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By Calliope NJO
A place of ruins filled with memories of the past. The breeze carried voices of the people who once inhabited this place. If one dug underneath, I would not be surprised to discover the remains of the warriors who once battled to save this kingdom.
I didn’t know if anyone else did, but I heard voices carried over the breeze. Crying and screaming for the next order in the hopes it meant retreat. Horses stomped and cried as loud as their riders did.
If I listened hard enough, swords clanked together as a distant warrior shouted that arrows rained down on them. I took a deep breath in and smelled the salty air as the waves crashed. I closed my eyes to entice peace. It worked because when I opened them, the breezes stopped as did the noises.
I needed to take all this back home with me to create that story. A novel about a love lost in battle. About that princess who waited for her warrior to return so they could live the rest of their lives together.
Almost as if someone heard my thoughts, I felt a strong urge to walk towards the window remains. I needed to dig. Without tools, I had to use my hands. I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty because the greatest of treasures sometimes required to be dug up to find them.
Two piles of rocks, and about as many piles of dirt later, I found a book. Water and dirt soaked into it. That and whatever ink had been used to write with made it tough to read. I believed I was brought here for a reason and I needed to try to at least understand the pages. There had to be a way.
I tucked it in my bag and walked away. I vowed never to forget this place and all that it had.
When I returned home, down the hallway, into the bedroom, and on the bed I went. I wished I could have slept, but that proved impossible. Those voices kept tickling in my head.
People say that playing music the opposite of that earworm often helped to kill it. Beethoven’s Fifth often cured that, but nothing could counteract cries and screams of battle.
Prayer may be a possibility, but I never thought of myself as religious. My only choice was to wait.
The house had a master bedroom and a writing room. Poster boards encompassed the walls. Everything from a landscape and architectural board to a rough outline of names and plot points. They took up an entire room.
If anyone came in, they might have commented on how funny it looked. This story needed the space though. A new story about an exotic place, all that material needed to be there, but word count dictated otherwise. What and how to cut I had no idea.
I took a closer glance at the book I found, and an unusual phenomenon happened. The pages cleaned themselves up, and the words became brighter and more visible. Maybe Grammy’s gift had been passed on to me.
She used to tell me stories of such events happening to her. I thought it was because grandmas tell wild tales. After this experience, I started to understand her better.
All that information and I had no notion where to start. Yes, from the top, but I had no concept what was considered the starting point. I needed to tackle this on my own because nobody would understand. My job was to find the story.
We sewed new clothes, baked bread and cooked stews, and with her help, explored the abilities we had. Growing up, I enjoyed my stays with her. I felt empty when she died.
I clung to that book and read it multiple times. About to put it away, the realization that the book was not a personal diary but a recount of events came to mind. There were descriptions of dinners and ceremonies but nothing intimate. No stories written from her point of view filled with feelings or interpretations. I couldn’t imagine not reading into that.
Another thing I missed was the note on the first page: I hope this pleases you, Your Majesty. So maybe her mother or father had been overseeing her writing this. She needed to hide something, could have been a love interest.
Well, not much to go on, but it gave me a place to start at last. Her words became mine as if her soul inhabited my body. I didn’t recognize the wording so she must have had some part in it.
Three years in the making and the final draft done, getting it looked over by my editor was the only thing left to do. It got saved in a thumb drive and put aside for safekeeping.
The thought of a break and a walk among the living for a change sounded enticing. A personal celebration for getting that story finished. A good steak dinner with baked potato and sour cream, green beans, and a salad sounded so good. A slice of cheesecake for dessert. A very rich idea but a very well-deserved treat.
I opened the garage door so I could pull the car out. Not sure what I expected to see, but the same Lincoln Town Car parked across the street with the same yellow Volkswagen Beetle right behind it.
I laughed at myself and shook my head. The thought of losing my mind rose to the surface. A bit of food would help to alter those thoughts.
I sat in the car and couldn’t get over the fact that a big hole still lurked in that story. Something that she didn’t want me to know or the rest of the world to know. That hole in the wall when I punched it after Mother told me writing was not a real job but a complete waste of time came into full view. My hand broken, I had to drive to the ER one handed since Mother refused to take me. Things sure got heated after Grammy—
That was it. My story needed that interaction with the parents. My own experiences told in story form. Thumb drive out and loaded, I rewrote the entire story.
* * *
Love From a Window stared back at me. I couldn’t help but think it all started from a trip to look at ruins of a castle. I insisted on them using my picture, it seemed fitting, and I couldn’t be happier.
Please visit Calliope’s new blog and follow her: https://calliopenjosstories.home.blog