tagRomanceMidsummer Nights

Midsummer Nights

byHalin24©

Midsummer is a major celebration in Sweden with many traditions and myths, but the focus here is the myths or rather the magic that is supposed to be especially strong that night. What is reality, what is dreams and what is imagination? How can you tell one from another? Can you trust your senses?

There is one thing I guess I have to explain: 'Näcken' is mentioned at one time. That is a water spirit, usually described as a naked male sitting in a stream, often playing violin. He lures people to enter the water where they drown. It's not really essential to the story, more like a comparison to a fairy.

I'm not very structured when I write and the end result is far from the original idea I had. However, I think this version is more entertaining so I hope you will enjoy it even with the slow start.

This is a submission for the Summer Loving contest 2017.

Halin24

- - - - - - - - - -

After I had graduated from university in early June I had little enough to do for two months. I had a job lined up as a teacher since that was what I had studied to become but the new school year started in mid August. In other words I had nothing else to do than to pack my things and move back home to my parents over the summer.

Home, that was a small village far to the north in Sweden called Bergsfors, some 600 miles from Stockholm where I sat on my bed packing my belongings. I was born and raised in Bergsfors -- 300 inhabitants including outlying farms and lumber cabins -- and I knew my parents wouldn't mind supporting me a little longer.

The graduation parties and farewell parties had been wet, tearful and seemingly never ending but as soon as people sobered up after the last one they packed their belongings and left, just as I was about to do. I was among the last though because I had to do some repairs on my car first.

A poor student with a car? Yes, how would I travel otherwise? Bergsfors isn't the centre of the world, it's hardly on the map even. 80 miles to the nearest train station, another thirty to an airport. Only local bus connections, no taxi, no highway. Only small lakes, mires, forests, some fields and dirt roads. My car was far from new, dad had bought it used and used it himself for many years, the value could hardly exceed that of an ordinary bicycle. Hence the need for repairs, and I handled that myself.

I finally had everything packed and loaded into the car, three suitcases and some additional bags and boxes. I cleaned the room as requested, returned the keys and got the deposit back. Thirty minutes later I was on my way.

It was a long drive with one night in a motel three-quarter of the way to make it without an accident. That stay at the motel nearly caused the end of the car's existence since it refused to start the next morning. A simple problem it turned out: a loose cable and a dead battery.

As I stood with my upper body leaning forward under the hood, fastening the cable, I heard a female voice say

"Problems?" behind me "I don't know anything about cars but can I help in any way?"

When I turned my face in the direction of the sound I saw a colourful dress and a bit of bare tanned legs. The voice had been soft and modulated, quite pleasant to my ears. I moved back to stand straight and turned to face her.

Not much shorter than I was she surely weighed forty pounds less at least. Slim but with curves, nice legs, very nice. I lifted my gaze to her face to reply.

A pretty face framed by long curly brown hair. Her thin lips smiled slightly and there was a sparkle in her warm brown eyes.

"Yeah, well, a dead battery. A cable had come loose. Do you go by car? Jumper cables would probably take care of this in no time."

"Sure, my car is over there but I have no cables that I know of."

She pointed at it. It was probably ten years newer than mine but still old too. Well kept-after though.

"I've got the cables. If you get your car over here I'll take care of everything. Don't turn off the engine though."

She walked away and I studied her hips and legs as she did, then got the cables out as she got in and started.

Five minutes was all it took. When I had disconnected and closed the hoods I stood beside her door and leaned down.

"Thanks a lot for the help." I told her and meant it "Sooner or later someone else would have helped but that doesn't diminish how grateful I am."

"No problem." she smiled "After all I only had to sit here and rev the engine."

"Even so I appreciate it. Have a very good day now and drive carefully. A lot of wild animals close to the roads up here."

"You too. See you." she said, rolled up the side window and drove away.

- - - - - -

My family doesn't actually live in Bergsfors but a few miles outside. My parents live from what the land has to offer, hunting, fishing, lumbering, growing vegetables as well as fruits and berries... If it can be done they probably do it. Dad even experimented with crayfish farming in a handful of ponds at the time. The climate can sure be a problem but on the other hand, what can't if you let it?

After two days of sleeping in and eating mums home-cooked food again it felt as if I had never left and I was back working alongside them.

As cold and dark as the winters are up there, as warm and full of light the summers can be. Notice that I say 'can be'. There has been summers with sub-zero temperatures in June but this wasn't one of those. Far from it; mid seventies in the mornings and evenings, low nineties at noon. When it became cloudy and started to rain once in a wile it was a relief.

No day was the same when it came to what needed to be done but at the same time we were free to pick and choose too. Too hot to clear up windfalls? Check on the crayfish ponds instead! Too rainy to weed the garden? Split firewood in the barn!

One thing that couldn't be put off was the preparations for the midsummer celebration. For years it had been a tradition that it was held in a meadow on our land. That meadow was only used for this one thing and sown with wild-flowers for the occasion.

The celebration followed the same routine year after year and was a community effort from start to finish, but it was a matter of pride for mum and dad to make it perfect. If the strawberries weren't ripe and the fresh potatoes not ready, well it better not happen!

That wasn't a problem that year but it was a bit dry. The pump taking water from the stream for irrigation worked day and night to compensate for that.

People started to deliver tables and chairs, blankets, bottles, tarpaulins and what not already in the early morning of the celebration. Closer to noon people began to gather and ten men cut the meadow's flowers and grass short using scythes, and women and kids raked grass and flowers together before dressing the maypole with it and making wreaths.

More people arrived all the time and got busy one way or another. Some were dressed in traditional garments, others in shorts and shirts. The heavier and / or dirtier the task, the less dressed and dressed-up they were.

Wood decking was laid out in one end of the meadow for a dance floor, and tables and chairs were lifted in place. It was an ant-hill with people running around.

Then, at three in the afternoon, the maypole was raised in position to signal that all preparations had been completed. Those of us who had done the heaviest work walked down to the nearby pond for a bath, then dressed up a bit more after drying, and returned to participate in the games and traditional dancing.

To my knowledge no-one has ever cared to count but of the 300 or so living in the area I can guarantee that at least 600 participated. No, I don't exaggerate at all. Children and grand-kids always came for a visit if at all possible, summer guests that returned year after year were welcome too.

From the moment when the maypole was raised the children were in focus until early evening. One drink or a beer was the most any of the adults drank, and that was out of sight. There were games and dances, kids singing and laughing. With ring dances like 'The little frogs' with parents and grandparents jumping around the definition of 'kids' included everyone. Later everyone sat down at the tables or on blankets in the grass to eat from the buffet. It has never happened that there isn't enough to eat and with the strawberry and whipped-cream cakes to finish it off people usually held back to have room for that too.

After that the younger kids were put to sleep in our house or the barn or anywhere possible, with adults alternating as guardians. The rest of the evening and the night for as long as anyone could stay awake it was the adults celebration with drinking and dancing... and possibly more.

I'm usually not a big drinker and since we host the celebration there is that pride thing: it doesn't look good if any of us have too much. So I held back, stayed away from the booze and spaced the beers evenly.

The dancing was purely social and for fun. Age didn't matter, style mattered even less. Modern dances were mixed with older as well as traditional.

After a polska with an older woman who was dressed in traditional garment I was in need of a beer to cool down a bit. With my upbringing came an extensive practical experience of dancing but that woman had tested it to the limit. Very much fun but kind of exhausting.

So I was headed towards one of the coolers that stood sprinkled all around when someone said:

"Well, hello! It was as I thought, we do meet again!"

And there she was, the woman who had helped me start my car at the motel.

"Oh, hi again. This was unexpected." I said.

I looked her over from head to toe. Wide white skirt that reached just below the knees, loose-fitting white blouse, flat-soled shoes, hair in a ponytail and a flower wreath on her head. And still that smile with sparkling eyes. Damn!

"Unexpected? I said 'See you' didn't I, Carl?"

"You did but I thought it was just... You know my name?"

"Of course, why wouldn't I?"

Her smile widened, the sparkle in her eyes became more intense.

"You know who I am. Then I should know who you are too but I'm afraid I don't."

"I think you should, yes, though it was some ten years since we last met."

Ten years? I had been fourteen then. I could only have met her there or in the village since we never did go away. That should make it easy since there had been only a handful of kids my age. As a matter of fact there had only been four girls within three years of me. Anne had been very blonde with blue eyes, Marie a redhead with blue-grey eyes, Paula's hair had been raven black and her eyes nearly as dark. That left Katarina. The colours matched pretty well but she had been the shortest of us despite being a year older and I couldn't remember ever seeing her smile. I checked my memory again in case I had forgotten someone.

"Katarina?" I said then without too much conviction.

"Yes! I got the impression that it was a wild guess though. Am I right?"

She didn't seem to be insulted in any way. Her expression didn't change at all.

"Honestly? I have to say it was the only possibility with the hair and eye colour. You must be twice as tall now!"

"An exaggeration perhaps but yeah, I had a growth spurt a year after we moved away. I thought it would never end and leave me looking down on everyone else from the clouds. Still, better than looking up at kids."

"You recognised me at the motel?"

"Not at first, no. I recognised the car. Your dads old, isn't it? With three different shades of brown and that stuffed fox in the rear window it caught my attention. When I saw your eyes I was almost sure but not enough to say anything."

"Are you here to visit your granny then? She's still living in the village isn't she?"

"Yes and yes but also to try to find something."

"Something?"

"That's what I said, yes, but I won't say anything more about it. Yet. I want to know everything about you now so start talking."

So I did, and we danced, then talked some more while having a beer or two and danced again. It's not easy to keep one person for oneself at such an occasion though. Mum asked for my help bringing out more to drink and another guy asked Katarina for a dance. Then I got the duty to babysit the kids in the house for half-an-hour, and when I returned I didn't see her. Oh well, it had been nice to see her again anyway.

- - - - - -

As things slowed down and people left for home or found a place to sleep (depending on level of intoxication) I went down to the pond to cool my feet in the water. I had been up and around since early morning and sure felt like it. My room was occupied by kids so I had no bed to sleep in, and my head was the only part of me that was still somewhat alert.

What time it was was hard to say. With the sun never setting it never became dark, only a kind of semi-dusk under the trees.

I got restless and started to walk around the pond. At the other side I lay down on the pine-needle bed under the trees. It was restful and as dark as any place I could find since the sun was low and behind me. My eyelids became heavier.

A thin mist danced over the water, uneven, lifting for a moment but only to return. My eyes and brain got misty too as I watched. A more compact mist moved along the opposite shore. I got the impression of a skirt twirling from dancing. Fairies. Yes, that was part of the myth around the magical midsummer night. I could see where that came from right there and then. Fairy I corrected myself since it only looked like one.

It stopped where land met water, bowed down a moment, then straightened again. A ray from the sun reached that exact spot and the fairy looked a little like Katarina to me. A thought hit me: I was asleep but aware that I was dreaming! Funny, I had never experienced that before.

Did fairies wear clothes? This one seemed to and the blouse just came off over the head. And the skirt fell to the ground. Strange, I had never imagined that mythological creatures used underwear either, but it looked as if those were removed too.

The mist-fairy became smaller as it entered the water and there was a ripple on the surface. Then there was only the ripple left when the fairy disappeared. Of course, they had magic powers. Why wouldn't they become invisible if they so wished? It was a disappointment though.

In my dream I sat up in an attempt to find it again and suddenly it reappeared at the same place where I had lost sight of it. Truly magic! It got bigger again, reached the shore and bent over before disappearing between the trees. I was alone in my dream again so I lay back down.

- - - - - -

Waking up I remembered my dream and smiled. Just think what an exhausted mind can come up with! Midsummer, mists over a pond, folklore. I chuckled to myself at the thought.

"Are you just happy to wake up to such a wonderful morning or what?" a voice said in my ear, making me jump.

A turn of my head and my eyes met Katarina's. She lay on her side right beside me, one arm and her neatly folded clothes under her head.

"Christ, you scared me!"

"Am I really that frightening? Do you think I'm a fairy or an apparition of the Näcken, out to drown you? I think I should be offended if so. Wrong gender to be the Näcken actually, but a fairy? Yeah, might be a compliment instead."

"How did you get here? When?"

"Carl, I know you saw me take a bath. I didn't see you at first, only when you sat up. I thought 'what the heck', made a quick errand to the meadow to pick seven different flowers and went over here. I have slept with the flowers under my pillow -- well, my clothes under my head at least -- and I dreamed about the lover who will sweep me off my feet."

"Too many myths here. It was you I saw bathing? I actually thought it was a dream, that the mist turned into a dancing fairy. I sat up in the dream when she disappeared."

She giggled at that.

"Then I take it as a compliment! Fairies are supposed to be ethereal and beautiful creatures able to enthral any man. Are you enthralled by me?"

I must have blushed. I couldn't stop my eyes from wandering over her body. It was an undulating landscape I was watching. One hill after the other with valleys in between. Shoulders to waist to hips. Breast to breast. Thigh to thigh. Belly to...

It took an effort to change direction of my thoughts and still I didn't manage entirely. My eyes did return to her face though, to her glittering brown eyes and red lips. One lip, then a valley and another lip...

"I can't honestly say that I'm not. You're beautiful Katarina."

"Then kiss me. We're alone here, it's still early morning and we have nothing better to do. Kiss me!"

I rolled over towards her, getting halfway on top, and did just that. I kissed her red lips and they were just as soft as the kiss itself. I repeated over and over again as my arms moved around her and pulled her to me. She answered every kiss willingly and put her hands on the back of my shorts.

It took a while for me to realise what her hands were up to: trying to pull my shorts down.

"I want you... naked." she panted between kisses and I was willing to help.

Wriggling, with one arm under her and the other hand supporting her effort, the shorts came off. More wriggling and hands working on my shirt and that came off too. We lay naked together, skin to skin on a soft mattress of pine needles with the early morning sun warming us.

Hands and mouths explored, our bodies rubbed against each other, more heat was created but of a different kind.

"Carl, I want you, I need you. Do something about it!"

With hands moving all over her body and our bodies rubbing against each others there was no doubt how this would end. She was willing and so was I. We joined with mutual sighs of pleasure and I had no regrets. Slowly moving in and out of her was all I wanted, all I needed, and in the end it gave us the ultimate ending.

"Katarina, you're so perfect." I mumbled and soon fell asleep again.

When I woke up the next time the sun stood high in the sky and I was alone. No sign of Katarina anywhere.

I looked around to find her but without result so eventually I went down to the shore, bathed and got dressed before returning to the house.

- - -

I didn't see Katarina when people woke up to have breakfast and then leave that day, Nor did I see her for the days and weeks to come.

Eventually I talked to her granny to find out where Katarina was staying, but demented as she was I got nothing out of her. The village gossip later told me Katarina had left.

I continued working with mum and dad for the rest of the summer with the exception of a couple of days when I hunted down an apartment in the town where I got the job. It wasn't too far from my parents home, further north by 'only' 80 miles. With people leaving the entire north for the big cities down south it wasn't hard to get an apartment and in early August I moved in to get ready for work.

Katarina entered my mind frequently that summer, what had happened and why. Many a night I went to sleep with the image of her occupying my consciousness.

- - - - - -

August is the time for crayfish parties in Sweden. In a way it is a must the same way as midsummer but usually only for close relatives and friends. I returned to my parents home over the weekend after my first week at work, to participate.

I admit it: in the back of my head I had hopes that Katarina would be there too. There was crayfish, booze, wine and beer in abundance for the thirty or so invited. As is the custom everyone got smashed as if there was no tomorrow. There was no Katarina though...

Fall, winter and spring passed in a haze. Being new to the job I had a lot of extra planning to do and little enough time to think about other things. I visited my parents over the Christmas holiday but that was the only time I had to spare.

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byHalin24© 10 comments/ 6358 views/ 8 favorites

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