I have been working on my manuscript for a while now and I keep finding ways to put of finishing it. Mostly its’ because my character Lilia, whose story I really need to tell, just doesn’t seem to be speaking to me right now. It’s as if she is evading me. Her words just aren’t coming out very well. I was doing well with her story until I decided to have my work professionally edited. Unfortunately I am not very good at doing a synopsis, and as a result the editing company thought it was a children’s book, when it is not. Lilia may be only eleven. but there are other characters in there that are older and the content is simply not meant for children. Thus when the editor read the few pages I had submitted she, being an editor for children, wanted me to practically rewrite the whole thing. No matter how many times I tried to explain to her that it was not a children’s book but she was insistent that it could be; perhaps because she knew I would be assigned another editor and would lose out on any money due for looking over my manuscript. Of course I could be wrong, she maybe was just determined to make it another book for children, I really am not sure, but whatever the case was she was not the right editor for me. So in the end I gave up and pulled the story from the editing service.
A lot was going on in my life at the time so I simply decided to just leave the manuscript hidden in the depths of my computer and get back to it when my life was in a better, less hectic place. Needless to say that day never really came, as in truth I was just putting it off. I had been given a blow and I was not ready to get back up. I had lost what little confidence I had in my writing skills as it was and having to go back over a manuscript I was no longer sure of seemed such a daunting task. I have however, since decided to get back on the horse, so to speak, and re-read, edit and rewrite my manuscript. After all the thing was almost finished. So I have elected to share a little of the prologue with you in order to see what you think and if you feel it is worth telling Lilia’s story. Please feel free to comment, all advice would be very much appreciated.
Thank you for reading.
The snow tumbled down in waves making the ground under foot whiter by the second. A figure moved in the shadows of the tall church lurking in the nearby bushes waiting for any passersby to be far from sight. In her arms she held a baby, wrapped warm and tight in blankets, this small bundle so helpless and new to the world. The lady had come here to the foot of the church steps to leave it for the nuns to find and take into their care. Reluctantly she bent down to place the baby on the steps before her, but she did not do this with ease, it caused her great pain to leave him here, but she felt she had no choice. Quickly she retreated behind the nearest willow tree to watch and make sure that someone would see him and take him inside. In her haste to leave she had forgotten to knock and it was some time before someone came out, but the baby did not make a sound, and when a young woman walking towards the church saw him and picked him up the lady almost came out from behind the tree to protest, with a made up excuse that she had left him there to go and start the car, no that would have been an awful reason, why would this young pleasant blond haired woman have believed her? No she knew as much as it troubled her heart she believed she was doing the right thing, the boy deserved a better fate, and she sensed this woman would keep him safe, she could feel the love pouring from this woman towards the baby in the basket. As far as everyone that knew of her daughter’s pregnancy, the baby had died with her. Sweet Iona, she would rest knowing that her baby boy was safe, away from the family, away from any harm. And that was what Josephine had told herself until she got home and saw her daughter standing on the front porch dripping with sweat and blood, wearing the nightgown she died in; and as fast as she was there she was gone. Josephine knew in that second that her daughter was not resting in peace.
‘I’ll go and get him back tomorrow Iona. Please understand I thought it was for the best’ she had called out to the mist, but no reply was given and that night Josephine was plagued with disturbing dreams, horrible nightmares the like that only a restless spirit could give a Magi. As soon as dawn had broken the next day Josephine was up and dressed and driving back to that church over two hundred miles away. She reached there by night fall, just as she had the night before. Climbing out of the car she ran over in her head what she would say, ‘my daughter left him here in a panic, she couldn’t take care of him anymore but then she confessed to me last night and here I am.’ That would do? Would it, would the nuns believe her, maybe not but she had to try for Iona’s sake. She wrapped on the door twice and waited; no response so she entered. The orphanage was adjacent to the church and was overseen by the nuns and the minister’s young daughter. Josephine had been here once with Iona when she was a child, to teach her about god so that she could make her own mind up about religion, even though Josephine was no believer in God she was not about to stop her daughters curiosity, she had felt rather proud of herself at the time, letting her daughter take on a religion she was not keen on, she felt liberal, but perhaps it had been because she knew deep down inside that Iona was a curious child and was merely experimenting and by making Christianity a taboo it would in fact fuel her curiosity further, and that may have led to something deeper which Josephine knew she would not have been so tolerant of. So there it was her liberal mind quashed in a flash of memory, and the present demanded her attention again. So with her tail between her legs she walked slowly forward, almost hesitantly into the main room of this orphanage. She felt as if Jesus himself was watching her judging her at this moment even though she believed differently, but her senses were all over the place, she could not get a clear reading, not just because of the emotions she had welled up inside her, the fear, anticipation and the anger at her own stupidity, but because holy places of modern religion, especially catholic and Christian holy places, did this to her, blocked her mind, her abilities, it was a psychological thing, in fact it was a common occurrence amongst most Magi, and that was why many sought churches for solitude, so that they could be alone with their thoughts. Of course this all depended on how powerful the Magi was and whether they had learnt to control their powers yet. As her mind wondered she got lost in the moment, the silence that she no longer had to gain by throwing up mental walls. But she did not let them down, the strong bricks stayed firmly in place, for the most part; some fell to let the silence through, to feel the normal eerie emptiness of a quiet mind. No more feeling of people’’s emotions or thoughts bouncing off her mind, no more images, just peace, quiet and space. Josephine sat for a moment in front of the small altar set up in this main room with the crucified statue of Jesus staring blankly down at her. She almost forgot her intentions, for a second or two she almost lost herself in the face of this pain stricken man, forever dying, immortalised for all to see at his most vulnerable moment. ‘Displayed here to make people feel guilt’. Josephine thought to herself.
But the only guilt Josephine felt was for what she had done the other night, so rising to her feet again she went in search of someone to tell her little tale to in order to have her grandson returned to her.
It didn’t take her long to find a nun ‘How may I help you?’ the friendly faced nun inquired. Josephine paused for a moment not exactly sure what she should say. ‘My daughter,’ she began, ‘mistakenly left her baby here last night. She was not in her right mind, and has asked me to come and bring him back to her.’ The words tumbled from her mouth in a rush, making her sound as frantic as she felt. The nun smiled at her calmly, ‘I am sorry, but no baby was brought in last night. Perhaps it was another church?’
‘No it was definitely here!’ Josephine insisted.
The nun gave her a sympathetic look, ‘I can let you see the other babies if you like, perhaps your daughter got the day wrong.’
‘Thank you. I would be very grateful’ Josephine gave the Nun a warm smile and followed her through to the nursery.
There weren’t many babies so a quick look was all Josephine needed. ‘He is not here.’ She sadly reported to the Nun. What could she do, arguing was not going to do anything, and perhaps the girl that had picked him up last night had taken him away.
‘I am sorry. Maybe you should try St John’s in the next town?’ Josephine nodded before the Nun turned to led her back to the main door. Once she had stepped outside Josephine turned to the Nun and said, ‘Thank you’
The Nun replied ‘Good luck my dear. May God be with you.’ as she closed the large wooden doors behind her leaving Josephine alone on the church steps. The only thing left for her to do now was go home and try to find him with thaumaturge.
She drove all night and as soon as she was home Iona appeared again and this time she spoke to her. ‘I forgive you mother, just leave things be. He will fulfill his fate and there is no place that you can hide him that will stop him reaching his destiny. Rest Mother for all you have done is cause yourself pain, he will be safer if you do not know where he is; and to risk casting an incantation to find him may make his whereabouts known to The Hallowed. Rest assured that Iset will watch over him.’
Josephine knew that what her daughter said made sense so she did not press the matter, instead she wished her well, ‘May Iset watch over you, and may Mayet help your soul find peace.’
And Iona responded in kind, ‘May Iset and Lilitu watch over you.’
Slowly her daughter faded, but before she disappeared completely she smiled. Josephine smiled back and touched her hand to her heart. All she could do now was perform the enchantment of restriction to make sure that her grandchild could not use his gifts, if indeed he had inherited any. This way when he came of age he would not accidentally perform any tricks nor develop any skills that would allow him to transcend into a fully fledged Magi. Of course this would not control or destroy his gift, but merely mask them from him so that he could lead a normal life. And for Josephine this was just as important as her grandson’s safety. All the while Iona watched her Mother from afar, never getting too close for her to sense her, and when she saw what incantation she had performed she went and sought out Iset.
©2010 C.L.Byiers. All rights reserved.