This story was created by a group of swans writing together as a very first co-operative effort! Writing is great therapy, I hope you agree. Hope you enjoy the story and look forward to your feedback. If you would like to join the swan writing group and join in the support and friendship offered by other swans in the group, please friend request Binki Laidler on Facebook.
Every night Natasha lit the candle and took it upstairs with her to her room, where she placed it carefully upon the bureau, before taking her notebook from the drawer, and starting to write. Often she would sit and watch the fluttering of the flame while she waited for inspiration, the swan quill sitting between her thumb and forefinger, poised.
Writing brought Natasha great comfort at this unsettled time. She could disappear into the worlds she created and forget for a while the terrible events of the past few weeks. She took pleasure in the sweeping of the ink across the page and prided herself on the beauty of the lettering, clear and precise, and so very different from the chaotic shapes which formed the structure of her life.
In creating her characters Natasha found she was less alone. There on the page were real people who spoke to her and kept her company, who shared their lives with her and their deepest thoughts. She was attached to every single one of them, even the rogues.
Natasha had countless pages of writings, yet dared not share a single one of them with any soul. If anyone in the house knew she was daring to be so creative, they would take immense pleasure in destroying her endeavours. The single candle which she was given each evening to light her way to bed would be used as a weapon, to burn each page one by one, in front her. She knew this because it had happened before. Now she knew to keep her work hidden, secreted away between the leaves of the books that they allowed her to have in her room. Her secret world.
Deeply engrossed in her latest story, Natasha did not hear the heavy footfall on the landing, nor the turn of the door handle to her room. By the time she realised she was no longer alone, it was too late to hide.
Of course she knew who it was. He had been coming to her room for almost two weeks, but never at the same time. Natasha closed her book with her neat scripts inside as she turned to face him.
The house was silent and she stifled the scream that was rising in her throat as his stare turned to the book where her writing was hidden.
“Where is it, you pagan whore?” he hissed through gritted teeth. “You know what happens to witches who defy my church. Don’t think your Mama will help you, she has learned to see things my way now.”
Natasha stood up and faced him, she could feel his warm stale breath just inches away as he reached slowly to undo his belt.
“Show me your heretic stories and I will leave you alone, or you must face the consequences and on my next visit I will be accompanied by your mother. Would you enjoy seeing her pain as she watches your punishment?”
Natasha slid her hand behind her to the bureau where the letter opener lay. She had only seconds before he realised what she was doing, but he was staring at her breasts intently as she grasped the handle of the ivory encrusted knife.
And then she plunged the knife into his chest stabbing and stabbing and what was that sound? The beep beep of the alarm clock.
Natasha opened her eyes very slowly and stretched she felt disoriented but then slowly realised it must have been a dream and when she glanced at the clock panic set in. Yikes she was late for work. She found the bathroom in a half zombie state, managed just about to stand and shower, searched for some clean knickers found some under the bed, they would have to do as would yesterday’s tights, turned inside out, she had read that in a magazine, very practical.
Then she launched herself downstairs out of her flat, heels pinching her feet and hitching her trousers up as she ran for the bus, trying to decide how she was going to get her make up on without poking her eye out on the bus. Then phew she had made it, she sat and caught her breath then she looked up to the person sitting next to her and her hands froze. It was him, from the dream, she looked away and checked her phone, just as a distraction, then she dared to look again, he was still there looking at her brief case full of papers, and staring at her she got off the bus at the next stop and half ran to the office, she could see the door and stated to calm down, it was a dream after all she had been working hard and was tired. Bloody hell, how stupid.
She joined the queue at Starbucks sod it if she was late for work a pick me up was needed, and bugger the diet a big chocolate muffin. Have this then turn in, she thought. Then he appeared again but this time it was for real, she dropped her coffee and reached into her bag for anything some tweezers, a knife, anything.
“Excuse me…er…Miss…oh, I’m sorry if I startled you. It’s just I think you may have dropped something on the bus. I’ve been trying to give it back to you but you were in quite a rush, I thought I’d lost you.”
Natasha froze and then slowly turned to look at the man from the bus. He was holding out the brown envelope she had received yesterday. Was it really only yesterday that this envelope had entered her life and turned her world topsy turvy? She realised he was looking at her and waiting for her to say something.
She lifted her head again, dreading meeting his eyes and then the sudden realisation that this man was not in fact the man at all. Although he did have the same build and dark features. But his eyes were much softer and he actually looked quite concerned. Natasha couldn’t help but think how she must appear to him. She hadn’t even had time to put her makeup on yet.
“Is everything all right. I mean you seemed a bit distracted on the bus and I noticed the envelope poking out of your case. It must have fallen out when you moved so suddenly. You left in such a hurry and I was worried it might be important. I tried to follow you. It wasn’t easy, in fact I thought I’d lost you.”
She suspected he probably thought she was quite deranged and she tried to save face. “Oh yes thank you. I am in a bit of a hurry this morning. I’m running late. I just thought I’d grab a quick coffee. Thank you for finding me and returning the envelope. Please can I get you a coffee as a way of thanks?”
“Actually I’m in a bit of a rush now myself. Perhaps another time?” He rummaged through his jacket pocket and brought out a business card. “This has my mobile number on. If you would like to give me a ring when we both have a bit more time I’d love to join you for a coffee. Sorry what’s your name? I’m Aarron.”
“Natasha, Natasha Jessop” she held out her hand to take the card. It read Aarron Wycliffe Business Analyst. She turned the card over which showed a map of his office which was at least another mile away. No wonder he was in such a hurry.
“Thank you again and yes I will be in touch about coffee” he smiled “Make sure you do I’m looking forward to it” and with that he was gone, trying to move past the endless queue of people.
Natasha grabbed her coffee and took it to a nearby table. She knew she should get to work but she needed to take stock. Since the arrival of this letter from her grandmother detailing her past she had been quite ruffled. To first learn that her ancestor, her own namesake in fact had been tried for murder and that her grandmother now needed to see her urgently… Sod work! It was clear she needed to find out what was so important. She took out her phone and dialled.
”Hi Grandma. It’s Natasha, you said you had something you needed to speak to me about, your letter was very cryptic but it sounded urgent.”
”Yes Natasha darling, you know I’ve been researching our genealogy since I retired last year; well I’ve found out quite a lot about one of our more infamous ancestors. Natasha Black lived in the late 17th century; her father died when she was 10 years old and her mother remarried a couple of years later. Her new stepfather was a ‘god-fearing’ man called Aaron Wycliffe. Apparently our Natasha was quite the soothsayer and used to write page upon page of prophecy and prediction. Wycliffe would burn these writings whenever his searches of her room revealed them.”
She continued, ”Wycliffe was also given to ‘punishing’ Natasha and one night, when he burst in on her unannounced she stabbed him fatally with a paper knife. Natasha was sent to prison where she found out she was carrying Wycliffe’s child. When the baby was born she was handed over to Natasha’s mother, together with all of Natasha’s writings and poor Natasha was hanged.”
”The cousin I have managed to track down has faithfully preserved this section of family history together with the prophecies made by Natasha…..the thing is darling: one of these prophesies refers to a flame haired beauty of her direct line, coming of age in the new millennium…. according to the prophecy, darling you will…change your name to Catherine and marry a prince!’’