In association with Bushey Museum and Art Gallery.
Joint 1st Place:
Lesley Kerr 'Another Life: A Fairytale'
Brian Bold 'Framed'
Jan Rees 'Repeating The Pattern'
Mike Lansdown 'A Precious Secret'
Ann Crago - Agony
David Elliott - A Good Match
Chris McDermott - Girl in Blue
THIS IS PAGE 2 OF 2 FOR THE COMPETITION
In the midnight blue swirling waters of the sea, a secret was hidden.
Beneath the cliffs lay wide caves and deep lagoons. Here lived Lachlan, with pale aqua eyes and red hair waving in the currents, a muscular physique and from the waist up, you could believe he was like any other agile young man. But to realise his secret, you had to see him swimming in the rippling waters, his bottom half like a fish, silver scales, fins and a tail, expertly weaving in and out of the rocks. Lachlan lived underwater and could only survive for a short while above the surface.
Nobody knew he was there, myths had grown over the years about the large unusual shaped fish, but nobody knew the truth.
Until the night of the storm, when the thunder boomed and the huge waves rolled, one on top of another. Lachlan swum to the surface, in the flashes of light he could see a boat crashing against the rocks, the sound of shouts and splintering wood, and then a piercing scream. Diving under the water he swam to the hull, rags swirled in the water, tossing and turning. Grabbing the red material in front of him, Lachlan realised there was a girl beneath. He knew he had to get her above the surface, she was a human who needed to breath. Using his tail to propel them through the water, he held her in his arms. Taking her to the cave, he gently placed her on a rock above the water, she gasped in the still night air, then spluttered,
“You saved my life.”
He sat beside her as she slept, stroking her drying golden hair and occasionally brushing her cheek. He had never seen anything so beautiful.
But she couldn’t stay here, she needed to be on the land. As the sun started to rise, he took her back into the water, they swam to the shallow waters near the beach. Raising his arm as she rose to the surface, Lachlan then wiped the tears from his eyes as she disappeared forever.
We have been here for so long I have forgotten what we are waiting for. News; that’s it, news of our boy, our only child. We heard the rumour in town. 'Those boys, they are all dead.’ No one knew where the rumour had begun.
We wait patiently at the police station. We have asked if they can find out the truth. The lady was sympathetic, her eyes filled with tears as I spoke to her. She asked us to sit here and wait; she would find out what she could. And she shuffled away into the back office, wiping the tears from her eyes and sniffing loudly; I heard she lost her son three months ago.
He has closed himself off from me, as he always does. He is hiding behind his hand, which shields his tears from prying eyes. His legs are crossed; he has been nervously swinging his leg, too vigorously and so loosened his shoe it threatens to fall clattering to the ground. That will bring us unwanted attention. I want to remove it quietly from his foot, but I cannot.
I have hidden myself too, although I like to think I am more approachable. I have thrown my shawl over my face, to hide my tears, but it is thin, and I can see everything. I am unable to be close to my husband; I can feel his distance from me. We do not worry together. We wait; together, apart.
There’s a flurry of action behind the door to the back office and it opens. And the lady bustles quickly towards us. She seems to be smiling. I put out my hand, pull my husband’s hand from his eyes; ‘Johnny, the lady’s back.’
I pull my shawl from my face as my husband looks up. The lady approaches.
‘Good news, my dears!’ she says. ‘Your son is alive. He was injured, but he’s safe in the hospital now. They say he will make a full recovery.’
Tears flood my eyes, and his eyes, and he clasps me tight. And now, we are together again.
‘Go!’ the king shouted. ‘You are no daughter of mine! I will not have you in my kingdom a moment longer!’
The breath caught in my throat. I was banished.
He gestured at Aidan, the commander of 'The Vultures', his elite guardsmen.
‘She is in your care, Aidan. Take her to the border and make sure she crosses. Once she is outside, my magic will ensure she can never return.’
Aidan saluted the king and turned to face me. Through my tears I could see Aidan’s concern. I would not acknowledge him, yet. ‘My lady Maia, accompany me please!’
‘No need for that tone, man!’ the king muttered angrily. ‘She is your prisoner, nothing more! Choose your guards, let them stand before me.’
‘Yes, sire.’ Aidan chose three companions.
‘She's devious, that one,’ my father proclaimed. 'Vultures in name, be vultures in nature!’
The spell was cast; Aidan and the guards were transformed.
'Now go, take one of the horses for her. It will make the journey quicker.'
Aidan led the way, whilst the vultures hovered round me, pecking me, fluttering their wings in my face. We went to the stables, I mounted the fastest stallion, and we were gone.
The journey was long. And the stallion, who was not used to long journeys, expired in the heat of the desert which fringed our lands. I was alone, deserted; I had no one to talk to, apart from Aidan.
For my beloved is still there, in his mind. Our desperate plan is working.
And we are near the coast, I can see it through the haze. Aidan has kept the choicest cut from the stallion to feed me, whilst he and his companions have feasted on the bones. And I see my future, with my love Aidan. I wonder at my father's spell though, will its powers fade when we leave? Or will we be doomed to live as we are now, princess and vulture companion? Only time will tell, and we are both strong. Whatever happens, our love is true, it cannot be broken.