Hope

23635505_157138631698219_480874407_n
Thank you Alex for the use of your lovely photo

It was cold. So very cold. The bitter, biting dry cold where the sky was icy bright blue and the very air sang and sparkled with ice crystals.

The little one waited, huddled in the scant shelter of a dark hedge.

The cold was intense, so cold it made your teeth ache and your bones snap. And still the little one waited.

Night came. Someone was near, watching and sad, filled with worry for the little one who waited but whose spark was now very frail. Hope was nearly gone, abandoned before Life was even really started.

The Watcher could bear it no more and stepped down, down from the dark, down in the singing cold as the stars spun in their icy waltz, down in the bleak night to appear before the little one.

She scooped her up, gently, feeling the little life left in its delicate shell and cupped in her hands, and breathed warmth and life into the little one.

Not very far away, a woman lay, sleepless in the dark and the cold, sleepless in the night while tears froze on her cheeks, warm in her bed but cold in her life. Suddenly she thrust back her duvet and thought she would look out into the calm dark, see if it would ease her pain.

She slipped on her dressing gown and went downstairs to open her door into the night, and there on the step lay a little scrap, a tiny thing.

The kitten looked up at the woman and meowed, faintly, hopefully. She bent down to pick her up, and as the little one purred so the frost in her heart began to thaw.

The Watcher returned to her place and told Him what she had done. He smiled and was pleased for although some may be lost there is always Hope.

Advertisements

Pipes

22831100_145465186198897_439903516_o

The little girl sobbed in fright and sat up in her bed, as once again, the old pipes and plumbing of the house began to scream and whine. Her bed shook as the floorboards juddered, and, panicked, she called for her parents.

They arrived, tired and rumpled from their own room, and the little girl tried very hard not to cry as, for the umpteenth time, her father explained with exasperated kindness how it was just water moving through the pipes that made the house shake, that the pipes expanded and contracted in the heat of the day and the cool of the night.

Unconvinced, the little girl let herself be tucked back into bed and given her favourite teddy to hold. She drifted back into an uneasy sleep.

The days passed, the nights too, and the dark circles under the little girl’s eyes grew. Every night she lay awake and trembled in fright as the pipes howled and wailed their screaming demon song.

The blood pounded in her ears as she lay in bed, taking on the rhythm and depth of footsteps, troll footsteps, that thumped in her head till her heart hurt and she grew dizzy from not listening.

Till one night, she couldn’t bear it any longer. She pushed her warm duvet aside, leaving behind the comfort of her teddy, not even stopping to push her feet into her little pink fluffy slippers.

She crept out of her bedroom, and across the landing, avoiding the creaky floorboard that would alert her parents. She placed her palm against the bathroom door and pushed. It opened silently, obligingly, welcoming.

The tiles were very cold under her feet, and were faintly vibrating, or so it seemed. A tiny whistling, ghostly and ethereal, was issuing from the plughole of the washbasin. The little girl could just reach, if she stood on tiptoe, to pull the light cord that illuminated a tiny mirror over the basin. She caught a glimpse of her own pale, tired face and leaned forwards, a little further, over the basin.

The plughole gaped, threateningly and suddenly the whistling howl was louder. A lot louder and as the little girl leaned forwards, the plughole leered and yawned and gaped and –

Gone. Suddenly swallowed. The little girl was gone.

Her parents would never move from that house. Her father blamed himself, and her mother swore that she could her her little girl calling, lost, somewhere in the pipes.

Thank you to Samantha – great name – of Key Image, for the idea for this little story, after a conversation about plumbing… !

Boots

22643347_141537206591695_794779156_o

All my life, I have been haunted by a scene, one particular scene, dream-like and yet so vivid I live it every single time, over and over again.

I’m tired, so very tired, aching to my bones. We’re marching, or walking rather; my eyes are fixed on the back of the man in front of me, the monotonous drag of his feet and slouch of his shoulders.

The straps of my pack are chafing my own shoulders and I hitch them up irritably, the rough green canvas scratchy against my fingers. My rifle is heavy and unwieldy, slung across the front of my body. I’ve had enough now,, how had I ever thought this could be an adventure.

The captain calls a halt, and we slump down gratefully for a minute’s breather and a gulp of lukewarm water from my canteen. I try to adjust my boots – the tough leather has rubbed the skin off in a red angry circle all around my the bottom of my shins.

The man – boy, really, next to me, coughs and spits, the road is dusty and relentless. Up again and onwards, the going’s better now, a country lane, dusty, still, yes but curving round to the left and there’s a farmhouse, yes, a little farmhouse and a yard we’ll be safe there can rest but there’s a shot –

                                                                  *

I woke up, sweating and cold in my own bed, my husband’s warm bulk, snoring gently, next to me.

I shrugged off the remnants of the dream, along with my sweaty pyjamas and got ready for work. Tense and headachy all day, legs sore with phantom blisters, I was only too ready to go to bed when I got home –

                                                                   *

I’m tired, so very tired, aching to my bones. My boots are chafing the skin around the bottom of my shins and it’s red and bleeding. These boots were shiny when we left, shiny and proud, now as cracked and as battered as I feel. How could I have ever thought this would be an adventure?

Sweating, tired, the straps of my pack are digging into my shoulders, and hitch them up irritably. I fix my eyes on the back of the man in front. Captain calls a halt and we slump down, exhausted. I reach for my canteen of water, a lukewarm mouthful and then drop sharply into sleep.

I wake sweating, and uncomfortable up again and onwards the going’s better now a country lane dusty yes there’s a farmhouse a little farmhouse and a yard we’ll be safe there can rest but there’s a shot –

Monster

22323942_135010533911029_1971301412_o

Ahh. That time of year again. The crispness of approaching winter in the air, a relief after the slop of soggy leaves underfoot. A sinuous mist that hung and curled, cat-soft around the corners of the city streets.

The veil is thin at this time of year, and as he thought, so he stretched his wings, the grimy sandstone rippling into leathery life. He turned his head, grating and grinding. Perhaps a good year to fly, although the last time he had ventured forth was when good King Richard ruled. He had seen what had passed since and decided, yes, a good night to fly.

Creaking and stretching he extended one scaly leg to his left, balancing, then – away. His powerful wings beat away the layers of time that had settled like a second skin and carried him up. Up, and over the city.

He noted how it had grown, the small mean buildings had given way to brick built structures and gleaming glass towers, far more splendid than his own humble church. Surely these splendid buildings were houses of happiness and joy, and his stony heart swelled with the thought that people had discovered how to live together with love and kindness.

But as he flew, silver threads of thoughts and scenes drifted up to him. He saw:

young men, reeling, drunk

girls, staggering, vomiting

children, crying in pain and fear

dogs whimpering in fright

women, weeping in the cold

And then. He saw a tall man, bending over the body of a woman. He paused, outside the window of the house. He watched, as the man delivered one final punch to the woman’s face, and as he stood upright he licked the blood from his knuckles with relish and saw the silent watcher at the window.

Their eyes met and held and the watcher knew fear, the spine creeping chill of evil and despair. He let his wings carry him away from those eyes, cold and stony dead.

Now who’s the monster

Dance

22279124_132990180779731_1092261888_o

He was excited. He’d dressed carefully, skinny jeans, cool shirt and best aftershave. The thumping bass of the music reverberated in his chest from two streets away and he was drawn in by the primal beat that made the blood leap in his veins.

He had intended to go somewhere completely different, but there had been whispers all around the Student Union about this event. Never fixed to one location, it was rumoured to have the best music, the best D.J.’s, the cheapest drink.

So, when he heard the music, he knew – he just knew – that it was this mythical party to end all parties and he had to go.

Plans to meet a friend abandoned, he turned away from the bright warmth of his usual haunts and followed the music down a dark side street. Shadows prowled and darkness lingered; but he was young and strong and the night held no fear for him.

He traced the music, the intoxicating beat to its source, a battered old door. Paint peeling and scraped, a little ajar with grubby tendrils of ivy surrounding it and seeming to beckon him closer, its grandiose dimensions seemed oddly out of place in the sooty little side street.

He reached out to push it further but before he could touch its surface it was snatched open –

You came! Oh I’m so pleased!”

A blonde girl, whose curly hair bounced carelessly across her flushed face, grabbed his arm and pulled him inside. Somewhat bemused, he allowed himself to be hustled along – he knew the girl, he was sure, she seemed familiar, but had no chance to wonder further as a drink was thrust into his hand.

The lights flickered and gleamed, strangely reddish, striking glints off teeth and eyes from other people who swayed in time to the beat, laughing. He sipped cautiously at his drink. Foul. So much for the rumours about the best beer, and the floor was oddly sticky underfoot…

Just as he was about to look down, his new friend seized his arm and tugged him eagerly onto the dance floor.

I love this song!”

A particularly jarring pop song from the eighties started after the drum and bass faded out and he found himself whirled into the heaving mass of sweaty bodies. Minutes passed – how many? He didn’t know and the music changed again to something he dimly remembered from the seventies, and still the people spun and swayed around him.

But now there was something different, darker, decaying. The girl gasped and giggled and clutched at him with bony strength. He tried to pull away, to be released and go away, sit down, get out; but she pulled him closer.

Again the music changed, and again, till finally they were circling the floor to an old, old waltz. With every turn, rot shimmered in the folds of the dresses, maggots fell in showers from hair, flesh melted and teeth gleamed through sunken lips.

He opened his mouth to scream but couldn’t, locked forever in the arms of his grinning partner and his own dark dance of despair.

Desert.

22016717_125702724841810_988520710_o

The sniper sighed and shifted his position slightly, careful not to disturb the smallest rock, anything that might betray his spot to unseen watching enemy eyes. He slowly eased his finger back and forth on the trigger of his rifle and squinted into the sight, grimacing as a bead of sweat rolled down his forehead and stung the corner of his eye.

He waited. High overhead, a hawk wheeled aimlessly in the sky, searching, looking. The soldier rolled over carefully, onto his side and allowed himself a drink of water. He knew it was all about being patient, not losing the “edge” – or his nerve, but still he wished something would happen.

Night fell. He closed his eyes and dozed, a little, stirring once as a bold jackal ventured closer to investigate and sniffed delicately at his boots. Early hours – he awoke and stretched, another drink of water and a bite of chocolate – quick energy boost.

Dawn approached and the desert was painted in uniform hues of grey and silver. The sniper amused himself by focussing and re-focussing his rifle sight and settled down to wait again.

An hour or so passed and he watched a scorpion, intricate and jointed, scuttle across the rock in front of his nose. He knew it was harmless and didn’t flinch from it, momentarily distracted by its hinged legs and shiny carapace.

There! What was that? A flash of movement caught his eye and he raised himself up on his elbows to gaze through the rifle sights, anxious not to miss his target. But. This was not the expected enemy army convoy… a ragged group of men, dressed in what looked like robes and armed with – swords?

And as he watched, mouth agape slightly in shock, some men on horseback appeared – how? – and fell upon the ragged little group. The riders were richly dressed, the blues and greens of their robes stood out clearly in the sepia morning light.

He saw the ragged men fall apart, one man landing hopelessly, clutching at his stomach where rubbery ropes of coiled intestines slipped between his desperate grasping fingers.

Savage yells of pain and rage reached his ears, the whinney of a frightened horse whose rider was pulled from his saddle and set upon in a blur of blades and fists. They hacked and sliced and cut – the watching soldier winced as he clearly heard the wet thubbery sound of blade striking flesh and the myriad sucking, slicing sounds as the swords withdrew and bit again amidst angry roars and yells of pain.

He moved slightly and blinked and what? – The men were gone. Nothing. A swirl of sand blown by the wind made a miniature whirlwind across the patch of ground where seconds before he had glimpsed a horrific battle scene.

Nothing. The sniper sighed, and settled down to wait…

Unicorn

20623341_164540994101108_888357982_o

A magical Selenite spiral wand, from Lizian 

It was a summer morning, an early summer morning. It had rained overnight and every blade of grass wore a delicate crystal drop, the whole garden outlined with a glassy sheen.

20629018_164534727435068_89223914_o (1)

It was so early, so fresh and early, before the sun had risen and burnt away the magic. A gentle mist wreathed the base of my apple tree, cat-pawed and soft at the bottom of the garden where it is wildest.

20623491_164532654101942_643736367_o

I like the garden to be a little untamed, a place where I can find the little people of my childhood imagination, the Fae, the smile of the Wild in the turn of a leaf; where Mother Nature walks with careful, loving steps trailing her fingers tenderly through the pathways of my garden.

I know we have hedgehogs, and sometimes a fox, birds fly through untroubled by my cats, as if they know a little bit of magic lives there, there at the bottom of the garden.

I gazed around, enjoying the freshness, and turned, alerted by the sound of a slapping fishtail from the pond as one of the goldfish rose to surface to capture a fly.

And then I saw…

creature of silken grace and delicate air
silver faced and spider web hair

Well, this was some Wild magic indeed. Mother Nature smiled at her little lost one and it stepped out further from behind the tree to return my gaze. Large dark enquiring eyes looked at me. I looked back and any idea I had of unicorns as horned horses fell away as this little creature was far more ethereal and dainty.

Barely a blade of grass bent under its weight or drop of dew stirred as it moved. The morning mist caressed delicate fetlocks and rose up to run loving tendrils through the silver mane – oh yes, silver and gossamer fine and plaited with girls’ dreams draped across a slender neck and fine-boned face – that face. Mother Nature must have felt truly blessed when presented with this little creature to love and cherish.

20226581_160501027838438_1216483868_o

And yes, oh yes, a rainbow curlicue of pure shimmer and shine adorned its little face, dainty and fine-boned, yes, but with an air of such Wild magic it took my breath away. For Wild Magic is not governed by man’s rule or human regulation – it simply is.

And as I looked, and looked again, the unicorn met my eyes and I wanted to cry, for there, within those liquid depths I saw love and knowing too. The sun rose higher and a random sparkle struck magic from that twisted horn and in a rainbow flash, a coloured turn, it was gone. And yet, and yet, I knew I was awake, and did not dream, for here…

unicorns shed their horns you know
to learn in love and kindness grow
as do we – with each year
grow in grace and keep love near

20641296_164535287435012_46304884_o