For today I was given the topic of “Piloting the Iron Maiden plane.” I would love to do this! And thank you Ray for getting so creative with the theme (Both Ray and I have a shared heavy metal fan history that goes way back. Raawwwk!) The problem here is the simple fact that we have gone too deep and too dark into Emmeline’s personal journey for me to just whack her onto a plane with one of the greatest bands of all time and expect the story to hold. I toyed with a few different ideas for pulling the theme in, but in the end – well – I am a storyteller at heart…
(If you are joining Emmeline’s story today, welcome! It might help for you to begin here.)
Piloting the Iron Maiden plane. J R Manawa.
The sun crept higher in the sky, and still the snow continued to fall. With constant fervour the flurry buried the gardens of the little cottage and its thatched roof under a shroud of white. When Emmeline woke it was only because the sun had climbed so high it was shining in through the window directly onto her face. She was warm and content, buried between the thick animal furs and Charon’s body.
Again. Why couldn’t she fall asleep the other way? Against the arm of the couch?
It appeared that Charon had also fallen asleep, his head rested to the side, and one arm draped around her.
She didn’t remember that happening.
He must have felt her stiffen awkwardly, because he stirred and murmured, “You know, you don’t have to be so mortified every time we touch. I don’t hate you like that,”
Emmeline shifted a little, but he wasn’t ready to move yet.
“You still hate me though,” she replied in a quiet voice of protest.
He relinquished and lifted his arm, “I don’t.” he said, “I don’t know what I feel.”
Emmeline pushed herself upright and tucked her knees up under her chin. It was colder inside now, and she was still wearing the impractical little black dress from the outing to Soho. Her jacket she had thrown over the back of the couch, and her heels were lying discarded by the fire, caked in mud and grass from their early morning journey through the graveyard. It was only then that she noticed the stool beside the couch with a neatly folded pair of jeans and a t shirt. On the floor beside this was a pair of practical looking, well-used, black leather boots.
Pythia was still in the corner, still weaving industriously. The only sound to be heard was the constant click-clack of the loom, and the whizz of the shuttle flying back and forth. But it was a peaceful sound.
“I mean, you must have realised by now that I’m staying to protect you, right? If I didn’t care I would be long gone,” Charon continued.
“I thought you were staying to find out why your father was protecting me,” Emmeline reminded him, as she lifted the t shirt up.
“I know why,” he said simply, but wouldn’t say anything further when she pressed him.
She unfolded the t shirt. It was an Iron Maiden one. She smiled, she had been to an Iron Maiden concert once at a festival in the summer, they were probably her favourite band. “You know, I had a dream that I might be a pilot one day,” she said suddenly, “because I wanted to fly the Iron Maiden plane. Funny how quickly life can change. We allow ourselves to dream big and set monstrously impossible goals, only to find our lives can be cut down in an instant to the most simple of matters.” She sighed, “Now instead, my goal is simply to stay alive.”
“And what an excellent goal to set,” Pythia said, looking up from her weaving briefly. “I knew you’d like that t shit,” she added with a smile and nod.
As Emmeline came back into the living area from getting changed, there was a knock at the door.
Pythia’s head snapped up, and her body shifted back to that of a greyed old woman as she stood elegantly from her seat at the loom. It was only now that Emmeline realised her entire weaving had turned black over night. Gone was the pale silver masterpiece she had been working on. Even the floor around them had been filled with the black weaving, finer than silk.
“It has been a pleasure sheltering you my dears, even if our time was short, I have now played my part.” She set her sad grey eyes on Emmeline first, and then Charon as she said with certainty, “Now, you must be ready to run,”
“No!” Emmeline screamed as the old woman hobbled to the door and reached for the handle. Charon held onto her and hauled her toward the back door.
Pythia turned the handle with her frail, weathered hands, and the world outside went dark. The door opened, and the darkness exploded inward as the weaver met her fate.