Title: The Keening

Author: Elliott (elliottsilver@hotmail.com)

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Summary: When you cry for desire.


Back of beyond, there was Tir-nan-Og.

Back of beyond, his body moved in rhyme with hers, his breath syncopated, chord for desperate chord.

Her fingers notching crescents of fairy rings on his back, renting deeper and deeper with every surge like waves sloughing the sand skin of a beach. Each swell of the tide a cadence of gallop under the silken reins of the moon, leaving prints that washed away and nothing more.

Tir-nan-Og – Atlantis, of the ever-young.

Sweat drizzling from his forehead, tangling in his eyelashes and burning, blurring, kindling the fever within.

Tir-nan-Og, where no map could ever lead you.

Tension sizzling along her spine as she curled backwards like white-winged waves cresting on the sea, drawn under and within herself. The undertow of her voice a threnody.

Calling him through the mist and night like a banshee as she let go of the earth.


The winter wind in the forest, the Gaelic ‘fairy woman’ of legend who came only for the most ancient of Celtic lines, to lead them to the other side, the new world.

Her cries "keening", the English word 'keen' descending like scales of a melody from the Irish 'Caoineadh' – to lament.

Sound rising and falling like the ebb and flow of the sea, the wax and waning of the moon.

Her chant gilded with illumination like the Book of Kells.

The knells of his pulse like bells tolling, like surf breaking.

And as Jarod let go of the tethers to this world, he knew Parker’s voice mourning, not death but light, the fall from ecstasy, the dark return from Tir-nan-Og.

From earth to underworld to heaven.

And back.

And he knew, you had to die in order to live.


They roused later, still gently caught between earth and air.

"It’s Saint Patrick’s day," he whispered, as if a revelation, a prayer to remain as they were.

"Lá Fhéile Pádraig," she whispered into his chest.

Sweat glistening on her skin so it shimmered in the moonlight, glowing in defiance of the night’s blackness. "Sidhe" – fairy in Gaelic – shining like the sun tinseling water, or opalescent like the moon glittering on the sea.

Those who shone earthly, those who shimmered heavenly.

"You know Gaelic?"

"Of course."

"Why?" he asked, his fingers tangling in the dark gorse of her hair that shrouded her face from him like cobwebs over a glass window. "How?"

"He was beautiful, but he was also IRA."

"What happened?"

"He loved his country more."

Contempt and derision in his posture, transference without words as she lifted her head from his chest, withdrew her fingers from his grasp.

"How could anyone not love you more than absolutely everything?" he demanded, his sigh the hymns of wrenboys. His voice old as the Druids, old as Christians nailing the skins of pagans to church doors as warning, old as leabai, slabs of rock adorning graves of Celtic cairns and crosses.

Her laugh, the revelry of may queens and mummers.

Her look, of a woman who’d gone to the ends of the earth for him on nothing more than the unfailing hope that one day she would find him there.

And he her.

The candle in the other room flickering with a wisp of air, a breath of the storm blown like glass. The same storm that had cut all electricity and enveloped the city in unusual darkness.

As if he could hold darkness and demons at bay with candles and light.

In ancient times, fire had never been allowed to die out.

Rather they were settled down without being lost. "Smooring", a spark captured as chants and blessings were recited to beg protection by the spirits.

Their voices in the night of the same spell, of the same fire.

Lit on sunset, held til morning.

"I don't know if I'm Irish," he whispered, wondering if fairies were fallen angels.

Outside their windows a mist was falling as the warm air of the storm clashed with the cold air of heavens.

"Spare me the white leopard speech."

Like frost on window panes, like spurs on holly leaves.

Maybe there was hope yet.

Like the Claddaugh, the three tiers of heart, hands and crown. Hope surely interlaced them all.

"It should be 'spare me the leprechaun speech'," he informed her.

He felt the laughter in her body before he heard it.


Skin to skin, pulse to pulse, breath to breath.

Each movement etched like Waterford, a seismometer inscribed upon the other like a rainbow revealing treasure like a rune of confession, hidden when the Danes had marauded through Ireland now protected by leprechauns, or perhaps only spirits of those who had died.

He kissed the edge of her shoulder, the dip where her neck met her back, the nape under the thick blackthorn silk of dark hair. Intoxicated on the scent of her skin and the poteen of her kiss.

Her eyes glittering like shamrocks as she returned to him, the miracle divined by Saint Patrick as the Trinity. Each verdant leaf representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Or maybe love, faith, and forever.

Tir-nan-Og, the land of eternal springtime, seen by humans only through a chill sea mist.

It was no fable.

"I love you," he whispered as skin grafted to skin, taking each other hostage.

Back of beyond, back where they belonged.

Back of beyond, to Tir-nan-Og.

"Ta gra agam ort," she whispered back, her voice a map through the mists.

As her mouth met his, keening with desire.





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Author’s Note: Any mistakes in The Keening are my own. All corrections of Irish lore or Gaelic are welcome, as is anything else about Eire you would like to share…


Disclaimer: The characters of "The Pretender" are not mine; they rightfully belong to NBC, MTM, and Pretender Productions, as well as the actors and actresses who give paper and ink a life and a voice. I am making no profit from these writings; imitation is the highest form of flattery.