2.11.2009

The Old Mermaid, an excerpt


(This is a scene from The Old Mermaid. It's still in draft, but I thought you might enjoy it.)

And so, after Ruby left the room, Sara spread out the pieces of the quilt. She braided two strands of her hair with a thread from the faery yarn. She ran them through the needle, and they became the thread that wove the patches together.

Sara sang softly as she sewed, “The spirits of here and the spirits of there I honor thee. With this thread, I unweave the spell over me. I unbind the ties that bind me to he. Oh, the spirits of here and the spirits of there. With this yarn, I weave a new spell with all my might. A spell of protection in the night. I say this charm to keep me from harm. I undo the magic that has been done to me so that I may have liberty and be forever free.”

They say that on that day travelers from near and far couldn’t find the White Inn. It stood near the white beach and the blue sea in plain sight, but it was lost in the fog of whatever enchantment Sara O’Broin and Ruby McGonagle were weaving. When Cormac McDougal walked from the other side of the island to see about his wife, he got lost once or twice or plenty of times to cause him to turn around and return to his work.

And Mr. Smith couldn’t find his way back either. Ruby McGonagle used this opportunity to look for the sealskin her husband had taken from her so many years ago on a faraway beach. At the time, she had thought he was a pretty boy and she saw no harm when he laughed and held the sealskin out of her reach. And his kisses were softer than any she had known before. But now on this tiny island in the middle of a sea that was not always very peaceful, she wanted her life back.

Some say Ruby found what she was looking for that day. She pressed it against her heart and laughed with joy. She thought about running upstairs and telling Sara, but that thought lasted for only a second. She forgot Sara, forgot her husband, forgot her children. She ran out of the White Inn and toward the sea. As soon as her webbed feet touched the water, Ruby McGonagle disappeared. It was then Sara thought she heard someone laughing and then the sound of splashing, as though two otters were having fun in a nearby river. She listened for a moment and didn’t hear anything else, so she went back to sewing.

Others say Ruby McGonagle just disappeared that day and was never heard from again, and her disappearance didn't have anything to do with some foolish selkie story. And still others say Ruby went to visit a friend on the other side of the island and returned a few days later.

Sara finished the quilt that day. She put it around her shoulders and pulled it around her body. She closed her eyes. She felt as though she was being embraced by her mother, her land and sea sisters, by the faeries, by the auld mother. She felt rocked by the sea itself. She looked down at the quilt. All the patches now appeared to be the same color so that the quilt looked as though it was made from the same cloth. And it glittered. Sara blinked and it was emerald glitter; she blinked again and it was ruby glitter. She smiled.

Then she felt something in the pit of her stomach and she heard the whisper of her name from a distance. She had heard it off and on all day. Now she knew Cormac was coming closer, and he sounded angry.

She quickly folded up the quilt. She stuffed it in her bag, along with the treasure box. She hurried out into the corridor and opened the door of one of the empty rooms. She flattened out the bag as much as she could and she put it under one of the mattresses.

Then she hurried back into their room. She quickly straightened up the sheets and blankets on the bed and then sat in the chair and waited for Cormac. She heard footsteps. She heard the anger in every footfall. Tomorrow night she had to meet May. Tomorrow night she was leaving this place and Cormac for good, and she had to make certain nothing happened to jeopardize that. She took a deep breath.

“Help me, sea sisters,” Sara whispered. “Help me sooth his heart so that I may depart.”

The door swung open. Cormac’s face was red, his eyes were watery.

He was angry and drunk.

Sara looked up at him. She was not going to let this happen again.

2 comments:

Lynn said...

Wow~ I am ready for more! I am waiting for the library to tell me I can come pick up some of your books... Thanks for sharing your process.

Clairedulalune said...

Really beautifully written, im intrigued! i will keep an eye out for it on my daily travels! Best of luck with everything!