The Secret Castle

An abandoned Castle lies on the mountain peak a mile or so from the port village of Shoalhaven. It is surrounded by a Pine forest with thick Birch and Spruce trees. From inside overlooking the eastern balcony is a steep ravine that leads into the Mediterranean Sea. Outside, its bent towers skew into a turquoise sky. It has missing shingles that poke light inside its vast caverns like a kaleidoscope of what it wants to reveal. The interior of its many rooms and halls expand into what was once vast opulence. There are hidden stairwells that ascend and descend deep into the mountain. At the bottom of one, a large dome yawns over a platform where smaller boats can moor. There are openings in the rock where the ocean swirls around large boulders and amongst thick sea grass. Large fish from the Atlantic skulk past. Sometimes she stops to look at the fish; big, big fish, larger than her mother’s trawler. The ovals of their eyes shimmer and she sees her reflection in them.

She wanders upstairs in the tower rooms, with their desks and bookshelves.  One has many intricate glass ornaments. Another, large wrought iron lounges are covered in thick sheets. She picks up a brass goblet. Daylight glistens across its eight faces. She muses into the milky glare, twisting the goblet in her hand so the reflections animate. She sees reflections of her Mother and then her Father, an older man she later thinks was Grandfather. The goblet is returned and then the rank of fish scales in her overalls reminds her of the shimmering eye of the giant cod from below. She has left work undone back on the docks.

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At Your Service

Twilight in Nightcap National Forest had passed when I first saw him on the fence stump in my front garden.  He wasn’t trying to get my attention, though plonking my teacup onto the kitchen sink with a clang didn’t stop the strong feeling of presence. Something in his eyes made me look, and then again. He perched upon the old stump demurely, his scruffy thick fur and whiskers gently shimmering in the underexposed picture I was staring at. How did he do that? There were no stars, moon or magical tripwires set out tonight. Cats cannot glow in the dark. I blinked. He was grooming himself, the shimmering gone. I was reaching for another teabag when a deep, well spoken voice asked me if he could come in, if I would be so kind.  I peeked around the breakfast bar. The TV was on mute. I stole a glance out front. A swift glimpse into the swirls of my seeing-bowl. Nothing. I backtracked to the laundry to scan the yard. All was quiet. The Tom sat proud upon the stump, his brilliant black fur draped about his shoulders complimenting his white undercoat. He was very handsome. We eyeballed each other. Then he leapt from the stump and stood up on his hind legs. My mouth agape he swaggered on over to my door. Dumbstruck, I unlocked it. This night was most peculiar.

‘Felix, at your service,’ he announced with a bow, continuing right into my lounge room.

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