This is an unedited version of one of my “head stories,” the shifting narratives I tell myself. Stories to keep out the howling winds; to ground me; to rock me to sleep; to fill the void that would otherwise be a miasma of anxiety, angst, guilt. To rock away the chronic pain. To soothe my fractal brain.
This is a completely “writing in the raw,” “write outta my head” post. No editing expect for egregious spelling mistakes. A story that is pieced together from the threads of so many tapestries. I know my characters so well I can shift them through a sieve, run them through a blender, blast them and still say “Hey old friend. Sorry about the . . .” and know them still.
This was sparked by #tuesdayuseitinasentence’s word: elder, and mlmm tale weaver’s prompt of stranger. Always felt like a stranger in a stranger land. And while I’m not a wise woman, an elder, I am older!
She was of the ancients; the elders who summoned magic within the natural world. Time folded in on itself; otherwise how could she exist now, speaking runish, when all around her spoke plainspeak?
Even Vesta, her wolf-dog, seemed mesmerized by the world into which they had emerged one crisp turning times day. She had awoke in her forest, cushioned by soft moss, sunlight tickling her nose. After making the ritual of morning – sluicing off the starscape of night, she wandered from her camp seeking some roots, berries, and mushrooms to fill her stomach, and that of Vesta. She knew her wolf-dog longed for meat; but he was more patient than she in all matters. He balanced her rush-long ventures with tempered wisdom.
Dew hung from spider’s webs; she could see her reflection, bowed out by the shape of it, within those crystalline drops. She knew that face: weathered, creased by age and laughter. Eyes mismatched and mis-set. One eye jade, shot through with gold flecks; the other midnight with silver chasings. Small scar still pulled the corner of her mouth. Her hair, once full of the colours of autumn woods, laying in thick plaits down her back, now shorn short, with grey shimmering among the reds and golds. She was aging; it happened to all from tree to lilting vine, to her.
Yet, that day, somewhere between the dappled morn and full sun of noon, she and Vesta slipped from her world into another. Things were familiar yet changed. Gone where the ancient stands of fir; trees which whispered to each other. Where she knew footpaths, worn into the underbrush and ferns, wide passages opened up. She marveled at the array of transportation: carriages, wagons, carts. Most propelled by horses; in her world, horses remained untamed – allowing themselves to sometimes carry a bundle but never a saddle.
In her wonder, she near collided with a horse cart drawn by a large golden stead. It’s driver, a giant of man well togged, wild hair spitting out of a thong of leather trying to tame it.
“Woman,” he shouted (though she had yet to understand his words) pulling his horse up, “what are you thinking! Or not thinking!!” He bid his horse to stand by (gibberish to her ears) and swung down from the cart, perhaps to remove her with some violent act.
She stared at him; what strange words emerged from his lips. He was angered, that was for sure. And right he should be, she thought. I am standing full in his way! I am as addled as if I’d drowned in some nut-brown ale!
In her attempt to jump away from the man, his horse, and cart, she stumbled, tripped and fell on her arse. Vesta, his amber eyes glowing, stood between her and the man. Til now, he had been fair calm; but she sensed his discomfort. Vesta barred his teeth, snarling and ready to snap. She reassured him in a quiet voice as she recovered her dignity and her knife from it’s sheath. She would not be ravished nor beaten without the stranger’s blood being shed. Between the sharpness of her weapon and Vesta’s teeth, the man would suffer more than she.
So it was that her fortunes became entwined with that of the giant. He proved not to be intent on harming her, no matter how loud and long he yelled. He did not come too close; rather he stood back, no weapon visible, and looked again at her.
She, for her part, was trying to understand both his words and how she came to be in such a place. Nothing in her life, many years as it was, had given her lessons on this. She was the stranger, the outlier, the wrong one. He was firm in his world; grounded, strong, and puzzled by her.
And, so it was they met, perfected a way of understanding, and began a long trek to find a way for her to go home. She could not know, of course, there would come a time when home was here in this other reality; her life before that meeting a dim, dull memory. For she would find here what had alluded her: love, family, companionship. A true sense of place. If not of time.