Friday, 17 January 2014

'The Storm'

'The Spring high tides had arrived. The waves seemed ravenous this year leaving streaks of deep green seaweed and jet black shells high up the beach almost to our front doors. The annual storms were coming, they could be felt in a slow tingling atmosphere that predicts a storm’s arrival and I could taste a fresh-water coldness in the air. The moon was a sharp sickle cutting into the morning skies dusted with pinks and blues, she was an ominous warning. My grandmother said that the storms were going to be powerful this year so we were being vigilant and crushing our eggshells in anticipation. My grandmother had long held the belief that if we did not crush our eggshells every morning witches would come and collect them in the blackness of the night. Witches watched our movements closely, like the eyes of God. Waiting for their chances, they would sail out in the moments before dawn under a clear sky and a calm, flat sea, watching their reflections swirl away with the soft currents. Once far enough out they would start a low chanting, a secretive whispering that was always mistaken for the hum of a restless ocean. There they would stir their fingers in the cold waters, mimicking running blue ribbons between them. The water would start to broil and agitate, a fog would come from the heavens itself, a relentless rain would begin heavy enough to flood small boats in minutes, the oceans would swell and great waves would rise from the depths. The very last thing that most victims saw was the lightning fork across the sky as it broke into pieces and they knew that a witches’ storm had been whispered awake.

Very few had witnessed a true witches’ storm and even fewer had come back home again after meeting one out on the open seas. Most that came home did so physically but left their wits within the fog.

Of course there were those that always said this was nothing more than a myth or simple nonsense. My grandmother always replied the same;

‘Some things we will know in time, but some things are unknowable… always keep a part of yourself wondering’

In the next few days the winds began to howl and a shifting black line across the horizon grew closer and darker. We were in its path and nothing could be done now except to lock all the doors and windows and wait it out. The storm broke one afternoon. Suddenly it was upon us, first came the rain, we heard it hit the windows like a thousand grains of sand. The skies overhead groaned and roared in pain, the wind sounding as if a hundred souls were rushing past the house in their eagerness to escape the world. My grandmother gathered myself and my brother around the fire that was struggling to live, spitting and shouting in great gasps of smoke. She said that the witches could be out there right now, circling those floundering ships and boats, defying the waves, riding atop the highest ones, all the while shedding ivory fragments of eggshell - waiting to see their creation reach its peak and watching the sailors call out in fear. We lit candles and sent up a heartfelt prayer. The storm was reaching its zenith, I was doing all I could just to keep myself grounded.

I tried to sleep, fitfully I drifted in and out of dreams and madness. I felt the cold and rain were gripping at my sides and tying around my feet trying to pull me from the house.

I dreamt of witches riding the air currents above the storm clouds, hundreds of them all air born in bright white eggshells, but the shells were now beginning to fade and chip away.  The witches simply and calmly stepped out of their eggshells and walked across the air like it was nothing more than glass. They had brought with them great birds without feathers and paper shapes of children and snowflakes that they cast to the winds. They looked straight at me, deep into my eyes, testing my soul and I found myself staring back completely without fear. They saw something in me that they cherished and I saw in them a freedom no one else could understand. I was called to them and I walked along the glass floor that stretched along the storm clouds. I suddenly realised the noise from the tempest below me had stopped and an all encasing silence now surrounded me. They placed in my hands a jet black sea shell and spoke to me in a chilling whisper;

‘Always keep a part of yourself wondering’

They then handed me a blanket, a chequered one like I have at home. As I looked up to question their words and gifts I stumbled backwards falling off the glass floor. Hurtling through the clouds now all a brilliant white, I felt myself fall through the roof of my house as if I were a wandering ghost. I awoke on my bed choking for air. The black shell I had been given was nowhere to be found, but those that witnessed the storm from the waves and the shore reported that it had just suddenly stopped with an unseasonal light dusting of snow.'

Hi everyone, what a first couple of weeks to 2014! I've been quite busy.

This is something I wrote for a competition at the beginning of the month. You had to write something inspired by the title they gave you eg. 'The Storm' and I remembered a myth that my husband Carl had told me years ago;

'It was once a superstition that if you did not crush the ends of an egg after eating it, a witch would gather the shells and use them to craft a boat that she could use to sail out to sea to raise storms. This is a very ancient superstition which seems to originate in the 1580s. If you shattered the end of the shell, it would create enough holes to make it useless as a boat.' 

I hope you enjoy it because I am very proud of it.  I've already shared it on my Facebook, so feel free to share it where you like :) And no I didn't win the competition, someone suggested it was just a bit short (they said it had to be 1000 words give or take a 100 and mine is 888). Who knows? I 'm not bothered as I have a flash fiction piece that I love :) 

Also I have waited this long to write another blog post so I could include the link to Vine Leaves Literary Journal - Issue 9 - A beautiful ezine that features photography and 'vignettes' of innovative writing  -  My piece 'India' is on page 26! :D and the great bonus is that they pay! This is the most I've ever earned from my writing (apart from some 'loose change' I received from my ex publisher from the ebook sales of Silver Threads, but I try daily to forget him lol) So I'm going to count this as the 'first penny' - all £2.91 of it! It's not a lot but I swore when I earned my first 50p I would go and buy a tin of beans just to say that I bought something with the money I earned from writing - So fully expect a picture on my next blog post :P

Also my flash fiction 'Light Shadow' was on the fantastic Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog on 3rd January and the Podcast of 'Old Norse' went live 5th January, episode 35 - I always share the itunes Podcast link but others are available.  

It took my a while to write all this as I'm trying to take it slowly because I have RSI (repetitive strain injury) - my right arm is in a support bandage from elbow to wrist. Does this make me a 'real writer' yet? lol 

Have a wonderful Friday :)

No comments:

Post a Comment