Browsed by
Month: May 2017

Did I Say Done?

how often should i text someone i'm dating

I didn’t feel it was fair to just abandon this blog, or the Mountaineers, I just needed time. Cole took a few days off and we’ve just been spending days and nights together. Not being obsessed with magic or secret societies or spells. Just being normal people. Who like each other. 🙂

He’s the kindest, most sincere person I’ve ever met. And passionate. About life, and his work, and art. And me. And I’ve just been basking in that light and figuring out how to share more of myself in turn.

We’ve been in the city a few times. Visited museums, seen shows (Dear Even Hansen had me in a puddle on the floor) and been to some lovely restaurants. And we’ve carried one another back to Hoboken after soppy night in loud bars, meeting some of Cole’s friends. He’s a bit like me, a few close mates, but not what you’d call an absolute load of friends. Quality over quantity.

We even went to The Cloisters. I’m not sure why but I wanted to go. I wanted to be face to face with the unicorn tapestries. They’re stunning, and all the more haunting once you know their secret history, once you know about Anne of Brittany and her court of artists and the secret paths of wool and silver. How her body was protected in death by materials from a secret tapestry.

After the museum we went back to Cole’s. I needed a nap and Cole had some reading to do. I fell asleep in a snap and dreamed I was watching myself being pulled apart like Anne. My body, my bones, my entrails, my heart. I woke up in a cold sweat.

And then something occurred to me. I felt like I’d been bowled over by a tidal wave. I rushed out, to the train. I only vaguely sensed Cole behind me, running to catch up. I had to get back to the city. I had to get back to the brownstone.

Out of everything that happened over these past months, everything I experienced, the thing that stuck with me was what Colby told me in Montreal. Not the memory… It was what he said after. How he could sense that my heart was already guarded.

I felt so stupid, taking offence at that. Obsessing over it. Stupid and young and naive. How dare he tell me I couldn’t open up, or love, or care. I wasn’t guarded. I wasn’t walled up.

It felt like he’d looked into me and saw an insecure teenaged girl and I was embarrassed and angry and frankly, defiant. Not to say that these past weeks with Cole were retaliatory. If anything, they were me allowing *myself* to be proven wrong.

I’d left Cole’s in such a frantic rush I’d forgotten to bring the keys to the brownstone and we had to climb in through an unlocked window off the fire escape. I rummaged through the clothes I’d left behind and finally found what I’d come back for.

Colby was right. My heart had been guarded. Just like Anne of Brittany’s.

The dream had reminded me how Anne’s heart had been buried, on a bed of wool, beneath a veil of silver, but also what Monica had sent along with my dad’s journal last year.

My father had left behind, in the attic of the house I grew up in, the journal yes, but also a wool scarf and a silver hippocampus pendant. Remember this photo?

Was I reaching? Searching for meaning in nothing? Or had my father left me the last two tapestry artefacts from Anne’s story? Hidden in plain sight now as two objects you’d find boxed away in any attic. Two objects that would mean nothing to anyone, except for the sentimental value they held for me. The last remnants of my mum and dad.

Was Colby supposed to tell me that about my heart? Was that another part of the path? Are these what my mum and dad found at the ends of roads?

And if so, what the hell was I supposed to do with a scarf and a necklace?

I had a long, hard moment of doubt. My cheeks were hot and red, embarrassed that Cole had rushed after me, back to the city, all because of some wildly farfetched idea.

After everything I’d been through, everywhere I’d gone, as resoundingly as I’d said I’d given up, I needed there to be something more than the memory of my parents crumbling into the past. There had to be more.

Was there? Or was I wishing the path to continue?


But if it was all in my head, why had someone suddenly started knocking on every door in the brownstone?

The Door – Part Three

The Door – Part Three

They searched the world together for years, my parents. They never found what they were looking for, but they’d found each other.

Finally, my mum went back with him to New York and they married. Again. (They were first married in a half-buried temple somewhere in India, but he wanted to make it official.) But deep down he was devastated about the broken roads and sank into a depression. He was haunted and had become convinced there was a world beyond this one. One where magic wasn’t just parlour tricks and weak glamours. One that was calling to him. I was born in 1992 and it wasn’t long after that he left to search for something and didn’t come back for nearly two years. My mum and I were taken care of financially, but aside from the few times he came home, longing and listless, she was a single mother.

The last time he came back, before my mum died, something had happened and he begged her to bring me and come with him. He said he’d found “the little red house.” The one from her dreams. We’d be safe there. Happy. But she refused. She said he would never be still, content. He would always be searching for something.

He tried to take me away that day. He almost carried me out of the flat, but my mum, using some object my father collected a long time ago, cast a dark magic on him, wounding him. He lost part of himself that day, and so did she, all to keep me. Her health began to fade. In a year or so she was gone.

I did travel with him once in the end, to Ireland, to Aunt Monica, when my mum passed. But he left me there and I never saw him again.

Then my father worked with the other six to cast the spell on me. To protect me from his own madness, or maybe the truth. Then he built the new road with pieces of the old, in case I ever came looking for it. Should I ever grow up and see past what was cast on me.

The last memories in the book were murky. Disjointed. He tried over and over to get back to the red house but he was pursued by something. I couldn’t see the house or his pursuers, only that he realised the only place in the world he would be safe was at the center of “the eighteen gates.” Central Park. He seldom left, and quickly returned when he did.

He was trying to do something. Find the truth. But he was being hunted. And the pursuit, the confinement, combined with whatever my mother did to protect me, drove him mad.

That was it. The story was over.

Colby and I sat there in thick silence. He held my hand. We watched the clouds, people passing…

After a few minutes I asked what happens now? What’s the next step? He shook his head and told me this was the end of the path. This was the truth I’d been seeking.

I couldn’t believe it. There had to be more. Something hopeful. Something… magic. It couldn’t end like this, in tears, and heartache. My parents devastated by this search, only to lead me to a dead end.

Colby said he’d also searched most of his life for the truth. And in that search he found his calling as a firefighter, and his beautiful wife, and their sons. He said sometimes it’s what you find on the path, not at the end of it, that matters.

But I didn’t find anything. I asked about the doors, the knocking… He said many have heard it in their lives at one point or another, but he thinks it’s an echo of whatever used to be at the end of the roads. Part of a spell that no longer works. It’s nothing now.

I was openly crying in the park at this point. Colby had tears in his eyes too. He said he would ease my pain, if he could. He would stay my heart, but he said my heart was already well-guarded.


Guarded and cold and lost.

I had to go. He told me I could always call him if I needed anything. But I was so done with all of it. The path. The madness. I needed real. Tangible. Touchable.

I needed Cole.

I was on the next train out of Montreal. I got back to New York and didn’t even stop at the brownstone. No more path except the one that led to Hoboken, which is where I’ve been for days. I refuse to let my life slip by because of myths and spells and lost books and journals.

And writing that is when it hit me. Just now. I left the journal in the park in Montreal. Maybe partly on purpose. I don’t know.

I want real. I want a life. And love. I want what my parents could never have because they never left that broken road.

For my own sake, and for the memories of Sullivan and Aisling Green, I’m done with The Monarch Papers.

The Door – Part Two

The Door – Part Two

He immediately grabbed me in a massive hug and I have to admit it was a bit of a comfort. He told me his name was Colby Fortin with a lovely French lilt and he said he’d been waiting for me for a long time.

We walked together, out of the museum, toward a park that looked onto the river. He told me he was a firefighter and his wife was from the West Indies, and while she loved Montreal, she had family she missed further up north but he couldn’t leave until he’d fulfilled his promise to my dad. I had a thousand questions but felt I was about to get answers I couldn’t even imagine the questions to, and I didn’t want to do anything that would ruin the anticipation, what felt like a profound moment. We walked together, close. He smelled like herbs and grass and maybe even flowers. There was a chill in the air that day but it felt warm near him.

We sat on a bench in the lush park and he asked if he could see my dad’s journal. I handed it to him and he held it between his hands. He warned me that he was about to perform magic. I asked if he was worried about the other people in the park but he told me that all that’s possible in this world is “mundane magic.” Magic that must be spoken, plotted, often performed in groups, which barely registered on the visual spectrum, and regular people seldom noticed that sort of magic.

He said he was about to perform a kind of communion magic mixed with a modified version of tome kindling. He began to recite a spell, in French, interjecting every now and again to explain something to me in English. He said all the nonsense writing in the journal was actually a hidden story that could only be heard by someone whose mind and heart were bound to it. He told me “Sully” had given him permission to hear it as well. Colby was going to “ignite” the book, experience the story firsthand, and then share it with me, acting as a buffer for the power. I was shivering I was so nervous and excited.

After a few moments he laid the journal on the bench and offered his hands to me. I put mine in his, they were extraordinarily warm, almost fevered. And I was suddenly overwhelmed by a rush of… knowing. That’s the only way to describe it. As if memories filled in all sorts of empty places in my mind. As if someone told me a story years ago and I was just remembering parts of it.

Colby started to speak, saying what he’d just remembered and without realising, I started responding, filling in places he couldn’t recall. Together we had learned the truth.

My father was already aware of, or at least believed in magic when the printing house burned down in 1979. He saw something in that fire, almost died in it actually. I’m not sure if what he saw was a realisation or an actual thing, but it was the inspiration he needed to pursue the truth about the world.

On his journeys (I could only “remember” moments from it) he found a sort of coven, a group of six friends who’d been performing magic in secret. Colby was one, and Ishi, who turned out to be the curator who kicked me out of her house in Tel Aviv, was another. They taught him what they knew, but he couldn’t stay with them. He wanted more. And he’d become fascinated by the lost history of the old houses of wool and silver that had originated in Anne of Brittany’s court. He felt there was a hidden connection pulling him to that story.

He spent years hunting down works of art, following the path of wool, while learning more and more about magic and collecting magical artefacts. He’d come to learn that he was sensitive to ‘wells.’ Places (and sometimes people) in this world that still held objects and scraps of power from the old world, hidden from the magic that wiped away all magic.

And at a crossroads on his path he met my mum.

She was also looking for the end of the roads. She had followed the path of silver around the world. They continued on the path together, and fell deeply in love.

Whatever was supposed to be waiting at the end of the roads had disappeared a long time ago. But where they crossed, my parents had found each other. Because of that crossroads, I was born.

The Door – Part One

The Door – Part One

There’s so much to get through, and I’m still processing it all. I may just post it in pieces when I’m able.

I went to the museum first thing the next morning (well, not first thing… I found a little cafe that had what was probably the most amazing cheese croissant that has ever been created, but I digress) and I was the first one into the exhibit.

It’s beautiful, eerie, and wonderfully presented. A city beneath a city. Dark and cool and quiet, like a tomb.

The clue mentioned ruins below a city in the new world, and the north, and “carved from the living, if only one could listen,” and “it marks the end of the path.”

I felt certain I wouldn’t find anything down here on the “path of wool” but there were loads of carved objects, ceramics and tools, I just had to find the right one, the one that might mark the “end of the path.” Something carved from the living, which made things a little more difficult. I was thinking maybe a book bound in leather?

And then I heard it. Knocking. Faint. Not loud and forceful as it had been in Israel, but almost plaintive.

More and more people had arrived and it made it hard to hear, the knocking was that quiet.

But I found it. Not a door. At least not one that anyone had recognized as such. At the end of a long hall was a wall built of bricks or stone, jutting out of a rocky outcropping. The end of the path? The “living” bit didn’t quite make sense, until I got closer…

The bricks weren’t made of stone, they were carved from wood.
A hidden door. Unseen. Leading to some undiscovered area of the old Montreal. I stood listening, still. Until I worked up the nerve to do what I wished I’d done in Cape Town. What I should’ve done in Tel Aviv.

I was going to to knock back.

I approached the wall, but in the dark of the moody museum I hadn’t noticed that the entire wall had been ensconced in glass. Unreachable. Unknockable.

There had been no mention in the clue of a feeling I was supposed to trigger so I’d assumed it meant that this was it. This is where I was supposed to go to learn the thing I was supposed to learn.

And here I was, completely stymied by an inch-thick sheet of plexi.

I asked an attendant if the glass had always been there and she said she believed it had been.

The knocking was getting more and more faint as I myself lost hope in the search. As I slowly started to realise that something had gone wrong. Not with the trail, but with me. Some fundamental thing I was meant to learn. Some enlightenment I was meant to gain, but hadn’t.

I took a step closer to the glass, put my hand on it. Who was knocking, and now fading away? Part of me wanted to believe it was some piece of him. Calling me on to the next step, the next phase, like a game a father might play with his young daughter. Hiding from her, knocking on a door, and when she came close he would run off to hide somewhere else. But in the end she would find him and he’d scoop her up and hug her and they’d laugh that she was ever scared at all. It was all just a game.

The knocking stopped.

That was it.

I didn’t need to look in the journal. I could feel it. My heart sinking with all hope that anything would come of this. I’m not a treasure seeker, a truth hunter. A brave adventurer. I’m not my father.

I turned to leave and walked face first into the sternum of the tallest, most mountainous human being I’d ever seen. Before I fell backward he took me by the shoulders, gently righting me before I stumbled.

I looked up at his big bushy mustache which stretched across his face as he smiled down at me.

I apologised, embarrassed, and he sort of set me down and nodded. And then he apologised. I shook my head, saying I was the one not watching where I was going.

But then I noticed on his forearm, a tattoo. The symbol of the Gossmere guild.

He said that he always told himself that if he ever saw me again the first thing he’d say was that he was sorry. Sorry for not coming to find me, for keeping his word to my father instead of trying to protect me. Sorry for his part in the spell that hid me away.

Knocking Back

Knocking Back

I’m in Montreal. Long story. Unpacking (literally and figuratively.) I’ve just landed, but I wrote this on the plane:

The curator finally called me back after a week of messages. She said she wanted to meet at her house, not the museum. It turns out it had taken her a week to get the page out without anyone noticing. She said she’d been following the page from museum to museum. She said she’d been expecting me, hoping I’d turn up someday. Oh. Okay. Nothing to worry about. Nope.

She brought me into her office when I finally got there (I had the cab leave me at the bottom of the hill so I could walk up and then I promptly got lost for an hour.) where she’d laid the page on her desk, covered in a thin film.

The image of a pale demon. It was creepy, but I wasn’t crawling out of my skin. I didn’t want to pull the journal out in front of her so instead I asked what she meant when she said she’d been expecting me.

She told me she knew my father. And he told her to expect a call someday about this page. I was gobsmacked. I had a thousand questions that all revolved around *Why did he do all of this?*

She couldn’t tell me. She said no one knew what “Sully” was up to in those last days. He was frantic, driven. She said I probably knew more than anyone else by now. (She would be incorrect.) She told me she could see him in my eyes.

She excused herself and while I was alone I looked through the journal, hoping for a new clue. I mean, I’m the one who knows the most about everything, right? I’m the one with all the information. Nope. Nothing. As far as I know not one single step closer to the truth. Or the point.

She came back and said she thought she’d heard someone at the door but when she opened it no one was there. I didn’t think anything of it until something started knocking on the closet door behind her.

She turned to it and then back to me and the look on her face sent a chill running all over me. She asked me what I’d brought into her house.

She told me I had to leave, but I refused. I was essentially begging her to explain any of this, to help me, help me find the truth, but she pushed me out of the office, out of her house, every door knocking as we went. I walked to the main thoroughfare and the knocking followed me. Every door in every home. The faster I went, the louder they got until I screamed, and although I don’t fully remember I basically collapsed in the street, dropping my bag, skinning my knee and frankly bursting into tears. I couldn’t do it anymore. If this was a trial or a test, I failed it. I couldn’t be whoever he wanted me to be. I couldn’t find whatever he wanted me to find.

The journal had fallen out onto the pavement and I thought very seriously about leaving it there and going home. And then I remembered Mon.

Cole knows this, but I left NYC not only because of what happened, but also because Mon is sick. She has dementia. It came on suddenly. I mean, she was more and more distracted, forgetful… I thought it was funny when she misspelled her own name on a letter to me a few months back… but it’s gotten much worse the past few months. But she didn’t want to tell me. And then she couldn’t remember me. A family friend had phoned to explain everything, so I ‘d rushed back home to her.

We were on the banks of the Ralty one afternoon, she still loves being outside as much as she always did, and she was holding my hand. She looked at me and said I looked different since New York. There was a light about me now. She said she’d had her doubts, but following my father had been the best thing for me.

That was a moment of clarity both for her and me. That all this, as tough as it was, was a positive thing, the right thing to do, and that moment with Mon set me pursuing the path in the journal. I wanted to be there with her, but selfishly it was too hard to watch this beautiful, vibrant person fade away. So I followed the journal.

And I was about to quit. The doors had finally stopped knocking. I picked up the journal. And inside was a new clue about a ruined city. A clue I immediately knew the answer to because I’d been planning a trip to see The Pointe-a-Calliere Museum and the ruins of old Montreal.

And below the clue was a note from my father. The first entry in his journal that wasn’t a cryptic, mysterious clue. Just a note to his daughter.

“Don’t give up.”