Love #36: Den Fenella
At the station, we caught a taxi to Den Fenella.
I remember Den Fenella as a place of magic. The little studio that bears its name sits on the edge of a cliff face that plunges far into the depths below. Below, thunders the Valley of the Waters.
The last time I had come here, it had been hot. Tonight, the cicadas and smell of bushfires of last summer were just a memory. We walk up to the studio and I see an occasional snowflake melting in your hair.
You look at the old studio door, snowflakes settling on the ironwork, and I think I hear you say. “You will not find spring here.” Perhaps it was just the wind.
“This place has secrets,” I answer, a little uncertain whether you spoke. “Den Fenella is not just a beautiful name.”
“I lived up the hill from here, once. I know some of them.”
“Perhaps we can trade secrets,” as I open the old door and walk into the darkened room, savoring the smell of warmth, old wood, and the bed.
You close the door and bump into me in the dark. You mumble, “Sorry...”
“Shhh,” I whisper, “Listen!”
You stop and concentrate. Outside the sound of a gentle breeze and the silence of snow falling. To our left, we can make out a deep spa and noise of a slow drip. Just ahead of us is a small servery and the aroma of cheeses and crisp bread and freshly squeezed orange juice. Then, on the very edge of our hearing, I hear the room sigh. I see you smile; the room was breathing.
The floorboards creak in front of us. You watch as the moon briefly lights the room. I walk past an old brass bed to doors opening onto a deck. There is a sudden rush of cold air. The curtains fill and billow into the room. Den Fenella takes a deep breath of mountain air. I step outside onto the deck.
I hear you follow, quickly shutting the doors to keep in some of the warmth. We stand on the deck looking out across the escarpment feeling the bitter fresh cold. Below the escarpment, the cliffs drop 1000 feet in a couple of footsteps. Tonight, low clouds dance fitfully, illuminated by the moon that appears and then disappears. For a moment we stand together.
We become a little cold and wet, and you coax me back inside.
“You should not get wet,” you say. ” First rule of camping.”
I switch on the lights and say, “I will remember that in a couple of days.”
“I could not book for a single day, we live here for a couple...,” and as you start to protest, “We are both out of condition, let us ease into this.”
You look around the room, feeling its warmth. You slowly take off your backpack, “You planned this all along.” Distracted, you walk to the paintings on the wall. “These are originals... the artist Norman Lindsay. He lived near here.”
“The first rule of living with me in this den,” I start. “We have had our problems, but I trust you. I need you. I would like us to live for a little while in warmth and innocence.”
“Look, I have agreed to let you tag along...” thinking that this was not really what you had planned at all, “and I am happy to go with the flow, but I am not ready to fall into some short-term sexual relationship. Apart from that, you know I do not have to be anywhere tomorrow.”
“Good,” I stripped out of my wet clothes and came up to you. “Run us a spa?”
The bed was comfortable and did an excellent job of gently pushing us together.
You ask, “Where did this place come from.”
“The escarpment is packed with old homes. It is not just artists like Lindsay who ended up here. But, yes, this place is special.”
“You said you had secrets we could swap.”
I pointed to a colored engraving on the wall near us, the room glowing in candlelight and your warmth, “You said I would not find spring here. But there it is.”
The painting shows nymphs in flight, being chased by suitors, smiling, “He might be long gone, but Norman Lindsay called that one ‘Spring.’ He found love, spring and inspiration here on the top of the mountains. Magic, the innocence, and potential of love.”
You ask with a smile, “Is this why you brought us to this den?”
“I come here when I feel lonely; it clears my head. It feels old and magical. It changes with the seasons.”
“Is there another reason?”
“I like the stories of this place. I heard once that Den Fenella, the area below us, was named after a powerful Scottish witch, the Lady Fenella, grandmother of Macbeth. Some of the early settlers came from the cold places in North Britain. A lonely Scot felt her magic here and named it in her honor.”
You grumble, “I did not imagine you sought out witchcraft. Back in Mount Victoria, I had imagined this a place of the rich and powerful, of church groups and golfers.”
“Plenty of those, a lot who never leave their halls or the resorts.” I snuggled into you, my eyes feeling heavy, “I enjoy the resorts, but I always take the time to get away from them; there are lots of shops, cafes and beautiful gardens. Tell me a story?”
“I liked the story of your witch,” you smile. “Do you know the full story?”
I open my eyes, and shook my head, “No, I have asked, but even old-timers shake their heads. Has it got dragons and spells in it?”
Den Fenella holds me tight and I hear the studio whisper, “Just one. But you look like you are about to go to sleep. Are you sure you will stay awake? I will tickle you if you shut your eyes.”
I place my head on the edge of forever, “I promise.”
Copyright Dark Aelf, 2021
I have told the story of Jemma and Aither elsewhere.
King Kenneth the Third was a devout man, but he had committed many wrongs in maintaining power. His visit was to the Lady Fenella at her castle of Fothircarne, near Fordun was to repair an old wrong. Kenneth had killed her son, but Fenella had sent emissaries promising the king her loyalty and asked him to view a wonder she had constructed in his honor.
Kenneth entered Fenella’s keep to discover a brass statue. It had been formed in his likeness, holding out a golden apple. The apple had six different kinds of precious stones. The King was awed by the statue, which was beyond the art of the province, and the jewels represented wealth beyond that held by his kingdom.
He asked her what art had prepared the statue and secured the wealth. But he did not wait for her answer. Instead, he reached for the apple. The touch activated an ancient mechanism which sent darts to pierce his body. He fell to the ground mortally injured.
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