Maura’s Story IIII

They say one day you wake up and you know when you’ve crossed the line.

You know… and there’s nothing you can do to turn back.  You’d think that was the day I sent Brian home.

Nope. My day came a week later.

We’d gathered at the meadow down by Paddy O’Leary’s house at dusk.  A local farmer whose family had ties with the Tuatha for centuries. A big bonfire roared  in the center of a stone circle. The megalith boulders rose twelve feet in the air and encompassed a hundred foot span.  Hundreds of  guests circled the fire inside the rock boundaries. Sizes of the guests ranged from gigantic to itty-bitty. Brownies and fairies and even a banshee, I later learned. Today was the day before Samhain and trepidation hung in the air. Tonight I was going to take the reins from my grandmother and start my journey.

Was I ready? Was I capable?

I watched from afar, the laughing and cheering, as I sat beneath an old oak tree and hugged my knees. I almost wished a hole would open up under me and suck me from this world.  As night fell, I rose on shaky legs and then emerged. A silence came over group. My gaze sought the guidance of my Nana.

She smiled and nodded her approval.

I walked forward, head held high and entered the circle.

What was it with being royalty? We’re real people, with real feelings.

I stopped and searched the gazes of the people. Some happy, some scared, some were curious, others angry. Why? I’d never asked for this. Would gladly walk away.

A powder was thrown into the fire and a blue smoke swirled around the crowd. As if I was being pulled, I was drawn closer to the flames. And as I stood before the great blaze my eyes sought, connected, held with a stranger from across the way. I’d seen this person before. That second day in Ireland.

Circenn.

The man at the museum. The man who I should fear.

Did fear.

His long black hair free from a braid framed his bronze face, his yellow eyes more feral than friendly and the magnetism he presented made my palms burn. His hash lined face, so magnificent, so fascinating to watch, become more as he appeared to search my soul. I felt a presence in my head, his, and I struggled to throw him out. I couldn’t. His eyes seemed to glow, to swirl. I felt every hair on my body stand up and began to pulse. I felt the air leave my lungs. I felt the world shift as he gazed into my eyes. My head started to pound, my heart started to flutter. I squeezed my legs together.

He nodded once, as if he was pleased. Damn him.

His thoughts were suddenly my thoughts. Myself alone heard. “Every hero must die before they can truly live again.”

I looked deep into the flames. Let the word mingle in my head. Felt the heat, embraced the unknown as it flickered across my skin. I stepped closer to the roaring in my brain.

I sought his gaze once more.

His lips drew tight. The only sign he showed.

And I knew.

I closed my eyes and stepped forward.

The ending is your choice. But? Is this really the end or just the beginning….

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Maura’s Story Part III

For the next two weeks I learned who and what I was. Or I should say I was told what I was. I was still skeptical because I had none of the power.

The lessons were hard, but Nana was kind. Too kind and I knew I was a disappointment to her. One day she told me to go out and breathe in same good Irish air hoping it would make a difference. I think she wanted time to figure out what to do, since there was no way I was prepared to battle. A battle against good and evil in less than a week and a half. Hysteria bubbled within me. I was responsible. Me?

I walked. I had to see and talk to people who weren’t insane  and spewing nonsense. I went to Trinity College. I wanted to see if the  Book of Kells was as beautiful as described. The ancient Gospels, painted in the artistic style of insular, was said to have been crafted by Irish and Scottish monks between the seventh and tenth century. Perhaps I was interested in the beauty of the book, yet, I think I sought the manuscript because of what it was. A book of Gospels. Something I knew, something I believed.

I was an artist, a writer, a crafter. I was not a member of the  Tuatha De Danann and I couldn’t save anyone.

While I stood over the book, engrossed in endless fascination, I felt the air shift. The room itself begin to squeeze and then pulse around me like a heart beat.  As if I was a child in my mother’s womb. No one else seemed to notice.  A roaring in my head started and I place my hands over my ears. I’d gone crazy was my initial reaction until I  saw him. A tall giant of a man standing directly across the room from me.

He was in the Shadows. Yet, I knew his bronzed face. His hair was black, long,  braided down his back to his waist. His eyes were yellow, slanted and glowed with a fire I did not know existed. He was terrifying. He was beautiful.

He stepped into the light and grew even more spectacular. And then he started towards me, menace slashing his harsh features and I knew he was displeased. With me? I held up a hand, just wanting him to stop. He was over powering me. He was coming too fast, too aggressive and I needed more time. I wasn’t ready. Wasn’t ready for whatever he wanted from me.

Stop!

Suddenly, he stopped. Looked down at his feet with a frown. He looked back up and I could tell I’d pissed him off even more.

He means you harm, whispered inside my head in a place deep, deep within me. Recalling my lessons from Nana I wished him gone from my sight. Right now. This instant.

He disappeared.

I screamed. I’d just disintegrated a man. Was it murder even if there wasn’t a body?

The people at the college tried the best they could to calm me. Though not a one had seen what I had. There had been no man and hence no disappearance.

I called Brian in a panic. I got his voice mail and left a frantic message. “I don’t know what’s happening to me. I need you. I think I’m in trouble.”

There are good days and then there are bad days.

Today was not my finest hour. And yet, looking back, it was the least of my worries.

I ran home to find Nana in the greenhouse. I asked her what happened and about the man I’d seen. And what I’d done. “I snapped my fingers and he disappeared. Do you think I killed him?”

“You saw Circenn?” She dropped the lavender she’d been tying and looked at me with flat, cold eyes.

“Circenn.” His name rolled off my tongue and toiled in my head. What a lovely name. Too bad he was dead. And all because of me.

“Stay away from him.” Nan’s voice was sharp. “He’s not one of us.”

“And that’s a problem?”

“Only if you want to live.”

“So he’s alive?” It was all I grasped. He was alive and I wasn’t a murderess. Thank goodness.

“Didn’t you hear me. He’s on the side that wants you to fail. You might be able to hold him back for a while, but do not trust him.”

“He wants me to fail?”

“Don’t trust him ever.” She made some excuse and left me on my own.

I can’t say what, why, or even how, but I had changed. I was different and  I could never go back to the way I was before. Perhaps because I thought I’d killed someone, or that I discovered a slither of power inside me. I wanted to know more, but I was so drained I went to bed.

The next day Brian arrived.  I’d completely forgotten I’d left my cell phone back at the museum.

“I couldn’t get a hold of you. I was so scared,” he claimed as he stood at the threshold of the entry door.

I saw him in his tweed jacket and his slightly curly brown hair slicked back, and everything seemed crystal clear. I knew. I just knew.

I smiled, stepped forward and hugged him. I inhaled his clean, nice scent. Tucked that smell in me and let it wash away my worry, my uncertainty over the last few weeks. “Brian, I’m so glad you came.”

“I had to. I had to know you were all right. Your call frightened me to death. And when your cell went straight to voice mail I rushed here, thinking the worst. You are all right?”

“I’m so glad you came.” I leaned back in his comforting arms and held his face in my hands. “This would have been difficult to explain over the phone.”

He frowned.

I caressed his perfect face, his strong jaw and searched his lovely blue eyes. He was the nicest, most decent man I knew.

And like that, I knew.

I knew I couldn’t marry this man after all.

Maura’s Story Part II

When people say their lives aren’t complicate and then put kohl under their eyes while they’re dressed in a beautiful flowing dress and talk about the world ending, you can guarantee they’re lying.

“Did you ever wish you were someone else?” My Nana asked as I stood next to her in the bathroom. I couldn’t take my eyes off her reflection in the mirror. I’d arrived three nights ago and was still reeling in shock. I was in Ireland, with my Nana, and feeling more nauseated by the minute.

“Ah, sure,” I said. As in right now. What had I gotten myself into? I still couldn’t believe the woman I was standing next to was my grandmother. I wanted to touch her, hug her, but I was scared to. “But then I never aware of what I was missing.”

“Take me for instance,” she said, not paying attention to me as she touched up the last of her mascara. ” I asked for help a long time ago, from the Goddess Morrigan.  But as a Tuatha De Danann and her being the Celtic goddess of war, think Athena on a whiskey bender, the results were more complicated than usual. I went to sleep one night and when I awoke, I was someone else. A human! I was in bed with a man I didn’t know, and pregnant with your mother. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t return to my home.”

“Nope. Not hearing a word,” I said placing hands over my ears and walked away. But no matter where I went, she followed. This was exactly why I didn’t want to come to Ireland. Every letter, every card, every call was the same for the last twenty years. A silly story about an immaculate conception and my family roots tied to the Tuatha. The fifth race of people to settle Ireland, conquering the island from the Fir Bolg, in Irish mythology and apparently my close relatives. “I hate to break this to you, but you’re not the Virgin Mary.”

“You’re so funny, Maura. Your aunt was the one named Mary, not me.” My grandmother, who looked younger than me, with her flawless white skin, black hair, grey eyes and size four frame,  patted my cheek. “Your father’s sister was a weird one. She fit into California so easily.”

“Funny that, coming from you.” I watched as she sat a pan on the stove and took out a carton of eggs. She was nice, very eccentric, oh, and not to mention a total fruitcake.

“Why are you being so stubborn?”

“Me? You’re the one talking about  fairies and mythological people.” I still couldn’t get over how she looked. Allison, my Nana, looked about twenty, twenty-two. Maura wanted to ask who her cosmetic surgeon was, but she was frightened to hear another of Allison’s truths.

“Stop worrying about how I look. You’re a beautiful woman, Maura.”

I couldn’t get over she could read my mind either.

“You  refuse to listen or talk. What choice do I have?” She smiled placing the eggs on a plate.

“If you spoke an ounce of truth, talking wouldn’t be difficult.” I took a sip of my orange juice. Everything appeared so normal. If Maura was having a conversation with a woman her age, not someone who was supposedly three thousand years old. And her supposed Nana.

“If everything you said was so important, why didn’t you raise me?”

“I no longer have my power. You were safer in California.”

“In the town of Oz? My neighbor was a warlock.” A supposed warlock. I didn’t believe in such things.

“No one looked for you there. Your potential was covered by all the other spirits living in the community.”

I loved how she called it potential. A nice way to say I had nothing great going for me…yet. “I feel so much better knowing they’re more crazy people out there like you.”

“Like us,” she said pulling me close. “Let’s not fight. I’m just so glad you’re finally here with me after all this time.”

Her arms folded about me and I felt a sense of energy, of heat, from her. I closed my eyes, and sighed, leaning into her. “How on earth are you my Nana. You look younger than me.”

“Good genes.” she laughed. “The world works in mysterious ways, my child. I’m here to help you now. You’re ready to embrace your heritage. There wasn’t much time left and I thought I’d have to come after you. Your boss wasn’t as difficult to manipulate. Her motives are very clear, yours are not.”

“I don’t have motives. I like my life. ” The whole world was ending and it was up to the daughters daughter of the Tuatha De Danann to save the earth in the realm it was in today. And that was Maura. Yah, me. “I like my life. My life back in California.”

“But you’re a princess?” She looked at me like she couldn’t fathom me not rejoicing.

“I’m sorry I ever joked about it to Brian.” I sighed, letting go. What woman didn’t fool around about wanting to be a princess. But now that it was real? I stared deep into my grandmother’s eyes. “I don’t want to be a princess.”

“My sins have now become yours. You have three weeks to adapt. The ritual has to take place on Samhain.”

The ritual. Oh, yeah, there was more to look forward to.”My editor’s going to love that.”

“You’re still thinking of your editor.” She blinked up at me.

I sat down and took a bite of toast. “The whole reason I’m here. I came to write a story-not be a story. Now I’m going to have to invest what life savings I had, in a therapist.”

“I’ll have Regan come over. She’s a wizard with herbs.”

“When you say wizard,” I swallowed hard, “do you mean, literally a wizard?”

Nana laughed. “No.”

Relief rolled through me.

“She’s fey.” Nana laughed at my horrified expression. “Her hands are pure magic.”

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What’s Scary to You?

I don’t read a lot of scary stories. Halloween isn’t a big holiday in my house. And so I wondered what I was going to write about in order to fit in this month? What was scary to me? Writing Urban Fantasy and in first person scares me to death…so here is my story about an Irish girl in search of her roots during the active time of Samhain (the real Hallows Eve). Remember I love all things Celtic!

WTF. That’s right. What the fey?

Maura’s Story 

Part 1

October. My favorite month. Not.

October, the month that ruined my life. The month that destroyed everything I believed about my life…about myself.

Perhaps I’m jumping ahead.

My name is Maura. Maura Kennedy. I’m what some would call disorganized, scattered, but I’m a people-pleaser and I try real hard to fit in. I have a great little Victorian styled house, a perfect doctor boyfriend and many, many friends. My future of pushing out babies and making cakes for charities was looking really good. I knew where I was going and I was happy with me.

Or should I say, I was.

I’m a part-time reporter. I write short articles concerning macramé and how to pickle beets in the fall. I’m the crafty girl over at the bustling newspaper, The Good Witch, in sunny Eureka, California. And this month, October, my editor wanted more from me. More than I bargained for.

Delaney Williams is my boss. She’s a big black haired, black eyed bitch. She would lie, steal, cheat and sell her own child all in the name of getting a good story. Did I mention she’s a witch? And when she heard I received a letter from my Nana, who lives  in Ireland and that I was born in that far off country, a light bulb went off above her head.

“Maura,” she said the morning of our weekly meeting. “We are sending you to Ireland for the month of October. With our target audience you’ll write all about Samhain.” Samhain, the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead. The Celtic people, who were once found all over Europe, divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter. “They’ll love it. The potential for our biggest success story ever.”

See, the village we live in is the local hot spot for the United Witches and Warlocks or UWW. I don’t believe in such ridiculousness, but I was raised here by my Aunt Mary. My parents died when I was three and reasons I couldn’t go into I never could leave after my Aunt’s death. It was home.

“You’ll cover our sisters and brothers practicing their beliefs in the traditional  sense. Their gods, their customs.” Celtic belief in supernatural creatures persisted. While the church made deliberate attempts to define them as being not merely dangerous, but malicious, followers of the old religion went into hiding and were branded as witches. Druids were banished and the true fairy’s forgotten. “The old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche, to be satisfied with the new, more abstract Catholic feast honoring saints.  Halloween is a ruse and the Celts knew it. The church tried to supplant too much with their Christian faith.”

“Delaney, thanks for the history lesson, but I have no interest in covering such drivel. No offense.” I held up my hand and shifted and thought of my boyfriend, my sweet good-looking, down to earth doctor. Whoops, my fiancé as of last night.  I flipped over my hand. A big one carat diamond ring twinkled and everyone ahh’ed.  “Besides Brian just asked me to marry him. I can’t leave now. He has a big dinner planned with his parents to talk about wedding details.”

“That’s nice. He’s waited three years, what’s another month?”  Delaney’s black eyes bored deep, looking for any sign of weakness. “The problem is you don’t believe.”

“Of course, I don’t believe. ” I snorted. I played with my fire engine red hair and wondered what I’d cook for dinner tonight. Salmon cakes? or would Brian like a steak? Three years wasn’t a long time to wait. And at twenty-four, Maura,  had plenty of time to decide what was best for her. Delaney wasn’t going to intimidate her.  “Send anyone else. They’re all dying to go.”

“You’re not listening, Maura. You’re going to Ireland. You have connections there. They’ll trust you.”

“Because of my green eyes and red hair?” It would be nice to visit my Nana, Allison, but I didn’t want to go. A lump formed in my chest. I needed some Rolaids. The spicy spaghetti  I’d had  for lunch burned. “I’m not a guru. The audience will know I don’t care. The writing will be weak.” I looked around at my co-workers. Their eyes were wide. They were impressed I was standing up to the battle ax.  I smiled. “And nothing you can do will make me go.”

“Really?”

So, here I am. Two days later. Crammed in between two smelly people, one of alcohol, the other of sweet gardenia’s. I fluffed my pillow and frowned. I should have known the daughter of Satan would find a way to get what she wanted.

I was flying across the world. I was headed to Ireland.

The land of the Tuatha De Danann.

The land of my people.

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I hope you stick around for the next 3 installments. Leave a comment (and email addy) and be sure to post on Tuesdays your own story.

Next week- It’s my turn to be giving out a gift. A $25 Amazon card.