26 Feb 2014

Worth your salt: Open mic session

Hello,

About a month ago I (along with many others i'm sure) enterd the 'Worth Your Salt' Open mic competition hosted by Hazel & Wren.

Today the results were announced, and although I was not the winner or a runner upperer, I was very pleased to see that a FB friend was. I wasn't surprised as I myself am a fan of his writing and he is truly talented. You can check out his work here. So stop by an congratulate Mr Eric Martell!

All that being said, I haven't been put off sharing the story with you, and I hope you like it at least a little bit!. So pour yourself a glass of wine or a large cup of tea and get comfy...

The Imagineers

She was tall and thin, with watery eyes and fishbelly white skin. 

Shona sat up bolt right in the hammock and it gave a little wobble as her centre of gravity was shifted for a moment, she read the line again.

 She was tall and thin, with watery eyes and fishbelly white skin. 

Shona was almost at the halfway point of the novel, a book that once belonged to her grandmother, and until this point the author had been elusive with the characters physical descriptions. Shona had happily taken it upon herself to decide on the leading lady’s appearance.

In chapter one, she had imagined a girl very similar in appearance to her; average height, generous curves, rich cocoa brown eyes, a small delicate pink pout, long loose caramel curls and a sprinkling of freckles, but by chapter six she was convinced that Anthoria fit the stereotype she had in her mind of a warrior queen; petite but strong, with defined muscles and a feisty attitude, a creamy complexion and flame red hair that flailed behind her leaving men quaking with both excitement and fear in her wake.  She read the line again.

She was tall and thin, with watery eyes and fishbelly white skin. 

Shona turned the book over and over in her hands, gently caressing the cover as she recalled her grandmother.

Earlier that year her grandmother had been taken seriously ill, the doctors said she had contracted an ‘unknown virus’ and they were stumped at how to cure it. Shona and her mother had visited her daily hoping she would show signs of improvement but it was all in vain as her condition deteriorated.

It was during one of these visits that Shona’s grandmother asked to speak with her alone. Shona sat in the chair beside her and watched as her chest rose and fell, a breeze like wheeze as she inhaled that transformed into a sharp crackle on exhale.  Her grandmother had lifted a pale wispy hand and beckoned Shona to move closer. She tenderly took her hand in hers and leaned in to brush away a stray hair from her eyes. Her grandmother’s eyes were as blue as a clear sky on a frosty morning and shone as clear as crystal, and as her grandmother spoke, Shona felt her heart sag and a lump form in her throat. She didn’t like to see her this way; her grandmother had always been so vibrant, so full of energy and so mischievous. She fought back the tears as her grandmother smiled up at her.

“Come Shona, let me impart a little wisdom to you before I… before I have to leave…”
She clung tighter to the woman’s hand, “Oh! Grandmother, you aren’t going anywhere. I won’t let you.” Her voice faltered.
“Now, now Shona, it’s going to be fine. You’ll see me again… Somewhere.”

Shona shook her head, she didn’t like to hear her talk of dying like this, it scared her and knowing she couldn’t help in any way made her feel  wretched and the tears she had struggled to hold back tumbled effortlessly down her cheeks.

“Come, lie beside me and let me tell you of your inheritance…”
“Huh?! Inheritance? I don’t want anything, really grandmother, you must rest.”
“I will, soon enough, so indulge an old woman for a moment dear.” She paused to catch her breath as it scratched along her oesophagus.

Shona lay beside her grandmother, resting her head on her shoulder as she had done as a small child, and waited for her to begin.

“Many moons ago, our family, were ancient wood nymphs… “
Shona glanced at her grandmother.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that, I‘m not delusional!”
“Wood nymphs?” asked Shona incredulously.
“Yes, wood nymphs. In those days, we had special abilities; as keepers of the sacred woodlands, we protected them and all that lived there, we were part of it, the blood running through our veins ran through their roots, it was a magical time and we had a special connection; we could transport ourselves from woodland to woodland with a single thought.”

Shona smiled, she had always loved the stories her grandmother told her, she thought about stopping her to say she was confusing fantasy with reality but the child in her wanted to hear more.

“Our ancestor’s abilities have been passed down through the generations, some have faded, others have morphed into something more, but these days we really only have one ability remaining. It’s my favourite one.”

“What is it?!” blurted Shona unable to stop herself from asking.
“I’ll tell you, you have it and you’ll never know a dull day again.”
Shona trusted her grandmother but this couldn’t be real.
“Do you want to know what it is?”

Shona nodded as her curiosity got the better of her.

“We can transport ourselves through worlds. Anything that is written or printed on paper or wood provides a destination and a gateway which we can pass through. For example; if you see a heart carved into a tree, you can close your eyes and imagine being there when it was created and there you will be, or maybe you are reading a book and it is so magnificent that you just want to be transported to that moment, well you can close your eyes and imagine yourself there and there you will be.”
The story was starting to get a little more preposterous now and Shona was concerned by the lengthening of the silence between the beeps on the hospital monitor.

“Grandmother, have you taken your medication?”
“Oh dear Shona, I am telling you the truest thing I have ever told a soul. Now let me finish…where was I…”
“Hmmm”
“When an author writes a book, they create a land, events and characters that come to life in their imagination or dreams, they believe they have created them, but these are visions they are having, they are seers and all these places and events and characters really do exist in alternate universes. Some stories are so fearsome or farfetched that people assume that they are make-believe, but they’re real…I’ve seen them.”
“I don’t know, I mean, it seems so…so…impossible to …so fantastical that it can’t be true?  I mean alternate universes? Transporting from here to there in just a thought?”
“Here Shona” and her grandmother placed a small golden bookmark in the palm of her hand.
“Always keep this with you Shona. All you need is this and your imagination; wherever you place it in the book is the point in the story when you will return to this world, you can transport to any point before then, just close your eyes and imagine the scene and you will be there. There is magic in the pages of every book and you hold the key to access that. “
“I think you might need some rest”
“Just try it Shona, but make sure that you DO NOT INTERACT with any people in those worlds, it can change the story and move the bookmark, and what is done cannot be undone, where do you think I got this virus from?”

Shona looked at the bookmark glistening in her hand; etched on the back was ‘the imagineers’.

Less than a week later her grandmother had died and her words left treading water in Shona’s mind. When they had collected her grandmothers things from the hospital, Shona had noticed a book lying on the top of the pile, it was called ‘Janmera, home of Anthoria’, and something about the lettering and the aged cover fascinated her.

"Mum, is it ok if I take this book to read?"
"Of course Shona, take whatever you want, she would have liked you to have it."

The novel had her gripped from the start, within a moment of opening the book she had been whisked off into a fantastical world of conspiracy and espionage all set against the backdrop of an ancient land of matriarchal rule. The characters bounced off the pages and she felt as if they were talking directly to her, how she longed to lead a battle against the agents of Leothorn and release the Anthorians from their stronghold, how she longed to sit by the fire and hear tales of great feats told by the most majestic of all storytellers, and how she longed to help the young prince avenge his families death, and with the turn of each page she was reminded of her grandmothers words.

She was tall and thin, with watery eyes and fishbelly white skin. 

Shona would have liked to have seen, Queen Anthoria of Janmera, for herself. If her grandmothers story was true then she knew she wanted to experience a little of Janmera for herself and if it wasn’t hen she would still have the book to read and would still be lying on the hammock in the midday sun. She laughed nervously, a combined emotion of silliness and hope as she placed the bookmark at Chapter 7. Shona closed her eyes, lay back in the hammock, and tried to picture the very first scene in the book as Anthoria entered the great hall of Janmera and took her place on the throne.

The hall glowed with the light of a thousand candles, their warmth tinging the cheeks of those in attendance as the light danced off the ceremonial robes as those gathered awaited their queen. The guests shuffled around the hall trying to choose the most advantageous spot they could, taking milling about to new levels, and the musicians played even though the delicate notes were being smothered by the guttural sounds of the hunters, the smell of testosterone was overwhelming and Shona’s breathing became shallow as she imagined herself there…

To the left of the throne and several rows back, Shona struggled to get a good look as her view of the queen was obscured by the man in front of her. She swayed slightly on the balls of her feet in an attempt to catch a glimpse. Shona was almost tempted to tap the shoulder of the man and request that he shove over a bit but she knew the rules, she should move wraith like through the story as though hidden by the shadow of the narrator.

A hush fell over the great hall and everyone knelt in servitude to their ruler, Shona saw her chance, held her breath and ever so slowly raised her head for one quick look at the queen, her curiosity such that she had to see the queen’s fishbelly white skin.

“YOU! YOU who dares lay their eyes upon me”

Shona kept her eyes firmly fixed on the ground, repeating mantra-like I must not interact I must not interact I must not interact. She told herself that it might not even be her who the queen was speaking to.

“I SAID YOU!” the queens’ voice echoed throughout the hall. “You refuse to answer your queen?”
Shona was scared to look and feared that would get her in more trouble, so she kept her eyes down and hoped it wasn’t her. Two black boots with steel toe caps appeared in her line of sight. There was no getting away from it, the queen had meant her.

“Are you challenging me Shona?”
“How do you know my name?” she managed to mumble not daring to look up.

She felt a cold hand under her chin as it tilted her head and she met the eyes of the queen. Shona couldn’t look away, a golden halo around Anthoria’s face from the light that danced off her fishbelly white skin.

“You’re the holder of my fate Shona. Let us waste not a moment more” and Queen Anthoria handed Shona a dagger made from a single shard of glass. A kaleidoscope of colour, as the light passed through the blade, sat eerily on the queen’s face and Shona shuddered as she looked into the queens now watery eyes.
 ************************

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