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.

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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 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.

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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 Unicorn Trophy

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.

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The Unicorn Trophy

It wasn’t Miss Plumworth’s first visit to Maine, but this was the first time an object was being offered, and only her second visit in her own time.

Before her, centered upon a slight rise, stood a plan rectangular, white clapboard farmhouse, extending out back towards the barn, until house and barn merged into a single structure.

Small single-step porches held court outside both the front and side doors, both looked unused, lonely without any bush or flower, the side door catching a small bit of shade from the single elm which stood in the side yard just beyond the end of the dirt driveway.

Before Miss Plumworth stepped into the kitchen dooryard, the creaking wooden kitchen door opened wide revealing a petite fair haired girl who couldn’t be more than ten years old, hesitating, keeping her eyes toward the ground.

Miss Plumworth smiled, raised her face sniffing the air, a jumble of lavender, lilac and rose, and fresh baked rhubarb cake full of cinnamon and, surprisingly, cardamon.

A few quick steps and she was in the kitchen, the wide wooden planks scrubbed smooth, and the petite fair haired girl said, “This way please, miss.”

Settling into the living room whose only visual reprieve from a vast collection of objects, were two sets of windows, one pair looking out towards the street which ran parallel to the short end of the house, the other pair looking out toward the dirt driveway, the solitary elm tree, across spotty grass towards the neighbors fenced garden, Miss Plumworth wondered how any object, magical or otherwise, once brought into this overflowing house would be noticed at all.

The answer arrived when Tilda Miller sauntered into the room, wearing a bright floral dress, a plaid scarf wrapped around her shoulders, purple shoes matched by large purple and silver earrings, her curly hair a rising mass around her angular, eager face.

The gregarious woman answered another question as well, why her daughter chose simple, plain and quiet.

As Tilda raised eyebrows, inclined her head, visually instructing her daughter, the girl sat down beside Miss Plumworth on the couch, pulling a small silver unicorn from her pocket, offering it on her upraised palm.

“I found it, hidden in a tree out back, in a small broken box, well, the lady showed me where to look, told me she couldn’t touch it, told me I needed to give it to you, so you could return it, and then she could go home too,” said the fair haired daughter, all in one breath.

“Jilly is it, why don’t you hold the unicorn while you describe the lady to me,” said Miss Plumworth, slow and calm, replacing her notebook into her bag, pulling out an scarred black leather bound book with a tiny silver unicorn embossed in the lower front corner.

River Mist Tales: Red Dog, Green Dog

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.

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Red Dog, Green Dog

Miss Plumworth sat down on the sagging couch, took our her notebook, a silver and gold pen, and said, “Tell me about the red and green dogs down the street.”

Tenny studied the woman sitting before her, the eyes looking kind, but deep, pulling, as if the woman could read her mind, as if the woman would know immediately if she told a fib or not.

The woman smiled, raised one eyebrow, tapped the pen on her notebook, just once, softly, bringing Tenny’s attention back from where it had wandered through embroidered linen falling from knees closed together, and heels too, heels supporting one green boot, one blue boot, both boots tied round with bites of patterned fabric and narrow leather belts.

Uncertain Tenny glanced back over her shoulder towards the kitchen where her mother was busy preparing iced tea and who knew what strange bite sized offering.

Miss Plumworth leaned forward, whispered low, “I know you saw him, tell me about him, Tenny.”

“No one believes me, they, they all think its just one of my stories,” said Tenny, listening for her mother’s approach.

“Well then, you had better speak quickly,” said Miss Plumworth. “Now Tenny.”

“It began with sounds of the dogs, barking, rumbling, late at night. Everyone thought someone was moving the green dog about, so he was chained, but no one was moving the dogs, the dogs were being walked, by a small man, in the night.

“I was walking home, not too far, I’d been babysitting, the dogs were missing, but I heard them barking, and a voice talking with them, bringing them back from the river.

“The man was only about three feet tall, wore a hat stuck with feathers and sticks, with a gold pocket watch stuck one side, and he had boots, full of patches, and his pants and jacket were patched and covered with twigs and leaves like he had fallen through a tree or rolled around in a pile of brush, and all of them, the man, the red dog, the green dog, passed by as if I weren’t even there.

“When I turned the dogs were back in place at the end of that driveway and the man was gone, just gone,” said Tenny leaning close to Miss Plumworth whose hand had stopped moving across the page, whose face had lifted to welcome Tenny’s mother carrying a ladened tray of tea and sandwiches.

 

River Mist Tales: Morris Dancers

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. 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.

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Morris Dancers

“Com’on, I hear the bells,” shouted Lucy, standing at the open gate, hiding a tattered piece of paper.

“Hush Lucy, they’re just walking up the street. We’ve plenty of time,” said Tom wondering why he volunteered as escort for Lucy, and her menagerie of imaginary friends.

Lucy, nodding her head in agreement with some unheard voice, ran a few steps up the road before stopping, again, jittery as she waited for her older brother.

“As long as I can see you Lucy, all will be well,” said Tom as his wayward sister darted further along the road.

“I promise I’ll see you Tom,” Lucy called back.

Brother and sister joined the swelling crowd in the courtyard of the neighboring cider makers.

The Morris Dancers were standing in two rows facing each other readying for the dance, their song of thanks for the generosity of the apple trees, the sun, the rain, the soil.

With heightened energy Lucy stood looking around her, beyond the crowd towards the edges of the outbuildings, the field and the orchard.

As the deafening crack of two sticks hitting split the air, as the ground trembling under stomping feet keeping an ancient rhythm and bells, strapped to legs, began tinkling, Lucy continued her search.

She knew they would be here today of all days, and Lucy knew she would speak with them.

“Com’on, come out,” Lucy whispered to herself moving along the edge of the crowd, stepping slowly towards the orchard that was standing quiet and still after the rush of harvest.

As the Morris dancers enthralled the crowd, Lucy called to the spirit of the apple tree, called to his faery companions, whispering under her breath, “I’ve got a message from Miss Plumworth.”