Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed
In the beginning how the heavens and earth
Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
It was on about the middle of her life that Angela truly came into her own. An age she was, not to be spoken here, but which is somewhat beyond the frivolity of youth but a ways still before the peevishness of the badly aged.
Coming into her own was a lot like being lost on a meandering path in a forest stricken with dark. Tonight, in fact, due to the wayward whims of her motor car, as well as the ill advised action of her having listened to directions from a man in a jumper, it was exactly like so.
At least, she did remember talking to a man in a jumper who told her where to go, or asked her where she got off .. or .. . Only something about the memory, which involved her leaving a party at a fancy ballroom and driving herself home, and the current reality, which involved her barefoot and in a nightgown, didn’t add up.
It had been with much assurance, not too long hence, that her friend had patted her on the back and declared her as “having come of age”. Therefore it must be that this was, indeed, her own and whether she liked this lot in life or no, it was no matter for this was the burden she’d been given to carry; she hoped, only for this one night.
Lost in the woods and unprotected. Possibly soon to fall prey to all sorts of wild beasties with their vicious fangs and their dirty little claws so that even if we escape only half eaten we are liable to die a septic death from their manure-clad talons and their rotted-meat strewn teeth gouging into our innards.
How much nicer it would have been for the dear lady if she had known exactly which forest this was and to what degree of savagery she might be subjected to at a moment’s notice, or so she thought, but really without knowing.
One chooses between the lesser of two evils but only if both evils are known; otherwise, one chooses the comfort of the familiar pitchfork over the possible silken pillow. Anyway, it’s not as if a psychotic serial killer/mass murder with a thing for Betty Grable movies couldn’t asphyxiate you with a silken pillow, then, is it? She had no idea where she was, but she had a vague fear that she did not wish to find out where she’d been prior to this.
But you thought you were in your car, right? Didn’t you? Isn’t that the explanation? Do you usually drive barefoot and in your nightgown? Or is it happening again? Were you driving and forgot or asleep and wandering?
She had slumbered, for a certainty, as she remembered lying down and here she was in her gown and with her trick-some mind nattering away about something new in the back of her head.
Thank goodness we are not naked as before it chattered away to her nerves, some of whom -the fools! – were soothed, indeed, by it’s crooning.
“Shut up!”, she snapped at herself. “I listened to you enough in my youth and you see what it has got me? Enough is enough, so you just shhhsh.”
But I was only trying to…, began her mind
“La la la la la,” her voice rang out, “la la la la la dee dah!”
On she went, trying not to listen to her own head, until she reached a place where the forest floor ended and the mountain began.
“Well, and hello again.” , she whispered to the Roche De Taille Colossale. “So you terminate the Valley and begin my climb, so soon?”
If she had been listening to her mind, which she was less and less prone to do as life wore on, she might have been a little more leery of the entire situation. For what her mind wondered most at the moment were such questions as :
Do we have a climb?
Whatever do we need to climb for?
And, if this is our climb, then how come we didn’t know we were coming here? Where is here?
How did we get here?
Where is our bed?
And what are all these black spots doing all over my memory?
She peered upwards, noting the moonlight bathing the mountain further up. It was a welcome sight after a time unremembered spent in a place undiscovered. If it wasn’t for the dragon barring her way, she’d have made haste to climb to it’s beaming glow.
The dragon was a fierce-some monstrosity, not at all pretty like dragons in a picture book, but a pure blob of quivering muscular fury, slobbering, drooling, generally giving all those nearby the willies at the thought of the bacteria lodged between it’s teeth. The long sinewy tail coiled and whizzled; it slipped about, knocking against bare rocks in a loud and clanging manner which hurt her ears but didn’t seem to make a dent in the dragon, one way or the other.
Not by tail or ear, not from front or rear, not in mind a care: we shall show no fear.
It hissed dreadful, slobbering hisses and spat very spittiful spats, so much so that the woman did not know if to be more worried of it’s talons or that it might give her a bad flu should it sneeze on her.
Yet a passion was on her, despite it’s hissing threats and coiling tail, to climb that mountain and regain what she had lost.
Which is ?
She remembered not what it was or even where, except that to find it again she must brave that dragon and assail that mountain.
The dragon inserted itself into her pathway, time and time again. It’s head uplifted, it spit fire over her bow in warning, for so her mind insisted on calling her scalp. With hunger in it’s eyes, the dragon roared and snatched at her succulent calves and the very air trembled in fright and down tumbled the lady back to the sullen, ill lit path.
Finally, back on the path in disarray, looking up, her passion still on her after these many hours of attempt, a surprise caught her eye for not dragon but man was standing before her.
“Stand aside!” she cried “Let me pass and climb to the very top!”
“You know best that I cannot, girl.” whispered the slim figured gentleman.
“Are you not just a man, then?” she cried, rushing towards him. Reach him, though, she did not. “Why are you here, trickster? Are you not just a man after all?”
“No, my girl, “ he replied in a sorrowful tone. “Not a man, not by just, not by dream. Though if ever it were possible I would be a man for you.”
“Let me pass, you.. thing!” she cried aloud, battering his feet with her tiny white fists. “Let me pass, you nothing!”
”Nothing am I? I have crossed the stars, tasted the forbidden fruits of the universe, unlocked the mysteries that steeped themselves in time, and found the unfounded. How is it I am so much and still nothing to this one lowly and low born mortal woman who cannot even pass the boundaries of my feet? Who is not worth the trespass of my instep? Hah!”
“How is it you should mean much to me, you who cannot even control self enough to just allow me egress?”
He wavered at her words.
“Why is it you do not have the strength of your convictions?” she continued.
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?” he countered before giving her a vicious kick to the chin.
“ That has nothing to do with the subject at hand and well you know it, “ she jeered, holding her jaw, stifling her groan.
“I was a man once!” he exclaimed. “I had parents I adopted, and I lived in a country with people in it! There were false gods to worship and bad wine to drink every evening. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, Missy!” he screeched. “Not at all what it’s cracked up to be!”
“That is not being a man, you pompous imposter. That is simply playing house: a thing all children do but most outgrow long before their hundredth year. And how old are you, mad thing?”
“How old are you and still acting the brat?” he spat at her.
Turning away from the mountain base, she sobbed deeply, giving way to grief over loss of what she knew not.
“Oh and did you lose something?” he crooned. “Why then do you turn? Do you scuttle back to your drab existence, the petty annoyances of choosing your little “fast food” poison for the day? “
“You will not let me pass.”
“Tell me what you have lost and perhaps I shall.”
“I cannot, for it is the memory I have lost, perhaps more than the thing.”
“Why not climb the mountain and perhaps in it’s heights regain what has been lost – or, perhaps even stolen from thee, churl?”
“You will not let me pass.”
“Oh yes and a pretty pass it is, to hear this from such as you. Are you so broken? I thought you had more game in you, Angela.”
“You know me then, for truth?”
“ I know you well, young snippet. You are the writer who brings forth worlds on a page and then crumples them away to nothing.”
Angela’s cheeks flushed with heat and she answered in some obvious amused, joyous state. “I am she.”
“And I am your muse, dear lady.” he claimed with a laugh and a bow to her once more retreating backside.
This gave her pause.
“Thou art my master, and my author thou. Thou art alone the one from whom I took the beautiful style that has done honour to me.” came the reply in quoted verse.
“Do you climb the mountain then?”
“Are you the beast to give me pause as well?”
“Are you the girl who came whence or the middle aged bag of cellulite that she has sunken into in disgrace?”
“Either way, whomever you are, I shall defeat thee yet.”
“Then let us be companionable in the manner of keeping one’s enemy closer and be on our journey.”
They began to saunter down the path, arm in arm before some sort of reason began to reassert itself. “But wait!” exclaimed the lady. “Did you see the dragon?
“I saw it not, girl, though I heard it’s roaring.”
“Can you protect me from her?”
“Does she make your pulse race with fright? Then take another road, as I lead you. Stay away from climbing that mountain, which would only make you shorter of breath and longer of death by her catching you.”
”How do you know so much?” Angela turned towards her gentleman, gazing up into his big brown .. blue .. err. .gre.. br.. eyes which shone so bright with fondness and something else there, she couldn’t quite put her finger on, something like .. malice? Revenge? Spite? Love? Adoration? Boredom? .. being home.
“I have met the beast before, that is all. She is a hungry thing, never sated, and never strikes a bargain. Though in truth she weds many and gluts on their glory and riches.”
Is any of this making sense yet?
“I see.”, lied the lady, having averted her gaze from eyes that made her stomach flutter.
It’s not love, you know? It’s motion sickness.
“There is a legend which says that there will come another beast, a hunter but more inclined to kindness, who will slay her. This beast will be one of wisdom, virtue, love and the saviour of our world.”
“There are many such legends, including the one that has captured more hearts than all others. Mankind already has it’s saviour, does it not?
“ Who was speaking of Mankind?” he replied, tittering at her jest.
Yet another part of the grand tales of the land of Ordine, in the land of Ordem, and the girl turned woman who is called there by the god Chaos