A Secret Garden

There was green everywhere. Bright, vibrant, alive. So much of my favorite color in one place calmed me instantly, like a balm on my heart and spirit. Enclosed by high crumbling coquina walls tangled with lacy ivy, and sun-bleached wooden fencing speckled with moss, the garden welcomed me, enclosing me in loving arms. Welcome Dear One. Welcome. Come in. Breathe. Heal.

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I took a deep breath, lost in wonderment and unexpected joy. How long had this place been here, hidden in plain sight just off the beaten track? How often had I passed by it and never seen it, never known it existed? Yet the timing was sheet magic. I needed this. I needed this place. The beauty. The peace. The healing. A secret garden of my very own. It was like the one in my dream from so many years ago — not a perfect match, but something in it spoke to me and I grinned at the unexpected connection to my characters revealed to me in that dream, their beautiful story, and the butterfly garden they shared.

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Everywhere I turned something unexpected caught my eye: mermaids, fairies, butterflies, orbs spread haphazard, wild and free, spinning, twirling, dancing in the gentle breeze, sheltered in the shade of ancient trees and warmed by the strong Florida sun. Colors in rich profusion sprouted up amidst the greenery, adorning the Earth most beautifully: blues, reds, bronzes, greens, purples, violets, and clear crystalline white.

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Thank you. My whisper repeated itself in my mind over and over again as I walked the uneven cobblestone pathway, finding more beauty and hidden treasures behind each twist and turn. I felt giddy, light-hearted — it was just like a scene from The Secret Garden or Harriet The Spy!  (I’ve always loved the gardens from these movies.) Benches awaited me, knowing well I’d have to return one day with a notebook and pen sometime soon, and a table lay tucked away, for the future lunch I’d bring to eat amongst the fairies.

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I called silently to the trees and flowers, to the fairies tending them, and the wonderful life-force encapsulating this tiny place: Thank you for this. You’re beautiful. Hello! I thanked them for inviting me into their domain to appreciate their lush, wild beauty. The wind tugged at me, playful and free, pulling me this way and that. Look here! Notice this! I happily obeyed — there is no resisting the lure of happy fairies, especially those dwelling in a secret garden. There was so much to see!

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Butterflies danced, fairies sang, and my heart soared.

Thank you. Thank you.

I’ll come back soon.

I promise.

 

Thankfulness And A Little Downton Abbey

Happy Thanksgiving my lovelies, I hope you’re having a wonderful, relaxing, and family and friends-filled holiday!!! Today I’m celebrating with a Downton Abbey marathon, which kind of feels like I’m having Thanksgiving at Downton itself (which is a delightful prospect truth be told)! I can only too easily imagine the sumptuous feast Mrs. Patmore and Daisy could prepare…

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

 

But wondrous feasts and impeccable manners aside, there really is so much that I’m thankful for in my life: my family and friends, my characters, their stories, and new exciting and terrifying new prospects on the horizon, just to name a few. But right now I want to say how incredibly thankful I am for each and every one of you. You my lovelies — whether you be old friends or new or even first-time readers — you make my life rich and absolutely wonderful. Your support, friendship, banter, and your own incredible blogs mean the world to me and I am just so thankful for all of you and for all the love and support I receive here at Moonstonemaiden! Thank you so much, you all rock something fierce! (And I’ll make sure to save you a piece of Mrs. Patmore’s delightful pecan pie!) ❤

Happiest of holidays,

— Tara

P.S.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio

This week the challenge is Trio my lovelies, and I thought, what better trio could I show than this: Glamis Castle, the Scottish home of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the real life home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. (Thank you Wikipedia for that useful bit of historical information because I honestly had no idea what castle this was!)

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The Importance Of Fairy Tales

Fairy tales have always been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember my lovelies, and I still content myself with revisiting childhood characters and wonderfully impossible stories whenever I get the chance. From the traditional Disney films, to old classic shows I watched as a child (Grimm’s Classic Fairy Tales!) to reinterpretations both in movie and book format, I just love the magic and simplistic beauty of a well-told fairy tale. The stories seem so cozy, like a blanket I can cuddle with whenever life gets to be too much.

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

They tend to be intimate, in the sense that there aren’t a cavalcade of characters bustling in and out, but a select few that the audience is asked to bond with. And so the story is made that much stronger, when the characters ache, we ache, when they rejoice, we do. This links characters and readers together so strongly that their stories become a part of who we are and how we define ourselves.

Mermaid Image From Google.

Mermaid Image From Google.

Their setting can vary from a beautiful palace, to a secluded forest, or the ocean depths, but always there is a separateness, a sense of loneliness that beckons you in and makes you feel like you are an integral part of the tale itself, as though if you didn’t hear the ending, the characters would remain lost and broken forever. You make the story happen.

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

The plots are magical, in ways that force you to put the dreariness of everyday life aside and believe – even if for only a moment — that magic and hope really do exist. But too often these stories are overlooked and considered childish because of their perceived unrealistic qualities. We’re told they hold impossible nonsense and that there are some dreams too big to come true, some stories too much to hope for.

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

In the end we’re told these characters aren’t real, they aren’t as frail and human as others, and therefore their lessons are less important. But I don’t think there are stories more apt to show the beauty, truth, and depth of humanity than the tale of a mermaid who dreams about having an immortal soul, or a beauty that can see past disfigurement to acknowledge true love. These are truly the stories to admire. These are the stories that live forever.

*Originally posted on 9/30/2014

Shadowed Love

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Shadowed Love

Amethyst and silver

Glitter around your beautiful neck

– Forbidden and wild –

Soaking in the heat of your heart.

That heart which belongs to me,

Though I can never hold it

For all to see.

I’m left in the shadows

At your side

Watching, as you press my gift

– My heart –

Closer to yours.

*Originally posted as Unsigned Letter: Volume 1 Letter 2 on 1/21/2013

Red Soul Daughter

Hello my lovelies, I just wanted to share a poem with you inspired by one of my WIP’s Ashes, I hope you enjoy! 😀

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Red Soul Daughter

I wasn’t born to be that girl,

I fight to live, I will not turn.

She whispers inside, I ignore,

that siren call, red soul daughter.

***

I wasn’t born to feel her pain,

that Summer Girl in ashes slain.

She starts to flow beneath my skin,

that siren call, red soul daughter.

***

I wasn’t born to wear her crown,

our lives destroyed, I won’t back down.

I live again, I have become,

that siren call, red soul daughter.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Twelve

If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Twelve

A sudden deafening knock shattered Ratha’s morbid recollections and she found herself standing before a large gilt-framed looking-glass, one hand raised to touch the burnished skin beneath her eyes. For a moment the ghost of a lingering bruise darkened her sun-kissed skin before fading back into haunted memory. She shuddered, her stomach roiling sickeningly as the briefest flicker of remembered terror touched her very soul. Ratha purposefully turned away from the mirror, squelching the fear before it took root. It was this place, the past would give her no peace here. She would never feel safe on English soil, no matter how many years since her escape. Perhaps it was a mistake to come back after all.

“Amalee Ratha James!” Madeline called irately from the other side of the bedroom door. “I know you can hear me in there! St. Clare needs to speak with us before dinner so hurry and finish dressing and meet us in the library. Joona’s laid out something for you to wear on the chair near the fire, which I’d wager you haven’t even noticed,” Maddie huffed the last to herself, but Amalee heard her through the door clear enough. “If you need help with the lacing, there’s maid here in the hall.”

Lacing? Ratha flinched, her horror renewing as she turned to investigate the clothes Maddie had rightfully guessed she had not yet noticed, preoccupied as she was with the unnerving eclipse of past and present she always felt in this house. She strode towards the crackling fireplace with misapprehension heavy in her heart before stumbling to a halt with a insuppressibly hiss of displeasure. A sturdy wooden chair stood at the ready, swathed in a vision of frothy, endless emerald silk — the color so deep and vivid the gown nearly burned with a life all its own. Like drops of glistening dew, emeralds and fiery diamonds rained over the bodice and the delicate, gossamer lace net covering the full, wide skirts. The gems sparkled wildly in the dancing firelight, but the corners of Ratha’s mouth turned down in a hearty scowl.

What in the blazing Hell was St. Clare up to?!

*****

Grumbling more than a baited bear, Ratha precariously descended the wide, marble staircase in her borrowed finery, on route to the magnificent St. Clare library. With its dark paneled elegance and diamond-paned floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ever-surging sea below, the library was by far her favorite room in this opulent home. Yet even now, the thought of all those lovely leader-bound books could not rid her of the irritation of drowning in St. Clare’s accursed gown. She pulled at the confines of the gem-encrusted bodice as gently but forcibly as she could as she fought to straighten her shoulders and get in a decent breath of air. The damn gown was pinching her mercilessly and she nearly tripped over the billowing yards of skirts. Again. She yearned desperately for the simple freedom of her fitted leather trousers and the bliss of airy linen shirts. With a misstep of her borrowed heeled shoes, she toppled sideways, righting herself at the last moment, swearing eloquently like the sailor she truly was. And boots. She desperately missed her boots.

After six years at sea, Ratha had lost all appreciation for and what little understanding she had of, the beautiful gowns worn by her sex. With her father’s wealth in relative tatters her whole childhood, she’d grown up in plain, simple gowns and serviceable boots, and after she left home for England, Derek certainly never liked her so fully clothed as all this… So she had been quite happy to trade dresses for trousers and confinement for freedom and in the years since, the occasions she’s had since to wear such frippery were few and each heartily despised.

But it was more than the mere fact that clothing was uncomfortable, it was dangerous. The gown was heavy and far too long should she need to run, and she could barely breathe in such a tight bodice — though she congratulated herself on her own firm refusal to wear the whale-bone corset Joona provided — and more importantly, there was no place to conceal her weapons in a garment such as this. She felt the loss of her array of array of hidden blades usually latched to wrist, thigh, ankle, and stomach, as well as the elegant promise of her rapier on her hips, and the blunt surety of the pair of pistols strapped to her belt. Were it not Joona’s own gown, Ratha would have cut slits into the skirts and other strategic places to hide her smaller weapons before emerging from her room, but as the dress belonged to her friend, she resisted the temptation. In the end, Ratha was forced to comfort herself with the knowledge that she was not completely defenseless. The smallest of her knives rested securely between her breasts and the pins securing her dark chestnut hair were sharp enough to inflict damage, were she inclined to, as well as the small pistol strapped to her right calf, and the longer sheathed knife on her left.

Perhaps it was foolish to worry so in the home of her trusted friends, but Ratha James was an outlaw in this land, and Amalee Richards an escaped prisoner. Should she be taken as either it would surely mean her death. These gowns were lush, extravagant creations of exquisite, otherworldly beautiful art, but there was no damned, beautiful dress worth her life.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Eleven

If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!

Image From Google.

Image From Google. All Right’s Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Eleven

Suddenly Amalee was exhausted. The turmoil, fear, and abuse of the past months bore down on her all at once and she sunk leadenly into the plush cobalt armchair, closing her heavy, dark eyes.

“We had heard about Maddie,” Joona admitted hesitantly after a few silent minutes. The shock of the evening left her voice thready and strained and even with the light of a cheery fire haloing her, there were dark circles beneath St. Clare’s eyes that had not there a few hours before. “Months ago. You and I knew, after the horror of that sickness, that her chances of bearing children were slim, and it has long been my fear that it indeed left her barren. But I so hoped…she’s so healthy now, I thought maybe in time, her body would continue to heal. No one deserves a child more than she, and she’s always wanted a babe so desperately…” Joona stopped, unable to say more until the clenching sob in her constricting throat subsided. “I knew she would take the news badly so I wrote to her, inviting her to stay awhile here with us. I thought the sight and smell of the sea might restore her. Maddie so loves the sea.”

“Eric and I even called on their home in London when the letters went unanswered but Robert dismissed us at the door without so much as inviting us in to speak of her. He said Maddie was indisposed, desolate, and wished to be left to herself for a time. He looked so wretched, I felt so poorly for them. I wanted to see her, but how could I know he was keeping her from us? What if, in her grief, she truly did not wish to see me? To intrude at such a time, I feared losing her, especially after you… I thought…”

“You thought I abandoned you,” Amalee breathed, her voice barely a whisper. There was so much pain, and she was so weary, but she mustn’t sleep, not yet. It was not safe.

“I’m so sorry, please forgive me! Joona cried, unable to hold back her tears any longer. After fearing for her friends for months and now seeing her fears confirmed she was close to breaking. “I should have known that you would…that you would never…But I missed you and you never wrote me and I did not know what to think! I worried of course, but also feared you no longer desired my friendship now that we were here on English soil, where you have risen so high. But this,” she said, touching the blackish bruise on Amalee’s cheek with soft, careful fingers. “I could never have imagined this.”

“Of course not you foolish thing, there was no way for you to know,” Amalee reminded her weeping friend affectionately, but sternly. “This is not your fault Joona. Nor is it Eric’s. I saw the blame in his eyes before and I see it in yours now and I forbid it. You found your happiness together as man and wife and I refuse to let anyone cause you to regret it.”

“We were going to find you,” Joona confessed, dropping her face into her slender hands and taking a shuddering breath. “After a few months with no word, we knew something must be done. Eric was gong to leave right away but I…” she laid a land on her swollen stomach as a new wave of silent tears slipped down her cheeks. “I discovered I was with child. For months I was horridly sick and I was so frightened, for the baby, for myself. I wanted Eric with me and he stayed. But now, I wish I had left him go. He would have found you. He would have never given up.”

Amalee took her friend’s hand, feeling the chill of the pale skin, and squeezed it tightly. “You needed him here Joona. Eric’s place is here.”

“But if I had been as brave as you,” Joona whispered, her sharp green eyes taking in every bruise, both faded and fresh, on her friend’s beautiful face. “Perhaps he’d have found you before…”

Amalee shook her heavy head minutely, bringing Joona’s words to a halt. “He hit me the first day we stepped off the ship,” she said quietly, her voice touched with sadness, regret, and anger at the madness of it all, at being delivered into the hands of a monster. “Before the carriage left the dock. You couldn’t have stopped him Joona. No one could have.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

The challenge this week my lovelies is Grid, with an added emphasis on the literal aspect — which I admit I wasn’t too enthused about at first, I mean chain-link fences and bars just don’t sound very exciting or pretty to me. But after searching through my collection of photos, I’m actually quite pleased with the pictures I found. Each one has it’s own unique beauty and there’s something about the grids, the bars in each photo, that gives the impression of separateness, of unattainability, and aloofness that I find wonderfully intriguing.

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