The Pool

The path wound up the side of the mountain, often doubling back upon itself. It started out rocky, but quickly turned into a crystalline white sand. The texture was so soft, I found myself scooping it up and letting it run through my fingers and down my arms. It was difficult to walk through, so I found myself crawling, revelling in the sensations as I progressed. Distracted by my progress, I was not prepared to round the last corner and come face-to-face with that which appeared before me.

The sand trailed further upward, flanking a sloping garden of epic proportions. Within the sand boarders, marble walls enclosed lush gardens that housed orchids, roses, and flowers that I’ve only seen in books. Flowing down the centre, was a pool that seemed to go on forever. The colour of the water was an unearthly greenish-yellow, that seemed to get darker towards the foot of the structure.

There were people everywhere. Why did I not encounter a single person on my ascent? It would seem, like a water park, people were emerging from the foot of the pool and returning to the summit for another go. Curious, I fell into line with the others, climbing the hill.

Something felt wrong. No one was wet. How on earth could people emerge from a pool, completely dry? My curiosity was piqued even more.

As we approached the top, the path disappeared into the side of the hill. The top of the pool was not accessible from outside. A tunnel led us into what seemed like the centre of the earth. It led straight into the hill for a few minutes and then abruptly came to a 180 degree angle. As I turned, I saw an escalator leading sharply upward. I stepped on, and was immediately fascinated with intricate patterns within the marble walls as I rose. It was all very calming…soothing… comforting.

As I reached the summit, the pool and the gardens appeared before me. It was breathtaking. Although the colour of the water was surreal, it was disturbingly inviting. I was drawn towards the edge. What was I thinking? I was fully clothed! Before I knew what I was doing, I was standing at the lip of the pool. I felt myself step forward. I couldn’t stop myself. I plunged into the murky depths.

Instinctively, I gasped, knowing that the sharp intake of water would be my demise. Nothing happened… The water didn’t feel like water at all. Tentatively, I took another breath. It was as if I was breathing air. Not realizing I was doing so, I relaxed, and I felt myself being pulled forward, through the mysterious liquid.

I had never felt more at peace. Every stress in my body seemed to fade away. The liquid moved me, slowly, along the length of the pool. I did not have to swim, I could breathe, all I had to do was relax, and let the calm wash over me. It seemed like an eternity, yet I reached the far end of the structure, the beautiful white marble rising in front of me.

I heaved myself out, amazed to find myself completely dry. I stood for a moment and marvelled in the fact that I hadn’t felt so serene in 30 years. I needed more.

I headed back to the hill, wanting to experience this blissful feeling again. As I got to base and started to climb, I saw a young woman who seemed to be feeling the same confusion, yet peacefulness as myself. I smiled at her, and she smiled back. As we ascended, and then stepped upon the escalator, we clasped hands. Without speaking, we knew we had to see if the same thing could happen if we were together.

Without hesitation, we approached and edge, squeezed each others hands, and jumped. It was the same as the first time. Time stopped, stress disappeared. But this time, linked with another human, we connected. I felt her heartbeat through our linked hands, and I know she felt mine. We did not let go and slowly drifted, together, towards the end of the pool. We emerged, even more renewed, and headed back to the hill again.

As we reached the bottom, a wizened old man emerged from the shrubbery. “Don’t go again,” he said. We looked at each other, puzzled, and looked back at the man.

“Why on earth not?” I asked. “After everything I’ve been through in my life, I’ve never felt this relaxed…this happy.”

My new friend nodded, agreeing with me.

“You don’t understand,” he insisted. “Every time you go through the pool, you lose time.”

I shook my head, examined my hands, (for I did not have a mirror) and asked him, “Are you saying I get younger every time I go in?” I laughed, “I surely have no problems with that…”

He shook his head and looked sad. “You do not lose years, you will not get younger. You lose time. How many times have you swum?”

“Twice,” I responded, “and I’m looking forward to a few more.”

My companion and I turned away from the old man and began to walk up the hill.

The old man yelled at us from behind. “Every time you swim, six months goes by in the world from which you came. You’ve already lost a year of your life. Your family has given you up for dead. The world you knew, is forever changed. The more you swim, the less chance you have of going back to who you were!”

A smile played across my lips, and I looked back up the hill to my destination. “Perfect.”

Mabon

It was quiet. Too quiet. I was warned that door-to-door hustlers were roaming the town, so I remained hidden in the backyard with nothing but a floodlight and a laptop for company. The sun had set an hour before, and my solar lights danced merrily in the gloom. There was no one home on either side of me, as far as two houses over on either side. No one would hear if I screamed.

One side wouldn’t have responded anyway. I have enemies in this town. I did things on impulse. I spoke my opinions. I remained true to myself. I harmed no one. I was merely the witch. But still, the enemies grew. My sanctuary, violated. I could have retaliated, with horrible attempts at new tunes on the bagpipes at ungodly hours… but then I would have been subject to loud, twangy, country music. That torture still occurs, from time to time, but the most part the quiet has returned. Finally, a cold impasse. I do not exist. I am happy with that.

Coyotes howl in the distance. Crickets sing their constant drone. The occasional car passes through town. Tires on gravel as neighbours, further afield, return to their homes after a long day. I hear it all, as I sit here.

I see movement out of the corner of my eye. It’s just a neighbourhood cat, passing through my backyard in search for… companionship, combat, prey down by the river, something…

My mind races with a million thoughts at once. Although it may be quiet outside, it will never be quiet in my head. There are too many uncertainties. Too many unknowns.

Something is rustling at the end of the garden. I can’t see anything. It’s too dark, despite the solar lights. The sounds start coming from various parts of my yard. It’s almost like creatures are crawling out of the plants from every corner. It’s subtle, however. A faint rustling. But it, they, are coming closer.

A flash of pink streams across my peripheral vision, but disappears as soon as I turn my head. I hear the sound of metal on metal, and, oddly… plastic. Surely I’m just imagining things. My neighbour’s air conditioner is still clicking on and off, it must be acting up. I need more wine.

I refill my glass, cuddle my familiar, and return to my post outside. As I settle myself back down again, I see a pink flash again. I turn towards it to see one of my pink flamingos stuck solidly in the ground, below my tree. Very strange, for all my flamingos are scattered throughout the yard, none under the tree. I turn back to the computer only to see movement out of the corner of my eye again. Two more flamingos. No wait, there are more. Suddenly, the Dr. Who episode “Blink” pops into my head. I chuckle, shake my head, and take another sip of wine. That’s only on television… But that still doesn’t explain why there are plastic flamingos, standing at the bottom of my deck, staring at me. Old ones, new ones, shiny ones, skeleton ones, zombie ones… even the legless one peers at me from the tree.

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, where the day is of equal length as the night. The Sun God is to be mourned, and we must realize that all things must come to an end. A time to reap what we have sown.

“By the Gods, what have I done?”

A Winter’s Tale

It was a dark and desolate wasteland, despite the fact that it was actually a small town. Although most of the houses were well kept, a darkness hung over the town. The nights were long, the days were short, and what daylight there was, was a dull grey. On the brightest of days, the dull grey was punctuated with bursts of lighter grey, but it was not enough to enliven the townsfolk. When evening descended, the greyness merely turned to black. The people did their best to bring lightness into the gloom, with merry lights and false cheer, but they knew that more they light they tried to add into their world would cost them in the long run.

The evil overlord, who had supremacy over the small town, and hundreds more like it, controlled the power that lit the people’s homes. As the days grew shorter and darker, the overlord would increase the price of this power, forcing the people to choose between keeping their homes bright and warm, and feeding their children. Some wondered whether or not the overlord had control over the sky, and kept it grey and desolate to keep the morale low, thus rendering the peasants hopeless and pliant.

One day turned into another, and then another. Each day proving just as bleak as the next. Some days it would rain, increasing the gloom in both body and spirit. The people went about their lives in quiet desolation, but in the eveningtime when families would gather, the elders began to tell stories. They told fanciful tales of their youth, when a yellow orb would appear in the sky and bring warmth and light. Sometimes, this orb would appear for many days in a row, and the townsfolk would rejoice in its beauty and would spend hours outside, basking in its glory. The people were happy then. The children, of course, were doubtful, for they had never witnessed this spectacle. But the fanciful tales gave them hope; hope that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t just fairy tales.

The days grew shorter and shorter, but they knew that the solstice was upon them, and that Oak King and the Holly King would soon do battle. As always, they prayed for the Oak King’s victory, to turn back the darkness once more. They prepared their homes for the feasts and the fires with much anticipation. They gathered with joy and merriment, singing songs, and hanging decorations from their trees; they were together, which pushed away the gloom that hung over the town.

As they all sat down for the midday feast, a most peculiar thing happened. They noticed that the rooms were getting brighter, despite not having lit any more candles or lamps. The children grew afraid, but the elders began to smile and ushered everyone outside. “Look up,” they said. It was just then that the grey clouds parted and a beautiful colour emerged from behind. “That is the sky,” the elders proclaimed. “What colour is that?” someone shouted. They all looked to the most wizened elder of the village, who smiled a toothy smile and uttered one word. “Blue.”

As they all stood in the centre of town, enraptured by this blue sky, it happened. The last of the grey clouds blew across the horizon and revealed the mythical, blinding orb. It was the fairy tale! It was real.

And so it was, as the townsfolk stood there, rubbing their eyes and blinking against the light, that they knew that fairy tales could come true.