Nettle

This is my seventh piece for my tea-inspired December writing challenge, and part 2 of yesterday’s story.

The idea of the challenge is that you write for 15 minutes, using a word from the day’s tea sachet from my tea advent calendar. Today’s one is just squeezing into “today” (it’s gone 11.30 pm as I’m posting this), but I’m still on track!


So she bade him continue, and with the air of a conjurer – for all merfolk are apt to be showy in their ways, the handsome they are – he pulled from one package a fine purple shawl of softest lambswool and with all lacy edging around it, and spread it out on the bench beside the witch. Then, one by one, he placed the other parcels down.

“Ye can open them ones too”, said Kirree, “and mind you don’t crumple the paper.” For brown paper is very useful to a witch, for poultices and such – or even writing charms on, I’ve heard.

So Patrick set to opening the gifts he’d brought.

One was indeed edible – a handful of vanilla biscuits, all sweet scented and crumbly with sugar, and Kirree was of a mind to grant the merman’s wish straight away, for those were her favourite. But she could tell from his air that there were greater things to come, so she held her tongue, which is a fine skill in anyone and even more rare in a witch.

Next, there was a little bunch of woodruff and ferns, fetched from the woods around Silverdale and as fresh and green-scented as a spring morning. And then there was a fine old book with maps of all the countries in the world, with scenes from each land on the pages between, for Patrick knew that witches are great travellers, even the ones that never leave their homes.

And then there were just two gifts left – a tiny parcel of seaweed tied off with a bit of twine, and a fine large white envelope.

Kirree’s finger hovered over the envelope, but she read in the droop of his shoulders that she was to keep that one to last, so she pointed to the smaller present.

And Patrick placed it on her palm and pulled away the twine. Inside it was a piece of sea glass all worn smooth by the waves and never a hand to shape it, not since it had been part of a bottle many years since. Blue, it was, and you’d have sworn it was made as a likeness of Kirree’s own blue cat, just now sunning himself on the garden wall and waiting until such time as fish or milk might be forthcoming.

“Now them’s mighty fine gifts already”, said Kirree a little suspiciously. “So what is it you’re wanting from me that there’s another one?”

“Your… your pardon, mistress”, stammered Patrick nervously. “I’m not for flattering you without reason. Them’s all gifts right enough, and this last one is something of a gift, and something of a blessing, I’m hoping.”

And seeing that the witch was becoming impatient, he hurried on. “I’m to be wed next Saturday, and I’ve heard you can make it so the weather is fine for my bride. For she means as much to me as all the treasure in the sea.”

Kirree grunted and sat back on the bench, working the knots out of her back.

“Aye, that I can, and you’ve done enough thinking and talking before coming here to ask me, what with me favourite colour and them pretty flowers and me favourite biscuit and a little cat like my own fella there. So you go inside and put the kettle on and we’ll have a nice cup of nettle tea – for its wondrous good for the blood – and maybe a vanilla biscuit. And we’ll talk about your wedding.”

And three days later, Patrick and Cara were wed under the sea, and the water was calm and smooth as a mirror, and it’s said you could hear the singing and music clear up to Peel.

Oh, but you want to know about Patrick’s last gift to Kirree? Well, when he opened the envelope, it contained an invitation to the wedding. A human bridegroom would never think of bidding a witch, nor writing her name, but them under the sea have different ways. So although she’d been to many a wedding before, this was the first one Kirree the witch had ever been invited to. And go she went, wearing her purple shawl, and she danced that long and that hard that even the porpoises were tired trying to keep up with her.

Writing in action

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