21.11.11 | By: Megan Langham


So, some time ago, Rachel suggested that I commemorate Mairead's birthday by posting a novel-excerpt written from her point of view. Mairead is the protagonist of my NaNoWriMo novel Days of Entwining, if you haven't gathered that yet, and the seventeenth of November was her birthday. Was, because I missed it. Bother my treacherous memory.

I still like this idea, however, and I've decided to go through with it even though it is a bit late. This excerpt was written about a week ago, and though it's not typical of the rest of the manuscript (being noticeably deficient in dialogue, for one thing, and rather dramatically o'erwrought for another) it is the most self-contained and reasonably sized Mairead excerpt I could find. Also it shouldn't require any extra context. And it wasn't edited, because during NaNoWriMo editing temporarily becomes the eighth deadly sin.

Have at thee.

le excerpt

Mairead had risen even earlier that morning than was her wont; earlier certainly than Rowan, who would gladly have slept until the noonday meal if he had been given a choice in the matter. Her sleep had been restful, her dreams pleasant, and now all she needed to prepare herself for the day was a sunrise walk along the shores of the sea. This walk was something of a tradition for herno, more than that, a ritualand though it was only a short way it was unutterably refreshing. Even in the winter mornings, when the winds pierced like cold knives and the very sunlight seemed frozen, Mairead merely wrapped up warmer, walked somewhat more briskly, and returned to her home in the highest of spirits.

She had never understood her fascination with the sea. It called to her like a living thing, sang to her with a voice of its own, melodious and mysterious, enchanting. She loved it in all of its moods: storm-tossed and angry, gentle and melancholy, cavorting and sunlit. Almost, too, she feared it, with a dread beyond the natural fear of a drowning death caught unawares.

"You came to us from the sea," Emma had told her from earliest childhood. When she was very young, she had imagined herself rising from the sea-foam in a oarless boat, her tiny form wrapped warm in a blanket and Rowan beside her, holding her hand. Later, of course, she knew better. She could still remember the moment when Father Aethelwald had taken her apart with Rowan and told them about their mother.

Eagerly Mairead drank in the story of a young woman, alone in the ungentle arms of the ocean, tossed by the cruel fortunes of fate who had doomed her to die with her child's first breath. It hurt with a good, tender ache. Afterwards she had tried to imagine what her mother must have been like: how her laugh must have sounded, how her touch must have felt. She had resembled Rowan in colouring, that much Mairead knewbut black hair, blue eyes, and pale skin went only so far to describe a person. Perhaps sheMaireadhad looked like her father. Like her brother she was pale, but her eyes were more often grey than blue and her hair was a rich brown tinged with redthe colour of ale in the autumn, Brother Eosa had called it, waxing poetic.

Mairead was content enough to imagine her mother and father, but the same could not be said for Rowan. Ever since the first moment of discovery he had asked question after question ("What age was my mother? Did she say what my father looked like? Did she say where they came from? In all the time before she died did she ever laugh?"); and when he had exhausted the monastery's small store of relevant knowledge he took to brooding in odd places and saying his mother's name aloud at intervals. As the years passed he gave this up, but Mairead knew him well enough to sense that he still wondered, and the wonder still hurt him.

All the same, the life Rowan led was a remarkably contented one; and though Mairead could not always say as much for herself she had to admit that she was happy. Lindisfarne did not perhaps grant her everything she longed for, but it gave her everything she needed. Sometimes she wondered what had kept Cynewulf away from the island for eight years entire before he came back. When I leave, she thought, if I leave, I will not stay in another place for long. Lindisfarne will always beckon me back.

But deep in her heart, where the foreboding rested, she knew that she would never be content with her life until she had lost it, given it up of her own accord, traded it in for a different and harder existence. And the sea called to her, restless and fevered, and the premonition of pain ached again in her soul...

4 missives:

Rachel and Sarah said...

Bravo! Hurrah! Oh Megan, I do like Mairead! :) Thanks so much for letting us celebrate her belated birthday! :D What a peachy-keen idea, this Lindisfarne! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Megan, this is a beautiful little snippet. Thank you for this peek at Mairead. ^.^

Megan Langham said...

Thanks very much, Katie and Rachel, for your kind comments! You are both so encouraging. ^.^

(Though I'm beginning to think my readers like Mairead better than I do... O.o)

Keaghan said...

Megan, I wanted you to know that I tagged you on my blog. :)



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