Note – this is now Chapter 14 of the story Of Wind and Wings, a story inspired by these prompts of Sue’s.
It was the infinite room of pillars again, columns running in every direction. It was the same, but different. A bright green light off in one direction extended the pillars into long shadows.
Strangely confident, Ed strode up to the light. As he expected, it was the waystone again. This time he followed the sign. It didn’t surprise him that he soon saw his tower. But as he approached, the tower grew, expanded, changed.
On reaching the tower Ed climbed up to an open window and peered in. The structure was just a shell, open to the sky. But that wasn’t the first thing that struck Ed.
“Pillars,” Ed said out loud. The room of pillars again. Was he back where he started?
The infinite pillars filling the shell of the tower collapsed down to just a single structure, a Greek or Roman style memorial or tomb, mostly open space and Doric Columns. A bright light descended behind the shell of the tower. The memorial sent shadows racing in front of the light. The shadows struck Ed like a physical force.
“Good morning Mr. Pulman. I made breakfast for you today.”
Ed sat bolt upright at the sound of Liza’s voice. Where was he? It couldn’t be day, already, could it? His head was foggy.
Bright light streamed through the window at a sharp angle illuminating the bed but sending most of the room into black shadow. It really was morning. And he really was in his room at Liza’s house. He could smell the breakfast.
Still groggy, Ed got up and started fumbling with clothes. How did he get there?
He had followed The Grubb around the moors for a few hours the previous day. He was surprised at how attuned the man was to nature. The Grubb pointed out signs of different animals. He pointed to different plants and said names, names Ed felt must be correct, though he didn’t know most of them himself. He turned stones and showed Ed insects. He watched the birds, knowing their exact behavior and anticipating their every move. He seemed to be able to sense the weather.
After a while though, Ed felt that he needed to get back to the village and left The Grubb to his lone wanderings.
In the village Ed had explored the shops and walked around until the evening shadows grew long. He found a place for dinner and discovered that Mr. Brown was correct, it did not compare to the pub where they had eaten lunch.
“Note to self, don’t eat anywhere else in the village but Mr. Brown’s pub.”
After that, the evening was a little grey, shadowy. Ed didn’t want to return back to Elisabeth Smyth’s house but wasn’t sure what else to do. But there he drew a blank. What did he end up doing?
Ed walked down stairs to the breakfast. Liza greeted him with a warm smile, but he felt something else. A shadow across her heart.
“Good morning,” Ed said as he sat.
“How was your day out?”
“Good. I think I want to repeat it. That is, I want to go into the village and then walk on the moors some more. It looks like a beautiful day.”
“That it is.”
Eliza was watching him in an odd way as he ate. The look was bright on the surface, but dark underneath. He tried to remember the night before. Was anything said? Or was it just still fallout from her revelation the day before?
The book and the revelation. Ed had been avoiding thinking about it. Parts of it did bother him, though. Actually, parts of it didn’t make sense. If he did think about it, it led him into contradiction, no matter which way he turned.
“You seem rather thoughtful this morning, Ed.”
“Oh, yeah, sorry. I’m a little tired. And being a bit introverted, this is how I handle it. I introvert, turn inward. Sorry.”
“No problem. The moors are the perfect place for an Introvert, you know. From what I know about the US, I can’t see America as being a very good place for an Introvert at all. I think you need to spend more time out there.” She waved her hand in a general direction to indicate the moors around them.
Ed laughed uneasily. “I guess I can be a later day Heathcliff, brooding on the moors as I plot vengeance.”
Eliza gave him a strange, dark look. “And who would your vendetta be aimed against?”
“What? Uhm, I was forced to read that book as a college freshman and don’t remember more than bits and pieces. Let’s see if I remember. I guess if it is the spurned lover thing, it would have to be my ex-wife and her new-found family. Right? Of course there are no resentments there. Few cruelties.” He shrugged and continued to eat.
“Thinking of books, have you had a chance to read any of your great uncle’s book that I gave you?”
“No. I didn’t have time.”
Ed was about to return to his breakfast, but then an odd thought occurred to him. Was that right? What had he done all of the evening before? Perhaps he did read some of the book. A chapter or two? Or Three? Something about the thought of the book cast a disquieting shadow over him.
“Well, maybe I read a little…” Or did he read it all? How late was he up? Ed felt a bit confused.
Liza smiled, but the smile was truer than before, a little ray of sunshine peeking out from the shadows.
“You did seem distracted last night…”
“Yeah.” Ed tried to remember Liza from the night before. The book made some sense in his limited memory, but she did not. He knitted his brow, holding his fork perfectly still where it had halted on its journey to his mouth.
Liza gave Ed another smile, and then left the room. Something about her absence freed Ed and he continued to eat.
45 minutes later, fed and washed, Ed headed out for the day.
The Grubb was leaning against his car. Ed knew he didn’t drive, so he must have walked all of the way out to the Smyth’s house.
“Hi Mr. Ed. You’re late. The sun is riding high in the sky, melting the shadows. But there is still some morning left. Ready to go out and explore?”
Ed half laughed to himself, but just smiled at The Grubb.
“Sure, Grubb, let’s go.”
And so it continues, now up to chapter ten (10) of the newly named Of Wind and Wings. Chapter 13 is here. Chapter 12 is here. Chapter 11 is here. 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.
Yuck. Someday I am going to create a proper navigation for this story…