Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Ride into the night

I walked down to the stables; I have never ridden a horse, let alone at night. I don’t think you could count the donkey or the unicorn ride. Something led me to believe that tonight was going to lead me down the same path.

I arrived at the stables just as the sun was setting, casting an orange glow in the sky. The stable hand was nowhere to be seen. I called out “Hello, hello I’ve come for a night ride.” There was no answer. I called out again “Hey is there anyone here?” Again there was no response so I started back towards the house. I hadn’t got far when I came across a young boy leading a white mare. The mare broke from his grasp and trotted up to me. The boy ran up the path to join us. “She has found you; she has been waiting to take you for a ride into the night. She will take you where you need to go and have you back by dawn.”

I mounted the steed and she immediately took flight, straight into a gallop with me holding on for dear life. The scenery flew past in a blur of tree trunks, foliage and dust kicked up by the mare.

We reached a clearing soon after and she slowed to a trot. It was then that she spoke to me. “Secure me to the railing there to your right, then follow the path that leads between the grove of trees, you will know your destination when you come to it.” I tied her to the railing as she requested, there was water and chaff in basins at its base, and she was happily munching away when I left to walk down the path.

The path was somewhat overgrown and lit only by a sliver of the moon. I walked on until I came to a weather worn and rusted gate. I opened it to pass through and it creaked and groaned. It was only then that I noticed that I was standing in a graveyard. Something had drawn me to this place, I don’t know what and why tonight! I don’t mind cemeteries, but not in the middle of the night. I tried to open the gate to leave; it seemed to be stuck fast.

My breathing became heavier and my palms sweaty as I started to panic. Then I remembered what Nana had told me. “Do not be afraid. The dead cannot hurt you, it is the living you need to worry about” I started to calm and felt drawn towards the centre of the graveyard. I walked carefully through the many fallen headstones until I came to a small statue of an angel. It appeared to be the grave of a little girl. I couldn’t read it clearly, it had weathered over time. I was able to make out the child’s name Eliza Jane she was born in the 1800’s and she had a mother or a sibling called Charlotte.

I cleared away the weeds that were growing into this grave. I thought to myself that I seemed to be doing an awful lot on this trip. This was obviously the place the mare had been talking about; why I was brought here. A sweet almost angelic voice spoke to me: “We have called you; you have been chosen to tell their stories. Remember the book” I knew what book the voice was referring to, the book that Livia gave me The Forgotten – the story of lost souls – I hadn’t forgotten. Then the voice and the feeling of needing to be here was gone. I walked carefully back to the gate, which this time opened without a struggle and a creak and a groan.

I walked back to the mare, waiting where I had left her. I untethered her and told her I would like to some of the way to enjoy the peace of the evening.

It was nearing dawn when we returned to the stables. The stable boy was asleep in one of the stalls, so I left the white mare tethered to the railing. I thanked her for guiding my journey and started back towards the house.

Side trip to Duwamish

Relaxed after my travels and my performance at the Abbey under control I decided to take the opportunity to explore Duwamish. The Inn was crowded with people rehearsing, captivating the audience of locals. The Enchantress is bustling about, overseeing rehearsals and getting all in order for the banquet at the Abbey.

Armed with my backpack, journal pen and camera (I am learning to travel light!)
I was off, but not before collecting the Duwamish brochure at the front desk. My first stop was the shops along the Marina and a chance to perhaps collect some treasures.

I stopped in at the Art Gallery; it was rather an eclectic mix of artists and works. I made a most pleasurable acquisition. The gallery had a selection of sketches -rendered by our friend Heather – of the Duwamish Bay. I could not leave without this purchase.

My next stop was the Curio Shoppe. Full of the weird and wonderful. I browsed the store, not looking for anything in particular. I knew that if there was something here for me then it would point itself out. And there it was, amongst a collection of apothecary jars, bottles and tools. A slender glass bottle within which a single raven’s feather was suspended, as if held there by magic.

A brief stop at the Sweet Shoppe, I now know where the Soul Food Café get their chocolates. I was quite literally was the kid in the candy store. A small selection of sweets and chocolates were purchased and I was on my way again.

Livia Cotard’s bookshop was the next stop on my Duwamish expedition. That could have been the end of my adventure; I could spend hours in such a delight as this bookshop. I had been browsing in the bookshop of exquisite books when Livia herself came to me. She said “I do apologise, but I must ask you to leave, I must go to collect a story. Please accept my apologies and please do return before you leave Duwamish.” As she said this she pressed a small leather bound book into my hands. I told her I could not accept such a gift. “Nonsense” she said “it is yours.” I thanked her, promising to return before our party departed Duwamish.

Then it was time for the most important destination in my exploration, but first I had to find some flowers. I walked towards the end of the marina and purchased some flowers from a woman with a cart laden with flowers. Then I started toward the Leaning Birch Cemetery – where the forgotten were laid to rest. I met no one on the way. At the cemetery it seemed that no one came here at all.

The graves were overgrown; some of the headstones had fallen over and lay where they fell. I had to search for what I had come for checking headstones and clearing vines. It was then that I found it. A small headstone with the inscription:
The Forgotten – in memory of the stillborn babes
I cleared around the grave as best I could and lay my flowers down. This was how it was so long ago. There were no records, no names or numbers, but this is the site of many a stillborn babe.

I sat down by the headstone and took out of my backpack the book that Livia had given me. I opened the book to the title page; it read – The Forgotten – the story of lost souls.