The Lad Who Was Gone
This is a song of a lad that was gone. Say, could that lad be I? Glory of youth glowed in his soul, where is that glory now? All that was good, all that was fair, all that was me is gone. Give me again all that was there, give me the sun that shone... Give me the eyes, give me the soul...
Give me the lad that's gone.
It stairted on a night that should've been th' end o' everything itself. When I would say goodbye to all I'd struggled to cope up with these last years o' my life. But by that time th' following day I was to be free to go wherever I myself decided. That was what made this freedom so sweet. After today when th' last embers o' th' bonfire would wane, th' moon fall, and th' last bears drunk...no one was to tell me what to do anymore. But back then I couldn't imagine th' radical way I was to leave my farewells.
At th' fabled stone circle o' Creag an Dùin, or Craign na Dun as it was known commonly, where everything paranormal from witches to every possible supernatural creatures have been spotted at th' darkest hour o' th' night for hundreds o' years, my story began. It was totally ordinary evening at th' start o' October, on which a few friends had decided to gather together to celebrate. But when I say ordinary and a few, I mean that it was th' night o' my graduation party. And more than a few, if those numerous uninvited guests I'd never met were taken into counting, exactly dozens o' adolescents assembled for th' best party o' th' year. Dancing around a huge bonfire, not even one remaining sober when th' air was filled with laughter and out o' tune sung folk songs.
I was but two days away from graduating from Inverness College. Th' school I'd never wanted to attend, but to which I'd settled for to avoid final disowning from my old man. Or at least that's how mom had always described my sacrifice and discarded dreams about my future. But if ye asked me, now on th' day I'd realized that choice to bring no reward for me, I regretted those decisions which had brought acceptable peace o' mind to dad only. And peace to our home when our continuous quarrels had finally stopped. See, dad had wanted me to follow his footsteps like any good son would, and most definitely hadn't given a thought to my opinion about the matter. As it didn't matter, my pity towards mom who always got in middle o' our arguments then finally causing me to meet him halfway. So that's what Inverness Collage was, my compromise. I was allowed to study to become something else than a doctor, but I had to do it close home. But no one had said anything about living here. All th' holidays and study leaves I'd spent far away from Scotland. Now at 23, I'd come to hate the highlands where I was born and raised.
I was loitering at th' other side o' th' glade, working on a decent intoxication with a fresh bottle o' cold beer, as watched th' guys from my class stairt to dance *Tulloch. All so badly plastered after th' hours o' partying that without music and th' sound o' bagpipes their performance became nothing but frivolous attempt o' finding th' correct steps without falling. Me finding myself laughing at th' sight so much that my stomach started to ache, my hands joining th' clap o' th' rest o' th' audience gathered around th' dancing lads, everyone singing at th' top o' their lungs a certain old drinking song. Th' ridiculous tune and jolly atmosphere luring many to join th' lot dancing around th' bonfire, me included, me gulping down th' drink and throwing th' bottle into th' fire. Dashing to my friend Josh who was about to start a freish verse after a swig from his own bottle, us exchanging a grin as I stole his turn, numerous other plastered voices uniting with ours as we tulloched our way around th' fire like those druids told in many tales about this place. Reciting our own chants, but which didn't wake but our inextinguishable desire to drink and rampage till th' first light o' th' morning. Like true Scots.
Even these days, many feared Creag an Dùin for its reputation connected with many missing people who'd last been seen nearby th' stones. Said to have heard th' ancient chant o' th' druids that carries through th' stones, following it, stumbling upon a passageway to a time beyond our own. Never to be seen again. Or at least that's what my great grandmother used to tell me every night while going to bed, among other folkloristic hooey surrounding that place. Claiming to have known a woman who'd disappeared here around th' time th' second World War had ended.
So because o' such tales th' elders of our town had been spewing for centuries till this day, this hill had been associated with witchcraft and other occult incidences. Keeping th' people away, some parents warning their children from approaching or they'd vanish for all eternity like those several people who'd climbed up here along th' years. And there still were tales about rare nights when some say to have seen lights appear between th' trees at th' verge o' th' stone circle. Slender forms o' women dancing and singing in th' darkness around th' cleft stone. But my generation lived in present time and didn't believe such rubbish, me the least. Knowing from experience that only ones who visited that ancient cluster o' plain rock, were youngsters who came here to drink. To party, this place serving for that purpose quite nicely as it was about a mile away from town. No need to fear for a sudden visit from th' police, who had th' reputation o' giving th' last call to rowdy parties such as this.
But a bonfire party isn't a real one until some stories are shared, me indeed releasing a deep amused sigh as after ten minutes o' tipsy clamor in form o' many songs I sat down. Seeing how Meghan, a girl I knew to be but a freshman in Inverness Collage but who had gotten invited nevertheless with many of her classmates, leant forward. Starting that expected nonsense.
"I've heard there are gatherings held up here during th' nights o' full moon", she stated, excitement in her voice as she looked around th' people sitting on th' nearby logs. "I read somewhere that during Middle-Ages and much later, some women used to come here and perform rituals in th' light o' th' moon."
"And they've been seen too. My sister told me to have snuck up here and seen lights come from th' stone circle, women dressed in white standing here and singing in Gaelic. She said that for a moment it had seemed like this place would've been transported to another time, th' circle bathing in daylight", Meghan's friend, Selena added, turning thoughtful. "I wonder are th' tales aboot those disappearances around here true too."
"And these 'druids' ye're talking about are also said to perform cannibalism and human sacrifices too in Celtic folklore!" Tom McCoullagh cut in, in mock, earning a leer from th' girls with his as high doubt as mine. "Yer sister saw nothing but some broads playing witches. Oh, I ken, maybe they actually decapitated a cat to contact their master!"
Allison, Tom's girlfriend gave him a smack on th' shoulder to stop his smirking. "Ye're disgusting, stop that!"
"But there's also those stories, about people who have vanished without a trace after entering this circle. My great-great grandfather was told to have seen how a lost child run up here, but when he followed to take her back home, he found but her ribbon beside th' cleft stone. And she was ne'er found, until a day 80 years later when during a walk a couple came upon a elderly woman. Collapsed beside th' cleft stone, explaining how she'd been taken into another world when she was but a girl."
"Every family around here has at least one of such tales to tell about this place! It's not real, just some superstitious hogwash."
"What do ye think, Kieran? Is there something eerie going on at this hill?" Aubrey, my ex suddenly questioned behind my back, me turning to see her sit doon next to me with a amused smile. Lifting her eyebrow at me, me then releasing as amused breath and shook my head efter th' fleeting feeling o' discomfort her face had created in me.
"Honestly? I think none o' those rumors and stories are true. Those people who are believed to have vanished here have totally natural explanation for their disappearance."
"How can ye know that, huh Kieran?" Michael Murray inquired, leaning past Aubrey to give me a teasing glance which I returned with a casual quirk o' brows. "Have ye actually sat doon at th' edge o' this circle, keeping an eye in case o' witches or those broads appearing and waltzing aboot, chanting?"
Laughter rose among us as I nodded sideways, rolling me eyes, snatching Michael's beer and took a swig. My voice full o' sarcasm as I replied. "Aye, ye said it. I saw it myself, nothing eerie going on here."
"Weel I think this place holds much mair than we believe!" Selena said, smiling, looking up at th' stone cleft with many others ower th' fire. "This place is very old, and has many secrets to tell. Ye say whatever ye want, but I believe that there still are some who honor old traditions and come here. To dance in th' moonlight and pray for a good harvest."
"Did ye mother tell ye all that crap?" Tom asked, Selena gasping. "Because she's one o' those zealots, isn't she, sneaking aroond here at nights butt ass naked. Calling for higher power."
"Okay, break it up guys!" I exclaimed then, finishing my third beer so far, and to break th' formed tension tossed it into th' bonfire again like was my habit. Eyeing at th' people, lifting my arms. "As this has been told to be my party, I'm telling ye to forget these campfire tales and get wasted. Get wild, or every one o' ye who doesn't honor th' traditions o' tossing off and occasional hooking up, I tie to these stones to wait for th' full moon and th' witches."
New gale o' laughter erupted from their lips as they took my advice, scattering to get drinks or to fetch some food to fry in th' flames, me aboot to do th' same. But was interrupted.
"Kieran! Oy, Kieran!"
I came to a halt as heard th' familiar voice call oot to me, but which wasn't that familiar for me to fathom to whom it belonged at first. My eyes searching among th' crowd, until they finally hit on a guy who stood oot from others with his dark skin. My lips curving up into a grin as I saw him wave at me, making his wey toward me among th' dancers. Him however not needing to reach me as with a couple of strides I was with Waylon, embracing my childhood friend. Him releasing a laugh as delighted as was mine, tapping my back. I hadn't seen him in years. He'd been one o' those lucky ones to have managed to leave this miserable town to study abroad.
"There he is, my man! I've looked all over for you", Waylon said, separating from me and taking in my several years older self, which had probably changed from that 18 year old lad I'd been th' last we met. "It's been too long! How are ya?"
"Much better now when I got to see ye!" I replied, as weel eyeing at him for a moment, until inclined my head. Beckoning toward th' cleft stone. "Come on, let's get ye something to drink."
I opened th' lid o' my cooler and snatched a pair o' bottles, handing th' other to Waylon after opening th' corks with my fingers. Myself taking a seat on th' cooler when Waylon took his place on a log. Us catching up with each other lives, topics changing from this and that thro' girlfriends and future plans back to th' old days. When we'd been kids, and I didn't recall last time when I'd bothered to look that far in my life. But that was all to change when someone pumped up th' volume o' a portable speaker, those folk songs changing into more modern form o' music as th' latest hits o' Enrique Iglesias started to echo at th' vicinity. Us listening to th' changing, miscellaneous lyrics all telling a story about sex, and all that would've been considered culpable by grandmother's mother to be played at a place such as this. She'd been a woman who truly believed those tales told about Creag an Dùin.
"Seriously man, who came up with this playlist?" Waylon asked with incredulous half smirk as Rihanna's S&M hit th' air, finishing his beer, sending me a questionable glance after eyeing at th' lassex glued to th' lads at th' grassy dance floor as I instead rose to get us seconds. "I hope not you, as I hear this is your party."
"I don't even know half o' these people", I revealed cheerfully, th' alcohol silencing my vent-up frustration towards my life enough to put me on party mood. I pointed at everything which was going on at th' stone circle, shrugging. "This might as weel be my party, but I don't even know who originally organized this whole thing, or who was responsible o' inviting certain individuals I swore to never want to meet again. Someone probably put an announcement on Facebook about this."
"Oh, so there's someone you wish not to meet here?" Waylon questioned, his tone hinting as he instantly stairted to gaze aroond. In search o' that certain individual I spoke o' in particular, me sighing. "Where is she?"
"Forget it, there's so many lasses here that I'm wishing not to bump into 'er any more than necessary."
"I hope ye aren't talking about me."
I closed my eyes briefly, nae wanting to turn around and look at Aubrey who'd appeared yet again as if called ower, being indeed th' last person in th' world I wanted to talk to right now. Waylon's gaze first turning to take in 'er long, dapper demeanor with too much make up on, 'til I gave in and turned. Giving 'er a slight smile as she stepped closer, batting 'er eyelashes at me and doing everything in 'er power to make me interested. Fat chance.
"I would ne'er be talking about ye", I answered, my smile widening. "It's always nice to have ye around. No party without ye."
"In that case…" she said, 'er smile widening too, Waylon letting oot a whistle as she started to move in th' rhythm o' th' song all o' a sudden in a wey which certainly would've shocked my grand grandmother. Me shaking my head once and breaking into even bigger smile as followed 'er start to dance for me, indeed doing 'er best to have me entranced as came closer, twirling. In th' end sitting on my lap and kissing me. And I can't deny that it didn't feel good, me becoming once again a slave to my habits as my hands rose on 'er waist, pushing under 'er shirt a little to caress th' slim o' 'er back until they fell back to smooth her bare thighs. It wasn't very clever move to wear tiny shorts during fall, but at that moment I wasn't complaining. But no matter how satisfying her tongue was in my mouth I came aware o' that tiny feeling or reluctance, that urging me to push 'er away from me. 'Er however not noticing me to be unwilling as oor stare lasted, 'er simply smiling delighted and smoothing th' short cut hair on my temples, her fingers soon moving to tamper with th' long wisps gathered to a clean coiffure at th' top o' my head.
"Remember how much fun we used to have back then?" she asked, yearning for th' time that was already lost to us. To me, meeting my gaze as I leant my head against th' stone. Nodding, flirt in my voice as replied.
"Aye. Who could forget?"
"I'm gonna give you some time to rekindle your fun", Waylon announced then after th' fleeting pause in th' conversation, smirk inhabiting his lips when he rose. Letting oot a laugh as I sent him a soft glare, throwing a pine cone at him. "See ya later, man!"
My haun dropped from th' wave, juist as Aubrey took it. For my confusion pulling me on my feet, taking me away from th' bonfire. Behind th' stone cleft which was wide enough to hide us from th' others. Stopping right in middle o' it, turning to me. This time slightly despondent expression on 'er face.
"He's right, Kieran. Now when ye're about to graduate and move back here… we could pick up from where we left off. Have as much fun as those years ago", she suggested, 'er fingers this time moving to pet th' leather o' my biker jacket. Sweet smile on her lips. I returned it with carefree one, taking a step back. However not bringing to 'er knowledge how much I detested th' idea o' moving back home.
"We're awready having plenty o' fun. Like last Sunday, at my dorm."
Aubrey bit her lip as I quirked a remarkable eyebrow, me seeing from her eyes that she was to be even harder drag than I'd deemed. But I hold back any signs o' irritation, still wearing that rascal like smile she had come to know the best. And swoon ower. She sighed, shaking her head.
"I ken that, but… Can't help o' wanting something mair."
I stared at 'er my face blank, however grimacing inside, th' song conveniently changing into a sappy declaration o' love. I'd been afraid o' something like this, ever since we'd accidentally met at a Starbucks line a few weeks ago, and started to meet every noo and then. Oor relationship being nothing more than what I called innocent fun we both enjoyed, but there she went. Demanding more, which I most certainly wasn't planning on giving. And that in mind I noo saw 'er to smile almost beaming, turning around a wee. Pointing at a small engraving on th' stone, causing me to sigh as 'er haun pressed against th' initials scratched on th' coarse grey surface.
"Remember what ye said back then?" she queried again, turning emotional, slowly meeting my gaze. "Do ye still think that wey? Do ye luv me?"
There was a slight pause as my memory reeled back to that similar night such as this some years ago, a bonfire party, when we'd sought solitude from th' shelter o' this stone after two months o' going out. Th' setting being very familiar with this, us alone, standing and staring each other in th eyes. Words o' love exchanged one to another, though halfhearted on my part. Th' truth resurfacing once again when Aubrey was again standing in front o' me like that night, expecting expression in 'er brown eyes. Demanding me to say it again as if it were th' only truth there was, th' truth she saw right. Th' difference atween noo and then indeed being that back then I'd had my head all in making oot with this lass who was in reality rather bonnie, but right noo like any other lass o' this party. So maybe it was th' obvious drunkenness bringing oot my usual traits o' a playboy this time, but sighing deep I smiled at her. Pushing back that gnawing aversion and instead let th' momentary delight take ower when I leant doon. Placing my lips on 'ers, my arms bringing 'er closer as 'er embrace was much mair eager than mine. Me keeping up th' appearances for a minute until broke away, smiling, making a nod.
"Aye, I remember", I admitted, seeing th' happiness which lit Aubrey's eyes when they hold mine, me then turning 'er to 'er left. My finger this time touching th' carved letters K and A within a clumsily carved heart, 'er then watching me to take oot a pocket knife. Th' very same I'd used to make that tiny indication o' affection to assure th' same as now. "This is th' proof o' my feelings as long as this stone stands here. I care for ye, Aubrey. Now and always."
I hold back a flinch as she jumped forth to hug me, submitting and placing my ain arms around her once mair. To offer 'er that sense o' security with my gesture she sought as a confirmation to my juist said words. And it worked, 'er placing 'er head on me shoulder.
"I ken ye do."
I let oot another sigh, gazing into th' darkness which spread around Creag an Dùin. But a sudden flash o' what I deemed as a flashlight caused me to frown and I separated Aubrey from myself, narrowing my eyes to see was there someone walking in th' dark. Aubrey following my gaze as confused, me noo spotting several other beams o' light to appear only a few meters away. But before we could make anything o' it, abruptly people showed up to th' stone circle. Definitely not invited, a warning about their arrival enlivening th' party to a whole other level.
Th' gate-crashers in uniforms started to bark oot commands with authoritative tone when th' music stopped playing as if cut, me releasing a curse when I saw a pair o' men dressed in black and yellow jackets to walk past us, total mayhem breaking oot when th' arrived police officers drove th' quests o' my party into panic. Everyone trying to clear oot o' th' stone circle as quickly as they could, me not being an exception.
"This is police, stay where you are! Halt!"
I took Aubrey's hand and started to run, pulling 'er forward and saved 'er from getting caught by an officer we slipped past. Me hearing his voice demanding us to stop as we dove into th' crowd o' running youngsters, Aubrey dashing to fetch 'er purse from 'er group o' friends where I met with Waylon and a couple o' other oor mutual mates. Laughter o' excitement actually erupting from oor geggys as we then started to run. Away from witch hill as fast as we could, th' exclaims o' th' cops soon starting to fade as we kept on going. Everyone scattering and heading for their cars or homes, me smirking th' whole journey downhill and further as my heart beat against my chest due to th' adrenaline pumping in my veins. Oor group o' four finally arriving to Waylon's car, which had apparently been parked to safe distance away from Creag an Dùin. Behind a large bush juist next to th' edge o' th' forest, us spending a moment to listen had any o' th' cops managed to follow us there. Evening oor breathing. But there was indeed juist silence, oor heaving breaths being th' only noise in th' dead o' th' night. Owl crying somewhere close by, but otherwise we were alone.
We started to laugh, patting each other's backs with a quick handshake before prepared to leave. Angus and Ellar waving us goodbye and due to their route soon merged into th' shadows o' th' woods, Waylon opening th' car and nodding towards it.
"Need a lift?"
Hell yeah I did. Even my house wasn't that far away and I could've made th' journey easily on foot without breaking a sweat, I had to admit that maybe mom had been right for not allowing me to take my own car oot. In truth I was quite drunk, and in no condition to be driving anything besides a bus. I noticed it myself very weel while in Waylon's car, feeling sick, and not juist yer normal car sick for a few times. Begging for not vomiting as opened th' window, breathing in th' chilly night air 'til Waylon turned his truck to th' driveway of my childhood house. Giving me a smile as killed th' engine.
"Manage to get to th' door ok? You're quite hammered man."
"Shut up", I replied, smiling, stealing a few gummy worms from a open bag atween th' seats. Lifting my haun for a wave, cranking myself oot o' th' vehicle. "See ya around!"
"You know it. I'm in bad need of your maw's fruit cake!"
I followed him reverse that monster o' car oot o' th' narrow gate, finally turning around. And after sending me one mair cheeky smile with a wave too he drove off, me turning my eyes to take in th' old family house which was in such great need o' a renovation that it seemed to stairt to crumble doon a brick by brick. Irritation resurfacing when I thought about th' sermon I'd most likely receive from dad, if he was still awake. Me hoping for contrary as didn't want to listen yet another lecture o' my moralist father, whose speeches surpassed even those given at church every Sunday in both quantity and delivery, especially as former alcoholic. Me releasing a sigh as prepared for th' heated encounter with my old man, digging oot my keys from th' back pocket o' my pants. But after discovering them gone, and rummaging through every pocket and hoard concealed within my jacket I came to realize them to have vanished. That's right vanished, hah, me posture slouching for frustration as I thought me to have dropped them. At Creag an Dùin, my only chance to spend th' rest o' th' night in my own bed instead o' mattress o' fallen leaves lying somewhere at th' stone circle.
I went thro' a short list o' Gaelic swears in my head 'til was surprised by th' creak o' th' front door. Causing me to flinch, me turning to see my mom step ootside in 'er dressing gown. Hair disheveled from sleep, giving me a questionable look.
"What are ye shouting oot here at this hour?" she asked me indeed confused, but then smiled. "Just get inside from this cold, and I'll make some snack for ye. Ye haven't probably eaten anything."
"Y'know maw, I'm juist gonna head back", I told th' truth, shrugging for 'er even greater bafflement. "I lost my keys. They probably fell from my pocket, I gotta go back to Creag an Dùin to check."
"Right noo?" she stated amazed, me then wanting to sigh at that' serious tint which appeared in her voice. "Is that where ye've been? Ye ken what they say aboot that place, what yer grand grandmother said aboot that place. It's not a nice place to go at nighttime."
"Apparently, but dad's gonna freak oot once he hears about this", I responded, stairting to walk toward th' gate. "Ye know what he'd say, that keys are expensive to replace, no matter that th' money will come oot o' my own paycheck."
"Shouldn't I wake 'im and ask to help ye?"
"For th' love o' god, no. Anything but that. I don't want him to see me like this…"
Mom seemed to understand as I twirled around to beckon to myself, 'er experienced eyes o' a mother indeed nae failing to take notice o' 'er son's drunken state. My steps a wee staggering as I then gave 'er one last smile, starting me journey back.
"I leave some sandwiches oot for ye!"
Like I mentioned, Creag an Dùin wasn't that far away from town, if ye knew th' right shortcuts. And even drunk, I'd grown up scouring these lands inside oot, so even in pitch-dark I found my wey very easily by tracing along th' familiar trails. And not but half an hour later I came oot o' th' forest which grew atween th' town and Creag an Dùin, seeing th' vast carpet o' grass open in front o' my eyes in th' moonlight. Me actually taking a moment to enjoy th' scenery, turning my eyes up to see th' stars twinkling in th' sky. It was so quiet and peaceful, but I had to admit it was getting colder as th' hour closed in on midnight. But because o' that and my brisk trek, I felt myself to have sobered up a bit.
So after a brief moment o' letting my mind wander I turned my gaze back doon. Taking th' first step toward my destination awaiting at th' top o' th' hill ahead o' me. But what made my walk seize were those several floating lights which I noo saw hover between th' trees. Within th' stone circle, causing me to stop like I'd hit a wall. Great disbelief filling me as I watched those lights fly in th' air for a minute, twirling, making soft circles like a herd o' fireflies chasing each other. 'Til I saw something else too, or reckoned to see. Hardly visible silhouettes o' women, holding some kind o' lanterns in their hands, me being close to sure that I was imagining all o' that as watched those women dance around th' cleft stone. My mind filling with fragments o' conversation from th' earlier night as my ears detected singing. Coming from th' hill, me being now sure that I could pick up random words o' Gaelic. But I didn't have time to decide whether all that was but a hallucination created by drink or true, as suddenly those lights as weel as th' women were gone. Everything returning back to that dark, lifeless inside Creag an Dùin.
There were no signs o' movement at sight anymore th' closer I got. Now finding myself to be running towards th' hill and th' lights, in order to see had there been real people or just ghosts o' ancient fables. But when I reached th' top and entered th' stone circle myself, there was no one. Nothing but darkness surrounding th' deserted hill. Th' remains o' plastic cups and other trash left from th' bonfire party working as a only sign o' life there, me noo releasing a laugh. That's right, there had been no druids or anything like it up here. I'd seen but ghosts o' my too creative imagination.
I stairted th' search o' my keys, it being quite challenging as th' dominating night made it in fact very difficult. Me stumbling upon rocks and those logs which had fallen from their props, nae finding th' blasted things after fifteen minutes o' circling about th' place like those imaginary druids. But then I paused. Th' heck was I thinking, there had been no such thing. Th' police officers were long gone as were th' people who'd been here celebrating, me being now th' only human being present. If I wasn't careful I was starting to jump at my own shadow at this rate.
Th' deep silence was cut by th' ring o' my phone, me taking and looking at th' caller ID. And with a frown and roll o' eyes I answered, keeping my irises on th' ground in case o' possible glint o' metal.
"Do ye realize how late it is?" I inquired, my delivery far from cheery.
"I reckoned ye not to be asleep yet", Aubrey's wey too happy voice replied, causing me to sigh and made a nod. Me looking to me left.
"Aye, I wasn't", I admitted. "So, did ye have something to say to me?"
"Juist wanted to hear yer voice."
"We were together over an hour ago", I reminded, then letting oot a satisfied sound as at th' same moment I spotted something shiny among th' tussocks, brushing away th' leaves which in fact covered: my keys. Finally.
"Actually I called to hear did ye get away. Ye vanished all o' a sudden, and I was worried ye got caught by th' police."
"Weel I'm okay, as ye can hear. Obviously not returning a call in a cell o' a police station", I stated, distracted as was checking th' keys in case some o' them were missing. But for my luck all were there, me slipping 'em this time into th' breast pocket.
"Ye don't need to be so rude, y'know!"
Silence descended atween us as I said nothing, next staring at th' biggest full moon I'd ever seen here at the highlands o' Scotland. And th' last too for certain. I heard a shuffling sound from th' other side o' th' line as Aubrey probably moved oan 'er spot nervously, trying to come up with a topic which didn't make this call any mair awkward. As that's what it was, awkward.
"Where are ye?" she then finally asked, me giving th' stone circle a glance.
"Nowhere really. Not at home."
… A Righ na gile …
I turned my head sharply as imagined to hear a voice. Not Aubrey's, but a whisper somewhere close, turning fully around. But I was like so far, alone. Th' voice as weel now nothing but wind moaning in th' trees above me.
"What ye said this evening made me really happy."
Ugh, not this again. I made a sideways nod, nae necessarily agreeing. "A-ha."
"I was wondering if we could go oot tomorrow? Catch a movie, maybe?" she suggested then, th' real me yelling at me to say no. And even I wasn't that cruel to keep on dragging this.
"What's with that everything but excited tone? Aren't ye happy to go?"
…A Righ na greine…
…A Righ na rinne…
There it was again, and this time I truly heard it. Th' voice, chanting, me frowning as I listened to th' Gaelic words echoing in th' air. I wasn't imagining. I turned around again, slowly, eyeing at th' circle. Strange feeling o' premonition dwelling up among my irritation.
"Kieran? Are ye there?"
"Look, I think ye're making too big o' a deal about us", I told 'er then, th' only truth I knew, thinking that screw it. She needed to hear this. And indeed my own tone edging frustration surprised 'er, me getting but silence at th' other side o' th' line this time. O' which I was thankful, now sighing as after all saw nothing oot o' th' ordinary around th' circle. Putting such crazy sounds oot o' my head as leant my back on th' cleft stone.
"Aubrey, we should juist quit pretending. We both knew that oor thing wasn't going to turn into anything reminding o' serious. I told ye that, no attachments, no feelings involved."
She was silent at first, clearly hesitating. "It was serious enough today."
"How? How exactly? Ye luv me, don't ye?"
It was my turn to be quiet, me weighing my options. And realized there was no nice wey to put th' words about to slip my tongue, me now lifting my arm up. "I don't. I'm sorry Aubrey, but ye're imagining if ye think there's anything mair than friendship in this for me."
…A Righ na reula…
This time when that eerie voice o' a woman started to whisper it caused me to flinch, me feeling th' stone I leant against to vibrate. As if th' voice would've come from within it…
"But ye said…" Aubrey replied eventually, stuttering incredulous. Shocked.
"I said what ye wanted to hear", I laid down th' bomb, maybe mercilessly, but it had to be said. "To get ye off my back. Otherwise ye would've never let it go."
"So when ye said you luv me, ye didn't mean it? Any o' it?"
There weren't tears in her voice, but as deep sadness. Me rubbing my eyes. Did she have to become like that ower this? I'd never given an indication that I was actually serious about her…
"Not really. I do like ye, but ye're nothing but a friend to me Aubrey."
"I can't believe ye're doing this to me…"
"Come on, can't we just let this go and move on? Like ye said, continue where we left off last Sunday…"
Th' amused tint in my voice disappeared with that small smile due to Aubrey's voice starting to yammer in my ear, with outraged voice which was expected, but which I really didn't feel like listening any mair than dad's ramble. But I didn't hear much o' her nagging efter all, as something else caught my attention.
"Am I supposed to settle to some random hooking up with ye whenever ye feel like it? No, Kieran, I won't let you do this to me!"
Th' wind picked up again, blowing thro' th' stone circle with quite forceful gusts, th' mysterious voices appearing again. Now many o' them, all chanting th' same litany ower and ower. Th' chant soon strengthening, turning into a clearly heard song, th' source o' it changing places. As if th' circle was truly filled with ghosts o' th' deceased druids, th' song causing th' hairs at th' back o' my neck to rise. Strange buzzing noise soon mixing in with th' singing.
…A Righ na cruinne…
…A Righ na speura…
…Is aluinn do ghnuis…
…A lub eibhinn…
…Da lub shioda…
…Shios ri d' leasraich…
"Kieran?" I heard Aubrey's voice call me from th' phone which had fallen from my ear, me however barely even registering 'er worry which my sudden silence had caused. 'Er voice drowning under th' buzz which increased all th' time as did th' whispers talking in Gaelic, my eyes looking about now nervously. Me still seeing nothing but hearing much mair instead, it all stairting to freak me oot. Me feeling how adrenaline once again ran with my blood, causing me to walk forth and glance all around me extremely paranoid, me trying to find something which would explain those delusions I was experiencing.
"Is someone oot there?" I screamed into th' night, waiting. Small part o' me hoping for a rational response o' a passerby. But none o' that came, th' sounds o' singing women and th' great whoosh which could've been compared to th' sound o' brisk wind which it wasn't, turning me actually jumpy in addition to utterly confused. Frown stuck on my face, me retreating back against th' stone. Only to gasp yet again by th' touch o' it, my hand pressing against it. Th' stone was vibrating. And as my eyes rose to examine it, me turning to face it, I was now extremely sure o' one thing. Th' buzzing sound and th' song o' th' druids were both coming within th' stone, me nae being able to wrap my mind around th' fact how I could make such a crazy conclusion. Images o' th' dancing women dressed in white flashing past my vision, me releasing a baffled breath. Th' stone was warm to th' touch even in th' cold night.
"Kieran? Where th' hell did ye go!?"
Aubrey's scared voice woke me back to reality, th' phone finding its wey back to my ear.
"Finally! God, I awready thought something happened… Why didn't ye say anything when I called?"
'Er in a blink o' an eye changed so angry tone made me annoyed as weel, me releasing a freish frustrated sigh. "Stop yelling! Aye, I hear ye, was juist…a wee distracted here…"
"Weel ye shouldn't, because I'm not done with ye Kieran MacIntyre! Do ye have any idea how badly ye've insulted me?"
"That's why I told ye th' truth!"
"That ye ne'er cared about me, that ye were in fact pretending to care for me to get what ye wanted from me? Did ye ever need me for anything else than 'occasional hook up'?"
As my anger rose, I took support from th' cleft stone. But I shouldn't have done that as instantly when I did, th' voices echoing around th' circle culminated. Me feeling myself to lose balance at th' end o' my sentence, falling, odd feeling o' weightlessness filling me. As if I was disappearing from this world.
"Don't but words in my mouth Aubrey. This is exactly why I ne'er wanted to get serious with ye, ye take everything too seriously. I told ye from th' get-go that oor thing wasn't going to go anywhere from 'occasional hook-up'. Plain enough for ye?"
As gach sath dhiubh.
"I can't believe ye! Ye bastard, don't ye think o' calling me ever again, do ye hear me?... Kieran?... Kieran, are ye there?... Do ye hear me Kieran?...Kieran?...Kieran, answer me!...Kieran!"
Thou King of the sun,
Thou King of the planets,
Thou King of the stars,
Thou King of the globe,
Thou King of the sky,
Oh! lovely Thy countenance,
Thou beauteous Beam.
Two loops of silk
Down by thy limbs,
And a handful
Out of every stock of them...
Loud warble o' birds woke me. Me blinking my eyes open, getting used to th' brightness o' th' morning sun rather slowly, it taking a minute afore I could take in my surroundings. Th' first thing I saw being th' huge cleft stone o' Creag an Dùin, realization piercing my conscious. I had spent th' whole night here!
I hastily sat up, only to notice for me utmost chagrin that I was sitting right in middle o' a muddy puddle. My jeans and genuine Black Label boots all covered in mud, my expensive leather jacket as weel spotted with brownish splatters. Which both I'd worked my ass off to pay for, me giving me soiled clothes a look o' great disbelief as dropped my hands back into th' dirty water with a splash. My mood worsening instantly, seeing that th' rest o' th' ground was wet too as a result o' a nightly rain. Me however then frowning as gazed around, in addition to th' odd rain I hadn't woken up to, now realizing th' lack o' plastic cups and imprints o' several Converse sneakers on th' grass.
Each o' these three strange facts caused me to stand, examining me surroundings, not seeing any sings o' last night's party. This confusing me, my eyes now taking in th' surrounding wild. Me leaving th' stone circle in a rush and stopping at th' head o' th' hill, only to be flabbergasted by what I saw. Nothing but untouched wilderness all around me wherever I looked, my irises moving on to direct a look at my home town which usually loomed juist behind th' forest I'd passed oan my wey here. Juist that it wasn't there, th' sight o' another green moor opening behind th' forest instead o' th' city o' Inverness. Which I knew for a fact, to have been right there just a few hours ago.
I froze, turning to look back at Creag an Dùin as if in slow motion. Th' song o' th' druids returning from th' back o' my memory as a eerie reminder, as an answer I didn't want to gain to satisfy my questions. My breathing quickening and coming oot as curt gusts. Me remembering something someone had said at the party:
"There's stories, about people who have vanished without a trace after entering th' circle. Ne'er found, until some years later they've been found beside th' cleft stone. Explaining to have been taken into another world."
Long breath o' shock escaped me geggy, my eyes widening.