Inspired by the Celtic Myth: The tragic legend of Diarmuid the Fair and Grainne.
Now there’s a fair beauty if ever there was. Derry sat at the table with his list of participants. Bewildered didn’t come close. He would never have put speed dating on her list of to-do things. Why are you here tonight, beautiful? Perhaps the lure of Halloween had spurred her on. Or maybe she’d been stood up by some doesn’t‑know-when-he’s-onto-a-good-thing chancer and wanted to get her own back.
Beneath his designer stubble, Derry smiled.
No mistaking her effect on him. Shifting slightly in his chair, he inhaled deeply, and summoned her over.
‘Floated’ was the word entering his head and confirming his thoughts. ‘In-harmony’ was another that defined her relationship with the ether. Long shapely legs cosseted by an above the knee tartan skirt moved freely on feet adorned by red stilettos. Oh, the Angel Gabriel, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.
A white, gossamer-like blouse rippled over full breasts when she took the chair opposite him at the small table. Strawberry-blonde hair caressed a well-positioned white rose. Ruby red lips half-smiled as green eyes captured his blue.
‘Name?’ he said after a long pause. He slipped his tongue back into his mouth.
Perfect. The sound of her voice hung in the air, spiralled, catching Derry unawares.
He leaned forward, whispered, ‘Why are you here?’
A smile lit up her eyes. She slid her tongue across her lips. ‘Why, I’m here for you, Diarmuid.’
Did he imagine the twinkle? And how did she know his real name? He hadn’t been called Diarmuid for over a year, not since his mammy died and went to heaven, or so his pappy liked to tell everyone – Derry most of all: ‘See yon mist there, Derry lad, ‘tis your mammy watching o’er us from heaven.’
The table halted Derry’s attempt to further his lean. ‘What d’ye mean, Grace lass?’ his words barely spoken at all.
She met him halfway. ‘Your soul called to me, Diarmuid the Fair, and I answered.’
Where light had danced moments before, dark pools now held him hostage. Something unrecognisable played in their depths. Something real yet not of this world. Something he could not escape. Terror grabbed at his belly. He stared into those deep wells and beheld horns? No. Not horns. Tusks. Tusks splintered and tethered to a man’s innards, and they reached out to Derry. Impaled him.
Eyes wide, he watched, entranced, as water flowed from another’s hands, carried to the injured quarry lying prostrate on the ground.
‘No. Diarmuid. Look at me,’ Grace beseeched, soft hands cupping his face. ‘Your soul is free to talk with me.’ She smiled a smile so true, Derry’s heart sang. ‘Talk to me, Diarmuid.’
‘What is this I see in your eyes? What story are you desperate to tell me?’
‘You said, “talk to me” so, let’s talk, sweetheart.’
‘Would I have that time back again; I’d wish only that I had been there to …’
Pain. Strong and tormented, bent Derry double. His face crumbled, hit the wood of the tabletop with a heinous thud. His body paralysed by the intense torture spreading through him.
‘Water! Please bring him some water,’ Grace’s pleading words intensified his agony.
Two times water was bestowed, and two times was it spilled before it could reach Derry. The third time was successful but too late.
Derry died. No one knows why or how. Grace disappeared. No one knows who she was or where she came from or where she went. The only thing people recalled of that All Hallows Eve was the whispered breeze that rose in the air and wished them all a fond farewell.
Copyright (2020) M J Christie