Saturday, September 20, 2014


This is merely an idea, perhaps welcome, perhaps not, for the next few Saturday posts: a communal writing effort/game. I remember years ago taking part in a couple of such endeavours - for fun. One of these was a comedic effort, on an old AOL forum, the other, on an astrology forum, and more in the story-telling mode I'm suggesting here. Passing readers, known and unknown, might feel a creative urge, and add their words and ideas, regularly or as a "one-off" single contribution. There need not be many participants, two or three would work or even just one to begin, others might step in later, step out again, or continue. Contributions could be a few lines, or a few paragraphs, or even simply an idea for others to follow up.

What brought all this to mind was my coming across a "Preface" written by my husband in 2003. I'm still impressed by it, and would love to give it more life. I'd had an idea for a story or short novel husband and I might write together. We had discussed it while he was with me in England; when he returned to the USA for a while he had thought about the story some more, and wrote what follows as a possible preface to set the scene.

The rough basis of the tale was to centre upon a piece of "magical" fabric. It would travel through the centuries, be recognised by a series of its owners and their connections to others, during various lifetimes...beginning in the middle ages. Original thought was for the tale to start in Britain, then span several centuries, and locations, with focus on just two or three, ending around say, World War 2 or later, maybe even way into the future.

We had brief outlines in mind of where the tale might go, but were never happy enough with them. There could well be other ways to use this preface too. It's not essential to remain within the old ideas. The tale is open ended now, open as to a beginning too, apart from blending with what is set out in the preface below, begging for input.

Here it is:


A crescent moon and a single candle spread yellow light across a small room. An ancient woman works at a loom. She works slowly with great purpose, grand design. Her fingers pull the yarn tight, knot it here, counting the cross threads, another knot there. The woman pauses, wipes the corners of her eyes. A candle and a crescent moon are little help to her near blindness. She weaves and counts by touch. She creates to the image in her mind, an image formed of seasons of watching the stars, the changing patterns of her skies.

Over years she has collected life about her. Over these years she collected the sound of the squirrel in the fresh air from the forest, the scent of the wildflowers on their spread down the side of the hill and honeybees on the breeze from the valley, the touch of the rich earth and the polished stones on the path from the hills, the taste of the spring water and wild herb. All these pieces of life she knows. All these things are in the knots and the curious weave of the strip of fabric she is creating. And something else. She pauses and smiles at the crescent moon that is now only a glow in her dimming eyes. She smiles at the stars she can no longer see but knows in her heart are there. She is following their instructions. She and the stars are creative partners in this soft band of fabric.

The flax was gathered on a late summer day. It was years ago. The linen yarn was spun slowly on evenings after the children were bathed and sleeping. The skeins of yarn were dyed in iron cauldrons of color from the wild berries from the hills and from curious red-brown earth left when a fiery stone fell from the heavens. The woman ground these colors in stone cups, blending each with care. The wild bushes and sapling trees at the edge of the small forest held the drying loops of yarn. The sun contributed subtle changes to the colors here and there.

Now after years of preparation, the last thread, the last weave, the last knot was in place. It is a lovely band of textured fabric, a unique scarf fit for royalty. The labor of her life was complete. Complete that is, except for the delivery. The creation is not for her. It never has been. She has known for a long time where the small scarf will go. She has known the color of the container, the place in the stars, the position of the sun. Exactly. And it is tomorrow.

The sun now glows above the trees at the edge of the great lawn in the front of the estate. A pale green and gold trimmed carriage waits at steps. The driver sits atop, holding the reins of a patient horse. Last night’s sleep is still in his eyes. A footman stands ready at the top step of the front landing. Behind him the carriage door stands open.

A small figure emerges from the trimmed shrubbery, approaches the carriage quietly and places something on the seat just inside the open door. Then as quickly, the figure is gone.


mike said...

The silence of the wait is broken as the equipage departs and the gelding returns to a rhythmic gait. The fading trots and deepening warmth of the morning's light offers gratitude and an irresistible peace to the old woman, with her portrayal of the years now transcribed and sent forth.

The carriage blinds are quickly drawn and elegant hands with jeweled fingers anxiously untie the bindings concealing the mysterious contents. Peculiar scrawls on the inside of the crude, worn wrapping appeared and glossed momentarily, but there was no time to spare. The fabric has such a luxurious texture that she could only hesitate, not wanting to depart her hand, now both hands caressing the exquisite finery to her cheek.

Twilight said...

A faint scent of honey and pine drifts from the fabric, imprints itself upon her senses.

The horses, encouraged by the easy flat road ahead, pick up speed.

mike (again) said...

"Oh, help me...I can't...stop! This is not the plan.", she whispers to no one. She has the sensation of becoming the ether, airy and free, not confined to the world she occupied moments before.

Twilight said...

The luxuriously soft velvet seat inside the carriage changed beneath her fingers to a hard rocky surface. Her other fingers still pressing the piece of fabric to her cheek trembled.

mike (again) said...

She found herself gazing at the most magnificent view she had ever seen, sitting on an outcropping of boulders, next to a roaring waterfall, with drifts of mist in the warm air scented in pine and honey. Her hand trembled on her cheek as she contemplated the moment. She had just been dozing moments ago in the warmth of the sunshine and cooling mist on her skin. "Such silly dreams of carriages, jewels, and betrayal," she said to herself as the picnic basket was lifted over the log.

Twilight said...

Her brother, having cast off his uniform jacket, carefully dropped the basket onto a flat part of the rock.

"Don't you feel uncomfortably hot in that patchwork dress?"

"No, I always feel especially happy when I wear this. I need to feel happy today. Dark times may be ahead."

She smoothed some of the finely joined patches making up the skirt of her dress, then allowed her fingers to caress one particular patch, close to her left shoulder.

mike (again) said...

As she touched the patch, she said to herself, "I become a sleepy stargazer when I touch this patch!" and her thoughts turned to the stories her mother had told her about the old gypsy queen that frequented the area periodically many years before. The queen had given her mother this one, tiny remnant to reward her frequent kindness. "Put it high and on the left where she can touch it," the queen told Mother, "and it will be of service." It was odd, because her mother needed one more small patch to complete this dress, and the vacancy was high and on the left.

"You always say that dark times may be ahead," her brother complained, "and you always have those dreams that you can't tell real from not. The only dark times are in your own sleepy head, so stay awake and enjoy life."

She waved her hand at her brother, but his remark didn't change anything, and added to her suspicion that danger was a breath away.

Before the basket could be unloaded, they both heard splashing and a voice telling them that the water was at its best this very moment. To their astonishment, it was a very old woman waving them in with laughter and frolic.

Twilight said...

Her brother needed no more encouragement. He stripped to his shorts, calling to her to "take off that heavy dress of yours, come along and cool off before we eat."

She resisted for some minutes, unwilling to be relieved of the happy feeling of comfort this dress had always afforded her. Not wishing to cause argument, she did, after a while, undress to her flimsy slip and run into the cool, sparkling water. Her brother was swimming at a distance from the shore. The old woman, by this time, had disappeared.

Brother and sister swam and splashed for a while then, refreshed, made their way back to the picnic spot and their food.

She dried herself using some spare table napkins from the basket, then reached for her dress. It was gone.

September 20, 2014 4:14 PM

mike (again) said...

A furious clatter erupted as the carriage wheels abruptly met the cobblestone of the palace entry, startling the passenger into a frenzied awakening. She couldn't doubt her surroundings, but her hand wiped stray, but imaginary water droplets from her face with the finest of linen she had ever held. The crime of the stolen dress was replaced by the awareness of her silk gown adorning her lithe body. Muddled confusion faded into disappointment as she accepted her location.

She had only moments until the carriage came to rest and the footman beckoned her escort. The exceedingly fine linen she couriered for an anonymous recipient, thought to be a member of the royal family, was to be substituted. She understood her role as theft, but hadn't considered it criminal until now. She recalled the treasured patchwork dress in her daydream that had been taken by a thief...a thief committing a crime, just as she was now. And her brother had once again been robbed from her, which was the harshest of punishments she could ever endure. She calmed the tears into hiding by directing her attention to the deception at hand.

Twilight said...

She handed a package, wrapped in the original crude parchment cover, with its strange scrawled glyphs, to her escort, who passed it to the footman. She watched the tall young man turn and walk sedately back towards the palace.

Her supressed feelings of guilt caused her hands to tremble a little, the precious fabric was now stowed safely in a secret silken pocket inside the flowing sleeve of her satin gown.

As she watched the footman disappearing into the misty darkness another, bent and shadowy figure stumbled past the carriage.

mike (again) said...

He had an alarming stature, but his kindly countenance and smile allayed her concerns. He directed her to a side door where she could refresh herself before departing in new, more modest equipage to continue her travel. Upon her return to the steps, he handed her a small package and commented, "My Ladyship, this is for your efforts today in discreetly handling this matter. The majesty's consort wishes you to have this. Food and drink is on the carriage." He took her by the arm and escorted her to the step of the carriage, then wished her safe travel.

Her performance ended and she was free to relax. She felt confirmation of the plunder hidden in her sleeve, as she brushed it with her furtive hand. To the devil with the food, as she decanted a glass of spirits to indulge her tension.

The palace was now miles behind, much like her thoughts of apprehension. The consort's gift had been at her side, but now called for attention. She wasn't sure if there was anything inside, as the package was quite small and had no weight, but something was inside. There was no box to conceal anything...only fine paper with golden swirls and ribbon. She rapidly disassembled the wrapping and was stunned at the content. She shouted her dismay, "How could this be! This can't be!"

She was holding the patch. The gift from the gypsy queen. "But that was a daydream. Wasn't it?", she quietly whimpered out loud and wanting an answer.

She reached inside her sleeve to be consoled by the touch of the pilfered weave. The desire at that moment was to caress her cheek again and feel the contentment it provides. The touch didn't yield the same touch as before. She shrieked and yanked the bulge from her sleeve and shrieked again.

Twilight said...

Shrieking as the carriage lurched again, more wildly this time, she was thrown to the floor. Consciousness left her for a few seconds.

She opened her eyes, roused by distant voices. Darkness surrounded her, only bright starlight and a splinter of Moon allowed her to see the outline of a masted ship, and to hear behind the voices, the sound of the sea.

mike (again) said...

A familiar voice behind her announced his presence, "I must apologize for your discomfort, My Ladyship. Allow me to assist you to your feet." It was the hunched man from the palace that presented the consort's gift. He now stood erect and dignified.

"Who are you? Where are we? What have you done to me?!", she implored. She was still dazed, but trying to gain control by expressing indignation. She had the patch from her daydream clutched between her jeweled fingers and her palm. The tension created an ache between the rings and fingers, so she relaxed her hand and realized this was the only pain she could detect. She couldn't recall an accident, only a sudden shift of the carriage.

"I am The Magician, but you can call me Magi, My Ladyship. You were employed to deliver The World to me. The World is the name of the linen tapestry you concealed in your satin sleeve. Your efforts were perfection and demonstrated much bravery!" Magi said. "We were doubtful of your ability to execute our plan, but your earnest conviction to rescue your brother confirmed you as our choice. Your family's holdings and impeccable stature as regents afforded an easy access to the palace as a courier. I humbly request your forgiveness that we exploited your trust in a different plan and harvest."

He continued his explanation of events, "I used my talents to exchange The World from your sleeve and I pretended to be your footman when I boarded into the carriage's boot after you entered the car and I was out of sight. I then enlisted the time-location threads of The World to bring us here. The patch in your hand has the identical correspondence. A tip of the carriage to your senses."

Her thoughts were jumbled with the Magi's disclosure. Emotion and rage were upwelling her faculties. Rage at the notion that she was a pawn in a game unknown to her. She was just a convenience, a tool to be used.

The Magician could see the dangerous shift in her face and the approaching fury. He quickly attempted to defuse with, "My first ethical imperative is to assist a rendezvous with My Ladyship and her brother. There are three dark lords that became privy of The World, as it was told in the movements of nature, and each had their own plot to usurp the other and obtain this cloth for selfish and destructive purposes. It was known to them that you were to deceive the palace. Our carriage was to be intercepted not far from where we find ourselves now."

Twilight said...