Happy Birthday!

Blindfolded, he sat at the dining table. A slight smirk rested on his lips.

She set something in front of him and slid into her seat.

“Okay, you can take off the blindfold.”

He slipped off the silk covering and looked around.

The house was still with the exception of a few lit candles. Before him set a single cupcake with a glowing candle. And then he looked to his left.

There, she sat. A chemise tank top cut low framed her assets perfectly. One strap slipped off her shoulder. She smiled at him as his grin grew.

“Happy Birthday, hon. Make a wish and blow out the candle.”

He rested his head on his hand as he continued to look her over.

“I don’t need a wish, I have all I want.”

She blushed, understanding what he meant. Then she giggled.

“Okay, then. Blow out the candle,” then she winked at him.

Happy Birthday, indeed!



“Phhhhbt!” the sandy haired boy blew raspberries at the brown eyed curly haired girl standing in his front yard.

Her lower lip wavered a moment. “Momma said to bring this over!” She stretched out her hands, balancing a plate full of peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses.

The boy stepped out from behind the porch railing. “Are those kiss cookies?”

The little girl blushed. “Yes. I helped momma make them.”

The little boy raced down the front steps and ran up to her, reaching for the plate. He exclaimed, “My favorite!”

The little girl turned her Mary Jane patent shoed foot inward. “Yay! I hope you like them.” She handed him the plate. A brown curl fell across her forehead.

He grinned as he took the plate, then turned and ran back to the porch. He yelled back , “Thanks!” and gave her a quick wave.

He swung open the screen door and called to his mom, “Look! Cookies!” then disappeared behind the squeaking door.

The little girl turned back to her house. A sweet smile crept across her lips as she skipped home.


Acushla Bound – Part Twelve

Vacation, Day 12 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I catch up on work after a great vacation!

The snow started falling outside the window as Mikaela and Kester lay wrapped in each other’s arms. They enjoyed the silence with each other. They spent most of the rest of the day, and night, in bed.

In the morning, Mikaela snuck out of bed. Kester stayed soundly asleep. Rex climbed up into the bed and snuggled with his master.

Mikaela made her way outside to the chicken coop and gathered the eggs. The snow had stopped falling overnight and the skies were a brilliant blue with white cirrus clouds. She loved mornings like this.

Mikaela did a few more things then returned to the cottage. She mixed up some biscuits and set them to bake over the fire, hoping they didn’t get too dark being over the heat of the fire. She then whipped up the eggs and found some ham to slice. She hoped she would surprise Kester with a nice breakfast.

As she worked in the kitchen area, Kester couldn’t help but hear the commotion. Mikaela tried to be quiet, but was unsuccessful. Kester quietly walked in to the kitchen and behind Mikaela, kissing her on the neck. “Everything okay, here?” He whispered into her ear.

She giggled and smiled. “It’s not like cooking There.” She was trying to loosen up an egg she had cooked.

“Here, you will need to use more butter. It will stop it from sticking. You’ll get the hang of it.” With that he pecked her on the cheek and stepped back, leaning on the chair by the fireplace, watching Mikaela work on breakfast. He smiled to himself.

“Sit down. I will have breakfast ready in a minute.” Mikaela used more butter and cooked up two more eggs. She grinned when she pulled out the biscuits; at least one thing cooked up right. She plated everything up and served breakfast.

Kester looked over the meal. He picked up a biscuit and took a bite. Mikaela anxiously looked at him, wondering if she cooked them as well as back There.

“Best biscuit I’ve had outside of Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Mikaela thought to herself, Well, at least they came out edible. She took a biscuit and built a breakfast sandwich, drizzled a little honey on it, and joined him to eat.

“So, it’s a beautiful day. Could you show me around some?” Mikaela asked as they ate.

Kester looked outside. “Wow, it actually is. We probably shouldn’t go too far should the weather turn, but definitely. Let’s get out for a bit.”

They finished up breakfast and cleaned up. Kester found another coat, more suitable for Mikaela than a blanket, to wear. “Here, try this on. It may be a little long.”

The leather coat was lined with wool and was warm. “It’s perfect.” It actually hung down to Mikaela’s calves, but she didn’t mind.

“If the weather holds out for a few days, we can go onto town and get you some warmer clothes. How’s that sound?”

Mikaela smiled and nodded. “Right now, show me around, okay?”

They headed outside and walked along the stream which ran along the edge of Kester’s property. The sun had melted some of the snow, and the water babbled over the iced areas and rocks.

A small flower popped up in the snow. Mikaela kneeled down and admired it. It’s bright color was striking against the white snow.

Kester looked back. “Those only grow Here. I never saw one like it back There.”

“It’s beautiful!” Mikaela stood back up and caught up with Kester, slipping her hand into his as they walked on. Kester just smiled.


Acushla Bound – Part Eleven

Vacation, Day 11 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Mikaela curled up with the book as Rex climbed into her lap. She gave him a pet and started reading Kester’s writings. She became lost in his journeys through Somewhere and Nowhere, which had some similarities to hers but also stark differences.

He wrote of being Here and shared his story of how Pepper brought him almost everything he needed. Pepper was almost like a fairy godfather in horse form.

Pepper was even responsible for Dorian’s presence. ‘I recall the morning after I dreamt of riding a dark horse across a meadow that Pepper was hyper and broke out of the paddock. Later that evening, he and a dark stallion walked up and back into the field, enjoying some hay. Dorian never ran off, although it took a few times to get him used to a saddle. I don’t know how Pepper did it…can he read minds?’

Mikaela paused and looked out the window toward the barn. Kester was working with Dorian, who was in a playful mood, knocking over the bucket near by and prancing about.

She smiled and turned back to the book. ‘I dreamt of her last night. Macushla, that’s what I called her. Her eyes blazed into my soul, those dark eyes.’ Mikaela paused. Who was this mystery woman of his dreams? Could it be…no, probably not.

Kester’s story continued to wind and turn through growing his homestead, taking up writing, and finding his way Here. She came to another passage. ‘I saw her in my dreams again. She was sleeping under the willow where I came here originally.

Could he have willed her here? Mikaela dismissed it. They didn’t know each other outside of Here. I’m reading too much into this she thought to herself. She continued to read on.

I keep having dreams of her. I need to find some answers.’ Mikaela flipped another page, but nothing more was written on the next few pages. She flipped through the remaining pages and realized the back side of the book also contained writing in a separate smaller insert.

She wondered a moment if she should read it. Did Kester realize he gave it to her? However, she was looking for answers and he did give it to her.

‘When I dream of her, it is like I have known her my whole life. Her dark brown hair and eyes are so familiar now. I long to hold her in my arms and kiss her lips.

When I see her in my dreams, she’s a bit of a klutz, but I like that about her. It gives me a reason to hold her hand and catch her when she trips.

‘Last night, she was in my bed in my dream. Her sheer gown showed off her breasts in the firelight. I fought hard to control myself, although it is just a dream. Maybe I should just let myself go.

Mikaela paused, wondering if she should read on. She found herself already attracted to Kester, and her mind began to wander, wondering how it would feel to be with him in that way. Sleeping in his arms last night was comforting. But, she’d only known him a day.

She put the insert back into the book, then set the book back on the table. She donned her boots and layered two blouses and grabbed a blanket to head out to where Kester was. Rex followed on along.

She stepped up to a fence post and rested her chin on her arm, watching the horses and Kester in the field. The cold air had blushed up Kester’s cheeks. Mikaela found herself lost in watching them.

Kester looked up and saw her standing there. The wind was blowing Mikaela’s hair and her cheeks and nose were starting to turn red as well. He walked over to her.

She straightened up as he walked up. She smiled and tilted her head. Her eyes looked down then back up into his eyes. He wrapped his hand behind her neck as he went in for a sweet, long, tender kiss; a kiss that warmed both of them up from their toes.

Kester stepped back, jumped over the fence and pulled Mikaela toward the house. She paused only a moment, then thought, this is only a dream. She kept up with Kester as they entered the cottage.

Once inside, they quickly undressed each other and then paused. Mikaela was as nervous as a virgin. Kester stepped closer to her, taking her hand and kissing her as he walked her to the bed.

He was gentle with her, loving, and also strong. As they joined together they moved as one. Mikaela bit her lip from the pleasures Kester delivered time and time again.

Mikaela wrapped her legs around Kester, pulling him in closer. With this, he groaned in ecstasy. Her legs held him tightly against her as he collapsed onto her.

Together they rolled to one side, facing each other. “I didn’t expect..” Kester was stopped with Mikaela’s finger on his lips.


Acushla Bound – Part Ten

Vacation, Day 10 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Kester played with Mikaela’s curly brown hair as she slept. Quietly, he whispered, “Macushla, I have dreamt of you. I cannot believe you’re Here.” Softly she stirred in his arms. He quickly closed his eyes so she wouldn’t see he was awake if she woke.

Mikaela was a heavy sleeper however; her stirring was just a passing dream. She curled into Kester’s chest, her arms wrapped around his torso and her feet entangled with his. She was not quite a foot shorter than him, so her face was buried into his chest.

Slowly, the winter sun started to glow and filled the cottage with light. Kester got out of bed carefully, letting his guest sleep some more. She had a harrowing journey here and he wanted to make her feel welcome. He prepared tea and breakfast for both of them. Mikaela smelled his cooking and woke up.

She slid out of bed and made her way over to the living area where Kester had put a pot on the fire. “Thank you for taking me in yesterday.”

Kester turned and smiled, handing her a tea. “Of course! It’s good to have a guest. I hope you’ll stay a while.”

Mikaela frowned, but then smiled. “I don’t understand why I’m here. It’s an amazing journey, but can I really just leave reality, er, There, behind so easily?”

Kester understood what Mikaela meant. “Have a seat, we should talk. First, I want you to know you are welcome Here. Second, I, too, am from There.”

Mikaela looked up at him with little confusion. “Yes, I understand. Hank from Nowhere told me how we all are from Thaer as he called it. It sounded like people decide to stay in this world or go back however. I just don’t know how I can let everything There go. Family, commitments, vows.” Mikaela looked down. “Part of me wants to stay here. Learn all there is to know about Here and you. Build a new life. But, is it real?”

Kester looked down. “I come here often, but I too have obligations. There, some of the very same concerns. Here, I am free. Here, however, is magical. We can do as we dream, but we can also do no harm, to ourselves or others, in the real world.”

Mikaela continued to listen as Kester explained how he visits Here while maintaining his life There. “Doesn’t it get, well, confusing?”

Kester laughed. “Yes, especially when people you meet Here, Nowhere, or Somewhere, decide to go back and you meet them There. More than once, I’ve had the sense of Deja Vu with others.”

Mikaela smiled, and then looked at Kester. “Did you ever dream of people you met Here before you actually met them?”

Kester blushed. “Just one.” He wasn’t willing to explain at that point that it was Mikaela however. He thought it might make him sound a little crazy.

Mikaela didn’t push, but instead switched subjects. “Would it be possible for me to see Pepper?”

Kester obliged immediately. “Oh definitely. He should be in the barn. Hold on, let me get you something warm to wear.” He handed her a heavy blanket to wrap around her shoulders. She found her riding boots.

“I’ll be right back.” She waved as she headed out the front door.

Kester watched her walk out to the barn from the window, then turned to finish up breakfast.

“Pepper, how are you?” Mikaela greeted her friend. He nodded at her. She had snuck a couple remaining apples out to treat Pepper. A beautiful dark stallion danced in the neighboring stall. After Pepper chomped down on the first apple, she stepped over to the steed’s stall. “Would you like an apple, too?” The dark horse lowered his head regally, then gently took the apple from her hand. “Good boy!” Mikaela petted his face. She didn’t see a name for him on any of the reigns or stall. I’ll have to ask Kester I guess, she thought to herself.

She walked over and picked up a grooming brush, then took care of Pepper’s coat, brushing it out. She talked to Pepper, thanking him for taking care of her and bringing her here. He softly whinnied and shook his head to the door. “I know, breakfast is almost ready. Would your friend like to be groomed too?” She walked over to the other stall. The dark horse backed up, unsteadily. Mikaela stepped back, she knew he wasn’t yet comfortable with her. “Okay, maybe later?” He stepped back forward and let her pet his face.

She put the brush back and headed back to the house to enjoy some breakfast.

“How’s Pepper?” Kester asked.

“Okay, I gave him a brushing. You’re other horse, what’s his name?”

“That’s Dorian. He’s a little stand-offish at first. Once he gets to know you, he won’t leave you alone.” Kester chuckled.

“Ahh. That’s why he didn’t want a brushing then. Okay.”

They both took a seat and ate breakfast. They talked more about their lives both Here and There. The more they talked, the more they connected with each other.

Mikaela finally asked, “How do you go back and forth between Here and There? You mentioned you still go back.”

He smiled, “Really simple, I just tell myself I’m going There before I go to bed, and I wake up there. It is almost as if no time passes in either place as I go back and forth, except for a dream cycle.”

Mikaela’s mouth opened in shock. “That’s it?” She could not believe the simplicity of it. “Is it that way for everyone?”

Kester laughed a moment. “No, it isn’t that way for most people, only people who actually come here in their first dream of this place seem to have this ability. It’s kind of rare.” Kester scratched the back of his neck.

Mikaela looked at him again. “Wait, you mean if you actually have a journey here, interacting with others, not just dream of the place, your first time, you can just dream your way home?”

He nodded his head, then asked, “How many times did you dream of being here before this visit?”

Mikaela blushed. “I’m kind of rare, I guess.”

With that Kester smiled a large smile, one Mikaela had not yet seen. “You are her.”

Mikaela looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”

Kester stood up and took the breakfast plates from the table, setting them aside, then pulled out a book with a double love knot on it. He set the book down in front of her. “This is a serch bythol.” He traced the symbol which appeared to be two touching trinity knots. “Inside are my writings of this place; I want you to read it. I hope it makes sense to you. If you are who I believe you are, you will understand.” Mikaela looked up at him. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek gently. “Still Do. Always Will.” With that, he walked out to the barn to check on the animals and left her to read.


Acushla Bound – Part Nine

Vacation, Day 9 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Pepper took Mikaela deeper into the mountains, following a well-worn trail. Snow was piled in clumps and slowly filled in the trail until it was fully covered.

The trees became iced over the further they traveled. Mikaela could see her breath. She started to become concerned as she did not have anything with her to keep her warm. She whispered to Pepper, “I am cold. We need shelter.”

Pepper shook his head in acknowledgment. They came to a fork in the trail and he chose to go right, following a semi-frozen stream. The trail continued on with no shelter in sight.

Mikaela bent forward, trying to keep warm against Pepper’s back. She had already pulled out her other top and the nightgown and dress she had in her pack and layered them on, but nothing would stop the chill in the air.

The cold made Mikaela numb. Eventually she faded and passed out against Pepper’s back. Pepper continued on, knowing exactly where he needed to bring her. Pepper rounded a curve in the trail and in the distance stood a small cottage with a barn to its side. Pepper’s steps picked up when he spotted smoke coming out of the chimney. He knew he was home, and he knew he would help.

Pepper walked up to the cottage and with his front hooves, pounded on the step, hoping someone inside heard him.

Mikaela woke up to find she was in another dream. She found herself covered in homemade blankets on a makeshift wood-framed bed. She was still chilled to the bone, but warmth radiated from the fireplace in the center of the cottage which was right next to her. She stirred and started to sit up.

A kind male voice called out from the other side of the fire. “Would you like something warm to drink?”

Mikaela first shook her head, but realized he couldn’t see her. “Yes, please.”

When he came around the corner, he had a small mug in his hand, and bent down to hand it to her. The light from the fire danced in his eyes. She remembered those eyes from her dreams. She believed this to be another dream about him.

She took the mug and slowly sipped. Tea! She thanked her companion for his hospitality. “May I ask, what is your name?”

The man smiled at her, “I am known as Kester. And you?”

“I’m Mikaela.” Finally I know your name, she thought to herself. She smiled. “How did I get here?”

Kester looked at her, “About that, I’m really sorry. Pepper dragged you all the way out here.”

“Pepper?” Mikaela realized this wasn’t a dream in a dream….Kester was, well, still a dream but not a dream inside of a dream. “He’s been a real help actually. He saved me more than once. But, where am I, Kester?”

Kester smiled and waved his hands around. “Well, you are Here. This is my home. It’s not much, but it works for me.”

Mikaela looked around. It was cozy, missing a woman’s touch, but nice. “Thanks for bringing me in and warming me up. But why did Pepper bring me here? And how do you know the horse?”

Kester ran his hands across his short hair and looked down, slightly embarrassed. “Well, Pepper is one of my horses. He likes to go off and find things for me for some reason. Last time he brought home this cute little guy.” Kester petted a blue merle Australian shepherd sitting at his feet. “His name is Rex.” Rex wandered over to Mikaela for a pet, which she happily obliged including some scratches right behind his ears. “But you are a first, the first woman he’s ever brought here.”

Mikaela was touched, smiled, and blushed a bit. She wondered what Pepper had up his sleeve by bringing her here. “So, what do you do Here Kester?”

Kester’s eyes lit up. “During the warmer months, oh, it is glorious to live here. Plenty of room to explore, and I have a small garden I get going for fruits and vegetables. During the winter, I try to stock up plenty to make it through the lean months. I work on wood projects as well as write a bit.”

“Wow, that’s amazing. I want to hear more,” Mikaela’s mind spun, could life get back to being so simple yet full away from There?

Kester and Mikaela talked with each other over the next few hours, then the fire started dying down. Kester spoke up, “It’s getting late. Why don’t you sleep there tonight and we’ll figure out what to do in the morning. I’ll lay out some blankets over here and get some rest.”

Mikaela looked back at the bed, “There’s room for two, no need for you to sleep on the floor. Besides, we’ll both be warmer this way.”

Kester blushed a little bit, but accepted and crawled into bed next to her. They both started to giggle as they tried to get situated. “Are you sure this is okay?” he asked.

“Yes, I think so.” She smiled sweetly as he rested his arm on her waist. She settled her head on his other arm. Soon they both drifted off to sleep.


Acushla Bound – Part Eight

Vacation, Day 8 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Pepper and Mikaela rode into a valley between the mountains. They followed the trail until just before nightfall. The trail had led to an outcropping of red and white rock faces. The area looked as if the land had been broken into pieces and turned on its side. Together they found a small recess in one of the red rocks which would protect them from the blowing cold winds.

Mikaela dismounted from Pepper’s back and gathered some kindling to start a fire. She pulled some dried jerky from the provisions in her pack for herself, then removed the saddle from Pepper’s back. Pepper made his way to a nearby patch of grass, chomping down after a long day’s ride.

Mikaela took a seat on one of the rocks and looked up into the night sky. The stars always caught her eyes. She wondered about other worlds, other lives, other places. As she looked in the night sky, she didn’t recognize any of the constellations. There were no Orion’s belt, no big or little dipper, no cassiopeia. However, the stars were still amazing as they twinkled in the night sky.

As Mikaela reflected on her journey, she realized she was missing home less than she thought she should. Out here, among nature, she felt free. Perhaps she was starting to understand why people chose to stay here instead of running back home. Freedom from responsibilities, freedom from obligations. Anything she could think of, she could make happen here, or so she thought.

In the distance, she heard a rustling in the brush. A small white-tailed deer stumbled out and looked at her. She walked closer to the fire, looking for warmth, and laid down, curled up. Pepper walked up, looked at the deer, then at Mikaela. He started to whinny, but Mikaela signaled to him to be quiet. Mikaela grabbed her satchel, and laid down, settling in for the night.

No sooner did Mikaela fall asleep did she wake up. Song birds greeted her as the sun began to stream daylight. When she woke, she thought it odd. No dreams overnight, at least that she could remember. The deer had left long before, but Pepper was already prancing around in a nearby field. Pepper spied she was awake and bolted over.

Mikaela looked at Pepper. “What are we doing, Pepper? Why am I here?” She no longer understood what this journey was about. This talk of an acushla waiting, the kind people Somewhere, the strange clan of Nowhere. Now she was here, alone, and while free, felt empty.

Pepper nodded his head towards his back, as if to say mount up. Mikaela shook her head no. Pepper stomped his feet, then whinnied for her to get on.

In the distance, Mikaela saw riders coming up fast. She wasn’t sure if they saw her, but she decided not to stick around to find out. Quickly she threw on the saddle and mounted up. “Let’s go Pepper. You get your way one more time.”


Acushla Bound – Part Seven

Vacation, Day 7 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Mikaela found herself surrounded by tall hedges around and a starlit sky above. The labyrinth had only one direction to take…well two if she chose to turn back. She walked for a long time, enough for the stars above to move across the sky.

She grew tired, but knew she needed to continue on. Ahead she spotted a small bench though and took a seat. In the distance she heard a rustle from the hedges, and a small rabbit hopped out. He munched on some grass in front of her then just as quickly disappeared.

Mikaela finally smiled, a moment away from the crazy kidnapping group. She reflected, if everyone is from There, why don’t they want to go back? Why choose to stay here?

So far, nothing here, as beautiful as it was, would stop her from wanting to go home. She reclined. Just a moments rest. She drifted asleep.

“Ahem!” A voice cleared his throat.

Mikaela opened her eyes, and before her stood a man she had never seen before. Not the mystery man from her dreams, not Jed. Slowly, she focused in on his face. She remembered his face from the crowd at the festival. He had smiled at her then, but not in a lustful way.

“I’m Hank. Here,” he handed her a cup of warm tea. “This should help you resume your journey. May I walk with you a bit?”

Hank’s voice was kind and his demeanor sweet and unassuming. Mikaela shook her head yes. “Of course. I don’t understand any of this. Could you explain it to me?”

Hank offered his hand to assist Mikaela up from the bench and they resumed walking through the labyrinth.

“I am from Thaer too. It can be confusing to arrive here without prior knowledge. Most people dream of here long before they come.” Hank explained. “You are one of the few who came to us without prior dreams. It makes you unique. It means something or someone pulled you here.”

“Is that why they keep referencing my acushla? What is an acushla?” Mikaela questioned.

“It is possible your acushla pulled or pushed you here. It is possible from either direction. The word translates to ‘darling’… someone you care for deeply.”

Mikaela looked thoughtfully at Hank. “Thank you for explaining that. I don’t know who that would be however.”

A smile came over Hank’s face. “Some who come here are escaping from something, they don’t normally come here without some sort of longing.” He hoped she wouldn’t know what she desired and that he could convince her to stay with him. “The clan is helping me find confidence and make connections. They set this up for me to meet you.”

Mikaela found herself flattered but curious. “Why me? Why you?”

Hank and Mikaela continued to walk the labyrinth while they got to know each other more. The turns in the labyrinth started coming faster as they spoke. Finally they reached the center.

Mikaela’s mind continued to nag her. Hank was a lovely man, kind, sweet, but there was something amiss.

They entered a small courtyard which appeared to be the center of the labyrinth. She looked around. A small tiered fountain with roses climbing on it trickled water. A small bench for two sat opposite the fountain and on the other side, a straight section which appeared to lead out of the labyrinth.

She took a seat on the bench, and Hank joined her. “Will you stay and take a journey with me?” He looked up and looked at the fountain, “or will you chance it all for the unknown?”

His offer was attractive. During their talk he spoke of travels and comfort and devotion. Any sane woman would leap at the chance to be with someone like Hank.

Then the mystery man’s voice came back to her, You will make it through. Hold on. She felt a chill down her spine and turned to Hank. “Will you let me go if I choose to go?”

Hank looked down to his hands, “Of course.”

She could tell he was crushed. “If I stay, can I leave later?”

He paused a moment. His kindness started to melt away. “Why would you do this? Pick me now or go.”

He stood up and kicked a pebble which smacked into the fountain and splashed some water onto the roses. The droplets looked like tears on the roses.

She stood up and quietly whispered, “I am sorry. I must go.” Her heart knew this was the best decision, although she felt saddened to see Hank in such a way.

Mikaela made her way forward, her steps quickened as she approached the arch marking the end of the labyrinth. She looked back one time and waved good bye to Hank. He nodded and she swore she saw him smile before he turned to head back.

When she exited the labyrinth, Pepper was standing, freshly brushed, saddled and ready to go. Her clothing and satchel were attached to the saddle, along with some provisions for their journey.

She looked around and quickly changed back into her riding clothes. She kept the dress, it could come in handy.

She mounted Pepper. “Where to now Pepper?”

Pepper pranced a moment, then took off through the valley towards the snow-capped mountains.


Acushla Bound – Part Six

Vacation, Day 6 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

The sisters entered Mikaela’s tent. The one with the loose braids walked over to Mikaela and placed a wreath of wildflowers and greenery upon her head. “Come, it is time,” the sister announced.

As they walked out of the ten, Mikaela realized the sun was setting in the distance, and saw a large fire with the clan gathered around. There was drumming and clapping coming from the people gathered around the fire. Some members danced about in circles and Mikaela suspected a little drinking was already underway.

Mikaela’s mind spun. Could she escape tonight or will someone be watching her too closely? She looked about and spied Pepper was penned up with some other horse just outside the encampment. As she looked around, her menacing guard walked in front of her blocking her view of the pen and, tilting his head sideways, shook his finger in a wagging pattern indicating no.

She looked to the ground then turned back in the directions the sisters were guiding her. She recalled what the mystery man from her dream told her Keep looking forward. It’s the only way through. So she walked on, semi-willingly, with the sisters.

The bearded man from earlier walked up to the sisters and Mikaela. “Fine work sisters! She is perfect.”

Mikaela looked up at him. “Are you Hank?”

The man laughed again, as if she said something hilarious. “Oh, dear child, no, I am not Hank! That’s funny!” He looked at the sisters and nodded at them to leave them. “Come with me. What is your name child?”

“Mikaela. And yours?”

“I’m known as Jed in this clan. I have also gone by Fitz in another life.”

“Another life?”

“Oh yes! All except the children have had another life before we reached Nowhere. Many of have chosen to stay in Nowhere. Some have opted for other locations, such as Somewhere.”

“Where are you originally from then?”

“Oh child, we are all from There. Even you are from There; I can tell.”

Mikaela’s head was spinning. All of these people came from her time, her home? Her voice squeaked out, “How?”

Jed looked at her kindly, “How does not matter. Why probably matters more. Confused yet?”

Mikaela just stared at him.

“Good. You should be. Your acushla will pale in comparison to what we have to offer in Nowhere. But Nowhere must also accept you. You, my dear, are very different than others from There. I don’t believe you can even comprehend it.”

Mikaela looked up at him, then realized they were standing in front of a hedge labyrinth.

“Tonight, we will find out if you will find Hank, or if you will pass on from Nowhere.” Jed waved his hand at the entrance of the labyrinth. “But first, we will dine. Come with me, dear.”

Jed took Mikaela by the arm back towards the fire. The clan was singing and dancing still. Some had started eating as well. Jed picked up a bowl and handed it to the cook who had worked on the feast. “For the lady.”

The cook nodded, turned, and pulled out a piece of what appears to be chicken from a large pot, then poured other cooked broth and vegetables over it, then handed it back to Jed.

Jed turned to Mikaela. In a non-accented voice he whispered, “It’s like chicken soup.”

In that moment, she realized Jed was not from this world, as he did not have their accent. Her eyes grew wide.

He laid his finger across his lips, indicating for her to say nothing.

Mikaela wasn’t sure if she could trust him to help her, but shook her head yes.

Jed’s voice piped up and the accent returned, “Eat up, child. You’ll need your strength tonight!”

The sisters walked by and giggled. Some of the men of the clan watched Mikaela as she walked with Jed, some with lust in their eyes, others with disgust. Mikaela felt she was on show for the highest bidder or something, and became self-conscious. The sheer dress in the cold air revealed far more than she was comfortable with.

Again, those words came back to her. Keep looking forward. It’s the only way through. She lifted her chin and continued to keep up with Jed instead of being bashful and falling behind.

Finally Jed settled onto a stump and patted for Mikaela to sit next to him. She did and they both ate. Mikaela continued to look around at the group.

Everyone was fair haired and fair skinned in the group as well as light-eyed. It was odd to see no one with dark hair or dark eyes. Most of the women were petite, no taller than 5-foot 2-inches, and even most of the men were under 6 feet. Jed and Mikaela’s guard were the exceptions as they were both over 6 feet tall.

If Mikaela had not felt like a captive, she might have enjoyed herself. The clan enjoyed laughter, sang, and danced away the night.

As the fire and frivolity died down, Jed stood up. In a booming voice he announced “It is time! Mikaela, please join me.” He stretched out his hand to her.

Tired and weary, she took his hand. She could no longer think straight and longed for sleep. But, she knew that soon would be her chance to escape.

Jed escorted Mikaela to the entrance of the hedge. Her guard followed closely behind. “Your journey starts here,” Jed announced again so the whole group behind them could here. In a quieter voice under his breath, he then told her “Keep looking forward. It’s the only way through.”

Mikaela noted his words and walked into the labyrinth.


Acushla Bound – Part Five

Vacation, Day 5 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Martha, looking over Mikaela, spoke to Jonathan. “Do you think she’s the one?”

Mikaela could hear them, but was not able to move. She struggled to open her eyes. She realized she was blindfolded and her hands and legs were bound.

Jonathan replied, “Of course she is.” He bent in front of her and waved something in front of her face. As she faded, she heard him continue. “She was riding Pepper. We have to stop this. I’ll take her to the mountain clan. They’ll know what to do with her.”

Mikaela blacked out again.

The cart jostled Mikaela back awake. She found herself in the back of a horse drawn wagon in a pile of hay. She was still bound, but the blindfold was no longer over her eyes. “Where are you taking me?” she demanded.

Jonathan looked back toward her, “Don’t you worry. No harm will come to you, but we had to intercede. No one gets their acushla in Nowhere, ever.

Mikaela thought to herself, There’s that word again. “What is an acushla?”

Jonathan laughed heartily as if Mikaela has just told the funniest joke ever. “Never you mind! If you don’t know, you don’t need to know.”

He snapped the reigns. Pepper and another horse were drawing the wagon. Pepper whinnied in protest.

“Stop, you’re hurting him!” Mikaela pleaded with Jonathan.

Jonathan slowed the wagon and stopped. He turned around. “I’m not going to take any sass from you.” He climbed over the seat and waved something in front of Mikaela’s nose which knocked her out again.

Mikaela returned to dreamland. The jostling of the wagon translated into her riding on the back of a magnificent stallion. She realized the man from her earlier dream was riding with her, his arm loosely wrapped around her waist.

The rhythm of the horse’s stride lifted them up and dropped them in unison on its back.

His breath was warm on her neck. She turned to catch a glance of him. He whispered, “Keep looking forward,” in an ominous voice. “It’s the only way through.”

She found herself looking forward and watched the light stream down, lighting the trail’s path. The forest around them was dark. Mist floated above the forest floor. The call of an owl echoed through the trees.

“Where are we going?” she asked the man, who started holding her tighter against him. She relaxed in his arm; she knew she could trust him for some reason.

“You’ll make it through. Just hold on.” With that, the stallion began to race as did her heart.

Mikaela’s eyes opened with a flash. She realized she was no longer bound, but instead found herself in a makeshift tent. A hand made quilt covered her. She was free to get up and move. There was a small bowl of food and some water on a wobbly stump next to where she was laying.

She could hear voices outside her tent. They spoke English, but with a heavy accent. She caught pieces of conversations as people passed the tent.

“Yeah, she’s the one they say. I don’t believe it. Pepper’s lost it.”

“Did you see her hair? It’s dark and short. I’ve never seen a lady with short hair!”

“I bet she’s a witch!”

“We can’t let them meet. What do we do with her?”

The voices carried on. Mikaela walked up to the flaps of the tent and spied outside. There was a large man standing in front of her tent, looking toward the door. He saw her come to the flap.

He smiled a goofy grin and waved at her, then stood imposingly, raised his eyebrow, and signaled to her to stay in the tent.

She shrunk back from the flap and sat back down, wrapping herself in the quilt. The chill of the mountain air streamed into the tent.

She could smell food cooking outside and realized she was hungry. She picked up the small bowl and looked into it. There appeared to be beans in the bottom, so she ate a few spoonfuls to quiet her stomach. While eating, she heard approaching steps. A voice came from outside, “Ya’ decent?”

She was surprised she was asked. “Um, yes.”

The flap lifted and a man with two women entered the tent. He took a seat and the women kneeled, one on each side.

One woman had two very long braids, one on each side of her face. The other had her braids coiled up on her head. They appeared to be sisters, with light eyes and auburn red hair. They were clothed in simple dresses, no adornments and no jewelry.

The man was dressed in pants covered by chaps and a simple shirt. His hair and beard were salt and pepper.

The women whispered to each other, but loud enough for all to hear.

“Her acushla awaits.”

“She cannot reach her acushla.”

“We must prevent her acushla from getting her.”

“No one gets their acushla in Nowhere.”

The man raised his hand. “Shush, women! We are not the ones to decide such things. Only fate can.” He turned to Mikaela. “I have something better than your acushla. Will you entertain us first?”

Mikaela still had no idea and frustrated, asked, “What is an acushla?”

The trio bust into laughter. The man spoke up, “Jonathan was right, you are hilarious!” He turned to each of the ladies, “Will you get her ready for the evening?”

They shook their heads at him indicating yes. He stood up and departed the tent.

Mikaela looked at these two women who started busying themselves in the tent, pulling out a gown and what looked like charcoal and berries.

Mikaela thought to herself, I really need to wake up from this dream soon. This is getting weird!

The woman with the long braids signaled to Mikaela to stand up. Mikaela looked around, realizing they were going to force her to change into the gown they had pulled out. It was a light white cotton dress. She recognized the stitching around the neck. It was similar to the nightgown Mrs. Taylor had given her, but this one looked to be suited more for wearing as a dress.

“I’ll dress myself, if that’s okay?” Mikaela requested.

The ladies looked at each other and shrugged, and turned back to the other items they pulled out. One looked over her shoulder and waved at Mikaela to go ahead.

Mikaela shimmied out of her riding pants and shirt, then quickly put the gown on. It was very sheer, showing the outlines of her undergarments.

“It’s too sheer. Do you have something else? Can’t I just wear my clothes?”

The ladies giggled again and turned around. “No dear, this is what you must wear. It’s what we all wear on these days.”

Mikaela became concerned. What was this group planning to do to her? She started thinking about ways of escape.

The ladies added ribbons to the waist and sleeves of the gown, smashed the berries and applied the juice to her cheeks and lips. They then outlined her eyes with charcoal.

Mikaela was certain she looked affright. She rarely wore make-up as it was and this felt heavy on her skin.

“She’s beautiful, sister. Don’t you think?”

“Oh, most definitely. Hank will be pleased.”

Mikaela picked up the name, “Who’s Hank? Is he the man I met earlier?”

The ladies just giggled again. “We’ll be back to get you in a bit.”

Mikaela peeked out of the tent as they left. There appeared to be a festival like atmosphere outside, but her large guard still stood at the entrance of the tent. He gave her another grin, waved, and pointed her back into the tent. His deep voice said one word, “Wait.”

She stepped back into the tent and started devising how to get away from this encampment. She longed to just wake up from this dream as it had started turning into a nightmare.