This is now the 20th chapter of “Of Wind and Wings”. See the table of contents here.
Liza held her arms straight out, cross like, and slowly spun. Her eyes closed and a serene smile on her face, she moved forward a half a step for every revolution she performed. After four or five turns, she did a little leap with an arm flap and skipped forward a few steps, arms swinging like a child’s. She kicked her feet up, Celtic dance fashion, then did another slow turn. She stopped, spun towards Ed. Her eyes sprung open.
“I just love it here! Thanks for inviting me! Come!”
She grabbed a hand a pulled him forward a few steps before letting go and starting her stately dance again.
She was like the young girl Ed had seen as she did her midnight dash across the moors, but this time she was also ancient, as old as the moor itself.
Ed had felt the energy of the place even before they arrived, but it was different from the other places he had visited. The energy of the place was like a fire that warmed him from the outside, instead of a shot of whisky that warmed him from the inside.
The landscape was wild, as untamed as any he had seen, yet the signs of man were more visible across the landscape than any place else. Lines where ancient overgrown fields had been. Isolated fruit trees hinting at long forgotten orchards. Standing stones. Mounds that he could feel were made by the hands of man, not nature. The remains of a tower stood on a small craggy bluff, a defensible spot. A single wall stood where Ed knew the great house had been.
Liza came back and took a hand again. She tugged him to get him moving in her direction before dropping the hand. They walked towards the wall, the bit of ruins that the landscape had yet to reclaim.
“I just feel so alive here! I don’t think I’ve been here since I was a kid. Maybe when I was 20 or perhaps 25. I don’t remember, nor do I remember why I’ve stayed away. This was my ancestral home.”
She turned completely around again before continuing.
“William Geville owned little beyond his wits when he was awarded control over this bit of land that others felt was worthless. He found the most powerful person, the priestess of a small shrine. It had the trappings of a Christian church, but the locals knew better. A temple had been on the same site forever, one served by a priestess from the same family. He married her and built his home next to the shrine. The shrine was rebuilt as a small church. That was later recreated as a chapel inside of the family’s great house.”
She closed her eyes again, but continued to walk towards the single wall.
“You said ‘ancestral home’. So you are a Geville?” Ed asked.
“Yes and no. The name became extinct shortly after this place burned. The daughter of the last owner of this place, Mary Geville the daughter of, yes, Edward Geville, built my current house. Edward had no sons.”
Ed closed his eyes, trying to get the mental map, but soon tripped. Liza laughed, as if guessing his difficulty.
“Although we were forced to continue the outward trappings of a patriarchy, my family has always been based on the female line, going back thousands of years. Mary made it official. The house has stayed in our family, passed down from mother to daughter ever since.”
“Oh.” Ed wondered if this was why, although he felt the power of the place, he knew he was a visitor.
Liza continued into what was obviously the interior of the building and stopped. She opened her eyes.
“This is where the chapel stood. The chapel was built over the earlier church, which was over the shrine which was over an older temple which… you know the routine.”
“Not only is the grounds your ancestral home, but you belong to this place and it belongs to you, in a magical or spiritual sense. Something like that.”
“Something like that.” She smiled.
“No wonder Mr. Brown said this place was special to you.”
Her smile vanished. “Mr. Brown?”
“Yes, Mr. Brown. He said I should visit with you, because it held special meaning. And I see that it does.”
“Do you visit with Mr. Brown often, then?”
“Yes. I thought I told you.”
She nodded, but continued to frown. “Did he ever say anything about me?”
Ed remembered Mr. Brown’s odd reaction to talking about Liza. What was going on? “You’ve come up in conversation,” he said, trying to tread carefully.
“Oh. I suddenly remember why I haven’t been here in decades. Are you ready to go?” Liza’s shoulders slumped. She looked old. Ancient.
“What, we just arrived!”
Liza just shrugged and turns towards the car.
Ed felt a little panicked. What was happening? The peaceful, powerful air of the place began to fade. Clouds rose on the horizon. The cloud spread out, like the wings of a giant bird of prey. A strong wind picked up.
It was all wrong.
“Wait!” he said to the retreating back. Liza turned. “Where are you going? This is your ancestral home, isn’t it? Your place. You belong here, don’t you?”
She shrugged. The wind grew stronger, the predator bird raised higher.
“What happened back then, back 40 or more years ago, that is so awful that you sulk and slink away, especially after the reception you had when you arrived? This place needs you and you need it!”
The clouds covered the entire sky. The wind whipped and wailed. A spit of stinging rain came and went. More was threatened. Liza stepped a little closer to be heard over the screech and whistle.
‘Did I ever tell you about my husband, Kevin Smyth?”
“Your husband? No. The only time he was mentioned was when you told me he had passed on. What does he have to….?” Liza held up to stop him a hand and gave a sad smile.
“Why, everything.” She let out a giant sigh. “You see, I was never supposed to marry Kevin Smyth. I was waiting for the man of my destiny, see? That man never arrived. Well. A few men did come along… But they didn’t’ rise up out of the mist the way they were supposed to!” She stomped her foot and huffed.
Ed nodded. He was sure they didn’t…
She turned and walked back to into the old ruins, stopping again in the shrine. The wind began to die down, the clouds break. She turned to Ed.
“Kevin came home from college. He knew what shape I was in and didn’t care. He wanted to take care of me. So we got married. There was a lot of respect in our marriage. There was even tenderness.” She paused, glanced down at her feet, as if seeking an answer. “But there was no love.”
The sun made a tentative peek out.
She looked Ed in the eye.
“Truthfully, Kevin was gay.” She held her clenched fists up and slowly turned, as if beseeching the wind, the gods of the land and nature. “There! I said! OK? I said it!” She turned to Ed. “And besides me, you are the only one that knows. And the only one that knows that Lauren wasn’t his. And it is going to stay that way, just the two of us.” Although her words were threatening, her face was lifting, as if they were half in jest, even though completely serious.
“Your secret is safe with me.”
Liza smiled. The clouds blew over and the sun came out again. The power began to radiate from the earth. Ed wasn’t’ sure if the place reflected Liza’s mood or if she reflected the mood of the land. All he knew was that they were connected. Very tightly connected.
“It feels so good that someone knows. And perhaps it is fitting that it is you. I still wonder about that destiny.”
Ed’s dream of Liza’s mother came to him.
“Liza, that prince from an ancient realm rising out of the mist? The one with the lightning bolt-grey eyes?” Liza’s eyes grew big with recognition. She nodded. “Don’t wait for him or look for him in me. It was just a song your mother sang to you when she wanted you to sleep. It was something she sang to calm your nerves when you had nightmares. It was meaningless, a fairytale, a lullaby.”
Ed expected the storm clouds to come back. Perhaps there would be an earthquake as well. Maybe the stars would fall out of the sky.
Liza laughed. The sun shone even brighter.
“I think I always knew that, but when you have a dream… Come! Let’s explore some more!”
Ed laughed to himself and followed Liza up to the ruined tower on the bluff.
It was a great view.
This chapter was not based on one of Sue’s prompts.