It is said everybody has at least one good story in them. I have taken up creative writing to spin my stories in the hope you will understand and enjoy them.
Maybe you could do the same. Please click on the tabs below to read......
I am old now and the men don't look anymore. I feel the winter in my bones, see it in the colour of my hair. Time and seasons run by like a river flowing. In spring I no longer dance, but watch others dance as the earth unfolds. Summer is too short to warm my soul or the hard, cold pebble in my heart, but long enough so I can sit beneath the trees and remember.
I watch the boys chop my wood and the young girls bring my bucket from the well. They believe they will never look like me. Not like old Madge whose wrinkled cheeks could never have been kissed. Whose scrawny breasts could never have felt the touch of a lover's hand? Whose womb could never have been full?
They like to hear my stories though, sitting in the forest or around my fire at night. I don't have to spin my tales, they are real enough but of course nobody believes them. Just the half crazed imaginings of a lonely old woman.
If they ask for a story tonight I will tell them the secret. I feel the Reaper's breath upon my skin more often these days. I cannot let the truth die with me. I am the last who knows and the soldiers can't hurt me now. What can they take? Everything is gone except my life, which will soon follow the leaves into the earth. Now as the nights grow longer, as the first chill winds whisper through the trees, now is the season to tell them my final story. For I will not live through another winter.
Listen to me, listen to old Madge and her secret. There is love for girls and blood for boys and a great adventure in a time when autumn was the colour of my hair. A red shining glory that fell to my waist and shone like copper wool. When my body was young and I lay with men. When we fought the invader. When Harold was King.
Arrows. Clouds of arrows beat down upon the shield wall, so many they sounded like hail on a church roof. The cries of men impaled joined the shouts and screams of men who hacked and hewed for their lives, as they fought for possession of the hill.
A cavalry charge, the knights in their blood-lust and frustration riding over their own foot soldiers, before they too fell under a hail of stones, spears and axes hurled at them from the wall. Horses and riders rolled to the bottom of the slope in a bloody chaos of legs and screams, the horses wild-eyed with terror, kicking and lunging their way free of the carnage.
She bit on her hand, trying to stop herself crying out as a horse tried to drag itself clear; its hind quarters a broken ruin. A foot soldier in his fury used his axe to severe the animal's head from its neck, as he clawed his way forward.
Blood, blood soaked the grass, spouted through the air and splashed on the men as iron and steel chopped through flesh and bone. She could smell its fresh crimson, taste its hot wetness. The bedlam of men shouting their defiance, the clash of armour on armour, weapon on weapon, cries and curses of the dying, roared in her head. Her stick of charcoal crumbled against her face as she pressed her hands to her ears. The arrows fell in black swarms over the men on top of the hill. She closed her eyes to escape, but the images were too clear in her mind to allow this simple retreat. Overwhelmed by fear she staggered away from the parchments.
"Margaret, Margaret! Child, child, you are here with me, you are safe."
She jumped in terror as hands closed around her shoulders, then fell back against the reassuring bulk of her father. The battle on Senlac Hill faded away to the drawings spread along the refectory table.
Edmund Harding held his daughter until she stopped shaking, gently swaying from side to side, crooning the lullaby he had sung to her when she was small. Her tunic dress was soaked with sweat, her naturally pale skin, grey and clammy. She turned in his arms and looked up at him; the thick red hair that fell to her waist was plastered darkly around her face.
"Forgive me father," she said, "forgive me." Edmund looked down at her, she was only a head shorter than him now but he still saw the wilful, innocent child of a few summers gone. "No child, no," he answered, "There is nothing for me to forgive; it is you who must forgive yourself." He looked into her amber flecked green eyes, so reminiscent of her mother's.
"And God," she said, "God must forgive me as well."
"God must forgive us all child," he said, and he gently wiped the blood away from her mouth with his handkerchief. Smears of charcoal covered her face and with the sweat and the blood she had the wild appearance of a shield maiden. "Go and find Thyra the house-woman, ask her to bandage your hand, warm you a cup of milk and honey then help you bathe and be ready for sleep."
"Yes father." The everyday nature of his command and the simple quest to find Thyra appeared to help Margaret push back her dark visions. Edmund watched as she straightened her posture and left the hall to cross the yard. Her tall, slim figure seemed to glide over the flagstone floor. She was briefly framed by the arched doorway, her green dress and red hair illuminated by the evening light. Holding up her dress she stepped over the threshold and down on to the muddied earth, she looked back at him, smiled and walked away.
Turning to the table and the parchments she had worked on, he sucked in his breath. In direct, decisive strokes she had drawn the horses of William's cavalry, massive stallions galloping flank to flank, at the charge. A few figures had been sketched in to give the creatures scale but were stiff and flat in comparison. The horses moved across the parchments as living beings. Bold, lifelike, and startling in their intensity. Edmund had never seen their like, they transcended all other depictions of animals.
On the last parchment, the one she must have been working on when he heard her cry out, the horses had reached a hill. They were tumbling over in grotesque confusion. Again a few figures were sketched in, this time carrying spears and axes. Edmund felt himself being drawn into the scene, he could hear the din and chaos of battle, smell the fear of animals and men. This was not a static, derivative illustration of a long past historic event. It was a living, breathing depiction of a reality witnessed by the artist, who had stood on Senlac Hill and watched as the horses were ridden to their ruin. Only one artist in England lived with that memory, and it was destroying her reason.