Pressing On

It’s been a busy year(ish) since starting this blog, and I think I can safely say that things are getting better. Spring is coming and the future certainly looks a lot brighter than it did a few months ago. There are bulbs coming up all over the garden, gloriously bright yellows and blues. And indoors, at my kitchen table, I’ve got writing ideas buzzing around in my head. Now that Thomas Marchant is out there on Amazon, I’m having a little break from the 18th century.

My current work in progress is a possible novella, set in Ancient Delphi. A sort of time travelling first person narrative. Here’s the first chapter of Falling.

I am on the top of a hill.  Nearby, a painted building appears to glows; the tiny slivers of quartz in the marble columns dazzle.  I am probably dreaming.

A figure in the distance turns towards me.  The folds of his white robe droop in places.  The man is bareheaded in the sunshine, clothing like something from a dressing-up box. A chiton.

‘ Hello,’ I call.

The man ignores me. I call again.

This time, he seems to notice but takes off down the track.  He isn’t friendly.

The building might shelter me from the blaze of the sun, perhaps have a cool interior, a respite from the heat.

I look around. The hills across the valley shade blue into the distance, hazy, soft, and shimmering. The smell of vines wafts up from below in the heat. The sun is directly above. Midday.

The man reappears as I step into the pool of shade around the roofed portico.

He is not alone.

He comes towards me carrying a pole while others wait behind him. I shrink back into a space between a column and the wall of the building. He passes by, apparently unaware of my presence. It’s not a pole; it’s a spear.

I slide further round the column to the interior. In bare feet that make no noise, I feel the smooth floor, cool despite the heat outside; I can breathe.

Noises approach. Angry voices. I am pulled from my hiding place by the many hands of the crowd. I smell the acrid scent of the burnt branches they carry.

‘Aarrh!’ The crowd falls back to form a circle around me.

‘You must help us, Pythia!’ a small woman says.

‘You must help me,‘ I say. Pythia?

‘Your words will give us hope,’ says another.

‘Hope of what?’ I ask.

‘Our prayers are answered, and you must speak,’ says the small woman. They talk in riddles and I make a noise of frustration.

They fall back further. There is a large circle of space around me.  Across the invisible barrier, they call to me.

‘We shall bring food and drink,’ says the man with the spear who has stepped forward to the front of the crowd. ‘To the temple.’

‘Who are you?’ I ask.

‘We are your supplicants.’ The crowd speaks as one, as if practised.

The man repeats some of the woman’s words. ‘You have answered our prayers, and now you must speak,’ he says.

Now the man with the weapon is near me. I see that the shaft and blade are covered in thick blood.

The small woman points to the building.

Two more women step forward and lead me down the hill. I am caught. If I run, they will stop me, though I am a head taller and longer limbed than most of them. Too many for me to fight.  I must bide my time though the adrenaline tells me to go…now.

This dream needs to end but I cannot shake it off. And it is too coherent. Dreams can be vivid but fragmented. That is not what is happening here.

‘You must enter the Sanctuary,’ the small woman says. 

The temple is bright, perfect. There are no bruises in the marble, no broken columns.

Their hands are more gentle now, but they still surround me and guide me towards the back of the building where the smell and the dark close in on me. A door in the distance slams shut. I am a prisoner.

Published by Pamela Stephen

I was a teacher in schools and the college sector for over thirty years. In retirement from my full-time job I worked as a part-time tutor. And now I've taken up the pen ( or rather, the keyboard).

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