Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 5

Thistledown Girl

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the fae world of Thistledown.  I have a special guest today.  Many of you will know her because we’ve done several collaborative posts in the past.  If not, then allow me to present Suzanne DeBrango of A Pug in the Kitchen

Suzanne is a multi-talented woman — chef (and great photographer of her foods) and blogger.  And if you’re ever in need of property in New York, this “Brooklyn pug gal” is also an award winning real estate agent. 

She was inspired by the fae magic Pick (the cousin of the character she named) when he coaxed cherries off the trees and they rolled to him, rather than being picked.  Then, lucky for us, she found beautiful sour cherries at her farmers’ market.  Here’s Suzanne to tell us about the recipe she’s sharing here today.

I was thrilled to find sour cherries at the farmers market and snagged a few containers to make my favorite jam. Refrigerator jams and pickles are one of my favorite things to make. It’s so easy, you can make one jar at a time.  There’s no need to go through the canning process.  Just, make sure you sterilize your jars, or at least run them through the dishwasher before using them. 

I want that sucker fish to help pit those cherries — oops, you’ll meet them in this episode!  If you have ever tried to pit sour cherries you know it’s a lot of work.  They are soft, small, and getting that little pit is difficult.  It is a labor of love though, and the resulting jam is worth the effort.  

I definitely identify with the faery character, Peaches Dragonfly and her name.  Teagan, thank you for Peaches Dragonfly, and fantastic story.  You are amazing. I hope you all enjoy this recipe.

Sour cherry jam tart Suzanne DeBrango

As you see, I made both sour cherry vanilla and gooseberry jam.  I have to say they are wonderful with scones and creme fraiche. 
2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
Use a non-reactive, medium saucepan, adding the cherries, sugar and salt.  Cook on medium high heat until thickened.  It took about 45 minutes total cooking time.
To test to see if it is going to be thick enough place a spoon in the freezer.  Spoon some of the jam on the freezing cold spoon.  If it gets nice and thick, then it’s done.
Pour the hot jam into very clean preferably sterilized jars, seal and let cool on the counter. The jam will seal, but because it is not processed in a water bath, it must be stored in the refrigerator.  It will last for a long time refrigerated. 

How could I be anything but inspired after Suzanne’s words?  Thank you, Suzanne.

Writing Process

Suckerfish attached to diver

At this time I think I should remind everyone that  characters, names, places, and incidents are used in a strictly fictitious way. The actions of a character do not imply anything about the person who named the character.

I allow myself some artistic license, especially since this serial is a fantasy.  I’ve added to the flora and fauna of Thistledown.  This time you’ll meet some fun fish, living in a pond. 

I’m pantsering this story so I don’t know if these faery fish will live in both fresh and salt water, or just the one pond.  However, I imagine them as looking partly like a remora (salt water) and partly like a suckermouth catfish (fresh water).

Without further ado, here’s the next installment of the serial.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Ben Moore, Unsplash

Pucker Up

A pale yellow patch of sky was framed by green branches.  Doves cooed peacefully.  I saw two perched on a limb outside my bedroom window.  One appeared to try and give the other a tiny flower.  Or perhaps one tried to take the blossom from the other.  Who could say?

I glanced downward from my dizzyingly high vantage point.  My grand-uncle built his spacious home nestled in the branches of a massive redwood.  Uncle taught us to nurture the primeval tree just as it enriched us.  However, I had never been fond of heights.

He probably thought to encourage me to practice my flying skills by installing me in the attic bedroom, the loftiest room of all.  Many faeries would have been envious of the room, for the fun of gliding down hundreds of feet to the ground.  I however, often took the stairs.

Beyond the huge evergreen, I glimpsed Willow Stargazer flying past.  Her purple hair stood out against the morning sky.  She always wore an orchid tucked behind one ear.  Willow gave a quick wave.

1 Butterfly wing

I yawned and stretched, knowing I had slept late.  By the time I left the reflection pool, I had been exhausted.  In a short time, a lot of troubling ideas had wriggled into my mind.  First among them my horrible, frightening vision.

What troubled me most about that vision was the fact that it felt prophetic.  That must be why it upset the fae of Thistledown so much when they heard of it.

I had seen a bleak, unhappy world.  There was sunlight sometimes, but often the sky was murky.  The place was dark in every other way as well.  Bad things happened there all the time.  Negativity saturated the place — disasters, disrespect, corruption, violence, and hatred.  Even the elders and leaders were continually exposed as corrupt and even insane.

In the vision, it seemed like the people saw and experienced those things continually.  Each day they thought it couldn’t get more absurd, insulting, or hurtful.  Yet it did.  They became used to bizarre and harmful events.  They accepted it as just another part of their day.  There were highly placed people who could have remedied the situation.  Yet they did nothing.

The attitudes and actions of the people reflected the darkness of their world.  Even the clothes they chose to wear were in dark, dull colors.  The girls I met in my second vision seemed like rebels of a sort, daring to wear a splash of bright colors in their clothes or hair. 

Worse, I suspected the fae there had no wings.  My grand-uncle once told a scary story of a group of faeries without wings.  Did the darkness that saturated that world cause them to eventually lose their wings?

One of the doves on my windowsill fluttered away, dispelling my reverie.  The one that remained still held the tiny flower.  I realized it was a peach blossom.  Then I knew it must be a message from Peaches Dragonfly.  I took the flower from the dove.  Oddly it was wet.  My body mirrored the posture of the dove when she tilted her head to one side curiously.

“A wet peach blossom?” I murmured to the dove who answered with a coo.  “Oh!” I exclaimed in sudden epiphany.  “Peaches must want me to meet her at the pond.”

The dove bobbed her head forward and back, and then flew away in the direction of the orchard.

I unfolded my injured wing to apply more of the ointment Calico Rainbowforest gave me.  Even my grand-uncle had to admit I wouldn’t be practicing my flying for a while.  Since Peaches sent a dove to bid me visit her, she must not be in a rush.  If there was any hurry, she would probably have sent a zippy hummingbird.  I considered borrowing Uncle’s unicycle, but I knew I would end up painfully unfurling my wings to catch my balance.  I’d have to settle for my own two feet.

I must be the clumsiest faery in Thistle down, I thought with a loud sigh.

***

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Nitish Kadam, Unsplash

“Bedlam, thank goodness you’re here,” Peaches Dragonfly said once I arrived at the pond.  “I could really use a hand.”

Her pink hair was wet, but only around her face.  Beside Peaches were four pails of water.  I noticed an oddly shaped purple fish swimming in one.  When I asked about the fish, my friend said it was a suckerfish.

“They absolutely love the pits from sour cherries,” Peaches explained.  “I have buckets overflowing with sour cherries from the far side of the orchard.  I’m going to make jam from them, but the pits have to be removed.  Those cherries are tiny, and it’s a lot of work to remove the pits.  So I had the idea to use the suckerfish to take out the pits.  With a little fae coaxing, they don’t bother the flesh of the cherries at all, and happily suck out the pits!”

“What an amazing idea!” I complimented Peaches.  “But I don’t see any other fish like this in the pond.”

Peaches gave me a wry look as she knelt at the edge of the pond.  I had a bad feeling that there was a tangle in her brilliant idea, and that I was about to get caught in the middle of it.

“There are several suckerfish in the pond.  They usually stay at the bottom, but they’ll come to the surface if you call them,” she told me.

I thought we were about to get to the tangle.  A hopeful look from my friend suggested I was right.  I expected to regret it, but I asked how one went about calling the suckerfish.

“It’s easy,” she told me with a bright smile.  “You just put your face into the water and make kissing sounds.  The suckerfish will come right to you.”

“What happens when they get there?”

“Well, if you aren’t quick enough in grabbing them, they’ll suck your face.  They’re very affectionate.  Don’t worry,” she added upon seeing my expression.  “It doesn’t hurt.”

Face in water blue

Genessa Panainte, Unsplash

I cringed so hard that I went to my knees.  Peaches took that for agreement and pulled my shoulders down toward the water.  I watched as she made kissing sounds into the pond.  Two purple suckerfish quickly swam to her.  One of them appeared to give her a kiss on the cheek.  With lightning reflexes, Peaches caught one fish in each hand.

“See,” she stated as she put the fishes in a pail.  “It isn’t that hard.”

Taking a deep breath, I agreed to give it a try.  I made kissing sounds into the water.  A fish swam to me so fast that I didn’t even see it.  Peaches had quick reflexes and grabbed it for me before I possibly could have gotten it.  Emboldened by the fact that I hadn’t had to even touch the fish, I put my puckering mouth back into the pond.

After two or three “kisses” I saw two tiny purple fish approaching from the left.  They were much smaller than any I had seen at that point, so the prospect of them touching my face did not upset me.

What I could not see was a suckerfish as large as my arm rapidly swimming from the deepest part of the pond.  Suddenly something forcefully hit my mouth.  Thankfully it was soft, or it would have really hurt.  I fell backward to the banks of the pond.

Peaches gasped, but rapidly detached the big sucker from my face.  I fitfully spat, and spat.  And spat some more.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t as though I tasted anything.  It was just the idea of being smooched by that fish.

“I’ve never seen a suckerfish this big.  The pit removal should go extra fast with this guy helping!” Peaches exclaimed.  “Nice work, Bedlam.”

We both looked up as a shadow passed over.  A blue heron swooped low, gliding toward the eastern bank of the pond.  I was awed by its beauty, with its broad wings and smooth passage, and plumage the color of a thunder cloud.  It sailed to the eastern bank of the pond.

I realized something looked different than I remembered about that side of the pond.  Peaches explained that an underground stream had come to the surface.  She thought that under or above ground the water eventually made its way to a small lake near Catseye Glimmer’s home.

Curious about the change to the landscape I wandered to that side of the pond.  I could see a thicket.  In the shadows I could barely make out the water of the stream.

“What’s that sound?” Peaches asked.

At first I didn’t hear anything.  After a moment, soft whimpering came to my ears.  To my astonishment, Peaches jumped into the pond.

“It sounds like a dog!” she cried as she swam.

I jumped in after her.  We soon realized that end of the pond was shallow enough that we could walk to the thicket.  That was a relief, since my swimming wasn’t any better than my flying.

The whining grew louder.  Peaches moved to the edge of the thicket.  When I looked at the place, an inexplicable shudder traveled through me.  The shadows were dark.  They were gray and unnaturally, densely drab.

“Peaches, wait!” I called and fearfully extended a hand, but she was out of my reach.

It was a relief when my friend emerged from the shadows with a small dog in her arms.  To my surprise she chuckled.

“There’s a suckerfish stuck to his mouth.  Help me get it off him,” she told me.

We walked through the water to the near edge of the pond and climbed out.  I helped Peaches up to the grass because her arms were full with the little dog.  I expected her to stop right there, but she hurried over to where we had been catching purple suckerfish.

She detached the suckerfish from the little dog’s mouth.  Rather than purple as it should have been, the fish was a dull brown.  Peaches gently placed the oddly colored fish in a pail separate from the other fish.

With the fish removed, I could see the dog’s face.  He was easily the oddest looking pup I had ever seen.  He had a tightly curled tail.  His coat was dull gray, but his little face was black.  It was also squished flat.  He looked at me and licked his nose with a little gray-blue tongue.

When he looked up at Peaches, his screw-tail wagged enthusiastically.  She set about drying the dog with a towel.

“I wonder who he belongs to?” Peaches pondered.  “His coloring is so unique,” she added with an uneasy glance at the strange brown suckerfish.

We both gazed nervously toward the shadows of the thicket.  Then Peaches leaned down to look closely at all the fish in the pails.

“I’ve never seen any fish that color,” she commented in an uneasy voice.  “It makes me think of how you described the place in your vision as colorless.”

“I doubt he belongs to anybody in Thistledown,” I whispered.  “What should we do with him?” I asked as I cleared my throat, trying to bring my voice to a normal volume.

Peaches took another look at the thicket and shivered.  The dog’s dull coloring indeed reminded me of the dark place where I met Rotten Soulfire and her friends.  How could they bear to live in such a place?  I swallowed hard.

“I’ll look after him,” Peaches stated in a determined voice.  “I think I’ll call him Pucker.”

The dog barked a yip at his new name.  Pucker’s tail wagged so hard I was surprised it didn’t cause him to fall over from the force of it.  He put a paw on Peaches’ shin and she bent to get him in her arms.

Vintage Pug painting

***

The End

The new “mystery faery” for this episode was Cecily of Cecily’s Writings.  I hope you’ll say hello to her.  

Stay tuned for the next episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  We will see the counterpart of Catseye Glimmer in the other faery-verse and more photos from T & L Photography.  

Hugs on the wing!

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

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Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 3

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Update: The time limit for the lightning contest has now expired. I’ll announce the winners when I post Episode 4. Hugs!

Welcome back one and all!

Writing Process

I really do intend to promote everyone who named a character for this serial.  Yes, that’s a lot of characters… but I will try to do it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the story.  I hope to avoid reader-overwhelm and character chaos as much as I can.  

In fact, I’m adding a page with very brief information about each character.  I’m not happy with the page, but you might find it minutely helpful, so I’ll go ahead and post it.  I hope to update the page and improve on it.  However, I gave it too much writing-time this weekend. Apparently the free version of WordPress I use isn’t compatible with table apps…  but here goes nothing.

I’m not delaying the disclosure of Bedlam’s story-opening, big, trouble-causing vision as part of a strategy.  I’m flying by the seat of my pants (too bad I don’t have wings, huh?), and the story just hasn’t worked around that way, despite my initial intentions.

About This Episode

This time we see a snapshot of that other, darker faery-verse.  Bedlam’s visions seem to become more real to her as they progress.  

If you’re playing catch-up, click here for the first episode.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Boy field smoke-ball aziz-acharki-290990

Aziz Acharki, Unsplash

Another Vision

The ringing in my ears overwhelmed everything else.  I could hardly breathe.  The room swayed.  The people I respected most in all of Thistledown were gathered in the kitchen of Peaches Dragonfly.

I was shocked by their unexpected presence.  I was awed and horribly embarrassed.  Then foolishly, I let my wing get caught on something — a child’s mistake.  So I was also in both physical and emotional pain.  Embarrassed was a far from adequate description.  I was mortified.  I jumped to my feet quick as lightning.

When I got up so fast, the kitchen seemed to tilt.  Large black spots danced before my eyes.  The ringing in my ears became a roar.  Abruptly everything stopped.

Everything was gone.  Light.  Sound.  Pain.  But not fear.  I strained my eyes to see in the sudden advent of a dank gray world.  In my mind I squirmed.  This colorless place was familiar.  The awful vision that brought about my situation — was I having it again?  I was sure it was the same place.  However, this felt even more real than my vision.

A shaky breath crept into my lungs.  I blinked trying to clear my eyes.  The blurring left my sight, but the world around me was still murky.  Tan would have been a bright color in that place.

Abbey,_Edwin_Austin_Fairies

Edwin Austin Abbey, Fairies, circa 1900

Someone was talking to me.  I knew that voice well, although it had a different edge.  I swayed as I turned toward the voice.

Dah-le!  So you made it back, did you?”

My vision was blurry, but I saw black clothes relieved only by a scarf and boots in bright purple.  My eyes found the hazy face of River Mindshadow.  However, something was not right.  I blinked hard and looked at her again.

“What?  You’re not River!” I exclaimed, feeling more alert.

“Hahaha!” she barked a guffaw that was unlike the lilting laughter of River Mindshadow.  “Who?  It’s me, Rotten!  It’ll hurt my feelings if you forgot me so fast.  So, did you come back to tell me more of your saccharine dreams?  I admit they were entertaining.”

“I remember.  You’re called Rotten Soulfire.  You were in my vision,” I recalled, and she gave another harsh laugh.  “You’re like my friend River Mindshadow — but, but not.  You aren’t exactly opposites though…  It’s as though one of you is from sunlight and the other is from shadow,” I said without thinking, and then I worried that she, Rotten, would be offended.

“Does everyone in your dream have a counterpart in reality?  Oh, you look confused.  Should I say in my reality?” Rotten asked in a playful voice, but there was a wicked gleam in her eyes.  “I wonder if we could get the two together.  That sounds like a ton of fun!  I mean, can you imagine the looks on all their faces?  The self-important snots here and the goody two shoes you told me about?”

Rotten leaned closer and looked at me curiously before continuing, “I’ve been looking around since the other time I saw you, Bedlam Thunder.  Far as I can tell, you don’t exist,” she commented in a pointed tone that was speculative but somewhat suspicious.  “So maybe you really are from some goody-goody faery-verse.  But maybe you really belong here instead of in your home.  I mean a moniker like Bedlam Thunder?  That’s not a sweetness and light name like the ones you’ve mentioned.  It seems like you should have been called something sugary like Fleur Rainbow!” she said and collapsed in a gale of laughter.

Her brows knitted and she added, “You don’t look so good.  Hold on, what’s that on you back?  Holy moma!  Wings?” she asked, still laughing.  “You been to a cos party?”

Then Rotten’s face transformed in an expression of confusion and concern.  She hesitantly pushed away the flap at the back of my dress that allowed for wings to unfold.  It was a typical fashion among the faeries of Thistledown.  Faery clothes were often backless, to allow for wings.  However folks in Thistledown were quite modest so flaps or even caplets were attached to cover the back.  Plus flight was mostly a means of traveling.  We didn’t go zooming around willy-nilly instead of simply walking.

1 Butterfly wing

“There’s a little blood here,” Rotten commented, still sounding puzzled.”

Then she touched the joint where my wings depended from my back.  Rotten quickly drew back her hand and gasped.  She looked at me with bulging eyes.

Holy moma—  Oh sweet—  Holy—  They’re real?  They’re real!  Oh my God!”

My grand-uncle once told a story of a place where faeries had no wings.  I thought it was just meant to frighten us.  Could it be that this girl had no wings?  That was hard to imagine.  However, her shirt was tailored to her body.  It couldn’t have been comfortable.  It would have been too confining across the shoulder and wing area.  Were wings something strange and alien to her?

I looked at Rotten in consternation.  I didn’t know what to say.  Finally I told her I had caught my wing and made a small tear.

Ouchers!  That couldn’t have been fun,” she commented, regaining her composure but still sounding tentative.  “Tell ya what.  You ran off pretty quick last time.  Why don’t you stick around?  Come and meet some friends.  We’ll see what trouble we can get into,” she offered to my surprise.

I would have been amazed by what had to be a quick recovery, if indeed Rotten was from a place where folk didn’t have wings.  However, she was clearly unsettled.  I believed she was trying to hide her uncertainty.

“Hey!  Rotten!” came a new voice.  “Oh, there you are.  Dah-le!  Who’s this?” she asked.

As the owner of the voice came into my field of vision, I realized she wasn’t alone.  Another girl, also about my age was with her.  Her long hair was dark, but I noticed several rainbow colored strands discretely tucked behind her ears.

“Come on with me Sat, don’t be shy.  Wow!  You two been having a smack down?  She looks a little rumpled.  Wait a minute.  That looks like a wing,” commented the newcomer, abruptly perplexed.

I noticed that her clothes were mostly dark, similar to Rotten’s apparel.  Her hair was as black as her leather jacket.  I wondered if the dullness of this place influenced everything about the people, even the clothes they wore.  She did, however, have a bright pink top under the jacket.

“Hey Desert.  Love the shirt!  That must have gotten you a shocked look or two.  I’ll bet that’s Satellite with you,” Rotten greeted the girls, and the one with rainbow streaks gave a mischievous grin in return.

“Great timing,” Rotten added with a nod to me.  “This one is called Bedlam Thunder.  You should hear some of the stuff she babbles when she’s knackered.  I ran into her once before,” Rotten told the girl as she poked my side with her elbow.  “Bedlam Thunder, meet Desert Firesong and Satellite Frostbite.” 

Dah-le, Desert.  You didn’t tell me you had polite friends.  I’m not sure that’s socially acceptable,” Satellite joked.

“Woah!  What’s up Bedlam?” Rotten Soulfire cried.  “You having a seizure or something?  Bedlam?  Bedlam!

***

I sneezed so hard it felt like my head would come off.  The voice of Rotten Soulfire still echoed in my mind.  I sneezed again.  And again.  My nose, mouth, and even my ears felt like they were on fire.  I sat up on my elbows, but I think my sneezes had brought me upright.

“Lie back down.  You just got up too fast.  You don’t want to faint again do you?” I heard Peaches Dragonfly tell me in a voice that seemed far away.

Everyone thought I had simply stood up to fast.  Didn’t they know that I had been somewhere else?

Maybe my body hadn’t left, I thought.  My grand-uncle had told me about that kind of vision.  The mind went to one place while the body stayed in another.  The passage of time in the two planes could differ.  Was that what happened?

“Thank goodness you got here when you did!  I’m glad Field found you,” a voice said to someone else.

My face was squeezed up for another sneeze, but I forced one eye open.  The speaker was Ember Beamwitch.  The present rushed back into my awareness.  My eyes followed Ember’s gaze.

A woman in a red dress smiled brightly.  I recognized the lamp maker, Pepper Stargazer.  Some of the peppers she grew were so hot they (with a touch of fae encouragement) could burst into flame.  She parlayed that talent into making lamps.

“Morning-fire peppers work better than smelling salts,” Pepper replied.  “Are you alright, Bedlam?  Oh by the way, Peaches, I brought the party lanterns.  Anybody want to help me string them up?  Just let me know where you want the lights,” she added.

Pepper Stargazer led the cousins Peaches and Pick Dragonfly, and Ember out to where she had presumably parked her wagon.  I knew it would be filled with pepper fueled lanterns and other party lights for the solstice celebration Peaches would soon host.  Catseye Glimmer held the door for the others, and then gave us a wave before he followed.  I noticed he was much taller than the others.  Catseye was the only person I knew who didn’t have to crane his neck to look up at the furry faery, Field Yewwasp.

Oh, the furry faery had been in the room, I thought. I didn’t see him leave the kitchen with the others.  In fact, I hadn’t seen him since I recovered from my faint.  I mentioned it to Calico Rainbowforest.

“How anyone so large can move so fast is beyond me,” Calico muttered.  “He zipped out of here the instant you hit the ground.  I’m sure he went to meet Pepper Stargazer on her way here, and asked her to come as fast as she could with her swoon-remedy.  He’d be outside with the others.  I doubt he could resist tinkering with the lanterns.”

I nodded mutely.  Then I started sneezing again.  I should probably have thanked Pepper, but I couldn’t stop sneezing long enough.  I thought I was alone, so I groaned about adding inflamed sinuses to my sore wing and bruised pride.

“Maybe those ‘morning fire peppers’ work a little too well,” Calico commented with a wink.

A sneeze that had been painfully slow to come out finally exploded from my mouth.

I found myself telling Calico about the vision that had just overtaken me, despite my fear that my vision would be made public.  She promised not to write about it in the Thistledown Trumpet unless I was ready.

L0059071 Turn pin spectacles, steel wire, eye preservers, double fold

Turn_pin_spectacles, circa 1800

When I finished describing what I had just seen, she took a deep breath and pushed her spectacles back on her nose.  Though I had only told her about the most recent vision, it was outrageous enough.  I didn’t go into the bigger, truly frightening one.

Calico got up and moved to the big sideboard.  She picked up a cut crystal bottle containing a sparkly amber colored cordial and two glasses.

“Here, Bedlam.  This will do you good under the circumstances,” she murmured handing me a glass of the cordial.  “It sounds like maybe you’re ready to tell the full story, but let’s wait until everyone is together.  There’s no point wasting your strength to tell it twice.  I realize it’s traumatic for you to even think about discussing it,” Calico said knowingly.

Calico was right.  I did feel better after drinking the cordial.  The magic Peaches Dragonfly had with baking seemed to work in everything she made.  We went outside to watch as the lights were hung.

Glitter Shimmerling arrived in a small carriage powered by a score of hamsters happily running in their exercise wheels.  To the delight of all, she brought a rose covered chocolate cake and offered everyone a slice. 

She let the hamsters out to cavort with Stellar the cat.  Stellar chased the hamsters then playfully turned and they chased her.

From the moment the vision overtook me, the one that started all the trouble, I had feared it was prophetic.  I couldn’t be certain, but the one I had just seen with Rotten Soulfire and her friends was the same place.  However, it seemed more real, more current.  I shuddered thinking that such a place could be real, that perhaps my home could become such a place.

Even though I felt uneasy with them, Rotten, Desert, and Satellite didn’t seem “bad.”  However, their home surely was a dark place.  Could there be a place where kindness was seen as stupidity and civility was viewed with contempt?  Would that negativity seep into all the people?

Although I didn’t remember it, Rotten Soulfire told me I had described my world as “sugary.” Wherever her world was, nearly everything I saw was dark, dull, or black.  I wondered what Rotten would make of Glitter’s hamster powered carriage or her naturally shimmering lavender hair.

End Episode 3

***

Hypothetically, I’d like to imagine this serial as a TV show.  The mystery folk (the people who named characters) would be actors playing roles in the show.  The new mystery folk who were revealed in this episode:

  • Kathryn of Another Foodie Blogger and Austin Street Tacos
  • Robbie Cheadle of Robbie’s Inspiration
  • Olga Núñez Miret (but this time the dark faery-verse or “scary faery”)
  • Adele Marie Park (a scary faery) of Firefly 465
  • Vashti Quiroz-Vega (another scary faery) of The Writer Next Door

Be sure to come back next time for another episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  It’s only here at Teagan’s Books.  Mega hugs!

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © July 2, 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 2

Welcome back to Thistledown, everyone!  If you are joining this serial for the first time, or if you need to refresh your memory click here for the premier episode.  I also have a category button on the right side-bar of the screen for “Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.”  However, these days I can’t make promises about WordPress behaving as it should. (For several days I found myself unable to comment on any blogs — including my own! WP just told me to email somebody else… Finally and laboriously got it fixed myself.)

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Writing Process

As a writer, I tend to reject rules. (Often things are presented as rules, but feel more like “formulas” than anything else.  I don’t care for formulas either.)  Although, when writing in a genre, (to a degree) I do try to follow some general expectations, for the comfort and understanding of readers.  

So before anyone asks…  When writing fantasy, I’m fond of using archaic forms of words.  Hence my spelling of “faery.”  I followed the lead of Brian Froud.  Many people see him as an expert on fairies/faeries/fae.  If you want to know more about the topic, click here or here.  

I had expected to reveal Bedlam’s vision in this episode.  However, I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  It didn’t work out that way.  That’s all part of pantsering.

About the Episode

The mystery folk from the first episode return for this one.  However, several new characters are introduced.  Be sure to click the links (like this) to reveal the mystery folk behind the character names.

This time we get an idea of what sort of gifts, talents, and magic the faeries of Thistledown might have in their daily lives.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trumpet Vine, by Manu via Wikimedia Commons free media repository

In the Kitchen

Smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage where  Peaches Dragonfly lived.  I could see it a short distance away.  The warm breeze brought the aroma of tarts Peaches had cooking in the oven.  Even though my mouth watered, I couldn’t get my feet to move.

“Come on!” Peaches encouraged.  “Bedlam Thunder what’s wrong?” she asked, letting go of my arm and giving me a concerned look.

My eyes had found the bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine.  A horrible idea sprang to my mind when I saw the blossoms.  The vine bore the local news.  I touched a petal, fearing it would shout my name.

Extra!  Extra!  Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried.  “Get the time and place of all the best Midsummer parties!  Take a leaflet,” the blossom added encouragingly.

“Oh good,” murmured Peaches as she reached to pluck a curled leaf.  Unrolling the leaf she read the list of parties before commenting, “Good, they got my information right.  They mentioned that Pick is visiting.  They even included that Holly Songbird will be singing!  I had to ask them to update the announcement for that.  I didn’t think I had given them the information in time.  Perfect!”

I was relieved at not hearing my own name or anything about my awful vision.  However, I still couldn’t manage to raise my eyes to look higher than the ground, or lift my feet to follow Peaches.

Crystal Ball Hand_yeshi-kangrang-258234

Yeshi Kangrang, Unsplash

“People are saying that the things in the vision I had will happen because of me — as if I’m going to make them happen.  That it’s my fault.  Or they just make fun of me.  I haven’t been around much of anybody since River Mindshadow and I were suspended.  That was so humiliating…  I just haven’t wanted to deal with seeing anyone,” I explained, eyes still firmly fixed on my feet.  “And I just can’t face River.  It’s all my fault that she got suspended with me.  I should have done something to stop it.”

It was hard to hold back tears.  I was overwrought, I had been for days.  Stellar the cat twined around my ankles consolingly.  However, it took all my concentration to keep my composure, so I didn’t pet her.  I sniffled and swallowed and sniffled some more before I could finally hold up my head.

Both Peaches and River stood watching me impatiently, fists planted firmly on hips.  I was startled because I hadn’t even heard River come up to us.  Peaches was tapping a foot.  River’s wings were unfurled, so I knew she was about to leave.

“Bedlam, I’ve been given a curfew, a truly unreasonable one too.  So I can’t stay, but I want you to know that none of this is your fault!” River told me in a firm voice.  “Especially me getting suspended, or this curfew.  If you say that again, I’ll be insulted.  My analysis of your vision was mine to state.  I made my own choices.  You didn’t make them for me.”

I drew back.  River’s reaction was not what I expected.  I started babbling an apology, but she cut me off with a smile and a wave of her hand.  Then she nudged me with her elbow.

“It’s alright.  Go on inside and get a slice of tart.  Pick Dragonfly already had two slices,” River said in a kinder voice before she zipped into the sky.

“Ha!  My cousin has been accused of having hollow legs, a slim guy who is always hungry,” Peaches commented fondly as she waved to River.  “He’s actually a good cook.  That more than makes up for it.”

Bird Cherries tree vincent-van-zalinge-38365

 Vincent Van Zalinge, Unsplash

Peaches drew me toward her cottage.  Blackberry vines covered the roof.  It was dotted with berries in various degrees of ripeness, white, red, purple, and black.  The kitchen windowsill was lined with bread and pies set there to cool.  The aroma of desserts in the oven was irresistible.  The pink haired faery did not spare the ovens for her solstice celebrations.

As we neared her home, we had to stop for something most people would find unusual.  A long line of red cherries rolled from the other side of the orchard.  The cherries tumbled along, in single file across our path and through the open front door of her cottage.

Peaches shook her head and made a wry face.  That was how her cousin Pick took care of the cherry picking chore when he visited.  It was part of Pick’s gift, convincing the cherries to leave the tree and come to him.

“If I find a single bruise on those cherries…” Peaches muttered.

Different faeries had different talents or magical abilities, and to varying degrees.  The school was meant to help us, from an early age, to develop our apparent talents, and to uncover hidden gifts.  Some faeries had hardly any magic at all.  Like me.  I didn’t see my visions as any sort of talent, and they certainly weren’t magic.

I had hoped that going to the school would cause me to manifest a better talent.  However, before my freshman term of senior level was finished, my visions got me suspended.  I sighed without meaning to make a sound.  Peaches gave me a sympathetic look before we went inside her home.

Her cottage had a huge kitchen — the largest room in the house.  The way Peaches baked, that was a necessity.

Across the room, the first thing I saw was a uniquely lovely flower arrangement.  It contained the most unexpected combination of things, with all manner of wildflowers, and even stems of cotton bowls.

Cotton plant painting 1901

Cotton plant circa 1901, Wikimedia

However, I stumbled to a halt the moment I stepped through the doorway.  The cherries continued to roll until they went into a basket beside the sink.  Pick Dragonfly carried not just one, but three plates to the sink.  Yet none of those things were what caused me to stop in my tracks.

I faced the long kitchen table, mouth agape.  All of the people I admired most in Thistledown were gathered in my friend’s kitchen.  They weren’t the official council, but they were highly respected people.

The fae at the other end of the table sat head and shoulders above the rest.  He was known far and wide as the furry faery, Field Yewwasp.  The huge table looked ordinary next to him.  I knew the large top hat on the coat rack had to belong to Field.  Wire rimmed spectacles with rose colored lenses sat on his nose.  The red jacket he wore was perfectly tailored for his large frame.  I supposed that if your size and hair automatically drew attention to you, then you would want to be well dressed.

Ember Beamwitch sat at Field’s left.  The flowers in her hair bobbled when she looked up at us.  The fiery colored print of her dress had a soft radiance even in the daylight.  After dark it would give a fanciful glow.  A voluminous sleeve swayed gracefully when she raised her hand to wave at me.  Ember would judge the dance competition that Peaches planned to include in her Midsummer celebration.

One of the spectacles of the Midsummer gathering would be worked by Catseye Glimmer.  From practically nothing, Catseye could create fun and useful things.  I suspected that he would somehow make the dance floor, and that his creation of it would kick-off the party.

At seeing these enormously respected fae, I was a nervous wreck, on top of being an emotional basket case.  My eyes were wide with shock.  I stood speechless even when someone bade me sit down at the table.  That’s when I had one more shock than I could handle.  I dazedly realized the person offering me a seat was Calico Rainbowforest.  She ran the Thistledown Trumpet News!

Oh no, I thought.  This is horrible.  What if she puts my vision in the news?  She’ll probably agree with everyone else.  What if she blames every bad thing on me, like some people are doing?

“Oh dear.  You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Calico spoke in a kind voice.  “Poor Bedlam, I know what you’ve been through.  Did you know that the Readings Master suspended me once too?”

That admission got my surprised attention.  I couldn’t imagine Calico Rainbowforest getting into trouble at school, but she grinned and nodded.

“It wasn’t that long ago, you know.  I believe you and I are more alike than you’d expect.  That man just seemed to take an instant dislike to me.  Anyway… I would very much like to hear the story in your own words,” she requested and paused as if waiting for my answer.  When I didn’t speak she continued, “Whenever you’re feeling ready to talk about it.  I’d just listen, mind you, nothing more.  Then if everyone here agreed that it was safe to share with Thistledown, only if you approved would I put it in the Trumpet.

At that moment I knew Calico was saying something, because I could see her mouth moving.  However, I was already intimidated by the individuals who sat around Peaches’ table.  Plus I was downright paranoid about the Trumpet.  I was slow to absorb Calico’s words.  It seemed like I heard her voice from far away.

Fairy_Islands_1916_by_Ida_Rentoul_Outhwaite

Fairy Islands, 1916, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Wikimedia

Faeries have a fight or flight reflex — quite literally.  Mine abruptly kicked-in, and my wings unfolded before I knew what was happening.  My wayward wings knocked a honeydew melon off a sideboard.  The honeydew hit the floor in an explosive crash of seeds, juice, and melon flesh.  It splattered half the people at the table.

I jumped backward in my agitation.  One of my wings caught painfully on the doorjamb.  I gasped and turned, not understanding what was causing the pain.  My wing started to tear as I moved.

In the recesses of my mind I heard more than one person scream “No!”  They could see what I was too distressed to understand — that I was about to do serious harm to myself if I moved.

I was vaguely aware of seeing Catseye Glimmer stand.  He turned to the unique flower arrangement behind his seat.  Quickly he picked a stem with several cotton bowls.  He whispered to the plant and flexed his fingers in an impossible looking motion.  Then he threw it toward me.

The stem sailed past, an inch from touching me.  It transformed to a soft cushion the size of the doorway, gently preventing me from moving or doing serious damage to my wing.

“Goodness, she looks like she’ll swoon!” Ember Beamwitch exclaimed.  “Here Bedlam, sit down.”

As if he had the same thought as Ember, Pick Dragonfly handed me a glass of chilled water.

Ember put the first two fingers of her right hand to the “third eye” area of my forehead.  A soft glow emanated from her hand.  After a second I felt a wonderful cool sensation and I no longer felt faint.

I was suddenly aware of Field Yewwasp bending over me.  Everyone else had been between the furry faery and me.  How could someone so large move so fast that I didn’t even see him?  As I looked at him in confusion, he asked if I was all right.

“You’d best stay earthbound, rather than fly, until that heals,” Field advised.

The big pain in my wing seemed disproportionate to what was actually a small tear.  Calico unexpectedly drew a tiny jar of ointment from her pocket.  She gave me a sardonic smile.

“Bedlam, my flight skills aren’t any better than yours.  I’ve learned to keep first aid with me,” Calico confessed.  “May I?” she asked indicating the ointment.

I nodded, still mute.  The ointment did lessen the pain.  I drank from the water Pick gave me.  Wide-eyed, I gazed in amazement at the kindness of the people around me.  However, a most unpleasant sensation reverberated through my head.  I shook my head to clear the ringing, but it wouldn’t stop.

Fairfacefairy_2

Wikimedia

***

I hope you clicked the links to reveal the mystery folk. Additions to the cast for this episode include characters named by Hollyberye, Colleen Chesebro, Chris Graham, Mary J. Mccoy-Dressel, and Tim Price.

Fly back to Teagan’s Books next time to reveal new mystery folk and see what happens in episode three. 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Photo-Artist Tim Price Reviewed “Atonement, Tennessee

Perspectives

Peacock Chateau Paris vintageFor once I don’t feel like I’m engaging in shameless self-promotion.  I guess that’s because it’s giving me the chance to share with you the wonderful talent of someone else.

I’m proud as a peacock of the mindful review photo-artist Timothy Price did of Atonement, Tennessee.  But I was absolutely stunned when I saw the photo-art he created for it.  I was also delighted, flattered, honored, humbled…

He shares his work with art, documentary and promotional photography at T&L Photos.  If you like to use only WordPress, Tim has POTDE Archives, with links where you can access his main site.

Tim created his interpretation of the old graveyard, which is the setting for a couple of key scenes in my novel.  Tim’s photography is based in New Mexico.  So that is where he found an old cemetery that gives a southwestern perspective of those scenes.

Atonement TennesseeThat perspective is what made the photography so special to me.  You see, I’ve always enjoyed the fact that a single story can be perceived differently by a dozen people. When people talk to me about “Atonement,” each reader’s perspective brings out a different aspect of the story — and that makes my spirit soar!  (I wonder… do peacocks soar?)

Recently Tim added reviews to his blog.  He’s also doing great memory-story features he calls Tales from My Youth.  I really enjoy those, and I’m sure you will too.

So please, follow the links to Tim’s blog and check out his review and photo-art of Atonement, Tennessee.  

Oh yes… since Tim’s photo captured the spirit of the novel and the graveyard scenes so well, here’s a suitable little snippet from my novel.  Our heroine has been in her new/old home little more than 24 hours. It’s getting dark when she realizes the cat is missing…

“Atonement, Tennessee” Snippet

I thought about the layout of the property and realized I was making my way to the graveyard.  It would be just like Lilith to cause me to wander around in the dark.  Alone.  In a cemetery!

Naturally I had no idea which way the cat went, and I don’t know why I kept going that direction.  However, if something made me feel like going that way, then I knew that was where I should go.  So I did.

In the fading light it was hard to make out the gravestones that told me I had reached the cemetery.  Everything was overgrown.  I thought the street should be over and down the hill from that spot.  I hoped Lilith didn’t venture that far.  Oh great, I thought.  Now I was getting even more worried, because I had thought of the street.  My heart beat faster still.

I raised the kibble box to rattle it again, hopping it would get her attention. Suddenly I stopped.  I was sheltered by a big clump of tall bushes of some sort.  I thought it might be mountain laurel.  I could see the broad side of the mausoleum from there.

black_eagle_with_open_wings_design-t1Shadows lurched violently against the stone crypt.  Big shadows.  Reflexively I drew back into the concealing vegetation.  Then I heard a loud avian-like screech and realized that the shadow shapes might have been wings.  My heart hammered.

The noise escalated.  It definitely sounded like more than one creature was causing that ruckus.  Then I heard the cat hiss.  I dropped the box of food and ran toward the sounds; ready to use the flashlight as a club, and wishing I had something more effective.

“Lilith!” I called.  Oh, let’s face it — I screamed.

As I ran out form the concealing mountain laurel a gust of wind buffeted me.  I tripped and fell on the uneven pavers of the path, just as the wind blew my hair, along with some dirt, into my eyes.  I couldn’t see at all for a moment, but I heard a lot of heavy rustling, scraping, shifting sounds.Black feather

Every time I thought I had half way cleared my eyes, the wind blew something into them again.  I struggled to my feet, desperately wiping my stinging eyes.  I heard soft footsteps coming toward me.

“Are you hurt?” he asked.

With an electric jump I gasped.  The calm kindness of the words did nothing to ease the added fear of knowing there was a person there.  A stranger.  In the dark.  In the graveyard.

***

Now… Truly shameless self-promotion

Barnes & Noble Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/atonement-tennessee-teagan-geneviene/1117790203?ean=2940148918431

Kindle and Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A/ref=la_B00HHDXHVM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412384486&sr=1-1

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A

Amazon Canada

http://www.amazon.ca/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438820924&sr=8-1&keywords=atonement+tennessee

Amazon India

http://www.amazon.in/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/dp/1481826948