Tag Archives: fiction

Eglantine – a short story

Here is a short story inspired by this beautiful picture taken by a photographer friend, Paul Militaru.  An eglantine is a sweet briar rose. The word was mainly used in medieval England.

To me this picture is both beautiful and haunting, like the story. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

thanks for reading!

Eglantine

Fragrant perfume filled the air as my fingers stroked the leaves of the row of eglantine that grew beside the trail. I walked along its path, unconsciously caressing the twigs and occasionally catching my sleeves and fingers on the tiny thorns that lined its branches. The wild rose’s blooms had long since disappeared, leaving in their place the swelling of rose hips, bright in their promise.
My mother and I often collected them. Our days were often filled with brimming baskets of petals and herbs, roots and leaves, that served to restore those who came to receive her gift of healing. Ironic that they now lined the path leading to the monument of her death.
The last two days had been a blur, and realization was only now dawning as I walked the ever widening path that led to the clearing of sorrow, as they called it. It was a place of mournful repose, one that most in our village at one time or another had visited.

Especially recently.

Sickness had entered and spread at an alarming rate among the residents. My mother, being a gifted healer,tended to their wounds and fevers. But even with all of her gifts and knowledge of herbs, she was not immune to its ravages.
Mother had always been careful not to bring remnants of the illnesses she encountered into our cott, often choosing to sleep in the shed with our meager collection of livestock. Most often her ministrations were limited to farm accidents, new babies, and the occasional skin infection. But since the arrival of our new schoolmaster, one by one the residents bloomed with fever and sores. Some had been cured, due to careful tending from my mother. But many died. “A most horrible end”, she had said sadly, refusing to elaborate upon what she had seen.
Then her move to the shed became permanent. She spoke to me through the window of the cott, explaining that most in the village were now sick, and since I was not yet showing signs of exposure, she would not take the chance of spreading the infection to me. That was three days ago.
The next morning she woke with the fever, and the door to the shed was barred from the inside. Refusing my help, she asked only for water, a pot and a few herbal remedies that had already been prepared. I left them beside the door along with some bread and broth. Both remained untouched.
The eglantine bushes for which I was named, now served as a reminder of my young life – of fragrant experiences mingled with pain, and of the sweet love of my mother. The pain and uncertainty that her death would bring was almost unbearable. I was now completely alone, left to follow in her footsteps, or not.
Sweet Brier Rose. She named me this because when I was born, my skin was the color and texture of the soft pink petals that bloomed in early summer. Mother most often called me by my full name and I loved the way it rolled off her tongue; a most beloved term of endearment, especially now.

But everyone else called me Brie.
The path opened up, and I stepped into the clearing among the throng of people gathered there. Downcast faces, each bearing their own pain, rose to mine as I passed. They offered their silent prayers of peace: for mother, her eternal soul, and too, for my days hereafter. I was much to young to stay at the cott alone. 16 was the age of majority, and I had not yet reached it, would not for some years to come.

They would not let me stay there alone, regardless of how much they respected my mother. The elders would take control of our home, and pass it to a family that needed it. Of course I could stay with them, strangers in my own home, but it would be hard. My choices were limited, but I would not  ponder them as I could not yet get past my grief. I knew I  would be allowed a couple of days to gather my few belongings.
I did not know my father. He had gone missing just after I was born. He left with the rest of the men of the village on a hunt and never returned. Mother and I had always managed pretty well, as her skill was renown. We were not well off by any stretch of the imagination, but we always had food and enough wood to keep us warm throughout the winter months; the villagers made sure of it. And really, what else did we need?

But I knew not one other soul attached to my family by blood. And now I would most likely have to leave the only home I knew. There had been offers of a bed among a few of the villagers, but I knew that the offers were made mostly as a kindness. Most cotts were filled to bursting with families and children, and even with so many gone from the illness, the fields had been left largely untended. Food had become scarce.
My steps ended at the pyre that she had been placed upon. There were 6 of varying sizes, and each held a loved one that had succumbed to fever. Most often bodies of the dead were buried beneath a monument to their lives, but fear had driven the elders to proclaim that the diseased would be burned, leaving no remains of what had infiltrated our lives. I reasoned that when my mother was gone, there would be nothing left to hold me here but memories, and those would always be with me no matter where I was.
I walked to the base of her funeral pyre and placed an armful of flowers and herbs that I had gathered from our garden; all of her favorites. The roses that she had always so carefully tended, pink and yellow, and the white ones that she had told me once represented purity and the eternal light that death would ultimately lead to.

They seemed appropriate now.

Rosemary and thyme, barberry and blessed thistle bunched around them, infusing the air with the fragrant blossoms. As I stepped away to my place among the gathered crowd, the scent lingered and I breathed deeply, memorizing its heady aroma. “I will never forget” my soul cried out to hers. And the tears began to brim.
One of the men from among the throng stepped forward with a lit torch. After a slight nod to the families surrounding the beacon, he touched its lit end to the dried grasses that waited beneath. The flame caught and spread, quickly moving up the post toward those who waited. I watched as the fire encapsulated her body, separating it forever from mine.
It was then that I saw him.

Beyond the balefire stood a man who I did not know, whom it did not appear that anyone knew. He faced the ravaging flames with a solemn countenance, and I saw the wet upon his face. His grief puzzled me. Who among these did he weep for? As I pondered this, he looked away from the rite, and directly into my eyes. His eyes bore through me, the same icy blue as those that I possessed. My mother had always said they were the color of a clear sky in winter, unhindered by the clouds, and through them you could see forever. Now, even at this distance, I seemed to be looking into eternity, into what the future held.
Recognition passed between us, and cold fear gripped my heart, my mind refusing to accept what my heart innately knew. It knew this man. How? I let my eyes drop from his piercing stare, and I turned back toward the path of eglantine, back toward all that I had ever known. I had not take but a step or two, when a hand gripped my arm, insistent but gentle. And I heard my name. “Sweet Brier Rose?” The sound of it pierced my soul, and it pulled my eyes back to his.
“Brie?” A cold chill passed through me, as though his voice were a ghost.

”I am your father.”

_____________

I hope you enjoyed this little story! I also have a post running to day on Creative Faith featuring 5 flowers that are “blooming” in my garden right now. It has been a very creative week indeed! Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear your thoughts on the story – leave a comment if you wish!  Thanks!

~lisa

Advertisements

Friday fiction in fifteen ~ ordinary miracles

february ordinary miracles

http://wp.me/s45h2I-fatigue

A big thanks to Paul for taking such inspiring photos!

Here’s your picture for today. What story does this picture tell you? set your timer to 15 (or 30….whatever works for you) and write!

Here’s mine:

Ordinary Miracles

The Phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

As soon as one call ended, another would take its place, the melodious song becoming nothing but a clanging cymbal to my ears. I navigated skillfully through the city streets with my internal auto-pilot on high alert – no time to think about steps now.  I simply needed to get to the board room for an early morning meeting.

Shifting the weight of the pack I wore to the other shoulder, my feet carried me around the corner of an old building, eyes still diverted from the path in front of me. Miraculously I had not yet collided with the sea of humanity that hurried around me toward their own destinations. Like bats flying in diming light, we successfully avoided the other’s path.

Till my feet stuck solid.

As my hands flew out to break the inevitable fall that awaited me, the cursed ringing phone struck cement; forever silencing its cry. I wasn’t even upset. But as my hands found earth, along with knees, hip, and shoulder during a truly acrobatic roll, I wondered what I had done to deserve this interruption. I would be late now for sure, and I couldn’t even call to let them know why.

As I righted myself onto my behind, I looked to see what had caused me to stumble. There on the sidewalk, close to the corner of the building, was a man. A sleeping man. I wondered for a moment then if he even lived, for he had not even flinched at my shoe finding his body. Slowly I crawled over to the inert body, and peered into his face. His eyes were tightly closed to the increasing morning light, and I wasn’t sure that I should bother him at all.

I cleared my throat loudly, hoping that this would garner his attention, then possibly I could offer an apology for my misstep.  But the phlegmy din did nothing to stir him. I sat down beside him and reached tentatively for his arm, which lay peacefully across his midsection. Then wrapping my fingers around his wrist, felt for the pulse indicating life. It was faint, but strong, so I breathed a sigh of relief.  As many years as I had lived in the city, I had never before encountered a dead body, and I certainly did not want to gain that experience now.

I placed my hand on his shoulder and gently shook. “Sir”, I said, “are you alright?”  Please be alright, I prayed silently too. I saw his eyelid flicker minutely, but only a small crack appeared, then closed again. Looking around for help, I noticed that the commuting people on the street passed us by as though we were not even there. And I wondered dimly, how long this poor man lay here with no a single person taking notice. Day’s maybe?

I scooped my arm underneath his, and the smell of unwashed body wafted up from the openings in his filthy coat. Still, I garnered all my strength and sat him up against the building fascia. As he sat supporting his own weight, he opened his eyes, and stared at me in wonder.  He did not speak, but his eyes said all. “Why are you helping me?” they asked.

A compassion filled my heart. And reaching for my phone that lie broken a few feet away, I dialed.  “Sarah, could you please make me a reservation at my usual spot near the office?” I had often stayed in a room near work when I had large projects, and looming deadlines. The seclusion and quiet was a balm to my soul, and I found that I could gain the peace that I often missed in those times.  “And order an array of breakfasts to be sent to the room as soon as they can prepare them.”

My eyes never left the man who sat before me. He almost looked fearful now as I spoke, but my gaze must have reassured him of genuine intent, for his eyes closed again. “Yes, I know I’m supposed to be in the meeting. Please make my apologies, and let them know that I will check in a bit later to explain. Thank you Sarah.”

Hanging up, I glanced toward the street and raised my hand to hail a cab. As one pulled to the side, I gathered all the strength I could muster, and helped the man limp to the curb. The cab driver gave me a curious look which was quickly turning angry as I sat the man inside. I reassured him quickly that I would be accompanying my companion. He was wary, but turned around,  and as I relayed our destination to him, he began to pull away.

“You’re going to be okay.” I said to the man beside me. Then looking out the window in front of me, I reassured myself, “You’re going to be okay.”

Let me know how you like the story, and if you wrote one, I would love to read it! Leave a comment below!

 

…by moonlight ~ novel except

by moonlight

Here is the next installment for my novel in progress.  The chapter is called “by moonlight” and this excerpt is the second half of it.

Again, keep in mind that it is a first draft [spew on the page], and also not complete. This particular piece is a few chapters down from the last piece that I posted.  My plan is to post small pieces till the rough draft is complete.  I hope that you enjoy the pieces that I put up, they are meant to give you a bit of insight into the story itself, and the characters.

awakening coverr

-we are about two thirds of the way through the first book, in a three book series entitled  “lightbearers” 🙂

Enjoy!

…by moonlight

Discussion at the table was pretty much what Akira had expected. More questions about why she was on the side of the mountain in the first place, and about the decree of the council concerning her whereabouts at all times.
“By the way,” her father asked. “Where did you go today after the council meeting? I looked for you.” Her father sat staring at her intently. She felt his knowing eyes boring into her.
Akira didn’t want to lie to him again, so she simply said, “I was with Mairwen. She was concerned about what happened, and wanted to hear the story.
“Of course she did. Talk has already begun about the stairway that you found. I’m sure she wanted to hear all about it first hand.” He smiled then, seemingly satisfied with her story. She spent most of her days with Mairwen, so he wouldn’t question its validity. The small pang in her heart bothered her. Even though this was truth, it wasn’t all of it. But if her father was part of the problem in Marmaron, she didn’t want to alert him to any of the plans she and Mairwen had made with Fionn.
He continued conversationally in between bites, “They were out there within the hour, breaking down the boulders surrounding the opening of the stairway in order to fill it in. No one will be using it again. Not soon anyway,” he added, then looked up at me for a reaction. None. Satisfied, he continued. “Why anyone would want to go out there in the first place, I cannot fathom. What were you thinking Akira?”
He sat waiting for her to answer, and when she didn’t he raised an eyebrow in question.
“Oh, did you want me to answer that? I thought it was rhetorical.” She left it at that, returning her gaze to the food on her plate, picking through it as though it were an interesting creature to be observed instead of consumed.
“Well, let’s not have anymore trouble. This was enough excitement for all involved.” Her father looked tired, and totally done with this situation. They all sat, quiet.
Akira’s mother, uncomfortable with the awkward silence, changed the subject to what had happened at the infirmary that day. One of the travelers that recently returned, was having an especially difficult time healing. It had been several days, and he was still unconscious. Speculation was that he had encountered a particularly difficult strain of sickness that his body was not equipped to handle, and the healers were not able to eradicate. This was a huge concern, for it was not common that the healers were so ineffective, and encountering something lethal like this put everyone at risk.
“If we are unable to revive him,” she continued, “steps may be taken to suspend all traveling indefinitely –  until we can figure out what is going on.”
This proclamation hit Akira in the gut. This is what Fionn had feared, what the prophecy had foretold. If the people walked away from their purpose, they would all reap the consequences. She couldn’t let this happen. Someone was going to have to set them straight. Stand up and fight for what was right. She stopped chewing then, put her fork down and sat up, looking straight into their eyes.          “Isn’t that what they are supposed to do though?” she asked carefully. “Their choice to travel and bring hope doesn’t have anything to do with their own safety, does it?” “I thought that it was understood to be a dangerous calling, but one that was necessary.”
Akira sat with her hands in her lap, fidgeting with her clothing. She knew that questioning the council’s choices was equal to treason, but she could not stop the words from coming. Surely her father would allow her that; questions.
Both of her parents stopped eating then and looked at each other with fearful gazes. Her mother pressed her lips thin, and diverted her eyes. An unspoken conversation had taken place, and Akira wondered which side of the line each of them lie. Her father spoke first.
“Akira,” he said gently. “You are correct, theoretically. It’s all great to say that you would give your life for another. Like your grandmother did,” he added. He paused here, remembering his mother, and sadness reached up and touched his face. Blinking it away, he continued.

“But when you begin to see the effects on those doing the giving, especially when it is someone that you love, you begin to see things differently. You become possessive of their presence in your life, and it is difficult to give that up. Is another’s life more important than the one who is giving theirs up? It is a question that we have all had to ask at one time or another. Most people will willingly give their lives for someone they love, but for someone who doesn’t deserve that sacrifice? It becomes a little more complicated. The end does not seem to justify the means.” There was hurt in his words, and remembering. Akira wondered if he held anger toward the boy whom had been the subject of his mothers sacrifice.
And his words seemed like wisdom to her ears, but her heart was screaming foul. If not us – for them, then who. Who would they have to show them hope and light and life? How would they ever leave the despair of their circumstance behind? She understood his ache for a loved one, she ached for her grandmother everyday, but it did not justify a decision that would pervert their lives and lead them away from obedience to the Creator.

No. Someone was going to have to put a stop to this. If it meant her banishment, then so be it. But for now, she needed to arm herself with more information, learn and fill in the gaps that were missing. She needed a crash course in how to use her gifts, and retrieving the scroll seemed to be the place to start.
Akira excused herself from the table. She was worn from the day and was badly in need of rest. Both her body and her mind seemed to be reeling from all that had happened, and it was screaming for sleep.  As Akira lay on her cot, her mind would not rest.
Her eyes were closed when her mother checked on her, then shut the door again, but Akira was more awake than she had ever been before.

A strength was rallying inside of her that she could not squelch. She didn’t want to. And as the moon rose in the night sky and its light illuminated her room, she rose and walked to the window. She looked briefly back at the closed door, and hoped that her parents would someday understand what she knew she had to do. Then grabbing her pack and swinging it across her shoulders, she climbed out of the window and into the moonlit night.