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The procession slowly moved over the ridge past her house. They could not see her where she stood in the kitchen, holding a tea cup and shaking her head in disapproval. She'd never understand why they did not take the path. Why get your feet wet in the moss, disturb the wildlife and trample the rare Highland orchids hidden in the grass when there's a perfectly even asphalt stretch leading right up to the fairy ring? She watched the last robe disappear from view and rinsed her tea cup. Another half hour and the chanting would start which she hopefully could give a miss to begin with.

Later on in the car she briefly stopped on the rocky road that lead up to her house in the hills and looked down at their place of assembly. They've come here ever since the local newspaper had written a brief piece on the Archaeological Society who had discovered a perfectly round rock circle close to where she lived. Terms like picts and druids and Celtic and Gaelic had figured high in the word count and put her in a good mood. Later on that day she'd met Iain from the other side of the hill and while they grinned at each other through their respective windshields she knew also he remembered a sunny afternoon some fifty odd years ago when they all had dug out rocks from the grass and with the help of a broken fence post and fishing rope created a perfect circle that the teacher in the small village school would have been very pleased with. They had been learning about pi that week but nobody among the locals who knew minded to give the credit to the fairies, or the picts.

Once they unpacked the chalice and the candles she moved the car down the slope. There was shopping to do but even the small village store today was overpopulated by them. White and brown and black robes emptied the shelves while women who had robbed their Hippie mothers' closets for clothes, sometimes even with the mother attached, fed ice cream and sweets to grumpy children tired out by long journeys. Smirks on faintly contemptuous faces revealed the locals among the shoppers yet nobody complained. The visitors were tourists who left much needed money that would take them through the winter. 

Home again she could smell the smoke of the bonfires and took the washing in. The chanting was in full swing and also she had things to do. In another few hours somebody was bound to have sex in her garden which was less rocky and screened by a hill from the main activities around the circle - and she was fed up explaining to naked people who believed themselves to be encouraged by spirits that the tick season had started. The little critters were able to access orifices not even modern medicine was fully aware of, leaving behind deadly viruses and a different kind of insight into the afterlife than what the druids and their audience in the circle were aiming for. 

While boiling water for soup and tea she kept an eye on the sun. The chanting also had become more vigorous. After filling her flasks and grabbing some local whisky she was on her way, leaving the car behind but locking the house. She did not mind them, but trusting the strangers was a different issue.

She could see her daughter's car from the distance and sped up her walk. They met on the beach, the baby asleep in the car seat on the sand. The seaweed smelled badly of sewage and rot, keeping tourists and druids away in equal measures and as they found a spot in the breeze that would remove the stench from their nostrils the sun was disappearing into the water for a brief stint behind the horizon. Sharing her soup they listened to the waves rolling in, droning over the sound of distant chanting and evoking; and when the time was right the baby opened her eyes. 

Safely lodged on her grandmother's lap she experienced the shortest night of the year for the very first time; and while the sea whispered and the slight wind moved the tiny sand corns that the tide had not reached and glued to the strand during the day also she, like her mother and grandmother, could sense a stir in the atmosphere. Back in the fairy ring the situation turned decidedly more bizarre, and in the garden the first happy ticks fastened themselves on their hosts. Yet the three generations on the beach were unperturbed. Instead, the women shared the whisky and without uttering a sound they kept up silent conversations with the spirits while appeasing the ancestors staying inside of them - because quite frankly, where else would the ghosts of the past go on to live in comfort, as well as finding the fundamental peace and quiet needed to keep the balance right?

Created: May 13, 2017

Tags: solstice, story, prose, ticks, spirits, druids, remix

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