“When all you ever wished for is the last thing you ever wanted…”
Title: The Runaway
Publisher: Flying With Red Haircrow
Publication Date: September 12, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Gay Interest
Length: 290 pages
Ciarrai is running away from a past that’s still breathing down his neck. Jack has no past, his memory wiped in the accident that killed his parents. They meet and their lives move forward like stones skimming the surface of the water, dipping into memories that want to surface and those that want to lie buried forever.
Together, they struggle to come to terms with what happened in the past and where they want to go in the future, but can Jack cope with a man who likes to dress in leather mini-skirts and silk kimonos? Can Ciarrai trust Jack with the secrets of his past; secrets he can’t escape, secrets that are snapping at his heels?
When those secrets catch up, forcing Ciarrai back to the life he’d left, a life that was slowly draining his life away, he and Jack’s love is both threatened and tested by forces from without and within.
“You can’t be disrespecting the fairies, Damien.” Ciarrai shook his head at his smaller brother, who stuck out his tongue.
“There’s no such thing as fairies, Ciarrai,” Damien declared, investigating one nostril with a grubby finger. “Everyone knows that.”
“Sure, they don’t,” Ciarrai insisted. “Don’t you ever listen to what Dadda tells us, about when he was young and living in Ireland?”
“No, you don’t. You just want to play.”
“Well, who wants to sit and listen to stories about some old woman we’ve never seen? They’re only stories Ciarrai, they’re not real.”
Ciarrai shook his head. At almost ten, he was half a foot taller than his brother, and felt far more than two years older. Where Damien was robust and inquisitive, much preferring action to quiet contemplation, Ciarrai was slender and fey, liking to spend time reading and thinking.
“They are real,” Ciarrai insisted. “Dadda said so.”
Damien paused and frowned. “Are you sure? Are you sure he said they were actually real? That he actually said it?”
Ciarrai smiled. “Yes, he actually did. Do you want to hear one?”
Damien looked thoughtful for a moment then nodded. “Okay.”
“Get into bed then, or Mam will be up here chasing me into my own room.”
Damien scuttled across the hall from the bathroom, and leaped onto the bed, bouncing for a moment before pulling the quilt around his ears, gazing up at his brother expectantly.
“Did we ever go to Ireland, Ciarrai?” Damien asked, peering at him over the duvet.
Ciarrai considered thoughtfully. “I think so. I think I remember there being lots of green. And there was a horse, and I got to ride it. I’m not sure I liked it, but it was fun. We drove in a funny cart thing that a horse pulled and Dadda said he used to race them.”
“Why don’t I remember?” Damien demanded, clearly affronted that he had no such memories.
“Because you were very little, Damien, only a baby.”
“So why don’t we go anymore? Why don’t we get to hear the stories from Gra’ma and Gran’da?”
“Coz they don’t like Dadda anymore. We mustn’t ask, Mam said. It makes Dadda sad.”
“Oh. Okay. Tell me a story.”
Ciarrai smiled and ruffled his brother’s straw-coloured hair, which was a few shades darker than his own. Settling himself on the bed, he closed his eyes and took a breath.
“A long, long time ago, there was a foolish man.”
“Why was he foolish?”
“I don’t know. He just was. If you want me to tell you the story, shut up and listen.”
With a sigh, Ciarrai settled down and began again.
“A long, long time ago, there was a foolish man. He liked to get drunk and wander in the mountains under the moon. He wouldn’t listen when the people in the village told him it was a bad idea.”
“Why did they tell him that?”
“Damien, if you’re going to keep interrupting, I’m going to stop telling the story. If you listen you’ll find out.”
For the third time, Ciarrai started to speak.
“The foolish man forgot that the mountains in the moonlight belonged to the fey folk, the Tuatha de Danann. He wouldn’t listen when he was told and he laughed—just like you do, Damien—at the thought of fairies. He didn’t believe they existed.
“One day, when he was walking under a full moon near the old forest, he heard music coming from the trees. He knew he should stay away, but he was curious and he was foolish. The mead had made him brave. So, he went into the trees and crept through the darkness, until he saw light ahead.
“He had almost come to the light when it disappeared, and he was left wandering around in the darkness. It took him a lot of time to find his way out of the trees and, when he did, he heard the laughter and music again. He didn’t go back into the trees, because he wasn’t that stupid. So he was going to walk home. But then he saw something, a glowing figure walking out of the trees just in front of him.”
“Why was it glowing?”
“I don’t know— it just was. Shut. Up. Damien. Just listen. Anyway, he followed the flowing figure but as fast as he went, she went faster.”
“Was it a woman?”
Ciarrai gave an exaggerated sigh, but ignored him and pressed on, his eyes still closed. “He followed the woman, but she kept getting farther and farther away. The faster he went, the farther ahead she got, even though she didn’t seem to be moving very fast. And I don’t know why, okay,” he forestalled his brother’s question. “In the end, the man thought he would never be able to catch up and he shouted at her to wait.”
“Did she wait?”
“She stopped and let him catch up. ‘Why didn’t you wait?’ he asked. ‘Why didn’t you ask?’ she said. The man thought she was the most beautiful person he’d ever seen, and he soon got lost in her beauty.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, I’m not entirely sure,” Ciarrai had to admit. “I think it means that she was so beautiful he didn’t see what she really was or what was really happening. I don’t think she was a very nice person at all, actually, not when the man loved her that much, but that’s the way fairies are, I think.”
“Was she a fairy?” Damien was interested now, sitting up, his eyes wide.
“Yes, she was.”
“Did she change him into a rabbit?”
“No, she didn’t change him into a rabbit. What made you think that?”
“If I was a fairy and someone did something I didn’t like, I’d turn them into a rabbit.”
“Well, I think the man was pretty lucky that the fairy wasn’t you.”
“What did she do?”
“Taking him by the hand, she led him into the trees. It was never dark because the glow that surrounded her lit the way. After a while, they came to a clearing where there was a party going on. In the middle was a fairy ring and lots of fairies of all shapes and sizes were dancing.”
“The woman led him around the side of the ring to a table full of food and drink. She picked up a crystal goblet filled with mead, and a honey cake so thin you could see the moon through it, and held them out to him.
“The man knew it was dangerous to accept food and drink from the fey folk. He remembered being told by his grandmother many years before, but he couldn’t remember why, and the fairy was looking at him with a smile on her beautiful face, so he reached out and took the goblet and the cake.”
“When he had eaten and drunk, the fairy took his hand and led him into the fairy circle. Again, he knew it was a bad idea, but he did it anyway, because the beautiful woman had bewitched him.”
“What does ‘bewitched’ mean?”
“It means ‘put a spell on’.”
“See,” Damien said, smugly. “I told you she would.”
“She didn’t turn him into a rabbit, though.”
“What did she do?”
Ciarrai frowned. “She enchanted him, so that he didn’t remember his life before. He didn’t remember anything but her. He didn’t want to do anything but dance with her, and eat and drink with her.”
“Did he…you know?” Damien asked, with a smirk.
Ciarrai glared at him. “Eew, Damien, trust you to think about that.” Damien grinned smugly and snuggled down in the bed, stifling a yawn, and Ciarrai started again. “He forgot about everything but her until, one day, he shook off the enchantment and realised where he was and who he was. For a few days he went on, eating and drink and dancing, but everything seemed shallow and false. He realised he was trapped and, although no one bound him, or told him he couldn’t leave, he knew that, having set foot inside the fairy circle on the night of the dance, he had doomed himself to remain in the land of the fey forever.”
“Is that a bad thing?” Damien yawned more widely. “I mean it’s a nice place, isn’t it—fairyland? Why didn’t he want to stay there? It’s better than this one.”
“This land. It’s always sunny in fairyland, and there are cool things, like trolls and ogres and—”
“That fairyland isn’t real, Damien, this one was different.”
“Was it bad, then?”
“Well, no,” Ciarrai admitted reluctantly. “He was never hungry or thirsty and everyone was always happy and laughing and never sick or sad. He was treated well and everything was bright and shiny and glittery.”
“Then why did he want to leave?”
“Because he wasn’t a fairy and he didn’t belong.”
“But if it was a better place?”
“It might have been better in some ways, but it wasn’t his home. And he didn’t want things to be bright and shiny all the time. He wanted things to be dark sometimes, so he’d have something to fight for. Most of all, he wanted to have a choice, to be able to go home if he wanted. And, no matter how pretty and sweet and lovely everything was, he was still a prisoner.”
“So what did he do?”
“One day, he went to the king of the fairies and asked him to set him free. The king agreed, but he warned him that things would be different when he went back. He told him if he ever changed his mind, he could return to fairyland, but he’d never be able to leave it again.
“When the man got back to the human world, he found that hundreds of years had passed while he’d been dancing. Everything had changed. His family and friends were long dead and he didn’t fit into the world as it was then.”
“Did he go back to fairyland?”
“No. Even though he didn’t really fit in to the human world anymore, at least he was free there. He had challenges and struggles and he eventually fell in love and had a family. He said that no matter how bad things might have been in the outside world, he would always have chosen it because it was better to be free in a bad place than be a slave in the best place ever.”
“He was stupid, then.”
“He was?” Ciarrai looked at his brother in surprise. “I don’t think so.”
“Well, I do. He could have spent his whole life playing with fairies, and doing nothing but eating and dancing with beautiful people. Why would he want to leave that behind and live somewhere he had to work hard and he didn’t like?”
Ciarrai smiled and pressed him back on the pillows. Sliding off the bed, he tucked the duvet around his now sleepy brother, and turned off the light. “You’ll understand when you’re older,” he said solemnly, then hurried off to his own warm bed.
Nephy Hart was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Nephy has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Nephy became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Nephy lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon (called Smaug of course) and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art
Interviews with the author:
By Brandon Shire
About the Press:
Opening its doors on October 31, 2010, Flying With Red Haircrow is an independent publisher and writer cooperative with a large range of interests and possibilities who entreats everyone to, “Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”
We publish: Literary Fiction, Poetry, GLBTIIQ Fiction, Fantasy (Dark, Epic, Speculative), Multicultural, International, Memoir, Psychology, Sociology and more. For those interested in being a part of our team, have proposals or offers, please visit our website for more details.
If you are interested in a review copy for your website, wish to schedule an interview with the author or need more information about this release or press, please write Nephy Hart at email@example.com or Red Haircrow firstname.lastname@example.org.