Author Topic: Give Up the Ghost  (Read 1385 times)

Fiona ONeill

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Give Up the Ghost
« on: February 07, 2015, 04:56:49 PM »
[size=18]Give Up the Ghost[/size]

~~~

?Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.?
? Bo Bennett


~~~

It had been a cold winter. There had not been much snow this year, but the cold had been unbearable. There was a thin layer of frost over the grass, providing a poor substitution for the missing snow. The frost on the pathway crackled under my boots as I walked.

I loved walking along the forest paths of the Bristle Crios grounds. They seemed never ending, like I could walk forever and get to Mount Yasuo to the north of Rhydin. There was just something about walking alone. Nature always had a way of putting things into perspective for me, allowing me to sort out my issues. This time was like any other, save for the harsh cold.

I dressed warmly for the weather. I wore a thick, crushed velvet dress with long sleeves that went past my knee length leather boots. Under the dress, were warm leggings. Over the dress, I wore my heavy wool felted coat. I had a light tartan print scarf draped over my coat. As the wind blew through the trees, swaying the dry, brittle branches, I adjusted my scarf over my face to fight the biting cold. I questioned walking now but I pushed on. I needed to keep walking until I had cleared my head. I didn?t know what I was looking for, but I knew it would find me.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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Lost Soul
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2015, 05:01:02 PM »
I stopped and watched as two squirrels chased each other above me, circling around the large oak trunk. I always said that Bristle Crios was supposed to be a place to help people get on their feet. Lost souls found their way there, spent time finding their purpose, then moved on. I found my way there. I took on my favorite role, one of recording keeping. In this modern age, I simply called it a ?secretary?. My role was one that if done right, no one knew I had done anything at all. I made things work and flow behind the scenes.

Not many people wondered where supplies came from for each of the seven houses, how people on the grounds were accounted for, how tasks were assessed and assigned, and other things I did each day. I didn?t do it for the publicity; I?ve never been a ?people person?. Fame and glory were never my motivations, but I never learned my goal, my purpose in life. I saw people around me in Bristle Crios find theirs each day, yet mine still eluded me. How long had I been there now? Almost three years? No, close to four now. I feel like maybe I overstayed my welcome.

I continued down the wooded path, passing by a large bush with a few remaining berries that were hidden from the birds and squirrels in its tangled limbs. How could I help others find their purpose in Bristle Crios when I couldn?t even find my own? Every time I had grown restless, I tried a different hobby. I hoped that by trying different things, it would lead me down the path to something I would find more fulfilling for my life.

In the summer, I took up gardening and floral arranging. I always loved flowers with their vibrant colors and soothing scents. I loved creating life, starting with a small seed to create a gorgeous flowering bush. I even enjoy the berries and fruits of my labor once they ripened in the sun. I made beautiful floral arrangements for the houses; I considered them beautiful anyway. I never heard any complaints, though I figured most would rather spare my hurt feelings than to offer their criticism. Despite the results, it just was not fulfilling for me. It was not my passion.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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Trial and Error
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2015, 05:04:34 PM »
As I walked, my foot fell near an open pinecone displaying its intricate spirals of petals. In the fall, I created my own patterns in yarn. Another hobby I began, knitting. Beginning with simple scarves turned into larger throws and more complicated things like hoods and long sleeved wraps. I made each without patterns.

It took extra hours of trial and error, but I wanted to do things completely on my own. I learned better that way. I also created some interesting patterns that I had never seen before. I?m not sure if I even did them right, if there is a right or wrong in knitting. They stayed together; they served their purposes, but I didn?t.  

I continued down the wooded path, walking over several fallen branches that had collapsed during the winter season. Maybe my secretarial duties were more like my hobby, or more like what a hobby should be. I did enjoy the tasks; they provided a way for me to unwind. I could easily delegate my tasks to others to free up more time and opportunity for other things. I could still maintain the Bristle Crios grounds with less of my own effort, but it only made me continue to question what my efforts should be focused on instead.

I sighed. I had been walking for quite awhile now, going further than I ever had before. I walked passed the woods and into a field. The harsh wind was blowing harder now that the trees were not providing a barrier. Despite its drawback, the breeze was creating elegant waves and ripples over the tall, brittle, yellowing grass. There was not much of a path now, but I followed a narrow walkway that was undoubtedly forged by the animals in the area. I could see little raccoon paw prints and deer hoofs in the trampled dirt below.

I wasn?t done yet. I refused to turn back until I found what I needed.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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My Own Little World
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2015, 09:16:41 PM »
Off in the distance passed the field, there was another tree line. It looked like something man-made was there. Made of wood, it blended in with the trees, devoid of their green leaves to fully obscure it from view. Considering I hadn?t seen anything besides nature?s winter glory for quite some distance, I was curious as to what it could be. I made my way there as I considered what had brought me here.

Before I found myself in Rhydin, I spent my life in Ireland.

I grew up on the small island of Toraigh; Tory Island as it is now known to most. Located nine miles off the northern coast of Ireland, the island is a mere three miles long, and just a little over a half mile wide. I once explained this to someone and they joked that the island was so small, it could be carpeted. Last I heard, there were about one hundred people living there now. Someone once said they, too, grew up in a similarly small town, but at least they were not isolated on an island. Even today, there is just a simple ferry that travels to and from Tory Island to mainland Ireland in County Donegal. The ferry doesn?t even accept today?s modern day cars, though it runs close to daily now. When I was there, it might have been a month before another boat would cross the waters to bring us trade goods.

It was truly like we lived in our own little world, but my own world was even smaller. My mother died when I was young. I don?t remember her, aside from what my father told me about her. He never told me about her death, though. It pained him and it pained me to ask him. It was the only time I saw my pillar of strength cry.

My father was a simple fisherman. Only staying around our local waters, he went out in his own small boat. I would go out with him on occasion, sometimes helping to catch fish in our nets. He mostly brought home mackerel and Pollack from what I can remember. I would help prepare them for trade at the local market. Other times, we would go out for fun, sailing or rowing around the island. He said I was sailing. I did the best I could for a small child, but looking back, I know he was doing all the work. I loved him for that.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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Saint Columba
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 06:04:05 PM »
I walked along the narrow pathway between the swaying blades of dead grass, outstretching my arms to run my gloved hands over their brittle seedless husks at their tips. I remember running through a field of tall grass on the island when I was young. It was by the church. With only the one church, the island was only made up of Roman Catholics. I didn?t even know of other religions. All of our island?s history was tied deeply within Catholicism.

In church, I learned much of Saint Colmcille, one of the three patron Saints of Ireland. Most recognize Saint Patrick and the female Saint Brigid, but I have found few who know of the patron Saint that had such an impact on my small town. A monastery was founded on Tory Island in the sixth century by Colmcille. The monastery was the life of the island until 1595, when it was destroyed by English troops in one of the country?s many holy battles. The bell tower was the largest structure of the monastery to survive.

My father told me about our family?s personal ties to Colmcille. Born in 521 in Donegal, Colmcille also belonged to the Neill, or Niall, family. His father was the grandson of Conall Gulban, who was the son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. King Niall and his family line ruled Ireland from the sixth to the tenth centuries. In spite of his family name and honors, Colmcille gave up all the advantages of his high birth for religion. He was willing to do anything to defend his beliefs.

In 561, Prince Curnan of Connaught, a kinsman of Colmcille, had accidentally fatally injured a rival in a hurling match. The Prince went to Colmcille and took refuge in his church. Seeking vengeance, King Diarmait at Cooldrevny tracked the Prince to Colmcille?s church. The Prince was pulled from Colmcille?s arms and slain in front of him by the King?s men. Enraged by this violation of the holy rights of sanctuary, Colmcille had encouraged the clan Neill to rise and engage in battle against King Diarmait. Supported by Colmcille?s Holy Prayers, clan Neill defeated the King?s men, leading to a loss of over three thousand lives. After he realized the destruction, Colmcille left Ireland to repent by bringing the Word of God to other countries and converting others to the way of light and goodness.

Sharing the Neill heritage with Saint Colmcille, I had come from an ancestral line of royalty and faith? death and destruction.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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The Sound of Terror
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2015, 06:50:51 AM »
Although learning about Saint Colmcille is what initially inspired me to go to church, it was the hymns that made me stay.

I loved singing. Even at an early age, I remember singing with my father when we went for rides on his small fishing boat around the island. Once I hit puberty, my voice changed. Of course the boys around my ages were hearing their own vocal changes, but I could feel mine. It was like being able to tap into a power I hadn?t had before. I would eagerly come home from church services just to practice the hymns on my own.

I began to realize I could hit extra notes. I was able to stretch my range a bit more, but even more than that - I was able to sing two notes at one time. I believe that is an inaccurate way to say it, though. Voices are naturally a combination of notes, but whichever we put the most emphasis on is the one people hear most prominently. I was able to identify these notes and began to pull them out individually from the background, essentially singing two notes at once.

It took a lot of time and effort. Sometimes I strained my voice and would have to stop for a week or so, but once I recovered, I would jump right back into practicing. I took for granted how I sounded. Not all of the notes sounded perfectly in harmony with each other. Some of the notes I sang sounded foreign together. To me, it was an exercise, and I wanted to keep broadening my vocal ability. Soon I started practicing in more public areas while I was on my way to church or the market. I could see on the people?s expressions that they didn?t know how to interpret what I was doing. I remember the look of? terror on their faces.

Whispers started to spread whenever I came around, whether I was singing or not. I asked my father about it, but he told me not to worry. He only advised me to pursue my new singing at home because the others were just not ready to hear it yet. I backed off then, only singing at home as he advised. Over time, the whispers died down in my presence, but I would still catch a few of the older members of our town staring at me when I would walk by.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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The Wind in my Hair
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2015, 10:24:02 PM »
~~~

?Love is a friendship that has caught fire.?
? Ann Landers


~~~

I was halfway through the large field now. I turned and walked a few paces backwards, then circled around to take it all in. Its expansive space was mesmerizing. All the trees seemed so distant, almost nonexistent. For a moment, it felt like I might have been on Tory once again. To this day, the island has no trees due to its high winds. The wind in the field before me was all too apparent as it stung my dried out eyes.

I focused forward, keeping my eyes on the man-made structure along the tree line in the distance. I could see it a bit better now that I was closer. It almost looked like? No, it couldn?t be. It looked like the church from my youth. I picked up my pace, though it seemed like the bitter winds were trying to force me into a retreat. I held my tartan printed scarf tightly against my face, while my hair flowed behind me wildly in the breeze.

I always had wavy red hair since as long as I can remember. My father told me I had gotten it from my mother. It was the first thing on which Adam complimented me.

Adam Briggs was the local blacksmith?s apprentice. We were roughly the same age. I remember when he came to the island with his father when we were both young. His mother had died, causing his father to want to move away from the painful memory of losing her. Growing up together, we bonded over our mother?s deaths. We played together along with the small groups of children that lived in our town. In adolescence, we occasionally talked after church or during the small town festivals. Once we hit puberty, we rarely saw each other.

Life went on. I didn?t think much about him. I doubt he had thought much of me. We were simply childhood friends whose lives had outgrown each other. Our childhood games became trivial and pursuing our futures became more important.

Everyone grows up. People move on; but sometimes you find you move towards people as well.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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Keen like a Banshee
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2015, 08:45:43 PM »
One night, I waited for my father to come home from fishing while I sat out on the porch. The wind was creating its own melodies and I was curious to see if I could match its beauty. That soon turned into an exercise testing my breathing control. I began to see how long I could hold certain notes, or blend them into others just as the winds changed directions. All of a sudden, I heard someone approach. Worried father would be disappointed if he heard me singing outside where others could hear my unwelcome techniques, I stopped.

I watched as Adam came from around the corner. He told me that he had heard singing in the night and wanted to follow it to find its source. I grew concerned that he might tell the others and begin my nightmare of harsh stares and whispers all over again. To my surprise, he said that he thought my voice was beautiful. That was the second thing on which he complimented me.

In the weeks that followed, he would go out of his way to pass by my house. It started out as simple waves to each other as he would go by, but then he would stop for longer and longer to chat. In return, I would sometimes go and visit with him while he worked. I would sit and talk with him, discussing our hopes and dreams for the future. He always wanted to get off the island and explore. Ironically enough, I never wanted to leave Tory. Now I can never imagine going back.

Adam was forever supportive of my singing. He would often ask me to sing while he worked in the forge. I learned much about rhythm while would strike his hammer against the metals to shape them over the anvil. It was not long before I was developing my own cross rhythms while he kept his own beat for me. I learned and progressed so much with him, and I loved him for it.

He once asked me why I did not sing in front of others. ?They say I keen like a banshee,? I had replied. He could probably hear the pain in my voice and see the disappointment in my eyes.

?Have you ever heard a banshee?? He had asked delicately. I looked down and shook my head. He continued, ?They are singing angels, but even they do not compare to the splendor of your voice.? I looked back up to him and smiled. It was then when he first kissed me.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius

Fiona ONeill

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Of Hymns and Blasphemy
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 09:59:03 PM »
It was not long before Adam asked my father for my hand in marriage. Like our courtship, the engagement was quick.

Looking back, we were young, too young. We were both na?ve, not only in love but in life. I expected our new life together to be like a fairy tale. I looked forward to taking his name. Fiona Briggs sounded like a good, strong name. How quickly I was able to forget about my O?Neill heritage of which I was once so proud.

Adam gave me a new hope, in myself and my ability to sing. He would often tell me how lament singers were highly prized on the mainland and we should move back to where he grew up so I may be as valued by others as he valued me. Of course I loved the idea of being appreciated for my vocal talents as opposed to being compared to some evil demonic entity in our strict Catholic town. When I confided in Adam that I would never feel comfortable off the island, he provided me with even more support, saying that over time, we could help the island see my gift.

With his encouragement, I began to sing in more public places once again. I earned praise while I sang the typical religious hymns, but as I expanded into my more exotic singing techniques, I was not as easily received.  My father tried to advise me against it once again, but I was blinded by Adam?s loving support. I could not see the townspeople?s suspicion and fear growing against me. I could not hear their talks of witchcraft and sinister forces. I was only honored to sing of God?s grace in new and amazing ways, but they were seen as blasphemy and works of the Devil.

Unlike the wooden structure just ahead of me along the tree line, I wouldn?t see any of it coming, until it was too late.
"In the land where excellence is commended, not envied; where weakness is aided, not mocked; there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." Reigns of Alluvius