River Mist Tales: The Apple Tree

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 tapping 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.

appletree2_cwmThe Apple Tree

Bettany could not understand why her mother always brought her along when visiting the aunts, especially in autumn when there was so much doing at home.

Living in a doddering house, dark and uninviting, a projection of the women themselves, the aunts glared, with menace, at Bettany if she was curious, in danger of touching any of the archaic, cobweb laced objects cluttering the surfaces of unpolished side tables and shelves.

Yet, her mother, with her glowing moonlit skin, coal black hair and rich red lips, brought forth smiles, even laughter from the three stoic and ancient women.

Bettany didn’t believe the three were really her aunts, or anyone’s aunts, at all.

Leaving her mother with the velvet clad sisters, Bettany decided today was a good day for exploring outside, and out of the sight of six judging eyes, for going past the weather patinaed gate at the eastern side of the well-tended garden.

Darkness loomed perpetually beyond that gate, all seemed abandoned, forgotten, or perhaps thought Bettany, purposely placed beyond the care and concern of the invisible hand of the gardeners.

As she lifted the rusting latch, pulling until it loosed and sprang upward, the gate rumbled, fell askew, scattering about her feet, half of it still clinging to listing hinges.

Bettany stepped over the splintered remains and into the dusky beyond.

Apple trees she told herself, it’s nothing more than an old orchard.

“But why abandon such large beautiful trees, and with such sweet smiling fruit,” Bettany asked out loud, kicking fallen apples back towards the curving wide trunks.

“She doesn’t know, she doesn’t know, how can that be,” came a voice of rustling leaves and frictious branches, startling Bettany, who stepped backed towards the broken gate.

“She looks like her, the one with black hair, the one who took the bite, who fell asleep, whose fate caused the curse, and the only one who can lift it, the one who can restore the favor of the apple,” said another as three apples fell softly at the feet of the frightened but curious Bettany.

River Mist Tales: The Fiddler

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 tapping 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.

fiddlerb_cwm

The Fiddler

He stood lean and tall, his well worn shirt and trousers hung loose, dripping softly from his twig like frame.

Arriving early, claiming one of the best locations on the green, Lindy stood quietly among the shadows of the marketplace, watching the fiddler’s preparations, taking a deep breath, a slow exhale, she dreamt of another life, hoping for a different tune, before setting up her father’s booth, knowing she would be ready long before the ringing of the opening bell.

Musicians were not an uncommon sight during the bustling autumn markets, minstrels, storytellers and other performers of curiosity often stopped, sharing their gifts, their craft, their mysteries in exchange for coin, for food, lodging and other needs not easily met upon the road.

Continuing with her tasks Lindy arranged piles of beets, carrots, onions and the last of the apples, turning the cut bunches of dill, winter savory, and thyme so their freshest stalks were showing forward, all the while watching, out of the corner of her eye, the young solitary fiddler.

He could not be much older than she, Lindy thought, yet here he was out in the world, traveling alone, earning his way with what talent had been his gift, seeing the world, choosing how he spent his days.

The fiddler, aware of being observed, not just by the lovely dark haired creature whose arrival had awakened his own desires, but by other merchants putting up canvas to shade their wares, keep their customers from the cool breezes, readying for the frenzy of the marketplace, hoping to entice with bold colors, bold tastes, and objects both familiar and unusual.

From her opportune position on the western side of the ancient oak which commanded the center of the village green, Lindy strained, listening for the soft tones as the fiddler plucked each string in turn.

Yet Lindy heard nothing, not a single note, nor any sound as she watched a rounded bow pull across the fiddle, even as she saw the fiddler, hearing every note he plucked, every chord he struck, return her observation with his own.

As Lindy wondered why she could not hear the music, the fiddler ceased all movement, the opening bell rang clear, and eager customers moved among the stalls and tents.

Throughout the day, when she stood without customers, Lindy listened for the music, the airs and jigs, the lullabies and laments which danced around the the oak tree, danced among the canvas stalls and she discovered sounds sweeter, more intoxicating than any other music she had ever heard.

At twilight, the unsold vegetables and herbs gathered onto the cart, the wood frame and canvas stowed away, Lindy looked across the green towards the fiddler who was still playing, playing a melody Lindy could not hear, but all around her she saw sleeping men, women and children, smiles upon their faces.

Abandoning the cart, Lindy walked towards the fiddler, walked through the growing silence, walked towards a future unknown, and at this moment, unheard.

River Mist Tales: The Witch Doll

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 tapping 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.

witches_cwm

The Witch Doll

The first time Nessa saw the witch doll, it stood, vibrant and alluring, in a clothing shop window, giving the display a dose of Halloween fun.

She grabbed your attention, the witch doll, in high contrast to the clean lines, solid colors of the designer clothes, the witch wearing patterned flowing patchwork, pieces of plaid and linen print of bright yellow mushrooms.

Nessa smiled, remembering a coat her aunt Tildy wore, patch upon patch, full of red hearts and blue squares. Her memory continued along, walking her aunt’s overgrown cottage path, recalling the overflowing baskets of mushrooms Tildy collected, orange, brown and bright yellow.

The second time Nessa saw the witch, she was surrounded by several unusual dolls, depicting cunning women, part of a display for a newly released novel.

Again the witch captured attention, standing taller, more severe in her expression, more life-like in her posture than the other dolls.

As readers clamored for an autograph from the author, Nessa was lost in a web of images spinning a vision of an abandoned cottage, a jealous rage, words chanted in anger, sister against sister.

Jostled by the crowd, Nessa abandoned the forceful day dreams which had left her feeling confused, a step out of place, out of time.

Without another glance at the witch, Nessa left the bookstore, arriving home in the blink of an eye, unaware of how she had managed to walk the two miles with such ease and speed.

The third time Nessa saw the witch was at an open air flea market, she was surrounded by bottles filled with strange herbal concoctions, talismans created from twig, glass and metal, and various other tools and supplies any alchemist would envy, or cunning woman use.

As Nessa passed the heavily curtained booth, she heard a laugh float out from the shadows, more a cackle than a cheerful expression, followed by a woman’s voice calling her name.

Nessa stopped, turned, greeting a woman wearing plaid and bright florals, her wavy hair pulled back revealing a softly crinkled face, the woman’s smile pulling Nessa close, her voice a gentle whisper, promising a solution to the tragic enchantment haunting her, imprisoning her aunt.

River Mist Tales: Used Books

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 tapping 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.

usedbooks_cwm

Used Books

“A used book store, Simon, don’t you think that’s a little too obvious,” said Brian wondering why his brother had stopped walking.

“We are looking for a book,” replied Simon, ignoring his younger brother’s exasperated tone.

“Part of a book,” mumbled Brian, shaking his head.

But Simon did have a knack for finding things well hidden, even when those things were lost in time and protected by both mundane human disguises and faery glamour.

Today’s task was not unlike dozens of others that the Harrington brothers had performed, some with ease, some with varying degrees of complications, most accomplished without bringing too much attention either to themselves or the objects retrieved.

It was the family business after all, generations of men, and women, collecting objects, securing them, preserving them, keeping them out of the hands of those who would misuse them, both human and other.

Initially Simon was reluctant to join the family business, he had ignored his abilities, his gifts as the family called them, preferring a life in New York, creating a personal fortune, exploring the world of art and music, falling in love.

However some gifts are not meant for commerce and mere money making, and Brian found many small ways of luring his brother back, helping Simon realize his true calling, fulfilling his deeper potential.

The bookstore was small, three tiny rooms packed floor to ceiling with odd sized volumes, mostly hardbound, all showing age and various degrees of decay.

A balding man, round, sloppy in his appearance, said hello before glancing up as the brothers entered his shop, raising his eyes fully and recognizing the pair before him, the shopkeeper rose from his stool, closed the front door, locked it, hanging the closed sign.

“The sons instead of the father, well, before you ask, I have a proposal that should please both our masters,” said the shopkeeper speaking quickly, looking from one brother to the other.

Smiling Simon glanced upward, three books fell to the floor startling the shopkeeper, “As you know our father, then you know there is no bartering, besides, it appears the book has decided where it wishes to be.”