Books

Reading Sundays: SHADES OF UNREALITY (Part 1), a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495) was born a few months before King Henry V’s glorious victory at Agincourt. When she was nine years old, she was betrothed to Richard, Duke of York, a cousin to King Henry VI. Eventually, Cecylee became the mother of thirteen children, including Edward IV and his younger brother Richard III, whose bones were recently discovered beneath a car park in Leicester. Lady Cecylee’s six hundredth birthday occurred on 3 May 2015. This piece tells of an adventure she had recently.

***

Since my death, I have tried to stay abreast of the goings-on in this world of ours. and I must confess I am most curious about this twenty-first century. Never before have ladies held power so openly. But it is not just the ladies that interest me, but the toys they play with. Truly, it is magical. Fancy being able to talk to someone miles away whom you cannot see. Or fix the image of a person for eternity. Or do calculations merely by moving your fingers around. Or convert currency. And all on a little thingy that is about the size of a pack of playing cards.

My scribe remarked recently that my six hundredth birthday was nigh, so on the occasion of the marking of my Great Age, I decided to pay a visit, closing my eyes to make my wish.

***

When I opened them, I was staring at a something I didn’t understand. I appeared to be in a guardroom, because everything was in muted colors, creams, silvers, blacks. On top of a marble bench sat something that might be an animal. I had to peer closely at it, as I couldn’t see clearly. It was as if I were gazing through some thin gauzy curtains. Every so often, the curtains would lift and shift as if disturbed by a breeze. Then they would settle and the scene would gradually grow clearer. The animal resembled a cat with deep sea-green eyes and orange fur. But something wasn’t quite right, because it was bigger than most cats I know, and it seemed—softer somehow. I studied it carefully. Underneath its fur were not muscles and skin, but—padding. It didn’t look quite real…[Continued next week.]

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