Tag: ideas

The China Suite.

She’s the Baron’s daughter, Kathryn, standing there by the window, scratching a name into a glass pane with a diamond. From her spot she looks down to see the gardener’s son planting a beautiful plant in the middle of a flower bed.

She remembered how they played as infants, her only friend on the great estate. He’d shown her how to sow seed later, ploughing a furrow, scattering the seed and gently covering them up. Her father had stopped all that, she was to be the lady of the house and must keep her place.

He had been away inspecting his interests in China, from where he had sent back magical gifts and an artist to assemble them. From there he had gone to the West Indies, to oversee new work on his plantations. Now he was returning to the castle built from sugar, an urgent matter had been the word and home he sailed.

Kathryn was confined to the China Suite, the upper floor of the tower, the rooms her mother had died in. They had been redecorated by the Chinese artist who lived somewhere about the grounds. The young Miss had gotten into trouble, the house keeper found out, locked her away and waited the return of the master.

The faces looked at her from the walls, eye’s followed from the fields, rice planters in paddies, from tea houses and from palaces. All of them watching, from the peasants all the way up to the emperor himself. Fish jumped out of water to see her, animals wandered closer and birds flew by, wings flapping. They all wondered,

‘what was going to happen now?’

The life in the hand painted, papered wall covering continued, the sun came up, the days work continued, all the industries of life and death, wealth and poverty carried on and all watched Kathryn and talked in whispers about her. Eventually they started answering questions she posed, with secret signs, left in secret places, on the sunrise seas and in the deep tree lined valleys and on the tables tops at banquets. She only had to listen and a whisper would move her eyes to a spot, un-code a message.

The China Suite was a Godsend, keeping her sane over the months she waited for her father to return. One day a whisper from the wall alerted her to the sound of hooves and the rattle of a carriage coming up the main through fare toward the gate of the sugar castle. The creaking doors were opened to the sound of hurry inside. The stairway thundered under the baron’s force and the China Suite door was thrown open.

He just stood there and looked at her standing, back to the window, blocking out the light. The walls now became coloured wallpaper, her eyes looked in dread at the new reality. He stormed across the room, she cowered and he took her in his arms and gently held her, cradled her. He looked out of the windows and said,

‘It will be made good.’ He paused, stood up releasing her. ‘You are my flesh and blood, my only child, I love you. Rest now child, I’ll see you in the morning.’

The walls were now dead to her, she could not see them anymore, had she gone mad too, like her mother, and now her father has come to rescue her. She slept comfortably, no conversations and secret signs, no cows pulling ploughs and no peacocks standing proud.

A commotion woke her up, it came from the garden, all the way down below the tower window. She struggled to get up and as she walked to see what was happening outside, the door burst open and the baron stood there with a covered tray. He bellowed,

‘Sit girl sit, I bring breakfast.’

He smiled, she smiled back and sat waiting. He placed the tray before her, looked into her eyes and lifted the lid.

‘Isn’t it pretty?’ He laughed

A plate of meat was surrounded by decapitated heads, flowers, from the plants below her window.

The sun rose out of the China Sea as the artist walked in, carrying a long hooked needle.



Where the Ghost Grass Grows.

Where the Ghost Grass Grows.

Charlie Wildfire had inherited land and went to the valley to find it. He drove along the road and parked by an old church, now a modern house. He double checked the directions on the map and headed off around the bend to the other side. The entrance to a track appeared and he followed it through thorn bushes that seemed to open and lead the way.

The thickets ended at a hillside and the moorland on the other side stretched far to the distant black mountain peaks. The sun shone in a clear blue sky but a shadow hung over the place, clinging grey, hiding the colour there. An old house stood where the old map said it would. Half the roof was missing and Charlie peered though the broken rotting windows that framed a time gone by. The upper floors had collapsed onto the furniture below and time mulched it down into a smell of damp fungus. Where the kitchen once was, only a cooker stood complete, leaning awkwardly against a door, a pair of footprints were clearly imprinted standing in front of it. There was a creaking sound and a beam fell, knocked the cooker over and squashed the footprints flat.

There were no other signs of life, not a single soul had been here for a long time. The sun still shone in the clear sky and the shadow still cast grey on the land. He walked towards the acreage, the inheritance and felt it growing inside him, until the breath was taken out of his body and made his head spin. He fought for air and his eyes saw the change and enveloped the scene in front of him, like a fairy tale in a paperweight. A great hand must have shaken it up, a new land appeared, the shadow was gone and clouds filled the sky and cast a new shadow over the surrounding world.

A harrier hung over the moorland grass now a luminous white that glowed. The were sounds that came from a place he struggled to see and the grass moved violently in waves but not a breath of wind blew. He reread the letter that hadn’t made sense when the lawyer gave it to him but now he read the words out loud and the land shimmered as he read.

“Now you must go and watch for flow in the place where the ghost grass grow and watch for sights, your inheritance rights.”

Then he read the last line to himself. ‘Take it with the love from your mama Hazel Wildfire. Till we meet again.’

He had no memory of his mother, they said she was insane after the killing of her husband in a churchyard. They sent her to prison and one night she disappeared from a sealed cell.

Then a breeze did stroke his face and he looked out across that glowing sea and there through it, a line grew , the grass pushing side-wards as if by single steps one after the other and it was heading towards him. A flickering apparition came in and out of sight and he saw a young woman, hair like fire, wearing a long skirt, waving a flat hand, stroking the heads of grass, a piebald horse followed on a long halter and she looked up and stared and smiled at Charlie Wildfire.


Signs of Destiny.

Signs of Destiny.

I drove up through the whole of Scotland the day before independence. The fields, walls and houses yelled Yes or No in big letters, blue flags with white crosses and union jacks fluttered in the wind. A heavy fog rolled in off the sea just past the Dornoch bridge and visibility reduced dramatically so I turned off at a junction that agreed with my decision with a Yes painted on a wall. The road headed up onto high moorland and narrowed down to lanes with passing places. The fog thinned then cleared then thickened again closing off the view and opened it again. I got lost and decided to follow a course of destiny dictated by Yes or No.

If I came to a junction and a sign read Yes I carried on and if the sign read No I’d turn left or right or if a crossroads then I’d turn the same direction that the sign appeared on the side of the road. The mist rolled in and out, lines of stone fence appeared then disappeared. Wind turbines turned and flocks of geese spread out across the sky. I drove through villages that looked depressed and deserted and turned left or right or carried straight on as the signs dictated. Night began to fall and I passed a pub in the middle of nowhere at a place that was famous for being the coldest place in the land. The road carried on and No led me across a bridge at the Kyle of Tongue where the Aurora Borealis was visible in the sky over the sea.

I stopped and made a brew and watched a blue diagonal line cut the sky in half, star constellations began to move and spin, then stop, I rubbed my eyes and looked again and they spun again. There were a couple of islands out in the bay and an orange sail appeared between them and slowly grew bigger as it approached and became a deeper orange. The blue diagonal line quivered, the stars turned and the sail crept closer until I realised it was a slither of moon rising out of the sea. The show in the sky continued and the moon appeared in crescent shape above the sea and took its place in the sky-scape art piece. I drove off following my destiny along the road.

It hugged the coast and went over high moors with startled stags running, passed derelict buildings and down dips with houses grouped together, TV’s flickering in the windows. Then round an enormous loch that went for miles with houses scattered along the shore and onto a rocky sided road with white sandy beaches below. I drove through a village and a No made me turn off down a narrow road that ended at a fence with sand dunes beyond. There was nowhere else to go, this was it, this was the end of the road, the edge of the world.

The night was clear, the sky was now just full of stars that went on forever, waves crashed a fluorescent white in the distance. Tiredness began closing my eyes, sleeping bag in hand I went to the dunes and fell asleep.

The sound of footsteps, voices and barking dogs woke me and waves crashed in the distance and the dune grass ‘shhhed’ and danced patterns in the wind. I got up and saw people gathered outside a small hall where a sign was being unfurled that read Polling Station. The group grew in size and split into pockets, chatting and smiling, a lets move on aura filled the air. I gathered my things and returned to the car, cleaned up, ate and made a coffee then returned to sit on the dune overlooking the beach and the hut polling station.

The doors opened to a cheer and the people filed in, in orderly fashion, the excitement visible, then filed out again and resumed the chatting. They hung around and fell silent as cars pulled up and the other people filed in and filed out again and drove away without a word. This continued for the rest of the morning and around noon an old kilted man rode up on an antique bicycle and received a big cheer from the crowd. He took a tot from an old hip flask, laughed, danced a bit of a jig and went into the station to make his mark and came out again with arms aloft. The group then moved off and onto the white sandy beach, gathered driftwood and set a fire ablaze.

It was a small community and all the people had voted, the polling station doors closed and a police car arrived and escorted the officials with the ballot box to their vehicle and drove away to the main town for the count. The people cheered from the beach and talked of their hopes for a new country, a new ideal. A voice shouted out and all eyes turned and rested their hopes on a large dark object in the water. A flock of seagulls hovered above it and then a spout of water shot into the sky and the sucking of air could be heard. It dived and surfaced again and swam back and fore in the small bay.

The joy and hope of the day exuded into the air which now took on a strange hue. There were no clouds but the light seemed a little shaded as if the sun was waiting at three-quarter power. The tide didn’t seem to move but just hung not knowing which way to turn, the waves rose then fell flat without breaking. It was as if time itself was standing still waiting for something to happen. The people stood about the fire and seemed to levitate, their feet unsure of where the ground was. Then it seemed only minutes since noon but the night began to fall.

More wood was piled on the fire and the blaze lit up the whole bay. The whale kept swimming in the unmoving tide, splashing with thwacks of its tail, spouting and taking in air. It was night now and suddenly the water began to recede quickly and retreated from the people and the fire. A shout went up and everyone ran down to the water and looked out. The old man in the kilt was the first to go in, the tartan rising like an opening flower on the water. Then the others began to go in too, towards the whale which thrashed in the shallowing sea. They splashed towards the beast, falling over and getting up again. The bay was a shelf of sand and the water only as deep as their waists, they pushed on and gathered about the stranded whale that whipped its tail knocking some of them off their feet. They got back up and pulled and heaved and pushed the beast and rocked it back and fore. They tried to lift it and failed, they grabbed the tail and tried to pull it around but was knocked down again as the animal whipped it violently. It made a noise that no-one had ever heard, a loud high pitch long even scream that sounded like a city of towers were bending. Then it thrashed and thrashed and bounced it’s body from side to side throwing all the people off onto their backs. The sun was rising and the water was only ankle deep and the people cried as they scooped water up onto the whale’s back. It just sucked in the air now and made groaning sounds.

A quad bike hurtled down the beach towards the crowd and the beast that lay dying on the dry sand. Groups consoled each other and sobbed for the dying creature and the man on the bike stood up and shouted that there was to be no independence. He then pointed at the old man, Scotland himself, wearing the kilt, collapsing to the floor next to the whale that was now dead.