Circles of gold, p.1
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       Circles of Gold, p.1

           Philip J Bradbury
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Circles of Gold
Circles of Gold

  Philip Bradbury

  Other books by Philip Bradbury

  Non Fiction

  Whose Life Is It Anyway?

  The Lawless Way

  Change Your Life, Change Your World

  Understanding Men

  The Meaning of Larf

  Articles of Faith

  Conversations on Your Business

  Stepping Out Of Debt and Into Financial Freedom

  Dactionary – the dictionary with attitude




  An Olympic Challenge

  The Royal Bank of Stories

  Circles of Gold

  Gerald the Great of Gorokoland


  Circles of Gold

  Copyright  2016 by Philip Bradbury

  ISBN 978-1-4659-1499-6

  Published by: Philip J Bradbury

  Typed (with two fingers) by Philip J Bradbury

  Typeset (with brilliance and majesty) by Philip J Bradbury

  Front cover designed (with flair and imagination) by Philip J Bradbury

  All rights reserved. Although this book is copyright and you’re not supposed to reproduce it in any form, I know that some of you will. As a sculptor of words, I’m well aware that it’s so easy for anyone to pretend these words are theirs and receive acclaim for that. If you can live with that then, please, go ahead.

  All I can do is ask that you treat the spirit of these words with respect, treat me with respect and enjoy the product thereof. I can live with that.

  With Love, Philip Bradbury


  Donal Arrives

  Once upon a time, when dreaming was useful, a child was born. His father, with youthful exuberance, watched his son enter his world and exclaimed, “Oh, me God, he’s beautiful! He’s ...” He stopped exclaiming for he had seen something he had not expected. His silence was palpable as he frowned and quickly forced a smile back to his face. Too late. His straining wife, focused on her own exertions, pains and joys, sensed a peripheral shiver touch her heart. She looked at her husband’s wooden smile and knew all was not well. The midwife and her two assistants – village girls learning this important craft – caught the cool wind of concern and they stopped momentarily, uneasily, for a second that travelled into eternity.

  An impartial observer would have sensed nothing but, for those involved, a ripple of time, a shadow of unease, passed through all of them. They then returned to what needed to be done, pretending they had not seen what was fully evident.

  The naked wee babe was wiped of the wax over his pink body with damp cloths infused with herbs, and then placed on his mother’s naked belly, flesh to flesh. Her fervent panting had by now given way to gentle sighs and grateful smiles and all looked a picture of peace as the three other women gathered their ewers, bowls, utensils and unused liquids, to be cleansed or buried in the ancient way. They left the candles burning and the bundles of sage and lavender smouldering to help cleanse and purify the room.

  The young priest, his wife and son were soon alone. As he sat smiling at his wife and child, he wondered why God would give him perfection in everything and then mar it with deformity. He considered whether he should rewrite tomorrow’s sermon which was written, in anticipation of this sweet moment, on God’s preference for providing us with perfection if we would but get out of His way, stop judging and love what is provided. Perhaps the point is to accept perfection and imperfection, beauty and deformity, for life was never perfect, easy and fully joyous. Lovely sentiments, nice theory for a priest to talk about but, blast it! This was his son, in his life, in his house and they’d all have to live with that abnormality, that un-human monstrosity, forever. It just wasn’t fair, especially for a man of God to have to deal with the cruel humour of a vicious creator. God had always been so loving till now so why did He have to turn on him, a good and pious priest who had given his life over to God and His mighty works and now, now that he had all he wanted, God savagely distorts that which he must live with. Why, oh why, God? Why me? Why now? His thoughts raged on.

  The dread that had been instilled in his heart from the gathering of men of his calling, two valleys away, two moons ago, rose as bile in his throat. In their flowing white cloaks the men had stepped down into their sacred pit, inside the heart of The Mother, to hear The Mother speak to them through the voice of their high priest. Instead of uplifting, the words were, this time, quietly foreboding of a time to come. This End Time, The Mother said, would see neighbour fight with neighbour, famine would be on the land and peoples’ minds and bodies would be deformed. This Time, She said, may not be in their lifetimes and they must not talk of it to the uninitiated, to the villagers. In fact, she said, the priests must bring as much light and love to their people for that could, perhaps, keep the blackness from this land. It would, at least, reduce its tragic effects.

  This message of doom, though a long time off, had shaken Bryn to his bones and he could not share it with anyone and so it grew. And now his son – his son, the son of a druid priest – was deformed. Was it a reflection of his own impurity, the ungodliness he kept inside? He felt The Mother pointing at him, not with her usually loving smile but with an accusing grimace.

  He knew that the deformity was there – he had seen it – but it was now hidden, pressed against his wife’s soft belly. He felt himself slipping off the map of his life, his fingers clinging to the edge as pebbles loosened themselves and spun into the abyss below. This was not as he had planned it to be and now he could feel himself about to plummet into the rude forests of his ancestors where gnarly, savage creatures waited to taunt him, if not to devour him. As that ancient fear of all men – the fear of not being in control – threatened to swamp him, he remembered his training. So he invited God inside. He sat with God inside. He stilled his mind, opened his palms, softened his jaw and smiled his eyes and mouth. He crawled back from that cracking edge of a life so-dreamed and lay there panting on the warm earth as God stilled his rushing thoughts. Through the panic he arrived back home to a comfortable peace, a knowing that he knew nothing, and that was as it should be, somehow.

  He smiled an easy smile now and his young wife opened her eyes at its invitation. At the instant that she had first seen the uncertainty and fear in her husband’s eyes, as their child entered his new world, she had shut the doors of doubt and cocooned herself in that sweet and primitive first moment of embrace with what had been inside her, returning to her as the perfect embodiment of their love. This moment would never come again and her bliss kept the dark wolves of doubt far from her door.

  Time passes in this world and we must move on or be swallowed by the giant of indolence. We have our dreaming but we must awake, face the rising sun and return to the world of sharp edges and defined tasks.

  Her husband’s soft smile was the rising sun she woke to and, despite his easy manner and loving looks, she knew there were going to be sharp edges and defined tasks to encounter this day. Many, probably.

  “What is yer concern, Bryn?” she asked.

  “Hold our baby up and ye will see, Eryn,” he said, not daring to move a muscle. She did so and gasped.

  “Oh, Bryn, that be amazing!” she exclaimed.

  “Amazing? It be ugly!” said Bryn, grimacing.

  “No, not ugly, husband, not ugly at all,” said Eryn, looking at him softly. “It be different, it be ... um, unexpected, but it not be ugly at all.”

  “It’s not normal, not normal at all,” said Bryn, remaining very still, attempting to control his emotions with his muscles.

  “Oh Bryn, me husband, ye be disappointed, let down, for ye wanted to have ye own kind of perfection, n
ot God’s.”

  “But that be not human, not normal. Humans have flesh there. They have, um, belly buttons of flesh,” said Bryn, daring himself to ease forward to take a closer look.

  “Well, yes, I be surprised, shocked even,” said Eryn, considering her son’s belly button. “But no matter how I try, I cannot see ugly. I just cannot see that.”

  “But it’s not normal. What will we tell people? What will they think of a priest’s son with a golden belly button? We’ll be laughing stocks. He’ll be ostracised ...”

  “Bryn! Bryn, Bryn, me darling man. Go quietly for a moment now,” said Eryn, trying to soothe his turbulent waters. “What other people make of it is what we make of it. And if they don’t, they’ll make of it what they will anyway.”

  “People will see this deformity,” said Bryn, sitting back and closing his eyes to keep the crowd scene out of his mind, unsuccessfully.

  “Bryn me love, this is our son and he has what he has. We have what we have – a son with a golden belly button,” said Eryn, holding her little boy closer while stroking his shiny belly button. “He has what he has and we have what we have. Would ye have us throw him out with the rubbish? Feed him to the wolves?”

  “No! No me love, of course not!” said Bryn, reaching forward and touching her arm. He realised, in that moment, he was unable to touch his son and an ice shard stabbed his heart as he thought on that. “We have him but ... but, oh, I don’t know. I just don’t
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