Bush ballad

Silent hills of droving days
Along the bridle track
Hidden by September rain
He went to hell and back

Out where the west begins
Beyond the watershed
Under blue Australian skies
They found he’d lost his head

Along the track his spirit rose
An old mate by his side
Just another Australian myth
About red desert skies.

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The Witch in the Mirror – Part 39

A week later Bea bumped into Josh in the corridor at school. He was carrying his cello case as usual and it filled the corridor. She stood to the side so he could pass but he placed it on the ground and stopped in front of her.

‘Hi, Bea.’ His voice sounded a little shaky.

‘Hi, Josh.’

‘How is your ankle?’

‘It’s fine now, thanks. It was just a little sprain, I guess.’

‘That’s good. Ummm… Bea, I was wondering… ummm… would you like to go to a movie Saturday, ummmm, Saturday night?’

Bea felt her face blush red.

‘Oh, gosh. Sure, that would be lovely. What do you want to see?’

‘Oh. Ummmm… I’m not sure what’s on. Maybe we could just check it out on the night.’

‘Sure, that would be nice.’

Josh looked surprised.

‘Do you really mean you will come?’

Bea smiled. ‘Of course. I said I would’

Josh’s face brightened. ‘So —should I pick you up?’

‘Why don’t Emily and I just meet you at the theatre?’

‘Oh—Emily, of course.’ He looked quickly at Emily. ‘Yeah, okay.’

Josh picked up his cello case and flicked his hair behind an ear. ‘Well, I’ll see you later.’

Bea watched him walk away and as she turned Emily was standing there looking at her.

‘Hi, Em.’

‘What was that all about?’

‘Josh asked me to the movies. Why don’t you come too?’

‘Bea, you can’t double-date on your first date, and I don’t even have a date. Besides—Josh is gay—everyone knows that.’

‘What do you mean—gay—as in happy?’

‘Oh my god, Bea. What planet are you from? He likes guys—that’s what everyone says. You can’t date a guy that wants to be with other guys.’

Emily began walking away. She was getting teary and that just made her angry with herself. Did Bea know how she felt about her and Josh? She had watched Bea’s attitude change over the past week. Emily didn’t want to admit that it bothered her.

Gotta get my song on Triple J

Three o’clock in the afternoon
Teacher goin’ blah blah blah
A boy is waiting outside school
To take me riding in his car
I get a text from Anna
Says she’ll meet me at the mall
But the only thing I want to do…

Gonna get my song on Triple J
Win Unearthed High
Play a gig at One Night Stand
And blow this town sky high

Triple J – Trip Trip Triple J

Homework can wait till tomorrow
Gotta get this beat laid down
Unless that boy can play some bass
I don’t need him around
I get a text from Anna
Says she’ll meet me at the mall
But the only thing I want to do…

Gonna get my song on Triple J
Win Unearthed High
Play a gig at One Night Stand
And blow this town sky high

Triple J – Trip Trip Triple J

* Triple J is a youth radio station in Australia. Unearthed High is a competition for high school bands and performers. I’m still working on the music for this song, imagine a cross between Taylor Swift sweetness and Macklemore passion!

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 38

Rogan was a tall, solid man. His thick black hair curled to his neck and framed his rugged but handsome face. He was a shepherd and spent the summer months with the flocks on the mountain pastures while dreaming of the maidens in the village. The time would soon come when Rogan would take a maiden of his own and settle into one of the cottages of Nangle Farm. As a married man he would get privileges that weren’t available to the single men.

He watched the girl from the edge of the crowd. She intrigued him. After that initial shock when he realised she was a witch he had found himself more and more drawn to her. That first vision had been several weeks ago and lately he found he couldn’t stop himself from watching her through the trees as she fetched her pail of water each morning.

Now it was the May Day dance and all the neighbouring villages had gathered on Nangle common to celebrate the spring solstice. All of the young women from the villages were gathered in a circle around the maypole. With colourful streamers in their hands they danced with the spirit of life – body and soul celebrating the renewal of the Goddess.

Ailis’ face was glowing with rapture as she pirouetted lightly behind the other dancers. Her white gown floated like a butterfly in the breeze. Her voice rose and fell as she moved around the circle.

Rogan moved to the other side of the square and climbed on the wheel of a cart to get a better view. From his vantage point he could clearly see Ailis’ face framed by that auburn hair that entranced him so much. It seemed that energy flowed from the centre of the circle through each of the dancing women. The watching crowd was also affected by the energy and groups of young men began to be filled with desire for love.

Ailis was giddy from the emotion and energy that filled her. The colourful crowd spun past her eyes with dizzying speed. Gradually the dancers slowed. The chanting of the crowd grew louder. Ailis was breathing heavily as her footsteps came to a standstill with her arms outstretched like a cross. In one hand she held the ribbon connecting to the maypole. The other held a posy of flowers. Ailis looked up to see clouds swiftly passing the crescent moon. The stars nearby were shaped like a silver wheel. She felt the joy bursting in her heart.

Ailis lowered her eyes until she was suddenly looking directly into the face of a young man standing on a cart wheel. For a moment his eyes locked on hers and she felt of thrill of electricity run through her chest. She quickly looked away.

The young woman beside Ailis was laughing as she grasped her hand. Her eyes were bright, framed by blue-black hair that curled past her shoulders.

‘Which of the young men do you have your eye on, Aily? I feel tonight I will be blessed by the Goddess.’

Ailis blushed and looked at the ground.

Whispers

Don’t ask what I’m thinking
about the world where I live
I don’t care where it is
how that wall came between us
what made us weak were whispers

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 37

The day of the fireworks started out fine and sunny after a week of rain. Late in the afternoon people began to gather on the lawns in front of the school. The ruins of Pemblebury Castle provided a medieval backdrop to the night’s entertainment. A stage was setup in front of the school steps and the band members were slowly arriving and unpacking their instruments.

Emily and Bea spent the afternoon wandering around the shopping centre before going back to Emily’s apartment to get ready. Neither bothered to dress up so it didn’t take long to have showers and then get back into their usual clothes.

The two girls walked the couple of blocks to the school and Bea could already hear the band warming up as they came through the school gate. It was a mixture of orchestral instruments and modern electric guitars and drums. The air was filled with the sound of excited chatter punctuated by instruments being tuned. The notes from a piano solo drifted on the breeze to where Bea stood with Emily looking for a spot to put a blanket. She wondered if Josh would be there with his cello. The sound was kind of cool and Bea found herself relaxing as Emily found a spot on the grass toward the back of the square.

Emily spread the blanket on the ground and then sat with her arms cradled around her knees. She turned and smiled as Bea sat next to her. ‘I’m really glad we came, Bea.’

‘Yeah, me too.’ Bea smiled back.

Emily rested her head on her knees and she hummed in time with the music. The band had launched into a rendition of ‘Running in the Shadows’ and the sounds of electric guitar and drums filled the air. Emily watched Bea’s curly red hair spilling over her shoulders and wondered about the reason Bea had asked her to come.

Emily touched the locket around her neck. She could feel it tingling and it gave her confidence. A small smile danced across her lips. She felt the chill in the air against her arms but the warmth radiating from the locket kept her from the cold.

She looked over the crowd. Anar and Heather were sitting amongst a group of boys. They were drinking from plastic bottles but Emily guessed what was really in there. Anar was wearing a short black dress. Her shoulders and arms were bare. ‘She must be freezing,’ Emily thought to herself.

Bea turned and saw Emily’s darkened face. She laughed, ‘What are you thinking?’

‘Nothing.’ Emily looked away. She couldn’t look at Bea anymore without feeling butterflies in her stomach. She wished she hadn’t come tonight after all.

Heather and Anar walked toward them, whispering together. Anar laughed as she stopped in front of Bea and Emily.

‘Shouldn’t you witches be home boiling your faces in a cauldron?’

‘Yours is the only face that will boil.’ Emily’s face glowered. Bea touched her arm.

‘They’re not worth it, Em.’

‘Come on, Heather. Let’s leave these lovebirds to themselves.’

Bea’s face went red and she quickly pulled her hand away from Emily’s arm. Emily blinked back her tears. This was becoming the worst night of her life. She hugged her knees tighter and rested her head on her forearm. It still tingled from where Bea’s hand had touched her.

‘Don’t worry about them. They’re just evil.’

Overhead the sky began to fill with darkening clouds. Bea was worried about her friend’s mood swings. She seemed to be getting gloomier than ever lately.

Bea closed her eyes and let the music wash over her. She lost track of time. Then she felt Bea’s fingertips accidently brush gently against hers. It was like an electric shock ran up her arm. Emily quickly opened her eyes but Bea was still in the same position, rocking in time to the music. She looked down at her hand on the blanket. Maybe she had just imagined it.

Emily glanced at her friend’s face again, trying to guess what she was thinking. Floodlights from the stage cast a shadow across half her face. She followed the direction of Bea’s eyes to the stage where Josh was sitting with a cello between his legs. The music slowed and the electric guitars were replaced by a slow and sensuous rhythm on the cello. Emily ground her teeth together. She felt depressed again. If only she could make that love spell work.

Josh was bent forward and long curls tumbled across his face, just the way he looked in the music room. The tune reached out to Bea and she felt each note punctuating her breathing. Suddenly she realised she was standing and swaying in time with the music. Emily watched her from the blanket for a moment and then stood and joined her.

Bea looked at Emily and smiled dreamily but she didn’t smile back. Her eyes looked sad, but Bea didn’t really give her another thought because she was so absorbed by the music coming from Josh’s cello. Suddenly she felt herself floating again. There was mist and she could see the mountaintop from her dream. The dark-haired woman was holding her hand out to Bea. ‘It’s time. We need you.’ And then she was falling, falling, falling.

‘Bea, are you okay?’ Emily’s voice sounded concerned. She was near tears.

‘I guess—I just fell. I think I need to get a drink of water.’

‘You stay here, Bea. I’ll go and get it for you.’

Before she could protest Emily had disappeared into the crowd. Nobody else seemed to have noticed her falling. She sat on the blanket and tried to control her breathing. Then she heard a cough.

‘Are you okay?’

Bea looked up to see Josh standing above her.

‘Oh, yeah. Sure. I’m fine.’

‘I saw you fall from the stage. You were just dancing and then suddenly you were on the ground. I thought you might have hurt yourself.’

‘I’m fine. I guess I just tripped.’

Josh knelt down on the grass beside the blanket. ‘Your ankle looks swollen. Do you mind if I have a look at it?’

Suddenly Josh’s fingers were gently lifting her foot. ‘Does this hurt?’

‘Ouch, yes.’

‘I don’t think it’s broken. You must have twisted it as you fell.’

Bea could still feel his fingers around her foot and she looked up into his eyes. She felt a sharp shock run through her body.

‘I got you a drink, Bea.’ Bea looked up to see Emily standing there with a bottle of water. She wasn’t smiling anymore.

‘Oh, thanks, Em. You remember Josh—from class?’

‘Yeah, sure. Hi, Josh.’

‘Why don’t you join us?’

‘Oh, thanks, but I have to get back. I’m on again soon.’

Emily sat back down on the blanket as Bea watched Josh disappear into the crowd. Emily handed her the bottle of water.

‘What was that all about?’

‘Oh, nothing, I guess. He said he saw me fall.’

‘So why were his hands all over you?’

‘I hurt my ankle. He was checking it out.’

‘Yeah, that’s what it looked like.’ Her voice was harsh.

‘What’s the matter, Em?’

‘Nothing. The fireworks should be starting soon.’

Emily brought her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around them. She wished they had never come tonight.

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