After weeks of Mother Nature wavering between the return of winter and full blown summer, she has settled into a soft pattern that has laid lawns and fields in sparkling emerald green. I think it must have been the color that has inspired my new short story, Luck of the Irish.
So today I'm introducing my story to my blog readers. I hope you will enjoy it. If you haven't joined my newsletter group, please do they will be getting the newest chapter next week sometime.
For all those mothers, old and new, Happy Mother's Day.
Luck of the Irish
© Nancy O'Berry 2011
Maeve pulled the rough wool shawl across her shoulders and cast a cautionary glance to make sure the McKenna boys hadn't stirred from their quilted wrapped cocoons. She placed her hand against the wood of the door jam and pulled it open just enough to slip her slender frame through. In the dark of the night the soft sounds of the Dakota wind whispering through the small grove of trees near the house brought her comfort. From the darkness an old dog arose and fell in behind her footsteps as she moved toward the smokehouse. Bending down, she opened the door and felt a cold nose press against her forearm.
"Sh," she whispered to the hound. Reaching inside, she pulled a gray rucksack from the floor. Then, dropping to one knee she stroked the silken ears of the animal and looked into the warm brown eyes. "Now Odin, you'll be a good dog and stay here."
The dog's head tilted and thumped its tail upon the ground, before resting its paw upon her knee Maeve smiled. "No, you'll stay and keep them thugs that's called me brothers from following me," she whispered in a deep throaty bough reminiscent of her ancestors from County Cork.
The animal turned his head to listen, then whimpered in response.
"Here now, I'll be safe." She rose, with one gentler stroke, and headed toward the path that wound through the trees along the creek to the Master's ranch. If the McKenna luck held, she'd be back by early morn and none of her brother's the wiser. Her soft leather moccasins made no sound. The sliver of silver moonlight her guide as she broke free of the tree line and skipped across the rocks that formed a natural bridge to the other side of the pasture. Maeve lifted the plain brown of her skirts and felt the brush of the grasses against her limbs.
Those cursed grasses were what brought her to Master's meadow in the dead of night, an uninvited guest to be sure. At the fence she stood and glazed at the top of the hill and wondered if it was still there. Her hands grasped the wood of the rail and she stared. They'd come to this country with all the hope and promise of streets lined with gold. Instead, they'd found the same hatred and bigotry that lived in Ireland. Only here the cruelty was match with words that said "No Irish wanted".
But, they survived. Moving west, saving what they could to put down roots in this land, hoping against hope that for once, they might succeed. Determination lined her face as she crawled through the space and yanked her sack against her. She had to go on. Higher and higher she climbed, the damp of the night's dew soaking the hem of her clothing, but not deterring her footsteps. As she reached the top of the rise, Maeve paused, her heart racing. The breeze rustled the grasses exposing a ring exposing a ring of dark stones.
Hands trembling, she put down the sack and walked to each stone pushing back the grass, to trace the image of the white crosses glimmering in the moonlight. Fairy stones! Perhaps there was still a chance. A chance to turn their luck in the right way!
Rushing back to the sack, her fingers trembling, she drew back the rope and shook out the contents. Sorting through, she rescued the leather bound book and flipped through the pages of her gran's diary to the place marked with the single red ribbon. "An untouched maid, who dances her way among the fairy stones, may break the spell upon what unhappiness dwells and bring good luck to all." Maeve glanced around the field, and then looked to the candles. This was her chance, the courage of three generations of McKenna seekers coursed through her veins. The skin along her arms pricked. There was no turning back, not now, not ever. The curse must be broken.