Excerpt from “The Wave Maiden”
Something crashed through the woods above him. Emrys didn’t care. He’d spent eighteen birthdays alone on this beach, waiting to see her again. A fin broke the water and moved quickly toward him. He heard a second crash on the ridge, as if something massive was crushing the wood with its passing. He glanced up but the angle of the sun had turned the forest into a dark undefined mass. The fin was moving in a straight line. It must be a shark. He’d never seen a whale swim like that. She didn’t have fins.
Emrys turned back inland and headed to his truck. The day after his birthday was always another day off work and included a lot of Single Malt and wallowing, but he’d come to accept it as a healthy way to deal. Even after two decades he couldn’t let go.
She’d kissed him. He hadn’t told his mother, would never have thought to mention it to his father.
Her lips had been hot against his, her hands ice where they’d held his shoulders. He’d smelt the sea on her breath as she blew gently to cool his burning skin. Sometimes he wondered if he’d been ill with a fever that night. It had felt like that, a high delirium-inducing heat that had started in his belly and radiated to his fingers and toes. But he still remembered her smell and the way her cold fingers had numbed his skin. And he’d never forgotten her kiss.
A tail, split like a whale’s, broke the surface, shimmered and disappeared as he looked back to the sea. Iridescent. She can camouflage herself, he heard his mother telling him, as if she’d known a Wave Maiden too.
Photo: Trey Ratcliffe, Stuckincustoms.com “the gentle red path”.
Photos are a great source of inspiration when I write.
This makes me think of an inviting, yet slightly scary path through the forest. Inviting you to walk from one world into the next, with this the long path between, the path clearly allowing you to be the one to make a choice between going forward or back. A choice between the known and unknown, enticing with wonders, if you can make it to the other side.
by Robert Graves
I had long known the diverse tastes of the wood,
Each leaf, each bark, rank earth from every hollow;
Knew the smells of bird’s breath and of bat’s wing’
Yet sight I lacked: until you stole upon me,
Touching my eyelids with light finger-tips.
The trees blazed out, their colours whirled together,
Not ever before had I been aware of sky.
When I read this poem by Robert Graves, I had a vision flash in my head that was so full of imagery it gave me a headache. Sounds a bit silly but there it was. That one quick flash stayed with me for weeks and I started wondering about the poem’s characters. I was utterly fascinated with the idea of “knowing the diverse tastes of the wood”. It sounds so private and carnal. The fire in his eyes (I do think its a him), and the new way the world looked and smelled after this encounter. It intrigued and grabbed my attention.
Whenever I had a few moments, I started writing short sketches of the characters as I imagined them. Then I wrote a few short scenes to explore their world. It kept growing from there and its now about 10 rough chapters.
In the first scene I wrote, my main character, Neith, buys a cottage from her ex-boyfriend, Emrys. He stops by her newly acquired cottage and drops off a heavy envelope, telling her its part of the legacy of the house, the envelope and its contents now her responsibility. When she opens it, she finds a number of items, including an ancient pennanular pin. The piece was made of copper, the broken circle was a roughly formed Celtic braid. The pin had been wrought with more care and was clearly a raven. One wing flew high and hooked around the braid, securing the pin. The raven in flight filled the circle, his sharp beak ready to bite into a heavy woollen cloak.
This pin visual also stuck in my head and it slowly turned into “Raventwist” and I began my journey of rebranding “Rocky Mountain Dyeworks”.
I will be posting The Raven’s Story here, a new section every couple of weeks. Read along, send comments if you have any, and let me know what you think.