“Owl Island has been such a lovely place to retreat to that I feel sure I will return soon to rest and regenerate.”
– Heather Blakey, Webmistress, Soul Food Cafe and Lemuria.
“Weary of travel I return to the Isle of the beloved
Isle of the Great White Owl
Isle where my hammock sways beneath tall willows
Place born of my dreaming
place where dreams came true
when we danced with the owl women
and learned from each other”
– Fran, Crone and keeper of Wise Owls
Wyse wymen of the White Owl
The priestess oracles of Lemuria and Atlantis, as well as some other early sacred sites, were known as ‘Magiratha’, or ‘Wyse Wymen of the White Owl’. Other than the White Owl, their sacred symbols were the Rowan and Oak trees, the honeybee, the blue star sapphire, and the labyrinth (often in the form of a labyrinth-cave). The labyrinth was their symbol as it represented the spiral path one must take in order to receive true wisdom.
A Magiratha was ‘sworn to the Stone’; that is, she took vows before a large white stone in the centre of a ceremonial pool, which represented the isle of ‘Ava’ in the lake of ‘An’. A labyrinth of dark stone was set into the bottom of the pool, encircling the Stone underwater. There was a mythical legend in which a large honeybee bore a young maiden to the centre of a sacred lake. He…
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Back to Lenore
Oh, my ears and granny whiskers! The ship will be leaving port again soon to continue on the next part of the cruise. Rather than lounge about onboard I’ve decided to join a group heading for the Grotto of the Enchantress, on Lenore. I have to be there when the clock strikes twelve – which is exactly an hour and fifteen minutes away.
I will throw a few basics into my backpack and then walnut-shell it to Thomas’ Donkey Hire establishment and see if I can hire Maria again. We got on famously the last time. She may be ready for another adventure; I know I am.
If I don’t make it before the clock strikes twelve, I wonder if I’ll turn into a pumpkin? Anything’s possible on this journey.
My Date with Destiny?
I returned to the abbey around 5:30, giving myself enough time to prepare for dinner and my encounter with Elijah, but not too much time for thought. As I didn’t know exactly when Brenda’s brother was expected to arrive, thinking he could already be in the abbey, I avoided walking through the foyer to get to my room. Although Fate apparently already decided we’d be together, I didn’t want to tempt it by showing up without adequate prep time.
After I showered in the community use bathroom and stood in front of the mirror to apply my make-up I found myself smiling. (Good thing no one else was in there with me at the time.) To my surprise, I actually looked forward to this meeting, but how could that be? When did it happen? How could I even think about another relationship? Maybe I felt I had no choice; the abbess and the glasses prophesied it. And I could no more reject Fate than tempt it. For whatever reason, when I walked out of the bathroom I knew the turn I took into the dining room represented more than just a physical act.
The lift in my step slowed a bit as I neared the dinner table. Brenda’s lot and her brother occupied the end closest to me. I noticed an empty seat next to Brenda, opposite from Elijah. Several other men, I suspected the husbands of the rest of the group, sat among the women. As I approached, both Brenda and Elijah stood to welcome me.
“CeeCee, I was beginning to wonder if you skipped out on us. I hadn’t seen you all day. Heh, nice haircut,” Brenda said.
“Oh thanks. I desperately needed one. And no, I didn’t skip out, I just spent the day in town.” Up to now I’d avoided eye contact with Elijah.
Brenda introduced us, “So, this is Elijah. Elijah, this is CeeCee, the woman I spoke to you about.”
“Pleased to meet you.” He extended his hand and I shook it. When he gripped my hand, something metal pressed into my palm. A ring? What? My future husband’s engaged and not to me? I turned my head and coughed to hide my flushed cheeks. And I kept coughing to allow myself recovery time. Okay, maybe it wasn’t an engagement ring. Whoever heard of that, a man wearing a ring? I told myself that it was just a coincidence that he wore a band on his right ring finger.
“Are you okay? Do you need a drink of water?” I felt Brenda’s hand on my shoulder.
“No, I…I’m fine. Sorry for that.” I turned to look at Elijah, “Pleased to meet you as well. Your sister’s told me so much about you. And I hear you’re traveling with Brenda to Ireland; have you been there before?” The cool reception in his eyes forced me to look away before I finished my sentence, no sparks, no sputters, not even a glimmer of interest.
“…last trip my fiancé will let me take,” I heard him say. “We’ll be getting married in September.”
“Oh,” I managed to say, “Brenda didn’t tell me that. Congratulations. I’m sure the two of you will make a wonderful couple.” When at a lost for words, fill the void with clichés.
Thank goodness the food came in at that point. We stood in the way of the servers, which forced us to separate and take our seats. Otherwise, my seat would be the ground because somewhere in the last five minutes my legs turned to gel.
I went through the motions of supper, but made no great contributions to the conversation, although no one seemed to notice. Most of the couples just reunited for the first time in a week and there was much catching up to do. Evidently Brenda couldn’t tell me about the engagement because she didn’t know either, so she spent most of dinner learning about Elijah’s relationship. I heard glimpses here and there, but only feigned interest. I felt like a wallflower at the prom, observing everyone else’s fun.
Once the shock of Elijah’s revelation wore off, I started wondering where I went wrong. How could I be so mistaken? I thought back on my meeting with the abbess and I remembered her words exactly; they’d replayed in my head so many times they were permanently etched on my brain: “I can assure you that a man will be entering your life within the next several months, a man who will play a significant role in your future.” If he wasn’t to be my husband, than what was it? All a bunch of malarkey?
But once I moved beyond my embarrassment, grateful I shared my premonition with no one, an iota of relief crept in. As time wore on that speck would grow to a bit, and then to a great deal, until it took over my mind allowing me to look back on all of this and laugh. Not an overnight invasion, just a gradual and welcome infiltration. With the pressure of an impending relationship removed, I looked forward to moving on. For the first time since Keiran’s death, I felt a change in attitude. I needed to stop looking back and start looking forward to the life in front of me. To heck with Fate and those darned glasses. It was time to get back on the cruise ship and sail ahead!
In Search of Serenity
I didn’t stop with the haircut. My date with Destiny wasn’t until that evening and I didn’t want to spend the whole time back at the abbey imagining different scenarios and working myself into a frenzy. If allowed to do that, by the time I actually met Elijah, he’d be administering CPR instead of sending flirtatious glances my way. To kill time I browsed through the Self Help section of the bookstore until I found a book on meditation. All I knew about deep breathing I learned from “Oprah,” but I figured I might need more options over the next several days and months. After purchasing my book I walked to the coffee shop next door to buy a cup of green ginger tea. With book and tea in hand, I headed back to the park for a crash course on meditation.
Buddha couldn’t have asked for a better setting. I chose a bench on the opposite side of the park this time, facing a small pond. Red and blue flowers accented its banks, and the morning sun played in its ripples. With the heat of the day on the rise, I spent the first fifteen minutes just sitting on the bench and breathing in the sun. If only I could have packaged and preserved that scene, there’d be no need for the book Learn to Meditate, but as soon as I boarded the bus back to the abbey, the serenity of the morning would be left standing on the curb. So I opened the book and read through its first few pages.
From the onset I seemed doomed to failure. Somehow I had to blaze through the densely populated forest of my thoughts and stresses until I arrived at an open field, a place void of worries. I didn’t even know that place existed. And to reach that Promised Land, I needed to focus my attention on a particular object or sound. Not likely. My mind was like a two year old without supervision; it constantly wandered off and got itself into trouble. But nevertheless, I wanted to try. The idea of controlling my thoughts appealed to me.
As instructed, I closed my eyes and breathed in and out slowly. I concentrated on the image of the abbey’s lake, but within seconds fish started jumping out of its waters. I mentally pushed them under and stilled the lake once again. But then a Loch Ness-type monster reared up and started plodding toward me, seaweed dripping off its massive frame. To erase that image I had to open my eyes and blink several times. Before resuming my attempt to discipline my mind, I opened the book and reread the last page just to see if I was missing something, but the book said it was normal for thoughts to creep in, just don’t focus on them, merely observe and allow them to pass, just like you’re watching television.
I closed my eyes, relaxed my breathing, and tuned into the lake again, trying not to concentrate on my concentrating. And for several seconds it worked, until an image appeared on my screen. In it a young boy kneeled at the edge of the lake, staring into a golden goblet. I knelt beside him and, at his urging, leaned over to see what captured his attention. A face filled the liquid of the goblet, not the boy’s, not mine, but Elijah’s. Mesmerized by his dark eyes I leaned closer, and his head came out of the goblet and kissed me on the lips!
Startled by the vision I jumped off the bench, dropping the book on meditation from my lap to the ground. I almost left it lying there, even felt tempted to kick it into the pond, but I realized it wasn’t the book’s fault my thoughts were so impish. And knowing how beneficial meditating could be, I still wanted to try to master it, or at least manage five minutes of uninterrupted thought. Obviously, I needed a lot of practice. So I picked up the book and headed off to find a place to buy some lunch and despite the hour, a glass of wine. Plan B for relaxation. Soon enough I’d be on the bus back to the abbey and I needed something to calm my nerves.
The Next Step
Go to breakfast. If I wanted to at least attempt to think clearly, I needed to eat. I walked back across the street to take Mr. Thompson up on his offer. When I entered the diner, I saw him seated in a booth facing the door, engrossed in the morning paper which lay spread out over his table. I debated as to whether I should go say hi or just take a seat. I decided on the latter because by saying hi I risked the chance he’d invite me to sit with him, and I didn’t feel particularly sociable at the moment.
The menus were at the wall-end of the table, but I didn’t need one because during the car ride Mr. Thompson recommended the eggs, hash browns and bacon, so that made one less decision I’d have to make. When the waitress came to the table I ordered and then asked for a cup of coffee as well as a pen and paper if she could spare them. The coffee and the writing supplies (a note pad with “Thompson’s since 1935” written at the top and a similarly inscribed blue pen) came within the minute. I thanked her, pulled the pad in front of me and prepared to write. But what? I looked around the diner for inspiration.
Only a few other patrons, about six, dined at this time, most of them eating solo like me. As is usually the case in establishments like this, the walls displayed the art of what I suspected was the local talent as well as the local scenery. In my opinion, the value in these particular paintings came more from their souvenir value than the quality of their art because they captured the essence of the island quite well. In fact, a decent depiction of the abbey hung on the wall a few feet to the right of me. And at this time, in the real abbey some fifteen miles away was Brenda, and by this evening, Brenda’s brother. Just the inspiration I needed.
I wrote at the top of the pad, “My Escape Route,” and then jotted down some ideas.
· Hide in my room – no she’d come find me
· Move into town – but they might visit, we could run into each other, I’d have to explain why I left. L
· Move into town and hide in my room until Sunday!
Okay, so hiding wasn’t such a good idea. Stress and claustrophobia mixed as well as baking soda and vinegar, a minor explosion waiting to happen. As I was contemplating a feasible move, my food came, which meant my planning would have to wait. Between my morning walk and shortened dinner last night, my stomach felt abandoned, but I’m certain all was forgiven once the best hashed browns I’d ever tasted made their way down to it. Now with my system adequately fueled, I got back to business, hoping the sustenance tracked quickly to my brain. Considering the revelation that I then made, I guess it did.
While doodling and savoring a fresh cup of coffee the waitress just poured, I drew an “X” on my paper. As I continued to sip my coffee, I kept tracing over the x, which triggered a memory from my glasses ordeal. According to the moon goddess Hecate, at some point I would come to a crossroads and have to make a decision about which direction to take. I think I just found Frost’s “two roads.” And although the choice I made may not be one less traveled, I knew that whatever I decided would make “all the difference.” If only I could try one route and if I didn’t like it, reverse time and take the other, but that only happened in fairy tales.
With breakfast over and my bill paid, I walked over to Mr. Thompson, who now seemed to be looking at the restaurant’s accounts. I told him what a great place he had and how much I enjoyed the breakfast. He scolded me for not approaching him when I first came in because he wanted me to receive “the royal treatment,” but I assured him the service and the food couldn’t have been any better. I thanked him again for the ride and his suggestion for breakfast, and then left the diner.
Walking out into the daylight was like lifting the shade from my thinking. As soon as I crossed the street to reenter the park, I knew exactly what I would do – travel back to the abbey and prepare to meet Brenda’s brother, Elijah. That is, after I got my hair cut.
Farewell to Lenore
What a glorious last morning I spent on Lenore. I was up before dawn and made my way to the top of the promontory to greet the sun. As the sky lightened it was bedecked in swathes of orange and cerise, like Indian saris drying in the breeze. I sat and made a list of the things I wished to do before I left.
1. Thank the Abbess and the nuns for their kindness.
2. Buy two bottles of the Liquid Velvet liqueur so that I can enjoy little tipple from time to time. I’m not a drinker, but a tiny drop of the liqueur is most uplifting.
3. Have a last look at the Abbey’s artworks.
4. Collect a few blooms from the Abbey garden and press them in my book.
5. Send postcards to my friends and family.
6. Carefully pack my bag – I will carry my little ‘art’ basket in my hand as I’ve decided to travel by walnut shell. Very handy for getting back from places, but to use it on the outward journey would entail being able to visualize your destination. Not always possible.
I wandered back to the Abbey and showered and dressed, and then went down to breakfast. All the gang was there. Brenda and her cohorts were planning a big day which involved donkeys and donkey carts. I had eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and two slices of toast and butter. Once again it struck me how flavoursome all the food was. I had two cups of tea and then headed to the Abbey shop.
I purchased two bottles of Liquid Velvet and bought some postcards and stamps. I also bought a jar of ‘Ecclesiastical Honey’ – good for eating and for medicinal purposes. I sat in the huge entrance hall and wrote my cards. The nun in charge of the shop showed me where I could post them in a small postbox, which was emptied daily. I also wrote out a ‘Thank You’ card, addressed it to the Abbess and left it on the hall stand.
Next I wandered out to the garden again and selected six flowers to press as keepsakes – a red salvia, a marigold, a white petunia, a small pink rose and a yellow snapdragon. The snapdragon made me smile. It brought back childhood memories of ‘talking’ snapdragons. I took the flowers back to my room; arranged them carefully between pieces of toilet tissue and placed them in my book. I then had to bind it tightly. Not the best method for pressing flowers, but it seemed to work when we were kids. It was only a temporary measure, anyway. I would find something hefty to squash them when I got back to the ship.
I carefully packed my bag, then stripped off my bedding and folded it ready for laundering, and I was ready for off. A last look at the artworks first though.
I visited the Lady Chapel to view both the stained-glass windows and the stunningly beautiful, embroidered altar piece. What hours of work must have gone into that. Lots of couched gold thread employed. Very rich and heavy. I also looked at all the tapestry hassocks, and saw that the inspiration for them had come from the garden. Every flower you could think of was represented.
I wandered along the corridors where oil paintings of church dignitaries and also beautiful landscapes of the island, were displayed. I finished my tour in the Library, where several, centuries-old illuminated manuscripts were displayed in glass cases. I imagined all the time and patience needed to create these – and the concentration! You wouldn’t want to do all that and then make a mistake at the end, and have to start again.
It was about 11.30 am by the time I got back to my room. I grabbed my bag and the tiny basket; checked I had my transport in my pocket, and went downstairs to hand in my key.
I shouted a ‘Cheerio!’ to friends who were gathering for lunch and headed out to the courtyard. This was going to be tricky – only two hands and three things to hold. I gripped my walnut shell tightly and hooked my arm through my bag handle and cradled the basket in my other hand. I closed my eyes and visualized my cabin on the Vulcania – whooooosh, thump! I was there!
It was nice to be back onboard the ship and I certainly appreciated the little luxuries after the austere atmosphere of the Abbey. Time to have some lunch and study the noticeboard to see what entertainments were available.
March 17th :-)!
The Phone Call
Well, I did fall asleep shortly after I lay down, but I woke up to a dark room with no hint of sunrise on the horizon. My body knew it needed more rest, but my mind thought otherwise, wanting to jump out of bed and get the day started. Those sore muscles I anticipated after yesterday’s run protested any form of movement, but as usual, my mind took the upper hand and forced me out of bed. I switched on the light and checked my watch. 4:00 A.M. I flopped back down on the bed and pulled the covers over my head. I sat there, under the covers in the dark with my eyes wide open. It reminded me of the time when my girls were young – Sydney around ten, the youngest, Hannah, seven with Molly in the middle at eight and a half. One day during the summer we made tents with their bedspreads, using two by fours for supports. Someone, I think Sydney, started tickling someone else, probably Hannah, and before I knew it we were all dodging each other, knocking into our supports, until the whole “tent” came tumbling down upon us. After about ten minutes of non-stop laughing, we just lay there with the quilts resting on our heads, telling stories with just enough light to see each other’s eyes.
I missed the girls. I knew that would be the hardest part about this yearlong cruise. They had each other, living within thirty miles of one another, and unfortunately, I realized they’d get along just fine without me. A mother should find some comfort in that, knowing her children are self-reliant, and I did. But, where did that leave me? In my room in the abbey under my covers. Despite the early hour and the soreness in my legs, I had to move. I had to get up and get out before I drove myself into a funk that no shovel could dig out.
By the time I showered and dressed I managed to kill about forty-five minutes. Since the first bus arrived at 8 A.M., I decided to start walking, thinking perhaps I could hitch a ride somewhere along the way. Lenore was no New York City. The door to the abbey remained open twenty-four hours a day. If the abbess could be so trusting, then so could I.
During the first mile or so, my muscles kept reminding me what I did to them yesterday, but after a while, they warmed up and the walking felt good. Left with just my thoughts and the empty road, I fought to prevent despair from settling in. To begin with, I promised myself that once I got to the city, the first phone call I’d make would be to the girls. Of course I wouldn’t tell them everything that happened. They’d think I finally lost my last remaining marbles; although I have to say, the thought of their reaction to the whole truth made me smile. If I hadn’t lived it, I’d wonder about my sanity as well. Whatever I told them, I needed to touch base, to hear their voices, to tell them I loved them.
As I looked out over the lake, with the sun making its first appearance of the day, I then pictured myself back on the ship, reuniting with many of the friends I’d made since the onset of this cruise. There were enough distractions on the ship to divert Depression’s attention, so I knew I’d recover quickly once I reboarded. Now all I had to do was get permission.
Once I passed the lake and moved just beyond where I stopped and rested the day before, another road joined with the one leading from the abbey. Now my options for hitching a ride improved because cars actually traveled on this road at all hours of the day. Since it seemed a bit awkward for me to stick out my thumb, at first I decided to hold off on soliciting a lift. Given my location, most people who saw me walking would suspect car trouble and, I hoped, take pity on me. As several cars passed without slowing down, I was about to reconsider my theory when an elderly gentleman in a light blue station wagon pulled over to the side of the road. He leaned out his window and asked, “Need a lift?”
“Most definitely. Are you going into the city?”
“No place else to go on this road.”
I moved to the passenger side of the car. In our short ride into town I learned he, Jonah Thompson, lived on Lenore all his life running his parents’ diner for fifty-some years before passing it on to his great-grandchildren. Father of two, grandfather of five, four great-grandchildren with one on the way. Most of the family moved off the island just as soon as the ferry could take them, except for the two grandchildren who took over the diner. He invited me to stop in for breakfast, and I promised I would after I made my phone calls.
He pulled into a reserved spot in front of what looked more like a fancy restaurant than a diner, but I noticed the name “Thompson’s” engraved in a gold plate above the door, so I figured this must be it.
As he opened his door he said, “If you’re wanting a pay phone, there’s one at Sally’s around the corner.”
“Thank you, but I have my cell; I just couldn’t get any service at the abbey.”
“Oh one of those gadgets. My kids keep telling me I need to get one, but I see no reason. I’m not much of a talker anyway – at least on the phone; last thing I need is for folks calling me anytime anywhere. What I say is if you want me I’m either here or at home, phones work fine in both places.”
I laughed and thanked him again, promising to come back for some eggs and bacon, and then walked across the street to the park. Finding an empty bench at this hour, just before 8 A.M., was easy. But when I sat down I realized eight o’clock here meant 4 A.M. on the east coast. How on earth could I call anyone at that hour? Sydney would be the first one up, but not until 5:30 at the earliest. She taught music at the high school in her town, and I think she had to be in by 7:30. She also lived for her sleep and if I deprived her of any of it, she’d have my head regardless of how far she’d have to travel for it. Neither Hannah nor Molly, both still in school, had to be up before 9. The phone calls to the girls would have to wait, but the ship’s captain was but a taxi ride away.
I turned my phone on and noticed I had six missed calls and four voice messages. Worried someone might be in trouble, I quickly dialed my voicemail and input my password. As each of the messages played, my heart lightened and my smile widened. The girls called to say hi or to tell me they missed me and that everything was okay. So maybe I wasn’t dispensable after all, at least not yet.
Then I placed the call to the ship’s captain. After about eight rings, the phone picked up and a message played, “I’m sorry I’m not available to take your call at this time. I regret to inform you that the repairs on the ship are taking longer than projected. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you and plan to reimburse all passengers for the additional expenses they incur because of our delay. Reboarding will now take place on Sunday beginning at 7 A.M. We look forward to seeing you then, your captain of the S.S. Vulcania.” Click.
Sorry? Sorry? What good would sorry do me? And how could they reimburse me for mortification? Ugh! Now what was I to do?
It’s A Hoot- A White Owl Island Adventure Begins
” Hey, look Waldgrave, ” I said holding my journal over the railing of our now at drift Ferry Boat- at this point we were alone- even the ghosts were gone ” you can open your ey- well, you can look now. The storm is gone and it looks just like an TV commercial for air freshener out there .” I say cheerfully as I jiggle him from side to side.
” See that’s a shoreline, we’re going to make it to land.”
” Aren’t you even faintly curious as to what that storm was that we passed through to get to this ‘air freshener commerical scene ‘ of yours? ” Waldgrave asks.
” And why not.”
” I don’t want to think about clouds that eat dead people. That’s why. “
” What on Earth would make you say think of such a thing. Honestly. Clouds that eat dead people.”
I pull Waldgrave back over the railing and start to tap him against my forehead, ” gee, I don’t know what would make me think of such a thing…let me think. Oh. I know YOU would.”
” I am so tired of you blaming every single one of your juvenile thoughts on me. “
” Oh fine Mr Muse. I’ll only give you credit for the mature thoughts. Yeah. You can have credit for all two of those.
But from the generosity of my heart I’ll give you a third one- Those Ghost People came apart at the seams You saw it for yourself – it looked like something was tearing them into bite sized morsels.”
“Bite sized morsels” Waldgrave sobbed in frustration, ” Can you consider- just think about it for just one minute- maybe that storm was a half way point to somewhere else, maybe those ghost people were simply moving from one reality to another and it just looked strange to us because we’ve never seen that happening before.”
” Nah. If that’s what moving from one Reality to another is all about our world would be chock full of ghosts because no way would they go through that . Plus, I think something ate them because they were screaming ‘ oh god no, no, no arrrgghhh ‘. I’m pretty sure something very wrong was happening there.”
” I think something very wrong is happening here to, ” Waldgrave tells me, ” Because the engines have just started back up again.”
It was true.
And now we were moving away from the shoreline and back out to storm that had teeth and ate ghosts.
” I guess we’re just going to go back and forth…”Waldgrave started to say
” Unless we die and then of course, you know. It’s chomp chomp time.” I add.
” Anita Marie.”
” Yeah. ” I said as the ferry came to a dead stop and then slowly began to move away from the shore” I’m trying to inspire you to do something. “
” It’s not working. “
” I thought as much. “
I walked away from the railing and towards the stairs and I told Waldgrave as I reached for the door, ” I think if we don’t figure out what’s running this ship it doesn’t matter where we go, does it? It wants to take us back to where the ghost people died again. I think that’s what it does. I think this Ferry is a trap Waldgrave. “
” I’m really hoping that you are wrong about that.”
” But there’s a plus side. “
” I would love, just love to hear this. Tell me. What is the plus side to our very sad and dire situation.”
I try to think fast. ” Well. If something is on this boat with us, and the clouds didn’t eat it then that thing must be alive just like us.”
” You’re making that up. You don’t believe that at all. You know what? Let’s just jump and swim for shore because I do not like what you’re thinking right now.”
I put Waldgrave back into my jacket and zip it up. Then I reach for the fire ax that’s hanging on the wall in a glass case ( what kind of idiot puts something you need in a hurry in a glass case? Geeze!) and we walk up- up the steps to the bridge to meet a Ghost Killer.
We saw her, standing where a Captain should stand and she was looking out towards the place where the storm was and she never turned around. Not even when I buried the Fire Ax’s head into her back. She just laughed and Waldgrave groaned ( big surprise ) ‘Oh no.’
“Did you really think that would stop me? ” she said.
” No. I just wanted to distract you. “
” From what? “
“From when I did this ” I said as I reached around and grabbed her chin and her forehead and then twisted.
Right there at my feet with it’s head turned all the way around to it’s back and barnacle encrusted face and milky blue eyes tearing their way into mine.
And all I could think of were McDonald’s Happy Meals and those little toys you get for free. I wondered if I would ever buy a Happy Meal again, I hoped so.
” What, what was that? ” Waldgrave whispered.
” Sea Witch.”
” How- how did you know-“
” You know why I call you Waldgrave Playfair? “
“Because it’s a ridiculous sounding name.”
“Well. It is, but a long time ago, when I was kid there was a real Waldgrave. He was my best friend and we used to go down to the Pier and buy stuff, you know Salt Water Taffy, comics. Stuff like that Anyway Waldgrave could really be slow off the mark and whenver we did stuff I’d cheat to win and he’d always say, ” Can’t you ever play fair Anita Marie?
Well. One day we’re there buying stuff and I turn around and Waldgrave is gone so I go looking for him so I go down to the beach. I mean, I think I went down there, because I thought I heard him. Screaming. When I get down there I can see this woman and she’s on her knees and the tide is coming in and the water goes around her, but it won’t touch her and…and she’s holding Waldgraves face down in the sand. She’s drowning him on dry land. I didn’t think you could drown a person on dry land. But you can. You really can.
So by the time I get down there, Waldgrave is gone and I see her face. They all look like that.” I say as I tap my toe against her greenish white cheek.
” I’m sorry .”
” That’s very kind of you Waldgrave. It’ must be rough for those Witch things to go through life looking like a Monkey’s butt. Now-” I pull the ax out of The Sea Witch’s back and raise the ax over my head.
” Do you have to do that? “
” Why? “
” It makes me feel better.”
We started to drift to shore again and as we did I kicked Witch parts off the deck and when they hit the water, the water bubbled and hissed and the Witch Parts burned away in the Sea Foam.
Waldgrave and I aren’t speaking- again. I think he’s mad because he was being serious and I made the Monkey Butt comment. Who knows. He’s fickled if you ask me.
” Must you.” He says to, I don’t know- himself.
” I wonder why that happens.” I say to myself -kind of loud so as to drown out Waldgrave’s conversation.
” I wonder why you care.” Waldgrave continues on with his own very loud conversation
And as we continue to talk to ourselves the Ferry stops it’s sideways trip to the shore and there, close enough to walk to is land.
That really is great until the Ferry Starts to lean to the left and this woman in a big floppy hat starts to scream at us from the beach, ” I don’t know who you people are, but turn that thing around and go…this instant!”
” Huh? ” I yell ” I can’t hear you. The sound of our Ferry Sinking is drowning out the sound of your very annoying voice!”
That was fun and I’m inspired ( thank you Waldgrave ) so I’m about to yell more stuff when I accidently kicked the Witch’s head overboard ( yes it was an accident ) and it makes this sloosh sound and the water foams up and turns black and the ooze starts to drift towards the woman on the beach.
” That was totally uncalled for! I mean it now. Turn that thing around and just..scoot. I mean it. The both of you.”
I put my hand against my chest and I can feel Waldgrave, but hey- I can’t see him and apparently this woman can. I’m not sure I like that idea.
Not one little bit.
” You. Old Lady! Quit staring at my chest. It’s giving me the creeps!” I called down to her.
I wished I could have gone on all day with the insult festival I was attending because after all we had just been through I needed a good laugh- but slow as our trip to shore was the Ferry keeled over that much faster and before we knew it me and Waldgrave were on White Owl Island
The Walnut Incident
can be found
An Early Departure?
If I was stingy with my words before I saw the photograph, I was downright mute afterwards. Fortunately, absorbed by her family’s accomplishments, Brenda never noticed. She rattled off the details of her children’s résumés as if I were interviewing her for Mother of the Year; I pretended it interested me by smiling and occasionally raising my eyebrows. In truth, it took all the willpower I could muster to sit and not bolt. The two voices inside my head went back and forth with, “It’s just a coincidence. He’s in Scottsdale, Arizona; you’re in Lenore. You’re as likely to run into him as George Clooney.”
“But he’s a dark-haired man, he’s single, and we have a connection, his sister. And besides, George Clooney’s not single; this man, Richard, is.”
“Get over yourself. In a few days you’ll leave here, get back on the cruise ship and leave for your next port, never to see or hear from Brenda or her brother again.”
She, or I, had a point. To guarantee nothing developed I could leave – not in a couple of days, but tomorrow. I came to the abbey to recharge, to make peace with myself and sense of my life, but all this trip has managed to do is add more confusion and anxiety. Instead of calming the fires, this visit’s thrown gas on them. And it’s getting way too hot for me!
I know the abbess foresaw my future, but she made it sound like I had a few months, not days, to adjust to the idea. The rational side of me wanted to believe this was all a coincidence, but sometimes, although she seldom admitted it, that side proved to be wrong.
“…And maybe you could meet my brother,” Brenda’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
“What!” I yelled, and then recovered, “Sorry, I mean, what did you say?”
She looked at me, then continued, “I said Richie’s coming here tomorrow; he, and a few of the other women’s husbands are planning to join us for the second week of our trip when we travel to Ireland. We leave on Saturday, but you’ll get a chance to meet him before then.”
“Um, sure, that would be great; I’d love to meet him,” I lied. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to use the ladies’ room,” I said as I was pushing my chair back and rising to leave.
“Will you be back?” Brenda asked.
“No, I don’t think so. That run did me in this afternoon; I think I’ll turn in early, but maybe I’ll see you at breakfast tomorrow?”
“Sure, we’ll save you a seat.”
I waved then quick-footed it to the restroom. When I entered the stall I didn’t know whether I should faint or vomit. Before I did either, I sat down on the seat and put my head in my hands. I had to stop the spinning so I could get off this ride. To do that, I needed a plan. I decided that first I had to call the ship to see it its repairs were completed. The captain told us they’d take about a week, which, if done on time, meant we could reboard tomorrow. Second…. I didn’t know what second was. I couldn’t think that far ahead. And considering I couldn’t even call before tomorrow – no cell phone service within five miles of the abbey and as far as I knew, no landlines available to the public either – I’d have to wait for my next move until after my morning bus ride into the city.
I sat up, the nautiousness and vertigo subsiding, and then made my way back to my room. I dressed for bed and hoped for sleep; the sooner I slept the quicker the morning came, and the sooner I made that call.