Ismenia

Do you believe in fairies ? Johannes doesn't but a chance encounter in a forest sends him on an adventure where he starts to question not only his beliefs but his own sanity.

From an idea that came to me in a dream. Thanks to the extraordinary Crissy Volt-Green for not just providing me with an amazing cover but also for the inspiration to write this story.

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4. The Watch

I’d been in this neck of the woods for a few months now. Moving on had been all part of the plan I’d formulated a few months ago when my life collapsed around me. I wanted to be away from the place that was causing me all the pain, away from its source. A bad relationship makes you bitter and sad. The places, smells and sounds of locations you once knew turn toxic to the mind, curdling those once happy feelings, and making the familiar feel alien and strange.

I’d found a flat, if that were what you would call the two-roomed place that I lived in. There was a tiny bathroom, and a small room, which held my bed, a desk and a small area containing the sink and cooker. It cost me an arm and leg per month, but it was in the old part of town near to the library and was in a wonderful old building.

That night I took my bag back to the flat and whilst I put a ready meal into the oven, I unpacked it’s meagre contents and laid them out on my desk. There was my box of sandwiches, a bottle of water, my cagoule and fleece. I frowned to myself and looked once more into the bowels of the bag, one item was missing, not one of my essentials but a sentimental one. I always carried around with me an old brass pocket watch. It was a family heirloom handed to my father by his and then onto me when he too succumbed to cancer a year ago.  I shrugged; maybe it had fallen out of the bag when I’d fallen asleep, maybe I’d go back at the weekend and try to find it again.

******

My fingers rubbed the brass object that I held. The surface felt smooth under my fingertips. As I rubbed it the metal retained the heat and the object felt as if it was alive. There was a catch on the front, which my fingers found and released the panel to show a watch face. The numbers were roman around the sides, the face I think had once been white but now had touches of yellowing to it. The hands were thin slivers of brass, the patina slightly dulling their brilliance. Two words were written on the face. In ornate script were engraved the words Hukin and underneath the words England, obviously the manufacturer. I ran my fingers over the glass that covered the face. It was smooth with a few small scratches. The whole watch exudes age. It was apiece made in simpler times when time wasn’t as important as it was now.

I took one last look at the elegantly simple face before shutting the face up and turning the watch over. I trembled as my fingers found the small clasp that held the back in place. I released it and my head fluttered at the sight that met my eyes. It had this amazing effect on me ever since I’d found the almost hidden clasp. Inside was the most exquisite beautiful sight. Little brass cogs spun around, some slowly some quickly. I never got tired of looking at the intricate work. Watches and time fascinated me. Pulling my eyes away from the moving parts I clasped it tightly in my hands. This bit always thrilled me, the ticking of the watch could be felt through my sensitive fingers, it gave the object a sense of being alive, a heartbeat of existence. I closed my eyes and felt the brass object almost pulsating in my fingers, thinking of the young man in whose bag I’d found this delightful artefact.

‘What have you got there’ a voice broke through my dreaming pulling my mind back to the moment. I turned my head around and saw that it was my sister Louloudi. Although she was a few years younger, she was taller and a little bossy at times. I hid the object in one of my hands before speaking

‘Nothing Lou’

‘Let me see Ismenia, or I’ll tell mother,’ she said with a voice that talked down to me. When she was like this I knew that she would do what she said, I didn’t want her telling mother; it would be embarrassing to explain why I’d kept the trinket. I opened my hand and handed it to her. She turned it round in her hands. While she did so I watched her face trying to gauge her reaction to the object. I couldn’t see the spark in her that the object made me feel. She closed her eyes and I could see her trying to bring it’s history into her mind. It was a trick that only a few of us could do well. While certain of our species can pick up an object and feel the history, see the faces of those who had held it and sense their emotions, most couldn’t. Louloudi didn’t have the ability that I had. It seemed random who got this special form of magic. My mother had it, but none of the family except me did.

When I had first touched it I had seen the faces of those who had owned it. There was happiness tinged with sadness, normal everyday life really. There were three faces that were strongly visible to me. The first two were no longer of this earth, gone on to other worlds but it was the last one that interested me, the young man whose bag I’d returned. I was fascinated with his features but it was his thoughts that I picked up from the watch that made me want to find out more. I sensed a kind of deep sadness in his mind as if some tragedy had landed on him and he hadn’t recovered from it. I sensed though that he was a warm caring person. As I thought of him, I felt warmth spread throughout my body, a feeling I hadn’t experienced before. I wanted to find out more of this person, discover if he really was like his thoughts made him sound. I’d observed people before but none of them held the least interest for me until I’d met this one. Unusually I couldn’t read his mind when he’d laid into the glade. That kind of frightened me, as I was always able to before.

‘Why did you keep it?’ Louloudi said eventually.

How do you explain to your little sister that you have feeling for someone and wanted to keep the object? Quite apart from the fact that it appeared to be alive, full of feelings its intricate mechanisms fascinated me.

‘I just like it,’

I opened the clasps and showed her everything inside; unlike me she didn’t seem to appreciate it’s mechanical beauty. Even the wonderful cogs didn’t raise a smile to her face.

‘You have to give it back, it’s wrong to keep objects we find in the forest, you know our lore’ Lou said evenly, ‘if you don’t then I’ll have to tell mother.’

She handed me the watch back and I turned it over in my hands feeling it warmth and its heartbeat through my fingers. I knew the lore of our people and we should never keep what isn’t ours but always try to find the owner. Our parents would not like me to break this simple rule.

‘OK, I’ll take it back tomorrow’ I said, a sense of anticipation cursing through my veins, my wings quivering slightly with the thought of meeting this person again. Today I’d illogically runaway from him for a reason I wasn’t even sure. Tomorrow I felt I must meet him face to face.

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