Chill – #writephoto

Uwin, the small man who would train Ladd to be a wizard, walked through the door that connected the grocery shop and the living quarters with a sack in his hands. He told the boy he was going to prepare their evening meal, then they were going to bed. They’d had a very long walk over the last two days from Ladd’s village of Farnsworth and tomorrow was the first day of Ladd’s apprenticeshp in wizardry and shopkeeping. Uwin felt he should get a good night’s rest. 

Uwin went to the fireplace to cook and when he opened the sack, Ladd gasped. He had never seen such a feast. In the country, the peasants, like Ladd’s family, lived on wild meat. Since Uwin ran a grocery shop, he had access to meat like beef and lamb. In the sack, there was beef for dinner, which Ladd had never eaten. Uwin also had leeks and peas and even fruit. In his sack, he had strawberries. Uwin cooked the beef and fixed the leeks and peas together. He served them with a loaf of crusty bread. They had the strawberries at the end of their meal. 

“Uwin, such good food. I’ve never eaten like this in my whole life,” Ladd remarked.

“There are benefits to being a grocer in the city, Ladd. Even in the country. You have access to better food because you have rich people like the Lords, or in the case of London, the Royals, who will buy from you.”

Ladd thought to himself that being a shopkeeper might not be so bad after all. Shortly, the two fell into their beds for the night.

Uwin woke Ladd up before dawn the next day. As Ladd was washing up, he asked Uwin what he would be doing that day. Uwin walked into the shop and simply told Ladd to meet him there wearing his oldest, dirtiest clothes. Puzzled, Ladd dressed and met Uwin in the shop. Uwin was getting the goods in the shop ready for the day.

“Ladd, today, you will clean the store. First, you will take all the meat that is hanging in the window out of the window. It has gotten old during my trip to your village. You will discard it in the back of the shop. We have a delivery of fresh meat due today, which you will hang in the window after you clean it. As you have time today, you will clean the shelves that the goods sit on. That will help you familiarize yourself with the products I sell. Most of the products are grocery products that everyone needs. Some of the products, most behind the counter, are specialized products for witches and wizards. You’ll gradually learn what they are and what they are used for. Do you understand my instructions?”

“Yes, Uwin, I do.”

“Let’s get to work. I will tell you when we can take a lunch break. If you have any questions, ask me.”

Ladd started hauling the meat out of the window and putting it behind the shop. It was raining, a cold spring rain in London. It was cold, wet work. When he got the last side of meat out to the back, he noticed a group of children standing back watching him. As he walked away, the children ran up to the meat and started dragging it away. He went back into the shop. Uwin wasn’t busy at that moment.

“Uwin, who are those children and why are they dragging away that meat?”

“Those are the orphan children that live on the streets of London. They take that meat to the place they live and the adults who also live on the street cook it,” Uwin replied.

“They don’t have any parents?” Ladd asked.

“Something has happened to their parents or they’ve been abandoned.”

Ladd didn’t say anymore, but he suddenly felt very lucky that he had his family and, now, Uwin. He began to clean out the window where the meat hung. It was hard, dirty work. 

Ladd heard the door of the shop open. He felt a sudden chill come over him. It wasn’t from the cold weather. He’d never felt anything like it before. It was like his body was freezing into a statue. His eyes were drawn up and he saw a girl who was a little older than he was. She had on a long brown, wool tunic with brown hair wrapped around her head in a braid. Their eyes locked and for the first time in Ladd’s life, he felt the flickering of his powers as a wizard. Something magical passed between them. They knew each other and Ladd realized not only did he have magical powers, but she did too. They stared at each other for a moment and it was she who broke the connection. Shaking her head, she walked to the grocery counter where Uwin stood watching both of them. 

The magical girl knew Uwin. They greeted each other by name as Ladd watched. Ladd heard Uwin call her Joyful. 

Joyful went about the business of picking out some grocery items as Ladd watched. Some flour, beans, onions, and turnips. Then, she went to Uwin and finished her order by adding some items from behind the counter. Ladd couldn’t see what they were, but he knew he would ask Uwin later. As Joyful left the shop, she dropped her eyelids and didn’t look at Ladd again. 

As Ladd worked in the shop, he felt different after his encounter with Joyful. He had so many questions. Was he becoming a wizard? How did it happen? What just happened with Joyful? He would talk with Uwin. 

It got too busy in the shop for Ladd to do much thinking. He kept feeling flashes of that same chill within him that he felt when Joyful had walked into the shop. He felt like her presence had somehow changed him.

That afternoon, there were meat deliveries. Women brought in eggs to sell to Uwin. There were deliveries of the staples in barrels like flour, cornmeal, and beans. In between deliveries, Ladd kept on cleaning. He and Uwin only had time to grab a piece of dried meat for lunch that day.

Dusk came and Uwin closed the shop. Even though Ladd was tired, the day had flown for him. He had learned a lot about the products Uwin sold in the shop, both food products and hardware. The shop had been busy all day. It was the neighborhood grocery and Uwin had been closed for a few days while he came to fetch Ladd. People from the neighborhood were catching up on their shopping. After the shop closed, Uwin and Ladd went back to the living quarters and Uwin cooked their dinner. They discussed how much Ladd had learned that day about the shop, its products, and being a shopkeeper. While they were eating, Ladd decided to share his experience when Joyful came into the shop with Uwin.

“Uwin, do you remember when that girl came into the shop early this morning? You called her Joyful.”

“Oh yes. Joyful shops here regularly. What about it?” Uwin asked.

“Something strange happened to me when I saw her, Uwin.”

Uwin’s head snapped up and he peered intensely at the boy.

“What happened, Ladd?”

“When she walked in the shop, I felt a chill in my bones. I got so cold I felt I would freeze solid. We looked at each other and something odd happened between us. I can’t explain it, but it was like we knew each other.”

Uwin leaned back in his chair and sighed. 

“I’m sorry that happened without you being prepared, Ladd. I wanted you to have more time here before I had to tell you this.”

“Tell me what, Uwin?”

“Finish your dinner, Ladd. Then I have a story to tell you.”

Ladd finished his dinner as Uwin paced around the room with Cat on his heels. It was like Cat already knew the story and was worried. 

After the boy had eaten, Uwin told him to get comfortable and he would tell him a story.

“A long time ago, Ladd, in the days of the old King, William the Conquerer, there was a witch, a beautiful witch, who was a member of his court. Some thought William was a great King. Others did not. Your great-grandmother, through a series of events that are not important now, ended up serving at his pleasure. She was a secret member of his court, but not a well-kept secret. He depended on her greatly. 

Ladd interrupted Uwin.

“What did my great-grandmother do? Which side of my family was she on? You said she was a witch?”

Uwin continued, “She was your mother’s grandmother, Ladd. She had tremendous powers. Her name was Eleanor and she will always be remembered in England. Eleanor had a daughter, Elizabeth, who was also a witch, but Elizabeth did not practice witchcraft. Your mother, Knowledge, was born of Elizabeth.”

“Is my mother also a witch, Uwin?” Ladd asked.

“Knowledge has the power of a witch, Ladd, but she has never practiced witchcraft. Do you now see why the Grand Wizard choose you to be the wizard for your village? You have a history of sorcery and, apparently you also have the power or you wouldn’t have reacted to Joyful today. This is a good thing, my boy. You will be easy to train as a wizard.” 

That night, Ladd sat awake on his cot for a long time. It was all too much to take in. Since a wizard was his calling, he had to take this in and fast. He missed his family. They would have helped him.

Uwin also was awake for a long time that night. He’d had to give Ladd too much information too soon. He hoped the boy was mature enough to handle it.

an excerpt….

Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2019

Thanks, Sue!!

Shimmer – #writephoto

On Ladd’s family’s first night at their hut after he left for London to apprenticeship with the small man, there was a sense of emptiness, but a lot of activity. Archer and Knowledge knew Mercy would be inconsolable without her brother. Archer arranged, with Lord Percival, to provide Mercy with a small spaniel dog to be her companion. He brought home the puppy that night. Mercy was wild with pleasure but only after she had talked with Knowledge who reassured her that Ladd would be home and would still be her brother. Mercy didn’t mention her encounter with her betrothed, Smith, to her mother.

While Mercy played with her new puppy, Knowledge took Archer aside since they needed to have a conversation. About that time, Smith, Mercy’s betrothed, walked up and asked to speak with Archer. Archer agreed and Knowledge withdrew to the hut, feeling as if she and her husband never had a moment to speak in private.

“Archer, I would like to speak to you about Mercy,” Smith began.

“What about her, Smith?”

“I know she is dreadfully upset that Ladd has gone off to make his way. I would like to help her. I would like to go ahead and seal our union, marry Mercy,” Smith said.

Archer stared at the younger man for a few seconds and then said, “Smith, I know you are from a different land, but our custom in Farnsworth is for our young girls to remain betrothed for a year or even two. Mercy is too young and inexperienced to marry. You’ve only been betrothed a few months.”

There was something about Archer that made Smith not question him.

Archer went on, “I’m still raising Mercy. She’s only a child. I think I can comfort her quite well. Now, good evening.”

Archer turned and walked toward the hut and Smith had no choice but to leave. He was very unhappy. Archer told Mercy to bring her new puppy and come in with him since it was her bedtime. He had prepared a bed for the puppy by Mercy’s bed, much to her delight.

After Mercy went to bed, Knowledge told Archer she had to speak with him and he agreed. They went outside the hut and sat down in two chairs Knowledge always kept there for the family or guests.

“Archer, our family is about to expand.”

Archer looked at Knowledge quizzically.

“What do you mean?”

“I am with child, probably about three or four months along, Archer.”

“Knowledge,” Archer cried out. “How wonderful! I had thought our family was probably complete.”

“I’m so glad you’re happy about it. I was afraid you’d be upset,” Knowledge said.

“I am overcome with happiness, my love,” Archer said.

Knowledge, being very relieved, told Archer there was something else she needed to discuss.

“It’s been years since we’ve discussed this, Archer. There has been no reason until now…..and Ladd. Do you remember my grandmama? You met her and we talked about her.”

Archer laughed and said, “You mean one of the most famous witches ever to live in England? How could I possibly forget your Grandmama? You also got your beauty from her.”

“Thank you, Archer. I don’t think you’re quite making the connection.”

Before Archer could speak, there was a roll of thunder and the air shimmered in front of them. There, in the shimmer, was a beautiful old woman smiling at the couple.

“Hello my darling granddaughter.”

“Grandmama, you’ve come to visit,” Knowledge cried.

“Only for a moment. My powers are not what they used to be. I have to make things clear to your young man.”

“Hello, Archer. Is your head made of wood, my son? Ladd has just felt the calling to be a sorcerer. What, pray tell, am I?”

Archer said, “Because you were a witch…..is that why……I see…..that’s why Ladd was chosen?”

“It’s in his heritage, in his genes,” the old woman replied. “Of course it’s why he was chosen. He already has the power. He just doesn’t know it.”

Her image was fading and she quickly said goodbye and was gone.

Knowledge remarked, laughing, “I can’t believe she can still do that. She has been dead for so long now.”

“Now I understand about Ladd,” Archer said.

An excerpt

Thank you, Sue!

Cheep, A Serial, Number 5

Number 5:

Lucy hung up the phone. She had been talking to her sister who was flying down to join her for some sister time at the beach. Her bedroom was on the second level of the beach house, but she could still see the man who had sat down beside her over top of the dunes. He was leaving to walk on down the beach as she had seen him do every day. She’d had so much on her mind that she had scarcely noticed him. She was surprised he had stopped to talk and embarrassed he had seen her crying.

Amelia, her older sister, had called to make the final arrangements for her visit to the beach. She was going to spend a week with Lucy there. They were both looking forward to their time together. Amelia and Lucy had gotten to spend little time together as adults. They were six years apart in age and had led different lives. This was their chance to reconnect, although interruptions they hadn’t counted on were going to interfere. Lucy had already been at the beach house for three days alone. Her husband and other guests were going to soon all arrive in the space of two days.

First, Lucy’s daughter, Marie, and her husband, Adam, were flying in on the same day as Amelia. The next day, Gary, Lucy’s husband would arrive. Lucy was looking forward to spending time at the beach with everyone except Gary.

She and Gary had been arguing for days. During one of their arguments, Gary had changed his flight and, instead of arriving when she did, he expected her to stay at the beach house alone for several days. She had to drive almost 600 miles to get there. She had to do it alone. It was right in the middle of Hurricane Irma and that monster storm was going to be making landfall in South Florida as she drove and when she arrived at their panhandle beach house. Lucy had envisioned heavy traffic and even bad weather.

Everything turned out all right on her drive. She stopped and spent one night on the road and went on the next day. It was lonely in the beach house. She had taken the opportunity to do some thinking since she got there. Her relationship with Gary had not been good for over a year. Really for two years. She had been considering divorce. When Ed Gillespie found her sitting below the dunes, that subject was on her mind.

Lucy Hammonds was a beautiful woman. Blonde hair, flawless skin, a killer smile, and those azure eyes. She looked much younger than her 60 years of age.

Cheep, A Serial, Number 4

Number 4:

Ed sat there for a few moments. He had been aware that she was very attractive, but he couldn’t really describe her because he was captivated by those azure blue eyes. She was troubled. He didn’t think she had smiled except when she had introduced herself and only a little then. He didn’t even know the color of her hair. She had seemed laser-focused on whatever was hurting her inside, a bad marriage apparently. He looked back at the beach house, but he saw no sign of her. He didn’t know she was lying on her bed watching him as she spoke to someone on the phone.

Ed got up from the sand dune, dusted himself off, and continued on his walk. He wondered if he’d ever see her again. If she was a creature of habit, she’d be out in the same spot on the beach the next day, gazing at the Gulf or crying. Perhaps both. He hoped she would find peace. He continued his walk down the beach. As he returned to his beach house, she was nowhere to be seen.

Cheep, A Serial, Number 3

Number 3:

Ed sat down but not too close to her. He felt like, if he did, she’d run off like a wild thing. The two of them just stared out at the ocean for a moment or two.

Finally, Ed introduced himself. He held out his hand.

“I’m Ed, Ed Gillespie.”

She seemed to have to screw up her courage. She finally took his hand and said, “I’m Lucy. Lucy Hammonds. I’m staying in the beach house right behind us.”

“Lucy, if you don’t mind me asking, would you like to talk? I’m just an old guy who has been around the block a few times. I don’t know why such a beautiful woman sits here day after day crying her eyes out, but if I could offer any wisdom or just be a sounding board, I’d be glad to do so.”

Then he smiled at her. Ed had a very engaging smile. He still felt like a dope. He just made this big speech to a total stranger who was sitting here crying. Why should she want to talk to him?

Lucy gave him a soft smile back.

“I’m here alone, Ed, and I’m lonely and scared. I have a big problem. You see, I think I want to divorce my husband.”

Ed thought to himself that he should get up and leave right that second. He’d had his share of relationships in his life, including a marriage. Some of those relationships were with women just like Lucy, either just prior to or just after they were divorced. Those relationships were nothing but trouble. Somehow, Lucy seemed different or maybe it was because she was beautiful. Ed was a sucker for a beautiful woman.

“I’ll have to tell you, Lucy, that I’m probably not the best person to give relationship advice. But, what do you mean that you only think you want a divorce?”

“Ed, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. One year for sure. Probably even two years. I’m afraid.”

“Everyone who contemplates divorce is afraid, Lucy, but what are you afraid of, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid no one will ever find me attractive again and that I’ll never again find love.”

Ed was disarmed by her honesty. At that moment, her phone rang. She got up and ran into her beach house, leaving him sitting against the sand dune.

Cheep, A Serial, Number 2

Number 2:

Ed Gillespie, the old, retired private investigator, walked up and down the beach on the Gulf of Mexico every day. There may have been the biggest hurricane ever spotted brewing just off the Atlantic coast of Florida, but no one knew it in the Panhandle. The water was azure, reflecting the color of the sky. The only hint of trouble ahead was more wind than usual.

East of his beach house, Ed saw the same woman every day. She sat with her back to the dunes, just beyond the sea grass, facing the Gulf. Some days, she gazed out at the water, looking haunted, as if she saw nothing. Other days, her head was hanging down and she held her hands over her face. He assumed she was crying. On the days he could see her face, he saw that she was beautiful. It wasn’t difficult to see pain on her face and see that she was also troubled. There was something vulnerable about her and he longed to stop and ask if he could help. Thinking of the women who had burned him in the past had stopped him so far.

Today was different. He glanced at her as he neared her place in the sand and she was looking at him. He could have sworn that her eyes reflected the azure of the water. He found himself walking over to her.

“Hi,” he said, “I see you sitting here almost every day. I thought I’d stop and say hello. I’m Ed and I’m staying two beach houses down the beach.”

He felt foolish. As he gazed at her, he saw the tracks of tears on her face.

“Hello,” she gulped, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t expecting anyone to stop by. I’ve been crying.”

She was hastily trying to wipe away her tears.

“I don’t suppose I could help? I have a pretty good set of shoulders,” Ed remarked, “Would you mind if I sat down?”

She just stared at him.

“Look, I’m not a serial killer or anything. Just a guy taking some time off.”

“Sure,” she said. “Sit.”

 

Cheep: A Serial

Number 1:

CHEEP!

PROLOGUE

Cheep! Cheep! Lucy’s eyes flew open. She listened for a minute. It was the smoke detector. The battery was dying. She was trying to sleep.

Lucy was alone. Gary, her husband, had sent her to the beach house days ahead of him. He had insisted. The smoke alarm was high up on the arch of the cathedral ceiling. She couldn’t reach it. She laid there and tried to ignore it. That incessant cheeping.

Lucy heard another noise. She got up and grabbed her handbag. Her Smith and Wesson was in it. As she stepped out on the balcony to listen, she was grabbed from behind.

When her husband arrived three days later, all he found were her old beach sneakers beside the bed.