Fifteen-years ago Chloe had visited the County Hotel for the first time in Aisling.
As a young woman, she loved how most of the boutiques and fine dining in the city were here. She adored the opulent movie theater and grand Opera House nearby. The area bustled with tourists and business people alike.
But Chloe’s favorite neighborhood Le Solas Na Greine, had aged. She decided this would be her last stay at the County Hotel. She noticed how much the decor of the hotel was worn. Even the blankets and sheets were threadbare and Chloe was afraid to go outside, except to catch a cab.
Now she visited a new hub of the city, the neighborhood of Lasaim. Yet, she was still upset such a lively and vibrant neighborhood as Le Solas Na Greine, was now the poorest and most frightening place in the city to be. It tainted her fondest memories of vacationing here.
She hoped in the future a new generation of politicians and citizens would revive her neighborhood. After all, didn’t the name of the city Aisling mean dream?
I’m so thrilled with Lady Gage’s new album. I love her dance and pop-music stuff but her new songs, some of them go deep. This is one of those songs and I used the lyrics “Angel Down” for this poem. What I love is how in the video she is live, and sounds the same as if you were listening to her on her new album. Talented singer!
She built her life, she built it strong, made it so —
It wouldn’t fall;but you can fortify —
The keep, make it so no one can slip in,
There are always cracks within perfection;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
You can see the lines forming before she breaks,
Memories from the past she thought would save.
She’s safe –an illusion broken when the mirror —
Of life shatters within her face, she’s beat;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Trapped in a birdcage, no song to sing,
Her tunes aren’t lucid and her wings are clipped,
Such dreams as a young woman, such glad times,
Now she’s angry, so frustrated — life’s a lie;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Paints her makeup mask, hide the mirror’s blood tracks,
She thinks she’s imperfect tries to conceal —
New dress, she’s pretty, long legs on display yet,
She can’t hide feelings, she doesn’t fit in here;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
He said heels were stupid, girls can’t walk on —
Four-inch needles; yet they made her happy.
Night of the dance, stumbled; wore light blue chucks,
Sitting on the radio at the party crying;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Years pass, another day spent sifting in,
Her see-through life, on clothing racks, she —
Attempts to find the perfect fit, but she —
Knows like her, it’s elusive, can’t be found;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Music saves some, for others it magnifies,
A hurt and hole inside her –can God even fill?
Remembering hideaways, experiences —
To fill the void within, smile with tears dripping;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Time in lavish living rooms, won’t make her,
Feel love she’s so denied; she can’t even —
Love her own body, isn’t what it was,
She fingers trinkets bought, fears with tears smear;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Jewel she thought would invoke good memories,
Fill her with hope and joy again; sharp pains of —
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).
Thank you to Wandering Soul for hosting the Story Continuation Prompt Challenge. This week’s theme is Mother.
My Mother walked out of her room in heels. She was wearing her soft teal wool coat she only wore when she was dressed up to go out with my Dad. Behind her the scent of floral and baby powder drifted. I knew her perfume came from a glass pearlized owl which sat on her dresser.
The owl’s sculpted feather could be felt when I held him, but it was his glittering crystal eyes that fascinated me the most. They hinted at the mystery of being grown-up and of an elegance my Mother carried herself with.
Before she went out, my mother reached down to hug me and I was engulfed by her perfumey scent. Her soft long teal coat would brush my face. My Mom’s teal coat was a piece of clothing she only wore on a date or special occasion. Her small curvy figure was hugged by this tailored jacket. It gave my Mom, a woman who dressed in leggings, t-shirt, and sweatpants at home, a classic and graceful quality.
My favourite aspect of this coat was the ruffle that went down the front edge of the coat flaring and fluttering out. The ruffle was pretty. Something splendid and beautiful to a little girl. The ruffle made this coat a fashion statement. It was a coat Barbie would have gracefully worn if Barbie was a petite 5’2″ woman. The belt of the coat synched my mother’s small waist in and the bottom of the coat floated around her.
I dreamed I would inherit the coat one day as a small girl. But my mom donated the coat to Goodwill in the early 2000’s. They style, however, came back ‘ in’ again soon after. Mom wouldn’t have fit the coat anymore at the time, but probably would now as she lost weight a few years back. I know the coat would look as stunning on her now as it did back in the early 1990’s.
Mom’s teal coat was a piece of beauty. Together with the scent of flowers and baby powder, it cast my mother in this ethereal light where she appeared as if she were an angel. She would leave for the night and the babysitter would arrive, some student from my Dad’s High School where he taught, and I would feel utterly bereft without my Mom.
She was an angel dressed-up, somehow, not my usual Mother. She wasn’t the woman who yelled at me to pick up my toys, but a figure of elegance which illuminated the glow of a woman in her prime. A young woman who for one night left her children at home and was able to be a girl, to be free.
The beautiful young woman looked taken aback as Nina questioned her. ” No, I don’t think you know me. Maybe you saw me around my boyfriend Malcolm Watts. He works at Mergers. He’s an editorial supervisor for science-fiction books.”
Nina shook her hair out and fluffed it as she tried to remember where this woman was familiar from. Nina looked at her long hair and was frustrated to see the curl she had carefully put in, coming out.”No, I don’t know Malcolm. I’ve never seen John at his work. We’re really new. What’s your name by the way?”
“I’m Talise. And you are?”
” Malcolm said there was gossip around the office that John had gotten himself a girlfriend over the last week. That happened fast for you didn’t it? I mean how can you really know what someone is like that fast? I don’t mean to be mean but I heard John wasn’t a good guy, at least until recently. Malcolm said he was such a drunk playboy when he started Mergers with his brothers. ”
Nina stared at Talise with trepidation. ” Is there something I should know about?You can tell me. ”
Talise looked hesitant and brought her fingers together before wringing them apart. “I heard John’s still a womanizer. He tells all these girls he cares about them and then they sleep with him and never hear from him again. I hear he has children all over Adare. I heard he had this girlfriend that loved him once. He said he loved her but he didn’t love her and made fun of her with his brothers. She was a friend of mine. She never recovered and jumped into Sirene Lake. You should stay away from John Nina. A zebra can’t change his stripes. He probably is playing you, sorry to say .. .”
Nina was so angry by the time Talise finished her speech. “How do you even know John besides through Malcolm?”
Talise pushed up her oversized glasses with one finger. “I was one of those woman he hurt. I thought he cared about me. He didn’t. Maybe I should have seen it coming but I was really young.”
“I’m sorry Talise. I know John with many women when he was younger. But he’s learned from his mistakes. I haven’t known him long but I know how careful he is with the women he chooses to go out with now. And he really does care for me. He might have merely said it in the past but with me he means it.”
Talise’s eyes took on a strange glow. She was angry. “Well it’s up to you. I was only trying to help you out, but you seem to think you know what you’re doing.” Nina laughed haughtily.
“Well, I do have six years on you, sweetheart. Almost seven. I have learned a few things in my time. One of them is to trust your gut instinct. I trust my instinct with John.”
Talise frowned. She looked sad actually. “Well it was nice meeting you Nina. I hope you smarten up about John before it’s too late. I have to go find Malcolm.”
Talise walked off and Nina stood in the large entrance of the venue calming herself. What was Talise’s story with John? She had to find out from John later, — if he even remembered Talise. But right now she had to go back to him at their table. He might wonder what was taking her so long.
Nina trusted John. She told him she did. Nina intended to keep her trust and be loyal to John whoever Talise was in his past.
On the way back to John Nina grabbed another Chocolate Ganache Cupcake. Slowly, she ate it and wiped the crumbs from her lips. She was going to be sorry at the gym on Monday.
Nina found John handing over his Visa to pay for the Canuck’s box hockey tickets he’d bid on for her.” Hey we won the hockey tickets.” He said winking. John pushed a lock of Nina’s hair behind her ear. She leaned on his side as she stood letting the electricity between them sizzle and ignite. John’s eyes darkened and he kissed Nina on her nape before biting her earlobe. She inhaled sharply and was about to suggest they go home when she smelled smoke.
“John what’s burning. What’s on fire?” He looked at her with a sad knowledge in his eyes. Another terrible event was occurring around them.
Plums of smoke were coming from inside the venue. People were running out of the room and choking on the smoke. Soon the smoke was too thick to be in the building and everyone had to go outside.
The water sprinkles had come on from the ceiling before most people were out of the Country Club and everyone including Nina and John were soaked and smelled like a fire pit. The Fire Department of Adare arrived and put out the small fire as people scattered to their cars to gawk and waited for taxis to arrive across the street.
Later, Nina learned no one was hurt in the fire. It wasn’t even a big fire. One of the tables had caught on fire from a candle which had been taken out of a centrepiece. The fire had spread to the next table, but most of the damage was due to smoke. Such a shame when the Country club venue had newly restored their eighteenth- century building.
John sighed angrily. “Good thing Mergers has good insurance.” John said to Nina. He drove them back to his place in his silver Porsche. He wasn’t in a happy mood. Nina supposed living with bad events occurring to you often was frustrating. Not to mention it might be hard on John and his family financially. Good thing he and his brothers appeared to have money enough to go around, thanks to their Grandfather. But Nina thought the tole of bad events on John’s psyche was the worst. He must feel guilty that all these things were happening because of a lie he told his brothers.
On the way home, Jasper called to say that Rianne was doing well and the doctor had put Rianne’s arm in a cast. It would be a long six to eight weeks before that cast came off while the bones healed. Rianne was staying at Jasper’s for the night in a guest bedroom and taking Tylenol threes. Nina said she would pick her up the next day and stay with her on Saturday and Sunday. Rianne had broken her right arm and was right handed so doing normal things might be difficult for her.
“Nina,” John asked as she pressed the end call button, “Is everything alright with Rianne?”
“Yeah, she will have a cast for six to eight weeks and she’s in a guest room at Jasper’s tonight.” John smirked. “No, you. She’s got a severely broken arm. They’re not doing that.”John laughed.
John parked his car inside his garage, where she saw a couple of other expensive vehicles and skidoos. She followed John inside his house into the basement where a huge TV was situated within comfortable soft brown leather couches with blankets.
They settled on a couch and Nina half cuddled with John while watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. When they couldn’t stand the smell of smoke on their bodies they went upstairs to the bedroom and showered.
Sometime later, Nina woke up during the middle of the night. She recalled showering and being exhausted as she crawled into bed. Nina felt comfortable beside John who was snoring. She smiled and wrinkled her nose at John, willing him to stop snoring so she could go back to sleep.
She couldn’t help a stray thought about Talise and her warning about John. But here Nina was with John in his bed, on their third date. Still, bad events had occurred that night and Nina hoped her and John could progress to a place where they more then cared about each other. Whatever she felt towards John was more than only caring. It wasn’t love yet but she was drawn to him on such a level she could not compare him with any other past relationship.
John was good for her; he was a person who was redeemable despite his flaws. Everyone deserves a second chance to have a good life where you don’t have to worry about something horrible occurring everyday, Nina thought. She was sad the events had increased since she had been seeing John. He needed help breaking his curse and John needed Nina to do it with him. Nina snuggled next to John eventually too tired to hear him snoring.