Magic in the Mist: A Polwenna Bay short story, page 1
Magic in the Mist
A Polwenna Bay Short Story
All characters, organisations and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
The opinions expressed in this book are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and / or legal right to publish all materials in this book.
Copyright © 2015 Ruth Saberton
Editor: T. Blaise
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher. If you wish to share this book please do so through the proper channels.
Also by Ruth Saberton
Runaway Summer: Polwenna Bay 1
A Time for Living: Polwenna Bay 2
Winter Wishes: Polwenna Bay 3
Treasure of the Heart: Polwenna Bay 4
Escape for the Summer
Escape for Christmas
Weight Till Christmas
Katy Carter Wants a Hero
Ellie Andrews Has Second Thoughts
Amber Scott is Starting Over
The Wedding Countdown
Writing as Jessica Fox
The One That Got Away
Hard to Get
Unlucky in Love
Always the Bride
Writing as Holly Cavendish
Looking for Fireworks
Writing as Georgie Carter
The Perfect Christmas
While I was writing TREASURE OF THE HEART I had a wonderful time researching the myths and legends that are such an intrinsic part of the beautiful county of Cornwall where I am lucky enough to live and which provides so much inspiration for Polwenna Bay. From long forgotten holy wells, echoes of ancient times and old religions, to stories of wrecks and smugglers and even tales of ghosts and sea monsters – Cornwall’s wealth of folk lore never fails to excite a writer. There were far too many stories for me to include them all in the novel but many stayed with me and haunted my dreams, including that of Sam Pendeen.
The story of Sam Pendeen comes from two sources. One is a story told to me by my teaching assistant who came to one of my book launches and was so unnerved by a ghostly encounter in the local pub that she had to leave. My TA claimed to have seen, and talked to, a young fisherman who had drowned close by. Later on, in the safety of the school staffroom, she told me he had said that he would never be far away from the village and people he loved and still watches over them. I was so struck by her experience that I wrote it down in a very early story I’d always intended to revisit. The other source for MAGIC IN THE MIST is an old seafarers’ myth that holds sea frets to be the souls of drowned mariners doomed to drift for all eternity. Anyone caught up in a sea fret will be claimed, never to be seen again – a chilling and rather romantic explanation for the disappearance of any folk foolish enough to wander the rugged cliff paths in swirling sea mists and plunge to their doom.
I toyed with weaving Sam Pendeen’s story into TREASURE OF THE HEART but there were so many other story lines vying for my attention that I only mention him briefly and in conjunction with Alice Tremaine’s past. The idea wouldn’t quite go away, however, and I found myself increasingly drawn to retelling it. Tess Hamilton, Polwenna Bay’s newest primary teacher, was also calling me to tell her story and so I decided to sit down with my notebook and see where the characters took me.
I hadn’t anticipated meeting Chloe Hamilton but having unexpected characters pop into your head and taking over is one of the joys of writing. I’d fully intended her big sister, Tess, to be the focal point of this short story so the discovery that a feisty eighteen year old was determined to be the main voice was a big surprise. As I dived into the narrative it soon became clear why MAGIC IN THE MIST had to belong to Chloe. Tess’s story will appear later on in the Polwenna Bay series.
RUNAWAY SUMMER is the first book in the Polwenna Bay series. A TIME FOR LIVING comes next, then WINTER WISHES and TREASURE OF THE HEART, with many more to come!
As always, Cornwall and Polwenna Bay itself are vital to the atmosphere of this story – the village and the wild elemental weather as much a part of the narrative as the characters and the plot. I feel blessed every day to live in this magical and beautiful county and I love sharing my passion for it
I love to hear from my readers. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and please visit my website, www.ruthsaberton.co.uk for my blog and news of upcoming books.
I really hope you enjoy this little trip to Polwenna Bay and Chloe’s adventure. Stay tuned at the end for a sneak preview of Jake and Summer’s story in RUNWAY SUMMER.
x Ruth x
MAGIC IN THE MIST
Listening to the rain lashing the windows and the scratch, scratch, scratch of the red pen as her sister marked a pile of exercise books was enough to drive anyone mad, Chloe Hamilton decided. She checked her mobile for the umpteenth time just in case there was the tiniest slither of signal but no joy. Death by lack of social media it was then. Chloe couldn’t believe the lack of O2 reception in Polwenna Bay. This was Cornwall, right? Not deepest Siberia? How on earth anyone supposed to survive a whole week without Instagram or even Facebook? Chloe was in despair. Her parents must totally hate her to put her through this.
She lobbed her iPhone onto the sofa in disgust. Half term had never seemed so long and wishing a school holiday would fly by was certainly a first. Her sister didn’t even have Sky TV and since Tess’s idea of fun these days was a bracing walk along the beach there wasn’t even been a hope of heading to the pub and checking out fit young fisherman. At this rate even the English coursework Tess kept nagging her to get on with was looking like a fun option.
Using the figure of Catherine Earnshaw as your springboard, write a piece in which the ghostly presence of a lost love haunts a present day narrator. Atmosphere and setting are key (4000 words)
Chloe bit her thumb nail in agitation. Truth be told, this assignment was making her nervous. Apart from the fact everyone knew ghosts were total and utter rubbish (vampires were far more sexy anyway – hadn’t the old farts who wrote A Level courses ever heard of Twilight?) she’d had a hard enough job getting her head around Wuthering Heights without having to use the sodding novel as a springboard. A spring board? What was that supposed to mean, anyway? Something along the lines of this assignment making students want to drown themselves? If that was the case, then Chloe certainly got it. The thought of having to wade through her battered set text, the print obscured by thickly scrawled notes because it had belonged to Tess, made Chloe want to run along the quay and hurl herself into the English Channel.
The problem was that she was stuck. Totally stuck. It was dead embarrassing, and she’d rather die than admit this to anyone, but Chloe hadn’t a clue what it might feel like to be in love. She’d had a crush on Harry Styles when she was younger and Channing Tatum in all his muscled up Magic Mike glory adorned her school locker but when it came to real, live boys the humiliating truth was that Chloe Hamilton had never even kissed a boy. She probably never would either because while she was stuck here somebody else was bound to get their claws into Alex Rowe.
“Are you coming to the upper sixth party?” Alex had asked, deliberately casual as he’d pinched a chip from her plate and Chloe had wanted to weep with frustration when she’d had to say that no, she was visiting her sister in Cornwall while her parents went away. She’d seen the look in his eyes, lame it said, and minutes later he’d moved to sit with Lucy Jones, who’d giggled up at him for the rest of lunch break.
It was official. Chloe’s parents had ruined her life. She’d probably die an old maid thanks to them and their stupid insistence on sending her to Polwenna Bay. How could Chloe possibly understand Heathcliff and Cathy when she’d never so much as been kissed and now probably never would be?
Had her braces been the problem in the past? Chloe wondered as she watched a soggy seagull huddle beside the chimney pot of the next door cottage, looking as cheesed off as she felt. After all, who wanted to snog a girl with more track work than Network Rail? Her skin wasn’t bad, give or take the odd spot now and then, and she had the same waist length curly dark hair and big brown eyes as Tess, who was never short of admirers. Even in this tiny village she’d already dated Nick Tremaine who was, Chloe thought, every bit as lush as Harry Styles. In fact, Nick Tremaine was way, way better because the muscles rippling in his arms were honed by hauling crab pots and winding nets on fishing boats rather than lifting weights in a posh gym. And Chloe didn’t imagine Nick Tremaine spent hours arranging his hair either because his mop of golden curls was usually tied at the nape of his neck with a strip of leather and rather than artfully being disheveled with designer gel the wind and salt spray styled it.
Chloe had first seen Nick back in the summer when she’d visited Tess for the August Bank holiday weekend. She’d been struck dumb by his golden good looks and struck even dumber when she’d realised Tess was seeing him. How lucky was her sister to be twenty-four and independent rather than eighteen and taking her A Levels? Of course, Nick Tremaine hadn’t looked twice at Chloe but she’d thought about him a great deal. His twin sister, Issie, was equally stunning and, from what Chloe had seen of them, the whole Tremaine family was blessed with model good looks but it was Nick who’d impressed her the most. If Emily Bronte had written about him rather than that dog hanging psycho Heathcliff Chloe was sure she’d have understood the novel. She’d probably have read it too rather than just cribbing from the York Notes.
Chloe sighed again. Tess had been so lucky to have a chance with a guy like Nick Tremaine and she’d thrown it all away because, and get this for a ridiculous reason, they didn’t have enough to talk about. Like duh? What was wrong with her sister that she wanted to waste time talking when she could have been doing a million far more exciting things with Nick? Talking would be right at the bottom of my list, Chloe decided. Her braces were off now, thank God, and when she wore makeup Chloe thought she looked at least twenty. Maybe even twenty-one? If only she could escape from Tess’s beady gaze and go to The Ship where Nick and his friends hung out. How much fun would that be?
Unfortunately for Chloe her sister had mastered the annoying teacher skill of having eyes in the back of her head and Chloe could hardly go to the loo without Tess breathing down her neck and muttering ominously about coursework, predicted grades and UCAS applications. It was like spending a week with the Ghosts of A Levels Past, Present and Future all rolled into one.
In any case, her essay was proving a major stress. Chloe wondered whether she was suffering from writer’s block? Tess kept nagging her to just get on and write it, which was proving easier said than done. Even without Snapchat and Instagram to distract her, Chloe knew it just wasn’t going to happen. She’d stared at her computer screen for over an hour already today (in between having a row with her sister who’d been totally mean and pulled the Wi-Fi) but all she’d typed so far was the title. Emily Bronte had nothing to fear from Chloe Hamilton, that was for sure.
If only she could find something really good to write about or had some real life experience to draw on, Chloe thought despairingly. She’d already flunked this assignment once and only some big time pleading (her parents) and abject groveling (Chloe, to her undying shame) had saved her from being thrown off the course altogether. She now had a week now to produce something amazing or kiss goodbye to all hopes of Uni and her parents ever talking to her again – which actually might not be such a bad thing seeing as most of what they had said to her lately hadn’t been particularly complimentary.
Chloe knew she’d let them down. Of course she had. She was the thicker, younger daughter currently failing her A Levels, not the Oxford graduate with the high flying teaching career. OK, so Tess’s career had stalled slightly when, for reasons nobody in the family could fathom, she’d quit her Head of English post at a top OFSTED rated London academy and buried herself in a small Cornish primary but even so she was already well respected in Polwenna Bay and would probably be Head Teacher by Christmas. This was just how Tess was. Whatever she did, she did it brilliantly.
In any case, this failed assignment was the reason Chloe had been packed off to stay with her sister in Cornwall for half term while their parents took a cruise. All right for some, Chloe thought bitterly as she sighed again.
“For Heaven’s sake, Chloe! That must be the fiftieth time you’ve sighed in the last ten minutes,” said Tess, looking up from her work with an expression of irritation on her pretty face. “What on earth’s the matter? I’m the one who should be fed up here seeing as I’m spending my half term marking and baby sitting you!”
“I never asked you to. I’m perfectly capable of staying at home by myself. I’m eighteen, not eight,” Chloe retorted.
Tess rolled her eyes. “Yeah, as though you’d do any work if you were home alone. Ma and Pa wouldn’t even be on the ship and you’d be off to a party or over at Maria’s.”
Maria was Chloe’s best friend. Or at least she had been but since Tess had pulled the Wi-Fi, who knew? She’d probably found a whole new crowd to hang out with and had forgotten Chloe altogether.
“You need to focus on your studies,” Tess was saying now, her voice adopting that patronizing I know more than you note that teachers always did to perfection. Did they teach this skill at college? Maybe there was a week’s worth of lectures on it, along with clichéd sayings like the bell is for me not for you and every A Level student’s personal favourite, here’s an essay for you to write over the weekend.
“How’s the essay going?” her sister added pointedly. “Finished yet?”
“Hardly.” Turning the lap top around Chloe showed Tess the blank screen. “I can’t write a word. Don’t look at me like that! I am trying! I really am!”
“Very trying,” said her sister darkly. “Honestly, Chloe, what am I supposed to do? Write the bloody thing for you?”
This was the best idea Chloe had heard for ages. “Tessie! Would you?”
“No! Of course not. It’s cheating and totally unethical!” Tess put her red pen down and fixed her sister with a stern teacher look.
“But who’d know?”
“Me for a start!” Tess shook her head. “For Heaven’s sake! You’ve been staring at that computer screen ever since you arrived. I’ve given you loads of ideas and we’ve worked through all kinds of exemplar material. What on earth’s stopping you from just writing the bloody thing?”
Chloe knew these were all fair points. Tess had worked hard to help her, granted in a teacherly and slightly exasperated way, and of course for her brainy sister the solution was obvious – just write the darn essay. How could Chloe possibly explain that every time she tried her brain turned into cream cheese? This had never happened to Tess. Her sister could write A grade essays in her sleep.
“I just don’t any have inspiration.”
“Wuthering Heights isn’t inspiring enough? Seriously?”
“Not to me,” said Chloe.
Now it was Tess’s turn to sigh. “I suppose Heathcliff’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Look, if you want inspiration why don’t you go for a walk? The rain’s easing off now and there’s so much to see and do in the village. ”
Chloe stared at her sister in disbelief. It was official. Tess Hamilton had flipped. From a city chick who’d lived in a cool flat in West Ealing, with malls and funky restaurants on tap, to a country bumpkin happy with the village shop and beach café. So much to see and do? Seriously? There was nothing much to do in Polwenna Bay in the summer, never mind the winter. It wasn’t like there were even any decent shops to explore or a Starbucks to chill in. No, unless you wanted to buy a lucky pixie, dig for buried treasure on the beach or drink scrumpy you’d had it.
“There are lots of myths and legends here too,” Tess was saying now, abandoning her marking for a full strength lecture. “Obviously there’s Black Jack Jago the smuggler, we all know about him, but there are lots of other stories too. You should go and talk to Alice Tremaine. She could give you lots of ideas. Why don’t you walk up to Seaspray and have a chat with her?”
Alice’s grandson Nick would give me more ideas, thought Chloe wistfully, but since Nick was at sea today with the equally fit Penhalligan brothers there was no chance of bumping into him up at the family home.
“Or you could walk over to St Wenn’s Well,” Tess continued when Chloe didn’t jump at her first suggestion. “The fresh air and exercise will do you good and you might get some ideas there. The path past the church is a good one too and you could look at the grave stones. I always think there are loads of stories to be found in the inscriptions.”
Other author's books:
- The Island LegacyA Time for Living: Polwenna Bay 2The Wedding CountdownTreasure of the HeartThe LetterMagic in the Mist: A Polwenna Bay short story[Escape 01.0] Escape for the SummerEscape for Christmas: A Novella (The Escape Series Book 2)
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