Word Count 500
Chapter 5 – Value
By Sharon Collins
Empty hours need filling so I muse endlessly. In the dark chill of pre-dawn I find myself mulling over Value, most particularly my value in this life. I conclude that there are people whose value can be measured by how much they help themselves to what others have. These are usually very worldly people. Then there are those whose value can be measured by the amount of the help they offer to others. These are usually very spiritual in nature. By these calculations, my value is both priceless and worthless, as I have helped myself unendingly from the generosity of strangers and have barely helped a soul since being dragged, drenched and senseless from the waves three summers ago.
My daughters’ lost harmonies echo in the emptiness of my mind as I stand beside this dying hearth fire, my nose sipping the sweet scent of applewood smoke. Twirling and dropping over and over, regrets twine around my heart like heavy thread upon this spindle. I am neither good nor bad at spinning and certainly much better than I was at carding, or churning, or smoking or drying fish, labors of truly dreadful drudgery. A Priestess and Keeper of the Crystals, I was freed from such lowly tasks. My skin enjoyed the caress of silken skirts spun for me. Now I endure the eternal itch of barely-washed-wool and rabbit fur. I once ate of pomegranates and oysters not salted sheep and foul fish. Alas, no longer the Keeper and hardly a priestess, I now work for my supper, my tunic, and my bit of warmth next to this fire and do not complain. I have even come to appreciate the opportunity as does the thin skin and knobby joints of my ancient hands appreciate the oils within the wool. So, willingly I twirl grey puff after grey puff from the distaff into slubby thread and hum along with the haunting harmonies of my daughters echoing in my memory.
I was thus occupied when the messengers arrived with a request of the Cymru Chieftain and the most wonderful news for me. It seems I am needed once more. My Moonstone, my precious youngest has survived. She sleeps barely twenty days walk to the east, in a place known as Sarum safe within my brother-priest’s care. The waves of destruction did not drown her as it did her seven lovely sisters. Like me, the High Priest was saved, pulled from the waters still clutching her. Like me, he sailed to strange shores. Unlike me, he stayed not as the sea’s edge but traveled inland to a place of chalk hills and windswept plains. Unlike me, he is both welcomed and revered. He has heard from the wandering Druids of my survival and sorely begs me to travel to him. My Moonstone sleeps, the fire of her powers banked within her auralescent glow. She needs my song to awaken her to his mighty task. He needs her to bring the bluestones to the henge.