Margaret Locke

Margaret LockeMargaret is the winner of Round 42Round 50, Vol 2 – 5 and Vol 3 – 26. Read her fun #SixtySeconds interviews herehere and here!

She says: A former doctoral student in medieval history turned full-time mom, I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember, and a lover of romance novels since the age of ten (shh, don’t tell mom). I said for years I was going to write such novels — and I finally did! A Man of Character is available on Amazon, and A Matter of Time and The Demon Duke are already in the revision stages.

In my free time, I am slightly addicted to social media. When not staring at a screen or reading, I enjoy baking, walking, bargain hunting, listening to/singing along with/ dancing to music, and watching a show or two (Merlin! Doctor Who!) once the kids go to bed. Which I guess still involves staring at a screen.

I live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with my awesome husband, two fantastic kids, and two fat cats, Presley and Scilla (yes, there is an Elvis connection).

I’d love for you to visit me at margaretlocke.com, or find my author page on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Ties That Bind (Vol 3 – 26)

When Grandfather was a boy, he crouched for hours in the fields, watering the rice paddies to make sure his family was fed.

When father was a young man, he crouched for hours in the grasses, shielding his siblings from the bullets whizzing by.

When I was a boy, I refused to crouch, refused to bend for the old ways.

I didn’t care about farming, didn’t care about tradition. I didn’t care about anything but myself.

My grandfather died in those rice fields, hands gnarled, knees perpetually bent.

My father died before I ever knew him, victim of a village raid that didn’t distinguish between enemy and innocent.

I wasn’t going to be them, my ancestors, faded like yesteryear’s photographs.

I wasn’t. My pride said no.

Until I looked into mother’s eyes, those weary eyes aged beyond her years.

Until I felt my sisters’ hands in mine, as they looked to me for support, for safety, for sustenance.

I crouch down today, inspecting these chicken feet, my chickens, arguing their worth to the butcher beside me. And I’ll do it again, and again, and again.

I shall pay homage to the family that came before me, their sacrifices, their struggles, their victories, their defeat.

I understand now.

I am proud.

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Still Standing (Vol 2 – 5)

I long to go back. Back to when I was young, to when my roots felt strong, to when I wanted nothing more than to branch out into the world, soaking up sunshine. Life was easy then, back when I was solid, before she ripped this gaping hole in me. Many have passed through since. None have fixed me, though a few tried.

I eye the giant hulk of a tree before driving underneath it. In and out in a flash. That tree and I are alike. Relics of a past life – a passed life -, shells of who we once were, damaged by those who thought they’d found a better way.

I stop the car. I walk back to the tree, touching it, caressing it. “I’m sorry,” I murmur, not sure whether I’m apologizing to it or myself. Spindly forest surrounds us. We are giants among weaklings, the tree and I. Scarred. Broken. But we are still standing.

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The Wanderer (Round 50)

The sadness settles across my shoulders like an old familiar coat. Like a yoke around my neck. Like the cross I have to bear.

I bring destruction wherever I go. It’s followed me through millenia, since the dawn of time.

Atlantis. Pompeii. The Great Fire of London. The Titanic. The list goes on and on.

I thought this time was different. It’d been twenty years. Twenty years of peace in this tiny village, so remote, so removed from the rest of the world. I thought maybe, just maybe, she had forgotten, had forgiven. Maybe, just maybe, I’d atoned for my sins.

I’d risked it; I’d settled down, had a family. Now they, too, lie beneath the sand that had enveloped them in a flash, like so many before them.

This was my fault. Mine.

I’ve tried to hate. Tried to ice myself out. Tried to live alone. But the drive has always been stronger, the hunger beyond my control.

She made sure of that, on that mountain top an eternity ago. It was the price I had to pay for taking her, for seducing her, for rejecting her.

“You will sow only pain, reap only sorrow. You will pray for death. It will not come for you.”

This is my curse; to seek love knowing I can never have it. To find love knowing I can never keep it. All the while knowing whoever gets close…

I can’t voice it, can’t warn them. Can’t control it. I cannot stop the liquid words from pouring out of my mouth, cannot control the intoxicating magic emanating from my eyes. They’re like moths to the flame.

I am a magnet, attracting those I should repel and repelling those I should attract.

Bring me the monsters, the murderers, the depraved, the wicked. Not these innocents, time after time.

I am The Wanderer. I get around. But this is nothing like the Dion song.

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Kindred Spirits (Round 42)

You should have seen me in my prime. I was the feather in the duke’s cap, his prized possession. The beau monde, princes, even foreign dignitaries flocked to me in grand carriages, eager to seek out my many hidden pleasures: the sumptuous banquets, the illustrious balls, the secret trysts, the endless pleasure seeking.

Ah, those were the days.

Now look at me. The Odd Fellows Home for Orphans, Indigent, and Aged. A setting for a horror film if I’ve ever seen one. Mewling infants cry for parents they’ll never have. The older ones are no better, shuffling along my hallways, eyes vacant as if focused on days gone by. All reeking of poverty and loss, nothing like the blithe beauties and dashing rogues of yesteryear.

Even my magnificent fountain, once the welcoming centerpiece of my masterful estate, lies dormant, covered in hideous netting in order to keep these idiots out. “For their own protection,” I hear.

How did it come to this? I am a shell of my former self. An eyesore, some say. A visual reminder of all that society wants to ignore, to obscure, to forget.

My cement eye sees the fear in their faces as they are led through my doors, doors that used to signify One Had Arrived. Doors that now open only to lost opportunities, lost selves, lost lives.

I listen to the young girl whispering confidences to me from her bed, telling of tragedies I can only imagine. I smell the fear on the sick and the dying, who know they have already come to their final resting place. I feel the pain of those abandoned, clinging to the meager comforts I offer because I am all they have in the world.

Now they are all that I have.

We are the things that nobody wants.

Perhaps these are my glory days after all.

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