full force of her pain. She knew and with a shock I realised she resented me for it.
She got up, without giving me a second glance, and walked away trailing her sadness behind her.
In 2012 I penned my first novel. It came from a place of pain. Seven years on I have grown both as a Writer and a person. I decided to revisit my book “Wychwood” and give it a re-write, detaching myself from the drama and writing as an observer. Although I received praise for the book I wanted to infuse it with more Grace, more Magic and occult layers. The Main Character has a new name Phaedra (Fay’dra) and I have introduced some new and more sinister characters.
This is Chapter One…
1 AN ANGEL CALLS
It is said that for every soul who walks upon the Earth a Guardian Angel is assigned ~ there are times the Angel may walk beside a soul, there are times the Angel may carry that soul and then there are times the Angel can only stand and watch and weep…
Midwinter. Dusk came stealthily creeping in, intent on stealing away the remains of the day. Fog descended over the grey London skyline, wrapping the Victorian villas in a numinous mist. White stucco coated walls that had shone in the harsh glint of winter sunlight now took on a ghostly air. Comforting coals burning in the hearths within cast a warm glow through opaque windowpanes, orange eyes keeping watch on a cold, dark night. ‘Fire light, fire bright, all is well tonight.’ Smoke snaking from tall chimney pots into the chill air warned any gathering preternatural creatures of darkness to stay away. As dusk succumbed to night’s embrace, the fog began to lift, revealing a star-studded sky. Lights were extinguished and weary folk made their way gratefully to bed, giving thanks to the Lord for the day that was done and the morrow yet to come. One house stood apart from the camaraderie of its neighbours, no warmth or light was to be found within its walls. The interior of number four was just as bleak as its cold, nocturnal façade. Winter’s icy fingers reached into the very heart of the despondent house, into a cavernous bedroom dressed in heavy furniture from a bygone century back when the house was proud and new. A huge mahogany bedstead, barely discernible in the gloom, rose as a dark island in a sea of darkness. Centre stage was given to a huge black Victorian cast iron fireplace, inset with tiles glazed with an elegant William Morris floral design. It was too dim to appreciate the contrast of the beautiful pure white flowers, against the blackness of the cold and empty hearth. Lilies for the departed soul now restored to innocence after death. The room was out of step with the modern world unfolding beyond its ornate walls patterned in rich shades of gold and teal. Heavy jade brocade curtains dressed the window, although slightly closed they admitted a pale sliver of light to slyly come creeping in and illuminate the scene within the room.
From the remoteness of the huge bed, a young child sat up, big hazel eyes wide open, scanning the room for a phantasmagorical Presence she could sense hiding somewhere in the shadows. She drew an eiderdown tightly around her tiny body, tucking the edges under her trembling chin. The big bulky frame of her Father lay beside the little girl. He was sleeping, lost in Morpheus’ arms with heavy breathing reverberating around the room, chasing away the creeping silence. Shadows danced along the walls, thrown up by arbitrary moonbeams. A gilded mirror hung above the fireplace and the child was mesmerised by the forms within its silvery depths.
At bedtime Phaedra loved to curl up with a book of fairy tales enchanting her. She imagined the ethereal creatures from the pages, elves and goblins, fairies, centaurs, unicorns, talking owls, nightingales and brave Knights and beautiful Princesses were all living in the mirror, inhabitants of a world within worlds. As another ray of capricious moonlight fell across the Oak floor, it illuminated a pale, languid, crumpled body. Comatose, the flaccid form lay curled in a foetal position, an almost empty brandy bottle clutched in a lifeless hand. A malevolent shape crouched beside the figure. Both were reflected in the mirror. Seeing the Presence, she had sensed, the child let a strangled sob escape into the gloom, alerting the man. Startled, he scanned the room and assuring himself and his tiny daughter that nothing was amiss, he urged her to snuggle down and sleep. His wife was where he had left her, on the floor. Having witnessed the same drug and alcohol induced scene for far too long and powerless to change things, he had ceased to care a long time ago. Defiantly, the child shook her head, soft auburn ringlets swaying around her little heart shaped face, eyes luminous and anxious.
‘Daddy, the thing is here again! It is sitting next to Mummy!’
‘There is no thing, it is just the shadows.’
‘I can see it in the mirror, flashing dark eyes with red sparks burning like hot coals, Oh Daddy!’
‘Phae, it is just the reflection of the embers in the fireplace.’
‘Daddy the fire is out. Mummy is cold, laying there on the floor, does she need a blanket?’ She enquired tentatively. ‘Why is Mummy on the floor again, and not snuggling up with us like she used to. Why is that scary thing next to her?’
‘Oh, that thing? That’s just Mummy’s shadow friend.’ With tired indifference, he humoured her, eager to go back to sleep. His once beautiful wife’s modelling career had paid handsomely but come at a terrible toll with easy access to drink and drugs and the descent into oblivion and addiction.
‘Shall we cover Mummy to keep her warm? She may be afraid of the dark and are you sure the thing is a friend?’ She persisted.
So many questions, so few answers. Thinly veiling his feelings of revulsion and contempt, voice laden with disgust, the weary man offered comfort ‘The floor is where Mummy and her shadow friend belong, go back to dreamland, Phaedra.’ Then kissing her on the tip of her nose, he rolled over and went back to sleep.
The little girl burrowed under the covers and lay down with her tiny face snuggling into her Daddy’s warm back. Mummy was fine, Daddy knew best. Her worries alleviated she slept the rest of the night comforted by the deep sleep of the innocent. In her dreams, the child called for an Angel, an Angel of Love and Light to come and take the thing away and keep Mummy warm. And the Angel hearing her call, came.
In the hours that lay on the cusp of night and day, a luminous golden radiance bathed the room and an Angel, with benevolent arms outstretched, stepped out into the gloom. He held a gossamer blanket, woven from the light of the stars from the heavens above. With a gentle touch He wrapped the child’s Mother in love and light and tenderness. For the Angel knew, just as the child knew, that the woman although bound by addictions was still deserving of love and compassion.
‘She is mine!’ Hissed a misshapen demonic form.
‘No! She is His.’ Serene cobalt blue eyes looked heavenwards. The Angel knew whilst barricaded into her own pain, it would take a lifetime to free the woman from her tormentor and captor. How long that life would be was written in the stars, yet the Angel was prepared to fight the demon for her eternal Soul.
The demon’s dark eyes flashed red sparks of pure malice and it pushed the brandy bottle across the floorboards. The woman stirred and through a haze she reached for the bottle and taking it from him she drained the last dregs. In his clawed hand the demon held a fresh bottle. The woman lunged at him, eager to feed her addiction.
‘It is yours, but not whilst you clutch at that useless thing!’ it spat in loathing, pointing his gnarled claw at the blanket of Light.
The blanket of Light felt good and through the haze of drugs and alcohol the woman knew she should keep a tight hold.
‘Go away!’ She cried, wrapping the blanket tightly around her body. Grace washed over her and soothed her unquiet soul into a deep and peaceful sleep where the demon could not reach her.
The demon spewed fire and brimstone. ‘If I do not take the mother, I shall return for the child!’ it hissed at the Angel, before its malignant form dissipated into the darkness, along with the stench of stale alcohol and bitter pungency of opiates pervading the air.
The Angel prayed silently and bestowed a quiet benediction over the child and her lost Mother and the man who had long forgotten the truth, as he slept in his warm bed whilst the woman he once loved and had lost her way, lay on the cold floor.
A fragrant blend of frankincense and attar of roses filled the room. The man did not smell the perfume purifying the space around him, his child and his wife. Nor did he see the celestial blanket of stars woven with the Light of Heaven wrapped around her. He did not see the pure white lily the Angel had placed in the woman’s hand when she took away the empty bottle.
He did not see the Angel of Light standing at the foot of the bed, waiting. The demon would return. The woman would try to fight. Without the help of the man her redemption would only come the other side of the veil. The man could not see these things, for he too was enslaved by his own addictions and unable to feel the Presence of God when an Angel calls.
And so, the Angel stood and wept.
Thank you for reading.
The Original version will remain in print as I work on my new version.
‘When demons come dancing in your dreams,I will banish them!’ Vivica reassured her human lover.
Through the ethers she flew, piercing the veil of nightmares to sprinkle oil of Anise on the fabric of his tormented mind.
And so, with arcane arts, the wise witch brought comfort to Chandler’s lonely bed.
Painting ‘Witches on the Sabbath’ (1878) Luis Ricardo Falero
Rather comely wenches…
Anise. Good for banishing malevolent spirits. Equally good as a yummy liqueur: Arak,Ouzo, Sambuca et al… but methinks a drop or two of the old Absinthe and those naughty demons may well be joining you!!
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.
O’er, my Beloved’s thoughtless treat has caused me such distress. He has given given me a bucket full of manky stress 🙁
Dear Eily, what could make you so mad. Has your man been really bad??!😡
Well listen up, M’dears with eager ears…
‘Darling, I am going to gift you a Premier 24 hour Membership to the gym with me!’ Says he, a touch too gleefully.🏋️♀️🤼♀️🚴♀️🏊♀️
I trembled, I shook. Sweaty excercise, so not in my book!
‘Er, no! ‘ says I ‘that would make me cry. I am lush & lovely as I am. Don’t you appreciate my gorgeous assets, 40D … do you want to shrink me?? ‘
I saw the thoughts whirl in his head…As I invited him to snuggle up and watch my favourite movie in our king size bed.
‘Oh no my Love, what would you prefer instead?’
‘Beloved, I don’t want to throw my toys from my pram, but I’d rather like a shiny, Sparkly something. Nothing grand, a bracelet for my hand. I’m feeling a tiny luxury, maybe a little trinket from Tiffany’s!’ 💍💝💎
His face lit up in a big smile, ‘The 40D’s are here to stay, both yummy breakfast in bed and the Tiffany trinkets are on the way!!’
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.
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…
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…
Deep within the darkest heart of night dance slender beams of soft Moon Light.
Brushing aside the despair cloaking the ancient ruins, La Luna’s children playfully danced amid dank and gloomy walls all that remained of the glories of the past. With carefree abandon the darting moonbeams brought illumination to the derelict Eastern Tower, a silent Sentinel withstanding the ravages of time, proudly giving testament to the pride and glory of bygone years. Those who once lived and loved within the Castle’s protective embrace are but jagged shards of memories, forever entombed within decrepit walls. Yet there remains a solitary voice from long ago compelled to whisper her sadness upon the wind. Trapped by her heart she cannot leave her lonely Bower within the Castle Tower.
By the light of the moon, at her lonely loom, sits Lady Perdita. The passage of time has ravaged her home but not she, for the lady is comely still. With hair as dark as a Raven’s wing and eyes of cobalt blue, her beauty beguiles the starless night, for there is no other to gaze upon her countenance within these torn and empty walls. Softly, she sings a sad lament, fragments from a Troubadour’s tale of a love long lost. Sorrow clouds her as a shroud. With downcast eyes and ethereal hands she takes soft strands of numinous threads and weaves silently through her tears. Through the telling of her silken tales there begins to unfold a story of love, a story of loss. The lost love of a Knight of old. Her Knight…Her story…
To the soft strains of a melancholy Mandolin every stitch of the Knight’s chivalrous deeds begin to unfold upon her fragile tapestry.
Sir Allard, encased in his suit of armour and clutching his sword of steel, mounted his dashing destrier. He basked in the admiration he drew from the assembly of illustrious Lords and Ladies, all too aware all eyes were on him. He smiled knowing both damsels and Dowagers were dazzled by his presence. As he graciously bestowed generous glances upon the Ladies fair, Perdita smiled trustingly. She knew within his brave breast beat the chivalrous heart of one who only had eyes for her. And so with a righteous fire burning in his heart and mounting his noble steed the valiant Knight bade Adieu to his assembled Court and proudly rode to war.
Satisfied with the vibrancy of the first scene, Perdita left her loom and her labour of love. Gazing out of the window her searching heart went forth once more into the blanket of night, looking and longing for her Gallant Knight who had sailed from England’s green and pleasant lands to faraway shores. With a sigh she returned to her tapestry, intent on weaving the threads of her fragrant memories, did she know how their story would unfold?
There is a chill that pervades her bower, yet her shivers are not from cold, but the delightful anticipation of her noble Knight’s triumphant return. The glory! The honour! How her heart sang joyfully for him! She wrapped her self in the warm glow of the sweet words of eternal love he had spoken. How her heart ached when she recalled her initial reluctance upset him so. His entreaties were urgent. Why would she not acquiesce to his burning desires? He protested his Lady was so cruel to tarry, for he had great perils to face. The sweet memories of her succour would comfort him upon the bloody battlefields. Surely his heart would rend in two if she did not return his love! Perdita was torn. She cried bitter tears. As a highborn Lady she would bring dishonour to her family if she lay with him without the sanctity of a wedding band. Kissing her tears away, her chivalrous Knight declared they would marry upon his victorious return from the beast of war. With lyrical persuasion Allard’s conquest was assured. Cautioning Perdita to keep her own counsel and keep their tryst secret, he gave her a ring of gold set with a ruby. The dazzling red gemstone held the promise of eternal love and bought her silence.
Through the cloak of darkness a mote of light broke through the night, bringing momentary illumination. Perdita’s fragile heart skipped a beat. Was that her Knight she saw? Cruel memories came crashing into her dreams. A tear fell. Her beloved had sailed away across the seven seas. He had abandoned his Lover to her fate and all for the King’s glory, crusading in a faraway Land. Watching the passage of many Moon tides from her lonely Bower she entreated the star clad night to light his way home, before her shame was there for all to see. Highborn Lady Perdita, who some may say was without blame, could not be seen to be robed in tarnished garments of dishonour as the seed of new life grew within her belly. Yet she held her head high, comforted by their unborn child’s quickening and Allard’s reassurances. For her Knight would surely return and she would be his wife, and all judgement would pass, would it not?
The dying embers of the old year brought tidings of great sorrow. Sir Allard would nevermore see the sunrise or set upon England’s Sceptered Isle. Nor give his child his rightful name. Enemy and Gallantry had brought him to his knees. Ever true to her Love, Perdita kept her counsel well. For the Templar’s cause her brave Knight willingly gave his life. For her family honour, Perdita gave hers.
They found her at the break of day, her lifeless and broken body lying at the foot of castle walls. A ruby ring upon her unwed hand glinted in the pale winter sunlight. The fallen Lady was laid to rest beneath her lonely bower whilst far away under an Eastern Sun her Lover sleeps beneath shifting sands.
The solitary passage of time has shrouded the castle walls in creeping ivy, shadows and gloom. Yet awaiting her Lover’s return Perdita’s ghost still sits by her loom, lingering midst the rot and decay, trusting Love eternal will raise their hearts from the ashes and dust of betrayal. Her Love lives on, though they are all long dead…
Perchance, your steps take you through the ruined walls of the Castle Keep, they do say by pale moon light and night’s embrace, you may yet hear the strains of a mandolin as the lonely Lady weeps within her ghostly bower.
Deep within the darkest heart of night dance slender beams of soft Moon Light.
Thank you for reading a ghostly tale from my latest book!
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 the elegant 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 gave way to night the fog began to lift. Lights were extinguished and weary folk made their way gratefully to bed, giving thanks to the Lord for the day that had just been done and the morrow yet to come. The interior of number four was just as bleak as the façade. Winter’s icy fingers reached into the very heart of the despondent house, into a cavernous bedroom dressed with heavy furniture of a bygone century when the house was proud and new. A huge mahogany bedstead, barely discernible in the gloom, rose as a dark island in a sea darkness. An oak armoire and a Chiffonier threw dark, dancing shadows. A huge black Victorian cast iron fireplace, inset with tiles glazed with an elegant William Morris floral design took centre stage. It was too dark to appreciate the contrast of the beautiful pure white flowers, against the blackness of the cold and empty hearth. Lilies for the departed soul now restored to innocence after death. The room was out of step with the modern world unfolding beyond its ornate walls patterned in rich shades of gold and teal. Heavy brocade curtains dressed window. Although slightly closed they admitted a pale sliver of moonlight to come creeping in and illuminate the scene within the room.
From the remote island of the big bed, a young child sat up, big hazel eyes wide open, scanning the room for an unknown yet threatening Presence. She drew an eiderdown tightly around her tiny body, tucking the edges under her tiny chin. The warmth was reassuring, providing a degree of safety and comfort. The big bulky frame of her Father lay beside the little girl. He was sleeping, heavy breathing reverberating around the room, chasing away the creeping silence. Shadows danced on the walls, intermittently thrown up by arbitrary moonlight. A gilded mirror hung above the fireplace and the child was mesmerised by the forms within its silvery depths. Were there phantasmagorical creatures living in the mirror, inhabitants of a world within worlds? A ray of capricious moonlight fell across the hardwood floor, illuminating a languid, white, and crumpled body. Comatose, the flaccid form lay curled in a foetal position, an empty brandy bottle clutched in a lifeless hand. A strangled sob escaped into the gloom alerting the man, and on seeing his tiny daughter was wide-awake, urged her to snuggle down and sleep. Having witnessed the scene for far too long and powerless to change things, he had ceased to care a long time ago. Defiantly, the child shook her head, soft auburn ringlets swaying around her little heart shaped face, big hazel eyes luminous and anxious. She enquired tentatively whether Mummy was cold, laying there on the floor? Why was Mummy on the floor yet again, and not snuggling up with them like she used to? Should Mummy get into bed too? Should they cover Mummy to keep her warm? Thinly veiling his feelings of revulsion and contempt, voice laden with disgust, the tired man reassured his tiny child that Mummy was fine. So many questions, so few answers. The floor was where Mummy wanted to be, so they should leave her there and go back to dreamland. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep. The little girl burrowed under the covers, and lay down with her tiny nose snuggling into her Daddy’s warm back. Mummy was fine, Daddy knew best. Her worries alleviated, she slept the rest of the night comforted by the deep sleep of the innocent. In her dreams, the child called for an Angel, an Angel of Love and Light, and the Angel hearing her call, came.
Suddenly, a luminous golden glow bathed the room and the Angel stepped out of the Light with her arms outstretched. She held a gossamer blanket, woven from the light of the stars from the heavens above, and gently she wrapped the child’s Mother in love and light and tenderness. For the Angel knew, just as the child knew, that the woman although bound by addictions and barricaded into her own pain was still a beloved child of the Godhead, of Source and deserving of love and forgiveness and understanding. The Angel prayed a quiet benediction over the child and her Mother and the man who had long forgotten the truth, as he slept in his warm bed whilst his wife lay on the cold, hard floor. A fragrant blend of frankincense and lilies filled the room. The sour smell of stale alcohol pervading the air now dissipated. The man did not smell the fragrant perfume purifying the woman nor did he see the blanket of stars that wrapped her. He did not see the Angel of Light tending to his wife as the Celestial Being tried to remove the vicious demons of addiction from her. He did not see the tender white lily the Angel placed in the woman’s hand as she took away the empty bottle. He did not see these things, for he too was enslaved by his own addictions.
And the Angel stood and wept silent tears for the man and the woman who could not see, as their child could, the Presence of Angels.
Do you ever wonder why we have pets, why we have a close affinity with animals? I believe we are given our pets by God to help us on our life path. They love us absolutely unconditionally, and the bond once formed with an animal can be so strong, so intense and life affirming. Love is Present. It breaks my heart when people are cruel or unkind to God’s creatures. There is no need for it.
It is really easy to love that cute little fur-ball of a kitten or a puppy. It is a lot harder to have the same ‘Ahh’ feeling for a tough old alley cat, but who is to say that a battered old bruiser is not just as deserving of a little TLC and respect?
I‘d like to tell you about one such Cat I met many years ago. His name was Charlie, he was the scourge of the neighbourhood. He was big and brawny and Charlie liked nothing more than to prowl around looking for a good fight.
Charlie was not a friendly cat. Although he had a home, he was originally a rescue cat, he was very much his own boss. His nature was much more alley cat than pampered pet. He had attacked other cats and dogs and he had even attacked people too. Often very viciously and I heard first hand how he managed to claw and draw blood from a lovely elderly lady who is known locally to be extremely kind to animals. Clarice needed hospital treatment for the wounds he inflicted, yet she never reported Charlie nor did she complain to his owner about his bad behaviour, choosing forgiveness instead of anger and resentment. Clarice told me his owner had enough of her own worries and there was no need to burden her further. She was a very wise woman.
My special pet is called Angel, she is just the most adorable fluffy white West Highland Terrier. She has a very loving nature and is a very sweet and friendly girl. Although Angel has a big bark inside our house, she is shy and timid outside.
One day Angel was out walking with me, It is very green and pretty where we live. She was happily doing doggy things, like sniffing all those interesting scents from other pooches, cats and foxes. Out of nowhere Charlie sprang at her and tried to claw her down her back, she is a small Westie and at that time not long past her puppy days, and next to Angel Charlie was HUGE. Angel is my baby girl and no one and nothing will hurt her whilst I am around to love and protect her. So I reached down and scooped her into my arms and roared at Alfie ‘Leave her alone!’ I roared so loud my voice stunned him and he gave up on his ambush and slunk off into the bushes. Angel was very shook up and frightened and I was not best pleased with that cat. For the longest time when I saw him afterwards, one look from me and he just knew better than to mess with Angel again. Knowing she was safe, Angel just continued doing her doggy thing, sniffing all those deliciously enticing scents and not engaging with him.
A few weeks later, I was sat on the step in my front garden, hunkered down between our very tall hedges. Along the path comes Charlie. I was feeling very down about something. As is the way with life, all things pass, all is transitory and I no longer recall what had upset me although at the time it was important enough for me to seek solitude in nature. Charlie had (if cats can have such a thing!) a very ‘hang dog’ look about him. He wasn’t slinking along with his usual beligerant air.
I caught his eye and asked him ‘You not feeling so good either Charlie?’ He stood watching me, in that way cats have of staring into your eyes and deeply reading you. I dare say, cat owners have no secrets from them! And then something odd happened. In that instant I just knew everything aboutCharlie, why he was like he was and how his ‘old battered bruiser Tomcat’ exterior was just an overcoat wrapped around a lost boy who had a heart after all. He told me he had especially chosen his special human Courtney, the girl who had “rescued” him, because she was having a hard time in this game called life, and she had been battered and bruised by a lot of unkind people. He had come to show her she was worthy of love and devotion and that he enough strength and courage to protect both of them.
He came over and gently rubbed his face against my leg and I stroked him under his chin. He sat there and purred a bit. I talked and Charlie listened and between us we gained a liking and a great deal of mutual respect for each other. When I needed a friend that day, God sent one along albeit he came in the strangest disguise!
Charlie and Courtney eventually moved on, where she went, he went. I know a well deserved and happier life awaited both of them.
I have long forgotten whatever had ailed me but even though he is long gone, I have never forgotten old Charlie the cat.
Thank you for reading! This is a true story although, apart from Angel, I have changed the names of the characters who appear in my little sharing:)
“I knew these people…once…It was a long time ago…”
She looked like she needed to talk, some fragmented ghost of a memory rattling around the caverns of her mind seeking to find a voice. So I pulled up a chair and sat down beside her and prepared to listen. After all, it is what I do. Listen. I listen a lot. People tell me things, always have. Seems to come from nowhere, the torrent of words, the secrets and the shames. I never judge. That is for the Man above not me.
A waiter came over. Smartly dressed with slicked back black hair, just a hint of grey kissing his temples and a smile that reached his rich brown eyes. I noted he was deferential without being subservient, in a very European way. I liked him and resolved to leave him a good tip. I saw he liked her, a lot. Did she like him? It was difficult to tell. There was a story hiding behind his smile, but that would be for another time. Right now was her time. She had something to say and I had a strong intuition I needed to hear it.
I ordered a pot of English Breakfast Tea, toast and marmalade, “Make that for two, please,” I glanced at her and she nodded her approval at him.
“Très bon,” he rewarded us both with a smile, hiding just a soupçon of merriment. This man did not take life too seriously at all. He really was very handsome and as he walked away a delicious hint of citrus and spice lingered in the air.
“Mmm,” I sniffed appreciatively “Do I detect patchouli and sandalwood?”
“Indeed you do. Top notes and base notes. Quite enticing, isn’t it? Clive Christian 1872,” she replied with authority and I wondered if she was the one who had gifted him a very fine bottle of cologne.
We sat in comfortable companionship in the beautiful glass roofed Courtyard. Soft pink stucco walls wrapped the restaurant with the elegance of a bygone age. She asked me if this was my first visit to the Wallace Collection. I smiled and told her I often came here to Hertford House and take yet another admiring stroll through the sumptuous rooms of the museum, admiring the works of fine art, especially paintings depicting angels. I told her my Mother had first brought me here as a little girl.
“Mummy are Angels just make believe or are they really real like the elves with their black patent shoes with big silver buckles and fairies with their gossamer wings in my big picture book?” I had made earnest enquiries.
“Indeed they are Evie,” Mummy had replied, “Would you like to see the lovely paintings of the Angels in Hertford House? We shall look at suits of armour and you can see for yourself knights who protected princesses were very real too! We shall have tea and toast and yummy jam when we finish. ”
My Mother always had a special way of making the most magical things sound a natural part of everyday life. I missed her and gazing at my elegant companion momentarily wondered would Mummy have looked just like her if the sickness had not came and took her away much too soon. Would we be sitting here now recalling my delight at the moment I had gazed on the beautiful paintings of Lords and Ladies of long ago. Entranced by the many treasures housed in the Wallace Collection, I had moved from one sumptuous and ornate gallery to the next, each filled with armour, fine porcelain, ornate snuffboxes and gorgeous fireplaces and rococo chandeliers. And I had seen the Angels. And I had believed.
I saw I was under close scrutiny, “I like it here,” I told her, “ I like it a lot. It’s been a long love affair,” I said.
She smiled and told me she loved it too, had been visiting the imposing Georgian house, standing proudly on London’s Manchester Square, for as long as she could remember. She said that she loved the Gainsborough’s and Fragonard’s. She smiled in appreciation as she divulged her favourite painting and said she found Scheffer’s “The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil” hauntingly beautiful. She said it made her cry. She told me she hugely admired the serenity of Velázquez’s black veiled beauty “The Lady with a Fan” and shared she was intrigued by sculptures depicting veiled beauties. She wondered if Raffaele Monti’s emotive statuette really depicted a Circassian slave? Perhaps, she postulated, she was truly free and her beautiful veiled countenance was an allegory for her seeing ‘beyond the veil’ into numinous realms. She said her name was Evelyn and she had a town house close by in Crawford Street, she was a Writer and she was glad of my company. A lot of words as one would expect, but not what she really needed to say.
I shivered involuntarily. Crawford Street was a place I knew well, having grown up in an elegant stucco fronted Georgian house. In different circumstances I would be living there now, but for the premature loss of my darling Mother. That house held many happy memories and I had vowed one day to return, that it would be my home again. Meeting Evelyn was proving to be more than a touch synchronistic.
Our tea and toast arrived.
“Those people…?” I tried to engage her to take my mind away from wandering down dark avenues from the past.
I poured tea, fragrant with freshly pressed leaves, from a pewter pot into our cups and she added the milk and sugar. The toast was good. I ladled on rich yellow butter and a generous helping of deliciously bitter marmalade and as I savoured the flavours I waited for her to speak. You can have an intuition on what they may say, sometimes hear the words before they actually speak them. Then when they do speak, the emotions come in, sometimes softly flowing, sometimes a tidal wave. And I have it all hitting me, sometimes it’s hard to remain inscrutable, to just listen. But it is about them, not me, so they never know I have eyes that look into their distant pasts and possible futures, their right here, right now’s or just how much I know…
She was different. Looking at me quizzically with intelligent eyes, and with a start I realised she was reading me reading her. A feint smile. I winked at her, knowingly. We laughed conspiratorially.
Sunlight, delicately streaming through the glass roof caught her hair. Cool blonde with strands of silver pulled off her face by a black velvet band. A woman of a certain age, but what that age was I would be hard pressed to say. Quietly understated elegance. She wore pearl earrings. Beautiful pearls, soft as moonlight. I admired them.
“Indeed yes, they are beautiful. Tears from the moon.” Her eyes misted. I reached over and covered her hand with mine. A simple gesture, speaks more eloquently and deeply than words ever can. She had long slim fingers tipped with manicured nails varnished the colour of her pale pink pearls. Her hand was surprisingly cold.
“Those people…” I encouraged, knowing the earrings held the key to her story, as did love. Was it lost, unrequited, had her heart been broken or did she carry the heavy weight of human frailty having inflicted pain and hurt on another? I munched my toast waiting for her to reply. The toast here is really very good. My reward for patience just a flicker behind her grey eyes, a wry smile and the deafening sound of silence. Perhaps a guilty conscience lay behind her insouciance? I truly hoped not.
Suddenly I had a very strong desire to know and held her gaze searchingly. I saw the relief in her face as the waiter returned with a fresh pot of tea and she took the opportunity to slip her hand away from mine, the shutters were down. The moment had passed. I got she was uncomfortable with my touch, the warmth of another human reaching out to her. I wasn’t sure if she would tell me her story, or keep her secrets to be shared only with the ghost living in the caverns of her mind. With a start, I realised I could not read her, looking into her eyes all I saw was myself looking back, my pale pink pearls catching rainbows of light as the sun danced through the atrium.
She may well have a lifetime of stories to tell, but I was going to have to live them before Evelyn shared our secrets with me, Evie…
★ A cautionary tale of asking an adept of the Dark Arts to misuse witchery★
The lone horseman cut a shadowy figure, barely visible threading his way through Sherrards Wood. The trail was overgrown and difficult for both man and beast to negotiate, especially as the weather had a mind to be unkind and inclement this winter’s eve. It was a night to be fireside with plates piled high with good food and fine wine served by comely wenches. He cursed vehemently as the cold rain began soaking through his opulent velvet cloak, the fur trim sticking uncomfortably to his skin. The north wind, having taken a dislike to the man, had a mind to torment him and screeched obscenities right back at him.
Unsettled by the strange shadows prowling through the trees and the howling wind Favian made haste. He violently dug sharp spurs into his horse, urging it to break from its steady canter into a gallop. Almost expecting to see a pack of baying hellhounds giving chase he glanced over his shoulder, unaware the path was narrowing ahead. The hoot of a barn owl startled his steed, and spooked, it lurched to the left into dense undergrowth. The move was unexpected and before the man could gain control of the reins angry brambles scratched and tore at his noble face. Favian shouted at the horse as he felt a hot trickle of blood coursing down his cheek, rivulets of red running over his lips. The taste of iron was bitter and he spat in distaste, wiping his mouth with the back of his gloved hand. Savagely he used his whip on the animal’s flanks, blaming the innocent creature for his discomfort.
By the time Favian reached his destination he was in a foul mood. He would not have ventured out on such a night if it were not of such import. Dismounting, he tied Ned his uncomplaining old horse to an ancient chestnut tree. There was no thought to the creature’s well being. It had been a long hard ride and food or water would have brought welcome respite to the tired horse. There was none to be had. Instead the man saw to his own needs and reached deep inside his cavernous cloak searching for a comforting leather flagon filled with mead. Having availed himself of a long draught of the sweet tasting and warming liquor he strode purposefully towards a dilapidated hovel. Standing forlornly within the forest clearing it was a far cry from the opulence within his father’s castle walls. A spiral of thin grey smoke rose up into the damp night air, whatever comfort it brought was carried away on the howling wind. The crackling of broken twigs caused the hairs to rise on his neck. For a moment he hesitated. A sense of foreboding came over him and he felt uncharacteristically afraid. Drawing in his breath and a dagger from his side and with feral eyes searching for hidden foes, he was on high alert. The skinny black cat that rushed by him brought relief from his fear and aiming a misplaced kick at the cat he laughed as it turned, arched its back and hissed. Another deep swig of the mead strengthened his conviction and he followed the creature towards the hovel. The cat was sat outside a weather beaten wooden door staring directly at him. Its amber eyes were penetrating and he had the uncomfortable feeling the creature was boring into his mind. He shook himself, he was not a fanciful man, it was only a cat not some phantasmagorical creature of the night the likes of which the villagers spoke of in hushed and fearful tones. Favian was strong, and if not for an accident of birth as the second son of a nobleman he would be on the brink of becoming the most powerful Lord of the Manor in these parts. The cat was in his way. Favian did not like anything or anyone to stand in the way of what he wanted. Without a second thought he unsheathed his dagger and took aim.
His face clouded darkly at the thought of what might have been if it were not for his weakling of a brother. With only a matter of days, if not hours, before the Lord of the Manor breathed his last it would all fall into his unworthy hands. Favian spat in disgust at the thought of Florian, his pathetic sibling whom he had left sobbing at their aged Father’s deathbed inheriting everything. The heir should have been him. He was the man to own the castle and the lands far beyond its walls. He should be the one with men to command, swearing allegiance to no one but the King himself. He should be the one to marry Estella, the comely and virtuous maiden chosen for his brother’s bride. The thoughts burnt as raging coals in the furnace of his mind. It should have been him! He deserved no less. Life was unfair! His were the eyes that saw her first, the French beauty with flaxen hair wound and bound around her proud head and dancing eyes of cobalt blue. He had shown his devotion to her on the jousting field. Yet she had spurned his ardent displays of valour in favour of his weak sibling. How could she prefer Florian’s vapid utterings of courtly love, serenading her with the songs of the Troubadours, to his manly valour?
As his Father’s second son arrangements had already been made for him to enter the church. His future mapped out for him, a future he did not want. It was not what he deserved. A future life as an Abbot was not to his taste, something had to be done and it had to be done now, before it was too late. The hovel before him held the solution. He had come this far and now there was no going back.
He seethed recalling the scene that had become etched in agonies of jealousy upon his mind, robbing him of sleep and peaceful repose. Florian and Estella locked in a tight embrace beneath the eastern tower, whilst he remained unseen listening from a window above.
‘Ah Estella, my heart aches for Father and his plight. I fear the days to come. If there were another way I would keep my brother close, but I have seen the darkness growing in his jealous heart. He would see me join our Father in death’s embrace and take you to his side!’
‘Fear not, my beloved Florian, for I will be forever at your side, two hearts entwined as one. Favian has a cruel and vindictive streak. The powers that be would not allow for him to become the next Lord of this Manor. If ever two brothers were so different! One of you pure heart, the other with a heart as black as night. He would not rule with wise council and grace, as you will my love.’
‘He does not want to enter the confines of the church, but Father and I decided he is far too brutal to take on the auspices of Knighthood.’
‘Chivalry is not in his dark nature, Florian. The church may well prove safe haven for his eternal soul. Come my love, let us return to your Father’s side. Eliza has brought me a potion of Meadowsweet and Wood Sorrell she prepared in the herborium to aid him in his hour of need.’
‘You are indeed blessed to have her as your handmaiden for she comes to you with many talents born of an ancient lineage, my love. Those amber eyes of hers hold much knowledge.’
‘Indeed Florian, for one so young she is well versed in the old ways, which are always useful in dangerous times such as these.’
Hand in hand they had walked back into the castle and to his Father’s bedchamber.
With a sense of urgency Florian sought out Eliza…
The interior of the hovel was dark, lit by a single stumpy candle formed from tallow and the dying embers of a spent fire, and it took Favian a moment or two to acclimatise to the gloom. The tallow smelt acrid and unpleasant and he sniffed in distain. A creak drew his attention and he made out the shape of a crumpled old woman sat fireside upon a wooden stool. She was wrapped in a thick woollen shawl over a dirty black skirt. Her feet were bare and coated in the grime of the forest floor. The cat was nowhere to be seen, despite having evaded his dagger and run through the door which had creaked open seconds before Favian had made his unceremonious entrance. A sudden movement and the fire sprang into life casting a low glow. A blackened pot hung on a hook above the grate. Burning embers added much needed illumination to the pitifully poor interior. It was almost threadbare apart from a rocking chair and a trestle table laden with jars of potions and bunches of dried herbs and flowers. The old woman broke into an unexpectedly raucous cackle and the cavern of her mouth gawped open exposing a few rotten teeth within her wizened maw. Her face was lined and wrinkled by the ravages of time and strands of straggly white hair covered her eyes.
‘What can I do for you good Sir Favian?’ Her polite enquiry was laced with sarcasm.
‘Eliza sent me,’ he stated starkly, not questioning she knew who he was.
‘Oh.’ There was no surprise in the voice that answered.
‘Eliza told me you practice the Arts.’
‘What Arts would they be? What would an old woman such as myself know of Arts? I live a humble life, living of the land and grateful for the charity of those good of heart.’
‘Pah! Don’t play with me old woman,’ he menacingly bent his large frame into her frail body. ‘It is said by those superstitious villagers that you are an adept of the dark arts.’
‘It would be very foolish to claim such powers. You know what villagers are like with their silly gossip about witchcraft and the like.’ She left her words hanging coldly between them.
‘Eliza is not given to gossip. That girl knows things!’
‘Aye, she may well do so Sir Favian, but I dare say what she knows she shares only with those she trusts within your Father’s walls and keeps her own counsel.’
‘And she did too, until I beat it out of her!’ he spat in frustration.
The old woman responded icily ‘Did you indeed? Was there any need for that? Eliza has been a true and loyal maidservant to the Lady Estella and your noble family. I hear you tried to make good use of both those fair ladies yourself. I hear your Father has made provisions for you to enter the Church.’ Her voice was loaded with contempt.
Favian clenched his fists, face red with rage. He would have swung for the helpless old woman, but he needed her. His eyes grew cold and he resolved once he had what he had come for she would get what she rightly deserved for such insolence. They burnt witches and no one would doubt his testimony the old hag had put a spell on his brother causing him a quick and painful death. He smiled at the thought of all his plans coming to fruition. With his Father dying, his brother dead and the Manor all but his nothing would prevent him taking the lady Estella for his wife. And as for the comely Eliza, there would be no one to protect her and keep him from her bedchamber now. It would not be long until he got just what he rightly deserved.
‘A man in my position gets what he deserves, and more, that is why I am here and you will help me get what is rightfully mine.’ He crouched down low and grabbed the old woman’s wrists in a vice like grip. ‘Eliza said you practice the dark Arts. She said you were the only one who could give me what I deserve, and give it to me you will!’
‘Unhand me and tell me what it is you want, I will not be able to practice the Arts you speak of with broken hands.’
‘I want control of the Manor and all the land and villagers. The old Lord is on his deathbed and I should be his heir.’
‘Does not his Lordship have a firstborn son, your brother? You are but a second son, the right of title will not pass to you.’
‘Aye, what you say is true, but with less than a year between us my brother is everything I am not. He is weak and his support for King Stephen over the Empress Maude could loose us everything in these dangerous times. As Lord of the manor I will pledge allegiance to Maude and her cause. I will receive great riches and rewards for my loyalty!’
‘There are many in these parts would call that treachery Sir. King Stephen is the rightful heir and his support is strong. You could loose everything, The King is not a forgiving man, so it is said. But how can I help with such matters?’
‘You were the one taught Eliza the power of potions. I need such a potion. I need something to remove the obstacles in my path to my destiny. I need what I deserve and I need it now, tonight!’
‘Then why did you not ask Eliza for such a potion?’
‘She said her skills were in healing and removing those things that ail a body. I beat the truth out of her, she sent me here to get what I deserve from one practised in the old ways and the dark Arts. I am done conversing with you old woman; give me what I ask for. I will have what I rightfully deserve before day break.’
‘Hmm. Indeed I shall use my Arts to give you what you deserve, Sir Favian. If it is your will and you so desire it, then confirm your intent and it shall be so, but I warn you once the spell has been cast to give you what you rightfully deserve there will be no going back. Death will occur and what has been engendered cannot be undone.’
‘I do desire it.’
The old woman stood up and walked over to the trestle table. Carefully she rooted through the bottles and herbs. Selecting those she required she returned to the fire. There are indeed herbs that heal and there are also herbs that harm. Throwing sprigs of henbane onto the fire, she began chanting arcane words. She added Hemlock, Mandrake and Thorn-apple followed by Wolfsbane. The fire began to spit and growl as angry flames grew higher.
Favian stood before it lapping up the warmth, satisfied it had begun. The chanting grew more urgent and the flames intensified.
‘Are you sure I should continue?’ she asked.
‘Do it!’ he replied excitement of what would rightfully be his consuming him.
The old woman opened a vial of a foul smelling liquid and cast it onto the fire, her woollen cloak slipped to the floor. She did not look frail now. Her hair was no longer white, but a blanket of black cascading down her back. Through billowing smoke he could just about make out her shape as she stood tall and proud. As she added more herbs and resins, the smoke cleared. Favian saw her eyes for the first time. Luminous, deep amber eyes. Eliza’s eyes. Shocked he blinked and she was gone. With a roar, flames of blue and gold chased red sparks up the chimney. Favian gave a gasp, it seemed as if the gates of hell were opening. Fire and brimstones spewed out into the room and began encircling him. In fear he cried for it to stop.
A cackle filled the air. The only reply was a vicious hiss from the black cat as it stepped out of the cloak on the floor, fixed him with deep amber eyes and sauntered out of the door.
~Thank you for reading!
★ and more tales of the supernatural are within my latest book★
I am very excited to welcome a special guest author to “Gossamer Threads” and I hope you enjoy the first instalment of a Sci-Fi Series by my beautiful boy, Ryan Nash, aged 13 🙂
There is us, the human race, the only place we could live is on Earth or so we thought. Lately scientists are developing a space shuttle capable of travelling way beyond our solar system. Giving the human race the chance to dramatically evolve to their full potential. The launch of this craft is due to take off next Sunday on 1st January 2035. Since the economy crash of 2020 technology has evolved to become more advanced than scientists previously predicted in 2005 as we begin to evolve.
By the time Sunday came, everyone was ecstatic and filled with joy to see the first shuttle launch since 2010. The shuttle was very big and holographic; it has huge thrusters and looked ascetically pleasing. Shortly after admiring the beast of a shuttle it was the decisive moment the time to make history. The count-down began 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and off it went, accelerating faster and faster, through the sky before becoming no more than a faint red dot in the sky and disappearing into the beyond.
Meanwhile on the space shuttle the crew were preparing to go into hyper drive propelling them light years away from the milky way within minuets. Their mission was exploration and investigation. Their mission would take the crew about 1 year, hopefully returning home by New Year’s Eve 2036. Quickly the engines on the shuttle power up to hyper drive and within a blink of an eye the shuttle was hurtling into the unknown.
As the engines came out of hyper drive to the slow hum of the engines whirling down, the crew were amazed to see bright and vibrant colours and some colours that they never even knew of their existence. The Beyond was truly an amazing place populated by different planets; a strangely coloured smallish purple planet, a large green planet and an extra large blue planet with 12 moons!
“This is amazing,” one of the crew members said as another took a photo of the new planets with their phone. Space in this new solar system was not like the black dullness back in our home solar system, instead it was alive with vibrant and pinkie blue tones. It made the solar system look more friendly and cute.
“Okay, enough lolly gagging and admiring the planets, now lets go and explore and investigate these new planets.”
The large shuttle slowly approached the small green planet. Once the shuttle had landed the crew members disembarked the shuttle to explore and collect samples form the planet’s surface. The crew called the planet Dormarous. As the doors on the shuttle open, the crew take their first steps on Dormarous. The planet seemed like earth, but as if they were in a rain forest.
“Interesting,” one of the crew members observed. “What?” another said, “The Eco system is exactly like Earth, we can breath this air, in-fact the oxygen here is purer that the oxygen on earth!”
Surprised the crew slowly remove their large metal helmets and took their first breathes. The place the crew discovered is not like any other known solar system, for the crew had found a self aware solar system, populated by self aware planets, suns, moons and stars.
As the crew of the shuttle were taking samples, one crew member dug a soil sample from the ground when there was a tremor beneath their feet. The crew member had just hurt Dormarous! At first the crew just thought it was a short anomaly nothing more than a mini quake. But it soon became apparent that it wasn’t a coincidence, but a known fact that every time a crew member stuck a metal object into the ground there would be a mini quake.
“That’s weird,” one crew member remarked.
“What is?” another enquired.
“It seems that every time I poke the ground it causes a mini quake!”
The crew member was right! In fact it was unsettling creepy that the planet could feel pain and the crew wondered if they could do more things to the planet, make it feel emotions. But how would the crew be able to accomplish something like this? The crew could never have imagined that they would encounter something so bizarre or something as strange as this.
The crew returned to the shuttle to collect some equipment and electronics to further test the question ‘Does the planet feel like any other sentient being?’ As strange as it is, the crew were very creative in how they tested this theory. The first test had already been completed and results had strongly indicated that the planet may indeed feel pain. One of the crew members documented the events that had taken place on their time on the strange planet they named Dormarous, while the rest of the crew were trying to test the theory ‘Could the planet feel anger and depression?’ Their first attempt went as a fail. The crew tried shouting at the planet, but nothing happened. Then the crew started arguing with each other about what they were going to do to be able to make the planet feel other emotions. Just as they were arguing, the planet started to violently shake and the equipment started to go off the charts with 7.9 magnitude quakes. Right at that moment the quakes ended, a deep loud voice shouted ‘SILENCE!’ Shocking the whole crew.
The crew became increasingly concerned about their safety.
‘DON’T YOU PEOPLE HAVE ANY SANITY!’ The planet Dormarous asked incredulously.
One crew member shouted out ‘Who are you what do you want from us?’
In reply the planet Dormarous continued to speak ‘WHY ARE YOU BEINGS SO DECEPTIVE AND CONNIVING?’
‘Us conniving and deceptive?’ One crew member responded indignantly.
Dormarous started to become angry and more agitated and annoyed. ‘THAT’S IT! I’VE HAD ENOUGH!’
Suddenly a hole opened up and devoured the shuttle craft.
‘TO GET THE SHUTTLE BACK YOU WILL HAVE TO PASS A SERIES OF TESTS TO PROVE TO ME THAT YOU ARE WORHTY TO BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE! PROVE TO ME YOU ARE ALL WORTHY AND YOU WILL GET YOUR SHUTTLE BACK AND ALL BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE IN PEACE. KNOW THIS, FAILURE FOR ONE IS FAILURE FOR ALL AND THERE WILL BE DIRE CONSEQUENCES FOR FAILURE, TO SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE ON THIS PLANET AND DIE HERE OR TO DIE IMMEDIATELY, YOUR FATE IS NOW IN YOUR HANDS. CHOOSE WISELY AND BE CAREFUL.’
A cautionary tale of Dapper Don and my timely escape from becoming his reluctant muse…A true story.
….I was taking a little trip down memory lane and thinking about the many times I have accidentally got myself in trouble through misplaced kindness.
‘How could kindness cause trouble?’ I hear you ask, dear Reader.
‘Intentions being at odds with expectations,’ is the answer, I guess. One person intends one thing, the other expects something else…as was the case with my accidental ‘clandestine coffee date’ with dapper Don…
It is hard to resist a cute dog out walkies with their human. Teddy the little Yorkshire Terrier was a handsome boy and very engaging with it, he knew just how to get attention. I would stop and fuss over him and pass a few words with the man attached to his lead. Eventually the delightful little doggy succumbed to old age and passed over the Rainbow Bridge and I didn’t see Don anymore.
Then one day I bump into him and have a little catch up chat. I should have remembered that dogs and their owners are often similar in temperament, the late lamented Teddy could wrap any female in a five mile radius around his cute little paws. Don tells me he is lonely. He tells me his long term live in girlfriend left him. He says he misses company.
I reassure him that he is a fine looking gentleman, well dressed and well kept and has such a charming manner that he will certainly meet a lovely new lady.
He says he likes to go to town in the mornings to sit and have his coffee and just watch the world go by and it would be nice, just once, to sit with someone. He has spun such a tale of woe that by now I am feeling so sorry for him and offer to buy him a coffee and watch the world go by with him for a while. I arrange to meet him at Costa coffee at 11am. He brightens considerably and we go our separate ways.
I go home to my lovely husband. When he asks me what I am up to the next day I tell him about my latest act of kindness, my coffee morning with a lonely gentleman. He looks a bit dubious, says nothing BUT he will meet me afterwards at around 12ish and to keep my phone on. So all is good and next day off I trot on my impossibly high heels to do my good deed 🙂
I rock up at Costa and Don is sat, dapper as ever, just as he said watching the world go by with his drink in his hand. I buy me one and him another. We are chatting away and it’s just like having coffee like with the girls…or so I think…
I tell him I am writing and have finished a book. He seems interested. I tell him I like witchy things, his eyes glaze and he rapidly looses interest. He starts talking about himself. He doesn’t stop. He tells me art is his hobby and he belongs to the local art club and that he has had work in their exhibitions.
‘Oh how wonderful! How impressive!’ I enthuse, from what he has said he doesn’t get much encouragement and I am on my mission to brighten his lonely day whilst enjoying a yummy Flat White.
His gaze travelled over my rather fetching and well stuffed co-ordinated outfit of lime green T-Shirt and skinny jeans. In the interests of honesty I have to ‘fess up that channelling a plump caterpillar was not a good look, all the same he took in a rather too long and appreciative glance of what my friend Angelica calls my ‘assets’ I am thinking he didn’t need any encouragement after all…O’er…and well, Ewww…
‘Yes, indeed, the nude life models are my thing! Why don’t you call around to my place, I am more than happy to show you all my work, day or night, in fact, anytime at all. I am always on the lookout for my next muse, Eily My Dear.’
It is fair to say by this stage that one was not amused to be his considered his unlikely muse! I almost broke out in a cold sweat envisaging the lecherous Lothario immortalising me in oil.
My mind went into overdrive…O’er what if I ended up imitating a lush lovely from Luis Ricardo Falero’s ‘The Witches Sabbath’ or ‘Moon Nymph’? Dunno how I would have explained a bit of nymphing to Mr Nash 😦
Oblivious to my obvious discomfort Don tells me just how much he is missing female company. He tells me just how much he admires the female form. He tells me his Lady left him ‘cos of his cheating. But he is now over her as he has a new interest…Hmmm…
The penny is slowly dropping. Time for evasive action methinks.
Saved by the ringtone! Hubby calls.
‘Yakety yak yak…’
‘Yes Darling, I’m just finishing coffee with Don, see you at the fountain in 5 minutes.’
An incredulous stare from across the table.
‘That’s my husband,’ says I, ‘sorry I shall have to fly!’
‘Your husband??? You TOLD him you are out with me???’
‘Errr…yes. And? He likes to know where I am! Sorry he can’t join us BUT I have an urgent need to join him, like right NOW!’ I prepare to take flight, and not on my broomstick.
So now Don is looking at me like I have just invited him to a swinger party. At the speed of light the reason for our coffee dawns on me. Open mouth I gasp ‘Surely, you didn’t think we were on a date???’ This was not my expectation!
The look I got back said it all. His dishonourable intentions were clear!
Shocked, I made my excuses and left. I never went for coffee with him or any other ‘gentleman‘ again…
My very wise husband cried laughing. ‘Is art the new ‘come up and see my etchings line?’-that will teach you young lady about going on coffee dates with other men!’ says he gleefully.
Was my man jealous of my accidental clandestine meeting with dapper Don? No…not at all…Dapper Don was an octogenarian! Mind you he didn’t look too bad for an old boy of 80…
In which the Muse is upon Angel as she channels Lord Byron and exposes Grannie as a love cheat along the way!
“Beauty, thy name is Angel… “
‘Oh is that by a famous poet?’ You may solicitously inquire, my Lovelies.
Hmm…It is indeed by someone famous, but not a poet. Someone who, dare I say, may well be a Literary Genius! Have you guessed??? Who comes to mind??? Clever you! Yes…It is by Moi, and it is all about Moi…Who else?! Now you and I, and all the World know I am indeed beautiful, so why am I penning the obvious?!! ‘Cos I can, My Lovelies…I Am The Paws! And like the first canine, like ever, to be a real Author…How cool is that??? No need to answer My Lovelies, the question is purely rhetorical. It is more cool than a polar bear in Ray Bans sunbathing on an iceberg.
‘How did you discover your talent for poetry?’ you may well further solicitously ask me, my Lovelies.
Well it was all because of Grannie skanking with a famous poet and threatening my family security and also our shopping trip to Nieman Marcus…Read on…time for another of our little “Shh…secret sharing sessions”…
It was the day after the whole debacle with GrandPa and the floozie that turned out to be an annual herb, and my abandoned date with that Angel cake and Krios at the Loeb boathouse restaurant in Central Park. Grannie was trying to make things up to me and we were chilling with smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis and chilled Chardonnay in our Penthouse. I was trying to talk to Grannie about something really important. Shopping. But she just wasn’t listening and she had this really stoopid mushy, faraway look on her face. She was muttering something about ‘his words being soooo sublime and how blessed she was to have her perfect man.’ Hmmm…who was this geezer she was ranting on about and more importantly did my G.G.P (Grumpy GrandPa) know? and if not, why not…So in the interests of family unity, getting my own back and shopping, I did the right thing. I once again Face Timed him back home in in England’s green and pleasant land from my Apple iPad in the big Apple.
‘GrandPa, listen up, I need to snitch on Grannie, Erm, I mean tell you something…this is very serious….Grotty Grannie has another man and he has been sending her love letters!’ I solicitously informed him.
‘Grooouuumppphhhh…W.T.F? Didn’t you cause enough trouble yesterday, you little Minx!’ He eloquently answered as he choked on his Gordon’s and tonic. Obviously having had one or ten too many. Just sayin’ G.G.P!
Funny how I got the blame for what was patently not my fault. I decided to be the bigger dog, which is no mean feat when you are less than a foot tall, and ignore his accusation. This matter was way to important for pettiness. Direct action was called for. Westies are renowned for our feisty and fearless disposition, so ignoring his apparent discomfort, I proceeded with my expose of my manky, home wrecking and cheating Grannie.
‘See for yourself!’ says I, turning the camera on naughty Grannie as she sat, eyes glazed, reading some tosh from a card with a pink love heart and red roses on it.
‘What are you reading Grannie?’ I cleverly asked, my suspicion it was a missive from her mystery man was confirmed as she spouted…
‘She walks in beauty, like the night…’ sigh...
‘And all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light which heaven to gaudy day denies…’ sigh…
‘One shade the more, one ray the less, had half impaired the nameless grace which waves in every raven tress, Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express how pure, how dear their dwelling-place.’ Mega deep sigh
‘And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent!’
Even deeper sigh. Eww. Humphhh…I’d hardly call Grannie’s black and shameless heart innocent, and I was sure G.G.P wouldn’t either!
‘See and hear for yourself G.G.P! Grannie is far from innocent and that geezer’s barely literate…’ I was triumphant! Grannie was caught cheating and totally unaware G.G.P was witnessing her bare faced skanking! That will teach her to ignore Moi when I need to go shopping…
‘Angel….You Minx!!!’ My ingrate of a GrandPa shouted at Moi. This was getting to be a bad habit.
Then Grannie’s phone rang. Then my Oldies had a very loooonggggg convo about Moi. Then unbelievably, and unfairly they both said I am so totally grounded. Again. Porquoi???
Hurrumphh. Who Knew???? The manky card was from him to her. Erm, it seems they had a thing called an anniversary. Seems she likes poetry. Seems she likes this geezer called Byron. But it is OK. He’s dead. G.G.P has nothing to worry about and neither do I, apart from getting down to Fifth Avenue pronto…I need to get ungrounded like right now. Hmm, I have a little idea! If some rubbishy old poet has that effect on my Grannie, then I definitely can do better. Neiman Marcus have some lovely Loro Piana scarfs in. I like them. They look good on Moi. I need Grannie to grab her Amex and buy me a nice Jardin Berbere cashmere one, a mere snip at about $2,000 before they sell out…I want to look good when I finally get my paws on that Angel cake and manage to keep a royal date with Krios. So I have penned this just for her, I think she will be impressed to be immortalised in verse, and more than happy to flash the cash for Moi, don’t 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 sun dazzled the Princess and she was unaware of her surroundings or where the Knight had brought her to, a fortified castle in the Land of Mendacity. She was so very tired after the long journey. Night fell.
Awaking from a fitful sleep, she opened her eyes and was bathed in pale daylight filtering through the window. With surprise she noted the window had iron bars. Why would such a beautiful castle need such things, what was to be kept out, or who was to be kept in? Peering through the thick black iron bars, which greatly restricted her view of the wide and wondrous world beyond, the Princess saw her Knight, Prince Tarnish. He was preparing to mount his trusty steed and ride out in pursuit of adventure, after all, isn’t that what Knights do? Rescue fair damsels and slay dragons.
In the cold light of day, the Princess saw that the Knight’s amour was not the dazzling white she had first seen. No, it was tarnished in many places. With blinding intuition she realized the Knight had no interest in slaying dragons, for they would be a formidable foe (and also put up one hell of a fight). This Knight sought out tender and pure hearts to run his gauntlet. Hearts he intended to batter with his spiked lances, and just for good measure pierce with the cold steel of his sword. For the pure of heart knew not of his treacherous traps. She also saw an image in her minds’ eye of the Knight. He was sitting astride his mighty horse, whilst she tried to wipe the tarnish from his amour, with the beautiful fabric of her luxurious and dazzling raiment. The Princess valiantly hoped she would be able to shine his amour so brightly that once again it would gleam as if the heart of the sun blazed out from the core of his very being. With deep sorrow, she saw that she was unable to polish the Knights amour, the tarnish was too ingrained. Worse, the beautiful, iridescent clothes that made up her attire were becoming rags. Torn, tattered and shredded beyond recognition with the fruitless effort. The Knight chose not to notice such trifles, and he did not provide his Princess with new garments befitting her royal status. She began to wonder if he truly was a Prince of
if he truly was of noble birth. Polishing Prince Tarnish’s armor was proving a huge challenge to Princess Rowena. This was a job for a serious Alchemist, versed in the magical arts of turning base metal to gold. It was not for the feint hearted or the delicate sensitivities of a Princess versed only in Love and Kindness. To know this grieved the Princess greatly, and in her sorrow many tears fell. Eventually the tears formed a shimmering, glistening pool in which her countenance was reflected. The Princess stared into the pool and it took many minutes before the realization dawned, the desolate and sad beauty looking up was indeed a reflection of her own self. How had this come to pass? In anguish she cried out for help.
A soft voice whispered in reply,
Surprised her request had been heard, she looked for the source of the comforting voice. Could it be there was a fairy godmother waiting in the wings? Turning her regal head towards the discarnate voice, she was met with the sight of not a glowing and magical fairy godmother, but what appeared to be an incredibly ugly, wizened old Crone. In truth the Crone was a Wise Woman, but the Princess had yet to find this out. At first she recoiled in horror to her answered prayer. Beware what you wish for.
The Wise Woman was wrapped in a deep moss green velvet cloak; under which her long and bony fingers gripped an object of deep beauty, an oval mirror, coated in a strange
black surface which gave no reflection.
‘Who are you, old woman?’ enquired the Princess.
The Wise Woman looked deeply into the sad eyes of the beautiful Princess. Her gaze was penetrating, reaching into her very psyche. Her eyes seemed to draw the very essence of the Princess’ character from the core of her being.
‘The help you requested’ she replied.
‘What do you carry under your cloak?’ asked the Princess, intrigued by the black mirror.
‘Your freedom’ replied The Wise Woman.
The Wise Woman told the Princess, as she handed her the object, that it was a scrying mirror, magic of course. It was made from black Obsidian, a crystal for prophesy and truth.
There was a warning on the back of the mirror stating:
‘Truth can hurt,
Untruth’s hurt even more’,
Proceed with Caution.’
‘OK, you read the warning, ‘What do you want to know?’ asked The Wise Woman
Holding the vision of the handsome Knight, not so resplendent in his tarnished amour, the Princess asked,
‘Pray, tell me what lies beneath the Knight’s amour, who is there when the real Knight stands up, is he really a Prince of Noble birth?’
Looking deeply into the mirror her gaze was met with an inscrutable black surface, slowly an image appeared in the depths of blackness. She did not see an image of a fine and valiant Knight, intent on righting wrongs and doing chivalrous deeds. She did not see a Knight worthy of the glorious deeds the Troubadours sang of in their love songs and on the strings of their mandolins. She was shocked to see a very horrid and naughty child. He was throwing the mother of all tantrums, his face contorted in rage because he could not have his own way. Sadly, the Princess recognized that this was indeed a true depiction of the Knight. She turned to
The Wise Woman and enquired,
‘Does the Knight not know of Love, Honor and Chivalry and all that stuff the Troubadours sing about?’
‘How could he?’ replied The Wise Woman
‘He is but a child, and he does not know that Love is unconditional. He seeks to receive not give love, from a place of childish egocentricity and willfulness. This child has not been taught well, he faces many lessons before he learns.’
‘Oh, how very sad, that grieves my heart.’
The Princess sighed, for she was indeed pure of heart. She did know about love being unconditional and compassionate. Her heart went out to the Knight who did not know these things.
‘And you, Princess? Are you ready to face yourself?’ enquired The Wise Woman
At first the Princess was afraid, the sorrowful face from the tear stained pool still fresh in her memory. It seemed an eternity since she had seen her true reflection. There were No mirrors in the castle; for the Knight had no desire to see His true reflection and equally had no desire for the Princess to see her true beauty. He knew then the light of her loveliness would illuminate the darkness in his heart.
Slowly she lifted the mirror, eyes tightly closed. And slowly she opened them, unsure what she would behold. The deep black obsidian once again stared inscrutably back. Once again an image formed within the heart of darkness of the magic mirror. An imaged that grew and grew in magnificent radiance. It was the most gorgeous, multi -faceted, pure cut diamond she had ever beheld; emitting glorious, iridescent, magical colors. The diamond glowed and pulsed with the intensity of the very Sun itself. In awe she asked
‘What does it mean?’
‘You see a true reflection of yourself, Dear One,’ answered The Wise Woman.
‘And the Knight?’ whispered the Princess.
‘You saw a true reflection of what he is, Dear One, he is no Prince and therefore not worthy of you,’ answered The Wise Woman.
‘What now, what do I do?’ implored the Princess.
Once again she lifted the magic mirror and gazed deeply into the void of all knowing blackness. She saw clearly the Knights castle, the draw bridge was pulled up and the hatches were battened down, for a fierce and mighty storm approached. Vicious vines were rapidly growing over the castle walls, reaching to the very turrets and parapets. And with all her heart the Princess knew, if she stayed she would be forever entrapped within the Castle walls.
‘Is this all there is for me?’ A solitary tear fell onto the mirror.
‘Look again, Dear One’. Replied the Wise Woman
When she did, she saw a path leading from the treacherous castle. A tiny little path, winding through thickets and thorns and all manner of unforeseen terrors.
The path gradually widened and once free of the castle grounds it opened into a glorious golden path leading towards the Sun. Along the path were strewn infinite possibilities and opportunities. Once again, the Princess’ intuition showed her that if she summoned all her courage and bravely traversed the path she would find her own Eden. The Princess vaguely remembered, from what seemed an eternity past, this path was the very one she had been on. That was before becoming lost in the forest and doubting her ability to travel alone, before seeking the ill-starred protection of the Knight.
‘What do I do?’ she cried to The Wise Woman, who had stood by and silently observed all these things.
The Wise Woman wrapped the Princess in her old, fragile and wizened arms. They felt strangely warm. They felt strong and the Princess was filled with a pulsating feeling of absolute acceptance, peace, tranquility and an overwhelming sense of unconditional, heartfelt love for The Wise Woman. A feeling that was all at once familiar, the Princess felt she had come home.
‘The choice is yours alone, Dear One. It is the way of this land you inhabit, this Earth plane, that you have been given as part of your lessons the double edged sword of Free will. You have free will to stay or go or free will to enslave yourself to another or choose to use the key that you alone hold to your freedom. You always have the gift of free will, use it wisely.’
As these words sunk in, the Princess broke free from The Wise Woman’s embrace, and through her tears which were now falling as rain upon the winter of her heart, she struggled to see the Wise Woman. As she wiped her face, she gasped, The Wise Woman was gone. In her place there stood a radiant Being of Light. An Angel, whose very presence filled the entire room and emitting a brilliance that was truly ethereal and heaven sent. In awe, the Princess realised she was looking into the face of her own Guardian Angel.
‘Know this, Dear One, now you have asked for my help I will support you whichever path you choose. I cannot choose for you, as you have free will. I can and will ease your path and illuminate the way. Know that I have Always been with you and there for you. I have laughed when you laughed and I have cried when you cried.’ The Angel smiled and then continued,
‘Dear One, nothing is lost, herein lays the opportunity for a lesson to be learned. Things on this Earth plane of illusion may not always be what they seem. Can you now see the day you were lost in the forest, you alone had the freewill to find your own way out, and you alone had the free will to choose to accept the Knight’s hand? You could not make the Knight what he is not? The Knight could not make you who you are not.’ The Angel paused to allow the Princess to assimilate her words, and then continued,
‘Dear Princess, a priceless lesson to learn is this: all you need to navigate this sea of life is to let the wisdom of your Soul captain the ship of the Self. The Diamond that you are refracts the Light of Cosmic consciousness you hold as your birth right.’ Her eyes looked deeply into the Princess’ as she continued;
‘Even the Knight holds this light, and when his inner child grows so he too will come to realize this Truth.’
‘Will the Knight change his ways, will he change for me?’ asked the Princess, holding onto a tiny vestige of hope, for she loved the Knight although she did not love the way he had chosen to treat her.
‘In order to love another, first the Knight must learn to love himself; completely free from his ego self, this may take some time,’ the Angel answered.
The Princess bowed her head. She realized that her Knight may never be able to change his ways and that if he did, it would be for himself and not for her or anyone else. She finally realized that to hold onto the hope another person would change to be the way someone else wanted them to be, well that was a flawed hope, doomed to failure. Her wise companion continued to counsel,
‘Remember and hold these Truths: Time is the great illusion, for in Eternity there is no time. You, the Prince and all mankind are in essence spiritual beings; you are in the density of matter whilst you grow through the experiences of being in human form. You are more than you can see. There is much more that you can be. Princess Rowena, the choice is yours alone. You may choose your path, you cannot choose for him the path that you would wish Prince Tarnish to travel, only he alone can decide.
The pure essence of Divine Love resides within you~All that is without is merely an illusion.’
And in That moment the Princess absolutely and unequivocally knew the path she would choose……
Do you wait patiently for me
To come along and set you free
I’ve heard plenty an aged tale told
Of the magic a Dandelion holds.
Is that so little wishing flower?
Do you have such magic power?
I bid of thee, fly free, Blessed Be.
Bring my heart’s desire back to me!
Scatter through the fields and trees
Soft starburst on the gentle breeze
Treasured seed falls to Mother Earth
Within each one the promise of rebirth
O’er I am feeling a tad pleased with myself, My Lovelies!
“Indeed, Angel, and just why would that be?” I hear you ask “Is it because you are such a clever little Pupster and your paws have penned such woofiliciously good books?“
Hmm…Yes that is one reason to be pleased, but it isn’t that!
“Oh, could it be that you are so cute, Grannie waits on you hand and paw?”
Well yes, of course she does-that’s her job, and now I have my Butler James he does too… But that isn’t really a reason to be pleased, unless of course you count THEIR pleasure waiting on MOI…So, it isn’t that!
“Of course, it is because you are so beautilicious, you have all those boys chasing after you…Teddy Hot Paws and your True love Handsome Hamish in Tewin, your English country village (you told us all about them in Telling Tails) and Mason the Hollywood Hottie and Shaunessey his Intellectual brother in Manhattan (We met them in Angel in the Cit