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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Trent on October 13, 2012
"Looking back is an easier feat for me than looking ahead."

A Half Span of time

Ah, to begin at the beginning. It seems so long ago and yet it has been a mere four millennia. What is that in light of forever?

It was on the river they now call the Rhine that I first opened my eyes. The map calls the place Germany now but to me, it was the place of my birth. The name has changed often in my lifetime. For me the name matters little for I have lived in many places. What matters is not where one was born but how the life given there has been invested.

We were on the move when I was a child of ten. For the first time I saw big water. The River was well-known but the vastness of water stretching out to the horizon was a new experience to me. Certainly it wouldn't surprise you if I told you of the great fear that filled my young heart when we stepped into the long boat that was to carry us to our new home. It seemed that we were launching out to a dream-like paradise.

Historians, I laugh at the thought, for they refer to the timeline of my life in such a disconnected way. But when they do refer to my people they call them Celts. Indeed it seems that there is at present a resurgence of interest in my ancestor’s ways. They mostly get it wrong by the way. They were all just regular people. Some things they got very wrong. Other things they merely just did.

At last the land came into view. This dispelled my belief that we were sailing off the very earth itself. When my foot felt solid ground I made a vow that I would never leave it again. I have broken that vow many times in the course of my life. But I am getting bogged down in details. It would take another lifetime to convey all that has happened in the years of my life.

My adulthood arrived in the land now called Wales. I spent the first 300 years or so of my life as a farmer. The thought of making money never occurred to me. We had all that we needed on the farm. I married at the age of 76. This was by choice and I felt as though I had lived single long enough.

Many are the things that I viewed in my time on that beloved Isle. They call them mysteries today. But I admit that I saw some of the monoliths set up. Others were olden even in my day.

Slowly I turned from farming exclusively to building, inspired by what I had seen in my travels. Along the way we discovered many good materials to use. We used wood, stones, and many different types of metal. I found that I had a knack for it. For the next 7 centuries or so I built many things. Some things they tell me you might still catch a glimpse of in the highlands of Wales.

When I turned 1,234, I remember it clearly; my wife and 287 children threw me a party. They invited a lot of family. My cousin Cadeyran and I began to reminisce about the long ago trip from the Rhine. He lived by the shore and said he had heard rumors. What kind of rumors? They were of a large land towards the setting sun. It was said to be filled with trees, animals, and amazing possibilities. I reminded him of the big water and my vow. He scoffed and said that the fears of a child ought not to hold back a grown man like myself.

Cadeyran was a dreamer for sure. But he asked me if I thought I could build a seaworthy vessel. I looked at him in disgust. Of course I could. When he reached around to his horsehide bag and pulled out a vellum scroll I knew he had done more than just dream about the sunset land.. He had a plan.

“Could you build a vessel that looked like this?” he asked. When you have known someone for over a thousand years you get to know a little about them. He knew I could not resist the challenge. I asked him why he was in need of such a vessel. He admitted to being drawn to the rumored land across the even bigger water. What was I to do?

After the harvest I moved my household down to the seaside. Over the winter we gathered the trees that would be needed for the project. Spring arrived and building began. It would continue for a year. At the greening time of the next year it was ready to launch. The ship, long gone by now of course, made 6 voyages to the sunset land before it was turned upside down for my great, great, great grandson and his new bride’s first house.

But you I suppose would like to know of the maiden voyage. There were 6 families in all. Yes, mine was one of them. We slipped off the shore and into the vast unknown. Cadeyran’s son Peig had befriended Phoenicians from the Mediterranean Sea. They gave him a scroll containing the stars of the heavens and taught him how to read it as a map. He became our captain.

Time fails me to tell you of the turbulent voyage. Suffice to say that I was willing to renew my vow many a times in the execution of this daring plan.

The Rocky Shore that met us seemed daunting. An inlet gave us shelter from the waves that had beat on us mercilessly for more moons than I would care to recall. We sailed up the river the next day. At a major bend in the river we came upon people. Through signs we were able to make it understand that we were simple people looking for a good home. These kind natives led us from the river bend inland. After a day’s walk they showed us a location that was much to our liking. We attempted to pay them for the land. They refused it.

For the next 600 or so years we lived here. Peig’s Phonecian friends arrived at the big water twice a year. We had established an island as our drop off point. What kind of goods? Oh, they took so much of what we harvested. The trees in this area seemed to have grown since creation. They paid much for those tall timbers.

We had many furs from animals that we had never seen when we lived on our island hideaway. There were gems and metals that brought a great price from Peig’s friends.

Between building, harvesting and trading, we were kept busy in this land. Life was peaceful for the most part. Winters were difficult but it brought families closer together. Many of my children had stayed behind but those that chose to come with us flourished in this new land. We were the minority in the midst of various tribes.

Everything seemed to point towards us staying for centuries right here.

From the Phoenicians we heard that the Persians had overthrown the Babylonian Kingdoms. Then before we knew it, three centuries later they were bringing news that one Alexander from Babylon had taken all from the Persians. Who knew that an empire could only last three hundred years?

Alexander’s fame was short lived though. When the seafarers came again they brought news of his death. Please understand, this was merely talk of the world. It was passing time in conversation. There was no direct result on our lives so why should we care about the happenings a world away. That this great warrior’s gains were divided between his four strongest generals meant nothing to us. It was fodder for late night fire talk.

It all changed though in what seemed a very short amount of time.

We waited for Peig’s friends for a whole year. They did not come. We waited a second year and still nothing. Thirty-six moons in all we watched come and go. The goods they brought were sorely missed. The lifestyle that our small nation was built on was all but a memory.

I believe I had mentioned the original vessel that brought us to this land of granite. Cadeyran, Peig and many others convinced me that we must use it one last time. It must take us home. There seemed no choice. Though there were others who saw no option but to stay. They of course had been born in this land and could dream of no other.

That is how in my 2000th year I was found repairing and repitching that ancient vessel. It wasn't easy. Time had taken it's toil on both the vessel and the builder.

At last we said our goodbyes, slipped into the big water and headed towards an unknown future. If the Phoenicians were unable or unwilling to travel the seas, much had to be changed in the known world. This frightened us but not as much as being disconnected from it.

Our arrival home is a story for another time. Rest assured it had much to do with a certain battle in the Irish sea against an inferior force.

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