River Mist Tales: Seaside Faery Door

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales.

No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

fearydoor_cwm

Seaside Faery Door

“What are you looking for?”

Accustomed to speaking with the casual visitors walking along the mud flats, Evie stood up, pulling her hands out of the gently moving sea water, giving them a shake, unbending, looking up into the face of the woman standing beside her.

“Mostly sand dollars, sea glass,” said Evie, studying the woman, her curiosity growing for she was unlike any adult Evie had ever seen.

“May I join your search,” asked the woman lowering her voice to a whisper, “I’m rather good at finding things, especially unusual, well-hidden things.”

Evie smiled, nodded her head in agreement, unsure how to answer, unsure if this woman with her untidy curls falling across her face, riotous patterns moving across her disheveled layers of dress and coat, seeming her mother’s age, was being polite in that way adults can be, or was she genuinely interested.

The woman turned sideways, facing toward the shore, the cement seawall, the steps leading from the beach to the tiny patch of backyard, “Which way shall we proceed Evie?”

Disheartened, Evie said, “Towards the shore,” this must be the sitter mother was hiring, she thought, that’s why she knows my name, although the woman hardly resembled any sitter Evie had ever suffered before, and besides at eleven Evie knew she had outgrown any need for a babysitter.

“Excellent decision,” said the woman, “and will you tell me about the door Evie?”

“It was beautiful,” Evie said, stopping herself, frowning, searching the woman’s face before continuing, scolding herself for being eager, open, “how do you know, I didn’t tell anyone, didn’t tell my mom, and, and she won’t want to know.”

Smiling the woman said, “I haven’t spoken with your mother Evie, anything you tell me is just between you and me, our secret, and I believe you can tell me all about the door, you have a strong memory and a keen eye, so, please, tell me what you will, and what you won’t.”

Perhaps thought Evie, wondering, then pointing towards the cement seawall she said, “It was night but more morning, there was a full moon, I had sneaked outside, I heard music, fiddles I think, lively but far away, like the music was flowing on the moonlight, the door was there, closed, I watched it, until I heard mom moving about, when I came back after breakfast, the door was gone, and haven’t seen it again.”

A stern voice bellowed from the house, Evie turned to go, the woman said, “I’m staying at the blue cottage, Shore Side, only two doors north, come for tea Evie, we’ll make plans for the coming full moon, I’m called Miss Plumworth,” then lowering her voice once more, “and I know a few things about feary doors.”

River Mist Tales: The Rose Garden

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales.

No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

rosegarden_cwm

The Rose Garden

Even though the crusty blackened edges of the piled snow had long been pulled from the noisy streets, winter’s hand remained upon Suzanne’s heart, evidence of those heroic bits of stem and bud, those tiny jewels promising spring, remained unseen as the calendar pages turned from April to May.

For many long winter imprisoned weeks, Suzanne, having arrived without reference, without an introduction, had walked the gray sidewalks, desperate for employment, any work allowing her to live inside, eat every day, promising a return home, to her home, the hope of reclaiming her inheritance.

With no commercial skills, as she was told during countless interviews, Suzanne watched in growing silence as her written applications were quickly discarded without being read, until she found work on a night shift, as an office cleaner.

Hardly seen, searched every time she entered or exited the building, Suzanne discovered an unexplored solace in the night, in the empty rooms, the empty streets of the slowly illuminating dawn, her memories remaining strong though her heart and body slowly weakened.

Yearning for the clean crispness of the wood in winter, the softening as spring crept into the meadows, the cottage garden revealing hidden secrets as it awoke from its crystalline dreaming, Suzanne looked for any portent of nature among the steel and concrete, any terrain for breathing, for healing.

Finding the celebrated window displays disheartening, their sprouting metal flowers and jagged trees, spindly and incomplete, an unfinished reference to the wonder, the true magic of flowers and trees, Suzanne witnessed the spectacle of both the real and artificial being dismissed in equal regard, and so too, was she.

Here concrete, uncolored companion to the gray black of the road, holding court with the color-drained sidings of the ever reaching buildings, every surface straight, smooth, featureless, remained unchanged as days grew longer, winds grew drier, warmer.

As more and more sunlight fell upon her morning ramble back to the dorm where she spent dreamless days, Suzanne growing weaker, her steps slow, her breaths shallow, began shuffling along different streets, zigzagging her way, spying through closed gates guarding private spaces, hoping for a glint of growth, of petal, of leaf, a saving grace.

All appeared without character, untended, some spaces rigidly shaped, emptied of all flowers, shrubs and trees, except for the idea of grass, grown as a green carpet for a tiny unfurnished room, a buffer zone between buildings, dying a slow death in shadow.

This morning as she stepped onto an unfamiliar narrow lane, the prevailing scent, mineral, damp, and dirty, rising from the street was tinged with a sweet, fruity bouquet, Suzanne stopped, taking a longer breath, and another, and another, each breath deepening, as the scent expanded, filling her, calling her.

Looking for the source of this strengthening wonder, Suzanne approached a high built, rough textured brick wall topped with smooth granite stones, an archway held a recessed carved door, oversized, well matched by a dragon shaped door knocker and hand latch, raising her eyes, she saw shafts of sunlight rising from, not falling down onto, whatever lay beyond that wall, behind that door.

Without hesitation Suzanne lifted the latch, she pushed the door open, warm bright light crashed upon her as a wave to shore, her mouth slowly forming into a smile, a motion she found almost foreign, roses spilled about before her in every direction beside an aging brick pathway, and a voice like a spring breeze called out, “Come Suzanne, you are most welcome, close the door behind you, here you will find your way back home.”

River Mist Tales: The Boy

Hurry, this way, before the river mist settles upon the dooryard. It may be a while before your path home is revealed.

The seat by the window is most comfortable and there’s tea in the pot, if you haven’t brought a wee dram of your own.

Ignore the cats, don’t open the windows when the crows come calling.

I’ll be working in the darkened alcove across the room if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door.

She doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales. Though she is a bit loose with the truth and a bit too revealing with magic, as your kind calls it.

Until your next visit, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

pirateboy_cwm

The Boy

The first time I saw the boy was during a free concert held on the docks downtown.

He was standing a few steps into the water, from a small stretch of sandy beach below the docks, a bit of open space between the docks and one of the historic buildings built along Water Street, this one housing a cafe and art gallery.

I decided he had arrived aboard the graceful wooden schooner hoisting red sails, sporting a flag of skull and crossbones, anchored not far offshore.

His feet were hidden below the water line, he was wearing his long clothes, his pirate costume, pants cut off, shirts and vests hanging in crumpled untidy layers, ill fitting, salt air and sun faded, his tricorn hat appearing too big for his head, a head he kept bent, giving all his attention to the small model boat he was moving through the calm water lapping the shore.

After watching the boy for a few minutes I returned my attention to the band, listening to the raucous, toe tapping music, then following a few songs sent afloat, I drifted back to the far side of the dock, the boy pirate and his model boat were gone, the schooner was still anchored nearby, but there was no dory heading out to it, or tied along side of it, or anywhere within sight.

The second time I saw the boy pirate was during Pirate Days, among the artisans, musicians and actors, young and old, dressed in costumes, he appeared part of the crowd, just another kid enjoying the festivities, except this time I watched him with obvious attention, and yet he disappeared once again in a fleeting moment of distraction.

A few days later, I found the young pirate on a quiet autumn dawn, when the streets were empty of people, instead fog roamed along the sidewalks, dipping in and out of doorways, rushing around the corners of buildings softening the strong edges, shrouding the still-lit street lamps, hiding from view the water lapping the shore only a few steps away yet seeming miles in distance as if we were moving through a dream.

The lad was walking along the sleeping street carrying his model boat, his feet bare, his head tilted down so I couldn’t see his face, but I saw him, and so I followed him even as his stride became more purposeful as if he knew I was there, behind him, as if the fog was pushing him up the street, and like the fog his form would rise and fall from sight, fading, becoming wispy, thin, almost transparent before becoming solid again.

There was a whispering current about my ears, stay back, stay away, you must not follow, it said over and over, growing loud and strong before fading away soft and loose, as if it were the fog’s voice swirling around me, rising and falling like waves crashing, crashing between me and the lad.

But I could not stop following the pirate, I could not turn away, my curiosity was rising, breaching my cautious mind, where was this young pirate going, why did he always appear alone, who or what, was he.

As we continued north, heading toward the boat docks, the headland, the end of the street, the known storefronts, window displays, and those steps leading to glass fronted doors disappeared into the ebb and flow of fog, landmarks faded from sight, only the lad, his clutched boat, the darkened road, the sound of surf, anchored me in time, stirred my courage.

The ground beneath my feet changed tone, the pirate and I had walked onto the wooden pier, heading down a gangplank towards floating docks where fog shrouded boats slept lulled by the rhythm of tides, the fog had wrapped itself tight around me, and through that blinding wet dark a gentle song of salt crusted rope, of metal, of water hitting wood rose up, I could not see beyond the ghost like figure of my pirate, until tripping over an transom I found myself onboard a schooner hoisting red sails, and high up a fluttering Jolly Roger, as the sun rose into a clear blue sky, with nothing but vast ocean all around.

River Mist Tales: Found

Welcome traveler, no need for names here. River folk have a way of knowing what needs to be known.

There’s tea in the pot, slices of spice cake, fresh apples and cheddar.

Don’t open the window when the crow taps, nor let the cats out, no matter what they tell you.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door with her basket of tales.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with her truths.

Please come again. You’ll always find comfort, refreshment and a bit of magic.

Until next time, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

dragonegg_cwm

Found

“You can’t keep it child.”

“Why not, it’s only a decorated egg, folks lose things in the woods all the time,” said Emily determined this treasure, found unattended, now belonged to her.

“No one lost this, you can’t keep it.”

“Please Granny Morna, just for tonight, I promise I’ll take it back, tomorrow, after breakfast,” said Emily hoping by morning her granny would have forgotten all about the egg.

Granny Morna looked out the window, the coming dark turning the glass more into a mirror than an open view out onto the garden and the wood beyond, the dark forcing her choice, they must care for the egg overnight, not the safest option but the most necessary one.

As she waited upon her granny, Emily rolled the smooth hard egg around within in her small hands, it was larger, heavier than any egg she had ever seen, had ever carried, covered in hues of red and purple, for some talented hand had painted the egg, and there was a symbol, a symbol she knew must mean something, and as she looked and rolled it, the egg grew warmer, almost hot, to the touch, the symbol glowing.

“All right, just for tonight, but you must do exactly as I say,” said Granny Morna as Emily, hiding the glowing egg behind her back, nodded in agreement, smiling, ready to do whatever chore her granny may ask of her, but chores were not what Granny Morna had in mind.

Instead the white haired woman pulled a shovel of ash and charred wood from the hearth, banking the small pile under the bread oven, just a bit back into the dark, where food was often put to warm but not cook.

Not understanding but obeying, Emily placed the egg into the smoldering pile, directed by her granny, she fetched sand from the bucket kept on the porch, spread it around the pile, banked it against the egg.

“Won’t that be too warm?” asked Emily unheeded, wondering why soft cloths in a basket wouldn’t be better, and then she could keep the egg tucked up in her sleeping alcove, keep watch over it.

Satisfied with the preparations for the egg itself, Granny Morna turned her attention towards other precautions, she had Emily gather a large handful of barley seeds and throw them about the porch, from the dark, dry corners of the cottage Emily gathered dried sprigs of betony, foxglove and holly, tying the leaves and flowers together with a gold colored ribbon, finally, her chatter full of questions, Emily hung the beribboned bundle from the heavy door knocker.

Settling her creaking bones beside the fire, Granny Morna let loose a deep breath, a passing of time, old promises, long drained of purpose, needed breaking, her granddaughter needed protection, needed knowledge, it was time for truths, for answers, for Emily must know who she is, what she can do, why all this fuss for an egg, “It’s not a simple thing you have taken from the wood dear child, no you have stolen a dragon’s egg, and we must show it, and any who comes looking for it, hospitality and reverence.”

River Mist Tales: The Birthday Guest

Don’t be shy. Come in, the mist is settling over the river, the dark will be upon the forest any time now.

Here you’ll find some small comforts, a pot of tea, some spice cookies, a soft pillowed chair tucked between the window and the fire.

Ignore the cats, gossip mongers all of them.

I’ll be working at the desk tucked into the far corner if your any needs or she knocks upon the door.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales. She’s a bit loose with the truth, a bit too revealing with her magic.

Until you come again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

birthdayparty_cwm

The Birthday Guest

“I know somethin,” said Gabby, her voice singing, teasing, “ I know somethin, ya don’t need to tell.”

“Hush child, she’ll learn soon enough” said Hannah straightening the knives and forks, turning the plates so their tiny jeweled morsels were further from the table edge, the long view showing off her culinary handiwork.

“Can I ask Miss Plums…,” the young girl stopped mid name.

“Miss Plumworth, Gabby, her name is Plumworth, yeah after we eat you can, if mom hasn’t asked her to leave,” said Hannah.

“Mom won’t ask her, she knows’er, that’s what I know, mom knows Miss Plums, Miss Plumsworth.”

“Plumworth,” Hannah glared at her sister, her mind moving back in time, the late night conversation with her mother, words knotted with anger and fear, until Hannah had made a promise she would never keep.

How did their mother know the traveling collector, Hannah hadn’t heard about the woman until months after the encounter with the boy, when the letter arrived, its author requesting a visit, a simple conversation, a few questions, providing the date and time of her arrival, there was no return address.

Maybe the boy told the truth, maybe he had met their mother, years ago, when she was a mere girl herself.

And if the boy had told that truth, maybe all his other stories were true as well, maybe their brother, Paul, was away, not dead, maybe he was living with family, their family, maybe he was celebrating his birthday just as Hannah was celebrating it here today, but none of it made any sense, why would mother lie, and where does she go when the moon is full and the woods hide her steps, her path, preventing Hannah from following.

A firm knock on the front door pulled Hannah from her thoughts, from her confusion, her speculations, taking a deep breath she smoothed her dress, took another glance at the celebratory table satisfied Paul would have liked his birthday tea, and wondering if everything was about to change, again.

She was tall, more curving, wearing so many different colors and patterns and textures, her boots well worn, her hair a constrained mass of curls pushing hard against tightly braided ribbons, both curls and braids trying to free themselves, she carried an oversized carpet bag, a smile brightening her face, not at all, Hannah thought, as formal in appearance and stature as her handwritten letter had suggested.

“Hannah, I see your mother in your curiosity, especially when she was your age,” said Miss Plumworth, “though I hope you are more imaginative, possess more courage, a more open heart.”

Hannah glanced from Miss Plumworth towards her mother who was standing quiet, head lowered, eyes downcast, a posture she had never seen her mother take before, then returning her gaze to their guest, Hannah, her mind galloping ahead, asked, “Are we related to faeries?”

River Mist Tales: The Cauldron

Hurry, this way, before the river mist settles upon the dooryard. It may be a while before your path home is revealed.

The seat by the window is most comfortable and there’s tea in the pot, if you haven’t brought a wee dram of your own.

Ignore the cats, don’t open the windows when the crows come calling.

I’ll be working in the darkened alcove across the room if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door.

She doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales. Though she is a bit loose with the truth and a bit too revealing with magic, as your kind calls it.

Until your next visit, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

thecauldron_cwm

The Cauldron

“This will never work,” said Dorcas shaking her head.

“Not with that attitude,” said Lynney, wondering why her cousin was giving up so soon.

“She’s right Lynney, we need the cauldron, we need Granny Briar’s cauldron,” said Tanith, “ she infused it with wind energy, and, well, we could use her help.”

“The dead Granny Briar, the woman none of our mom’s will talk about, the woman whose cottage disappeared in a dark fog, that woman’s cauldron,” said Lynney beginning to doubt her own abilities, her own attitude.

“Yeah, that woman, but I’ve been reading her books we found, all we do is ask, give thanks really for already receiving the cauldron, and, and it will reveal itself to us,” said Dorcas, confident that her studies were leading them in the right direction, “so let’s go.”

Without another word, the three girls packed away their jars of dried herbs, their collection of bird feathers, dried leaves, sky blue candles, braided ribbons the colors of summer sunsets and storm laden winter skies, placing everything with care into a leather and wood travelers trunk, locking it shut, shoving it against a shadowed wall, placing their alder handled brooms, broomcorn bristles upright, into a dark corner of the hay loft.

“My mom’s not happy about all this, about us, about me, she’s asking more and more questions” said Tanith as the three climbed down the ladder, left the barn.

“Don’t lie Tanith, you have a gift, don’t lie about it, none of us need lie if anyone asks anything,” said Dorcas, “speak with care though, for now focus on the cauldron, practice the incantation, remember our words have power.”

Anyone following the cousins might have wondered why three teenage girls were walking in deep silence, only the rising breeze, the crows, the bare-limbed trees, heard the growing song of enchantment, heard the strengthening desire, the overwhelming rise of gratitude, and willingly added their own energy to the call.

It was Lynney who stopped first, having raised her eyes from the familiar path through the field, around the out buildings, of her father’s farm.

“Look,” said Lynney grabbing Dorcas’ arm, “look, there by the old storage sheds, you are gifted, scary but gifted.”

Leaving Dorcas standing guard over the grounded cauldron, drawing the circle, invoking the wisdom and blessing of their Granny Briar, Tanith and Lynney retraced their steps back to the barn, collected the feathers, candles, ribbons and other items they considered supportive for the spell work, the enchantment they were calling, the flying spell the three were casting upon their brooms, upon themselves.

River Mist Tales: The Letter

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales. No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s apple spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

theletter_cwm

 The Letter

She had found the first letter quite by accident, during a game of hide and seek in the wood, waiting silently for hours, believing in her cousins who told her to hide, unknowing they would not bother to seek her out, except when it pleased the pair to steal into the secret lives of others.

Maxi had never been alone in a wood before, there was so much to explore, to hear, to spy upon and in turn, learned she was spied upon by unknown others, she liked that best of all.

The letter was in the remains of an ancient tree trunk, resting upon the softest pile of vibrant green moss as if on a velvet pillow, as if it were being presented at a royal court.

During that day of discovery, Maxi sat and watched the weather smoothed trunk, the still letter, for hours, at a distance in case someone showed up, but finally acknowledging her cousins cruelty and surrendering to her own hunger she abandoned her vigil, taking the letter home, hidden inside her jacket.

The paper was roughly textured, embedded with violet petals, covered in an indigo colored ink, a flowing cursive hand, a short introduction, a request for a response, the asking for a pen pal.

Maxi had always wanted a pen pal, someone from Scotland or Ireland or Wales, someone who lived in a castle or near a castle or within sight of a castle, or a crumbling old keep, someone living with history and magic all around.

Here was an opportunity, so she began a correspondence with an unknown writer of the wood, someone who knew the wood, who spoke with trees and foxes and owls, someone who would not reveal their name.

Maxi spend many days composing her weekly letter which she left on the moss pillow inside the old tree trunk, sharing adventures and stories, hers seeming gray and shallow, lacking excitement, knowledge, lacking magic when compared with the missives she received.

She was certain her pen pal was full of magic, for the letters revealed gossip from crows, gossip about Maxi’s cousins, and revealed transgressions voiced be the trees, the river, the meadow flowers, transgressions committed by villagers, and there were questions too, such as why horses were imprisoned by fences, some dogs chained and some cats never allowed to roam outside even though all asked for their freedom.

Maxi began to wonder too, wonder about fences, about the possibility of trees having conversations, about crows chiding, about time expanding in directions not understood and how could she learn to hear and speak to the wood and all those who lived within it.

Keeping the correspondence secret had taught Maxi how to walk softer in the world, to know the differences between the sound of paw and human footfall, the song of bird, the rustle of short and long leaf, for it was the one condition from her unnamed pen pal, no one must ever see the letters but Maxi herself.

Finding the cousins at the trunk, Maxi hid from the raucous pair, she could hear their voices rising, daring each other towards the stump, daring to pluck the letter hiding there, laughing satisfied they had discovered Maxi’s secret, stealing something belonging to her, and as Maxi watched, her heart beating quickly, her stomach growing tight, the elder cousin reached for the letter, only to have it catch fire, cinders floating away into the the tangling branches overhead, then reaching into her pocket, fingers protecting the letter hidden there, Maxi touched not her own smooth stationery but a roughly textured, violet embedded envelope.

River Mist Tales: The Book

Welcome traveler, no need for names here. River folk have a way of knowing what needs to be known.

There’s tea in the pot, slices of spice cake, fresh apples and cheddar.

Don’t open the window when the crow taps, nor let the cats out, no matter what they tell you.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door with her basket of tales.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with her truths.

Please come again. You’ll always find comfort, refreshment and a bit of magic.

Until next time, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

theHbook

The Book

“It’s not here,” whispered Isabella to herself climbing back down the anchored wooden ladder, repeating the words softly into Orla’s ears.

“It is here, I know it is here, all the clues, everything brings us here,” said Orla, shuffling pages of notes, pushing back into the deep shadow of the black windowed spaces between the towering bookcases.

“We’ve been here hours, we can try again tomorrow,” said Isabella glancing out into the unlit library, sighing, continuing, “fine, but tell my why this book, why here,” becoming more unsettled, spiraling her fingers around the embossed edges of her backpack.

“You know I can’t, so if you want to go, go, but I’m not leaving here without that book,” said Orla, grateful the dark hid her face, her fear, her worry and her growing despair.

Isabella shook her head, stepped onto the fading carpet, ran her hand upwards along the intricately carved decorations climbing up the sides of the bookcase, and slipped back beside her sister-in-law.

“This is about Brian, isn’t it, you think he left his notes don’t you,” asked Isabella, focusing her full attention upon Orla’s face, straining to see whatever the moonlight would reveal.

“Yeah I do, but not just notes, the book, a book once belonging to his uncle, and before you say anything, I know he followed the instructions, found the map, I believed both brothers followed him.”

“Seriously, that old fool who worked with, with, I can’t believe this, I could lose my job if we’re caught, and all so you can read about fairies and magic and other realms, because you think your husband…”

“And yours, don’t kid yourself, you want answers too, and we won’t be discovered if we’re calm, quiet and think before we begin searching again, I know what you are risking, I know, but I also know that book will lead me to Brian, he’s not dead, I know that too,” said Orla slumping back against the cold glass.

Orla slid to the floor, turned into the corner, switching on a pen light she reexamined the last page of her notes, the page with her husband’s map, a floor plan of this very library with notations about secrets, about hiding places, about an archaic form of cataloging employed to organize a hidden, but vast collection of books.

Breathe, she told herself, see what’s on the page, see what you missed before, and between the breaths she saw it, a symbol drawn as an afterthought on the outside margin of the page, but no mistaking it, although on the page it was upside down from the original she had felt, carved onto the side of the bookcase.

Turning the page, showing it to Isabella in silence, pointing, Orla smiled as Isabella took one step up the polished ladder, running her fingers along the back of the shelved books, feeling, for what, she wasn’t sure, then pushing on a carving, a carving matching the drawing, pushing as the outside of the bookcase opened revealing a book nestled inside a very secret hiding place.

River Mist Tales: The Notebook

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales.

No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s apple spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

notebookleaf_cwm

The Notebook

It was 2 am when Bronwyn sneaked out of the long closed library, walking home to the studio apartment she shared with fellow student, Deidre, a quiet and slow walk, hoping she might meet one of the woods folks as they were called by the locals.

Not wanting to wake her roommate, Bronwyn slowly opened the door, stepping inside without turning on the light before remembering Deidre was away for the weekend.

Flicking the light switch, Bronwyn took a step forward and stumbled, books, clothes and dishes were strewn about the floor.

She dropped her knapsack, every muscle tightening as she looked around the room, moving backwards, bumping into the front door, slamming it shut, rushing back against it.

Cupboard doors lay open, drawers were hanging empty, the beds were piles of sheets, blankets and pillows, from the closet, jeans, skirts, shirts and shoes spilled out like the insides of one of the road killed foxes she mourned earlier in the day as she returned from the forest trails.

Instinctively Bronwyn reached for her cell, began punching in the emergency numbers, stopped when she saw her desk, the chair in place, her notepads piled neatly, her pens arranged in a row side by side, reference books stacked by size, it was an oasis of tidiness, calmness among the chaos of the rest of the apartment.

Instead of calling the police, she called Ryan, waking him up, demanding he come immediately, there was something he needed to see.

While waiting for Ryan, Bronwyn checked the windows, all were closed, all were locked and she looked for any sign of who might have tossed the place, most thoroughly she examined her desk, the organization, what remained upon it, what might be missing.

Three of her favorite writing notebooks, hard covered, heavy smooth pages, had been placed in precise positions, side by side, on the short end of the desk, a pen placed upon each one, dead center, with a space on the desk for a fourth notebook left empty.

Bronwyn glanced towards her backpack where she had dropped it by the door, wondering if this invasion had anything to do with what she had found, what she had taken from the wood that very morning.

She had found it on a moss covered rock, tucked under a leaf, hand tooled designs filling the four quadrants of the front, back and even running along the spine of the leather cover, a filigreed fountain pen lay uncapped beside the notebook, its pages unwritten to her eyes.

As Ryan opened the door, pushing against the backpack, Bronwyn smiled, she had made the right decision, for Ryan believed the tales, and he would help return the notebook before any other mischief invaded her life, before something would be demanded in return, something not as easily returned as a blank notebook.

River Mist Tales: The Teacup

Welcome traveler, no need for names here. River folk have a way of knowing what needs to be known.

There’s tea in the pot, slices of spice cake, fresh apples and cheddar.

Don’t open the window when the crow taps, nor let the cats out, no matter what they tell you.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door with her basket of tales.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with her truths.

Please come again. You’ll always find comfort, refreshment and a bit of magic.

Until next time, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

teacuprasp_cwm

The Teacup

Arabella jumped out of bed and ran to the arching bedroom window.

It was there, the mist moving with the river as if the river itself had flowed into the sky and was continuing on its way meandering through tree tops and along cloud canyons.

Knowing she must hurry, Arabella pulled up the blankets over the pillows, dressed with haste, being as silent as a swiftly moving cloud.

She had already packed the teacups, the forks and spoons, the rose flowered plates, her grandmother’s blue trimmed linen napkins into the old woven picnic basket.

The tiny tea sandwiches she made fresh each night were hidden from her brothers at the back of the refrigerator, along with two small applesauce cakes she had baked alongside her mother.

Arabella had been watching the signs like the old woman had taught her, the change in the night temperature, the return of the stellar jays from their summer roosts, the changing colors of the elm, maple and oak leaves, all these signs of the coming autumn gathering.

And most importantly, the mist on the river, not a static melting mist, but a rising floating mist following the course of the river below it.

She had found the remains of the gathering last year, and the year before, and the year before that, she had tried to join in the festivities, especially what she considered tea time, arriving without treats to share, without tea or cups, without being invited.

Obtaining an invitation, the old woman said, requires a bit of bravery, them folk don’t allow just any daughter to sit with them, and they won’t ask ya, ya got to find them, be as if you’d already been invited, and they’d be expectin’ you, and don’t forget treats and tea.

Today would be Arabella’s third attempt in joining the tea time revels with the woods folk as the old woman called them, as she said they called themselves, not caring for any other of the human names, not revealing the sparkling language of their own.

Arabella slipped out the kitchen door, the picnic basket heavy with delights both sweet and savory, a flask of tea, a pot for serving, teacups for drinking, and walked quickly, confidently towards the river.

The mist changed the world, hiding, revealing river, tree and footpath, changing what is seen, pulling Arabella further from home, further from what was known, until she found the sign she was looking for, a teacup turned on its side into its saucer, keeping a few feet away Arabella set her tree trunk table with cloth and napkins, cups and saucers, plates and piles of sandwiches, scones and cakes, and waited, knowing today they would come, for she heard the soft foot fall, the tinkling laughter flowing out of the mist.