Fiction
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In the glen

(image source, edited by me)

This belongs somewhere in the book I’m writing, probably about a third of the way in.  The whole thing is nowhere near ready — we’re talking years, not months away — but I wanted to give you a tiny little taste nonetheless. I hope you like it. Oh, and just a small reminder: you can subscribe to my blog via e-mail here.


“Death was tired?” Eira was, too, but she could smell a story.

“Well, yes.” Os stretched out and folded his hands behind his head. “Just imagine, people kept dying and dying, and everyone was carrying a life’s worth of memories and regrets and unfulfilled dreams and… heavy things. Death couldn’t let them keep all that forever, it would be cruel. But Death couldn’t shoulder everything itself either; it’s just too much for one. So Death made the Two, and gave them one half of the world each. They travel ahead of Death, picking up our burdens so we can travel on freely.”

“So your lockets are..?”

“Patience, remember?” Os teased, nudging her arm with his foot. “Naturally, Death’s new system wasn’t perfect. Even split in half, nobody can carry a world’s burdens forever. So, once a year, the Two meet up with Death, fall asleep, and while they dream, Death makes them forget everything. All the bad stuff goes poof, and that way they can carry on for another year.” He cleared his throat and started singing, voice accompanied by the night wind swooping through the trees:

Once a year they meet
neither is woman, nor are they men
    meeting in the lovers’ glen
Meeting in the lovers’ glen
they meet to greet and rest with Death
in the glen
in the glen

Once a year they give
everything hopeless, everything lost
    sleeping in the lovers’ glen
Sleeping in the lovers’ glen
they give, in sleep, their hearts to Death
in the glen
in the glen

Once a year they dream
hopeful beginnings, and of the end
    dreaming in the lovers’ glen
Dreaming in the lovers’ glen
they dream, forget, while watched by Death
in the glen
in the glen

Once a year they wake
nothing remembered, ready again
    waking in the lovers’ glen
Waking in the lovers’ glen
they rise, embrace, kiss Death goodbye
in the glen
in the glen

Once a year they leave
younger and lighter, eager to start
    leaving the lovers’ glen
Leaving the lovers’ glen
they leave, and will not meet until
   a year has passed
in the glen
in the glen

Os was quiet for so long that Eira had to open her eyes to check he hadn’t sung himself to sleep. “Os?”

“Mm?”

“The lockets?”

“The bonds are our way of paying Death back for its kindness. Inside each locket is a sheet of gold leaf, which they use to cover our lips when we’re dead. That way, we can thank Death with a golden kiss.”

“Your Death does a lot of kissing.”

“It has a pretty hard job, after all, so there ought to be some benefits, don’t you think? Though the Two in the glen aren’t as lucky.”

“They get to forget.” Eira’s hands were almost fists, but she breathed them open again. Os didn’t comment on it, but she knew he’d caught the touch of envy in her voice.

“I want to remember everything,” he finally said, unusually serious.


© Maria Hansen Troøyen 2016. Do not republish without permission.

8 Comments

  1. This is beautiful. Please know that if this ever becomes a book, I will be first in line to buy it. Also, I would love to hear you singing the song Os sings – your voice is so wonderfully mystical that I think it would suit it perfectly ❤

    • Maria says

      Thank you so much, Bonnie <3 as for the song, it IS a song, and I am a singer, so I guess it's bound to happen sooner or later 😉

  2. Nur says

    Maria, this is beautiful, so beautiful – I feel so so privileged that you are sharing part of your novel with us, it’s such a treat to read – I felt like I had descended into the same enchanted forest under the stars as I read into the conversation between Os and Eira, and was intrigued from the very first line! Death is my favourite, most favourite character in the Discworld series by the late (and very missed) Sir Terry Pratchett – have you ever read any? Death is one of his most important characters with a few novels devoted to him, and I was smiling the whole time to read how Os speaks of your Death, all the practical details of it all, so detached and yet so deeply intimate with dying and death, brilliant! I agree with Bonnie and hope we’ll hear ‘in the glen’ too (you’ve got two requests already! :D), I kept hearing it as some kind of half-lyric, it would be beautiful, so poetic. You are a beautifully lyric (and quiet) writer, and I hope you’ll share more with us! I am too shy to share my stories and novels, for some reason (I write them for me as reader), but you actually inspired me to finally start sharing some of my not-fictional thoughts on a new Tumblr tonight!! Thank you, and so much love as always, from your faraway reader – I’ll be waiting to have the book in my hands too!! xoxo

    • Maria says

      See, it’s comments like these that make me want to stay up all night, typing away while listening to the Broadchurch soundtrack. Thank you so, so much, Nur. I actually haven’t read the Discworld books yet, but they are on my list — do you think I should start with the first book in the series and read them chronologically, or would it be okay to start with, oh, say one where Death is the main character?

      “So detached and yet so deeply intimate with dying and death”, as you so cleverly put it, I think that’s just what I (subconsciously) wanted this little piece to say. As for the song, I would absolutely love to record it some day and put it out here.

      And hey, a fellow writer, how intriguing! I’d love to visit your Tumblr, if you won’t mind; perhaps you could let me know where to find it? (either here or in an e-mail, if you don’t want the whole world to see)

      *hugs*

      • Nur says

        Maria, you must think I’m terrible and rude and I apologise so sincerely, but I had forgotten about my comment and didn’t receive any notifications and didn’t think you’d read it – I only thought I’d check in again to see if you replied after reading your beautiful (beautiful!) post on dancing! Thank you for such a lovely, kind reply!

        It makes me happy just thinking of what a lovely evening that must be, staying up to type away and listening to Broadchurch! I have tried to make some of that for myself the last few weeks, also very late at night, typing away and listening to music too (soundtracks are a favourite too!!) It’s Ramadan now so my routine’s a little upside-down, but I’ve taken to putting a little orange blossom in my water, and it’s sort of become my little routine, to drink it as I stay up and write, while everyone else in the house sleeps.

        I’ve just read Kielce’s lovely comments to you below, and she’s right, you don’t have to read them chronologically at all, you can read them all jumbled up (as I did in the beginning, depending on what I could find), or on the groups of characters you like best, or the main themes, etc. – it would be very okay to start with one where Death is the main character (although he features in almost every single novel, and is always so, so welcome when you meet him)! These are called Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time – they’re all brilliant, so funny and perceptive and dramatic – my own favourite is Soul Music, the one I’m reading right now (I usually read these over a matter of days, but I’ve taken months over Soul Music, because I don’t want the happy experience to end, my last Death novel, a way to say goodbye to Terry Pratchett, who died last year (I still can’t get round to reading the last book). But please do try them, if you can find them and if you have the time! I am a fervent fan and I know it’s not for everyone, but somehow I’m *sure you’d love them – it’s just the sort of thing Os and Eira would fit into!! Just as you say, to be just inside and outside of living and dying, and everything in between – I do hope that you will one day record it, I know somehow you must have a beautiful voice, and we’ll all be here to listen to it!

        I’ll email you right away with my Tumblr, I’d be thrilled if you had even a minute to look at them, if only to know you definitely inspired me to start at all, to start writing on these subjects for a potential audience other than myself – now, I’ve realised I don’t mind that so much, and I’m still working around my shyness in sharing things, but honestly it’s been such a joy to have a place to share all my thoughts on these things and so while I’m still new to them, I’ve been working so hard to find the time to write on them, and I have you to thank!! 😀

        Will write in just a minute, *lots of hugs*

  3. Dear Maria,

    First of all, I’m sorry if my English isn’t good enough but I don’t have much opportunity to use it in writing. For a very long time I wanted to tell how much I admire you, your blog, and the way you write. It doesn’t matter if it’s abuot fashion, beauty, way you treat your body, thoughts. I think you’re very good, wonderful girl and one of the best blogger. I’m almost 32 and I can honestly tell that you’re also very mature. I want to thank you for all the good and beauty you put in my life.
    Your writing in this post is… wow. It’s only a small part, but I can tell it’ll be great book. I’m pretty sure it will becouse I know a lot about literature and good writing. This piece is magical.
    I hope that my blabing isn’t to chaotic 🙂
    Thank you and I’m really glad you’re back.
    Greetings from Kielce in Poland.

  4. Oh, and I want to tell you that you don’t have to read Discworld books in chronological order becouse they’re also have main topics. You can start with “Mort”, if you want to start with Death.

  5. Mary says

    Wow, this is lovely. Really lovely.

    I’ve been following your blog for what feels like ages, and I’m glad you’re writing posts that make you happy. Don’t get me wrong–I loved the fashion posts. They were so much more helpful and detailed and interesting than similar types of posts elsewhere. But, honestly, they were also enjoyable because your writing was (and still is, of course) compelling. I’m glad to see that you write well with not just nonfiction, informative pieces but fiction, too. 🙂

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