Magic Potatoes

I think it was Victor Hugo who wrote “What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.” I wonder what he would have said had he known the rather tangled reality; where friends from my past come from my future. He would probably have expressed it better than I could. I hope Naurore comes to visit again as I think I would enjoy debating the problems of non-linear time with her.

Some history walked into the tavern this morning. The lady by the name of Cicely, or, as I now know, Cicely Wentworth of Alnwick, came in search of breakfast. I made her tea and toast, though I had to explain what the tea was. I would have explained coffee, but I do not yet feel comfortable operating that deranged steam engine device. In conversation, I learned that my surmise was correct about her origins. From the time and place, I suspect she is a refugee from the Wars of the Roses. She asked about the nature of Jasper Cove. Since she sounded to have had some education, I asked if she had every read any of the Celtic myths about people travelling to strange islands, or stories about people straying into the faerie realm. She had, so I told her to think along those lines. I made sure she understood that this was not faerie, although it shares some common characteristics. I also warned her that she might encounter beings she was not used to. I gave her some pie and booked her a room for the night, which seemed to please her, as I think she spent the previous night in the woods.

Later in the day, I found Aoibheann and Gwyn in the tavern, along with the mysterious falcon man. He still declined to acknowledge anybody but Gwyn for the most part. Later he did, but not in a way that gave me any confidence, making implied threats that Gwyn counted as prey because she was small. I gave him due warning that this was not acceptable. He ate some food, gave Aoibheann some gemstone or other and eventually persuaded her to go for a walk with him. I was not entirely sure about this, but, it is her life. And I think I gave him due warning should anything untoward happen.

Lalla turned up, looking as though she had spent the night in the woods. I directed her to the bath house and also said that I had some clothes that needed mending.

Brigitte came by. We spoke of various things from our joint past, including Anna. Now, I had just about managed to convince myself that the Anna here was coincidentally identical to the one I knew. However, Brigitte made some comments about the situation such that she believes it IS the Anna we both knew, but something is blocking her memories of us. I suggested that perhaps she could use her facility with memory to find out more. She said she had wanted to, if only she could get that ‘fucking werewolf’ out of the way. I had wondered about Emanuel. I asked what else Brigitte had been up to. Sadly, this seemed to include a visit to the bath house and scaring Lalla off. Maybe I should have warned Lalla, but I hadn’t thought Brigitte was going to be around. I warned Brigitte to go easy on the poor girl as she had only just arrived. I shall have to apologise to Lalla when I see her. Part of the conversation veered onto the subject of rank. Strange that here in Jasper Cove, where Brigitte is no longer prince, and there is no organisation of our kind to speak of, that she still insists on pulling rank. I let it slide for the moment. Sometimes there is no arguing with her. Later, she read something off the strange gadget she carries around and left in a hurry. She mad some comment about having to answer an email yesterday. I don’t know what an email is, but assume some kind of communication. I had to laugh at her wording though. It’s a phrase I have heard so often – “I need it yesterday” – and it occurred to me that, here in Jasper Cove, that might actually be possible.

There was talk of magic potatoes, and I was asked what the price should be. As the accountant, I decided that these should be 3 midari. Apparently, this dish involves frying fingers of potato in hot pork fat. A simple-sounding enough dish, that was apparently proving remarkably popular.

People gradually drifted away and I found myself, once again, alone in the bar. Some time later, in fact, after midnight (I do so easily get lost in a book), Lalla returned. She was apparently none-the-worse for wear for her encounter with Brigitte. I told her that I was sorry she had been disturbed and assured her that it wasn’t always like that in the bath house. I made her some tea and toast and we chatted for a while. She asked about my plans for the evening and I told her I had none; that I rarely made plans these days, and that I was most likely going to work some more on my book.

Now, I had noticed before, and while we were chatting, that she occasionally seemed distracted, that she sometimes seemed to address or listen to some unseen companion. At one point, after a one-sided argument, she appeared to make a decision and told me about it. She seemed concerned that I might think her an oddball. I assured her that this was unlikely, and that I already knew two other people on the island who appear to talk to themselves. She told me her unseen companion was called Adam and that she could not tell me more, for otherwise she would not be able to sleep. She could not elucidate if this Adam was an imaginary friend, something going on inside her head, or an actual invisible presence. I told her that she need not tell me any more if it made her uncomfortable and, addressing the space where she seemed to think Adam was, addressed him directly, saying that I was sure he wouldn’t want to upset her either.

She finished her tea and toast and we had a small rum each. Then she asked if we could maybe go for a walk. The tavern was deserted, so I locked up the cash box and walked with her, pointing out various places as we walked. At the viewing platform, I pointed out the small temple at the far end of the island and she asked if we could go there. That seemed to me to be an agreeable idea, as I have often gone there for a bit of solitude when writing. She seemed to relax more as we walked, and by the time we got there, she seemed somewhat freer from the interruptions and discussions with Adam. She even remarked on the quiet, and I sensed that referred as much to the absence of him as it did to the peaceful nature of the spot.

Then, she asked if I had anyone special in my life, a girlfriend or lover. This seemed a rather surprising question from somebody I hardly knew, but I answered her honestly that there was not. I told her that I had been married, but that I was a widower, and that I had been in a couple of relationships since, but circumstances dictated that these were not to be. She pressed me on that, so I told her about Alexandra, about Elizabeth and about Giada. I told her that these days, I seemed to have become much better at being the best friend, the older brother, than I was at being a boyfriend. I also assured her that I was quite content with that. She told me that she had lost friends too, then seemed to gather courage and said that she liked me, felt comfortable around me, and would like to get to know me better, when she wasn’t being distracted. I got the feeling that she doesn’t feel comfortable with people often. I told her that I would like that too, with a gentle warning that I was a product of my times, and that I might seem to have old-fashioned views at times. She seemed to take that on board. Then, she decided she would probably sleep in the temple that night, since it was so quiet – again, I suspect that Adam was silent here. I told her I would probably spend some time reading or writing nearby and agreed I would happily guide her back to the village in the morning.

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