Fallow Doe

Found wandering alone the Scottish Highlands as a child, a group of deer her only company, Faren has always felt lost; longing to know her mysterious past but yerning for a future of her dreams.
When Faren turns 16 an adventure finally comes her way; the beautiful Lucere Circus comes to town. Running away from her orphanage with hopes of travel and wonder, Faren gets swept off her feet by the Circus life and the fiery Aidan Fehn. But through the magic lies dark secrets, that would finally reveal Faren's history, but how are the Circus connected? And can they be trusted?
As Faren's life unravels she's left more lost than when she started; can a young deer survive in a world of beasts?

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2. Before the path opened up,

 


1990, Scotland

 

"Here's your post, Miss Lovage. And how's young Sam?"

"Oh much better, thank you. It's only a wee cold."

"Ah, good to hear! Well, I best be on my way, Kilan's post won't deliver itself."

"Oh! Before you go..." Miss Lovage rushed to her kitchen, rifling through the pile of letters on the counter. "It's for Willow's Children's Home." She called as she shuffled back through the hallway, "Could you hand it to them for me? It's the invitation to my wedding."

The postman smiled, taking the shiny envelope and placing it in his bag. "Of course, I'd be glad to. I'll soon have to be calling you Mrs Jameson now won't I! That'll take getting used to. You know there hasn't been a wedding in Kilan for years now! Everyone's looking forward to it so much...as I'm sure you are too!"

Miss Lovage twisted the ring on her finger, beaming ear to ear. "It’ll be the best day of my life. I can't tell you how happy I am, honestly Terry." Then she laughed, pushing her hands into her dressing gown pockets, "Although my ma is probably happier, she's been waiting for me to settle down for God knows how long!"

The postman chuckled; it had only been a few years back that her pushy mother had been trying to set her daughter up with Terry himself. The woman's words rung in Terry's mind, 'Postman's make great husbands for they'll only be gone in the early mornin', when you'll still be snoozing in bed, and then they can fetch you a cuppa on the way home!'

"I can imagine!"

"Well don't let me hold you up, Terry! I know how old Mrs Hilner is when her newspapers even a wee minute late." She raised her eyebrows at the house opposite, where a sleepy cat curled up on the doorstep in the morning sun.

The postman laughed, pulling his trolley down the front path to the gate. "See you tomorrow morning! Get young Sam some chicken soup!" And with a wave he set off to Mrs Hilner's cottage, newspaper in hand ready to deliver.

 

The willow tree shivered in the February breeze, its leaves dripping over into the Kilan pond. The postman trundled past along the cobbled road, eyes shielded from the winter sun under his postman cap. He whistled a gentle tune as he walked through the country up to the town's centre.

Kilan was a tiny town, nestled right on the border to the Scottish Highlands. If you wandered south you'd reach the slightly larger town of Meikthor, where there was a hospital and the school the Kilan children took a bus to attend. But if you went north through the trees and fields you'd be alone with nature in the highlands, the next bundle of houses miles and miles away.

The postman passed Kilan's church, a small stone building with modest windows, shadowed underneath a large tree, surrounded by gravestones. The Sunday service had ended and the church goers were filing out, which was most of Kilan's residents. Each was dressed in their Sunday best, the chatty women gossiping with each other, the men standing aside discussing their work. As the postman passed they all gave him a friendly smile and nod; everyone knew everyone in this small, Scottish town.

Soon the cobbled road faded out and he walked on pavements through the main shopping street up to the town centre. Small stone shops lined the road; the butchers, bakers, the grocery store. There was the cafe, seating a few people scoffing down breakfast, and a laundrette housing five or so whirring washing machines. Maple's stood on the corner, the only clothes store in town; the shop was closed for Sunday, the door sign reading 'closed' in swirly handwriting. Opposite was the ever popular Black Raven pub, although this morning it stood sleepy and quiet.

The road then opened up to the town's square and the road twisted off round the side. Right in the middle stood a small fountain and on the edge of it sat the old man known as the 'bird man', doing what he did best; throwing out bread pieces to the birds flapping at his feet. A couple walked by the man, weighed down by huge backpacks so they looked like human turtles. They watched the man coo at the birds, chatting to them as if they weren't birds but his friends. With an amused smile the couple raised their eyebrows at each other, before wandering off to, the postman assumed, explore the wilderness of the highlands.

The town's centre trailed off and soon the postman found the next few streets of houses and he set about posting the letters and parcels to the residents. Eventually he was back on the country path, wild fields on either side. A little mushy snow left over from the month before was still melting on the ground, more so out on the quiet country lanes. As he passed the bus stop he saw that a small, grey lump of snow was placed on the seat, roughly in the shape of a tiny snowman. The Willow Home children, the postman thought, a warm smile spreading on his face.

Willow Children's Home was one of two orphanages in the whole Perth and Kinross area. The other home was much larger and in the busier town of Blairgowrie, but Willow was special. The Willow children are a unique bunch, each with a checkered past, some mysterious, some troubled. They were like a patchwork quilt; colourful and rough at the edges and loosely sewn together. The home was small, with only eleven kids staying there, all squashed together in the four floor brick house a quarter of a mile out of town. The children get dropped there from all over Scotland, normally when they are tiny, wee babies. And they don't normally leave until they get a job in the town and make enough to find their way. Adoptions are rare; there aren't many people who pass through Kilan looking to pick up a child. But the Willow workers care for the children, even though they are strict and, even from the outside, a little scary.

The postman rounded the corner and started up the slope to the orphanage, bracing himself for the welcome at the door. Each morning the postman came the children would rush to the door to greet him, battling to catch his eye and get a word in. But Terry didn't mind, they made him smile; they weren't the nasty trouble-makers people made them out to be.

The red brick house came into the postman's vision, standing tall and slightly crooked on the hill bordering the highlands. As he mounted the path up to the door, digging out the tied up letters addressed to the Willow home, windows flickered yellow with light and figures started darting and scrambling behind them. The gravel tumbled beneath the postman's feet, slightly slippy with the leftover ice. Stepping up onto the doorstep, the tall red door bright in front of him, he breathed in deeply. Reaching out his finger to ring the bell he paused a second, listening to the scrambles and whispers on the other side of the door. Steadying himself with a knowing smile he shook his head, and then pressed down on the bell.

Before the ring even sounded the door was wrenched open and out sprung the children, faces wide and beaming.

 

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