Note – this is now Chapter 11 of the story Of Wind and Wings, a story inspired by these prompts of Sue’s.
Note 2 – this chapter is not based on one of Sue’s prompts. It is an “in between” chapter that was needed to fill in detail.
The barren landscape had become monochrome. It was another mood, but this one devoured the entire moorland. A soft cold rain deepened the depression.
But the worst of it was that Ed knew he was alone, forsaken in the middle of nowhere. A bleak landscape devoid of color and sound, the few noises being muted by the moist air.
But then there was a sound.
Angry voices. Voices arguing.
A door slammed shut. A few seconds later a car door slammed as well. The car squealed its tires as it pulled away.
Ed opened his eyes.
It was morning.
Awake and dressed, he descended to the kitchen. No aromas of food rose to greet him. There was a hint of coffee, but nothing else.
Liza had her back to him, putting dishes in the cupboard.
“Good morning, Liza. Where’s Lauren?” he asked.
“How in the world should I know? She left.”
Ed poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down. Liza handed him a bowl and spoon.
“I don’t have time for a proper breakfast this morning,” she said as she pulled milk out of the refrigerator. She then grabbed a large box. “You can have Corn Flakes this morning. You like Corn Flakes don’t you? My mother told me that all American like Corn Flakes, but I can’t see how she figured that out since the only American she knew well, Stanly, my father, hated them. He always insisted on a hot breakfast.”
“Corn Flakes are fine,” Ed said, though his heart sank at the thought of cold cereal. He had so much enjoyed Liza’s full breakfasts. Eating alone, without Lauren, depressed him even more. Why had she left? Where had she gone?
Liza left the room as Ed began to eat. He thought about the evening before. It was both the most comfortable and least comfortable evening he could imagine.
He did not kiss Lauren again, and they didn’t hold hands, but they talked. His tongue was loosened in a way that was at first foreign to him, yet felt right. It was about everything and nothing. She was the same. Her wind-reddened face never lost its flush, but glowed as she talked about her life and work. Here eyes sparkled. Her magical voice lost that sarcastic edge, but talked comfortable about her joys and pains. Everything just clicked.
But then there was Liza. She joined in on occasion, and kept a smile, but Ed could feel the tension. She radiated hurt. But something more, deeper than just pain. All of the color that Ed and Lauren created in their conversation seemed to be sucked into the void created by her dark mood. She smiled happily, never letting on that she was anything more than ecstatic that the two of them seemed to have found their soul mates. But he could feel it.
A huge ‘bang’ brought Ed back to the present.
Liza had dropped a large leather-bound book next to him.
“Open it up.” She smiled.
Ed turned the cover to the first page and stared. His great uncle’s tower stared back. But it had changed. There were great clouds, like giant wings, behind it.
“You mean he didn’t create the picture from what he saw in his mind? He copied it from this picture?”
Liza shook her head. “No. Turn to the next page.”
Ed flipped the page over. It was a title page. “Of Wind and Wings – a Family History”. Below the title there were the names ”Stanly D. Barrow” and “Elisabeth Smyth”.
“Just after Mother had passed away, Stanly, Father, sent me a copy of the manuscript. Every page that you have. He asked me to edit it, make any changes I felt were needed, and make a publishable book out of it. It took a few years, but I did it. I shopped the finished book around, but nobody would touch it so I used a vanity press and had a few copies made. I’ll give you one. Later, I found an ancient leather book cover. As a half joke, but, given the content, half serious, I made an ‘old’ copy, having the pages artificially aged and bound in the old method. It was expensive. Very expensive.”
Ed flipped through the pages. A few of his great uncle’s illustrations graced some of the pages. Most of the book was text in an old fashioned font.
“Did you read what your great uncle gave you?”
“I started it,” Ed said. “After several chapters I skipped around a bit to give the flavor. I then moved on to the end and read the last couple of chapters. Perhaps I finished half, maybe two thirds by the time all is said and done. Not easy reading.”
“No it isn’t. I had my work cut out for me. Did you notice anything missing?”
“Well, I felt that there was a character that was implied but never stated. Well, until the end. Then there were two.”
“Actually, there were four. I noticed their absence and asked Stanly about them. At first he wouldn’t say, but after months of needling he told me that there were three other chapters to the book. There was a long introduction and then two final chapters. He had sent the originals to my mother shortly after my father, rather her husband, had died. The chapters were a question to her. She never responded. He didn’t try to recreate the missing chapters, so you never saw them.”
Ed flipped to the beginning of the book. “At first there was nothing. Nothing but forever. Grey. Stark, angular, beautiful but empty. Loneliness enveloped all. Void. Out of this nowhere, a wind began to howl across the bleak, monochrome landscape.” The words where both familiar and strange. They were not part of the history that he had read.
“I went through my mother’s belongings and finally found the lost chapters. They were the key. Everything made sense.”
“Please, do tell,” Ed said.
“The four characters should be obvious. The first is the moorland itself. It is a bleak place with an ever present, howling wind. And then there is the beast. The oldest legend out there, the earliest part of the history that never was, tells of a winged creature. It is bigger than any bird and had teeth. It was like those flying dinosaurs…”
“Uhm, a pterodactyl or, rather a pterosaur?”
“Yes. Or perhaps a dragon. People often said dragon, but they just as often said huge bird of prey. Sometimes they just said ‘the beast’ and everyone knew.”
“The beast. That was the second character, though it was hidden more than the others.”
“And the final two, I’m assuming a man and a woman?”
“Exactly. At the beginning she raises out of the land and he arrives on the wind from the air. They talk and he asks for the history of the place. She then goes on to tell him of two families. One of the families is hers and one his. The rest of the book is her telling him the history of his family, but seen through the eyes of hers. That is, until the last chapter. The history is both the ‘real’ history that our Mr. Brown would recognize and the history that never was that those who can see know. The history is also the rest of the book, the main body. Until the last chapter.”
“OK. That makes sense now. I always felt them as I read. They were there from the beginning, but never stated. I was almost beginning to think one of them was me….”
Liza gave him an odd look. “Now that you mention it… The woman in the book represented my mother’s family. It was her and it was me. The man represented Stanly’s family. It is, after all your family history, so he is Stanly and he is you.”
“At the end of the part you have, they get together to watch the last of his family, your family, leave the moors. It is made to sound all mysterious, but in reality it was his family moving to America. That was his grandfather, so your great-great grandfather.”
“It was an odd end…”
“So the next chapter, the lost chapter, was his family’s return to the moors. This was Stanly himself, of course. It was coded so only those who knew the history would understand. In it, he meets and falls in love with a woman from the other family, the hidden family that only then becomes truly visible. That would be my mother. There is a great love between them, but it isn’t consummated and he finally leaves again.”
“Hold on, there is still the last chapter. It is divided into two, giving alternative endings. In the first part, her husband passes away and the man who we know is Stanly returns. At this time their love is consummated and they live happily ever after or to the end of their days or whatever the fairytales say, and start a new line of the combined families. More importantly, it is then seen that they were the two that were there from the beginning. The story from the beginning was their story.”
“And the alternate ending?”
“In that one, after her husband dies, Stanly asks if he would be welcome, but she doesn’t answer. There is a pause and in some future generation one of his heirs returns and meets one of her heirs. They get together, fulfilling the destiny. They become the two from the beginning of the book.”
“Stanly sent the message to my mother through the chapters of the book. Either she never read them or she did and didn’t want him to come to her. I never knew. But I did know that the next generation was me. I had felt that destiny since I was a child. I knew there was someone coming for me. I always knew, felt it. Someone. You.”
“Shhh. This isn’t the time. I will give you a copy of the book that is easier to read than this leather-bound monstrosity. You can go through it in your spare time. For now, just explore the area and get comfortable. Perhaps you will see your destiny as well.”
Liza smiled down at Ed. For a minute he wondered if a mouse saw such a smile from a cat before the pounce. And yet, despite the aggressiveness, there was a tenderness in the woman’s face. The lines of age he had seen the evening before were smoothed over. She was nether the wild young woman he had followed on the midnight romp over the moors, nor the old lady who had greeted him for breakfast. She was just Liza, Elisabeth Smyth.
She turned and left the room. Her movements were as graceful as a ballerina and Ed’s eye couldn’t help but follow her through the door.
And then she was gone, being replaced by vacuum.
Ed dug back into his cold cereal. He thought of the evening before. He and Lauren had walked up the stairs together. They didn’t say a word, but looked deeply into each other’s eyes. After the day together he knew her in a way he had not known another. She said without words that they must wait to share a bed, but he already knew that. She whispered his true name in that voice from his dreams and he whispered her true name in a voice that he knew she had heard many times in her own dreams. They went to their separate rooms, but he could feel her fall asleep as he did, as if they were side by side.
Something was wrong. Was destiny knocking on the right door?
And so it continues, now up to chapter ten (10) of the newly named Of Wind and Wings. Chapter 10 is here. Chapter 9 is here. Chapter 8 is here. Chapter 7 is here. Chapter 6 is here. Chapter 5 is here. Chapter 4 is here. Chapter 3 is here. Chapter 2 is here and Chapter 1 here.
Note – Although this is based on and is a continuation of a story using the prompts from Sue Vincent’s #writephoto, this is an “in between” chapter that did not use a prompt.