Sunday, March 21, 2010

an excerpt from my novel MERLIN'S CHARGE

That night, while sleeping, the gurgling of the creek’s water seemed to sing to Arthur, over and over again, “Diamonds and Toads, I will do harm to you or leave a gift, that is the way of night magic.”

“Can I choose?” Arthur asked the water. “Can I choose if I get harm or a gift?”

“You’re only dreaming, fool. Your father was a fool and you’ll fall into his grave, the same fool.”

“Who’s speaking to me in my dream?”

“O’ Fortuna. The wheel spins. The wheel of fortune doesn’t know when it’ll stop. Your story will be one of impossible love and thwarted fertility and familial doom on one half of the wheel. And true love, friendship, and a long life on the other half of the wheel. But the wheel doesn’t know where it stops.”

Arthur wept. “My father didn’t tell me anything. He didn’t even watch me as I sat on the floor, or do whatever it is a real father does. Will I grow to be a man? Can you tell me that much? Can I grow to be a man even though my father didn’t watch me? I don’t even know what he looked like. Will I still grow more?”

“That’ll be your first curse.”

“How can that be a curse?”

“Petty passions, and what’s within the reach of your hand, and jealousies. They always take a man’s mind away from loftier matters.”

Then he was walking through an orchard. He had the oddest feeling his mother and father were ghosts walking by, and they didn’t recognize him. He saw an old woman picking plums. She said, “They’ll never know what you looked like. Their ghosts are looking for you but they don’t know how. Parents usually spend so much time looking at their own children. But yours didn’t ever look at you. So they walk by you now, but don’t see you.”

When morning came, Arthur was exhausted from not sleeping soundly, and Parsifal had to shake him. “Wake up! Wake up! Stop crying! Let’s go see if the dead were dancing!”

“Parsi, what? Did you come to take me away from Uther?”

“Wake up!”

Arthur sat up. “Have you come to teach me how to hunt?”

“Why are you so odd when you wake up?”

“My father didn’t teach me how to wake up.”

Parsifal questioned him, “Why would you need to learn to wake up?”

Arthur didn’t know what to say. “Don’t we learn all we know from our fathers?”

Merlin said, “He’s a mad prince. Maybe that’ll help him be a mad king. They’re all mad.”


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