For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, Walter felt truly present in the moment.
The different instruments of the band competed for his attention. He listened first to the fiddle,
then the flute, then the bhodran. Never before had he listened so intently. Though he had no musical
training, Walter felt at that moment that he somehow understood on a deep level what it was that was
making the music sound so beautiful. He could feel in his soul how the harmony and rhythm were so right,
so perfect. The light in Saoirse's eyes shone bright as she looked deeply into Walter's. She moved with
a wonderful freedom that her Irish name did not do justice. Extraordinary and unique, her dancing seemed
to be telling a passionate story without words. Until now Walter had been unable to look at another
beautiful woman without immediately being reminded of Tallina and feeling an instant stabbing pain in
the pit of his stomach. As the band came to the end of the song, Saoirse gripped Walter's hand and pulled
him towards the exit.
"Where are we going?" asked Walter.
"You'll see," answered Saoirse with playful excitement in her voice.
They left the pub and were back in the vast cavern. As she led Walter around the cavern wall,
Walter's attention turned to the soft and delicate warmth of Saoirse's hand against his.
Then he noticed the cavern lights reflecting off her beautiful long dark hair and how it bounced
and swayed in time with her flowing dress as she walked. Walter felt an exhilarating sense of freedom.
For the first time in months, his mind was not constantly bombarding him with thoughts of true love lost.
Only yesterday Walter had been unable to conceive of being happy again without Tallina.
Yet here he was and nothing seemed wrong. Finally he had escaped the past and was back in the present.
He felt a massive sense of relief and peace.
Saoirse opened a door in the cavern wall and led Walter through. Beyond the door was a stone spiral
staircase hewn out of solid rock. She began climbing at a brisk pace, urging Walter to follow with
the subtlest movement of her eyes. Up and up they climbed. It seemed effortless to Saoirse,
but after several turns of the spiral, Walter began to gasp for breath. Finally they reached the
top where Saoirse opened another door and daylight suddenly came shining through. Walter shielded his
eyes which had become accustomed to the dim cavern lights. Saoirse led him out onto a wide rocky ledge
where Walter fell to the ground and lay on his back gasping for breath. Saoirse giggled at his lack of
stamina and then lay down beside him, her hand clasping his as Walter's heavy breathing gradually subsided.
They felt the warm sunshine on their faces and lay soaking it up without speaking. Now and again Saoirse
grasped Walter's hand a little tighter to remind him that she was holding it. Walter needed no reminding.
To him it felt like a powerful electrical charge was flowing from Saoirse's hand into his.
After several minutes' silence, Saoirse finally spoke.
"What was she loike?" she asked.
"What?" asked Walter, surprised by the sudden end to the silence.
"Your lady. What was she loike?"
Walter hesitated for a moment. He had finally found some relief from his pain and did not want it to return.
But as he thought about Tallina, he was surprised to find that the pain was not there.
"She was wonderful. Truly wonderful. I felt pure effortless joy simply being in her presence. She didn't
have to do anything. She just had to be there. Her presence cast a spell on me, the greatest of spells,
dissolving all worry and hurt. Her voice was like the sweetest music and her wonderful feminine beauty
made me shake my head in disbelief. She is wonderful."
"How d' ye feel now, Walter?"
Walter stopped for a moment, trying to make sense of how he was feeling. There was no hurt any more. No pain.
There was an overwhelming sense of freedom, peace and love. Now he understood what Dara had been saying.
"I love her," said Walter. As he thought of Tallina he felt pure love coarsing through him. Yet he knew then
that he no longer needed her. The love that he felt for her was with him now, whether she was by his side
or not. It was intense and powerful and no-one could take it away. Walter felt as though he had somehow
grown several inches taller.
"Oi can see that, Walt," said Saoirse. She leaned over and kissed him gently on the cheek. Walter felt
sleep overcoming him as he relaxed like he had not relaxed for far too long. Slowly he drifted off and
Saoirse felt his grip on her hand relax.
Some time later, Walter awoke with a vivid dream fresh in his mind. He opened his eyes to find Saoirse
sitting cross-legged in front of him, as if she had been patiently waiting for him to awake. She raised her
eyebrows inquisitively and smiled warmly at him, causing him to let out an altogether unplanned giggle.
"Tell me yer dream, Walt," said Saoirse.
"Hey? How do you know I had a dream?" Walter asked with surprise.
"Aaah, dat would be telling!" said Saoirse mysteriously.
"All right then," said Walter after pretending to give her a scolding look. "I was watching a lottery or bingo
machine. The kind with the air blowing ping pong type balls around so that they fly about randomly, sometimes
banging into one another. There two sets of 26 balls. Some pink and some blue. Each had one of the letters
of the alphabet on it. A-Z pink and A-Z blue.
"When balls with letters that were quite close to each other in the alphabet came together, there seemed to
be a kind of magnetic attraction, they stayed together for a while and flew around the air chamber together,
moving near the top of the chamber as they seemed to gain extra energy as a pair. But they eventually lost
that energy and sank back down to the bottom of the chamber where they moved around listlessly for a while
before breaking apart. It seemed that the closer the letters were to each other in the alphabet, the longer
they were likely to stay together.
"Then occasionally the exact same two letters came together, they stuck together strongly and ZOOM!
They flew off out of the tube at the top, never to return to the air chamber."
Saoirse smiled a big smile as Walter finished his story.
"Oi think Oi'm going to enjoy you," she said. "Got to go now Walter. See ya soon." With that Saoirse rose quickly to her feet and went back through the door to the staircase. Before Walter had time to protest, she was gone.
Although each tale stands on it own, Elf Tales is a series of stories best read from the beginning so that you get to know the colourful characters. To read more in the series, click here.
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