Part of the Roisin Banshee series. A channeled series of short fiction stories from the Banshee. Previous one here!
Roisin stood in the doorway; her long dark hair reaching down to the faded red ribbon that pinched in her waist. She often stood in doorways; unseen and unheard. Just watching; just listening. The inn was woody and dark, as many were, but the bright day light trailed in through the curtain of green ivy around the leaded windows.
What had drawn her to this spot was the music; the pipe was high and sweet, but the melancholy which lined the pipers soul, was evident non the less.
She stood in the doorway and listened, lulled into a space where she was neither here nor there. Until she shocked out of it by the piper smiling at her directly. Shocked as it was rare for her to be seen anymore, especially in the daylight.
She stepped forward and recognised the light around the piper; realising that the space he drew from for his musical inspiration was the space in which she existed. She should have realised sooner. She smiled back.
‘A pretty tune’ she mused. ‘A pretty tune for a pretty lady’ he retorted. She smiled again, not at the obvious compliment, but at the irony that the sadness which wound through the song did indeed wind through her own soul. It was a fine match for her indeed.
The bargirl looked up from behind the bar ‘a drink for the lady?’. Roisin looked down at herself. Yes, these days she could indeed be called a lady. She had grown in Spirit, as many did, and the dress which she had given herself, although dark grey, was that fitting of a lady and not the fisherman’s orphan she had been. ‘Yes a light cider’ she replied, knowing the drink would have to sit on the bar undrunk and she would have to pay the bill through good fortune rather than coin. She walked towards the bar leaving the door ajar.
She sat near the piper, being sure not to sit in the streams of sun he was sat in; sure it would show her for what she was. ‘He’s brilliant isn’t he?’ said the maid, unable to hide her smile at the piper. ‘He is indeed grand’ Roisin found herself smiling back at the spark of love in the youngsters heart. The girl literally lit up when she looked at the young man; he did not seem able to see it even though it streamed like sunshine from her.
‘Orna!!! ORNA!!!’ came a below from behind the scenes. ‘Coming! Coming! Excuse me!’ flustered the youngster as she ran back to the source of the voice.
Roisin smiled at the piper. ‘Been playing since ye were young have ye?’ she said. ‘Aye’ he smiled back as he began to take his instrument apart to clean it. ‘Ye Daddy taught ye did he?’ She went on. ‘Aye’ the piper replied back as a smile of curiosity spread across his face. ‘And his da afore him?’ she went on. ‘Aye’ he replied back, the smile starting to lessen, his eyebrows crossing in puzzlement. ‘And that pipe was left to ye when ye daddy passed. Just as his daddy left it for him?’ she lilted. ‘Aye. Not an unusual story.’ His guard beginning to gather. ‘No, maybe not.’ Roisin retorted ‘But what maybe unusual is the way in which he passed it to ye’. The piper began to gather his things and she continued gently ‘He knew before he sailed that he would not return, and so he gave ye the pipe for safe keeping. Knowing he would never return, he gave it to you. But yet he sailed away anyway; leaving ye and yer mammy. Both broken hearted and both alone.’
‘Look lady, I don’t know who ye are or why yer doing this, but this isn’t some laugh’ he went to stride past her and out the door, but he was stopped in his tracks by the light touch of her hand on his arm. ‘I mean no harm. Only to help’ she smiled. Her eyes matched her hair, as dark as horsechestnuts, and he stood there. ‘Sit with me a while. There is nothing else to do and no where to go, until the carriage gets in from Limerick.’ He gave in, sitting like a heavy lump in the seat on the other side of her, knowing he would not earn any tips for his playing until the coach full of rich weary people stopped later today.
His sadness on show now, rather than the joy he usually chose to shine on others. Sat on the darker side of the inn, rather than the sunlight. His sadness showed on his face and with it his anger. ‘Yer anger is justified’ she started. ‘I’m not angry’ he came back quickly. She continued ‘yer angry at yer father and it is fine. T’is fine.’ placing a hand in his arm again. He relented at this, feeling the stubbornness flutter away slightly. ‘Go on’. She looked deep into the cider she would never drink. ‘Yer angry at him for getting on that boat even though he knew it would sink. Rather than taking his pipe which earned him a pretty penny with him. And now ye sing yer anger and pain, through the same pipe. As well as the joy he left ye with; the joy ye feel simply for having known him. Simply from being in yer life, he gave ye great joy. And now ye sit with yer anger and yer joy, not knowing quite what to do with it.’
He was quiet for a moment. ‘How do ye know all of this?’
‘Ye mammy is a believer isn’t she?’ She said turning to him with joy ‘She has always followed the old ways, even though the new ways have tried to tarnish them. Gifts of milk and bread, when ye had nought to give. Prayer in the moonlight. Ye mammy heard the keening the night before yer Daddy sailed, just as he did. And still he sailed, the allure of a hopeful new life a greater draw than the warning. Ye mammy understood, what ye do not, that it was not his choice but the Way. It was his time; the keening comes in preparation for what is to happen. It is not a warning but a beginning. Ye Daddy hoped it was a keening for an old life into a new. And indeed it was, but not as yer Daddy hoped. We came for him, and now, as yer mammy still prays for you in the moonlight, we come for ye. But in the way that yer Daddy hoped for. We could not give that to him, but we can give it to ye.’
As the piper looked up through his tears, he saw Roisin sat there, framed by the sunlight behind, and in that sunlight, and through his tears, he was sure he saw a flicker of his father sat where he was moments before. He looked away.
‘Don’t shy away from him; don’t shy away from yer nature. Ye deserve a life full of joy that you give others everytime you play. Full of love. Holding onto this anger and pain keeps others at bay. Yes it keeps your broken heart safe, and stops you from taking this anger out on those ye may allow close. But it keeps ye alone. Moving from town to town, from inn to inn. Moving, always moving.’ He looked up again, his tears harder now and saw his father, clearly sat by the window, smiling. ‘How do I let go of this? I don’t know how!’.
‘That’s why I am here’ She smiled and in doing so stood up. She placed a hand on his shoulder and the other on his cheek. She leaned her forehead against his. ‘You just need a different perspective’ She said. And with it he collapsed into her. As he wept, the faded red ribbon that cinched her waist, fluttered and moved. As it did a strange wind swept in through the window, coiled around the two of them and whirled out the ajar door. As it did, it swept the ribbon and what appeared to be pink rose petals with it. Pink rose petals from their hearts. Hundreds of fluttering, beautiful rose petals. The piper felt the emotion go and with it, he felt another hand upon his arm. He looked up and saw he father close, his firm grip just a sure as it was when he was a lad. With his free hand he pushed the hair from his son’s face, and the piper felt the old emotions go. The anger. The hurt. And in it’s place he felt lightness; he felt joy. For the first time he could remember, he allowed himself the joy he so often gave to others. And as that joy sparked and grew, he felt his father fade away.
The embrace between them broke and he wiped his face and smiled. ‘What happened here today?’ He asked ‘Love’ Roisin replied ‘Just love’. She offered him her drink, he reached and took it and drank hard. ‘What do I do now?’ he asked as he finished his drink. ‘Love’ she said ‘Just love’. He looked down at the end of the drink and smiled ‘I think I need another one of these’. ‘You’ll have money for plenty for that before the night is over’ she said and with that a clatter was heard out front’ ‘Orna! Orna!’ Roisin called ‘Yes!’ called the girl as she came running, tying her apron around her waist. Her cheeks flushing as she saw the piper again. ‘Orna, it seems that the carriage from Limerick has come early’.
And with that she stood, placing a hand on the shoulder of the piper. A she left, she repeated the words ‘Love, Just Love.’ and looked up at the blushing Orna. With that the Piper locked eyes with the maiden.
Roisin quietly left the couple as she walked through the ajar door. Climbing down from the carriage was a fat, well dressed gentleman, with an even fatter purse. ‘Be sure to spend freely’ she said to him as she faded into the shadows ‘The service is the grandest around and the the Piper plays like no other’. ‘I am sure you are right’ the gentleman tipped his hat, as he stepped into the bar.
3 thoughts on “The Roisin Banshee Series: Doorways.”
Wow. Stunning and hit me right in the heart. Thankyou ❤
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