Keswick, England – July 2004
Somewhere around here is a stone circle. I walk down a narrow, stone fence-lined path. The hiss of cars drifts to my ears on the breeze. The Lake District is a country for walking, and yet it’s hard to get from place to place without a car. I fill my lungs with air that smells of cut grass and cow pies. The fog that’s been hanging around in my brain for weeks dissipates a little.
A cluster of cows breaks apart and approaches the wall as I pass by. Their demeanor is territorial. Almost menacing.
I stop. “Hello,” I say in my cheeriest voice.
They push against the wall and snort. I get the feeling that they would trample me if they could.
It’s been a strange summer.
A few minutes later, I come upon the circle. Other visitors weave in and out of the stones, which are smaller than I expected. However, the backdrop of mountains and valleys makes up for the circle’s modest size. This is my first stone circle. I’d take it over Stonehenge any day.
As I slowly circle the circle, the events of a few days ago enter my mind. I was in Kendal on an errand. It was around noon and I was walking down one of the main streets looking for an address. My head spun with hunger, and the fog was so thick in my brain that I could barely focus. I wouldn’t let myself eat until the errand was finished. The sidewalks were thronged with people. I was most certainly scowling. My foul moods are always connected to lack of food.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman standing between two parallel parked cars. In her outstretched palm she held some large, jagged amethysts on a soft blue cloth. She could have been forty-five or fifty-five. She was dressed in a beige pencil skirt and matching mesh sweater. The sleeves were pushed up to her elbows. She wore beige pumps on her feet. Her hair was equally beige and pulled back into a sleek ponytail. Her pale skin was dusted with sand-colored freckles. She had long, skinny fingers and a French manicure. She wore no jewelry.
“Who’s going to bring me luck today?” She said out loud. She scanned the passersby and then fixed her fierce blue eyes on me. “Maybe this lady with the lovely smile.” She moved towards me.
“No.” I growled. My scowl deepened. I shook my head and quickened my pace. People who want something always seem to gravitate towards me. As if I have an abundance.
Her voice rose. Forceful words in some strange, gutteral tongue hit me.
I wheeled around and our eyes locked.
She nodded once. Her eyes bored right through me. “Good luck.”
I turned away and shook my head to try and clear it. I took a few more steps, and then turned around once more, but she had vanished.
Here and now, clouds begin to converge over the mountains. Shadows flutter over the slopes. I’ve heard that the barrier between the world of the living and that of the spirits is more porous in Great Britain. Good luck is not such an evil thing to want from someone. However, I haven’t got any to spare right now. I walk past the final stone and draw the circle to a close.