Underneath the Chestnut Tree

 

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Underneath the Chestnut Tree

(Genre: historical fiction)

Amy arrived at the barn flustered, cheeks flaming almost to the colour of her hair. The lambing man’s face in contrast was grey with exhaustion.

For once her words were bold, urgent.

‘The meadow, courting corner; ewe caught in the hawthorn hedge.’

His thoughts were muddy with lack of sleep.

‘Courting, caught?’

‘Under the old Chestnut. She’s birthing a lamb.’

It was the word lamb that did it. He rose, shaking himself to wakefulness.

‘Pass me them sacks,’ he said.

He took her hand and pulled her with him into the yard.

‘You’ve the hands of a midwife at any rate.’

Miranda Lewis 2017

Welcome to Friday Fiction and hello again after a bit of a hiatus. Thanks as always to our host, the writer Rochelle, whose own story can be found here, along with all the rules of play and Friday Fictioneers from around the globe. Thanks to Sandra Crook for the photo. (Realised I could have put a crook in the story, Sandra! Take the shepherd’s crook as read.)

(Please respect photographer’s and writers’ copyright. Join in, read and comment on other stories, but please do not use the photo for any other purpose than Friday Fiction.)

The Owl and the Pussycat – the Cat’s Story

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The Owl and the Pussycat – the Cat’s Story

Granted my husband sang sweetly enough, but what the rhyme doesn’t even mention is his fowl temper. That and the regurgitation.  And that pea-green vessel? My beautiful face was pea-green maybe, under my tabby stripes.

Moonlight, a wide sweep of sand, a small guitar – it was all very seductive, but it wasn’t long before fur and feathers flew.  So it was twit twoo, toodle-oo and he flitted with a fiver and the runcible spoon – the latter all my invention incidentally.

No use crying over spilt milk; plenty more fish in the sea. And I can always invite the registrar over for dinner.

M J Lewis 2016

Must be the silly season – still in holiday mood and enjoying the last of the summer days as September approaches.

Thanks to all who visit and to our Friday Fiction host, writer and artist Rochelle whose productivity is an inspiration. To sail away, for considerably less than a year and a day, to a land where the Story Tree grows click here. Thanks also to Georgia Koch for the photo.

And I’ve also added this link to Edward Lear’s poem and illustrations.

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How to Cross a Bridge

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How to Cross a Bridge

(historical fiction)

At pitch of night? With a tiny chance of arousing huge suspicion – a flame-haired girl in Sunday-best coat and a hired man.

Far better, on market morn in the chaos of cattle and carts and cabbages, hair greyed with ash, an old shawl, scuffed boots. And the hired man in deep conversation with a herdsman as to the possibilities of late summer work, over West way.

Before doubling back – we hope – to where his lover waits in the darkening copse, listening to the soft rustling of leaves, the low notes of roosting pigeons and the secret flutterings of her own belly.

M J Lewis 2016

Arriving late to Friday Fiction (what, on a Friday?!) after a visit to Shetland to help celebrate a family wedding. Crossed various bridges between some of the many islands of that northern archipelago (love that word!), but this is not set in Shetland – would have definitely been sheep on the bridge if it had been and my poor heroine would have had to hide in a rocky outcrop, sheltering from the wind, there being much wind, multitudes of sheep and few trees. Quite tricky to get to, but well worth a visit for any lovers of nature, history and hospitality.

To travel with ease to a virtual land of stories click here. With thanks to artist and author Rochelle who keeps us all from straying too far, even in these summer months and to Adam Ickes for the photo.

The Lambing Barn

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The Lambing Barn

Placental blood and ewe’s milk: but she was used to the smell by now. Head down, pouring cider from the heavy flagon, the girl ignored the remarks of the hired men.

He was at the far end, one hand braced on the floor, one inside the ewe. She stood silently, watching. A pause, a long pulling together of anticipation and with a rush of liquid and an almost human bleat from the animal the sac slid onto the straw. The lamb was tiny, but alive.

He looked up. ‘She’s two more already – this one’ll need mothering.’

‘You mean  me?’

M J Lewis 2016

Here we are at Friday Fiction and it’s already Sunday. Thanks to our host the writer and artist Rochelle and, for the photo, thanks to Sandra Crook, a regular at Friday Fiction (and often the first to post).

What I know about lambing could be written on the back of a postage stamp – remember those? – but we’re all mammals, so based this on my own experience. Any sheep farmers out there are welcome to put me right on the details!

 

The Soft Young Down of Her

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The Soft Young Down of Her

The days were short and the trees bare by the time he returned to the village in the valley. Twelve long months away, living hand to mouth: working the land, birthing lambs – whatever he could get.

He’d thought of her all year like no other – the soft down of her arms, her budding breasts, her spirit bright and nervous as a newly fledged Dunnock. But so young – and what had he to offer?

Now her face told it all: frosted ice over deep water. In his absence someone had taken what he hadn’t dared to touch. He was a fool.

M J Lewis

Arrived very late last week at Friday Fiction and apologies for doing hardly any visiting and commenting.

Thanks to Rochelle for all her hard work keeping us in order week after week and for also providing the photo this week.  To visit more stories inspired by this photo prompt click here.

The title of my piece is a line taken from The Farmer’s Bride by Charlotte Mew.

Young woman of impeccable character and neat appearance required as schoolmistress for village school

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Young woman of impeccable character and neat appearance required as schoolmistress for village school

Must be: disciplined, self-assured, modest, patient. Skills to include: a fluent hand, flawless arithmetic, clear singing voice (soprano or alto), love of the bible and traditional literature of an improving nature, knowledge of the British Isles and her dominions. A passion for clouds and the still air at dusk; for bluebells in sun-dappled woods; your hand on my breast, a gasp in my throat. And forever a longing for the girl I left bare-headed under the wide blue sky, beyond the squeak of the chalk, the dusty depths of the ink wells and the high, barred windows of the schoolroom.

M J Lewis ©2016

Friday already, so this means of course I’m late for Friday Fiction. (I love a paradox!) And such an interesting photo, thanks to J Hardy Carroll. Not a school I’m assuming but, although the chairs are plastic and metal nowadays, I will forever associate wooden seating with schoolrooms.

Thanks as ever to our gracious host Rochelle and to all who visit. For more stories click here.

While the World Dissolves Around Us

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While the World Dissolves Around Us

He parks across from my blue front door and I turn to him. ‘Want to come in for some coffee?’  He’s so lovely, all the confidence I’ve been faking drains away. ‘Y’know, or…

But he’s shy too and his, ‘Or?’ comes out croaky. A caged bird flutters in my ribcage as he takes my hand.

Or…we strip naked and dance in the rain; we paint each other’s names in ten-metre-high letters; we sit here forever, as the street lights shatter to diamonds and the world dissolves around us.

But all I say is, ‘Or, I do have some hot chocolate.’

M J Lewis ©2015

In times of strife, take a deep breath and count to one hundred – one hundred words that is. Bit of a crazy week so far and half expected something angry to appear on the page. So what did we get – a call from the muse of love!

Many thanks firstly to Bjorn whose story supplied me with one vital two-letter word, full of possibilities. (Hope he’ll see it an inspiration rather than plagiarism.) A thank you to all who drop by and most especially to our newly liberated host, Rochelle, who also supplied the photo this week.

Click here for more rain soaked stories, where you might also notice I have come out, indeed emerged from behind my foxglove, with the same haircut only half a century on.

Contradictions

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Contradictions

I walked again on the beach at dawn, skirts clutched around me, bible in gloved hand.  Seagulls wheeled in the clear air, but my mind was far from clear. No stone creatures today, but I knew they were waiting, their silent scrolled forms trapped in rock.

After church I dared to talk with Mr Giles, the new curate.

Maybe they are God’s joke Miss Austen, a metaphor.

But why? What do they signify?

Or maybe God himself is a metaphor.

Dancing blue eyes met mine and I blushed despite myself; it was not at all the answer I had anticipated.

(Genre: Historical romance; Setting: Lyme Regis, Dorset)

M J Lewis ©2015

Drowning in end-of-year reports and wrote this late this week when I should have been working. Think I’m dreaming of seaside holidays and fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, mixing up my references to Jane Austen and famous fossil girl, Mary Anning. Then coincidentally I found this story on BBC News of the fossil find in Alberta. Fossils really do say different things to different people.

Thanks to Douglas M Macilroy for the stimulating photo and to our incredible host at Friday Fiction, Rochelle. More secrets from the deep here at this link.

Dream Girl by Miranda Lewis

This quick-read contemporary novel is now available on Kindle.

I wrote Dream Girl for my daughter when she was a teenager. Something short and weird were her two requirements. That’s when Poppy walked into my head – strange, angry girl who never sleeps (or so she says). And I wondered what she’d done and was trying her best to forget.

If asked to define Dream Girl I’d say it’s a psychological mystery that defies categorisation – a dreamscape, a modern fairy tale. Part romance and part ghost story, it concerns sleeping and dreaming, reality and memory, a girl and a boy. Appropriate for young adults and adult adults.

If you do buy it and read it please leave a comment here – and please say what you really think. Reviews on Amazon are useful too.

dream girl cover right size

Thanks to my daughter Sophie for the fantastic art work.

Link to Amazon UK here where you can read the first few pages and the blurb. The book is 99p in the UK and an equivalent price elsewhere. (US Amazon link here.)

And now, exciting times my first Amazon review…

Dream Girl by Miranda Lewis is a compulsive page turner. She drew me in to her strangely entangled worlds of sleepless nights and dream filled days, where the lines of reality and dreams entwine. A great read, beautifully written.

Thanks to my first reviewer.

Miranda

Wolf Girl

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Wolf Girl

The traveller’s eyes shone bright in the firelight; his cape steamed with the enticing odours of tobacco, damp leaves and the wide reach of the sky beyond the citadel.

‘It is both easier and harder to hunt in the snow: sound and scent are muffled, but there are tracks.  Bloodied prints led us to a rocky outcrop where deep within a cave we found a girl, wrapped in a pelt of pure white, at her breast a wolf-cub of the softest silkiest grey.’

He shifted and held my gaze for all to see, as the memory ached within me.

M J Lewis ©2015

Inspiring photo prompt this week for Friday Fictioneers, from Doug MacIlroy, which I’ll be investigating properly now I’ve used it to go down some weird fantasy route. Can hear someone saying something about snow in Chile. Interesting…

Thanks as ever to our host, Rochelle. Many more stories to read here.