Tyrant Spell The Returning Light Winter Solstice/Christmas
EDITOR’S PAGE TYRANT SPELL ! ! Hi! Welcome to the second edition of Tyrant Spell. ! The main content of the magazine will always be stories and you are all invited to contribute tales, which are fictional or true. These two may often have more in common than people realise. Poems are welcome and articles on aspects that suit the theme of an issue to come, or that explore the darkness. ! When Tyrant Spell becomes a success commercially, fees will be paid! I intend parts of it to become available in other formats, including in time, interactive books, video games and animation. ! Contributors are likely to gain publicity for their work by becoming involved. Calling all those with photos that you think would suit the next issue or the magazine’s general feel and artists and writers who can illustrate their own work, please submit. The One and Only still needs illustrations and Saviatona is crying out for some. Contact me for clues to the next part before you get your paints out, if you like. How about artists who work on their computers? ! There is a link between two of the stories in this issue and it’s not too difficult to guess, but there is a clue hidden on an unrelated page somewhere in the magazine. ! The next issue will coincide with Imbolc, otherwise known as Candlemas and will also celebrate Spring Equinox and Easter. It will be a joyful issue! The deadline for contributions for this edition is January 25th. All items received after this date will be considered for future issues. ! Now, enjoy! ! ! ! ! Alix
INTRODUCTION TO THE THEME OF ISSUE TWO The second issue of this magazine has been produced to celebrate the turning point and rebirth that takes place at Winter Solstice. The festival which has evolved from this, in the Christian Religion, is Christmas. This has, perhaps, altered and obscured earlier understanding of the solar event. But it is and has been for centuries commemorated with festivals all over the world with many names, by diverse ancient and modern religions and cultures. They are all essentially celebrating the same event. ! The word solstice means â€˜sun stands stillâ€™ as following the shortest day or longest night, the sun appears to stand on the horizon without moving. It does this for three days and then seems to start moving again on Christmas Day. ! This year has a special significance in the ancient Mayan!calendar and initiates a new phase of the world, the nature of which no one really knows. Some have interpreted it as the end of the world as we know it, heralded perhaps by an apocalyptic event. As we now all can observe this has yet to take place. It is far more likely that if there is truth in the Mayan prophecy it is that a new awareness on a spiritual level is now in progress and given the imprecise nature of time - how would we know, for instance, if time stood still? - this phase of development in consciousness may have been happening for, who knows how long? The theme story is on page 46.
Contents Editor’s Page!!
Introduction to this issue’s theme!
Serial The One and Only, part two !
Serial Clio, part two! ! ! ! ! ! ! A CAT FOR CHRISTMAS! !
! ! !
! ! !
! ! !
THE WIND WAS!
The Mystery Poet! !
THE BOY WITH THE SNOWSTORM ! ! ! ! ! ! The Stars in Her Tea Cup!! DAWN
Contacts on the back cover
Serial, THE ONE AND ONLY, part two Resume of Part One: Daisy bumped into someone in the woods - someone she couldnâ€™t see and on the next day she woke up feeling different - reckless and even more daring than usual. She was rude and unkind to her Dad, well, worse than usual - and really cruel to a girl who had once been her best friend. Part two is told by Daisyâ€™s cousin Charlotte and begins with a flashforward...
THE ONE AND ONLY A tale of possession Prologue Where are you Daisy? Where have you gone? I admired you so much. I wanted to be like you, confident, beautiful, with all the boys wanting you. You knew what you wanted and how to get it. How could I help following your lead? “Daisy, where are you?” Charlotte yelled in the dark empty road, then she felt scared, but she couldn’t see any one about. She shivered, even though it wasn’t cold. She passed the Parish Church, spooky in the dark, looming up against the sky, which even at this time was lighter than the building that stood out black against it. She 5
was starting to panic. Suddenly she had an awful feeling. She knew something was wrong. It was happening again, Charlotte knew it and this time would be worse than the others. She began to run up the road. She turned right. She ran faster and faster, gasping, her heart beating wildly in her ears. Then she saw them. Charlotte tried to call out, but had to stop to get enough breath. “DAISY!” Charlotte I saw Daisy just going through the school gates and ran to catch up with her. “Hi!” I fell into step beside her. “Oh, hey you,” she said. I adored my cousin Daisy. 5
She tossed her head and swung her long black hair around her shoulders and laughed suddenly. “Do you want to come with me to The Bridge tonight, Charlie?” I nearly stopped in my tracks. Daisy never asked me to go out with her, but usually one of her best friends instead. She used to hang out with Tatum, but since Tatum left school and had her baby, it was always Cheryl and Dani. She had made Cheryl her new best friend, even though Cheryl and Dani had been pretty much joined at the hip before, but she never asked me to go anywhere. Family get togethers were what I usually had to make do with. I’m a year younger than Daisy and I know she doesn’t think I’m very cool. 6
“Well?” she said, when I didn’t answer straight away. “Yes, er, yeah, I’d love to come,” I gushed. The Bridge was a great place. You had to be sixteen to go and I was, just, and I’d been once. It was like a nightclub, although they didn’t sell real drinks there, I mean alcohol, at least they weren’t supposed to, but I’d heard that you could get them somehow. Daisy’s boyfriend Kieron played with his band there on Thursdays and Fridays, so he’d be there tonight. He was eighteen and sometimes they went on to other places when The Bridge closed, and took Daisy and her friends with them, but I liked The Bridge. It was called that because it was next to the railway bridge at the top of Water Lane, 7
near the football ground and it was a converted railway building of some sort in an old goods yard. My granddad told me about it and Mum said something terrible had once happened there, though she wouldn’t say what. Anyway, I must have looked surprised. “Close your mouth, Charlotte, unless you’re catching flies,” Daisy said sarcastically. We sat with Cheryl and Dani at lunchtime. “Are we going out tonight Daisy?” Cheryl asked. “We are,” Daisy said and paused before adding, “Charlie and I are going out together tonight, are you going anywhere?”
“Er, yeah, erm’ goin’ to the cinema in Bradford,” Cheryl blustered, “aren’t we Dani?” I was surprised. Daisy wasn’t usually mean to her friends. I’d expected Cheryl and Dani to be coming along too. I knew Cheryl fancied Declan, who played the electric keyboard in Kieron’s band, Lonely Little Bleeding Hearts, and Dani liked Jason the bass guitarist, who was Kieron’s best mate. “Oh, come to The Bridge,” Daisy suddenly said, smiling, “wouldn’t you rather?” We all piled into the club at about half past seven, just before Kieron’s band were going to start their first set. The boys were all set up and
standing around the bar with non-alcoholic lagers. Kieron liked to show off and when he had kissed Daisy on the mouth, he pulled his wallet out of the back pocket of his jeans and said, “What would you like to drink girls?” We all ordered cokes and Kieron grabbed the attention of one of the bar tenders, a boy with long curly blonde hair and very blue eyes. “Ed, four cokes for the ladies, eh,” he said. As the boy looked over, he glanced, probably by accident, right at me. I felt my face flush and looked down. He was lovely! “What are you going to start with tonight, Declan?” I heard Cheryl asking the keyboard 10
player, but I didn’t hear the answer because someone suddenly turned the music up quite loud and Marina and The Diamonds were suddenly singing loudly, a song called Bubblegum Bitch. “Oh, this is one of my favourites,” Daisy said and she grabbed my hand and dragged me onto the dance floor. There was no one else dancing. In fact there weren’t many people there yet at all. I felt self-conscious, but soon got into dancing. Before the end of the song there were others on the floor. Dani was dancing with us. We danced to the next song. I noticed the boys had gone backstage, except Declan who was still talking to Cheryl. Daisy saw them too and left the floor and
walked over to them. Dani followed so I did as well and grabbed my coke from where I’d left it on the bar. The boy behind the bar must have thought I wanted more drinks and came over. “Yeah,’’ he said, “Hi,” he looked at me, then, half looked away, but I saw those gorgeous eyes looking right into mine again for a moment. He waited. “Oh, er, I don’t want anything else just yet,” I burbled. “Pardon?” he said. “I said, I don’t want anything,” I shouted over the music. “No,” he said. He didn’t go away. Looked away again, looked up, “Er, Ed,” he said and held 12
his hand out. I took it and a shiver went through me, though I was hot. “Oh, Hi, Charlotte,” I yelled, just as the music stopped and people looked over, but then, to my eternal gratitude, Craig, the guy who owned the club, tapped his mic’ and said. “ Hi guys, and girls of course. Let me introduce you to our guest band; tonight, regulars, the marvellous, the incredible, Lonely Little Bleeding Hearts!” The band were good. We danced and had more cokes. We were served by Craig to my extreme disappointment. After the first set, the boys joined us again for drinks. Daisy was talking to Declan now about the next number, because she was going to sing with them. Yeah, she can sing and she’s really 13
good. Daisy went backstage with the boys and they covered a Marina and The Diamonds song and Daisy sang lead vocal for Prima Donna Girl. I thought she was as good as Marina, if not better! When it got to 10 0’ clock, and the band were done, Daisy said, “We’re going to Manchester to Tiger Tiger, who’s coming?” We all said we would. I felt sort of reckless, though I knew my mum wouldn’t be at all happy about me being so late, though she did somehow trust Daisy to look after me. I had another dance and then I went to the loo before we left. We were going in the band’s van as soon as they were ready. I went through the
door which lead to the loos, ours first, then the boys, and I saw Daisy with someone outside the door to the boy’s loo. I thought it was Kieron, but then I realized it was Declan. Daisy leaned towards him and began to kiss him, really passionately! Then I saw this weird trembling in the air behind Daisy’s head, like the shimmer of heat that you see sometimes above a fire. She pulled away, though Declan tried to keep her there. She looked round and I don’t think she noticed me in the shadow, but she looked sort of shocked, as though she hadn’t meant to kiss him after all. I saw a funny trembling around her again as she stood below the light above the door to the
boy’s loo. It must have been something to do with the light I thought then. Suddenly her expression changed. She looked pleased with herself and gave a sort of twisted smile, but it was her eyes that startled me. For a moment they looked so cruel and spiteful, almost evil. She saw me. “Catching flies again Charlotte?”
Alexandra Lesley To be continued.
Snowman She was staring out through the window with the whining voice of Mrs McTaggart, the cleaning woman hurting her ears. “You cannie gae oot dear, it’s tae cold, d’ye ken, pet.” I can do just what I like and you can’t stop me, she thought. Outside the snow had almost stopped falling. Only a few flakes fluttered through the air and settled on the top of the others that had turned the garden all white, or hit the window and slid down to join their sisters in the corners of the windows of the cottage where she lived. “Get doon and come tae watch the TV dear,” the old woman said. “Your wee brother will be hame soon and then ye’ll ha somebody tae play with and you won’t be bored.” “But I told you, I want to go out to play in the snow. I want to make a snowman,” she said. The mention of her brother had made Kirsty feel cross and she now glared at the cleaner as she got down from the window seat where she had been kneeling. Then she heard the car. It was Auntie Katherine bringing Angus back from the nursery. Soon they came in bringing a flurry of snow through the front door with them into the porch and through the inner door into the living room as well. She could hear Auntie Katherine telling Angus to knock the snow off his wellingtons, before she helped him to take them off.
This morning when she had been sick, Mummy had decided that she should stay at home. She had soon felt better and a whole day ahead of her without Angus and no school either was just cool, cooler than cool. This was her favourite word. The other children in her class at school were not cool, in fact they were stupid and she hated them. That was another of her favourite words. She hated Angus, more than she hated anything or anyone. Now he was home and the snow had only just stopped and she hadn’t been able to go out. Mummy had come home and then Daddy and then they had both gone out again soon after Mrs McTaggart had arrived. They had left her with the cleaner because, “Auntie Katherine and Angus will be home in half an hour; you’ll be all right with Mrs McTaggart for that length of time Kirsty. Now, don’t stop her from getting on with her work, will you?” Auntie Katherine came in saying, “Slippers, Angus. Hello Mrs McTaggart, how are you? Hello Kirsty, are you better. Mummy said you’d been sick?” Kirsty opened her mouth to answer, but was interrupted by her three year old brother erupting into the room. “Rroaaor! Roar! Kirsty, I’m a tiger and I”m goin’ to eat you!” A small boy with golden curls and a very mischievous face, with a wide mouth pulled out of shape by all the roaring that he
was doing, hurtled towards her and she was unable to get out of the way before he rugby tackled her and pulled her to the floor. “Get off me Angus!” Kirsty yelled crossly. “Now Angus, play gently,” Auntie Katherine said and smiled indulgently at Angus. “Kirstine, don’t yell, it’s unnecessary. I’m afraid I’ve got to go sweetheart, but Mummy will be back in just ten minutes.” Then she turned to Mrs McTaggart. “Would you mind hanging on that long?” “No dear, I can dae that,” the old woman said, but she looked a bit like she did mind. Katherine didn’t notice. “Oh, great,” she said, already in the porch and pulling on her boots. “Bye, bye Kirsty. Bye Angus. Be good you two until Mummy’s home.” And she was gone. Ten minutes went by with Kirsty sitting fidgeting in front of the television, and Angus cramming biscuits into his mouth. Mrs McTaggart had just given him the tin. Kirsty had smiled, because she knew that would make Mummy cross. Twenty minutes had gone by and Mummy still wasn’t back. Mrs McTaggart had put her coat on by now and was fidgeting more than Kirsty. She kept popping her head out through the front door and looking for car headlights in the lane. Finally, she said, “I will have tae gae noo, Kirsty dear, your Mammy will be here in no time, but I’ll ring tae make sure when I get hame.” They were alone. It was still light outside, Kirsty saw to her satisfaction. She squinted at the clock. She had just learn’t to tell the time at school. It was half past three. She knew that Mummy 19
would be about forty five minutes late today - and Auntie Katherine hadn’t known that - because she had an errand to run she had said, after she had dropped Daddy off at the surgery. Daddy was a doctor and he had an antenatal clinic at four o’ clock, whatever that was. Anyway, there was still time to play out! Kirsty looked at her brother, still eating biscuits. He had chocolate all over his face now. He’ll be sick! she thought, pleased, like I was. Good. Then she thought, I don’t want to play out with Angus. She scowled. Then she had an idea. “Come on Angus,” she said and she switched the television off, “we’re going out to play!” “Ray! “ Angus said and jumped off the sofa. “Get your wellies on, we’re going to make a snowman.” “What’s a snowm’n Kirst’” “I’ll show you, c’m on,” his sister replied. Outside in the growing twilight, Kirsty showed Angus how to push the snow around so that it grew into a large pile. The little boy had fun. He was beaming. When there was a lot of snow in a huge heap, Kirsty said, “Now you jump into it Angus.” Her brother jumped immediately and obediently for once into the snow. “Now you have to stand quite still, while I make the snowman Angus,” Kirsty said, and she began the build the snow up around her brother. The little boy stood there expectantly, his eyes twinkling, as his sister patted the snow into place about him. “Am I makin’ the snowman too Kirsty?”
His sister nodded and almost grimly, worked even harder at piling the snow up and Angus began to help her until soon it was up to his neck. He giggled. “I can’t see you now, Kirsty.” “No, because, guess what? You’re going to be the snowman Angus,” Kirsty breathed. “Ooh,” Angus said,”cooool!” Kirsty felt a rush of anger. How dare that little, little - poo use her favourite word. She remembered her other favourite word now and began to chant it now under her breath, “I hate you Angus, I hate you Angus I hate, hate, hate you!” She piled the snow furiously on to Angus’ head. He giggled even more and began to toss some of it back. Hot, angrier still, Kirsty suddenly spotted Daddy’s shovel, propped under a cover of snow, by the door. She galumphed through the snow to fetch it. It was heavy, but it bit down into the rest of the snow in front of that which encased her brother and she awkwardly got a shovel full and hefted it up, clumsily brought it down over the opening at the top and turned it sideways to deposit the snow over her brother’s head. The handfuls of snow that he had been still tossing out and the giggling stopped abruptly. Kirsty let the shovel fall to the ground and dropped her arms at her sides, panting. The quiet continued. In the now silent and gloomy garden, kirsty began to calm down.
Carefully she moulded the snow at the top of the heap into a round head, then stood back and surveyed her work. It needed the finishing touches of course. What did Daddy and I do to give him eyes last time? She though about it some more. Of course! She ran to the back of the cottage as quickly as she could in the snow and there, poking out of the snow in front of the coal bunker, a piece of coal. She grabbed it in her pink gloved hand, turning the fleece black and carried it back to the snowman. She put it on the ground and retrieving the shovel, smashed it into smaller pieces. With these for eyes and a smiling mouth, and buttons on his white coat, there were only two more items to add. Kirsty went back into the house and came back with one of Mummy’s old hats. She won’t mind. She doesn’t wear this one anymore. Daddy’s scarf was a new one. He won’t mind though, will he? When these were in place, Kirsty thought, There’s still something missing. Oh, I know, arms. She found a bamboo stake in the shed and pushed it right through the snowman’s body. There was no resistance. She fetched a pair of Mummy’s gloves and stuck them on each end of the stake. Now he had arms. She gazed with satisfaction on the snowman, proud with her achievement. Then she frowned. Still something missing. She ran back into the house and into the kitchen.
When the snowman’s long carroty nose was on his face, where it belonged, she laughed.
She was so pleased with herself. Then she heard the sound of an engine and saw the lights creeping along the snowy lane. Mummy! She ran into the house. Later, when they had searched the house from top to bottom and questioned Kirsty again - she had stuck to her story of Angus just being there in the garden with her and when she went to fetch the carrot for the snowman’s nose he had disappeared, just wasn’t there when she had got back with it! She had thought he was hiding - they had all gone out looking for Angus.
Two policemen had come to the house and Kirsty had been a little bit afraid, but only a little bit. Then Auntie Katherine had come. She had cancelled her date for the evening and was looking after Kirsty. They were waiting at home in case Angus turned up. Auntie Katherine was restless. She kept getting up and pacing about the room and going to peer out through the doors and windows. They hadn’t drawn the curtains and every light in the cottage was on and the outside lights too. Every so often the phone would ring and Katherine would rush to answer it, then, crestfallen have to say “No, he hasn’t come home by himself,” adding, hopefully, “not yet.” No one had even looked at Kirsty’s snowman. She was a bit cross about that, a bit. But I’m not going to tell them that Angus is inside it. I’ll take him out in the morning and I’ll make him say that he ran off into the woods to play and got lost, like in Babes in the Wood. She had seen that a few weeks before and Angus had fidgeted through most of it and cried because he was tired. I expect he’s cold. Well, it will teach him a lesson. That was what Mummy said sometimes. She had said it when Angus had climbed up onto the log pile when Daddy wasn’t looking and fallen and bumped his head. Everyone went to bed late that night. In fact it was five o’ clock in the morning when Mummy went into the bedroom next door to the room Kirsty usually shared with Angus. She had it all to herself tonight, which had meant that she wouldn’t be woken when 24
Mummy took Angus to the bathroom so that he wouldn’t wet the bed, but she had come in anyway several times and just stood there looking at her brother’s empty bed and sniffing and wiping her eyes. In the morning, when Kirsty woke up, the wind was driving the rain hard against the windows. Kirsty scrambled from her bed and ran to the window and looked out. The snowman was washing away! She crept out of the room. The door to her parent’s room was open. When she looked inside, their bed was empty and neither of them was in their bathroom. Kirsty went to peek into the spare room, where Katherine was actually still in bed, although she was sitting up with her head in her hands. Kirsty stole quietly downstairs and into the porch. She put on her coat and wellingtons and slipped outside. The snowman was just a pile of slush, but Angus was nowhere to be seen! He must have really run away to play in the woods. One week later, Angus still hadn’t been found and now when she came home from school, Kirsty found that the cottage was very quiet and Mummy just came in and slumped on the sofa and stared in front of her at the Christmas tree lights. On Christmas day, Kirsty woke up really early, while it was still dark, and saw by the lamplight that her sack at the bottom of the bed was bulging. New toys had been left for her by Father Christmas! 25
There was a similar sack at the bottom of her brotherâ€™s bed too, but he wasnâ€™t here to play with the toys inside it. Kirsty gave a little sigh of pleasure and crawled out from beneath her duvet and down to the bottom of her bed, where her Christmas presents beckoned. Now there would be no annoying Angus to take them and break them. She smiled a smile of sheer joy! She took out a parcel from the top of her sack and began humming to herself. She wondered for a moment where he had gone. But thatâ€™s in another story.
CLIO Resume of Part One: Callum is going nowhere, well, heʼs going home on the bus from his dead end job one summer night, when he misses his stop and has to get off in a dark lane to walk back. He meets a girl, singing and dawdling in the lane, a very strange - but drop-dead gorgeous - girl. "
Much to his surprise and absolute rapture, she seduces
him! She agrees to see him again too! "
When he gets home and sees his face in the bathroom
mirror, all his spots have gone! "
It is Saturday and he decides to go into town. At the bus
stop he meets a girl he sees every morning, but has never had the balls to speak to. Today he introduces himself! CLIO Part Two: When they got on the bus, Callum gestured awkwardly for Clio to go ahead of him. She swung into a seat and patted it in invitation as heʼd hoped she would. She smiled. He grinned back at her and sat down. "
“Going all the way with me, er, I am, I mean, into town?
Thatʼs what I meant to say,” Callum asked, Oh God, what an 27
idiot I am. He had been hoping that she would say that she was going to town, now he hoped she was getting off the bus in the village, sooner even. "
“Yeah,” Clio replied, seeming not to notice what a first
class twit he really was, Callum was relieved to see. "
“Iʼm meeting Kelly.” she said, sheʼs in my class at school.
Weʼre both in the choir, too.” "
“Oh,” said Callum with interest, “at school?”
“No,The Elemental Voices, you mustʼve heard of it.”
Callum hadnʼt and said so.
“Oh, itʼs really cool. You sing donʼt you?”
Fancy her knowing that Callum thought.
“You were in a band for a while with my friend Katyʼs
brother werenʼt you, you know, Stuart,” she said. "
“Yeah,” Callum said and added, “but we broke up when
Stuart and the other guys went to uniʼ. "
“Why didnʼt you go?” Clio asked.
“I dunno,” said Callum feeling as stupid as Clio obviously
thought he was. "
“Callum,” Clio said, then paused as though unsure of
how to ask what she wanted to ask, then taking a breath she said, “Why donʼt you audition for The Elemental Voices. Itʼs a great choir, lots of teenagers.” She looked at him as though she hoped she hadnʼt said the wrong thing.
Callum felt at ease all of a sudden. “Cool, when?”
Clio grinned now. “Come tonight. We meet at seven in the
community centre in the village.” "
“I will then, er, great,” he said, feeling shy again, but soon
they were chattering like a couple of parrots and when they got off the bus in town and Clio went to meet Kelly, Callum felt a sense of bereavement suddenly. "
He decided to go shopping for a new tee and went into the
first shop on the high street that looked promising and that was when he saw himself in a mirror. "
All his spots had come back. In fact, he thought, peering
closely at himself, there are twice as many as before! No way! !
He didnʼt go to the community centre that night. He
stopped at home and watched TV. "
On Sunday, after work, Callum deliberately went past his
house, although he nearly got off when the driver remembered his stop and stopped to let him off there. "
“You sure laddie?” he questioned Callum, when he asked
the driver to take him to the spot where he had stopped for him on Friday night. "
Callum wasnʼt sure, but he stayed on the bus anyway, until
it reached the same dark part of the road, with woodland on both sides. "
He walked along the road. He didnʼt need his banana
shaped torch this time as the moon was very bright. He felt
apprehensive, excited, confused, a bit fearful, a lot turned on, just at the thought of her. He couldnʼt hear any singing, but she was there again, in the same place as before, at the bottom of the dirt track. "
This time, however, she scowled at him as soon as she
saw him. He realized that she was staring at his face, at all the spots there. "
“Youʼve met a girl,” she said.
Even as he realized that she was blazing mad and
wondered how she knew that heʼd met Clio, he was bewitched by her voice. He thought of Clio guiltily now and wasnʼt sure who it was that heʼd betrayed, the girl before him, or Clio. "
“Follow me,” she said, her eyes flashing.
Once again Callum followed her, wondering where she
was taking him. Once again, completely unable to resist. "
To be continued. "
For L.L.M A CAT FOR CHRISTMAS I sat up in bed. A twinge of pain shot through my right leg and I grimaced. Tears squeezed from beneath my closed eyelids and trickled over my cheeks, which were burning.
I had dreamt about it again - the accident. I fumbled for
the light switch, then leaned out of bed and turned down the radiator, which I could just reach. A spasm of pain went through my leg and it began to throb. I won’t be able to sleep now, damn it!
It was only ﬁve o’ clock. I used to get up at this time - to
run - but that wouldn’t be possible today. Nor tomorrow, nor next week, nor next year, nor ever again in fact!
It really hurt, but this time the pain was not physical. The
pain in my leg will go, eventually, and I will be able to walk, even to run perhaps, one day, but not in a marathon.
I laughed aloud, but bitterly. It was like a joke - “Yes Ms
Meadows, you will be able to walk again, but don’t go running any marathons now, will you?” Ha, Ha. 31
Marathons are my life. Running is my life.
Of course I could coach, Jim, and you should know, you
being the ﬁnest coach in the country, my coach, but I don’t want to coach, I want to run! I have never wanted anything else. I’ve run in marathons all over the world and I’ve won, but I’ve never won the London Marathon - and now I never will.
I came second in the women’s race this year, so close. I had
intended to win next year. It’s the one that really matters, the one that I’ve always wanted to win, ever since I was ﬁfteen and I ﬁrst took part. Now I’ll never achieve my ambition.
I looked looked down at my leg. I wanted to thump it, to
beat myself, but I was afraid of the pain. My leg had always been weak, but I had made it strong, when I just a child, with Donder’s help.
I had often had to be away from school because the leg had
ached so badly. The doctors couldn’t ﬁnd anything wrong with it. It was just weak. I hated having to stay at home, conﬁned to bed. Dad
had to go to work, so I was always left to the not so tender mercies of Mrs Hardy, the housekeeper, who had been middle aged then. She had never had children of her own. She had not known how to relate to them. She had said as much to Dad, he confessed when I was older, and had been a reluctant nurse, but at least she had not been a stranger, that was how Dad had looked at it. Mrs Hardy had been with us since before my mother had died and Dad had trusted her.
Mrs Hardy was coming in every day to look after me now,
until Christmas, when my friend, Samira, a pentathlete, was coming to stay. Since Dad had died, Mrs Hardy had carried on working for me, but just for one or two days a week, to dust and to air the house.
Later that morning, after managing to doze ďŹ tfully for a
couple of hours, I was awakened by Mrs Hardyâ€™s slow heavy tread on the stairs. She was getting quite old now, almost eighty, but she had mellowed with age and I found her easier to talk with and more compliant. I think she saw me as a human being at last, not a strange little creature who was part girl and part cat.
She had always lumped Donder and I together when I was
younger and treated us accordingly as non-human animals. Donder had sometimes been more human than me, however, and had quite transcended her feline existence. She was my nurse, my tutor and my friend.
Mrs Hardy came in with my breakfast on a tray, which she
set down on the trolley by the door, while she pulled the curtains back on the other window. I’d opened the ones on the window next to my bed myself, with a struggle, but I didn’t care for Mrs Hardy leaning over the bed and struggling to do it.
“Good morning, Miranda,” she said, when she noticed that I
was awake. Then she peered through the window and said “There’s that cat again, sitting on the wall by the side gate. It’s washing its face. I bet it’s eaten those bacon rinds that I put out for the birds. It’ll be in the wheelie bin next.”
I wondered how she supposed that a cat could get into one of
those with the lid fastened, as ours always was.
“I saw a hole in a sack outside number ﬁve, a few days
ago, and the bin was on its side. There were bones all over the pavement, blessed nuisance!”
How on earth did she think that a cat, unless it was a
tiger, could push over a huge wheelie bin?
“Perhaps the wind caught the bin. I’m sure it wasn’t the
cat Mrs Hardy.”
“Oh, you would stick up for it,” she said, laughing, “You
were just the same with Donder, cat could do no wrong.”
I suddenly found myself asking Mrs
Hardy what colour the cat was and feeling crazy even as I asked, more so when she told me.
“It’s coal black all over, an evil
looking little thing, probably an imp in disguise!”
Photo credit Archer 10 (Flickr)
I hadn’t really thought of Donder for a while. It was over
six years since she had died, two years before Dad had died of cancer and I had then no family left, which meant Mrs Hardy was the closest thing I had to a relative.
I thought of Donder now. She had been eighteen years old
when she had died, fairly elderly for a cat. I had felt remorseful then because I hadn’t seen much of her or even thought often of her while I was away - and yet every time I came home, Donder would be waiting for me on the wall by the side gate.
I remembered how her green-gold eyes would light up and
she would run along the wall and leap down into my arms, purring like crazy, like a steam engine, a very old steam engine. Her breath was wheezy by then and she couldn’t move very fast, nor jump so high as she had used to be able to do. It really must have been a massive eﬀort for her to jump onto the wall, even with the distance halved by the landing stage created by the old dustbin.
But she was always on the wall, waiting for me.
Dad told me that she always knew when I was about to arrive.
About half an hour before I got home, she would let herself out through the ﬂap in the kitchen door - it’s all sealed up now, locked and taped up against the strays and draughts Mrs Hardy imagines will get in otherwise - and take up her post on the wall.
She started it when I was little. It was over four months that I
was away from school and Donder came while I was still ill and in bed most of the time. She spent half her time wrecking the house, driving Mrs Hardy mad, and the rest of it curled up on my bed, but I always got up and limped downstairs to feed her. She must’ve missed me when I went back to school for the ﬁrst time. I imagined her waking up in a patch of sunlight on the bed and wondering where I had gone. When I came home from school she was sitting on the wall waiting for me. She had still been a wiry little kitten then, her beautiful silver tabby coat all shiny in the sunshine and her eyes shining and slightly mad looking, when she suddenly leapt from the wall and into my arms that ﬁrst time!
When ever I was oﬀ school then, Donder was with me,
wouldn’t let me out of her sight, most of the time. The doctor had told Dad that I should go for short walks to strengthen my leg and as it grew stronger to gradually extend them.
Donder always came with me, but she was impatient that I
didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t go as fast as her, and yet at ﬁrst, when I was really slow, she stayed with me, prancing and dancing alongside. Then when I could walk a little bit faster, she started running on ahead or changing direction and skittering oﬀ into a ﬁeld at the sight of a butterﬂy or a squirrel or a mouse and then sometimes go oﬀ on a jaunt of her own and come home later. I’m sure her territory was huge compared to most cats because of our long walks.
She started the habit of running on ahead and then
coming back and then running on ahead again, or she would run ahead of me and then suddenly sit down in the lane and wash as though she were completely bored with the whole idea of the walk
anyway, until I caught up, and then she would just as suddenly as she had started, stop washing and race ahead again.
I was back at school and we were having a walk before dinner
one day when it happened. Donder suddenly took oﬀ as though devils were after her, racing ahead like a streak of tabby lightening and I forgot to worry about my leg hurting and took oﬀ after her at nearly the same pace.
Donder thought it was great when I gave chase and ran even
faster , but when she had outpaced me she stopped and waited as usual until I caught up and then she was oﬀ again and so was I!
I loved it! I loved running. I felt so free!
And that was how Donder became my coach.
We just raced for the hell of it, and the feeling of freedom it
gave me was startling at ﬁrst. It happened every time and it became like a drug. When I was still a little girl, the neighbours and people we passed laughed and stared at us in amazement, a girl and a cat racing down the lanes, but when I was a teenager and running in
the London Marathon became my ﬁrst goal, Donder was so important to me, I ignored the lookers on and got on with it. Running faster and for longer and further on lanes we had never been on before, with Donder continuing to pace me.
Running was my ambition. I followed it until I became a
champion. I went away from you Donder then, running all over the world with human team mates to pace me. I used to joke about how my ﬁrst coach had been a cat.
Yet you were always waiting for me on the wall, when I
came home, a scrap of a cat, grown thin with age, but always waiting to welcome me home - until one evening I arrived in a taxi and looked for you up on the wall and you weren’t there.
A feeling of foreboding came over me then and I dropped
my bags in the garden and hurried into the kitchen. Dad was there. He looked over towards the aga, where, on the ﬂoor by it, in a new bed, on a warm blanket, Donder was waiting.
I went over to her and knelt down and stretched my hand
out to her dear little face looking up at me. She purred and purred so loudly that I thought her sides would burst. She rubbed her head against my hand and gave me her usual greeting, taking the skin of my palm between her teeth for an instant.
Then she laid her head down once more, still purring, still
looking up at me through the half-closed slits of her eyes and I knew she was saying goodbye. For a moment the image of me running beside her came into my mind as though it were what she could see, my legs ﬂashing along in a blur, as I looked at her and she held my gaze with with her green-gold eyes. In a few moments more she closed her eyes in a gesture of ﬁnality and her purr just faded away.
I could hardly bear the memory. And now I’ve let you
down, I thought sadly... all your training has come to an anticlimax. I winced when even Mrs Hardy setting the breakfast tray down on my lap hurt my leg. Now I’ll never do it.
Oh, stop feeling so sorry for yourself Miranda Louise
Meadows. If you were ever going to win the London Marathon, you’d ‘ve done it by now. You’re twenty nine years old, almost thirty, you couldn’t have won it next year, even if you hadn’t had the accident. But a tiny, yet insistent voice at the back of my mind tormented me ‘Yes you could have. You’ve beaten your only real rivals abroad, now. You could’ve done it!’
I sighed and looked out through the window. I wanted to go
outside, where a tabby cat called Donder was waiting to take me on a training session, except of course she wasn’t, was she?
Samira made me feel better of course. She made me feel more
“Doctors are not always right Miranda. I still think you’ll
make a full recovery. I’m taking you to see someone after the holidays, someone who isn’t just an osteopath, but who can really heal. Just you wait.” She crossed over to the window. “You’ll be out there back in training by Spring, I know it,” she said, gesturing
out through the window. “Oh, there ‘s a black cat on your wall, that’s lucky isn’t it?”
I thought of Donder again. It was Christmas Eve.
I remembered a Christmas, wow, twenty four years ago, when I
had plagued my Dad , all through the weeks leading up to Christmas for a cat.
“Please, Daddy, may I have a cat for Christmas, please, oh
All the reasons that he put forward why I shouldn’t have one I
poohed poohed. “But I will look after it. Mrs Hardy won’t have to feed it - I will, when I’m better, I promise. Please Daddy, oh please!”
On Christmas morning, he had come into my room, holding
something concealed in his dressing gown pocket, something that wriggled...
I sat up in bed. Suddenly a tiny tabby head popped up out of
the pocket and gave a tinny mew. The kitten peeped out at me with large unblinking green-gold eyes and leapt into my open arms.I called her Donder, the name of one of Father Christmas’ reindeer.... 43
That night with Samira sleeping in the next room, I fell asleep quite
quickly and my leg wasn’t hurting at all.
I dreamed that I was running in the London Marathon and that I
won. The dream was so vivid that when I woke up I began to cry.
I thought about the accident. At least I hadn’t dreamt about that
again. It hadn’t been my fault. I couldn’t have prevented it, no one could, the other car aqua planing into mine from the other side of the road. At least no one was killed and the other driver and his passenger didn’t have to be cut out of the wreckage like I did. My leg, my right leg, the one that was weak had been trapped.
Maybe Samira is right though and it will get better again, maybe,
with the right training. I’ll have to get a new coach, now Jim has had to take on someone else.
I could hear Samira downstairs making tea. I heard her open the
back door, heard the rustle of the packet of food she’d bought for the birds. She’d seen a robin ‘hopping about waiting,’ she’d said. She was humming. I suddenly knew that everything would be ok.
I snuggled down under the duvet again and closed my eyes. Just until Sam brings the tea I thought.
I was dozing when I felt something thump onto the bed at my
feet, just like when....
The duvet shifted. A little cold nose suddenly nudged mine. I
sat up, almost toppling the black cat oďŹ€ the bed. I put out my hand and stroked her head. She purred loudly, widening her green-gold eyes, so like... She turned her head and nipped the skin on the palm of my hand. I gazed at her in wonder, as my eyes ďŹ lled with tears. She knew that I recognised her, and purring loudly, she leaped into my arms.
Photo credit visualpanic (Flickr)
THE WIND WAS… The mother realised that she was gritting her teeth; she relaxed her mouth and sighed. The boy had hidden his face in the folds of her coat. He was shivering. The wind pinched the mother’s cheeks and whipped the tendrils of hair that escaped from beneath her hat against them. They stood in the open doorway. Outside, in the garden and beyond, the wind made inanimate beings come alive and those that breathed breathed harder as the wind gobbled up their every breath. The air panted hungrily. The wind blew icy trickles down the back of the boy’s collar and over his bare legs. He moved his head, almost imperceptibly, although his mother noticed, as he peeped through his fingers at the world. “Come on darling – I really do have to go out. It’s only a little wind. I can’t leave you here alone baby.” The boy saw that the trees in the garden leaned, all to one side, and the flowers swayed to and fro, buffeted by the cruel
blasts of the north wind and hid his face once more. His mother sighed again. Behind her, in the hallway, the window curtains billowed. Resignedly, she turned back to the warmth of the hallway and shuffled the child back into the house, closing the door behind her with one hand and leaning back against it. She put her hands on the boy’s shoulders and he looked up at her wistfully. “Are we staying in now Mummy?” he asked. The tremulous hope in his voice caused his mother to soften. Her irritation melted away completely when she saw the fear leave his eyes, and a timorous smile begin in their tearful blue sky and squat trembling on his lips, when she answered, “Yes, we’re staying in now,” with an icy edge that dissolved as he beamed up at her in childish relief. “Go and take your outdoor things off, baby,” she said, smiling wearily and removed her own hat and coat, returning them to the hall stand. She picked up the telephone and dialled. “It’s me, Mother. I’m afraid we can’t come…” Outside, the wind roared. 47
The boy was happy in the safe sanctum of his playroom. When his mother looked in he was playing with his toy xylophone. She smiled. She liked to hear him making a noise. He was such a quiet child â€“ not like the other boys of his age at the nursery. He was five years old now and he would be starting school soon after Christmas. His mother dreaded the task of persuading him to go to school each day and what would happen at playtime? The teacher would have to be told and how would the other children react? They might be cruel to him. Her heart ached as she looked at her little son, absorbed in his music. His dark wispy brown hair hung over his pale face. Beneath the frown of concentration, storm coloured eyes lit with a sweet smile of pleasure as he struck the notes, following the book of tunes that had come with the toy. He was a clever little boy. He should have been a happy child and his life was only marred by his unreasoning fear of the wind.
Since he was a baby he had reacted to the fiercer elements with revulsion. Lying in his pram he had begun to cry when the rain fell onto his face and the first time he had seen snow he had cried in terror, and refused to go out in it at first, but at last had been persuaded that the soft white substance would not hurt him. The wind he especially disliked from the start, disliked the way it blew his hair about and the rain into his face, the way it made apparently lifeless objects start into life and fly by in the sky or scurry towards him, blindly attacking, paper bags, leaves. Once, when an ice cream wrapper had blown into his face he had screamed aloud and his mother had thought he had been stung by a wasp. He would suffer to go out in the wind, however, as a favour to his mother, whom he loved. Then, in October of that year, soon after his fifth birthday, the gales had arrived and it had become almost impossible to induce him to go out of doors. Then one shopping day his mother had insisted. She had needed to go into town. The wind had risen higher and higher as 49
the afternoon had progressed. When the shopping had been done it had grown wild and when the boy and his mother had got off the bus, by the moor, it had been very wild indeed. Mother and son had struggled against the storm as they had begun to make their way home, walking on the edge of the moor, by the roadside. The mother had clung tightly to the boy’s hand – and then it had happened – a sudden gust had lifted them both off their feet and bowled them over and over along the moor in the way that they had come. The boy had collided with a lamppost, which he had curled around and hung onto desperately. He had watched in horror as his mother had been blown into the path of an on-coming car – which had come to a halt – just in time. The driver had climbed out of his car and helped the boy’s mother to her feet and then onto the moor. It had needed both of them to prise the boy away from the lamppost, to which he had clung fiercely.
The driver, a neighbour, who knew the boy’s mother, had taken them home. Even then, they had had to crawl up the garden path as the wind had not abated, and cling and cling to the wooden frame of the porch, while the mother unlocked the door. Now it was impossible to persuade the boy to go out if even the gentlest breeze were blowing. He would watch anxiously out of the windows at the treetops and the telephone wires and if there were the slightest movement of these then he would not go out. When the wind blew at night the boy did not want to go to bed. In the dark, with the wind roaring in his ears, unwatched over, it seemed to him that the wind might break the barrier created by the house and invade his shelter and… A close friend of his father’s had made a suggestion, which so far his parents had hesitated to act on, but perhaps, after Christmas, the mother now thought – they would make an appointment – it could surely do no harm – if it did no good – still, a psychologist - even if she were a child specialist - seemed a drastic action – an admission that something was really wrong
with their son – but they must help him – and it was becoming difficult to cope. It was Christmas Eve. The day had been calm. A white Christmas had been forecast, but so far there was no sign of snow. It was bitterly cold though, but still and frosty. It was a clear night and the Milky Way was visible in the blue-black sky. The mother kissed her son goodnight and thought how his eyes – bright with the excitement that lurked in their indigo depths – reminded her of the night sky. The boy fought against sleep for as long as he could. He was waiting for Father Christmas, but at length, sleep was the victor. He began to dream. The sky – although he watched it hopefully; it seemed to him for hour after hour – remained full of stars, but barren of reindeer and although he listened very hard there was not so much as the faintest tinkle of sleigh bells. The boy looked at the stars until they no longer appeared to him as stars, but began to look like Christmas tree lights, sparkling red and green and silvery blue. One of the stars was especially bright and the
boyâ€™s eyes were drawn to it. As he gazed, it seemed to him that the star began to grow bigger and gradually it began to blot out the rest. It floated
gently down through
the night towards
him, coming closer
and closer, until it
was so close that the
edge of the sky was gone and there was only the star and then that was gone also, for the boy was inside the Shining One and the two were surrounded by the night sky and at the centre of infinity. Inside the Shining One was calm, where the boy dwelt at its heart, and his spirit was serene there. Then, in a moment between blinking and opening his eyes again, the Shining One was at the centre of a storm. From within, it was something like looking out of the window of his playroom. He was but an observer, yet viewed the turbulence with more detachment than the fearful spectator that he was when he saw the elements from inside his parents house Photo credit Kevin Dooley (Flickr)
and knew that he might be asked to go out and play a part in whatever drama the elements were staging. The Shining One left the calm centre of the storm and entered into the motion. The boy felt safe still inside it. It became apparent to the boy that the Shining One conducted the storm. It was there where the lightning began and where it ended, and it was the voice of the thunder. It roared, and came down in each drop of rain cascading onto the earth below, bouncing on pavements and splattering onto leaves, running, in stream after stream of water, down windows, and forming puddles, and feeding the swollen rivers and the swelling seas, but most of allâ€Śit was in the windâ€Ś It crashed the sea onto rocks, dashing the waves into foam, like fragments of glass and hurled itself into the sails of a yacht, even as the sailor tried to douse them â€“ in vain, and taking his boat it dashed that onto the rocks also, where it broke as easily as a cup dropped onto the kitchen floor, but the wind viewed the incident with no emotion.
As it raced over the surface of the sea and the tops of the mountains and swirled the snow over them pitilessly and without passion, the boy began to enjoy himself. As the wind roared through the forest and shook the trees he laughed with glee and as it blew flags and whistled through the telephone wires, snatched off people’s hats and scarves, stole shopping lists, receipts and important papers off important people’s desks, he laughed. Then the Shining One took him to where a hurricane blew and the boy shook with hysterical mirth as roofs were taken and trees uprooted and slates flew off people’s houses and smashed on the ground. Then the boy’s spirit began to feel the wind, falteringly at first, finding its way, then floundering, within the wind and yet not of it and as the hurricane screamed the boy screamed too, in terror, as he raced through the sky – Oh, too fast, too fast! – and down on earth, shattering window panes and toppling chimneys, swaying the lights on the motorways, overturning lorries – the crash and tinkle reverberating through him and the agony of the injured people screaming in pain and 55
fear, his fear, choking him – slates and other objects flying through the air, insensate assailants and trees crashing down onto passing cars, onto the roofs of houses, birds dashed to the ground - everywhere – in every hurricane that ever was, millions of corpses stiffening and the wailing of shocked souls transcending – and the boy screamed and the hurricane screamed until suddenly – the boy was one with the hurricane and he was screaming in rapture, for fear had left him and at last he knew himself, for the wind was and the world was and the boy was – eternal life… The wind swept the snow storm over the town, over the boy’s house and garden, swirling round the chimney pots and down the flue, piling the snow up against doors, covering the paths, the lawns and the hedges, weighing down the bare boughs of the trees, turning the world, his world, to white. The wind whistled through the keyhole of his front door and rattled the letterbox and the windowpanes of the bedrooms and his parents stirred in their slumbers.
The sleeping boy sighed, as the wind sighed at his bedroom window and the Shining One receded into his dreams, but he still felt its touchâ€Ś In the morning the mother was woken by the shrill keening of the wind in the telephone wires outside. The wind was blowing fiercely. She got out of bed and looked out of the window. So it was a white Christmas after all. The snow had ceased falling, but the wind clamoured outside as though it wanted to be let in and the mother was anxious about her son. She went to his room. He was not there, huddled under the bedclothes, too afraid of the wild wind to venture out and look for her. The bulging sack at the bottom of the bed looked undisturbed. She left the room and called to him. She checked the playroom and the bathroom, but she did not find him. She was puzzled and her anxiety grew. She ran down the stairs in apprehension. A glance into each told her that he was not in the sitting room or the dining room. She hurried into the kitchen. 57
The back door was slightly ajar, letting little flurries of snow into the room, carried in by the cold wind. She shivered. The child’s coat and hat were gone from the hook on the door and the new blue wellington boots that had not yet been worn were gone also. The mother pulled open the door and looked out into the back garden… When the boy had woken up, the first thought that had come into his mind had been of the wind. He had remembered his dream – and the wind had been there – outside in the garden. The hem of the curtains had fluttered - enticingly. The boy had got out of bed. His dreamy eyes had sharpened as he had looked out of the window at the snow-covered fairyland outside. Borne by the wind, fronds of snow had been cascading from the trees and fluttering over the garden, in flakes like soft white stars. A robin had hopped on the lawn below, its breast a vibrant splash of colour against the mass of white, like a drop of blood, the sacred elixir of life… The mother stared. The boy capered about in the snowy garden, like a young elf at play, the wind blowing in his hair.
! ! His! mother ! called to him, a faint sound, as the wind carried away
her voice, but the boy heard and turned to look at her, his face lit with something elemental – that yet could only be described as – joy…
Photo credit Kevin Dooley (Flickr)
Saviatona sat at her table wi" her head resting on
her log book, her golden hair $read %t over & pa's, her pen fallen from her hand.
Earlier, up in & )gging, repai)ng a +eet, +e had felt so tired, old, "%gh +e barely looked older "an +e was when +e had begun her voyaging, so long ago it had been. She was clad in her tr%sers, which had belon'd to someone +e had rescued onc, She had -olen "em from h. cabin before +e had moored h. boat , safe, and awaiting h. return. She
had clambered do/,
from her crowâ€™s nest, hardly
aware of & blue seas and skies ar%nd and above her.
She swabbed & decks and "en suddenly "rew
her bru+ do/. She was sick of & +ip, & endless sea, "e waves cra+ing again- and over & hull, swelling and falling in her mind, relentless. She
wanted to climb a m%ntain! Looking %t to sea +e glimpsed land and for a moment lon'd so intensely to set sail for wherever it might be, 0op anchor, swim to +ore and walk away from her +ip forever, "at +e turned and made for & wheel h%se before reality asse2ed its o/ tru" and reminded her "at ". c%rse of action
was denied her, was impossibl, She was afraid of madness, afraid "at her mind w%ld fail before +e c%ld fulfil her obligation.3en, suddenly, & seascape in her mind
altered subtly. She knew what was ha4ening; in & corner of her eye +e saw a vessel.
It loomed alongside her, a great white boat, almoas tall as her +ip, wi" a hu' funnel.
It was now nigh5ime and cold. 3e Milky Way was clear above her in a black sky, & sea as dark below her, except where her o/ lights and & b)ght yellow light from several windows on & ferry caught & waves in an echoing light "at made "em look warm, "%gh "ey were icy.
On & deck of & vessel, Saviatona glimpsed a solitary figure, a y%ng girl. Hair "at was long and fair like her o/ was being whi4ed ab%t her face, where it escaped from & hood of her coat. A white ungloved hand cla$ed & coat fa- ar%nd her neck. Her o"er hand
g)4ed & rail at & side of & ferry. She was gazing do/ at & cold waves below...
Grainne moved her finger over recent history and the cursor stopped for a long while. Suddenly she moved it to her bookmarks and went to her favourite website for photographs, entered the words 驶ships at sea.始 " A page full of images came up before her and she tried to focus on them instead of her fear, which threatened to turn the queasiness she was feeling into a mad dash for the bathroom again. Was it fear? " She could hear the television quite loudly, the sound floating upstairs when one of her parents opened the living room door and came out to go and switch the kettle on, while there was an interval in the soap they were watching. " It was fear. " She looked back at the screen of her ipad and tried to concentrate on the pictures. One looked interesting. It looked like a replica of an old sailing ship, but not one she immediately recognised. Perhaps it was one of the tall ships that were being used now for a variety of projects. Anyway it was sailing, cutting through the waves at quite a lick, by the look of it. She wondered whose work it was. There were, strangely, no details displayed below the image. " She opened it and was startled to see a moving picture, not a still. Her finger slipped. Then suddenly the screen was filled with the ship flying through the waves. " Another sudden change, like a scene change in a film. Had she accidentally gone to something on youtube? For now she was seeing another ship, no, it was a ferry and it was now night. She peered at the screen and suddenly the camera zoomed in and onto a girl on the ferry, onto her face, huge, troubled blue eyes, full of tears. " Grainne looked down and saw the girl始s hands were gripping the rail hard. She realised, startled, that as she thought about what she was seeing the shot changed. Her eyes wandered back to the girl始s face. Surely she
looked familiar. Could it be someone she had seen in a film before? " The girl looked down and so did Grainne. She saw the girlʼs hands now from the girlʼs point of view, as though they were her own hands. They looked freezing, white, red, blue, mottled with the cold. Grainne wondered how long she had been standing there. " Then, suddenly, she heard a word inside her head, not as though someone had spoken, but like a thought impressed upon her own mind from some other source - the girl. " David, she thought, over and over, just that one name. She shivered, but Grainne couldnʼt feel this, nor the girlʼs tears that slid down her cheeks and into her mouth so that she tasted the salt there. Grainne saw her place her hands over her stomach and knead it through her coat. Then she began to pummel herself with both fists, then abruptly stopped again and cradled herself tenderly, whispering to her body. " “Iʼm sorry. Iʼm sorry. Iʼm so sorry.” " Grainne knew what was wrong, knew deep within her own body why the girl, younger even than herself, was so unhappy. " Suddenly the girlʼs body stiffened. “I”m sorry,” she whispered again, then, trembling with more than the cold, she gripped the rail more firmly, squeezing it and began to climb, first one foot, then the other, until she stood on a rail below the one she had been holding. She raised her leg and swung it over the top rail.
Saviatona saw & girl jump. She flung herself
%twards as soon as her o"er leg was over & rail and flailed her arms ab%t as "%gh trying to swim in & air before +e plummeted like a 6ving seabird into & fre7ing
Solent. Even before +e hit & water, however, Saviatona followed and flew as & girl sank, swirling in & wa+ from & ferry, which sailed onwards to & .land "at
was its destination, oblivi%s to & girl â€™s fateful 6v, Saviatona plun'd into & water. She wore no wetsuit and & fre7ing cold sea seemed to turn her blood to ice as +e swam a8er & girl. She reached her before "e wa+ swept her away from her again. She was -ill consci%s and -ruggled despite her intention to 0o/, trying and failing to reach & surfac, She was -ill
-ruggling when Saviatona caught hold of her hood and
gra4led to put her arm ab%t her and swim for & +ip. 3ey were bo" sinking, but Saviatona was not afraid for her life, only for & girl â€™s, if +e c%ld not 't her %t of & water before & intense cold claimed her, or her lungs were filled forever wi" & waters of
"e Solent. Eventually & girl ceased -ruggling and Saviatona f%nd it easier to swim as & wa+ subsided, but her fear seized her in an icier g)p "an & cold water. She mu- not be too lat, It had ha4ened befor, She mu-
gain & +ip soon. Her coracle had
been %t of & question because of & wa+. She munot 0o/, +e mu- not!
Onboard, +e lay & 0i4ing girl do/ and knelt and began to pump & water from her lungs. Her face was blu, Her lips, bluer, beautiful, cold ,as Saviatona put her o/ over "em and blew her warm brea" into & girl.
At la-, +e c%ghed and salt water flooded Saviatona’s m%".
Lying in & cabin reserved for Saviatona’s guests , in a warm bunk, & girl was 0eaming,
0eaming of her .land hom, She walked on & beach below & white bird’s wing cliﬀs of chalk, and & waves came up over & sand and +ingle towards her and +e was -ill afraid and alone and +e -ill hadn’t told her parents "at +e was pregnant, ab%t David, who +e had made love wi", & fir- time ever, who had "en
6tched her for ano"er girl, someone +e 6dn’t know, who went to school on & .land. He 6dn’t know +e was pregnant. She w%ldn’t tell him, ever. She had jumped into & sea, +e remembered. What was +e doing here? She had been on her way home from boar6ng
school for & Ch)-mas holidays. Saviatona looked do/ on & sleeping girl and felt some"ing +e had only ever felt once before, a desire to keep someone +e had rescued wi" her. 3en it had been even -ron'r, fierce and passionate, and so deeply had +e felt it wi"in her being, but it was so long ago and what +e felt now was -rong. An acute need for companion+ip seized her and +e walked deliberately into "e girl ’s mind, into her 0eams.
Suddenly, & girl saw a woman walking towards her on & beach from & 6rection of & promenad, As +e reached Helen, +e smiled. She was like her, might have been an older s.ter, if +e
had had on, “Y% can -ay wi" me and be my li5le s.ter, Helen, if y% w.h, and live aboard my +ip. I can’t -ay here wi" y%, not now. If y% come wi" me we will have adventures, & "ree of us,” & woman '-ured to Helen’s as yet barely swollen abdomen. “We w%ld live in a world apa2 from ". one, a world of sea and sky and sail to places unimaginable,
in o"er times and %tside of tim,” As +e $oke Helen saw ima's wi"in her mind "at +owed & life "at "ey w%ld lead to'"er,
saw & great +ip, wi" herself high up in & )gging and "en below on deck wi" her f)end and a small child wi" hair like "eirs, but all curls, her bare limbs bro/ed by & sun, her tiny freckled face, her m%" open wide wi" delight, laughing as +e ran ab%t & deck, fir- to her mo"er to see what +e was doing wi" a great bru+ "at +e was pu+ing ab%t & deck and
"en preten6ng to chase & toddler wi" it. 3en +e ran over to & o"er woman, who was her f)end, her s.ter, -an6ng, wi" one eye glued to her telescope and gazing %t to sea and & o"er winking at "e li5le girl, before scooping her up in her arms and pointing some"ing %t to her in & 6-ance, a school of dolphins racing to meet "em, "en racing alongside and & baby squealing and +)eking at & funny
no.es "ey made and "eir long faces opening and closing as "ey cha5ered and laughed at her.
3en & woman suddenly passed her hand over her eyes and set & baby do/ on & deck. Helen picked up her child. It was ha4ening again.
What was ha4ening again?
Suddenly her li5le daughter put her hand up to Helenâ€™s face and +ook her head. She fro/ed and suddenly Helen began to see 6ďŹ€erent ima's of herself and her daughter on & Isle of Wight, playing on & beaches to'"er, wi" & girl growing up. Photographs "at +e took of her in & sea as a baby, and running as a toddler on & +or, 3en
Grainne gasped. Now she recognised her. Of course. It was her heroine, Helen Gibson. She hoped to be as good a photographer one day, better. She had seen pictures of her in magazines and on the net, with her daughter 71
Meredith, who was a teenager now. Grainne began to cry as she watched her.
walking along & cliďŹ€ pa" as an older child and si5ing in & au6ence watching her mo"er receive an award for photography at Dimbola, & museum of photography, and former home of & fam%s Victo)an pioneer of photography, Julia Margaret Cameron.
It was her 0eam, to be a top photographer.
Saviatona let go. She le8 & girl â€™s clo"es, now 0y, at & foot of & bed and tearfully le8 &
cabin. When Helen woke, +e f%nd food and 0ink on a table, waiting for her. It was lit wi" candles in a candelabrum and sconces ar%nd & cabin held lanterns, but +e 0essed, anxi%s and ea'r to leave,
for +e real.ed where +e was. She knew +e was leaving, going hom, She looked at her watch. Unbelievably it told her "at it was half an h%r earlier "an when +e had boarded & ferry.She went %t on deck and 6scovered "at & +ip was moored ju- oďŹ€ & .land, near Alum Bay, not far from & treacher%s Needles, great -acks of chalk by which many a sailor had come to g)ef, but also not far from her home, but how w%ld +e 't "ere? She looked over & side of & +ip where +e c%ld see a ladder made of rope 0aped over it and below her, lit wi" twinkling lights, was a small boat and in it two oars. She c%ld be at & ferry po2 where her parents w%ld be waiting if +e hur)ed, perhaps catch a bus in & bay, from %tside 3e Needles
Pleasure Park.She swallowed her fear and clambered over "e sid, It was & second time hat night "at +e had climbed over & side of a +ip, but +e felt 6ﬀerent now, -ill afraid, but her "%ghts were not of dea", but of & life before her and & li5le life wi"in her also. She once
more laid her hand over her -omach, protectively. When +e had climbed do/ & ladder and 0o4ed into & small boat, +e looked up and saw & woman who had rescued her, & woman from her 0eams, but +e was a figurehead on & prow of & +ip!
Helen ga$ed and felt a sudden ru+ of gratitud,
“Oh, "ank y%, "ank y%, oh, I don’t even know who y% are,” +e brea"ed. 3en +e saw & name on & side of & +ip.
" Grainne gasped when her screen suddenly went to sleep. " With a new conviction, she touched the screen. Her home page came up. She went to history and to clear. The sites about adoption, and the most recent sites about poisons were gone and she was free, like Helen, to get on with her life. " The first hurdle had been cleared. Another stood before her. She heard her parents coming upstairs to bed. It would wait until morning. "
To be continued. A word about the tale of Saviatona in the previous issue: There is no particular order as Saviatona moves through space, time, cyber space and dimensions, maybe even parallel worlds. " More of the mystery of how she came to sail the oceans, and found her way onto the computer screens of myriad and diverse souls will be revealed over time. " Why some are saved by Saviatona and some she either cannot or will not save is a mystery I hope to discover for myself one day....
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O between distress and pleasure Fond affection cannot be; Wretched hearts in vain would treasure Friendship’s joys when others flee.
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Well I know thine eye would never Smile, while mine grieved, willingly; Yet I know thine eye for ever Could not weep in sympathy.
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Let us part, the time is over When I thought and felt like thee; I will be an ocean rover, I will sail the desert sea.
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Isles there are beyond its billow; Lands where woe may wander free; And, beloved, thy midnight pillow Will be soft unwatched by me...
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Day by day some dreary token Will forsake thy memory Till at last all old links broken I shall be a dream to thee
There will be a poem from this poet in every issue of Tyrant Spell. There is a prize for guessing the identity of the poet, but if you know please donʼt tell anyone but the editor. The first person who guesses correctly will receive a book of poems by the mystery poet. 76
Photo credit Lostinawave (Flickr)
THE BOY WITH THE SNOWSTORM One A dark haired boy walked along the high street at midday one Saturday in December. He was slightly slouching, hands in his pockets. He looked cheerful, as though he might suddenly start whistling, but he didnâ€™t and he was startled when just after he had passed a giggling group of girls on a corner outside a cafe, a loud wolf whistle followed him down the street. He barely broke his stride and did not look round. A great peal of laughter rang out behind him.
He was very good looking, something about himself
that he tried to hide, to escape attention, but whatever he did to make himself invisible, like dressing in baggy and scruffy clothes, slouching, keeping his expression neutral, it didnâ€™t work.
He had been feeling good about something. It had
made him noticeable, he thought. He scowled, to match the dark clouds in the sky above the city and hurried on. What had made him cheerful was that he had found a Christmas present for his mother, just, he felt, what she would like.
His mother loved old things. So when he had found it heâ€™d been pleased with himself.
He had seen a little dark ginnel about twenty minutes
earlier, with a lamp glowing from an elaborate fitting fastened to the wall at the end of the alley way, just before it opened into a small cobbled courtyard and had gone to investigate. It had looked interesting. A great many of the ginnels in York were intriguing, dark, invitations to explore. Some were quite sinister.
At the end of this one, just around the corner from
the lamp (which he had paused to examine, old, wrought iron, fashioned into the shape of a creature with the head of a ram with huge curling horns, and the body of a dragon, with great wings and a long curling tail. The ram holding its face up, mouth opening into a shade shaped like a long tongue of flame with a red flickering bulb inside it. It had somehow enticed Luke to enter the courtyard and see just what awaited him around that corner) what awaited him was a dingy looking second hand shop.
Luke thought that it didnâ€™t after all look all that
inviting and after a quick glance in through the window 79
turned to go, but when someone switched a light on in the shop behind, an answering flicker of light caught his eye from the right hand corner of the window near the rear of the display, and he turned back.
He peered in through the grimy window and saw
something round and made of glass. It was covered in dust, but he could just make out that it was fixed to a base of some kind, dark, but with some sort of decoration. It looked like a snow globe, but it was very large. He couldnâ€™t see what was inside it. It might be worth a closer look.
A thin old man behind the counter of the shop,
jumped, as Luke entered, causing a bell to ring above the door inside the shop, which seemed to startle him.
Luke approached the counter, eyeing the old man
slightly anxiously, now that he was here. He received an apprehensive stare back. Perhaps the man thought Luke was about to attempt to rob him. He opened his mouth and Luke noticed a dribble of what looked like egg on his chin, but he didnâ€™t at first speak. He continued to imitate
a goldfish for another few seconds. He then croaked in a voice that sounded like it hadn’t been used for some time, “Yes, boy, can I help you?”
Now it was Luke’s turn. He too opened his mouth
and gulped twice, before heading towards the side of the window where the globe was hidden behind a board that went about half way up, so that nothing in the window could be seen from within the shop without peering over the top of this barrier. He gestured to the window, pointing down to what was, from within, now on the left.
The old man, looking a little less perturbed, but
slightly suspicious, said, “Yes, something in the window. What?”
Luke now mimed with his hands the round shape of
the globe and looked the man in the eyes willing him to understand. He did.
“Can’t speak, eh? Something on the left? Round?”
Luke nodded, embarrassed even by this innocuous
The old man came out around the left hand side of
the counter and crossed to the window. Fortunately he was tall, or he would have had to move the board, but he realised as Luke pointed into the bottom corner that he had only to reach an arm over and grope in the window below. He brought his arm back with the globe held precariously by its base, but took it in both hands, then, exclaiming as he took it to the counter, “Oh, that old snowstorm. I’d forgotten it was there.”
He placed it on the counter and grabbing a rag from
there, began to dust the globe.
“Must be fifty years old this. They don’t make them
the same now. Full of snow; might not work anymore. Let’s see what’s in there.” He bent down and peered into the globe.
Luke did the same. He couldn’t see anything at all.
Nothing. It was empty. What a disappointment.
Then he saw something, a pale something, half
submerged in the snow at the bottom of the globe. The old man saw it too and gently swirled the globe to move
the snow aside, more disappointment. it was just a mound , a small hill or knoll, but, as he looked closer, Luke could see that there were engravings on it. It was coloured too, but the colours had all but faded away from the butterflies, birds, animals and flowers still visible, on its sides, along with some very strange writing or symbols, right near the base of the mound and still covered partially with snow.
He noticed then that the base that the globe itself
stood on was similar. Through the dust he could see the animals and the mysterious symbols too.
“It’s too small;” the old man said suddenly, “washed
away or crumbled with age, the rest of it - into the snow.”
This didn’t matter to Luke. He knew with sudden
certainty that he had to have it. His mother would love it. He didn’t know or wouldn’t admit to himself just then that he himself had to have it. That realisation was to come.
He fished in his back pocket for one of the two
fivers that were burning a hole there and gesticulated with the cash in his hand and his eyebrows raised, how much?
The old man said, “Well, hang on; don’t be so ready
to throw your money away, boy. The thing’s broken. Probably the snow doesn’t even work anymore either. Watch,” and he picked up the globe and whirled it around vigorously, then stood it down on the counter again.
Luke did watch, as the snowflakes swirled in the
globe and the globe itself seemed to light up, catching colours from its surroundings and scattering refracted rainbows over the counter. Gradually the snow began to fall more gently, but so slowly, falling quietly down over the mound until it was buried in a drift. It seemed forever before the last flake landed on the bottom of the globe and all movement stopped. The globe seemed to darken and resume its appearance of dusty old age.
The old man had taken Luke’s five pound note.
When he got home, Luke went straight upstairs to
his bedroom with his prize. His mother, who didn’t go out to work because she was disabled, had called out from her work room as he reached the landing, “Luke, there’s some
lunch on the table in the kitchen for you. You only need to warm it up, cheese and onion pie.”
His favourite. His stomach had rumbled in
anticipation, but he had taken the globe into his room first and found a space inside his bedside cabinet to hide it. Then he went to pop his head around his mother’s door and smile in appreciation.
Sylvia Swan, looked up from her painting and smiled
back. “Good morning, did you get your Christmas shopping done?” she paused.
“Got something for Nana and Granddad yet?”
He shook his head, then gestured that he was going
to get his pie. He mimed putting the kettle on.
His mother said, “Yes please, ages since I had one
with my lunch.”
Luke left the room.
As soon as he had gone, Sylvia, looked sad for a
moment, then continued with her painting.
Luke was back in his bedroom. He took out the old
snowstorm from its hiding place and stood it on his desk next to his laptop, which he pushed aside. He studied the globe.
He fetched a spongey cloth, and warm water in his
tooth mug from the bathroom, and sitting down in front of the snowstorm, he began to wash it. He took great care over the glass sphere and then mopped at the base. Bright colours began to appear, greens, blues and yellows, dots of bright red, which he saw were flowers in the grass. There were swirling leaves and the birds and animals he had noticed in the shop, but most startling were the symbols in blue and gold that circled the base. He had never seen anything like them. They were impossible to decipher.
When he had finished the water was black, but the
snowstorm looked like new. What a pity that the object inside is nearly gone, he thought, but it was pretty cool when the old man shook it and the rainbows flew out and the snowstorm looked real.
He peered inside it now and shivered; he didn’t
know why. He looked round and listened. Silence. He would have heard his mother’s chair, so he knew she was still in her room, working.
He felt excited and wondered why. It’s only a toy!
He licked his lips. He felt nervous, and again he
couldn’t imagine why he should. He put his hand out and lifted the snowstorm and swirled it around as the old man had done.
The snow in the bottom stirred sluggishly and then
settled again. Luke’s heart seemed to plummet down into his trainers. Oh no. He shook the snowstorm vigorously. Still nothing. He crashed it down. His temper, always volatile, was rising. He picked it up again and raised his arm to throw it across the room, when suddenly a voice exclaimed, “Don’t!” "
He almost dropped it. He whirled around. There was
no one there. Then he nearly dropped it again when the voice said, “Wait. Wait until dusk.”
All afternoon he had waited. He had gone out. He
had come back and tried to watch TV. Then he went upstairs and looked into his motherâ€™s room without knocking. As he suspected, she was napping. Sometimes her work really made her tired. He went to his room and sat down at his desk and looked at the snowstorm. He looked out through the window. The street lamps had just come on. It was past sunset. It was nearly 4 oâ€™ clock. It was dusk.
Luke picked the snowstorm up. He found that his
fingers were trembling, but he swirled it around anyway. Even as he began to set it down again he knew that this time it was different. The snow was falling steadily. He bent down and gazed inside the sphere. As he looked he was blinded by the white glow of it, and it began to look driven as though it were the beginning of a blizzard, and then he suddenly felt as though as though he were walking through the snow, struggling against it, the snowflakes flying in his eyes and stinging his face and suddenly something damp wrapped itself around his leg.
He looked down, startled. a wet newspaper, or part of one clung to his ankle as though a wind had carried it there and stuck it to his leg. He bent down and peeled it away from his jeans. It was very wet, but some of the larger print was still legible and there was a photo, a bit blurred, but Luke could see that it was a boy’s face. Underneath, the caption read, STILL MISSING.
Suddenly the same voice as earlier rang out in the
room loud and clear, “Find him!”
This time Luke thought that the voice might have
emanated from the snowstorm. He looked down into it again and then he saw a face, a girl’s face and then it was gone, faster than a blink. He gazed into the depths of the sphere and there, behind the mound, a movement. He put his eye as close to the snowstorm as he could, and fell in.
It was like that sensation sometimes felt in dreams
where you are suddenly falling and then you wake up, but Luke landed in a pile of cold snow in front of the knoll, with its covering of wild foliage, snow covered, though here and there greens and the browns and greys of rocks
showed through . There were scurrying and flapping noises as though creatures were hurrying to escape. The strange writing was there in front of his eyes, but he scrambled to his feet, because the snow was spreading a wet patch on the seat of his jeans. He looked all around him and saw nothing but snow, then over the summit of the knoll, in the middle distance, a darkness, green like a forest. It was a forest and out of the trees stepped the figure of a girl with long fair hair. She beckoned to him, he thought, although she was quite far away and it was hard to make out. He moved to step around the knoll, which stood in his way, almost, at its highest point, reaching his shoulders, when his hand was suddenly seized by someone elseâ€™s hand, larger, and colder than his own and he was pulled down so fast that he scarcely had time to draw a breath before he was plunging deep into the snow and all went blacker than the blackest night!
To be continued.
THE STARS IN HER TEA CUP a meaningful nonsense "
She stirred the stars in her tea cup brew
Then took another look,
Thoughtfully drew out a few, stuck
Them onto the blue
Of her saucer and watched
As the universe grew and grew
In a pool of dew
Until one star spilled
Over the edge and flew
Like a bird into her sky blue
And made her cry.
As her tears dropped back into the world pool,
It was then that she knew
She must go down, down, below her blue
Under the saucer she must go, descend into the
Worlds and worlds and souls she didn始t
Know and bring them home to her cup and saucer
Up through the source, the sauce and become her
Ascend with the water,
Becoming a bubbling spring,
But first below, in a land of darkness, where nothing
Would grow without her presence, presents.
She had to present herself, make all present
And correct as she knew
On the one hand and on the other,
Hand on heart, where
And besides, where she could start to strike a
Balance, strike a
Now, where are the matches?
Down into that darkness she was sent,
Her own common sense sent her there bent
On revealing the mystery,
But when she arrived, a rainbow in the mist,
Her remembrance of her mother began to fade
In the water haze,
Loss of memory,
Memories gone, memory loss prevailed 92
And alone "
In the dark, she failed To find the light switch -
Now where are those matches?
Her Mother Breathed out again..... Soon, soon and the spoon fell out of the saucer with a clatter And bounced off the table top, dropped with the star Drops dropping down into the unknown "
She saw its slow fall, descending, descending, "
And she tried to catch hold of it, But it landed in the ground at her feet, bit Into the earth and began to dig She suddenly knew what to do And she sprinkled the star soul seeds Into the earth and danced a jig On top of the table to plant them. Like weeds They grew until they burst from the earth And she saw that they knew who Their Mother was now, in their birth, As they turned their faces to the light! "
DAWN A curlewâ€™s cry in the pale young face of dawn waking on the pillow of the moors, silent, beautiful, rubbing sleep from her eyes to greet the day where it is stark and fearsomely elegant with sheets of bright white mist and a luminous green coverlet Brown hollows where her limbs shape it, smoothing out when she rises, turning her eyes, mist-blue drops her gaze the ďŹ re of a star shedding light upon her world and her gentle light upon her uncertain form, having the scent of life within, the sweet fragrance of the heather, clothing her, reaching towards the day...
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