River Mist Tales: The Door

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

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The Door

It appeared on his porch during her third month of employment.

Katya Slichenko, grateful, enjoying her job as an assistant to a writer, had paused, studying the tiny door, the shingles, the steps, the doorknob which had appeared overnight.

He, hair unbrushed, clothes crinkled and soft, didn’t answer Katya’s question about the door. He was working, writing in a fresh blank notepad, from the back, sideways across the smooth white pages as he always did.

H. H. Holloway, that’s how his named appeared on his published collections of short stories, mostly tales of faery, sprites, nymphs, dryads, and their homelands. He wrote about encounters with these magical creatures, and those souls seeking for the doorways, the paths, the gates into that other realm which they inhabited.

Katya typed the stories onto the computer, printed them out for him, made the notated corrections.

She also made tea, collected the mail, paid the bills, spoke with the cleaning woman, Mrs. Johnson, and with George, who mows the lawn, cares for the flower beds.

As she typed up the most recent stories, Katya noticed a recurring element, a small wooden door appearing again and again, with more detail, more life in each of the tales, opening, closing.

And then the door appeared, just as H. H. had described it in his stories.

Now handwritten pages, beginning at the back of a notepad, moving sideways across the page, appear on Katya’s desk every Thursday morning.

Missing the quiet rumpled H. H., Katya still makes tea, for one, talks with Mrs. Johnson and with George, pays the bills and types up stories, darker encounters between one man and those magical creatures beyond the little door.

River Mist Tales: The Boardwalk

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

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The Boardwalk

Not far from here there is a boardwalk which stands above a marsh.

Well constructed, strong, its a short walk out to the dock, with benches and a long view down the Western Waterway.

Friends of the Western Waterway maintain the boardwalk, the volunteers also keep the parking area and the walking path along the shore clean and accessible.

Last year, in an effort to raise money for board replacement, the Friends offered Memory Boards.

For a small fee anyone could have a name or short message carved into one of the new boards.

It was a very successful campaign, with many boards sponsored, much money raised.

Max Wileman laughed at the fundraiser.

He thought messages for the living would be more fun than names of the dead. And he promised Flannery, if he ever went away on one of his perpetually planned travels, without due notice, he would send such a message.

Flannery Quinn missed that bit of strangeness about Max, even though she never considered, with any seriousness, his theories, his travel plans to visit those magical places, the woods, the moors hidden in the tales and myths he read.

Last November Max Wileman disappeared, leaving with only the backpack he kept readied by his front door, full of bottled water, hawthorn twigs and pieces of iron.

For months Flannery strolled the boardwalk, reading each and every carved name, twice, on the way out to the dock and on the way back to the landing.

Returning from the dock today, Flannery stumbled, turned and stared at the words below her feet, “I am happy love Max.”

River Mist Tales: The Eye

Welcome, the mist is rising from the river, please make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The seat by the window gives the best view, allows the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

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The Eye

Do you see it, the eye, in the tree, in the neighbors yard?

Some days I know its watching, some days I know its looking elsewhere.

Two years ago when I was thirteen, I began working for the lady next door.

She is old, really old, with long gray hair tidied into a bun on the top of her head. Her name is Mrs. O’Neil.

Mostly I follow behind her, helping with yard work, picking up fallen branches, pulling weeds, raking leaves, doing those garden chores she can’t manage anymore.

During the wet winter months, Mrs. O’Neil has me dust books, books with titles not found in any library I’ve ever visited, and there are hundreds of books, crowded shelves of books pushing against the walls of her living room, running down the upstairs hallway and straying into odd corners of bedrooms.

On Thursdays, even after school, Mrs. O’Neil insists we have tea and cream cake together.

She talks the entire hour, telling the most amazing stories about fairies, talking birds and guardian trees, watching, waiting. I never really believed any of her stories, although she insisted each was honest and true.

Last week I noticed the eye for the first time, watching.

Mrs. O’Neil says I should introduce myself, with reverence, to the tree, now that the tree has taken notice of me.

River Mist Tales: Three Mermaids

Welcome, the mist is rising from the river, please make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The seat by the window gives the best view, allows for the easiest of hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

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Three Mermaids

She was brazen and bold, smiling at me with familiarity, teasing.

Slathered in sunscreen, the three mermaids were watching the Daffodil Parade, paying little attention to all those watching them.

The adults were trying to guess the names of the costumed women, trying to guess who they really were.

Not Tommy and me. We saw Mr. McVard helping them ashore. He and his son Billy.

This wasn’t their first visit, well for two of them anyway.

There were two mermaids lounging about last Halloween and watching last year’s parade.

No one spoke to them, but lots of photos were taken of them.

I told Tommy we should wait around, offer to help Billy and his dad take the mermaids back home.

Tommy didn’t want to help, me, I had questions.

Well, one question, for the third, the one with red hair, soft rounded features, who looks like me.

Everyone thought Janey, my sister, had drowned, but I know she’s here, smiling, teasing, living with relatives.