Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Field of Blood - story 4 - unedited first draft intro

Field of Blood – Story Four

I was seven, I think, when I saw it.

Grandfather bent over his desk, magnifying glass in hand, and scowl on his face. He always scowled when he was puzzled or when he gave something his full attention. He adopted that look when he puzzled through a pile of stamps, deciding which if any of them were expertly made frauds. I expected to see a scattering of small bits of paper on his blotter. There were none. Instead there was a rectangle of yellowed vellum with carefully drawn letters, none of which I could hope to read.

Grandfather took his pen and jotted a line in an open notebook, returning his gaze to the glass and the writing. I went unnoticed. I hate to be unnoticed. I insinuated myself into his lap.

“Hi, lass,” he said.

I leaned back into his chest and turned by head back as far as I could. “What are you doing, Grandpa?”

“I’m deciphering a text, Lass.”

The text was in Latin, he explained, and the words of Dafydd of Wales, also known as David Red Hands, and Davidius Scolasticus.

To my questioning look, he said, “It’s a grand adventure. Here, let me show you.”

He stood me on my feet and taped sheets of paper to my back. Turning me to a the large floor to ceiling mirror next to the door, he said: “Here you are, Lass. You’re a pixie princess, and gorgeous you are!”

I was dubious.

He led me in a skipping dance around the Persian carpet. Pixies love to dance and sing, he said. “And you are the best of all dancers.”

I skipped and hopped, now well into the spirit of his story.

He stood as tall as he could and tried to look menacing. “And I …. I am the evil Fairy Lord. I eat pixies!”

He made a made a grab for me and I ran with a scream and giggle.

He caught me swung me up into a hug. “I shall eat you, Pixie! Ummm you’re really very pretty. Maybe I shall not eat you but make you my wife.”

I shook my head, laughing at Grandfather’s stern expression.

Grandfather shoved chairs together and put me behind them. “This is the fairy castle,” he said. “And now you are in it.”

I knew this story. It was Beauty and the Beast retold with different characters. “Are you an ugly beast? Grandpa?"

“Oh, no. I’m a wicked fairy, but I’m really quiet handsome. See?” He preened.

“Do we fall in love and I kiss you and you become a handsome prince?”

He looked serious for a moment. “No … the fairy prince was purly wicked. There was no love. … You!” he said, retunrning to the tale, “How dare you sneak in my lair! I shall punish you and your children. … What’s this?!” He lifted me up onto one of the chairs and put a ruler in my hand. “Would you dare stab me with that?”

I looked at the ruler for a moment. Then, falling back into the spirit of his tale, I jabbed at him. He grabbed at his heart and fell to his knees.

“You foul pixie! You’ve done for me!” He colapsed onto his side. “My fairies will hunt you down and make lunch of you!”

He closed his eyes and gasped his last, but in the next moment he was up and we dashed into the hall. We paused at a half table beneath one of the hall mirriors and snuck a pink mint or two from a bowl. He suck on his twice and caught his breath.

“Now,”he said, taking aonther slurping suck on the mint, “we free the captives, the half-pixies, and your children and escape.”

He found a seat on the hall tree. “I think I’m too old for flying today. But here’s what happened next. The princess freed all the evil fairies captives and they flew off to safety. In time the evil fairy’s friends found them and there was a huge battle. They fought for days and to the last breath of many. Finally they were free, though many died. The place where the battled was called field of blood because it was stained red with the blook of pixies and green with the blood of fairies.”

“Faires have green blood?” I asked

“Or blue. I think some may have blue blood. …. “ He grinned. “That explains why all those blue bloods on Wisteria Way are so strange.”

Our adventure became one of many that I treasure and remember with surprising clarity. We refought Bull Run, we captured Troy, we crossed the Red Sea dry shod. But it was the brave pixie princess and her warriors who held my interest. I fantasized about them, making up stories and telling them to my playmates … and sometimes to my grandfather. He always listened attentively. Sometimes he would laugh. Occasionally he would say, “Oh, that’s not at all the way it happened.” And he would add a bit to the story.

Grandfather died. I was seventeen. He was too young to die and I was too young to lose him. I cried for days.

His memorial service held in Tannenberg Hall. It’s a cavernous place, and his casket seem small. I had no idea so many knew my grandfather; I knew almost none of those who attended. I didn’t want to know them either and sought protection behind my parents and a look that I hoped would tell everyone so inclined that I did not wish to speak.

That worked, mostly. I got a comforting pat from some of the more distant relatives. They were distant only in blood relation; close in tender feeling. I endured their affection and appreciated their kindness.

A tall, sallow man spoke briefly to my father. He was one of many who expressed their sympathy briefly and moved on, except he didn’t move to leave. He stepped back from the press of sympathizers and into the shadows.

“Here …” It was almost a whisper. “Your grandfather … He wanted this. He … I couldn’t get it to him before … It’s yours now.” He shoved an envelope into my hand.

His eyes were as yellowish as his complexion, and I was certain he was only a fraction way from the death into which my grandfather had already fallen.

I nodded and mumbled thanks.

He returned my nod.

I looked at the envelope. It was yellowed with age, one in colour with the man’s sickly skin and eyes. I sought for something to say, finding nothing. When I looked up he was already on his way out. His long coat swished behind him as if it were a cape, and he was gone both from my view and from my life.

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this, as you already know. I particularly like the visual of the little girl crawling into her grandpa's lap and raising her head back to look up at him. That's priceless.

    You transition smoothly into the loss of the grandfather and the mysterious envelope that will lead us further into the search for the Field of Blood.

    Thanks again for asking me for my humble comments.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You loved your granpa. Didn't you?
    And he loved you. Didn't he?

    ReplyDelete