I didn’tunderstand it, we’d been dating a year and Raph never touched me in public. He didn’t mind when I rubbed his back in the mall or if I made the effort to lace my fingers through his. When I first pecked him on the cheek in public he blushed bright red.
I asked him one day why he didn’t touch me in public. In private he couldn’t keep his hands off me. He didn’t mind cuddling at home and he often tangled his hand in my hair or massaged the back of my neck while we watched TV. I adored these touches but didn’t understand why he was afraid to initiate small bits of PDA.
I explained to Raph how it was important to me because it made me feel like I was his, that he loved me, and didn’t care what anyone else thought of us. He was angry at first and confused, but the next day as we grocery shopped he linked his pinky through mine while we waited to pay.
Two days later he casually put his arm around my shoulders at his friend’s house. I snuggled into him kissing him when his buddy went to grab more beer. I linked my pinky with his and smiling, Raph returned the kiss as his friend walked into the living room. I was thrilled Raph understood how much these small touches meant to me.
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this month’s fairy Tale prompt. The prompt is: “imagine an evil force be it witch or some other dark force has cast a spell on you. What form does the spell take, are you frozen in time as in the above image? Are you cursed in a different way?”
Berjlot was a pretty girl with her father’s white-blond hair and her mother’s curls. She also had her mother’s mysterious green-eyes and delighted the entire viking village with her presence.
Asta, Berljot’s mother, had been in labour for hours the night Berjlot was born. The baby wouldn’t come out so Astab finally told her husband Bjarke that he must allow the midwife to cut her belly open and save their babe.
Bjarke felt great pain in his heart when his wife asked him to do allow the midwife to cut the baby out. But he knew he could not lose both Asta and the baby and survive himself.
Cutting the baby out (a much worse version of a c-section) was newer concept which the village midwife had suggested hesitantly. There wasn’t anything to help Asta from the pain but some whiskey. She drank all she could and screamed in pain as her baby Berjlot was born.
Asta named her child Berjlot or “Light will save,” and soft light was exactly what Asta saw as she entered Valhalla. She bled out before the midwife could attempt to stitch her up. Chances were Asta would have died from infection anyways.
Bjarke held his little girl Berjlot proudly. She was his and Asta’s last child, her four-older brother’s were nearly men. But the baby girl was a light to her father and helped him survive the loss of his wife Asta (“divine beauty”).
Bjarke whose name meant “bear” was indeed, built like a bear and so were his four sons. They helped their father fell logs. Bjarke was now considered an older man and he would need the help of his son’s to survive.
He had a been a great ship builder but was now arthritic and in pain. He spent most of his time keeping his eye on little Berjlot who spent her days enchanting those around her, a light to the entire community.
Some of the other women taught Berjlot the necessities of life as a viking woman. Berljot seemed to easily learn how to sew and cooked delicious meals. She also helped with the shearing of sheep and weaving clothe.
Berjlot’s mother Asta, had also been an accomplished artisan so Berjlot learned the craft of jewelry making from an old women in the village named Ragna (“giving advice”).
As well as crafting fine jewelry, Ragna was a medicine women and a pagan witch. Most people were afraid to be near her but Berjlot had no choice as she was the only other women who knew her mother Asta’s craft of jewelry making.
She was a talented girl and Ragna, seeing her youth, beauty, and the skill with which Berjlot seemed to accomplish every task, became seethingly jealous of the girl. Even at her young age and artisan skill level, Berljot’s jewelry was sought after.
She was only ten-summers but Ragna was envious of the girl she knew would grow up to be a beautiful woman and likely out rank her being from a powerful family.
The witch had always despised the girl’s mother Asta for her goddess-like beauty and her gift of creating beautiful jewelry of better quality than Ragna’s designs.
One day when Berjlot had a cough, Ragna, playing the kindly old woman she always played around Berjlot said to her:
“Poor dear, I will make you a potion which will rid of you of your awful cough. We can’t have it get into your lungs. Bjarke would be devastated if he lost his only daughter.”
Berjlot accepted the purplish potion Ragna wanted her to drink. It smelled awful and smoke whirled from the earthen cup but the girl drank the potion trusting Ragna as her Oma.
Suddenly, Berjlot hiccuped. She felt a strange sensation as her body changed from that of girl into a stunning light-haired wolf. She knew her father and brothers would never recognize her in this form and so did Ragna.
Berjlot cried the tears of a wolf and old Ragna laughed at her. She made it appear as if a wolf had eaten Berjlot.
“Bjarke,” Ragna cried. “A light-haired wolf ate your daughter. See? I have her bloodied and torn dress here. There was nothing I could do.” Ragna wept and made it appear as if she was broken-hearted at losing Berjlot.
Bjarke was devastated. Berjlot was the light of his life and his health failed rapidly after losing his daughter. He was soon set out down the nearby river in his funeral pier set aflame to join his wife Asta.
Bjarke’s oldest son Dag took over the boat building business with his three brothers and his best friend Asmund (“Divine Protection”). After they had spent time in mourning for their father they and the other men from their settlement, went into the woods and destroyed all the wolves they could find –even the pups. They never forgot about their little sister Berjlot who had brought such joy wherever she went.
Eight-years passed. Dag, his three brothers, and Asmund were prosperous men in their viking community building ships and amassing a great amount of land and wealth. Asmund, in particular, was considered a fine catch for marriage but had not found a wife to his liking; Dag and his brothers had already married well.
Asmund was out walking in the forest one night when he saw the most striking female wolf beneath a tree in the moonlight. She had mossy green-eyes which were extremely unusual for a wild animal such as a wolf.
He was surprised when the wolf jumped on him when he wasn’t paying attention. He was set to bring his small ax down on the wolf when she lay down on top of him gently and peered at him with sad eyes. She talked as wolves did, pawing at him, trying to get Asmund to understand something through her barks. He laughed and petted the beautiful wolf as she slept on him.
The next morning Asmund awoke and the wolf was gone. He thought he’d only dreamed of her. When he went for a walk in the forest several nights later, he again saw the same beautiful wolf.
She playfully tackled him to the ground and barked at him, trying to make him understand her wolf song. When that failed, she lay her head beneath his chin, and slept on top of him as before.
The light-haired and green-eyed wolf barked and slept with Asmund every night he came out into the woods, always burying her nose under his chin.
One night, Ragna the old witch noticed Asmund asleep with the wolf she knew was Berjlot, snuggled half on top of him. The witch plotted to kill Berjlot once and for all and told Berjlot’s oldest brother Dag about the strange looking wolf she’d seen around the forest.
Dag and his younger brothers went to find and kill Berjlot the following night with Asmund. But when they found the wolf with the light-fur and moss green- eyes, Asmund begged them not to kill her.
He told Dag the light-haired wolf had become his pet and was docile. Berjlot approached her brother Dag and bowed, she did any trick her brother or his bestfriend Asmund told her to do.
When wicked Ragna saw the brothers had not killed Berjlot in wolf form (and instead, were going to adopt her as a kind of pet) she ran out to kill Berjlot with her sharpest knife. Ragna poisoned the tip of the knife so even if it nicked Berjlot the wolf, it would kill her.
Dag, his three brothers, and Asmund were shocked to see the old witch after the wolf they had befriended. They caught and disarmed Ragna before she harmed the wolf. When Ragna was disarmed she turned to run back to her cottage but Berjlot jumped on her, tearing out the witches throat.
Immediately, the light-haired green-eyed wolf turned into a young woman of about eighteen. She was beautiful with her long wavy-blond hair, exotic green eyes, and white skin. Dag’s three younger brothers immediately recognized their sister from her moss green-eyes.
“Berjlot is that you?” They asked, overjoyed to see their sister alive.
“Yes it’s me,”Berjlot said crying. She hugged her brothers, including Dag. They were a bit sensitive about her being naked with Asmund around. He generously gave Berjlot his cloak to cover herself with.
“The witch Ragna pretended to be my Oma,” she told the men gathered. “Ragna was jealous that I was prettier than her, and that our mother Asta was prettier than her too. She hated that I did all my tasks well, especially jewelry making. When I had a cough, she gave me a steaming purple potion. I trusted her and drank the potion and she turned me into a wolf.”
“That’s terrible,” Dag shouted, angry for his sister. “Your death is the reason our father became ill and died. I’m sure the gods are pleased you ripped out the witch’s throat.”
Berjlot sobbed upon hearing about her father’s death. When Asmund comforted her with a hand on her shoulder, she looked up at him with adoration in her eyes.
“I was almost killed when the men from the village wiped out all the wolves but somehow I thrived, even as a wolf. I thought I would always be a wolf until I saw Asmund one night.” Berjlot blushed when she said Asmund’s name.
“Each night Asmund came out to the forest, I pounced on him and tried to tell him what happened to me, but my words only came out as barks or noises as a dog would make. But he kept coming back almost every night and I slept with my nose snuggled beneath his chin.”
“Is this true?” Dag asked his best friend whose face reddened when he gazed at Berjlot in his cloak.
“Yes, it’s true,” Asmund admitted. “I fell for Berjlot. Somehow the gods made me see how noble and beautiful she was even as a wolf. She’s an even more beautiful woman then she was a wolf.”
“I would be honored if you would allow your best friend and partner in business, to be a husband to your beloved sister,” Asmund asked. To him Berjlot was a light he could not live without in his life. He loved her as a wolf and more so as a woman.
Dag and his brother’s huddled together talking while Berjlot stared anxiously at Asmund. She came up to him and snuggled her head beneath his chin, showing her affection and gaining Asmund’s comfort.
“At last, I get to see you in my human form,” Berjlot told Asmund. Both lovers were overcome and wanted to do much more than stand not touching but for Berjlot’s hair cushioning Asmund’s chin.
Dag and his three other brother’s broke from their meeting with happiness. They agreed Asmund would be the perfect husband for their sister because he loved her and watched out for her, even when she was only a beautiful wolf. Thus, they set the betrothal date to that moment and day.
Asmund offered up sheep for wool and jewels as a dowry for Berjlot and they married in a magnificent ceremony in the village. The gods had allowed Berjlot to return from the dead and for two powerful families to be joined in marriage with days of feasting and celebration for the whole community.
Both Asmund and Berjlot lived happily ever after (as best as you could in that time and place).
Matt never talked about the shed in his yard. In the past he’d been rude about it, if I asked him. But I’d never seen the shed door half-open before.
He gazed at me steadily as he often did now. One day five-months ago I caught him staring at me and he blushed.
Now, he’s trying to tame the wisps of hair from my face, but neither of us had made a real move.
“Why is the shed half-open?” I asked.
“The basket in the shed door, it’s for us. We’re going on a fall picnic,” Matt said proudly.
I blushed, “Where are we going to have the picnic Matt?”
“In the shed, Aubrey.”
“But we’re not allowed in there remember? Your Dad said never.” I reminded him.
“It was one of my Dad and my Mom’s favourite places when Mom was alive. I told my Dad I was taking you on a picnic and he told me to clean up the shed for you; Grandma helped with the decore.”
The shed was rustic-sheek, painted in soft ocean-toned colours. There was a loft up top with a queen mattress, thick white cotton sheets, a navy duvet, and several accent pillows.
There was a huge white window with a navy cushion to read on. The shed even had a small kitchen with mini- appliances and a metal and wood island for two, along with a washroom with a matching tiled shower.
I gazed at the ash wood floor as the sun danced across it and back to Matt.”This is amazing! You did all this for me?” I asked overwhelmed, tears slipping down my cheeks.
That’s when Matt took my chin in his hand and kissed me. It was the first of a lifetime of kisses and memories in our unshedlike hideaway.
My apologies. I think this piece is a bit long, but I can’t seem to cut more right now.
Read Part 1 here: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Never Again
Part 2: Never Again – Returning to The Chateau
Jolene was back at Chateau Blanc to visit her Auntie Cathy after five-years abroad. Cathy worked as an event planner at the Chateau helping with Weddings, Fundraiser, (etc.). Jolene had always thought of Chateau Blanc as magical and mysterious castle as a young girl. She was thirty-five now with a daughter of her own, fourteen-year-old Kasia. For Jolene and Kasia, the Chateau held a sentimental appeal they associated with Aunt Cathy.
Jolene had faded out of her life in Nice, France, living with her Aunt Cathy at the Chateau when she wasn’t travelling as a model. Jolene had thought it would be safer to start a new life with Kasia in Canada. The move took Jolene and Kasia away from their beloved Aunt Cathy. But it also helped Jolene cut off all ties to her ex-boyfriend Scott who had become a great bother to Jolene.
As Jolene crossed the path which lead to the Chateau, she was caught off guard by a feeling of desiring to hold Kasia’s hand. Jolene knew her head-strong teenager would never agree to be that close to her Mom; never mind, holding her Mom’s hand. Waves lapped up against the edge of the path and Jolene knew at times it stormed and the waves slammed harshly against the walkway, taking away anyone who was foolish enough to cross.
Kasia dragged her feet behind Jolene and Jolene told Kasia: “Come on now ma belle, tres vite! We don’t want to spend too long on this pathway. The sea could become rough.” Kasia laughed at Jolene’s worry and shrugged when Jolene gave her an admonishing look.
“It’s fine Mom,” Kasia said. “The sea has been calm today. It’s not going to start storming in the time it takes us to cross to Chateau Blanc. I was wondering. . . why do we live so far from Aunt Cathy now? We used to see her all the time when I was a kid?” Jolene sighed.
“I keep telling you Kasia. It started when I obtained career changing, modelling jobs in North America. I wanted to earn my degree in Fashion in Toronto, where I had been given a full scholarship. Then, I started designing clothes with your Aunt Judy whom I met in school. Our business grew. You should know, you work in one of our main stores of La Petite Mademoiselle in Ottawa. You already know this ma belle. What are you really asking?” Kasia looked down at her feet. They had crossed the pathway and the Chateau was a short distance before them.
“I don’t understand why we left Auntie Cathy. She’s the only family we have besides an odd cousin or two. You’ve never even told me who my Dad is and I’m pretty sure he’s from here. I think that’s why we left. Not only for your modelling career and your education.” Jolene paused and tried to redirect her conversation with Kasia.
“You could be a model Kasia, if you like. Simon my agent, was saying how modelling would suit your love to travel well, before we left New York yesterday. You’re 5’10,” beautiful, you have slight curves, and are outgoing.When we get back to Ottawa, I’ll arrange a meeting with Simon. Maybe, we can even model together?” Jolene mentioned casually. Kasia’s face crinkled and she gave her Mom an ‘are you serious’ look when Jolene said they could model together.
“I know I could model Mom. Boys tell me I’m gorgeous all the time and the girls hate me for how much I look like one of those models in Seventeen. That’s why almost all my friends are boys except for Janelle who is a petite model. But I’m not sure I want to go the same way you have gone with modelling. I think I want to write or be an artist of some kind. And yes, I want to travel everywhere.”
“Well, that’s fine Kasia. But you could make serious money for school and travelling if you you model. It’s a great start for a young girl such as yourself.” Jolene added. Kasia looked at Jolene and a small smile passed her lips.
“Okay Mom, that sounds like something I’d like to try. So where is Aunt Cathy? I thought she said she’d meet us in front of the Chateau. I bought her some tulips from the market as we passed by a flower stall in Nice. I think they might wilt if we don’t see Auntie soon.”
“My thoughtful girl.” Jolene said messing up Kasia’s long dark hair with a head rub.
“Oh, I can’t believe it, Jolene! Is this my sweet Kasia? You’re almost all grown up ma belle. I hardly recognize you from the seven-year-old girl I last saw playing with her Barbies in my sitting room.” Kasia blushed and presented Aunt Cathy with the tulips she bought her.
“Oh, tres beaux!” Kasia blushed and was pleased with Auntie’s compliment.” Merci beacoup! I love tulips in the spring. And these are such a pretty shade of pink. How are you darling girl and how is your Mother?” Cathy said looking Kasia and Jolene over with pride. It was clear she missed them a lot over the past five-years.
“We’re doing fantastic Auntie,” Kasia said beaming.”Mom models a bit but mainly she runs her chain of clothing stores La Petite Mademoiselle, with my Aunt Judy, her close friend. It’s a clothing store with beautiful classic clothing for all body types, size double-zero to twenty-two.” Kasia added.
“I was at a private school and had a nanny up until grade nine, but I’m turning fifteen soon. Mom told me I can get a tutor and travel with her during high school. Mom also told me while we were walking here across the pathway, that I could model to make some money for University and travelling across Europe in four-years.” Cathy smiled down at Kasia and gave Jolene a questioning look after some of the things Kasia said.
” Kasia had a nanny? Where were you?”Cathy asked Jolene. Jolene sighed, hesitating:
” I was going to fashion school in Toronto and modelling across North America. It’s difficult being a single Mom, trying to fulfill your dreams, and take care of a child. It was more stable for Kasia to be at home when she was younger with a trusted Nanny.I have never been gone longer than four-days and Kasia always came with me on modelling and business trips during her long school breaks, such as in Summer. It was a great deal of work starting up my own clothing brand/store and growing it to the success La Petite Mademoiselle has now. We have stores across Canada and in the US.” Jolene said defensively.
“I just wish you’d let me have been with you and Kasia, Jolene. You two are my only family. I would have loved to look after Kasia while you were in school and travelling for work. I could have worked from home. You never asked me what I wanted before you left and I hardly heard from you.” Aunt Cathy said with anger.”You sent me a picture here and there on your phone. You never talked to me online or ever phoned me. I’m hurt Jolene.” Auntie Cathy wiped a stray tear from her kindly blue eyes.
“I’m sorry Auntie. I just thought — I didn’t think. But I had to get away from Scott and Katrina. I had to leave because Scott kept contacting me. I left and I didn’t look back. I’m sorry for that Auntie. But Kasia and I are back now. We’re going to try to open up a few branches of my clothing store in France. We’re going to see what the consumer market is like here. If you want, after we’re done working here, you can come with us back home to Ottawa.”Jolene offered happily. She had missed her Auntie Cathy more than she realized.
“I have lots of money now Auntie. You can do anything you want with your retirement. Why not travel with Kasia and I? Live with us in Ottawa or have your own place if you like.” Cathy couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“I would love that so much Jolene. Thank you for the invitation. Event planning is hard on a woman in her late sixties. I have a pension and money I’ve saved, but it’s nice to know I have so many more options for my retirement. I can spend my time with Kasia and you.”
“Who’s Scott?” Kasia piped into the conversation. “Is Scott my Dad? If he was the reason you left here, he had to have been my Dad.” Jolene and Cathy’s faces both went pale and they looked at each other uneasily.
“Oh, he’s no one dear. Just an old boyfriend.” Jolene said feeling stupid for mentioning Scott’s name.
” You never date now. He must have been important.” Kasia said slyly.
“He’s your father, Kasia,” Cathy said in one breath. “Oops,” Cathy said, “That slipped out.” Turning to Jolene Cathy said: “Kasia is fourteen now, she has the right to know, anyway.”
“That wasn’t your decision to make Aunt Cathy. I’m Kasia’s mother, not you!” Jolene stormed off to walk off her anger in the hallways of the Chateau. Kasia looked at her Aunt aglow with expectation and curiosity.
“Please tell me who my father is?” Kasia begged her Auntie.” Tell me the story of how my parents met? Why didn’t my father want me Auntie?”
Cathy sighed and adjusted her hair a bit nervously.”I shouldn’t,” Cathy said. “Your Mom is already so angry with me.”
“Please!” Kasia asked, “Mom always changes the subject and won’t tell me anything about my Dad. I don’t even know if he’s alive or dead.”
Cathy sighed and motioning for Kasia to sit down next to her on an antique love seat, she held Kasia’s young hands in her wrinkled ones, and told Kasia about the relationship between Scott Jeune and Kasia’s mother, Jolene.
“Scott and your mother went to highschool together. Jolene always had an infatuation with Scott since junior high school.Jolene went through an awkward phase before she turned fifteen. Ever since that age, your mother was known as a classic beauty. She always reminded everyone of Grace Kelly. You have inherited her beauty, Kasia.” Cathy exclaimed.
“Jolene was wild in high school. Your Grandma couldn’t keep track of her comings and goings, before your Grandma died in a car accident. Jolene was extremely popular with all the boys and made all the girls jealous of her. She had a busy social life, and a new boy every couple of weeks. When Scott asked her out, Jolene was overjoyed. Their first date was the only time I’d ever seen her primp and beautify herself so much to go on a date….