Story in the Round – PART 2

I could feel the smoke warming my lungs and tickling my heart, seducing things from the depths of my soul that had not stirred in the last decade. Magic does that—it whispers promises of ease and power to us, makes us think we can be more than we are.

And on the Solstice, sometimes it speaks the truth. Things shift on a solstice, and it’s only natural that we follow the same pattern.

Even as I followed Danny reluctantly, I could feel the magic changing me. I could feel it lightening my steps, and I thought, against my will, of my mother floating over the earth, literally high on her power. The sticky heat on my skin turned cold, clammy, but the beat of the drums compelled me onward.

Outside the circle, I put my bag down on the grass beside Danny’s. He turned to me, his brown eyes glowing with the heat of the power now coursing through him, and offered me his hand. Behind him, the dancers swirled in a sun-pattern, opening a gateway for the power, even as the drumming grew ever louder. Velvet darkness crept across the sky, and when night fell, the magic would really take over.

Driven by the force of the dance, I put my hand in Danny’s. More heat caught fire, this time our own, and he pulled me into the circle of dancers. My body fell into a rhythm I knew in my bones as my heart started beating to the cadence of the drums. Danny knew the steps; the dance was something greater than us, as much a part of the summer night as the stars above and the fireflies skirting the woods. It made us a part of the night, too, our heat and sweat blending into the moisture of the night.

I noticed the stones only after we had done two circuits of the fire. Round and white, they would be nondescript if they were not so strangely placed, close to the fire as if they had been casually cast aside, but so close to the dancers that I had to wonder.

They said, after my mother died, that she had reached too deeply into the well of magical power that summer night so many years ago. But things reach out as much as we reach in, and small gateways as well as large open on solstice nights. I remembered what Danny said about fairies and wraiths, and I felt a spear of icy fear pierce the warm veil of the summer night.

We whirled past the stones, and I wondered if they had grown from the ground there, or if someone had placed them. They glowed amber in the firelight, pulsing in the flickering light as if they were alive. While the rest of us danced to the drums, the soul of these stones moved to another music, something none of the rest of us could hear.

When I saw a man and a woman step from the darkness between the stones, their eyes feral in the firelight, I stumbled.

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Story in the Round – PART 1

Today we are beginning a new segments of posts, a very creative journey together, namely: A Story in the Round. Today I start the story, the first 500 words  of the introduction, and then leave off for the next Scribe to pick up. We’ll each add to the story until it comes to its natural conclusion. We’re not discussing where we each want to see where the story will go or what characters should arrive or do or whatever, it will be as much of a surprise to us as it will be to you, dear reader. So! Enjoy!

Southern summers were sticky, hot, and fierce. They held the kind of wet heat that you could never really prepare for. Short hair and short shorts didn’t do much to help, but I tried anyway. Now, walking through the field, the grass tickled my dewy skin, scratching and tickling all at once.

I hefted my backpack higher up on one shoulder, as I trudged up the hill, skirting around the fireflies that drifted just above the ground. The bonfire was tonight, and the drum circle. People would dance and sing and light the fire to breathe in the healing smoke. A new level of heat would be added to the night. The last time I’d danced around the bonfire my mother had been alive. The magic poured from her as she danced to the rhythm of the drums, her scarves swirling around her like a kaleidoscope come to life. Her bare feet skimmed the grass and for a moment, my ten-year-old self believed she was flying.

She died six months later – right before Winter Solstice. It was like some cruel cosmic joke.

I lost my magic with the death of my mother. How could magic be real if someone as beautiful and wonderful as my mother could die? Especially if I couldn’t bring her back, no matter how many spells I tried.

My father said she didn’t want to come back – that she would have found peace and moved on. And so should I. So, I walked away from magic, since it had obviously abandoned me.

Ten years later, I stood on top of that hill, and looked down at the celebration already started. The ground vibrated with the beat of the drums. The breeze carried voices back to me. The song was in a language I didn’t know, but was somehow familiar. There was power in those words and that power touched me, made my blood rush in my ears and pulled at my body to run to it.

“You ready for this?” Danny asked as he came up alongside me. I turned to look at him, pulling my eyes away from the celebration at the bottom of the valley. His brown eyes were alive with excitement. The power of the gathering was already filling him. It wasn’t filling me, not yet, but when I looked into his eyes, saw them alight with life and power, I knew I wanted to feel that too.

“I think so,” I finally answered with a strained smile.

“Then let’s go.” Danny nudged me with an elbow before starting down the slope leading to the bottom of the hill. “Oh,” he said over his shoulder, “remember to watch out for fairies and wraiths.” He grinned at the look on my face. I stumbled for a moment and had to swallow against the lump that had formed in my throat. Danny laughed and shook his head at me before turning away and hurrying down the hill. I had no idea if he was serious or not.