The May Queen

The May Queen
October 29, 2011 10 Comments Writing Stephanie Ayers

If you walk through the woods on May 1 of any given year, and it’s quiet enough, you might hear the songs and laughter of 14 little girls emerge from the field. If the light is exactly right, you might even see them dancing in their ancient white dresses, flowers adorning their hair and dresses, holding bright colored ribbons attached to a wooden pole, erected in the dead center of the field. And if you are really lucky, you just might see the wolf and the girl dancing around the maypole.

This vision could haunt you for the rest of your life, or so I’ve been told.

~*~*~*~

Fourteen was the number of girls chosen to dance around the maypole in 1687. It was an annual event, the celebration of Baltane, the emergence of spring. It was one that the small township was loathed to miss. The year before, the number had been low, the May Queen barren, and as a result, the crops were poorer than normal, the livestock was sicker than normal, and the town fared badly all around.

The maypole dance was not for the squeamish. Most were reluctant to dedicate their daughters to the task though all were expected to do it anyway. The girls usually came away tainted by something. We’d never figured out what, but we knew they were never the quite the same. If chosen by the Great Lykos, they were never seen or heard from again.

You see, the Great Lykos, a giant man wolf, was feared by the whole town. His wrath ensured our demise, the lack of prospering crops, and the death of our livestock. He only asked for a virgin bride, of a certain age, which happened to be 12. His bride was to bear him a child. During her pregnancy, our lands and livestock would be fertile. If she bore him a son, a lycan, we would have good luck for five years, and no sacrifice would be needed during that time. If she bore him a daughter, the child was killed instantly, her blood poured into the earth poisoning it, and we would be cursed. If she was barren, he would take two brides the following Baltane. In 1686, the bride was barren.

Macey was 12 the year the town priest came to visit. Macey was such a lovely child—all blonde hair and curls with blue eyes that could melt even the coldest heart in a glance. He had thirteen others, he told us, and it would not bode well with the Great Lykos. All of age and unmarried had to dance. She had to do the dance, despite being betrothed. There were 14 unmarried girls in the village of age to dance the maypole. Never before had we had that many. Twelve had been the highest number until now.

Tears filled Macey’s eyes as she saw that we acquiesced, though our hearts trembled. We could only pray that she not be chosen to be a May Queen. It meant giving her up forever, and as our last child, we were reluctant to do that. How we felt about it was moot. The rest of the town depended on us to follow tradition. It was not our place to disrupt it.

So she danced. The music lifted their spirits, and they danced gaily about the pole, the rainbow of ribbons weaving in and out of the sunlight, the flowers nodding in rhythm. The Great Lykos moved among the trees, always watching from a distance, until he had made his choice. In a blink, he was at the Maypole, more man than wolf; his long black hair disheveled, his silver eyes wide, and a great beard hung from his chin. His toothy smile was menacing as a handless robed arm reached out. He grabbed the purple ribbon to show his choice, and just as quickly, he grabbed the yellow ribbon lest the now frightened girls ran away before he got his second pick.

“You,” he grunted to Macey, “You are my first, and will bear me a son. And you,” he pointed to the other girl, her fist still attached to the yellow ribbon, “will be her handmaiden until such a time as I am ready for you.”

Macey dropped the purple ribbon. “I will not. I am betrothed to another. I will not be your bride.”

The people murmured amongst them as fear began to spread like a plague through the crowd. The Great Lykos wailed in anger, his eyes searching for her betrothed to make an example out of him. A shift of black flashed between the trees behind them.

“It is I, Father, who claim her for my own. Dare you go against me?” the lycan spoke from the edge of the woods. “It shall be your last breath.”

The wolf sprang, slicing his father’s throat with such speed that none had seen him do it.

“It is with my last breath that I curse you all. I will take all of you to hell with me!” The Great Lykos’ voice trembled, breathing a last curse against us all. The earth opened beneath him, and as promised, devoured the 14 and his son along with him.

And thus began the annihilation of our town. No babies were ever born to us again.

~*~*~*~

If you walk through the woods on May 1 of any given year, and it’s quiet enough, you might hear the songs and laughter of 14 little girls emerge from the field. If the light is exactly right, you might even see them dancing in their ancient white dresses, flowers adorning their hair and dresses, holding bright colored ribbons attached to a wooden pole, erected in the dead center of the field. And if you are really lucky, you just might see the wolf and the girl dancing around the maypole.

When you wake up the next morning, you could find yourself in Hell.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I missed the deadline AND the word count with this, but I decided to share it anyway since it’s Halloween weekend. This prompt (the maypole picture) comes from a great new writing meme sponsored by Words In Sync. Click the button to check out all the great writerly stuff going on over there.

Feel free to leave me concrit, since it is always wanted. Have a great weekend!

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Stephanie Ayers A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories. When she is not writing, she can be found in Creative Cloud designing book covers and promotional graphics for authors.
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  1. 10 Comments

    Tina

    I would have liked more information about what happened to the 14 girls, and the town, after they were cursed. I felt as though you left me hanging!

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      DM

      Ok, thank you. I will have to add more clarity to the end with the Great Lykos cursing them. It was meant to imply that he took them to hell with him, but obviously needs more work! Thank you SOOO much for the awesome concrit!

      Reply
      1. 10 Comments

        DM

        I believe I fixed it (at least for now, anyway.)

        Reply
  2. 10 Comments

    Angelia Sims

    I love your work! Felt like I was reading a true legend. Awesome.

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      DM

      Really? That’s how I felt reading your post today too. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. 10 Comments

    Chelle

    In the few short months that I’ve been reading your writing, I have to say, I’ve seen what was great to begin with become even more powerful!

    This is a GREAT story!

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      DM

      Aw shucks. Thanks, Chelle. I’m sorry that you are the only one linking up each week, but I am glad you do. I haven’t been doing it (and I probably should be) because I just haven’t been motivated by the prompts (its like because of the other writing groups I am in, I’ve already been there and done that in some ways, if that makes any sense). I encourage you to spread your writerly wings and join up with some other writers groups as well. I’ll put a list up on BMWW this week. I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year (again) and it starts November 1.

      We’ll have to see what happens. 😉

      Reply
      1. 10 Comments

        Chelle

        It’s all good.
        I was thinking the same thing about looking around for more writer’s groups.
        I’m looking forward to seeing the list you’ll put up this week. 🙂

        Reply
  4. 10 Comments

    Carrie

    Definitely not a being I’d want to cross…funny the Great Lycan wouldn’t have known his son had chosen a bride.

    I love the repeat at the beginning and end…and that last line is fabulous

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      DM

      Interesting twist, isn’t it? Although I don’t think anyone was expecting the outcome. 😉

      Reply

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