Nevertheless, I entered it into the Oregon Writers Colony 2018 Writing Contest. And I won First Honorable Mention. The other winners and I read from our works in a cozy event venue in downtown Portland this last weekend. It was a remarkably enriching hour and a half filled with talent and promise.
|Awards Ceremony venue|
Here is my award winning offering from my first chapter. It is trimmed extensively to fit into the five minute time limit for reading, but the essence remains.
In The Hidden Abbey, Michael is a 16th century monk and Marissa is a pagan Priestess of Avalon. They’re secret lovers with a shared destiny to protect the mysterious Creation Bowl. When King Henry VIII destroys all of England’s Abbeys, Marissa and Michael are torn apart, and their quest is thwarted.
|Glastonbury Abbey ruins|
Interwoven, is the story of these same two lovers reborn in the 21st century, where they get a second chance to fulfill both their ill-fated love and their shared destiny.
This excerpt is from the first chapter, in 16th century, Glastonbury.
“Michael has been dead for nearly a minute.” That is, by human reckoning of time.
The words echoed within a whirlpool of magic. The message submerged, nearly soundless. The underwater cries of a drowning boy. It traveled along the rivers of prophecy. The words seeped into twelve-year-old Marissa’s dreams, flooding them with forewarning. She bolted upright in bed.
The portent morphed into a waking vision. Marissa sat immobile, unable to block the grim Death Vision from showing her exactly how it was unfolding. A boy bobbing in Avalon’s lake, sputtering water, his legs flailing. Marissa reached for him but caught only empty air.
The Death Vision linked her to the boy. She clawed the neckline of her nightgown and gulped for breath as his struggle became her struggle. It wasn’t supposed to work that way. She didn’t know how to separate herself from what was happening. Only when the Vision finally showed her Michael floating face down in the lake did the breathlessness leave her chest.
The placid lake surrounding the magical Isle of Avalon didn’t usually claim victims for its own. But young Michael had tempted fate. He had disobeyed his father’s strict orders not to wander from the hunting party. He had disregarded Fr. Timothy’s whispered warnings before he left home; “Be careful in that summer country, lad. ‘Tis the land of the heathen Faery.”
Michael had spent many an evening of his mere twelve years listening, enraptured, to his father’s bards singing tales of the mighty sword Ex Calibur. Late last evening, the hunting party had camped near the lake legend claimed to be the resting place of that hallowed sword. Stirred and inspired, Michael lay awake until nearly dawn, and then he took his chance. With quiet footsteps he crept away from the men sleeping in their tents, determined to prove himself a heroic knight by stepping into the lake’s watery dominion and commanding it to relinquish the fabled treasure. If he claimed the great sword, he might finally become the esteemed young warrior his father had always wanted him to be.
Through dappled mist, Michael had raced toward the lake with his fist raised high.
“You will be mine, Ex Calibur!” he declared to the unseen forces that fueled noble deeds in young boys and men.
Flinging his cloak onto a boulder, he raised his arms to his sides and jumped into the lake. But the mossy rocks beneath his eager feet were slick.
“Help!” he tried to scream, but water gurgled the word.
Images of his mother flashed. He pictured her silky golden hair, and the way she always tenderly smiled at him. Just as she’d looked before the wasting illness took her from him.
Fragments of his life flitted through in a final dreamscape, the harsh sound of his father’s commanding voice reverberating in his memories.
Immersed in an in-between realm of lake waters and golden light, his soul flickered, then swelled, its flame yearning for freedom. A beautiful ethereal Lady shimmered before him. Silver stars crowned her night-black hair, and she wore midnight blue robes. She smiled, capturing his gaze. He stared into her eyes, unable to look away. Not wanting to. They shone like moonlight and stars, pearly-silver swirls of mystery in motion. Their blue depths reflected kindness, compassion. Her mercy warmed his cold, dying body, and spread to fill the chilled crevices inside him. He felt such comfort from Her presence that all thoughts of family, all thoughts of Ex Calibur, drifted away.
She held out her hand. He took it.