The day of my fifth birthday dawned, and to my disappointment, was not marked by anything spectacular. I spent the morning completing my chores with my mother, and then by helping my father in his shop with anything he could find to occupy me. Lunch came and went, and still there was no sign of Bram.
I left the house in hopes of finding something that would allow the rest of the afternoon to pass with ease—hopefully relatively free from boredom. Aimlessly, I took the path that rounded the corner of my father’s shop. I hadn’t gone more than a few steps when, suddenly, an idea stopped me in my tracks. I knew exactly what I was going to do. I turned on the spot and ran as quickly as I could into my father’s shop. Inside, I found him bent over, meticulously carving a door.
“Papa! Do you have a fishing pole?!” I startled him with my unexpected outburst. Luckily, not enough to cause the sharp wood chisel he held to mar the wood’s face. He looked at me, both relief and the slightest hint of annoyance showing on his face.
“Yes, I do. You’ll find it back there somewhere,” He used his thumb to indicate the haphazard collection my parents stored in a back corner of the barn.
He watched me as I zestily climbed on and over trunks, barrels, and crates, searching wildly for anything that resembled a pole. Finally I found it, wedged between two trunks and under a crate. Seeing that I was unable to pry it loose myself, my father silently stepped up and moved things out of the way so that I could lift it out of the mess myself.
In a moment of triumph, I raised the pole over my head and relished my triumph, “Yes!”
My father snorted back his laughter. “Let me look it over, son, just to make sure that it will work properly.”
I handed my new treasure reverently over to him. After climbing down from the mountain I had just ascended, I followed him over to his workbench.
He had it laid on the table before him, inspecting the line and the hook. He then picked it up and tested its flex before turning back to me with a look of fondness. “Happy birthday, Daine! Your mother’s going to be very disappointed when she finds out about this. She wanted to give it to you tonight at dinner. But, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be able to use it on your actual birthday.” He handed it over to me tenderly and rumpled my hair.
“Thank you, Papa!” I exclaimed, throwing my arms around his legs for the tightest hug I could manage.
“You’re more than welcome, son,” he said while looking down at me, my arms still locked around him.
“Now, if you give me an hour to finish carving that door, I’ll come out with you. Maybe you could even show me how it’s done.”
I pulled back from him, dejected. How would I ever survive having to wait a whole hour? I thought miserably.
My father must have seen my despair because he quickly amended, “Or, you could go now and I’ll catch up to you when I’m finished . . .”
I nodded, smiling in favor of this option.
He chuckled, “Just go down by the stream in the back, okay?”
I nodded so enthusiastically that my neck hurt.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” my father asked. He leaned back against his workbench and folded his arms over his chest expectantly.
Needing no further encouragement, I was instantly out of his shop and running toward the stream. Behind me I could hear my father’s gentle, amused snigger sounding from inside the barn.
The wind rushed through my hair as I sprinted toward the stream. My bare feet seemed to barely even touch the ground. The stream was not far from our house, but to a five year old with a new fishing pole, it was absolutely too far. However, that day the wind seemed to lift and carry me, and I ran there faster than I ever had before.
I looked over the river, making a keen inspection of all its ripples and currents. I found a spot where the water seemed to gently pool before moving on, and decided that it would be the perfect place to try out my new pole.
I kissed its wooden handle lovingly and looked carefully over the line, as I’d just seen my father do, and then down to where the simple hook hung weightlessly dangling on the line.
The hook! I almost forgot.
I didn’t have any of Bram’s fancy flies, but I could find something that would work just as well. I propped my pole up against the closest tree, and began to search for a stone that I could overturn. Finding one, I crouched down and moved it easily. I peered into the impression eagerly, hoping to find something that could be used to lure a fish.
Vaguely, the same tickling sensation I’d last had when fishing with Bram started to grow. It diverted my attention away from the rock’s hollow. I looked up and excitedly searched the woodland for Bram.
He was not here.
However, the air continued to administer its glistening, genial caresses.
I was at a loss to explain it, so I shrugged it off, and went back to looking for the perfect piece of bait. In my moment of distraction, everything that I might have used had managed to disappear. Stupid, I thought to myself as I moved over to another rock that was not too far away. I overturned it, and found that there was nothing there either.
“Damn,” I murmured aloud.
Guiltily, I checked around me to make sure my mother had not heard me. There was nothing to be seen but the trees, river, rocks, and grass. I blew out a sigh of relief and stood to look for another rock.
I spotted one, closer to the water this time. This one was stuck good. I tried to twist the rock and loosen it from the mud, but found it was impossible to do while standing. I kneeled in the riverbank, my toes digging into the silt as I worried the rock back and forth, back and forth. I worked until my arms were sore, but the rock just wouldn’t budge.
Sitting back on my heels, I wiped my muddied hand across my forehead. Something in the air changed. Throughout my entire search the air had shimmered with an affectionate tingle, but now the tingling had become more of a smoldering sting. It didn’t burn, and it didn’t hurt, but it felt like a direct rebuff against my skin.
I looked around again, this time with suspicion. There was still no one else but me.
But, the eyes can deceive, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being intently watched.
YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE LIFE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN.
All that you can do is make the most of what you’ve been dealt—fight a good fight, resist being beaten by circumstance, and hope that somehow, despite it all, you’re able to accomplish the impossible.
But even then you cannot change the fact that you were born cursed.
I am one of those unlucky few upon whom the Curse of the Four Fathers has fallen.
It is I who must bear the burden of having a life that is unchangeably intertwined with the Fae. A sorrow made all the more great by knowing that where they are tragedy, loss, misery, and despair most assuredly follow.
As a Druid it is my responsibility to uphold the boundaries that keep the worlds of the Tylwyth Teg, and our own, separate. As a man it is my only ambition to protect the family and woman I so desperately love.
The only problem: I’m not sure this curse will allow for me to do both.
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Genre - Paranormal Fantasy, Horror
Rating – PG-13
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