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Windknitter Books 2014

Table Of Contents 7. 16. 23. 33. 36. 40. 55. 75. 94. 102.

Hannah Forever After Whelved Under Heaven Laundering The Birds of Wicker Lake Captured Wrack-line Beautiful Sword The Witch Woman

122. 134. 142. 173. 189. 221. 225. 249. 256. 259.

Tracking Wild Poetry The Soldier Fool's Gold The Seduction of the Moon The Hunter & the Beloved The Last House Until Forever The Storyteller of Cyriae Notes on the Stories Afterword Biographical Note

The Hunter and the Beloved I saw him first through wild brambles and dying roses limned with brown like all the last sorrows of summer. It was only a glimpse, matched with a warning shrieked from of the blackbirds - and so I went very still, and he came gradually into focus. His face was white and shadowed, a fallen moon. His eyes were a moon's dream of the midday sky. I stayed still for a very long time. Long enough to realise finally that he held me entranced. I had seen boys before, in the village and when they came with their mothers, quiet and frightened, to Granny's house. But I'd never known a boy could be like this. Dangerously shy, hungry-smiled; he was a feral kind of beautiful. So I brought him bread crusts and gnarled apples like I would for any other forest animal, and he snatched them from me without a word. But even after I fed him, he smiled that hungry, crooked smile, as if he had a feast in mind and it involved my own silence, my heart. On the third day, he came out from the brambles and roses. I put down my food basket. I was almost surprised to see that he was all over a boy, and not half-wolf or ghost. Š copyright 2014 sarah elwell

"What's your name?" I asked him. And he might have answered, I always liked to think he would have answered, except at that small, vulnerable moment the land began pulsing with a hefty noise. Granny was coming – Granny was there, even before I could tell him to run. Her hair tangled with the sky. Her feet gripped the stony, weedy ground in bunches beneath her toes. She plucked me with one hand, the boy with another, and she shook us until all our senses fell out. When we woke again, we were home in her squat stone cottage. We clambered up dazedly from the floor, and I tried to warn him but he was already running for the door. It did him no good. Granny had wrapped her wishes around him like she'd done to me years ago. There was no escaping. He never talked about himself, but Granny learned the truth, of course. She smoked it out of him when he was sleeping, or dug it up from under some secret tree, or asked around in the village. The story was, by the time his wood-cutting, mushroom-foraging parents were found dead in their little forest hovel, he had been long gone. But it was only some Š copyright 2014 sarah elwell

fever that left them shrivelled to the bone and their little boy half-wild, lost in the forest. It was nothing worse. We figured he was seven when I found him - same age as me, but so much older in spirit. He never would give his name, but that didn't matter. Even if he had, Granny would have renamed him anyway, like she had renamed me after Mama traded me for some medicine her sons needed. Granny knew far more about the power of naming than any mere parent. So he became Faolan, which means wolf, hunter – and I was Leofan, beloved – and for some reason it always made her laugh. I was old myself before I understood how she'd started weaving her wicked spell on us, around and around us, like moonlight, like a creeper, all the way back when we were just small.

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Š copyright 2014 sarah elwell

Wrack-Line These are the days of long cold silence. Jude goes to work, comes home. I stare at the blank computer screen. I haven't written more than one word, or even one wild tangled phrase which can be decomposed to a word, for three months. All my story bones have broken. The pages lay white, barren. All Jude's smiles are ghosts of our marriage. These are the wintered days. ** Hugh phones, wanting words. When I have none to give him, he orders me to his office. And when I get there, he orders me to the ocean : "It's the best inspiration there is." "You sound like my husband," I say. "But – "

Š copyright 2014 sarah elwell

"You can stay at my summer house. You'll love the place, Megan. It's made from poems." When I try to draw out more – editor-like, and he the storyteller this time, he says from driftwood, and iron dragged out of junk heaps, and three generations' memories. It sounds more summer than house, but Hugh assures me it's all that I need. "Sun, sand, the peaceful blue sea!" I can't think of anything worse. Except sitting at home listening to silence. "This is more than an editor should do for a muted writer," I say. He shakes his head, mute himself for a moment. Then he tells me his wife made him do it. She loves my books, apparently. So he'll give me the ocean that he may give her the world. All I have to do is write it. But then he waves his hand as if waving away the reason. I swallow down the dry possibilities of what he really meant. I don't want to discuss that, so I just take the house key and say thank you. And turn to leave – and turn again, smiling apologetically, although knowing it looks more Š copyright 2014 sarah elwell

like wincing. "What if I can't find the words for anything?" I ask in a rush, in a mumble, pressing the cold key into my palm. Hugh's smile is untroubled. I can see he understands what I'm not saying. "Then you write the silence," he tells me.

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Š copyright 2014 sarah elwell


A collection of stories. Available now at

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