A short collection of short stories

As a teller of tales, I often take stories I have heard, or read and like the Soul Sculptress in the story below I breathe new life into them. I cannot share my written versions of these stories for I was not the one who birthed them but I will share a few of my own. Bear in mind that the short stories I write are created for traditional oral telling, which is very different to stories that are intended to be read. 

An ongoing series of informational entries

The Mechanical Heart by Rowan Morrison

February 14, 2018

The little bird seemed ordinary in every way, except inside her feathered body she had a tiny mechanical heart made of gold. But her yellow heart had grown rusty, for she was kept inside a small cage by a lonely man. Although it was furnished with beautiful trinkets to keep the bird happy, a cage is still a cage no matter what it holds inside.


One day the lonely man forgot to lock the cage and upon seeing this, the little bird felt a cog turn in her golden heart and a faint flutter in her feathered breast.Then she heard a soft whisper on the wind that said, “little bird with the heart of gold, fly once more before you grow too old”. So, she hopped outside her finely furnished prison and felt another cog move inside her breast. Then all at once, every bit of her tiny mechanical heart began to move, to twist, to turn. Then a small joyous sound, flew out of her beak and disappeared into the night.


Something very strange was happening to the little bird, something very strange indeed. She looked around for the lonely man, but he was nowhere to be seen. Dare she? Could she still fly? She remembered the what the wind had told her, with a beat of her tiny wings she flew off high into the sky. What a glorious feeling, to be finally free. To do what birds do best, to fly, fly, fly. 


On that wondrous night she flew so high she visited the man in the moon who told her stories of old. Then she visited the silver stars who sung her long-lost songs. It really was the most magical of nights. Perhaps that is why the little bird didn’t feel the pain grow stronger inside her mechanical heart. So, she flew ever higher for she wanted to see the creator and thank him for her feathered wings. But her wings grew heavy and her tiny heart grew tired until they both finally stopped beating. 


The body of the little bird fell back to earth and landed beside the cage that had been her home. No life left in it, for once you have escaped you can never go back inside. 


The next morning, the lonely man came with seeds for the little bird and cried a solitary tear to find her dead. He plucked a red feather from her breast, then buried her in his favourite part of the garden, before he went out to buy another little bird to keep in his cage.

The woman who loved an Oak tree by Rowan Morrison

February 14, 2018

This story began with an acorn, who grew into a tall oak tree, with roots that touched the heart of the earth and branches that reached up to the stars. For this tree was the son of sky and earth, grandson to the moon and sun. A more magnificent tree there never was.


Each leaf that grew upon the great oak, contained a poem from the heavens. All who touched the leaves were blessed with the gift of thoughtfulness, so the wonder of the words could flow through the hearts of human beings, like blood flows through the veins of a body.


It happened on a certain day in early Autumn, that a lonely silver-haired woman passed by the tree and stopped to take shelter under its great twisted branches, but as she lay her battered and bruised body against its trunk, something miraculous happened. The leaves began to fall and covered her in a blanket of warm poetry.


She slept safe and content for what seemed like a hundred years, wrapped in the brown blanket of invisible words. She awoke to the gentle sound of the first acorns falling from the branches of this wonderous tree. It was then that she felt something stir inside her, something so deep and forgotten that at first, she was not sure what it was. For she had known little kindness in her life, but this feeling was unmistakable, for there is no other like it. LOVE. It was warm and joyful and despite all she had endured it made her soul smile.


Then she felt a kick, when she looked down at her swollen stomach, she saw that she was with child and knew that she would never feel the pain of loneliness again. She thanked the Oak tree for the miracle of creation that grew inside her and promised to love him like no other in return.


Before the winter came, she built a shelter beside her tree husband with his fallen branches, made fire from his kindling and fed herself and the new life inside, with the invisible words that were written on his leaves. She wanted for nothing, safe and secure in the arms of the great oak tree.


The child was born the next spring, as you might imagine this was no ordinary child. For its mother was a mortal woman and its father was the king of the forest. Its skin was rough like bark and its limbs shaped like little roots and branches. This miracle wooden child brought magic and hope back to the world of mankind.


Time passed slowly, and the woman lived beyond her years. When she took her last breath, the silent oak wept for he was full of sorrow at the passing of his grey-haired wife. But his grandmother the moon, saw his sadness and shone light down upon the lifeless body that lay beside his huge trunk. When the moon beams touched her human skin, the woman was transformed into a silver birch tree, so the great oak could live till the end of time with the once mortal woman who had loved him dearly. 

The Enchanted Pearl by Rowan Morrison

February 14, 2018

One day in June a lonely woman stood on an easterly shore and cried seven tears into the cold dark sea, for the cunning folk had said that this was the way to call out for a selkie lover and she was finished with mortal man and his cruel ways.


The sea washed away all the sorrowful tears, except for the last one that had rolled down her wet cheek. This final tear contained the wish of love. It was so full of longing that the sea mither who ruled over the seas during the time of summer, took pity on the woman, turned the tear into a precious pearl and washed it ashore on the island of the woman’s ancestors. Where it was found by a quiet man who worked the wind-swept land of her long-time dead kin. He too had cried many salty tears, for pain had knocked at his door more than once. Over the years he had learned to swallow them back down, and all his hopes and dreams had drowned in the little loch that grew inside the place where his heart once was.


Than one ordinary day, he saw something shimmer in the shallow summer water, picked it up and held it gently in his rough hands. Instinctively he parted his lips and gently kissed the pearl. It was then that something very strange happened. The woman who had called out for a selkie lover felt his warm soft lips on hers even though they were divided by the gaping sea.


The man took the pearl home and wrapped it in a bit of tweed that his grandmother had woven before her fingers became crooked with age. He placed it under his pillow for safe keeping but that night he dreamt of a woman who stood crying into the sea. To begin with he never saw her face, just her long silver hair blowing over it in the salty breeze.


Each night before he slept, he unwrapped the pearl and kissed it tenderly before putting it back under his feather pillow. At the same time the woman who once wished for a seal coated lover, felt a tender kiss upon her lips. Her mouth was warm to the touch after this kiss from a formless lover. It was so real that she could taste his sweetness on her lips long afterwards.


Visions of the crying woman continued to fill his dreams. Each night he saw just a little bit more of her face. On the seventh night, the north wind blew away her long silver tresses to reveal her pale white skin and blue-green eyes that were full of sorrow. That night he dove into her eyes and swam in her scarred soul for what seemed like a lifetime. It was then that the man who was of little words, fell in love with the woman who appeared nightly in his dreams. He knew her pain, for if you remember he had a little loch inside him where his heart should have been.


He was so deeply in love with her that he could not wait to lay his head on his pillow. The woman longed to feel his warm kiss on her lonely lips. This dreaming and longing went on for seven months until the summer had given way to the autumn and the autumn gave way to the winter and the earth was about to become a maiden once more.


He could wait no longer, so it was then that the quiet man took the enchanted pearl that was wrapped in the woven cloth and set out in his boat of skins to search for the shore that the crying woman stood upon in his dreams. He knew that she must be real, and he could not ignore the calling in his soul. But the sea mither who warmed the oceans and calmed the storms that took the lives of many a fisherman no longer ruled over the waves. It was still the time of Teran, the spirit of the winter sea whose anger could be seen in the mountainous waves that crashed against the island’s coastline.


As you might imagine, the coracle was no match for the cruel winter waves that coveted yet another life. The little boat soon overturned, and the body of the quiet man sunk to the bottom of the sea to the place where the selkies reside. Just before the last breath left his body the enchanted pearl rolled out his pocket onto the sea bed. A big bull seal swum over to investigate and gazed into the pearl. He saw the deep love that existed between the two humans, so the seal decided to grant the gift of life to the man from the island. But this gift came at a price, the cost was the death of his humanly body before his soul could be born again as a selkie.


For seven long years the woman felt no tender kisses on her fleshy lips. She became lost in a lonely world that was emptier than before. Each morning she stood on the easterly shore and cried more tears into the salty cold water but was given no warm kisses in return. The vitality that once coursed through her veins was ebbing way with each tide that passed. Her face old but still hauntingly beautiful and each furrowed line upon her brow told a tale of hardship.


Her tears began to dry up, she could no longer cry seven tears, some days she barely cried one despite the pain that lived inside her being. Her time in this world was coming to an end and she was at peace with that. The world had turned full cycle seven times since the first kiss one day in June. She sometimes believed it had all been a dream created by her longing to be loved and held.


Despite her doubts, she summoned the strength to walk down to the shore outside her cottage. It was then that she saw a colony of grey seals bobbing about on the water. This sight brought joy to her sorrowful eyes. She run her fingers over her thinning lips and a memory of warmth and tenderness rippled over her ageing flesh. To her surprise seven tears rolled down her cheeks and fell once more into the cold sea.


Then she closed her eyes and made a final wish, but not the same wish she had desired for such a long time. This time she wished for an end to her suffering, she wished the sea to take her body and grant her freedom from a tormented life. When she opened her eyes, she was floating gently down to the bottom of the sea bed. Her body cradled by a young grey seal with a shiny pearl around his muscular neck. The seal brushed against her lips. She felt a familiar warm tender kiss of love that had once given her hope of happiness. She gazed into his dark eyes and knew that what she saw back was soul of the man who kissed an enchanted pearl and loved her in his dreams.


Just as life had been given to the quiet man, the big bull selkie gave life to the mortal woman and she was reborn into the body of a female selkie. So it was, that the man who had a loch instead of a heart and the woman of seven tears, lived out the remainder of their time in their seal skins. For their love was like no other, it was a great love of ages that overcame even death itself, for true love is indeed both sacred and eternal.

The time of first snowdrops by Rowan Morrison

February 14, 2018

To begin with the omens whispered softly through the long summer grass, ripe with seeds. Then they spoke through the golden autumn leaves, as they began to fall thick from the trees.


Still the woman refused to listen until winter came, and they screamed from the bare brown earth beneath her feet, the stormy sea that surrounded her home and the grey sky above the fertile land that she and her ancestors had lived upon since the ice had melted long ago.


Almost driven insane by their never-ending wailing that gave her no quarter, the seer finally surrendered to their wisdom. Knowing that she could hide from the dark omens, or the unwanted message they brought no longer.


It was then a quiet peace washed over her troubled soul, resigned to the impending doom of what would come to pass when the lambs would begin to bleat in the time of first snowdrops.


She spent the remaining time with her husband, he would often ask why her bright eyes held such sadness. She never replied, turning to wipe away her tears, telling him to ‘hush’ as she gently run her fingers threw his salty white hair. Savoring every moment, for the blanket of snow that once lay thick on the ground was now melting and their time together had almost run dry.


The night the first lamb was born, was the night that the man with the salty white hair died in the loving arms of his bonny lass. ‘Fare ye weel, ma ane true love’ was all she said, as she kissed his cold brow and laid a posy of snowdrops on his plaid covered chest. 

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