The old fairy stories are not known for their strong female roles. Off the top of my head, there seem to be four main types of women who constantly appear…
Daisy and Will had a hard time in ‘The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook’, they really did. What with restless ghosts and an age-old murder-mystery, uncomfortable high-school shenanigans and a terrible family tragedy, they didn’t get much of a break.
So to call them back and make them go through even more seems so, so cruel! In two minds as to whether or not to inflict another helping of torture, I thought it would be good if they talked it over first. And so they did… (Contains Spoilers!)
DAISY: “We have to fall out.”
DAISY: “It’s our second book together. We have to fall out in this one.”
Within a few moments, the kitchen hands had a fire lit. Free and unburdened by work, there seemed to be a magic about them tonight on the Eve of May. Sparks seemed to fly from their hands as if they were witches.
The kitchen girls produced food as if from nowhere. Their hands were empty and then suddenly full. Of things like a whole clove-studded ham, freshly baked loaves, mincemeat pies and honey cakes.
The washerwomen unfurled the largest of blankets, which seemed to float over the glade like a ship’s pennant before landing in the perfect picnic square.
The cleaning girls pulled wooden sticks from the fire and touched them to a million candles in a million lanterns. They peppered the clearing and hung about the trees, as bright as captured stars.
The village girls arrived bearing jars of jams and pickles, and jugs of ale from the tavern, their cheeks rosy and warm from the walk through the dark woods. They greeted the castle workers with whoops of joy and tender embraces. Most of them were related, after all. Mothers, daughters, aunts and cousins.
Catalina was awestruck. She had never seen anything so magical or so perfect. It was hard to connect these people with the downtrodden, subservient characters that ordinarily toiled in her world.
Someone showed her to a space on the blanket. Another handed her a silver goblet, full to the brim with ruby red wine. She drank half of it down immediately. The youngest serving girl, Joan, approached her, goaded by all the others. She brought out a crown of hawthorn blossom from behind her back.
Dropping a curtsy, she said: “We wish to crown you the May Queen, my lady.”
“Me?” Catalina replied, delighted. “It would be the greatest of honours.”
She rose up onto her knees and bowed her head solemnly. Joan placed the blossom crown on her head and everyone clapped.
“What do I have to do?” Catalina asked Maude, her nursemaid.
“You have to start the proceedings,” Maude replied. “Oh, look, my daughter’s here!”
And then Maude abandoned her. But Catalina had been waiting for many years for Maude to abandon her, so she didn’t care one bit.
“What do we do first?” she called out to the nearest girls. “And can we please do everything?”
But nobody had chance to answer her because, just then, there was a strange rumbling noise in the glade. There was a lot of ‘shushing’, and the women fell quickly silent, listening hard. Catalina stared along the hidden path to the right of The Tree as the rumbling came closer.
“It’s Boboli!” A washerwoman exclaimed.
She was greeted with disbelief.
“It can’t be…”
“Don’t be ridiculous…”
“He isn’t due this year…”
But the rumbling came nearer and, just as Catalina’s eyes were burning with the strain of staring, a black horse walked into the clearing pulling a black covered wagon, on which was written in gold the legend ‘Boboli ~ Who Knows All That Is Worth Knowing’.
In which Dr Williams comes across another strange petition in the intriguing medieval Blackwood archives…
Has anyone else had the odd experience of coming across their fictional character’s name in an obscure place? This is the first time it’s happened to me, and it felt like a lovely little link had been made between the real world and my imaginary one, and gave me a warm glow for the rest of the day 🙂
Daisy May’s bike was leaning up against a fence in the old (for New Zealand) town of Lawrence in Otago, half a world away from Daisy’s home. It might have been ironic, because Daisy is highly allergic to exercise, but it would be just like her to have a bike that was only useful as decoration.
Has something similar happened to you? I’d love to hear about it!
Daisy May plays a hopeless game of netball – an excerpt from ‘The Curtain-Twitcher’s Handbook’
When I got to the Sports Hall, the teams were already being selected.
“Aah, there you are, Daisy,” said Mrs Bennett. “You were meant to be choosing today but I wasn’t sure where you’d got to.”
I closed my eyes briefly, thanking whoever was in charge of this whole mess that I hadn’t had to choose a team from amongst all these people who hated me. A small reprieve.
Witches don’t exist. Not the ones who fly around on broomsticks cackling at the moon and turning people into frogs. That was all made up by some nasty men to get rid of little old ladies who knew a lot about plants and healing, but not much about the Lord. Of course, that’s a very broad sweep over the subject because I can’t go into it now.
“Mummy, what’s that lady doing?”
Jenny pushed Tom before her, guiding him past the other shoppers with a gentle, but insistent, hand on his shoulder. The sports shop closed in five minutes, and she had to make sure she got the right golf balls. She bought the wrong ones last time, and Mark had not been happy.
Tom craned his neck to look at the woman as they passed her by. She was holding a sign he couldn’t read, and shouting, her face determined.
“What does… ‘por-testing’ mean?”
The first spots of rain fell, and one landed on Jenny’s nose and made her jump. She reached out and pulled Tom’s hood over his head. Why hadn’t she brought the pushchair? At three and a half he was getting too old for it, but it sure made shopping trips quicker.
“Pro-testing,” Jenny corrected. “When you’re annoyed about something, you can tell everyone why and ask them to help you change it.”
“Like when Daddy is annoyed with you?”
Jenny smiled and shook her head. “Not quite, Tom. Bigger things than that. Come on, we need to hurry.”
The shop was in sight now, in the distance. As she herded Tom towards it, she saw a fit-looking guy in a polo shirt come to the door and flip the sign from Open to Closed.
“Shit!” Jenny couldn’t help herself.
She picked him up now and swung him into her arms, ignoring the sharp pain in her back from her fall down the stairs the week before. Mark didn’t want her to go to the doctors, but she might have to, because it was getting worse. Tom gave a cry of surprise as she began to run towards the shop, every step making her gasp.
The guy was outside the sports shop locking the door now.
“Wait!” called Jenny, “Please…”
In which Dr Williams comes across another strange petition in the Blackwood archives…
“You are my champion,” Silas told Christina, blushing a little. “My family all died, and here you are seeking revenge, not just for yourself, but for me, and others like me. You have enough courage for the whole of Blackwood. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ because I may not have another chance.”
She looked flattered and amazed at the same time, then examined the remains of her flower. “Nobody has ever said anything as nice as that before. I thought everybody saw me as a blood-hungry madwoman, driven insane by my curse.”