Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Timeless Tale

by Hillbilly Mom

Genre: Historical Romance
Pop Culture: M. Night Shyamalan, KISS, The Beatles


(We got a two-fer here, people! She's making up for her self-disqualification last time!)

The great hall was hung with tapestries of rich reds and greens and blues, with gold and silver accents. One was a magnificent unicorn, contained in a small pen. Others showed battle scenes, and the Lord and Lady, while yet another depicted a brightly-colored bird. I made note to ask Edward what kind of fowl sported such bright plumage, for I had never seen one such as this. I walked across a layer of straw, in which dogs wrestled about over bones from the most recent meal. The fire was banked in the huge stone fireplace. People bustled here and there, putting away salt cellars and cups and spoons. It smelled as if chicken and stew had been served, and perhaps mutton. A richer diet than my family was accustomed to, by far. Most of our meals consisted of beans and vegetables, from our own fields. The fields we worked for the Lord.

This was my first time in the castle. Edward had asked if I wanted to come. As a carpenter’s apprentice, Edward often worked inside. His father, Gilbert, agreed to the arrangement, so I put my hair under a hat, and walked along behind them, carrying the toolbox. I did not know the names of all the tools, though I recognized a plane and a chisel. Edward said his father valued the plane above all his other tools. It was covered with fine ornamentation. Edward and Gilbert handled the wood, which I believed to be walnut. We were to build a chest in the Lord’s sleeping area, in a secret compartment, to store his jewelry. With the Lord and Lady away to visit the Lord‘s family, this was the perfect time for the work to be done. The constable had no idea I was along for the job. Even if he had, it would have meant little to him if a farmer’s daughter visited the castle with the carpenters. I could do no harm to his Lord’s property. No one would be the wiser.

It was good of Edward to include me. As the son of a craftsman, he enjoyed more opportunities than I. Edward was fearless. Just last evening, he came by to fetch me to the river for some fishing. My father was still in the fields, and when I heard Edward whistle, I told my mother I was going to look for some truffles. She did not care. I was a big help to her during the day, and when my father was not home, she often let me go off by myself. As I entered the wood, Edward jumped from behind a tree. With a shock, I saw that he had painted his face with clay and soot, so that it nearly glowed white in the dusk, with jagged black outlines of soot about his eyes. Edward stuck out his tongue, so long that it nearly passed his chin. "KISS?” he asked. I blushed. He could be so much fun, so daring. I shook my head. Edward took my hand and pulled me down onto the damp, mossy bank. We sat for a moment in silence, only the babble of the water over the rocks to be heard.

Edward began to hum, then to sing a little tune. “Love, love me. Do.” He treated me as if I was special, not just a plain farmer’s daughter. As though I was nearly his equal, as if he cared about my opinions. He was my destiny. My reason for living. We both knew we were meant to be together. I put my hand on his arm. “Shhh. What was that?” It would not do to be caught alone together on the riverbank, especially by my father. “It is nothing. Just the Beatles chirping in the tree bark,” said Edward. “No one is coming.”

“And what are you, pray tell? Some kind of…m…night shyamalan?” I asked. Edward laughed. “You need some enlightenment, my dear. Methinks the word you are looking for is ‘shaman’.” He pushed the hair from my face and smiled, his countenance eerily white in the half-light. I shall never forget his gentle touch, ere I reminisce into my dotage. “We will be together,” Edward promised. “Nothing can keep me from you. You shall be my wife. It is only a matter of time.” His voice was as soothing as mandrake. Edward said mandrake was a tranquilizer the Lady took for a pain in her tooth. The Lord had sent out a page in the night to find a merchant with the mandrake, which was from a land far away. Edward’s mother was friends with the ale wife, and learned of goings on in the castle from her. It seemed as if Edward knew everything of the world, while I knew nothing. Already, Edward was in the carpenter’s guild, and would never have to want for anything, even when he grew old and could no longer work. My father respected Edward. He would allow me to marry Edward, I was sure, when I was old enough.

In retrospect, Edward had an other-worldly quality about him. He knew where the largest fish lurked under the roots that hung over the riverbank. He could seek out the sweetest honey in the hollow trees of the wood. He sensed which thicket the rabbit would dart into during the chase. He whispered things in my ear the likes of which I had never heard. Words like ‘sexologist’, of which I did not know the meaning, but did not want to ask. Edward was a man ahead of his time. He had traveled out of the village with his father to work on jobs for the Lord. He knew more of the world than most young men his age. Or old men, for that matter.

Something rose from the river and grabbed my foot! Edward put his arms around my shoulders and hugged me tightly. The thing that had my foot would not let go. It squeezed and shook my foot, pulling me toward the river…


“Hey! I said wake up, Colleen! Yer out cold! Whadya do , take a freakin’ tranquilizer? Them pals o’ yers is on the way over. Ya sure know how ta find ‘em, gal. That long-hair with the KISS t-shirt is about the pick o’ the litter. Try ta get ‘im to shut his infernal yap, wouldja? And I don’t mean set him to singin’ those Beatles songs. He thinks that’s gonna make me like him more, but I’d as soon hear him screechin’ that ‘Rock ’n’ Roll All Night’ crap as mutilatin’ Eleanor Rigby.

“Sit up there, gal! You’re in a daze. Ya dropped yer book. What’s this? Ivanhoe? Jeez! We had ta read that same junk when I was in school. The sisters oughta change it up every century or so. Somebody tell ‘em it’s the Age of Enlightenment already. What’s yous kids need ta know that fairy tale crap for, anyways? Nowadays yer all sneakin’ the TV on at night, watchin’ some freakin’ sexologist or psychic friend. More Phil Donahue--that‘s what we need. It’s tough raisin’ kids these days.

“You watch out for that Shyamalan kid. What’s he go by? M. Night? What the hell kinda name is THAT? Last week, he stopped at the bottom of the stairs and said ‘Good evening, Mrs. O’Mara’ to your dear departed mother, God rest her soul. And her been gone 5 years now. What’s in that kid’s noggin, I’ll never know. Be careful ‘round him. I wouldn’t wanna have somethin’ happen, and in retrospect wish I’d a kicked that little sicko to the gutter.

“Well, I’d love to reminisce with yas all night, kiddo, but it’s my destiny ta crack open a cold one and watch the Cubbies. Ya holler if yas need anything. And keep this door open!”

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