River Mist Tales: The Shadow Collector

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

Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy 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.

shadowcollect_cwm

The Shadow Collector

The day was hot, dusty, the crowd was pushing, loud and demanding.

Sloane wished she had stayed home, or a least brought a hat with her, or a bottle of water, or a big stick.

Two hours had passed since she lost sight of Brenda and Tilly, still Sloane was no closer to finding the shadow collector than she’d been for the past five weekends, and her friends, her friends were tired of looking, tired of spending their weekends walking among dust and strangers, but quitting was not an option for Sloane.

She knew Brenda and Tilly did not believe her, thought Sloane was telling another faery tale, well, not until Liam, Sloane’s younger brother, refused to step outside the house, during daylight hours, claiming his shadow had been stolen from him.

Liam had wanted a scooter, would take on any job if it paid, would sell just about anything he owned.

The scooter stood unused behind the garage, shunned by a frightened Liam who avoided windows and opened doors, and somehow Sloane knew it was her fault, knew she needed answers, needed a better deal than Liam had inadvertently negotiated.

A few stalls ahead, she caught a glimpse of Brenda and Tilly moving with the crowd, heading toward the north gate of the market, an impulsive decision turned Sloane around, headed her toward the south gate instead.

Working her way slowly, paying little attention as offers for tastes and samples were thrust at her, ignoring direct greetings, Sloane focused upon a row of brightly colored tented stalls standing along the broken fence, at the far edge of the market, disappearing into the forest.

Even the patrons mulling about the blue, yellow and green striped canvas hooded booths were unlike any of the other crowds Sloane had jostled through during the long morning.

Then Sloane saw them, the black silhouettes standing solid and straight, appearing as most folks believed, nothing more than cutouts, plywood painted black, and among the cutouts she saw the man.

There was a house on the old road, leading up the mountain, a mile out of town, the yard filled with black silhouettes of men, women, children, dogs, cats and wild creatures from the forest.

Sloane had heard the stories, wild tales told on dark nights, but there on the mountain road, and here in the popular flea market stood the man, the man who owned that old house, who collected, and sold, not black painted cutouts, no he collected, sold and traded living shadows.

River Mist Tales: The Door

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

Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy 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.

door_cwm

The Door

“Grandfather, come, come, they’ve arrived,” said Sinead, leaving the heavy oak door open as she rushed outside of the weathered farmhouse, cold air sneaking in.

Rising from his chair tucked close under the thick-footed kitchen table, ignoring the cluttered remains of breakfast, Harold McEnnvard smiled, deciding he would attend upon his granddaughter with all due solemnity.

The youngest of his five grandchildren, Sinead was a whimsical creature in much need of schooling but being a brilliant mid winter day, Harold felt he should encourage her untethered imagination.

With her blood racing, Sinead moved from side to side, running ahead, turning back, she knew with a deep conviction that her plea, sent aloft during the last full moon, had been answered.

She knew even her stoic grandfather must believe the stories the river woman, as Sinead called her, had been spinning around the questions asked of her.

And now Sinead had proof.

Reassuring herself that it was still there, Sinead turned once more, looking for her grandfather, who with his familiar and long accepted aches, was making his slow progress across the dooryard towards the west side of the sagging barn.

Sinead stood tall, one eye upon her discovery, one eye upon the approach of her beloved grandfather.

As Harold took the final step bringing him close enough to see, Sinead pointed towards her discovery, without offering a word.

Another shuffling step and the crinkled faced man halted, giving his full attention to the small door high upon the side of the barn.

“That’s one fine door you built Sinead.”

“I didn’t make the door grandfather, don’t you see, they’ve come, to help, they’ve come just as I asked, so we can stay here, you’ll see,” said Sinead hoping she would soon be speaking with the house elves herself.

 

River Mist Tales: The Sign

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

Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy 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.

dragonsign_cwm

The Sign

“Don’t stray far Runa, and stay on this side of the pond.”

That’s what her mother had said every morning for the past nine days, as if there was any place to stray towards, thought Runa, or any way across the great pond as it’s sheer coating of ice glistened in the sun.

Most days Runa walked the shore path, going a little further each day, daring herself, going beyond the curve in the shore where she could no longer see the rambling house, before turning back home, often retracing her own footprints on the frost covered ground.

There wasn’t much between the path and the water, mostly rocks big enough for climbing, sitting, even sleeping upon in warmer weather, listening as the water softly pushed up against rocks and overhanging tree roots.

Now the water itself was frigid, clear and unrevealing, hiding her secrets well.

All Runa ever saw on her walks were large gray granite rocks, moody water and secretive trees, and none of those things interested her at all.

Runa missed her friends, missed the constant noise and frenzy of the city, the smallness of their apartment with its fifth floor view towards other high buildings, shop signs and the occasional tree top, missed their apartment overflowing with books and objects collected from flea markets and day trips.

Here, in a house which resembled a collection of ill fitting sheds, Runa felt as if her life had emptied, so much space inside, and so much space outside, except for all these trees and all that water.

The pond appeared to go on and on and on without any reachable ending, for no matter where she stood, all Runa saw of the far shore were other rocks, other trees, other waterways.

Was it the wildness across the pond her mother warned Runa about, the wildness her mother tried keeping her daughter from venturing into, from losing herself inside of?

After nine days of walking around the close end of the pond, spying with binoculars, being quiet and then making noise with hands and voice and feet, Runa had managed not to see, or startle, or meet, any other creature.

All these conflicting thoughts, conflicting actions, kept Runa’s feet on the shore path long past her usual “only a few steps more” self command, until the path narrowed, the forest became shadows of itself and dense, hiding itself, hiding what lay ahead, stopping she noticed the pond had disappeared from view, reaching with her hand she moved aside some overhanging branches, and there Runa saw the sign, aged but still bright, giving a warning: Beyond Here There Be Dragons.