writing

Back to Nature – Part One

The wiper blades squealed across the windshield of their car. They didn’t have much choice when they landed at the airport following their 6-hour flight; at least it had four wheels, but not much more. The rain poured as they wound through the winding roads of the mountains. Finally, they arrived at the campgrounds, and a small break in the rain allowed them to check in with the main office.

Suzy was relieved they had booked a cabin instead of roughing it in a tent for the trip. With the keys in hand, they found their way to cabin 17, located on a roundabout. Inside the roundabout was a circle of chairs around a firepit. It looked to be a nice place to relax during their stay.

Rich parked the car and they hopped out and ran for the front entry, trying to avoid the raindrops. Suzy put the key into the lock, but it wouldn’t unlock. She looked at the keys, and frowned as she turned to Rich. “They gave us the keys to Cabin 11. Are you sure it’s supposed to be 17?”

Rich smiled, and emphatically said yes. He pulled out his cellphone, but couldn’t get a signal to call the office. “Wait here, I’ll go get this straightened out.”

Suzy smiled and kissed him on the cheek before he headed back to the car. “Don’t be long, it’s a little chilly.” She took a seat on one of the Adirondack chairs, rubbing her arms to keep warm, and let out a sigh as the rental car pulled away.

She looked out over the circle of cabins. Cabin 11 was just across the way. She laughed, thinking to herself that they probably are in 11 anyway. But, she stayed put.

Families and couples came through the area, donning various rain gear. Many were enjoying the sprinkling sky instead of avoiding the raindrops. Suzy watched a mother and child walking up the road, the little girl jumping in every puddle as they walked by. Suzy just smiled to herself over the scene.

Then, a man in a rain jacket turned the corner and started climbing up the stairs to the cabin where she sat without looking up.

Suzy spoke up, “Excuse me. Is this your cabin?”

He looked up at her, a shocked look came across his face as he removed the hood from his head.

She saw his face and froze, then stumbled over her own words. “Wow! Hi Steve. What are you doing here?”

Steve stared at her, hard to believe she was standing in front of him. “Well, we’re here on vacation. This is our cabin. How did you…”

Suzy interrupted him. “Rich apparently got our cabin number wrong. He thought we were in 17. He’s back at the office straightening it out.”

Suzy was visibly upset. She didn’t expect to run into Steve here. “Mind if I wait here out of the rain until he gets back? Then we’ll be off to the right cabin.”

“Sure, no problem. I have to get some things for the girls.” With that, Steve headed into the cabin, closing the door behind.

Suzy bit her fingernails. She wasn’t even a nail biter. She wasn’t ready to see Steve even after all these years. She paced back and forth on the porch, waiting for the rain to lift, or Rich to come back, or both. She wanted off that porch as quickly as possible. Finally, she saw the rental car round the corner. She made a beeline for the car, climbing in.

Rich looked at her. He realized she was shaken. “What’s wrong?”

She calmed herself. “Cabin 17 has other guests. Which cabin are we in?”

Rich didn’t believe that would cause her to be upset; he stared at her.

“I had a run in with one of them. Just,” she paused, “Just, let’s get to our cabin.”

Rich continued around the roundabout. They were in a cabin directly opposite from 17, in cabin 11. “Sorry I got the cabin number wrong. Are you going to be okay?”

Suzy wiped the rain off her cheek. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. We just should avoid the folks in 17, okay?”

Rich looked at her. “Do we know them?”

Suzy’s shoulders drooped. “I do.”


writing

Snowy Owl Lane – New Year

Part Five

Suzy brushed off her boots on the front porch, knocking off the clumps of icy sleet and snow. White crisp snow blanketed the meadow and their drive. The skies were gray with winter.

She looked back down the drive, relieved the snows had waited until their holiday guests left. They were now snowed in. Suzy didn’t mind one bit.

She opened the storm door they had installed to replace the screen door, then slipped out of her boots and stood on the threshold. Slowly, she opened up the front door, trying not to wake the napper on the sofa.

He’d had a long night writing out all the thoughts which filled his mind the night before. There were days she would do the same, staying up late or waking up early with a mind swirling with imagery or thoughts, dreams and visions.

She softly closed the door and made her way to the kitchen. Quiet and kitchen didn’t usually go together, but she needed to warm herself up, so she made herself a cup of cocoa, then slid into one of the dining table chairs and opened her tablet.

Now it was her turn to write on this quiet afternoon on the first day of the new year. She looked out the window towards the frozen stream. A blue jay sat on their outdoor table. She loved watching birds, really any kind. She was amazed at how they could fly with so little effort.

She often found inspiration to write in small things, flowers, birds, nature. Today, however, she sought inspiration from the history of their home. She picked up a journal and opened it. The cover was inscribed with Sylvia Miller’s initials, and the year, 1918. She opened the journal and began to read:

Today is the first day of 1918. Last year was a rough year for us, but Hirsch keeps us strong. My hope is 1918 brings us much prosperity and joy.

It’s snowing this New Year’s day. I get lost in the beauty of freshly fallen snow. There is a peace which only comes this time of year.

Mary selected a suitor to marry. I do hope Jon is a good match for sweet Mary. Jon was so nervous when he asked Hirsch for her hand. Jon comes from a good family, a hard working one from down the way.

We worry though that Jon may need to serve in the great war. I hope it doesn’t happen for a while if he does; we’d love to hold the wedding in the meadow for Mary when the weather is warmer and the flowers in bloom. She will make a beautiful bride.

Suzy looked up from the journal and looked around their quiet home. The tree was still up from the holidays, twinkling lights making the living room seem magical. The snow outside started falling again and Suzy’s mind spun up a wintery tale. Her fingers went to work on the keyboard with such speed, it seemed her fingers were chasing the story her mind was spinning.

An hour passed in the blink of an eye. Steve woke up from his nap and looked toward the dining area. Suzy was almost in silhouette, the afternoon’s winter sun streaming through the westward facing window. He gazed at her for several minutes, amazed at how she could have such concentration. Her mouth twitched up as she worked through the plot of her story. It could be an unpleasant expression, but he loved when she was so engrossed. He knew being consumed by your imagination could be cathartic for the heart and mind.

Suzy finally came out of her mind with a blink and a shift in her seat. She felt like she was being watched and slowly turned her head. “Good afternoon, sleepy head,” she cooed.

Steve just looked at her, one of his come here stares. Suzy’s story had come to a stopping point and she looked forward to the break. She clicked save and set the tablet aside, then walked over and sat on the floor, next to the sofa, resting her arm along his chest and leaning her head against his heart.

“Did you have a good visit with all our family?” she asked, looking at him.

“Of course, but I really wasn’t ready for your mom. Wow.” Steve replied.

“Yep, I know. Thank you for being patient. I’m like her in some ways, but completely not like her in others. I think the girls had a good time though. Do you?” A little squinting around Suzy’s eyes popped up when she asked.

“Yes, I think their visit went really well. It’s nice how they have warmed up while they were here. See, I told you to relax and not worry.” Steve paused a moment, looking for words. Finally, he just asked, “What would you think if either of the girls asks to have their wedding here?”

Suzy’s eyes lit up and she smiled ear to ear. “Definitely! I’ll do anything I can to make each of their days special. You know that, right?”

He shook his head yes as her fingers caressed his cheek. He took her hand and kissed it, then gave her the look…The look that melted her heart every time. He pulled her up on the sofa atop him and they rang in the new year again.

It’s going to be a good year.

writing

Snowy Owl Lane – Homecoming

Part Four

Suzy nervously fluffed the pillows on the twin beds in the guest room and removed a few items in the dresser to make room for the girls’ things. She paced in and out of the room, putting away more items and making sure everything was just so. She stopped and looked back into the room. Nothing more remained for her to do in there. She exhaled, turned and headed out to the living room then started straightening up there.

Steve came out from his den. “What’s going on? You’re pacing like an expectant father….and I would know!” He smiled at her as he steadied her, gently touching her arms with his hands. He knew what was going on in her head. “It’s fine. Relax. This isn’t the first time you’re meeting them or anything.”

Suzy bit her lip a little, a tell on how anxious she felt inside. “I know, but I want things to be, well, comfortable for them. I want them to think of this as their home too.” Her brow was furrowed with small little grooves.

He kissed her forehead. “They will, but you need to relax okay? They’ll be here in about an hour. Go outside and get some fresh air. I’ll be out in a few.” With that he lowered his hands from her arms and headed to the kitchen.

She put down the magazines and papers she had in her hand on the coffee table, then walked outside and took a seat on one of the Adirondacks on the front porch. She took in a deep breath and looked around at their little homestead. She hoped the girls found it a welcoming getaway whenever they wanted to see their dad. They were both older now, one in college and one just now building a life of her own.

Steve came out and handed her a glass of iced tea, then sat next to her, looking out towards the drive to the house. “You know, they’re probably going to come in, say hi, and then get stuck looking at the screens on their phones after they walk around our place.”

Suzy smiled at him. She understood he was trying to relax her, but she remembered times at her dad’s, not being comfortable around his wife, not feeling like part of that family. Her half-sister would want to play and hang out, so Dad would take them both over to Grandma’s. She didn’t want his girls to feel like she had back then.

Soon, a car came rambling down the drive. His old Nissan, handed down to his oldest, Sofia, pulled to a stop. Sofia and Lexi jumped out of the car and bounded up the stairs to the front porch. Steve had already stood up and met them half-way in a group hug. Suzy stood to the side, happy to see the girls with their Dad. It seemed like it had been a long time since they’d seen each other.

“Hey girls!” Suzy greeted them. She straightened her shirt, unsure if they’d just say hello or finally break that wall with a hug. She knew not to force it though.

Lexi looked over at her. “Hi Suzy.” The reception was lukewarm, but better than the last time. “Nice place.” Lexi pulled open the screen door and headed inside.

Sofia watched her sister go inside, then looked at Suzy. “Hi Suzy, it’s great to see you.” She leaned in and reached for a hug.

Suzy was touched, and Steve smiled her way as she embraced Sofia. “I’m glad you two are here, Sofia. Your dad has missed you both. Let me show you to your room.”

Suzy pulled open the door and the rest of them went inside. Suzy showed the girls to their room.

“I set up the guest room so you each have a bed. The dresser is empty so you can store your clothes or whatever there.”

Sofia looked at her, nodded, and smiled. Lexi mumbled her thanks.

“I’ll let you guys get settled.”

Suzy stepped away and wandered back down the hall to the kitchen, then started pulling out food for dinner. Steve stepped up to the counter next to her as she cleaned some vegetables. “I think that went pretty well. Give Lexi some time.”

Suzy grinned. “I know. I remember being there myself.” Changing the subject, she asked, “Hey, you good with chicken and grilled veggies tonight?”

Steve picked up the knife and started slicing up the peppers Suzy had already washed. “Of course, but I’d rather have steak.”

Suzy met his puppy dog eyes when she looked over at him, and smirked. She turned, opened the fridge and pulled out steaks, then readied them for the grill. “Deal!”

writing

Snowy Owl Lane – Summer Bliss

Part Three

Suzy walked out the front door, carrying her pack, and made a beeline for the picnic table where Steve was. It was a late summer afternoon, and she was ready for a short adventure.

Steve was ready to head out, standing there with his hikers on. This afternoon they were going to explore their own backyard so to speak. Suzy reached for his hand as she walked by. “Come on, let’s go.”

He resisted a moment, pulling her just hard enough that she stepped back closer to him, and planted a kiss on her lips. “Okay, now we can go.”

Suzy chuckled a little as she turned to lead Steve to the edge of the stream. The former owners left a plank across to the conservation area which bordered their property.

Suzy pretended to be walking a tightrope, extending her hands out to each side as she crossed then hopped off the end and turned to take a bow.

Steve rolled his eyes, but also laughed. Sometime Suzy could be a nut. He finished crossing as well, then took the lead.

They had found a trail marker not long after moving in, but today was the first time they journeyed out on it. Steve knew about the area, he had already looked up details about it including elevation changes and other conditions, but the trail was still new to both of them.

Suzy stayed back, tracing Steve’s step as best as her shorter legs could. The trail was easy at first, with trees shading their walk and keeping them protected from the summer sun. They happened upon a couple of craggy points, but nothing too major.

The trail for the most part paralleled the stream and the water was typically in their sights. Eventually they came to a fork in the trail, one continued up stream, the other turned up a steep hill.

“So, which way, Suzy?”

She smiled. “Up!”

Steve was a little shocked; the trail along the stream was smooth sailing, but there was no telling where the other fork led.

Suzy just kept on smiling as they both found their own ways to scramble up the small incline. Little did Steve know, there was a surprise ahead. Suzy read about it in one of the letters left behind from a previous resident.

They continued to make their way on the trail when they came to a clearing. It was only a short walk from the house, but Steve stopped in amazement. He walked out to the middle of the clearing and turned around.

From here, they had a clear view of the sky above as well as the Rockies. In the field stood a small bald atop a rocky crag climbing out from the grassy field.

Suzy took Steve by the hand, “Come, let’s check it out!”

Together, they climbed up the rock jutting out from the ground. It reminded her of Garden of the Gods a bit. When they reached the top, she removed her pack and set up their dinner while Steve looked around.

“Come, sit. I have a light so we can get home later.” She patted a spot next to her as he walked back her way. The sun was still above the mountains giving them plenty of time to eat and relax before heading back.

Suzy and Steve found themselves surrounded by nature. They looked over the field below and a small fawn found its way into the clearing. The sky slowly started to change colors as the sun headed towards the mountain tops.

Suzy mused aloud, “I never thought we’d get here.”

Steve looked at her, perplexed. It wasn’t that far from the house. She recognized his befuddlement.

“No, not here. But here, together.” She rocked her feet back and forth, a habit since she was a small child. It calmed her. “It’s like some dream at times.”

Steve just smiled at her with a Cheshire grin. “I never doubted it.”

He leaned in for a kiss, but she resisted for a moment. She wouldn’t let him stay puckered up for too long though.

They continued to share and talk. In the quiet moments they pointed out the birds and watched the skies as the sun settled. Soon, the stars came out then they heard a not too pleasant sound rummaging through the field below.

Steve took the light and quickly scanned the field. He turned to Suzy and with a finger across his lips whispered “Bear.”

Suzy’s eyes grew and she became a little uneasy. Steve patted her shoulder reassuringly. “Black bear, not grizzly.” He turned off the light and allowed their eyes to adjust to the twilight sky. He pointed in the bear’s direction.

They watched the bear wander through the field. Suzy quickly closed up their food containers, worried he was drawn here by their smell. Then she moved it away from the two of them, as if the bear was headed their way.

Steve shook his head, but kept an eye on the bear until he wandered out of view and back off in another direction.

Once the concern had passed, Steve laid out on the blanket and put his arm behind his head as a rest, watching the stars. “We may never need to go camping elsewhere. This is perfect. Did you know it was here?”

“I read about it in one of Lottie Baird’s letters. Apparently she wrote her husband about finding it when he was away during the Korean War. His letters were in the box.”

“Do you know if he made it home?” Steve asked, reflecting on his own time in service.

Suzy curled up next to him and hugged him. “Yes, he did. They had two girls when he returned.”

Steve interlaced his fingers from his free hand with hers. “Thank you for finding this place, for dreaming it for us.”

She leaned up and kissed him sweetly.

writing

Snowy Owl Lane – Settling In

Part Two

Moving day arrived. Suzy and Steve were combining their two separate lives into a single home and boxes were everywhere. Suzy had come across country, so her lot was not quite as large as it once was. Most of it she’d left behind except those items which really meant something to her, plus clothes and her kitchen gadgets.

They had decided on new furniture for their bedroom and the living room. New memories were to be made here, a new life, together. So, of course, the furniture delivery truck arrived as the movers were still offloading their boxes. The crews kept getting in each others’ ways.

Suzy and Steve looked at each other. Days like this used to be stressful for Suzy. She wondered if they had been for him too. Tempers could easily flare up when things don’t run smoothly, but they just smiled at each other. Some frustration here and there, but none towards each other.

She picked up a box and headed toward the attic stairs which were pulled down from the ceiling. When she reached the top, she fumbled about a bit, finally finding the light switch. The light spilled across the attic. A couple dusty boxes from the previous owners still resided here. She set the box in her hands down and carefully walked across the attic floor to one of the boxes.

Atop the box was a white envelope with the inscription – For Our House’s Next Family. She realized the box was meant for them to find from what she suspected was one of the previous owners. She blew off the dust and picked up the letter and the box, then carried it back down stairs.

“Hey, aren’t we trying to put boxes away?” Steve teased her as he took the box from her.

“Of course, but this isn’t our box. It was already in the attic. It had this note on it for us.” She looked at him a little puzzled, but also with excitement. “Who doesn’t love a good surprise?”

She heard a thud from the front door and looked around Steve. “Here, hold this. I want to make sure the couch is in the right place.”

He shook his head and walked over to the kitchen counter, resting the box there, among all the dishes and kitchenware, then followed her back into the living room.

“Thanks, guys! That’s perfect!” She had them position the sofa so they could look at the fireplace, while being able to glimpse out one of the windows to the view outside.

The delivery service and the moving guys all pulled away finally after unloading everything. Steve quietly sat down on the sofa and kicked up his feet. “Ahh, peace and quiet.”

She smiled at him and wandered back into the kitchen, retrieving the box from the attic. “Let’s take a look at this. I don’t want any scary ghosts visiting us overnight just because we didn’t get warned!” She laughed as she opened the letter.

To the new family,

Welcome to Snowy Owl Lane. This land has been occupied off and on for centuries. We added our history and even traced the land’s ownership as far back as we could. If you are like us, you may start to see a pattern.

“Well, okay, this sounds a little spooky,” she looked at him with a smirk.

Don’t worry, there are no scary ghosts or monsters here to haunt you. But there are wonderful memories from the past and hopefully many more to be made.

The enclosed books share details about each family who resided here. This information has been passed down through the years from owner to owner.

Welcome home!

Sincerely,

The Miller Family

Suzy opened the box and found volumes of journals, letters, and photo albums from several families, along with a timeline of the land’s ownership drawn on aged paper which looked like the old green bar used in dot-matrix printers. The mustiness of the age of the books wafted through the air. The house was not as old as most of these books.

Suzy never was any kind of historian, but the box had her intrigued. She gently pulled out one of the photo albums with a brown aged leather cover and sat down next to Steve. They opened it up to find a faded sepia-toned photo of a couple with names written in fine calligraphy beneath it on the first page.

Sylvia and Hirsch Miller – 1915

She looked over their photo and Steve leaned in for a better look. The photo was faded, but there was something familiar about it for both of them. The woman had a classic dress suit on, and the gentleman held a hat and was dressed in his Sunday finest; they both appeared to be in their late forties or early fifties, but it was hard to tell their ages.

“Wow, I don’t think that letter is from 1915…. odd their last name was also Miller, don’t you think?” Suzy paused a moment, looking at the photo more. “Do you think she looks like….” her voice trailed off. “Nah, it must be because it is so faded. Right?” She got chills looking at the photograph.

He looked at her half-heartedly agreeing with her. “Nope, I don’t see anything familiar there.” Steve was lying through his teeth though. He couldn’t really believe that he saw his own great-grandfather’s face in that picture, someone he resembled. Except, his great-grandfather’s name was not Hirsch nor Miller.

Before going any further, Suzy decided to put it aside. “I think we’ll just let this sit for a bit. I’m going to go unpack the kitchen boxes.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Then I’ll figure out something for dinner.”

He nodded and got up, following her. “Break’s over, I guess. I’ll go work on the bedroom. I think we’ll sleep well tonight.” He smacked her on the butt as he walked by, making her giggle, then disappeared down the hall.

Suzy finished up in the kitchen as the light faded from outside. She realized they had fixings for sandwiches and soup, but not much else yet. She wandered down the hall. No noise came from their new bedroom. She paused at the door and looked around. The bed was made and candles lit the room.

Steve was napping on the bed. She leaned against the door frame and watched him a moment. She was just amazed that they were finally here. She slipped out of her jeans and crawled into bed with him, snuggling into the crook of his arm.

Steve stirred from his nap and played with Suzy’s brown and silver hair. She looked up at him. “Sandwiches okay for dinner?” He smiled at her with love in his eyes. “I’d rather have you,” he softly crooned. Then he tilted her chin up to his face and kissed her, then rolled her on her back.

She caressed his back as he slowly made love to her for the first time in their bed under their roof. The night came upon them as they continued to rediscover each other as if it were their first time together. The candles burned out that night and they finally fell asleep in each other’s arms.

writing

Snowy Owl Lane – Finding Home

Part One

In the foothills of the Rockies lied a small gravel road. To one side, a grove of trees stood tall. An old set of posts with rusted barbed wire strands ran along the main road in front of the grove, then suddenly stopped at the corner of the gravel road. To the other side, a meadow spread over a hill where wild flowers grew in late spring and early summer.

Suzy and Steve pulled up and stopped their car on the main road, looking over the plot of land. An old sign marking it for sale hung haphazardly from its one remaining chain and clanged against the pole. The location had a view she loved. The Rockies rose from behind what appeared to be a wooded area at the back of the plot. She had painted a similar place, crudely, from her imagination years earlier.

They decided to explore the land, driving down the road and hitting a pothole now and then. The road took a small turn to the left before it ended. They stopped, and they stared. A simple home with a garage sat way back, hidden from the view from the main road by the small hill where the flowers grew. The trees at the back of the property shaded a small creek running along side.

It was exactly as Suzy imagined. It was perfect. She wondered how she imagined this place so accurately all those years ago.

They climbed out of their vehicle and walked over to the babbling water. Small fairy-like pools where they could relax dotted the creek and overall it was shallow with a rocky and sandy bottom. A weathered picnic table sat nearby with a perfect view. She envisioned adding a hammock for them to cuddle in under the shade on relaxing summer days.

Steve stepped behind her and rubbed her shoulders. “This is the place, isn’t it?” he whispered in her ear.

She crossed one of her arms and held his hand as she shook her head yes. “I think so.”

She led him over to the house, checking out the outdoor setup for cooking out, then walked around the home, peeking in the windows. The house was fairly modern, with a great kitchen and a perfect living area. A porch stretched around three sides of the home with plenty of room for outdoor seating.

Suzy’s face gave it all away. She knew this is where they should be. But she was not sure he was convinced. She wanted them both to feel it, to know it’s where they belonged. She knew how it felt to be a stranger in your own home, so it was important to her that Steve felt connected as well.

They got back into the car, and drove back towards the main road to head back to the city. Suzy watched the wildflowers waving in the wind, almost as if they said come back soon. She looked back in the side mirror at the house fading away in the distance.

Steve stopped the vehicle suddenly. The brakes strained under the pressure, and gravel scattered. They both sat in awe of what they saw in front of them. A snowy owl perched on the pole at the corner where the gravel met the pavement. Steve looked at her and slowly spoke in an amazed tone, “This is it. This is home. Let’s make an offer.”

This is Snowy Owl Lane.

writing

Swans in the Mist – Part Two

Reposted from April, 2021 – Refresher for Part Three


Charlotte startled herself awake. She rubbed her eyes and looked around. Nothing looked familiar. The walls were made of wood logs. The crackling fire in front of her looked unreal, no wood, no flame, just warmth, a glowing light and a tinny sound.

She sat up and realized her clothes had been changed. Some sort of odd tartan patterned button down in what looked like a dressing gown.

“Oh good. You’re awake!” a sweet voice spoke to her from behind. She was startled to hear another person’s voice, full of a strange drawl. “Henry, she’s awake!” she called out. “Here dear, have some tea. I’m Sarah,” she stated as she sat in the neighboring chair, handing her a cuppa with cream and sugar.

Charlotte took a sip. The tea was way stronger than she was used to. “Wow, what type of tea is this? How did I get here? Where are my clothes?”

Sarah smiled and understood her confusion. Charlotte wasn’t the first visitor they had entertained. “First, dear, what is your name? Then I’ll answer all the questions I can.”

“My name is Charlotte. Now, answer my questions please!” Charlotte looked down, then felt her left thigh. Sarah saw her reach for her dagger.

“Hi Charlotte. My name is Sarah. Don’t worry first of all. Your dagger is safely stored, for all of our safety. I found it when I unraveled your tattered dress from your legs. The fabric was wrapped around your leg quite tight and we were concerned it would harm you. Unfortunately, your skirt will not be salvagable. Your blouse and bloomers are in the wash.” Sarah drew out the word wash, it sounded more like warsh. “Don’t worry, Henry turned around. He didn’t see anything. We girls need to stick together.”

Charlotte was apprehensive, but Sarah seemed genuine. Sarah was dressed simply, some sort of soft clothed shirt and dungarees, nothing Charlotte had ever seen a woman wear. Sarah seemed to be in her forties, grey streaks ran through her dark curly and short hair.

“As for the tea, it is a Chai Latte with vanilla. Do you like it?”

Charlotte smiled, “It is more flavorful than what I normally drink.”

Sarah flashed a knowing smile. “And, to how you got here…we are not sure. We found you out by Cygnet Lake. You were passed out on the bench and looked to be in rough shape. We brought you home to help.”

“Home? My family owns the land in this area, acres of it. Are you one of our neighbors?” Charlotte grew confused.

Sarah smiled faintly. She hated this part of discussions with their visitors. She needed backup to help Charlotte understand. “Henry, could you join me please?”

The clunk of boots came down the hall. Six-foot three Henry entered the room. Charlotte stood and turned to greet him. In front of her stood a handsome man in his forties with short graying hair with her father’s face.

writing

Swans in the Mist – Part One

Reposted from April, 2021 – Refresher for Part Three


Charlotte stood in the middle of the sprawling garden of her family’s country home, looking over the small fountain’s flowing water. The smell of jasmine, lavender, and roses filled the air. Charlotte tugged at her bodice; its boning digging in to her waist. Her flowing skirt of silk brocade floated out over her bloomers. She never enjoyed wearing formal dresses and didn’t understand why it was so necessary, especially when they were not entertaining.

She spied a small orange butterfly and walked towards it, around some rose bushes and other shrubs. Why couldn’t she be free like her little visitor? She twirled the neck tie of her blouse. Oh, how she longed to be free of all her family’s expectations. Currently they were trying to match her, and she was tired of meeting suitors who didn’t suit her at all.

The butterfly floated towards an arched pathway. Two cement swan planters sat at the entrance, full of blooming flowers. Charlotte followed the butterfly down the path. She had never been this way, and looked forward to a new discovery and a distraction for herself.

As she walked the trail, a light mist started to fill the floor. An owl cried out in the distance. The noises from the forest frightened Charlotte. She reached through a pocket of her outer skirt and felt for her dagger strapped to her left leg. She learned to protect herself growing up, there were too many rogues willing to kidnap and harm members of her family. She felt the cold steel hilt; it calmed her.

She continued down the path. Fallen branches tugged at her heavy skirt. One snagged it, ripping a small patch of the deep red fabric. Her boots peeked out from the hem of her skirt. A cobbler made them to her specifications, brown with crossing straps, and tall enough to cover her calves, to just below her knees. They protected her legs from the scratching undergrowth of the trail.

As she continued to walk, she lost her footing and slid down an embankment. The only thing stopping her from falling into the ravine below was her skirt which had become entangled on twigs and branches. She dangled briefly, reaching for a nearby tree trunk and struggling to get her footing. Finally, she found a hold to pull herself up, but her snagged skirt would not let her move further. At least she could now firmly stand without slipping.

Luckily, her left hand was free. She reached for her dagger, pulled it out, and began slicing away at the silk. Her mother would be furious, but which was more important — her dress or her life? Finally, she freed herself and climbed up onto the tree trunk.

The trunk spanned the ravine, but Charlotte had lost her sense of direction during the fall. She saw two trails, one on each end as she sat on the trunk. She decided to take the closer one as that seemed to be the correct one. Carefully she traversed the trunk and stepped back on the trail.

With her skirt in tatters, and the bodice still digging in, she took her dagger and slid it under the strapping in the bodice. Her maid had tied the strapping in such a way she could not get out otherwise. Finally, as the straps loosened, she took in a deep breath and her blouse floated away from her skin, allowing her to relax, and the bodice fell to the forest floor.

She turned in the direction she believed to be back home. The trail continued to turn, but did not seem familiar. Finally, in the distance, she noticed an arched opening. She picked up her pace, ready to be home. But, when she reached the opening, home was not what she saw.

Her jaw dropped. Before her was a lake, covered with mist. Swans floated nearby. By the lake was a small bench. She sat down to take in the view and to rest up before heading back up the trail. As she watched the swans, her eyes grew heavy and she succumbed to slumber.

Two shadows in the form of a woman and a man approached the bench. The woman checked Charlotte’s pulse and alertness. She was completely out, but alive. The woman nodded her head at the man. The man slipped his hands under Charlotte’s back and knees, picking her up, and holding her close to his chest. The shadows then disappeared back into the mist with Charlotte in tow.

writing

Mermaid Encounter

The young mermaid surfaced trying to find the light which flashed above. As she did the lightning arched through the skies lighting up the dark clouds. A single bolt flashed and struck the water nearby. She was stunned by the force of electricity flowing through her body.

The swells of the ocean tumbled her closer and closer until she was onshore. Passed out with her dark hair matted, her body rested in the surf. The clouds rolled away and the skies returned to blue.

A young boy, about age 14, found the mermaid entangled in seaweed as he walked along the beach. He unwound the sea grasses wrapped around her teal blue tail and shook her shoulder.

Her eyes fluttered, looking about. Her purple eyes looked into his as she came to. “Thank you,” she whispered to him.

“What should I do now?” he asked. He had never met such a beautiful creature.

“I am okay, but I need to get back into the water.”

He found a way to lift her in his arms and waded into the water with her. When he got waist deep, she was able to float.

She moved out of his arms and swam around him. She stopped in front of him and gently kissed him on the cheek. “You’re cute,” she giggled. “Thanks again!”

With that, she dove back into the ocean and swam away. The boy watched her as her tail fin flipped in the water, until he could no longer see her.

He returned to that beach each time he was in town on vacation as he grew up and would watch the waters in hopes of seeing her again one day.

The mermaid did the same.