Saturday, January 29, 2011

...sleep, perchance to dream

"That's not the direction I'd go in, were I you - which I'm not."

I stopped, my foot already at a turn in the road that led down to a sunlit valley. The voice, coming from behind me and to the right, was clear, low-pitched and warm.

I turned to face her. She was sitting, this young woman who had seemingly materialized out of a light mist, atop a granite boulder.

Bright green eyes regarded me out of a pale face that was framed by dark auburn hair. Her lips were also pale and curved into a slight smile.

She was dressed in a shapeless smock, that was not shapeless on her.

I looked down to where her foot peeped out beneath her hem and frowned. Her foot was slim, perfectly formed, and bare.

I nodded at her foot. "You don't seem to be prepared for any direction, so far as I can tell."

Her smile broadened and she shrugged. My eye caught the gentle swaying beneath her smock.

"You go where you will," she said. "You needn't concern yourself about me." She leapt lightly from the rock and looked at me, her head cocked to one side.

"Should you meet a river, wherever you go, careful not to get your feet wet. You'll die."

With that she spun on her heel and was lost to my sight behind the boulder.

I stood, watching for her a long moment, and then turned and mounted the stile leading over the stone wall in front of me. I shook my head once, remembering there had been a road, and now there wasn't, and continued on my way.

The light mist thickened, rolling in waves before me. It began to feel cold. After a while, walking along sheep paths through heather, I thought I heard water.

Sure enough, a mere ten paces on, I found a rock-strewn river flowing in front of me.

"Too wide to jump across," I said to myself, measuring by eye. I looked right and left. "No ford for crossing either."

I looked at the rocks sticking up out of the fast-flowing water. As children we had played in such rivers, leaping from rock to rock, like sure-footed goats.

I snorted with laughter. "I'm called stubborn as a goat now, not sure-footed."

I shrugged. Nothing for it but to try. I stepped onto the nearest rock, leapt to the next, and the next. Remembering the woman't warning, I tried to keep my feet dry.

Disaster struck, and I but two short jumps from the other bank. The rock I landed on tilted, as some had when I was a child. And, as happened when I was a child, I fell in.

The cold shocked me, my clothes soaking up water like dry sponges. My shoulder struck a rock, my hip struck bottom. I laughed. I'd fallen into about two feet of water. I'd not die of this.

I straightened up and made my way to the riverbank. Still, if I didn't get warm and dry, I thought as I pulled myself out of the river, I could well catch my death of cold.

I stood on the bank, warming myself at a fire that was blazing in a huge fireplace. I looked around. Dark soot-stained walls reached up to a ceiling lost in the gloom above me. Off to my right, bookshelves reached as high.

I shivered and one by one removed my clothes, wringing the water out and hanging them over a long curved couch that was to the left of the fireplace.

"Now," came a voice I recognized, "stripped bare and going your own path, you are ready to begin."

I turned and watched as the woman from the rock crossed the room.

"You said I would die."

"If all you were prepared to do was wet your feet," she answered, "then some part of you would die." She glanced at my wet clothes and then back to me. "You did a lot more than that."

I grinned and a door at the far end of the room opened. A bearded man entered. I looked at his bearing, the kilt he wore and then the arms displayed on the stone walls of the room.

"You would be named Duncan," I said, "were this the Scottish play."

The woman stood beside me and light struck the silver of the object in her hand.

"Is this a dagger I see..." I quoted, smiling.

"Use your own words," she said, and pressed the fountain pen into my hand. I sat at my desk and began to write...


  1. Oh I like this Kevin. I like it when writers have characters leap off the page and interact their their creators. I guess that means I need to start writing nicer story. Great job on this story, Kevin.

  2. I love this - we all need to take more chances don't we?

  3. Brave story, brave 'character'. Great stuff here, Kevin! Peace...

  4. A dreamscape with deep resonance to a classic tale. Beautifully told indeed.

  5. Lovely metaphor for writing. Glad you got your feet wet!

  6. Oh, splendid! This is my favorite flash this week. I love every single word. The fey girl, the mist, the heather, the river, the man's kilt, and of course, the pen. I was there.

    Wonderful story, Kevin!

  7. This is beautiful and, like Gracie, I was transported into the story as well. Bravo, Kevin!

  8. Wow. Thank you so much for your great comments. This is what I remember of a dream I had.

    @Rachel, glad you enjoyed it. Yes, being grabbed by your characters is a blast.

    @Julie, yes, we should all find our own path, even if it dunks us from time to time.

    @Linda, thank you for the 'brave' comment. Much appreciated.

    @Mike, a dreamscape, exactly. Glad you enjoyed it.

    @Virginia, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the metaphor.

    @Gracie, so very pleased I could draw you in. That's what you do in all your stories.

    @Laura, glad you got to play in my world, and that you enjoyed it.

    Thank you all so much.

  9. What a cool dream. And what a great path to choose.

  10. @~Tim, glad you enjoyed it - and thanks for the pointer to the awkward sentence

  11. Beautiful work, Kevin. I love it when stories come alive like this.

  12. "The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation,
    Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?"

    Aye, as the pile'up of well-wishers up there well-spoke, tis no false creation Mr Mackey which you have conjured, but clever upon dagger swift, you rivered forth.

    "Bravo" I say, for you had me at "She was dressed in a shapeless smock, that was not shapeless on her." The adventure from the details did continue, so that I felt the cool water and the warm fear. ~ Absolutely*Kate

  13. I was transported to that river and could almost feel the chill of the water. This story works as a story and as the metaphor it is. The dream quality of it feels very authentic, fireplaces would justifiably appear by a river. I've been throwing myself into a river for a while and it feels great!

  14. I like where this went, especially the dagger and the pen at the end...

  15. @danielle Many thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it.

    @flyingscribbler I was pleasantly surprised that the dual parts, story and metaphor, hung together as well as they did. Thanks for your comment.

    @ganymeder The dagger to pen transformation made me grin when it appeared. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  16. Kate, Kathleen, Екатерина - what to say but "Wow!" From the follow-on quote from the Bard himself, through "river" as a verb to the lyricism of "cool water and warm fear" - as I said elsewhere, I envy how you play with language.

    Thank you so much for your comment, it is much appreciated. And yes, the line that caught you pleased me when it showed up.


  17. lovely and lilting like a dream under a summer sky.

  18. Thank you, Karen. A summer sky full of mists as may often be found on summer days in the land of my birth.

  19. Really enjoyed this, well done. Great descriptions of the woman, I could picture her as I read it.

  20. Thanks, Rebecca. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the comment.

  21. I was going to say this felt like a dream, I guess I know why now. I love this. I love everything about this - almost makes me glad I'm awake and wandering the net at 3:42 am.

  22. Glad you enjoyed it, J. I'm also glad the dream quality came through. Now, what on earth has you wandering the virtual worlds at 3:42 am?

  23. I love this! At first when you described the woman I thought of the fairies in Celtic lore but then the kilt and the beard and the Macbeth quotes call came together and I knew what was going on.

    "Is this a dagger I see before me?"

    Love it!


  24. @Jai - :D So glad you enjoyed this, Jai. I wasn't at all sure, myself, whence came this woman. I may still not be. Thanks for your comment.