The final Book Trailer has been released, and the finishing touches are going into the final story. What a wild, insightful journey 2015 has turned out to be. Look for the release of A TRIO OF IRISH TALES II very soon! When teamed with the first set of tales, they'll make a terrific gift for the Celtic-hearted (or just the story lover) on your holiday list.
And now: more from Liam Killough . . .
The Fairy Tree (Selection #3)
By Judith Cullen
He soon found himself at a fork on the road he had taken out of town. One road was bristling with signs and newer pavement. The other seemed to disappear into the undergrowth as it ascended up a hill. He tried to peek up it in case it was someone’s drive, for it did not seem to be marked as “private.” Suddenly the words of a poem came unbidden into his head.
They’d been studying poetry at school, mostly Irish poets. There’d been a lot of time spent on W.B. Yeats and George William Russell and other late 19th, early 20th century poets. Liam didn’t always understand the politics laced through the poems, but he was working on understanding the struggles behind the words. The teacher had spent one day focusing on contemporary poets of the period from around the world, and had read several poems by an American, Robert Frost. The words just popped up from nowhere in his mind and he spoke them out loud, startling himself, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
So Liam chose the path leading up the hill to who-knew-where. He figured if he found out it was a driveway he could retreat quickly, or be as apologetic as was necessary. After all: no sign? Right?
The cracked pavement quickly disappeared into gravel as Liam climbed the road up the hill. The gravel dissolved into dirt, and what had been like a road narrowed into a foot path, one person wide. On one side was heavy bracken on the edge of a small wooded area. On the other side were sections of fence at intervals, fronting onto a field. Liam was contemplating what use sections of fence were if they didn’t connect, when he was distracted by bunches of sprouting daffodils. They were vibrantly yellow in the sunlight. Liam mused to himself that they were kind of silly looking, waving there in clumps amid the grasses. “Golden trumpets on stems” he thought, amused at how poetical he seemed to be today. What Liam really thought, but would have been embarrassed to express out loud, was that the daffodils looked like happiness in bloom. His grandmother would have considered that a worthy thought, and pronounced that Liam was becoming more and more the Irishman all the time.
As the path began to crest the hill, it ended in a small field. Half a dozen sheep turned their heads at Liam’s arrival, decided he was nothing worthy of concern, and turned back to munching grass and weeds. Liam, for his part, noted the sheep and looked down at his feet. At least he had his boots on. He’d definitely pay close attention to where he was walking now.
Stepping carefully forward he caught a glimpse of stone. Not “a stone,” but several of them: more than a dozen. Hey, had he stumbled on a stone circle? Sweet! His concerns about sheep manure and his shoes disappeared as he ran forward and began to count. Wow. There were fourteen stones all together. Most of them were in a wide circle. Some stones were standing, and some were on their sides. A few were scattered randomly outside the circumference of the others. Liam thought they looked like dancers weaving in and out of a ring like he had seen at the May festival Grans had taken him to. Oh yeah, and that big one was the leader, or maybe he was the piper! Liam liked Irish uillean pipes. Different from Scottish bagpipes, one of Liam’s friends from school was learning to play them. Ross had shown him how they worked, and let him try them. Liam thought they were fun, but the sound that he had made was awful. He imagined it was the same sound that Seamus the cat would make if you tried to play him that same way, but without the hissing and spitting - probably fewer scratch marks as well. Secretly, Liam envied his friend and wanted to learn the pipes too. He’d watched YouTube videos and read all about them online. They were pretty expensive and he’d need lessons. He had been trying to figure out how to approach his parents about it.
Something twinkled in the sunlight, catching his eye with a metallic flash and Liam’s attention was drawn to a gnarly old tree that grew on one side of the stone circle. It must have been a very old tree. It had clearly been deliberately planted there, and was meant to be a part of the circle. There were no broken or shattered rocks around it to suggest that it had grown after the circle had been built, displacing the stones in the ring. Wind, weather, or age had forced the tree over and it had still kept growing. It roots had reached down into the soil and taken hold once again, the limbs and trunk had reached back up for the sky. The result was a tree that was almost shaped like the letter “S.” It grew up, then down, then up again. In its branches there were tiny things dangling in the wind. The branches were singing as the air danced through the new leaves.
As Liam drew near he realized that there were dozens upon dozens of different things tied to the branches, swaying in the dancing air. Some had been there a long time, were faded and in shreds. But others were bright and fresh, like they’d just been tied on yesterday. Some were ribbons with trinkets on them. Liam moved under the tree and explored. He saw lots of tiny messages rolled up into scrolls and tied, gold coins, a Saint Christopher medal, and a tiny cloth doll. He looked around to make certain no one was looking, and reached out to touch the medal. It was cold! It wasn’t plastic. He didn’t know that they made such things as this out of metal. There was more, and Liam found the remains of objects that had fallen to the ground; ribbons and strings littering the grass. It was almost like a Christmas tree. What was it doing out here at the top of the hill?
Suddenly, old Tom Brogan’s voice came into Liam’s head, “She’s a wise woman.” Liam grinned. Grans! She would know the answer.
NEXT WEEK in the final preview selection, Liam learns about wishes and fairy trees.