River Mist Tales: River Spinner

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.

spinner_cwm

River Spinner

On Monday, Matilda, wandering aimlessly along the river bank, found three flat river stones stacked one on top of the other, on the largest stone was a black inked drawing resembling the far bank, almost, on the middle sized stone another inked drawing of the railroad bridge a few hundred feet down river, and strange symbols ran across the third and smallest stone, the masterful illustrations focused her drifting thoughts, of Seamus, his leaving, his weaving unraveling, her paintings fading, their studio abandoned, locked shut.

Although the stones lay near the edge of the flowing river, threatened by the slightest surge in the water, they lay dry, surrounded by settled dust after weeks of cloudless skies, the endless sun browning, and, like the stones, Matilda was dry and dusty, living deep within her grief, the loss of her husband, her planned life, blaming her rabid focus upon an imagined covenant, her pursuit of the realm she had glimpsed in his eyes, heard in his stories, witnessed in his weaving, chased in her dreaming.

On Tuesday Matilda could not find the illustrated stones, she searched north and south from the spot where she knew the stones had laid, it was the view of the bridge which held her in place, the changing view of the far river bank, and as she searched she realized an unknown artist had given her a marker, revealed a thread, strong, inspiring.

I should have taken the stones Matilda told herself, they held the answer, they showed the way.

Sitting on a fallen tree trunk, Matilda, quieting her mind, turned her attention towards the river rushing over rising rocks, fallen trees, observing how the river, stilling itself, gently pushed against the smaller stones along the bank, and becoming still herself, Matilda softened, tears fell from dry eyes, spinning into twisting river flows, twining into the living tapestry before her.

A gentle breeze, slow, mischievous, rustled the leaves overhead, bird song drifted from the dense canopy dissolving into the flow of open air spinning above the interlaces of light and water forming the river.

With her thoughts flowing through time, today, yesterday, pushing against stilled moments, Matilda closed her eyes, conjuring up the memory of where she had stood, trying to see what lived unseen.

Another sound rose above the roar of shuttling water and fading bird song, a sound of squeaking, of dull plodding, rhythmic, familiar, a sound braiding into her heart, coiling around her memories, when Matilda opened her eyes, silence.

On Wednesday Matilda found tufts of silken fibers, glistening white and gold, collecting at the edge of the river as if the river herself was plucking and carding the course foam splashing over jutting rock and fallen trunk.

She gathered the soft damp tufts, draping them over the fallen tree trunk where she had sat the day before.

The more she gathered, the more appeared, and as she gathered she heard the click, the squeak, the dull whoosh of, of some knowledge her mind did not grasp, all the while the humble rhythms grew louder and louder and louder.

Clouds shifted the fall of sunlight, shadows deepened, moved, the tufts drying upon the log vanished, the river grew silent as the air grew thick, sweet, Matilda, straining to know, was rewarded, stepping away from the river into the trees, Matilda saw the bark encrusted loom, and the leaf hidden weaver, a voice weaving itself into the trees, “You have done me a great service Matilda, come tomorrow and you will find what you seek.”

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 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: 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 Ferry

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.

ferryride_cwm

The Ferry

A timid knock brought forth a bang as a small wooden door opened, and a seated man asked, “How many for the Breasal Isle Ferry?”

“Two.”

“Round trip or one way?” asked the ticket seller keeping his eyes lowered.

“How much time, I mean is there a time limit on the round trip?”

“A year and a day in your time,” said the bowed head, repeating, “one year plus one day of mortal time. You can return by whatever ferry may be running.”

“Okay, then two round trip tickets,” said Phoebe ignoring the deep poke from Samantha who couldn’t hear what the ticket seller was saying, and repressing her own questions about mortal time and whatever ferry may be running.

After a flash of light, after a flurry of stamping and shuffling of countless pieces of what looked like paper or, maybe, various tree leaves, the ticket seller handed Phoebe two deep red sugar maple leaves, supple and full.

Holding the leaves, Phoebe, confused, unsure, her breath stuttering, wondered if she should ask anything else of the man sitting on the other side of the wall, when as abruptly as it was opened, the small wooden door was shut with a slam.

Not what I thought I’d receive Phoebe admitted to herself as she took a deep breath, made a quick self check, then turned around to face the ever doubtful, nervous, eye blinking Samantha.

“Well Sam, here we go, tickets in hand, and a full year before we must decide if we stay or return,” said Phoebe, forcing a smile of assurance.

Moving toward the small huddled group of fellow passengers silently waiting as the fog wove her spell hiding the world they all knew, Phoebe, sure of her choice, having seen the Breasal Isle Ferry before, having heard both delights and warnings from other travelers who yearned for another trip but somehow could not find their way back, smiled as Samantha asked with a loud voice so those around them would hear, “Will he meet us at the pier, the old man, will he welcome us, will he help us?”

“I’m sure he’ll meet us, yeah, he’ll meet us,” said Phoebe trying to convince 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.

 

River Mist Tales: Lake Mist

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.

laketree_cwm

Lake Mist

November 21st will the be the tenth anniversary of two disappearances, the first is Fintan, who is missed, and the second, Terrell, who is not.

Fern arrives a few days early, making allowances for weather conditions and the phase of the moon.

There is a routine Fern follows, a ritual of activities Fintan created, activities which must be adhered to with exacting precision.

It is not only the weather, the air temperature, the cloud coverage, the fog which Fern monitors, there is the lunar complication, and the whimsical nature of the hunt itself.

This year, the tenth year, is proving particularly hopeful.

It’s late afternoon and the tree, the lake, the heavy cloud coverage, even the flowing mist, resembles that day ten long years ago.

Fern stands motionless, she watches the mist wander around the trees, dance in front of the far mountainside along the far shore of the lake, she watches as it floats over the surface of the lake itself, bringing trees, water, and sky in and out of obscurity.

Before she is completely mesmerized by the shifting dull light, Fern walks exactly ten steps south of the tree, moves aside a flat marking rock, digs in the dirt finding once more the iron shards where Fintan had buried them, so too, is the leather ring, partially encased in the thread bare remains of what once was a midnight blue velvet pouch.

Fern adds another piece of iron to the site, she sprinkles salt upon the path and places several ribboned bundles of oak, ash and thorn twigs on the ground and along the wet side near the water’s edge, forming a circle which includes the tree and the shore of the lake.

Satisfied with her preparations, Fern returns to the dry, warm comfort of her solid black Jeep, waiting for the hour of revelation, promising herself this time, this time Terrell will remain with his people and Fintan will return to his.

Loud voices, dogs barking, rope slapping against wood startle Fern awake, she tumbles from the Jeep, scanning the faces of the strangely dressed crowd of revelers along the shore, and in boats close by, seeing Fintan she throws a horseshoe on the ground, steps upon it and pulls at his arms wrestling him onto the ground beside her, rolling them both inside her marked circle.

“How long, how long was I gone?” asks Fintan looking around, seeing Fern, the tree, the night enhancing mist hiding the lake, and nothing else, not even a glance of that roaming hunt of faery revelers.

River Mist Tales: The Fountain

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.

fountain_cwm

The Fountain

At the age of twenty-seven, Maxwell Cotton, tasked with creating the sculptures for the 12th District’s center fountain, became the youngest sculptor ever commissioned by the city of Praatonia, an honor traditionally, and politically, bestowed upon the senior artisans of the Praaton Sculptoriaum, particularly artisans from loyal citizen families.

Turning his back on the gossip, the demeaning speculations, the very public whispers, focusing instead on the demands of his first major public commission, desiring to bring honor to old Malvern who first accepted him, against much derision, into the Sculptoriaum, Max reached back into his own family’s traditions, his inheritance of design and language, and the blessings of the Dragon’s Breath.

More than a century ago followers of the Dragon’s Breath had become outsiders, travelers mostly, feared for their ancient knowledge, and respect, of land, air and water, feared for their melodic language, their refusal of state citizenship, feared for their protection of the last remaining dragons.

Honoring the history of his merchant neighbors, the collection of fountain sculptures Max proposed was accepted without much alteration by the Overseers, and with much relief by the merchants.

The stone was collected, carved and placed, the water system installed and tested, the fountain was on schedule for its grand unveiling, readied for use.

With the dedication two days away, Max visited the silent pristine fountain, the water reservoirs empty, the polished stone hiding underneath a covering of purple canvas, tented so none of the ornamental sculptures could give themselves away.

From his hiding place under the canvas, the young sculptor heard the comments of those passing by, their curiosity, their criticisms, voices washing upon the canvas, rising and falling like a tide against a sandy shore, fading into the day, except for one voice, having spoken from the moment the fountain’s cornerstone was placed, returning again and again, growing louder, more demanding, now commanding Max, speaking in an ancient tongue.

Invite me, the voice said with growing imperialism, invite me to live among these people who have forgotten their old neighbors.

Max looked out from his hiding place amongst his sculptures, he looked for the man whose deep fierce voice was speaking with the language of his ancestors, speaking the language of the Dragon’s Breath, but no such man could be seen, and Max trembled as the voice circled around his body, flowing through the fountain like water, bubbling from some hidden deep cavern, pushing for the response Max knew he was unable to hold back.

On the day of the dedication, under the glare of a hot high sun, the merchants with their storefronts gleaming, making last minute demands of their overwrought clerks, smiling at the groaning crowds come to witness the promised homage to commerce, finally joined the citizens filling the five avenues leading away from Praatonia’s newest fountain.

As the canvas was removed, the water rushing in its exploration of the carved basins, the crowd delighting in the curve and shape, the sheer number of the polished figurines, young Maxwell Cotton was chanting, in an ancient tongue, calling, calling, calling.

Before the first drops of water rested in their new home, Max saw the water dragon, as gray as the hand-polished marble, wrap around a column and disappear into the swirling water.

River Mist Tales: Island Camp

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.

camp_cwm

Island Camp

Alana Brown stooped low picking up a small packet of folded paper, edges damp, flattened as it mostly hid under the small pile of stones.

Before she unfolded the blue paper, Alana glanced back towards her younger daughter Aine walking along the shore path, then gave her full attention to the silent camp sitting on the rocky island, only a short canoe ride from the shore.

She knew the two girls, her eldest daughter Orla and her friend, Marlyn, would paddle to the far side of the island, they would find the cove, land upon the sandy bit of beach before taking the path leading up towards the camp.

As Alana undid the second fold of the note, a west wind rose, slapping water against shore, wrapping the island with a blanket of fog, hiding the tree tops, and the camp from view.

As she opened the note fully, Alana lost sight of the island as the shroud of fog enveloped it complete.

“Dear Mom,” the note began.

“The island has finally appeared.

“We have the notebooks, all of your instructions, all of dad’s warnings and yes, the sachets of herbs and the shards of iron.

“Marlyn is impatient, she hides her doubts better than I do.

“No, I don’t regret the decision, this is where I want to go, what I want to do.

“Til next year, take care of dad and Aine, love…”

Slipping the note into her coat pocket, closing her eyes, Alana whispered a blessing in a melodious tongue, sending it out across the water, remembering time spent among her family, and knowing when she opened her eyes, the island, the camp and her eldest daughter would have vanished from sight.

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.

maxboardwalk_cwm

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.”