Here’s a very short piece of historical fiction I wrote a while ago and it never found a home, so I’d like to share with you…
I am called Filidhshear, and this is the essence of my heart; it was set afire long ago, when the world was radiant and pure. In the Highlands of Celtic territory, a young warrior claimed my heart for his own, and never it let go.
His hair was raven, with curls like the waves as they reach the shore. He had power in his eyes; he reached into my soul with those enchanted eyes and stirred in me a longing only for him. I would never belong to another.
When the birds wakened me with the sun, my first thought was of he. When the stars sang me to dreaming, I dreamed only of my love. I needed no poetry, no love songs, the way some girls do. His heart beat within my breast with such strength and beauty, I need not fear his faith to me. I swore the gods themselves destined our souls with golden cords. As a token of my love for him, I weaved a braid of my strawberry locks, and sent it to him in a bundle of white hawthorn petals. He wore it round his neck with the pride of a bejeweled king.
We confessed our desire for union, and the clan planned a celebration for us. The village was decorated with magnolia flowers and sweet honeysuckle. Everyone brought their best dish and gifted us with treasures crafted in ritual and won in battle. Music filled the air and the birds sang in tune, but the drumbeats and pipes where no match for the music of my heart. Words could never reveal the heights to which my heart was soaring.
We all danced round the sacred tree in silliness and drink; the fire ablaze and laughter from deep within us carried our prayers to flight. I felt as a goddess – in my new green dress and mistletoe in my hair- in holy union with her god; bound body, mind, and soul, to the balance of myself. He was never more handsome than standing there in his clan colors, the autumn wind caressing his hair against his neck and forehead. Rites were completed with a circle of fire. Tears escaped his blue eyes as he uttered his vow to me. The lump in my throat allowed me only a whisper. Our hands shook as we clasped them together and our family cheered for us. That night I would not return to my parents’ house; I now belonged at the home – and in the bed – my husband had prepared for us.
The stars were witness to that celebration of love, and the clan slept deeply that night, with full bellies and smiling lips. Long into that night snoring could be heard around the camp, and lovers’ giggled in secluded lairs. The fire was releasing its last streams of smoke as the new moon faded from night. And as the sky became azure with the sun’s approach, he led me away, to the sacred tree. It was there I gave myself to him. He lay me down in the soft grass, kissing me with gentleness, stroking my face and hair. His fingers followed a secret path to a gift I saved only for him. He tasted the honey, put his weight on me, and pushed through the gates of my sanctuary. He buried his face in my hair, in my neck, his body rocking mine to the rhythm of our hearts. I can still see the passion in his eyes, and feel the scratch of his woolen tunic on my belly. In a perfect moment of warm explosion, in the holy light of dawn, gentle pulsing waves overtook me.
He whispered in my ear, but not words of love. The gods had played a trick on my senses, my heart, and me. Suddenly he spoke of a new land, a new world; he was to sail under the full moon. He would return with riches, he assured me. We could start our life together in comfort; he said he would be a hero for the clan. I begged him not to go.
I told him he was the treasure I had always sought – the only gold I need. He would not hear a foolish woman in love, smiling through her tears.
In the days before he left, I had a weight in my belly, and dreams of ice and snow. “Yes,” said he, “winter’s approaching.’ I tried everything to make him crave the heat of our bed; he only said he would think on me during his nights aboard ship. “Do not brood, my darlin’. Make no fuss. This will be a profit to all, not just us.”
Like my cherished one, the gods refused my pleas. My prayers went unanswered as I watched his ship move outward from the land. The sun was just rising, but I saw only darkness. Into the icy sea floated my love, my future, bobbing like an acorn in a stream. With my braid clutched in his fist, his arm was wavin’ to me until I saw him no more. The blue of sea and sky swallowed his image at the horizon.
The following spring his son was born still and I buried him under the tree he was conceived. The heaviness moved from my belly to my breast and never left me. There were several theories about why that ship, filled with our husbands, sons, and fathers, never came home to us; maybe they found the women to their liking in the new land; maybe they were treated as gods, with riches and thrones; maybe the sea swallow’d them up in a wave. But, I was given a vision; the men had reached the new land and found no treasures, no women. Theirs was a fruitless search compelled by hopes for greatness. He was traveling inland, on foot, and weak with hunger. A storm came upon them quickly; they had no time to build a shelter, and as the sky released its icy wrath, my cherished one could not go on. He was buried by the snow. Frozen to his death.
I would not tell the others; my own heart could not bear the truth. I stood on that foggy cliff for the rest of my life – my feet becoming one with the stone where the earth meets the sea – waitin’ for his ship to return. I implored the gods to return him to me, my salty tears a sacrifice to the sea. But, I knew. Deep inside me, I knew.