Honoring My Gothic Present

Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat

As part of my studies of Gothic fairy tales I offer up this quick write from our Carterhaugh class today today, all in the service of learning and expressing and using NaNoWriMo to focus in on what needs to be. As it is written, so mote it be…

Honoring My Gothic Present

I am the old woman you meet in the woods, dressed in shapeless, comfortable black, salt and pepper hair tucked under the hood of my green, woolen shawl as I follow the deer paths through the darker parts of the Wood. My boots are sturdy, laced over the ankle and meant for hiking, but if you look closely at my chicken legs, you’ll see that my boots are a deep burgundy color. 

Yes, I show my ankles. I’m not ashamed, because these chicken legs are strong.

My fellow woods-wanderers crow with delight and declare the boots purple. I cackle in return. They recognize my younger self, even though we’d never met in the past. We pass a bottle of red around the bonfire, even to the few males who sometimes join us in these woods. They are often distracted by the young women in white that flit in the shadows beyond the firelight; they tremble in their light and diaphanous presence.

Innocent in their own way, these new men bow and speak with courtly measures; they don’t recognize the vampiress behind the trembling smile, the poison in her lacy shawl and trailing sleeves. We pass the wine again and toss a branch of deadwood into the waning embers, and laugh. Either they’ll survive or they won’t; we all have to find our own way through the Wood. And to be fair, old timers, woman as well as men, suffer (and often enjoy) the same distractions.  

Perhaps you, who listen now, will run across me in the woods, as you run from a mad Scotsman who rides a black stallion and carries his pumpkin head in one hand, leather reins in the other. Or perhaps it’s a mad man in a blue police box you’ve seen. If that’s the case, my dears, the line forms after me, thank you very much. I have an itch for a dalliance of quality…

© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2020)


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