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Come Dream with Me

March 19, 2021

I want to share a little fantasy of mine with you.

My husband and I often think about what it would be like once our kids are out of the house. How we could, potentially reinvent our habits, have adventures, and continue our goal of life-long learning. In the past year or so, we’ve hatched a scheme that may or may not work out, but it’s been really fun to imagine pulling it off.

It goes something like this: Once a year, for an extended period of time (say, three to six months), we’d like to do a house swap, living and writing in a place that peaks our interests, gets our creative juices flowing, and forces us out of our comfort zones. And presumably allows another couple to do the same in our home.

This process of visualizing what it might be like to throw caution to the wind and live with a certain ultra-spontaneous joie de vivre is downright intoxicating. In that spirit, I thought I’d share with you some of my air castle daydreams of this mythical time in the future when my spouse and I, as empty nesters, will recreate our lives.

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If we’re going to do a dry run of our hoped-for daring-do exploits, it seems to me we should start with a place that is as storied as possible. Behold this historic cottage in the Cotswolds, England, where I could certainly spend all day long migrating from my desk (hopefully an antique number) to the mossy footpaths that look to be commonplace on the grounds of this Tudor masterpiece. Think long walks taken in the misty air, my dog, Barney, at my side.

Barney would love the Cotswolds

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been interested in writing a story set in the Cotswolds, but I think living in an old, stone, three-story house worthy of a fairy princess – even for a short stretch – could change my mind. This cottage appears so rife with magic that it’s unclear to me in which genre I’d endeavor to write. I could equally see mystery, fantasy and romance. Some fairytale elements for sure. Perhaps a combination of all of these.

If you’ll indulge me, I’m going to give it a rough, raw shot. This will be a brain dump, unedited, so please forgive any misspellings, grammatical errors or continuity issues.

Photo by Bee Felten-Leidel on Unsplash

Romakaji

By Yours Truly

She’d been in the pond for nearly three hundred years. Let us be succinct. Two hundred ninety-six years, seventy-two days, fourteen hours, three minutes, forty six seconds. But how she’d gotten there was not something she talked about easily. Byron had known, of course. He was her first love. But telling him had been a mistake. 

Byron had kissed her rapturously, had swum with her in the pond. She was only ever happy when his father was away and they could visit. He’d told her she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever laid eyes on, and she’d believed him. It was, after all, part of the curse – getting lovelier by the year, the day, the moment. Long white hair like spider’s silk, eyes the same murky green as the water around her, skin as soft as suede and the exact shade of a dandelion seed. Lips the lively pink of a lotus flower and breath as sweet as its nectar.

Byron had seemed so true. Maybe he was. It wasn’t his fault that tales of witches were diabolical and frightening. It wasn’t his fault that a witch had cursed her to this pond. Hadn’t meant to. Cressida was her name and her intentions had not been evil. She had intended to protect the girl from an unwanted marriage. Only the girl’s suitor had fallen into a rage when he discovered his betrothed was being kept from him. Worse, that she didn’t want his hand. Not then, not ever. 

He’d stabbed Cressida in the heart with a silver dagger, then set her on fire. It was the only known way to deal with a witch at the time. To keep her curse intact even after her death. The girl could still hear Cressida’s screams when she allowed herself to think about it.

And that ugly bastard had come to see the girl almost daily right up until he died of a ripe, old age – taunting her, telling her how good life was outside of the pond. How good she could have had it.

The girl wondered if she’d never told Byron about the witch, if he might have stayed. As it was, he told her he feared that if he continued to kiss and swim about with her, he might become cursed himself. The girl thought it odd this had only occurred to her young man after she’d told him the specifics of her predicament. After all, an unearthly beauty who lives in a pond must be in some way enchanted, and enchantments are notorious for being contagious. It had become clear to her in the following years that Byron of the delicious kisses, of the splashing in the water, of the laughing and adoring, hadn’t been much of a thinker.

Three hundred years.

It was a very long time. Nay, two hundred ninety-six years, seventy-two days, fourteen hours, six minutes and fifty-four seconds as of this very word. There had been many young men after Byron ran away. Edward, William, Simon, Ellsworth, Phillip, James, Grayson, Miles, Graham. At least a dozen after that. Not all of them had been young men she’d loved the way she’d loved Byron, but she’d certainly liked them all. They passed the time. Never did she wish any one of them harm.

If only wishes were changes.

Out of nowhere one day, when the cottage had been empty for some decades, a boy, like gift, discovered the place and started playing about there, pretending to be a pirate.

It was wrong of her to call out to him; she even knew it at the time. Yet once she’d started, she couldn’t stop.

She’d played to his sense of adventure, his hope to one day rescue a ravishing maiden from a terrible fate. She’d peeked her head out from the pond, letting him see her face without a clear pane of water between them. A face so exquisite that he’d stumbled backward.

“Come kiss me,” she’d whispered.

And he did come, his hands shaking as he reached out for her, a gasp of pleasure as he fell into the water and she wrapped her arms around him. They kissed and kissed and kissed for hours, rolling all about the pond like river otters. When their lips parted at last, the girl looked upon his face. Such delicate features – a freckled nose, lips that were small, but not thin. His eyes were closed, his body seemed heavy in the water.

And he was not breathing. The girl screamed and held him close, weeping and wailing, calling out his name, slapping his cheeks. But it was no use. She had drowned the poor boy.

All of fourteen he was.  

For ninety nine years, thirty-six days, nine hours, eleven minutes, and twenty-two seconds, his body, now just a litter of bones, had sat at the bottom of the pond. Her only company.

Since then, she had watched the people of the cottage come and go, but she had never whispered to them in the night, shown them her body, rippling in an aquatic dance, just beneath the surface of the pond. And never, ever had she let anyone see her face. It was a fate she deserved, she told herself. For killing a boy with her loneliness.

Photo by Marina Logvin on Unsplash

“Lionel,” she heard a voice call one day. A deep voice of soft velvet. A man’s voice.

He stood on the stone bridge talking to the postman, telling him to call him “Lionel.” Not Mr. Ray, which was his surname, according to the postman.

“Mr. Ray,” that postman kept on saying, and each time Lionel would correct him, until finally the postman said, “Right, ok, Lionel it is then.”

Thick, dark hair with a wave to it – like the sea at night. Eyes as wet and dark as oil. A fine-looking man was Lionel, quiet and contemplative. He was moving alone into the cottage to do research, he said, but he didn’t say what kind.

Although he looked to be of an age when a woman should be at his side, at least on some evenings, his first weeks in the cottage had been spent without company. No friends or family. No visitors except for the postman. There was nothing about him that seemed lonely at all, though. He walked with purpose, his brow knitted in thought. Sometimes, he would stare into the pond.

Then, one evening, he stood gazing at the water for a good, long while, his mouth painted with the faintest of smiles.

“Romakaji,” she heard him whisper.

He turned and walked back into the house.

“What did you say?” She called out. It was the first time she’d used her voice since she’d drowned the boy who played at being a pirate.

“Romakaji,” he’d said. She was sure of it.

It was a name she hadn’t heard in forever. A name she had not even spoken to herself, in her mind’s voice. One that seemed to have died with her when Cressida had given her to the pond for safekeeping. It had been a rare name in her time, and she had not heard it since. Not one person who’d lived in the cottage or visited it was named Romakaji.

Romakaji. It was her name.

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

What do you think, my Cold friends? Should I continue?

13 Comments
  1. You have good dreams.

    Romakaji? To me, it’s a tale worth the telling, and you would do it justice. It’s your life, though, so do what you like.

  2. I think it is a tale that continue. It still has legs…

  3. Nancy Clark permalink

    This is the beginning of a very intriguing story; I would love to see how it progresses. I hope you continue writing this story.

  4. RT Fuller permalink

    Yep. I think you’re on to something madam.

  5. Wanda permalink

    Yes, please do. I am now curious to know how he knew her name (it’s not a common name) and that she was in the pond.

  6. Moira Senior permalink

    I agree it is intriguing please write some more

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