For several weeks I have been rolling around the idea for a dual set of books. Granted, I’ve promised myself I won’t begin either of them (or any of the other various stories begging to be written) until I’ve finished one of my current projects, and I’ll stick to my promises. However, that does not mean that I can’t toy with them in the mean time.
The idea is to take the tales of Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Ariel (The Tempest) and re-write their stories. Thus far, they are titled Sometime a Fire (Puck’s tale) and This Rough Magic (Ariel’s tale) and heaven help me, I’ve gone and written a few pieces of stuff. For kicks and giggles, I’m going to share a piece of This Rough Magic and hope I do justice to the Bard’s sea-sprite.
In this re-imagined tale, Prospero has been replaced with the twenty-two-year-old Prosper, who freed Ariel from Sycorax’s tree quite by accident and has no idea what to do with him – until a five-hundred-year-old revenge rears its hideous head and threatens to be the end of them both.
Prosper pulled the folds of her sweater close around her arms. Rain battered at the window and left tear-streaks across the glass; echoing the empty patter of ceaseless thoughts that battered against her mind like waves against the shore.
Ariel’s approach was so soft that his presence was only revealed when he asked, “Is something troubling you, mistress?”
She shook her head. “No, nothing really important.”
“Then what is unimportant, pray tell?” His voice was the whisper of a salted breeze, quizzing and gentle.
She re-arranged the folds of her sweater again and turned to face him. His ever-changing eyes drifted to gaze upon the letter in her hand, carefully re-folded without an extra crease.
“Is it that?” he inquired, tilting his head.
“What is it, then?”
“It’s my problem, Ariel.”
His eyebrows drew together. “The problems of my mistress are mine as well.”
She knew she could order him to leave her, but she chose not to. Something about his face, every line drawn in concern, tricked her tongue. She said, “A letter from my mother.”
He hovered half-in the air as through a fog and asked, “What is? That is?”
She fluttered the paper between two fingers and nodded.
“Did you not tell me your mother has been dead near twenty years?” He cocked his head to the other side.
“She has,” said Prosper with a sigh that turned into a smile. “It’s an old letter. She wrote it to me before she…” Something swelled in her throat. How ridiculous. Now, of all times –
“Before she died?” Ariel’s urge was gentle.
Prosper sighed and nodded; she backed away a step as Ariel drifted inexplicably closer, leaving behind him a smudge of pale movement. He lifted a white finger to her face, and when it came away a single tear balanced there, whole and perfect.
“You are crying.” He did not say it callously or without feeling, but with a kind of unobtrusive curiosity. He was a thing of saltwater and air, practically made of tears. How odd I must be to him, she thought. How odd all people must be.
“I read it every year,” she continued, by way of explanation.
He tilted his hand. The tear rolled down his finger and settled in the line of his palm. “Why do you, if it brings you sorrow? It would be much easier simply to burn the thing and never think of it.”
“Yes,” she agreed. She smoothed her thumb over the worn paper before sliding it into her pocket. “Except then, I wouldn’t remember her like she wanted me to.”
“Is it so important?” he questioned, bringing his left hand underneath his right, as if to keep the tear from sinking through his airy flesh. “Why remember, if it brings you such pain?”
“Because…” She clasped her hands together and shrugged her shoulders. “Without memory, our little lives are nothing. You can do without remembering; you have forever to live.”
“Yes,” he said, with a faint flicker in his eyes that was gone just as quick. As she turned back to face the window, he lowered his gaze to the tear cupped in his hand. “But in the end, we are all such stuff as dreams are made on. What are we then, without remembering?”
Prosper’s only response was a faint, murmured ‘mmm.’ Outside, the storm raged on.