Prom's Special Picnic Place: Place Post 15
When Promise Grene turned seven, her extended family, which numbered 25 when all the cousins were included, took her for a mystery birthday picnic. None of them knew where they were going; the cars just followed Grandad Peter Grene. He didn't know either, but then, he'd grown up over there so his attitude to place and distance had nothing to do with maps. The cavalcade turned off the made road and bumped along a track, and eventually Prom's brother opined they must be well past the no vehicles past here mark. Grandad Peter G placidly assumed that if anything went wrong with a vehicle, his grandson Peck would fix it, so that was okay.
The place where they ended up was enchanting.
The place where they ended up was enchanting.
...she saw the place they’d come to. A wide curve of shingle glimmered in the sun, as bits of quartz and mica refracted the light. A narrow, dashing river curved around the shingle bank, splitting and swirling around wet rocks that a brave person would be able to use as stepping stones to cross to the other side.
Promise gazed at that magic pathway. She hoped she was a brave person. On the other side of the river, the shingle sloped up to rocks and then to a steeply wooded cliff. She saw a track threading between the rocks and passing along the foot of the trees like a line of stitches in Granny Gentie’s embroidery.
Prom knew that was a strange thing to think about on this side of the gateways. If they’d been by a river in the pixie forest magic would be expected. Over here, on the human side of the gates, where cars worked and waterfolk didn’t visit, a landscape had to work so much harder to seem magical. She blinked and looked around her, almost crying with delight. This was such a perfect place for her picnic. It looked like over there, but it couldn’t be. They’d come there by car.
Peck slid out of the car behind her, followed by Granny Gentian. “Where are we?” Peck asked. Now he was at the big human school, he’d started asking things like that.
“We’re here,” Granny said.
Just for a little bit, Prom wanted to look at the beautiful picnic place and fix it in her mind.. She decided it was going to be her special place for ever and ever.
Prom's river place was pretty well hidden from the outside world. On the other side was a thin strip of shingle and a thickly scrubbed hill rearing into a cliff. This made it all the more interesting when Prom spotted two people fishing. The boy was a bit older than her, so Prom waved. When he failed to notice her, she demonstrated her stone-skimming talents. It turned out he had the same skill. Communicating by scratched messages and mime, then decided to get together... but Prom had to go for her birthday lunch. She promised to come later, but by then the boy had gone.
Prom begged to be taken back the next day, but that was Christmas.
Over the years, she made several attempts to return to her special picnic place. They all failed, because none of her family knew where it was. Cousin-by-love Tom, who was human, remembered it and sketched it for her, but though he promised to ask about, nothing came of it. When Prom was grown up and had her drivers' licence, she spent fruitless hours with a map and GPS, but the magical picnic place proved elusive.
It was many years before she found someone who not only knew the place, but who knew how to get there. He told her it was just as she remembered and had a logical explanation for her failure to find it herself.
Prom's special picnic place appears in the Christmas novella I Promise to be published in December 2018. As you may have guessed, it's based on a place I went once. Like Prom, I have no clear idea where it was because it was a day when we'd been to several different places. Unlike Prom, I haven't been able to find anyone who remembers that day, let alone where to go. Since it is now forty-something years in the past, I know I'll never find it. Indeed, it probably ceased to exist long ago since rivers flood and change. It wasn't exactly like Prom's place, being more accessible by road - then - and lacking the cliff and the stepping-stone rocks. If only I knew which road, which river, which district...
The picture shows the grown-up Promise and the man who held the clue to her mystery.
About the Blog
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)
The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!