Lila Gets Stronger?

Lila lay in the blackness, listening for any sound at all. There were faint whisperings, but nothing she could identify. She tried moving her hands again and was encouraged when her fingers moved. But her arms still wouldn’t move and she couldn’t tell whether or not they were tied down. Her legs felt numb, so she couldn’t move those either, and her head felt heavy, hung-over. She still couldn’t remember where she was or how she got there. But there was a faint light somewhere on the periphery of her vision. Then suddenly, there was a wrenching sound and light flooded into the corners of her eyes.
“She’s awake.” Lila couldn’t tell if it was a male or female voice, and realized she must be wearing a blindfold as there was no light.
Hands pulled her into a sitting position, which she wasn’t able to hold very long before wobbling backwards. Strong hands gripped her and held her upright. She felt tugging at her wrists and ankles; she must have been tied. But the blindfold remained.
“If I untie you, don’t try to remove the blindfold. Okay?”
She nodded weakly and waited while the hands rubbed her wrists as feeling flooded into them. Pins and needles felt good after so much numbness. She tried to speak but nothing came out except a sharp strangled sound. She cleared her throat and tried again – still nothing.
“Shh. Don’t try to talk yet. The potion has to wear off for a while longer. Let me help you up.”
She thought there were two sets of hands lifting her up but couldn’t be sure. She must have spent a long time in the darkness and immobile; feeling hadn’t returned to all of her body yet. Her hands and feet still weren’t working 100%. Her head felt fuzzy and full of cotton. The light hurt her eyes so she tried to keep them closed. The person handling her was rough on her arms and legs – or perhaps it was just the feeling returning to her limbs. She felt sick and tired.
“I’m going to remove the blindfold now. Keep your eyes closed. I’ve closed the drapes so it’s dark. The light will hurt your eyes if it’s too bright.”
The voice sounded kind, but she couldn’t be sure if it was male or female. Once the blindfold was off, she cautiously opened her eyed. It was dim, and she could only see the outline of a person who seemed to be wearing a hood of some sort. His/her face was shadowed and undeterminate. The windows were covered with a dark material, and just a little light shone through a small opening around the edge of the top corners. She was guided to a chair and sank gratefully into the seat.

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Starting to Get Into the Groove

There was another knock at the door. Gina went to see who it was and saw a young women there. She didn’t look particularly threatening, but one never knew these days.
“Who is it?”
“Hi. My name is Margie. I live next door and saw you had cops here. Is everything okay? Is there anything I can do?”
Gina was silent. She was scared to open the door, but it was someone she could maybe talk to. She opened the door and let Margie in.
“Thanks for coming over. We haven’t lived here very long, but it’s nice to finally meet someone.”
Margie smiled. She was a stunning brunette with white even teeth and curly chestnut hair. One of those women who could look fantastic without much effort as soon as they rolled out of bed . Gina took her into the kitchen and offered coffee, which Margie accepted.
“So, Margie, have you lived here long?”
“Oh, a couple of years. I inherited the house when my parents died and moved in. It’s a nice neighborhood and everyone seems to be about our age.”
“You married?”
“No, you?”
“No. There never seemed to be time or the right person.”
“So what’s the neighborhood like? We’ve been here a couple of months but with finding jobs and moving in, we haven’t had time to socialize. But this seems like a quiet area. Is it new?”
“Yes. This street was the last one to be finished, and this house was the last one to be connected.”
That seemed rather an odd thing to say. Gina looked at Margie – “Connected? What does that mean?”
Margie seemed flustered. “Oh, you know, hooked up to electric and sewer and stuff. Hey, I gotta go. Is there anything you need?”
“No, I’m fine.”
Gina walked Margie to the door and watched her walk down the sidewalk to the other end of the street. That was certainly strange. So Margie had also inherited the house. And what did she mean connected? Gina didn’t think she meant utilities. This was all very strange. What was going on?

When Margie got back to her house, she knew she’d made a mistake. But she had been told to make friends with the newcomers. She just hadn’t done it soon enough it seemed. Having the police at the house wasn’t good for the neighborhood. She would have to come clean at the next meeting, although she was sure word was out already. Nothing got by the network.

Gina sat in the kitchen pondering this strange visit. She was sure Margie had messed up somehow, but couldn’t imagine what was going on. She decided to be more aware of activity on the street. It looked like she wouldn’t be going to work any time soon, so she would have to be more vigilant and pay attention. Perhaps she should vary her routine of walking to different times of the day so she didn’t become predictable. She was starting to feel scared again. She opened her laptop and started a search for security gates and windows. None of the other houses had them as best she could tell, but she wasn’t staying here without more security. Maybe a dog?

She found a company that promised fast service, and whose screens didn’t look like burglar bars. That would be ideal, she thought. She called them and made an appointment for that very afternoon. With nothing else to do, she turned on the TV and watched the noon news. A familiar face showed up on the screen – it looked like Lila but it couldn’t be. Why would she be on the news? Then she realized it was a plea to find her. But she didn’t remember giving the police a picture. This was becoming quite confusing! Then there was a picture of Margie, who was identified as the Neighborhood Watch Captain, although she had never mentioned that on her visit. Curiouser and curiouser, indeed. Gina turned off the news and started to think about lunch. She had planned to go grocery shopping on the way home from work today as there wasn’t much left in the house after the weekend. She gathered up her purse and car keys and headed to the garage, being careful to lock the house door behind her. Lila’s car sat there quietly staring at the wall in reproach as if Gina hadn’t done enough to find her owner. Gina sighed and plugged the motor back in before getting into her car and heading for the store.

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Lila Shows Up – Or Does She?

Lila opened her eyes but couldn’t see a thing. She tried to wave her hands in front of her face but couldn’t move them. Her head hurt and she couldn’t move anything. She screamed. At least she thought she did. But she couldn’t hear anything either. She frowned as she tried to remember where she was and how she got there. There was nothing – her mind was a blank. The darkness terrified her – she always slept with a night light. Ever since… No, that was so long ago and had nothing to do with this. She wished she could remember something, but she couldn’t.

Then there were voices. They sounded far away and muffled. She couldn’t even tell if they were male or female but she thought both. She tried to move; to make noise; to scream. All that did was make her head hurt more. So she lay still as tears leaked from her eyes and she understood she would die here unless someone rescued her. But no one knew where she was except the person who put her here. And she couldn’t remember that at all. The last thing she remembered was going to bed excited to start her new job the next day. What would they think when she didn’t show up? That would be just one more job she’d lost through no fault of her own. And what about Gina? She would be worried sick when she realized Lila was missing. She and Gina had been friends since Middle School, both of them misfits who had nothing in common with the rest of their class. Both had parents who were divorced. Both were close to being genius. Both loved classical music and appreciated the mathematical elegance of music. They had gone through Middle School, High School, and University together and had moved to the same city to take jobs in the same company. When Gina’s mother had died, she inherited the house and immediately convinced Lila to move with her to share the house and find a job here in Tucson. They had only been here two months and had finally landed jobs at the University but in different departments. Lila was excited about the opportunity to take more classes without having to scramble for the money to pay tuition and living expenses. And now here she was, in the dark, in pain, with no memory of what had happened. All that was left was for her to sleep and hope this was a huge nightmare.

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NaNo 2014

I’ve been MIA for a while dealing with a devastating cancer diagnosis. It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure. I didn’t participate in NaNo last year – too busy dealing with CT scans, and MRIs, and chemotherapy and the side effects thereof. So for right now, my cancer is sort of under control – sort of. I do have metastatic tumors now in my brain and spine that are being treated with radiation. And I’m trying to do NaNo again this year because I missed it. Here’s the beginning of this year’s WIP. Please bear in mind there has been no editing at all.

It began the same as any other day. Gina had no way of knowing that her whole world was about to be turned upside down. She turned off the alarm and went to the kitchen to turn on the coffeepot. On her way back to the bathroom, she knocked on her roommate’s door to remind her to get up. As she washed her face, she heard her roommate’s door open and close and thought Lila was actually getting up without protest. Gina looked in the mirror and examined her face for those fine lines and wrinkles they were always talking about on those TV commercials for anti-aging creams and didn’t see any. There was, however, a rather large pimple in the middle of her forehead. She sighed and thought she would have to remember to keep her bangs over her forehead today instead of sweeping them off to the side. As she stepped back, she took a critical look at herself and decided the years had been kind to her. Her reddish-brown hair had no grey yet, and her face was unlined. There were hints of crows feet next to her grey-green eyes that she would have to keep an eye on. She admired her button nose, the cleft in her chin, and the dimples in her cheeks when she smiled. She was a little overweight, but not enough to worry about. Her body was curvy in all the right places. Not bad. So why couldn’t she find a mate? She sighed again and turned to walk out of the bathroom. It was just then that she realized how quiet the house was. Lila was usually singing in the shower by now.

In the bedroom, she threw on sweatpants and t-shirt and laced up her sneakers ready for her morning walk. She saw Lila’s door was still closed, and there was no sound from the other bathroom whose door was wide open; no one was in there. She knocked on Lila’s door again as she headed for the kitchen. No one in the kitchen either. She unlocked the back door and made sure she had her keys before stepping onto the deck to admire the sunrise. The sky above was a beautiful shade of deep indigo with pink and purple tinged clouds. Off to the east, the sky had lightened to a deep turquoise with no clouds in sight. She heard a car in her street and walked around the corner of the house to see who it was. The cul-de-sac was usually quiet this early in the morning. A dark colored sedan was driving fast along the street. It wasn’t a vehicle she had seen before – one of the neighbors must have bought a new car or had visitors. Since her house was at the end of the cul-de-sac, she didn’t usually see who was coming and going on the street. She shrugged and took off down the street for her morning walk.

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More of my new WIP

Carys returned with a brace of rabbits over her shoulder. She and Essie made short work of skinning the creatures, chopping them up, and throwing them in the pot. Essie set the fire to roaring, and the pot was soon bubbling. The aroma made Essie realize how hungry she was, and it wasn’t long before they were feasting on the rabbit meat in a rich stew.

Darkness fell suddenly this far north, and Essie and Carys settled in for a long night. There was plenty of wood for the fire, so Essie stoked it high hoping it would last all night; she hated being cold. She and Carys sat talking late into the night, and Essie learned much about Plas Newydd.

“I used to think Plas Newydd was made up, Essie, until I found my way there. My mother and I went there when I was around 4 or 5, I think. My father had died and we couldn’t feed ourselves. Neither my mother nor I was a good hunter. We had heard the stories, too, but my mother was convinced it really existed. So off we went. My mother was good at finding things, so she knew she would be able to find Plas Newydd; she just didn’t know how she would get across to Mona. She had heard the stories, of course, that it was possible to walk across at low tide, and that sailing across was dangerous because of the currents.  I know there are whirlpools there, dangerous ones that will swallow up a ship in no time.

“It is like nothing you have ever seen, Essie. And women, and men, who have gifts of magic are always welcome there. Many of us have nowhere else to go; we are orphans, widowed, or found it necessary to leave our homes for safety’s sake. I hope you will feel at home there.”

“I don’t know. How are my gifts magic? I just know how to use herbs.”

“And how did you know those cows and sheep had eaten poison, Essie? Did you see them eat it? Did you know what the symptoms of poisoning are?”

Essie looked puzzled. “No, I just knew.”

“And what other things did you just know, Essie? That is a form of magic, too, the knowing, isn’t it?”

“Oh! I suppose it is.” Essie smiled a big smile. “So perhaps I will fit in at Plas Newydd, after all.”

“And I think you have other gifts you know nothing about yet. But you know strange things have happened to you; and you have strange dreams that frighten you. Once at Plas Newydd, there will be women who can help you channel those dreams and interpret them. The dreams can help you find your way.

“But we must sleep now. We have a long way to walk tomorrow; unless you know how to fly?”

“No, not yet. But I intend to learn how!” Essie said with a smile.

Carys laughed and hugged Essie, who suddenly began crying. It was the first gentle touch she remembered in a long time. Carys held her and petted her until there were no more tears, and there were tears in Carys’ own eyes as she thought about the loneliness that Essie had endured over the last year.

“Essie. I am so sorry you had to endure alone for so long. I would have come sooner, but was delayed leaving Mona. Now I am sure I was delayed on purpose.”

“On purpose? What do you mean?” 

“I mean, Essie, that someone, or something, didn’t want you to be found by us. That entity wanted you to stay hidden from us.”

“Now you’re scaring me, Carys! Who is this person?”

“I don’t know. I only know that whenever we find someone who has the capacity to be our new leader, difficulties arise. There have been storms blowing ships off course, carriages disappearing, never to be found. Mostly it has been storms at sea, though, so I think we will be safe, for now.

“But don’t worry, Essie, whatever is worrying us will stop as soon as we reach Plas Newydd. We are always safe there.

“Now, sleep.”

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More of Animal Magick

“Hello, child, I’ve been waiting for you.”

The voice was female, and the girl was wary. She didn’t know this woman who was cloaked and hooded.

“It’s alright, Essie, I’m not going to hurt you. We heard you had come and I was appointed to visit you and talk to you.”

The girl named Essie was wary – how did this person know her name? How did she know where she was? And who was she talking about? Some of her indecision showed on her face.

“My name is Carys. We knew you were here because we’ve seen you hunting. I followed you last time you checked your traps, so we knew where you lived. I have been charged with bringing you to our stronghold, but you must come of your own free will.

“We are a community of women; healers, women who know herbs and medicine; some of us know magick, and some of us know the language of the four-leggeds. We have many skills and gifts, and we offer sanctuary to other women who have been cast out or have left to avoid death.

“Will you join us?”

Essie was silent. She had heard rumors of a castle on Ynys Mon, where witches lived. The rumors said that only a witch could see the castle; and anyone else who stumbled upon it would be doomed for all eternity to wander the land and never be happy. She didn’t believe the rumors; they were silly superstitions.

“Where is this community you speak of?”

“On Ynys Mon. But you knew that. You have heard of Plas Newydd, haven’t you? It isn’t true that only witches can see the castle, for some of the women in our community have no magic and no gifts other than the gift of growing things, or of cooking, or music or dance, and so many other gifts, Essie. You could join us and no longer freeze here in your mean hut.”

“But how will we cross the sea to the island? The tides are treacherous; I have seen many boats come to grief on the rocks there.”

“We will walk across at low tide.”

“Walk across? Now I know you must be either crazy or a witch! It isn’t possible to walk across; the water is too deep, we will drown!”

“No, we won’t, Essie. I have made the crossing many times. It is true the water is deep in areas, but I know where the shallows run, and if we time it correctly, we will cross with nothing more than our feet and legs wet.”

Essie was skeptical, but thought she had nothing to lose. If she stayed here, she would starve or freeze over the winter, or both. And she couldn’t go back to the village now. She had been gone almost a year, and she was sure that everybody thought she was dead by now; going back would prove to everyone that she must be a witch to have survived in the forest.

“Alright. I have nothing to lose anyway. When do we leave?”

“At first light tomorrow. It will take some time to go to the correct place, and the sooner we get started the better. There will be a full moon tonight, so the high tide will be treacherous .

“How much wood did you gather? And what about meat? Do you have any? We will need our strength to make the crossing.”

“My traps have been empty for several days; I have no meat. There is some broth and vegetables in the pot, but not much.”

Carys went back inside the hut and looked in the pot. Essie had followed her in. “Not enough for both of us, Essie. Stay here, I will find something.” Carys strode off into the forest.

Essie looked around the hut. There was nothing here she would miss. Once her parents had died, she had been taken in by her mother’s sister, Dilys, who had warned her not to show anyone else her gifts. She had found out that all the women in her family had a gift; her mother had been a seer and Dilys was a diviner. Both women had been careful to keep their gifts secret; they had seen what would happen to those who didn’t. Dilys had left the village more than a year ago, shortly before Essie left. She said she was going to find a better place to live; Essie hoped she had found what she was looking for. In the meantime, she had managed as best she could, until the witchcraft episode when she had to leave.

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New WIP

This is my new WIP that I started during NaNo this year. The tentative title is “The Divine Sisterhood of Animal Magick” but that really doesn’t fit any more; things went in a totally different direction once I started writing. So for now, there isn’t a title.🙂

 

The hut was cold when the girl opened her eyes. She shivered in the pre-dawn chill; the fire had gone out during the night and the thin cover she had wasn’t enough to keep her warm. She pulled the cover closer around her body as she rose and pushed aside the skin covering the door. The full moon was setting and half below the horizon, and the eastern sky was barely a pearly gray as the sun made its way up the sky. She went to the midden pile to empty her bladder, shivering the whole time. The wood pile was low but that would have to wait. She grabbed what she could and went back inside to make a new fire. Soon, the chill was gone from the hut as the fire blazed up. The girl sat in front of the fireplace and warmed herself as she stared into the flames. Soon, the pot would be warm and she would have a hot meat to help warm her. Then she must find some warmer covers; she knew that winter would be colder than usual; all the signs were there. But she had been cast out of the village for telling the signs. They called her a witch and said she had caused the sheep to die in giving birth. She tried to tell them that the sheep and cows had eaten poisonous plants, but they said she had bewitched them out of jealousy. So she left in the middle of the night and went far into the woods. She knew the villagers wouldn’t follow her here into the oak groves because they believed demons lived here.

As soon as it was light, she set off into the forest to gather more wood. She had made a sled of sorts out of long poles and skins. The firewood piled on there would last quite a while. Now she needed a hide to keep her warm; it was time to check the traps. None of the traps yielded anything, and she thought perhaps she had waited too late in the season. As she headed for home, snow began to fall in big, wet, flakes. Once she reached the hut, she could tell at once that someone had been there. She dropped the rope to her sled, and dropped to the ground, her eyes scanning all around. There was no movement, so she began to circle the hut keeping hidden in the trees. Again, there was no movement, and no sign of life, but she knew someone had been there and perhaps still was. She approached the hut, knife at the ready, and pulled aside the skin over the door. She jumped back as she saw movement inside the hut. A figure came out of the hut and stood watching her.

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