There is no beginning or end to a story; but rather a great many chapers, each chapter being a life that coincides with many others, so the tale can never be heard in its entirety. There are many parts of the story that are unheard of, some are referenced to, but have never been told. This is my chapter.
There is a plant I like to call lymph frond; a beautiful emerald plant that feels like silk running over your skin. Try grasping it and it slips through your fingers like water. It grows by the little lake of water, high in the forest, and it is so difficult to cultivate that only those who know how to hold it are able to keep it. That's where it began for me, with the lymph frond. On a warm morning, when the sun cast dappled shadows onto the forest floor and the nature around me seemed so alive, I ventured to my favourite place by that lake, where everything is so quiet and serene but alive. I sat still as the water's surface, my eyes closed, sensing the subtle movements of the world around me. The crawling plants, the scuttling insects, the soft breeze flitting through the air like a gentle wind of change.
And there it was; a sudden ripple, disturbing the surface of the water. I opened my eyes and there was another ripple, this time it caused a little splash. I stood up quietly and looked beyond the trees to find a young man, perhaps a little older than I, leaning over the lake, snatching at the lymph fronds. His hair was soil brown, his eyes were a stormy grey, he wore an expression of utter determination and vexation that sat so ill on a face used to laughter and merriment. There was something that drew me to him instantly, that I could not help wanting to go nearer. So engrossed was he in his task, he did not notice as I slowly approached and knelt by his side.
"You cannot hold it unless you let it go," I said, gently opening his clutched fists so the fronds lay on his palms. "They rest on the open palm."
The boy's unseeing gaze fell on his hands, then he looked at me.
"Are you one of the Fair Folk?" he asked. I shook my head and smiled.
"No. Just an ordinary girl," I told him. "Though I've no doubt that they're watching us right this minute."
He nodded in agreement, the lymph frond falling from his grasp at his movement. I held my hands under his and caught it, then began to weave it into a glossy ring, slipping it onto his finger.
"There. Now you can't lose it." He clenched his fingers around the the grassy circlet and nodded.
"Thank you," he hesitantly smiled in return.
The voice tore through the peacefulness, and the boy jerked to attention. There was the rustling of leaves, signalling that others were approaching. I stood from where I was kneeling and dusted the soil off my skirts.
"I better be going," I said, bobbing a little curtsey. But before I could turn, he grabbed my wrist.
"Wait," he stalled. "You've heard my name. I am Colum of Sevenwaters. What is yours?"
A son of the chieftain. I hadn't expected such an encounter. I withdrew my hand slowly.
"I am Niamh," I told him. "And I best be gone."
"Will I see you again?" there was a note of desperation in his voice. I hadn't found out why he seemed so sad. I realised I didn't like seeing that expression on his face.
"Tomorrow, perhaps." I replied, and was rewarded with the sweetness of his smile.