An excerpt from The Olde Ways

Everything we write isn’t perfect, but sometimes there’s something there, longing to get out. Here’s a fine example of something that I noodled with, but never made any real headway on.

Lots of missteps and misfirings, but I thought there might be some promise in it.

From a chapter titled, Spring, this is an excerpt from a story I called The Olde Ways.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll revisit it?

***

The sea was the very essence of power and unfettered rage, or so the thoughts of one Elizabeth Andersson surmised as she took in the view of the storm that reigned over the North Shore. As a child she would imagine such a tempest wrought by the hands of ancient gods wishing to be remembered, if for but a little while. Thor would bring the thunder and the lightning, and Njord would inflame the sea, and somewhere, out there in the white capped torment, riding the foam would be the wights and the blonde haired maidens and winged stallions would gallop on the horrific winds. Could Odin, upon six-legged Sleipner be far behind? No, he was orchestrating the torrent from his station in the blackened sky, his one eye keen on the power the old ones still clung to, in spite of man’s progress.

Her grandmother had scolded her whenever she vocalized these fantasies, chiding her for her unchristian-like flights of fancy. With a firm hand, tempered by a Protestant upbringing, her grandmother taught her to keep such thoughts to the secret places in her heart, but there they flowered and took deep root, Christ be damned. She looked back on her grandmother now, bound to her wheelchair and lost to the horrors of Alzheimer’s. Where is your God now, grandmother? Mine are out there raising a ruckus, while yours abandons you to this living hell.

The young woman’s attention once more to the storm, though more rightly to another figure that seemed as taken by it as she. Perhaps more, in fact, for he stood by the sea itself, as opposed to from the safety of the sturdy wooden deck of her grandmother’s beach house. The man stood on a rocky outcropping that jutted out into the ocean’s violence unafraid. While Elizabeth accepted the pounding winds and driving rain, he seemingly embraced it, allowing it to pummel him with an impossible arrogance. Even from this distance, she thought she might love this man. She heard the sliding glass patio door open and the voice of her grandmother’s visiting nurse call to her against the tempest, pulling her away from her contemplations.

“Miss Elizabeth, you’d best be away from there and get yourself back inside. That cold’ll be the death of you.”

“I’m coming.” She turned away from her meditation and entered the small abode. Her grandmother just sat and stared at the rain pelting the glass. What was going on inside that head of hers?

“Child, I’ve left Miss Evelyn’s medications out on the counter. She needs to take all three at eight this evening. Her pill caddy will get you through till I come back next week, and my cell number is by the phone if you need me.”

“Thank you, Charlotte. I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“Your grandmother’s lucky to have you girl, moving down here like this to care for her at the end. It’s a special thing you’re doing. She’d thank you if she could.”

“No she wouldn’t. My grandmother never had a kind word for me. She was a mean spirited and bitter old woman when I was a child and I hated her.”

“Oh dear, that’s no way to talk. Surely…”

“Trust me, she made my life miserable every chance she got.”

“Then why are you here, girl. The state would have institutionalized her. She hasn’t got any money, and this old shack can’t be worth much. I mean, if you didn’t care for her, why would you come here to look after her?”

“Because unlike my grandmother, family is very important to me and to my spiritual beliefs. We share the same blood, and so she’ll get my respect until the gods take her home and decide what to do with her.”

“Well, if you say so. I’ll leave you to it then.”

The woman gathered her things and headed for the front door.

“Charlotte, did you see the man standing by the water?”

“Sure did, damned fool.”

“Do you know him?”

“Not personal or anything, but we’ve shared a word or two. He lives in that dark place by the cliff overlooking the bay. Why you askin’?”

“No reason, I just thought…”

“Oh no, you get them there thoughts right on out of your head, little missy. You do not want to go sniffin’ round Jonathan Black. He’s got the devil in him as surely as the sun sheds light. No mistakin’ that, girl. Those eyes of his’ll look right through you and send shivers up your spine. No ma’am, that boy’s bad news with an exclamation point on the end.”

“Thanks for the advice, Charlotte. I’ll see you next week.”

“You heed me on this, girl. Jonathan Black ain’t nothin’ but trouble.”

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