A short story for spring
A Tale of Two Towns
The couple winding their way down Glastonbury Tor were in colourful contrast to the middle aged couple, in their matching National Trust green anoraks, marching up the hill. She wore flowing skirts in every hue from lilac to violet and her Peruvian hand knitted jacket brightened the grey afternoon. He wore trousers of a rusty, rustic indeterminate material and a greengage green jacket lovingly hand woven by her.
‘I can’t believe it’s nearly Beltaine’ she said.
‘No,’ he replied ‘if this weather doesn’t warm up I can’t see new life arriving anywhere.’
She shivered ‘I’ll be glad to get back to a nice warm cosy yurt.’
‘We’d better get a move on or the kids will be back.’
‘No they won’t Hengist,’ she smiled ‘Flint’s got maypole practice after school and Amethyst’s going round to her friend’s yurt.’
‘Well Aurelia, it should be a very cosy yurt.’
‘What’s for dinner Mum?’ yelled the children as they arrived back later.
‘Five bean stew and ground elder crumble; call your dad while I check if that wool’s finished steeping.’
Aurelia reached the reclaimed animal trough in the corner of the field as Hengist climbed carefully over the stile.
‘Only three eggs today, Hetty and Lotty could do with some sunshine as much as the rest of us.’
‘What do you think of this colour?’ she asked him, peering into the trough.
‘Looks the same shade of green as the last lot.’
‘I’m going to try making some new dyes in the summer, berries are going to be in this year.’
After dinner they settled down for a quiet family evening.
‘Has anyone seen my crystals?’ sighed Aurelia.
‘Help your mother look Flint; Amethyst, time for flute practice.’
‘Dad, will you play your lute?’
Later as the children settled down to sleep the parents chatted quietly.
‘Did you read that letter Flint brought back from Miss Fairweather, Hengist?’
‘Yes, I think we’d both better go and see her. The only one with a problem is her. She was glad enough when he got the boys interested in maypole dancing, just because he explained the origins of the maypole… anyway, how was your new patient?’
‘She was a funny soul… I said to her
I’m alternative and herbal, not homeopathic, I do strong doses…no there’s no need to worry about hemlock and digitalis if you know what you’re doing.’
‘Old Bob said to thank you, his arthritis has hardly bothered him this winter, he’s going to recommend you to all his friends. Maybe you can give up your Saturday job now.’
‘But I’ve got to liking it and we needed that money over the winter.’
‘Now I’m hedge laying again there’s no need’ he pleaded.
‘I do like it Hengist, getting dressed up, having a laugh with the girls and it gets me out of the yurt.’
On Saturday morning Aurelia walked down to the town with her large hand woven bag over her shoulder. As she got on the local bus there was a musical tinkling from her earrings and bangles. She greeted other locals and after driving to Street they soon arrived at their destination, ‘Clark’s Shopping Village’.
She entered the Ladies and went into the disabled cubicle where there was more room. Carefully she took off her jacket of undyed local wool, rolled up her burnt orange and berry red skirt and slipped off the leather sandals Hengist had made. She stepped into her uniform, squeezed her feet into court shoes, gathered up her black tresses in a neat bun at the nape of her neck and finally put on a subtle pink lipstick and a suggestion of eye shadow. Aurelia walked out ready for a busy day at Mark’s and Spencer’s shopping outlet.
‘Hello Linda,’ said her supervisor ‘Till Four today.’
On Till Three her friend greeted her, caught her up with the latest gossip from the soaps and passed on her celebrity magazines. After a busy morning they went off for lunch at the restaurant.
‘It’s only once a week’ said Aurelia as she ordered a ‘megaburger’ with extra French fries.
I regularly put some of my ‘shorter’ short stories on my website www.ccsidewriter.co.uk
This tale was inspired by a visit to Glastonbury, Somerset; you can walk up the Tor or saunter around the town, it is a place full of old legends and New Age ideas. In contrast, nearby Street is a pleasant town, but dominated by the shopping outlet village.