Every Friday I’ll be posting a flash fiction or a character interview from Wytch.
A glimmer, or indeed a flash, into the story that one day, *sigh* will be finished!
This week, my first week, is Destiny-ations, a little look at Ellen, one of my minor characters, who I thought deserved a voice of her own.
“My destiny was the same as my mothers.
Hers, was identical to that of her mothers before her, and so on through the ages. All identical.
I didn’t want identical. I didn’t want the same. I didn’t want to tread where others had previously trodden.
I am aware that there are some folk who like to walk in the footsteps of those who have since passed, to step through the echoes of time, but my life – my story, isn’t his-story, nor is it her-story. It is mine.
I was born during the Sacred Moon, just as my mother had been, and her mother before her.
Tiresome. To know that from the moment I was born, my path was awaiting those first tentative steps upon it, to carry me from that moment to my last. An identical path. It angered me.
I was no different to any other newborn, that the Water Raptures visit to deliver their fate, the only difference was that we all knew my fate. This is how it has always been in our family, destined to be the Quenes hand. Our destiny set.
True. We are each destined. All the many roads take us to the same end, the destination of which is certain. It is the choices we make upon our travel to that end, that are not so certain. The choices determine how we arrive, whether we stroll to our destiny taking many detours, resting at the wells to drink, or rush to greet our destiny in haste and in thirst.
I have been blessed. I see those things that others can not, and I drink deeply at each well. However, it is something I had to learn.
I found my teacher, my guide, quite by chance, because of the tedium I felt about my destiny, of following in my mothers footsteps. I never bothered to look ahead, after all, I knew what lay there. Still, I was a curious child and instead of looking down in misery, I looked elsewhere, for adventure.
I peered around corners and doorways, into yards, through fences and gates. I climbed trees to find the horizon that others could not yet see, I opened boxes that sat upon shelves holding their secrets under closed lids and sometimes locks.
If I was spoken to, I rarely looked upon their face, I studied the way their hands moved as they spoke. If their hair was shiny and oiled or dirty and dry. I looked at saliva bubbling in the corners of their mouths and if their eyebrows were neat or untamed. I was always looking for something else, something that others may not see.
Out on walks, I tripped and stumbled, bruised and grazed, always because I paid attention to different things. I was 9 and returning home with lavender bread that my mother had sent me out to collect. On that journey back, through the trees that lined the stony path, the sunlight cut through the branches and stopped me in an instant.
It had been raining and the air snapped around me, a thundery cloud above, threatened to soak the land below it once more. It’s scent surrounded me, a primal musty smell that leaves an after taste in your mouth of damp earth. I always loved that smell, it reminds me that there is something more to where you stand at that moment, something bigger than time itself. With the smell enveloping me, and the sunlight bathing me, I felt as though I was standing in magic itself.
Dust particles danced gracefully around me, I saw flickers and orbs of colour. The branches swayed in the breeze chasing the light away. When it returned, it bought with it the sweet sweet song of the thrush. Transfixed was I, caught in the beauty of nature. Entranced by magic indeed.
Had I have not disliked my future so much and refused to look at what was in front of me. Had I have not looked up instead of straight ahead, I wouldn’t have seen that show of magic. I wouldn’t have looked around for more, and I wouldn’t have seen the gate.
The gate was small, woven from hawthorn, hazel and gorse, a simple gate, and the simple gate was ajar. Me, a rebellious child, I could not resist such a temptation to see what that gate would open to.
That gate saved me. It saved me from myself. It showed me that my path was a blessed one, regardless of the fact that the path was the same as my mothers, and her mothers before.
As I stepped over the threshold and into the garden, I was greeted by yellow flowers, green herbs, red poppies and even weeds. A host of plants, rich in fragrance, that all looked to have been planted with care, consideration and love.
I’d never met a wytch before, and when she spoke to me, I didn’t look to see if her hair was oiled or dry, I didn’t notice her eyebrows or if the saliva collected at the corners of her mouth, I simply stared at the eye. The one eye that was turned inward. It was as though someone had erased the colour, the iris, the pupil, it wasn’t turned inward. What stories had I been told!
She spoke softly, yet laughed loudly. That day, my first day of meeting her, she showed me that standing in magic was a rare treat indeed, but to walk in magic was rarer still.
She taught me that it didn’t matter that my path was the same, that all roads lead us to our end. That it was the people on our path that would make it so unique.
Such a simple notion. This woman gave me, a nine year old, time and understanding to explain the meaning of our destinies. In gratitude I left her the loaf of lavender bread, my mother was so angry with me, but it abated when she saw the difference within me regarding her life that I had to follow.
I visited the wytch twice a week, from that day, until her death.
Forever teaching me, guiding me, showing me how to look for the beauty in all things, even those that appeared ugly to me. She taught me about herbs and flowers. About the birds and different insects that each held their place within her garden, our land.
She taught me how to see the various avenues and lanes that branch off the main road, that each one is a choice, a possibility, an adventure.
Throughout my life, she was the one who made my path unique. This beautiful woman taught me everything I know, she enriched my world and showed me that looking ahead is full of joy and beauty. That we need to stop and rest, to look around, to drink, so that we won’t trip or thirst. She taught me to be a witch.
Our destinies are the same, yet we are each unique.
Whilst we travel on the same road toward the same end, we can still experience different aspects that life has to offer. It doesn’t matter that someone once stood where you now stand, because it is who stood with them that counted. It is who stands with you that matters to you. It is those people who make your path worth travelling.”
Ellen appears in Wytch at various points within the Royal storyline.
She lives at the capital city, Magda, in Dagda Mead.
She is excellent at keeping secrets, will occasionally meddle in other peoples love lives, and stands tall and strong in her convictions.
In memory of her mother and to commemorate the day in which her views of her mother changed, she bakes lavender bread at every Sacred Moon.