In the beginning
Alas my love, ye do me wrong,
to cast me off discourteously:
And I have loved you oh so long
Delighting in thy companie.
Greensleeves was all my joy,
Greensleeves was my delight:
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but Lady Greensleeves.
Storm looked at me. She came back into the room, and hopped up onto a nearby couch, Waylander following her. She said – Finish your tea.
She gestured me towards the rainbow - We need to pick up some things before we go riding.
I knocked the table and spilt the tea as I got up.
In the beginning there was just me. Quietly being me. Satisfied that I had left childhood behind and that I have survived the random pitfalls of early adulthood. Confident that the world was out of control in its own predictable way. Happy to let rogues and thieves beat up the rest of the world as long as my hearth was not crossed.
Then I became aware of you. Loudly being you. Discordant and troublesome. Carrying the scars of childhood in your ears, lips and cheeks. Angry with a world that failed to live up to your slightest expectations. Uncompromising with principle, at the front of every protest and barricade. A moth on fire.
We had nothing in common. It was error that we met. It was to spite others that we danced. Our lovemaking was to prove earnest warnings wrong. Only in argument, could we agree.
When finally we quit the mistake we had become, we had both become different people. Now I held the flag of revolution against everything while you sought the company of wealth and power.
In that end, a new beginning. For a time there was just me. Loudly being me. Angry with the world, determined to reshape it first one way and then another. Learning the lexicon of the rhetorician, believing in every new cause, and none. Warning first of the approaching ice age and then irreparable global warming and then just catastrophic change. Winning every argument by strength of voice and claims that my opponent was simply an adherent of reductionist reasoning. Ignoring the quiet critique that behind the argument of change there was no real agenda, no economic plan, no concluded curricula of education, no road map of infrastructure building, no understanding of how to get things done differently. Just a misplaced hope that when we got there, someone would be able to point to the chapter in those unrelenting political manifestos entitled “What happens next”. But, reality was, the writers never got there. “What happens next” has never been written, just dreamed.
A couple of years later we met again. This time with a smile in each other’s eye. I told her that I blamed her for the sun rising. She blamed me for the rain in spring. I blamed her for the touch of the wind. She blamed me for world poverty and the erosion of political liberties and to stop that awkward truth from being told I kissed her. We spent a winter locked in captivity together, loving and arguing. But, when spring arrived, left in different directions, agreed that blame was properly placed and that however much we might try, we could not be life mates.
So I began again. I left the revolution behind in the hands of a young angry woman who told me, as I left, that the last hurdle to the movement had finally been removed. I did not ask her what came next because she looked like she knew.
I moved from job to job. After a decade I moved far out into the countryside, into a farmhouse old and battered. Somewhere to retreat from view and tie off loose ends before the end of days.
I had been there a year before I noticed Kathy and her child.
She had bought an old place and lived simply, training horses. She kept to herself.
We did not talk about the past. We did not talk about the strange way our lives had ended up twisting around each other. We did not talk about her child. I could see the flames rise in her eyes when casual conversation drifted in that direction.
Occasionally, other friends would evolve and move in with either. None seemed to last for long. They all seemed to end in broken glass and smashed plates.
I had a large friendly stock horse. I kept him for play not work, although I did not tell him that. When he was still able, we would ride up to the high forests, and along the ridges. Increasingly, our path would cross with Kathy, and we would walk along in quiet companionship, knowing that conversation was unnecessary and, actually, to be avoided at any cost. We finished each walk with a race to an imaginary finish line over fences and fallen logs which more often than not left me dumped on the ground.
During this time I got a job working for the state which, years before, I had tried so hard to overthrow. They put me in charge of working out what came next. Not the easy slurred futures dreamed in a bar after a couple of beers or a glass of vodka, but the hard continuous slog of finding scare resources and reshaping each into better futures.
As responsibility grew, I became more stressed, until I finally crashed. In the half haze of anti-depression drugs I kept trying, but starting to fail more often than succeed.
My stock horse was retired to pasture and Kathy, instead, would ask me to exercise some of hers. Occasionally I was invited into the kitchen of her old house. Neither of us were willing to risk tipping the status quo. She accepted my depression without trying to cure me. She quietly put a feed bowl out for the black wolf that dogged my every step, even though I protested that was madness. But, then I noticed the wolf resting outside her door and drinking – and I noticed an old battered bowl a little further off down her path. When she saw I had finally noticed, flames and rain fought in her eyes.
I took some desperate steps after that to get better. Stronger medication which just made me sick.
A mate recommended a painful traditional ceremony in the high country near the Pool of Tears. I borrowed one of Kathy’s horses, explaining that I had to do this by myself. I returned through mist badly bruised. I lied to her about a fall, something she thought me quite capable of.
I do not know what the turning point was. One day Storm called for help. Kathy had been bitten by a mob of bees and was grey and sick. I raced her to hospital, and waited while she regained life-hue. It took a long time.
Storm and I sat with her a lot around the old table in her kitchen in the following weeks. Reading her stories and talking. In turn, she told how she had explored the forests from top to bottom, and had struck up unlikely friendship with some of the old folk living in the isolated valleys. With a sly smile on her face she told how she had seen some strange things.
She said – Hey Pete.
I said – You remember my name?
She said – I remember lots more besides, but let us not complicate the present with the truth, not future with the past. Will you promise me something?
I said – Will you forgive me for the rising sun?
She laughed – Never. Be serious. Will you promise me something? Promise me you will not laugh at me.
I said – I laugh at you all the time. But, ok, just this once.
She said – Maybe laughing is not what I meant. I want you to believe me. Even though I am a bit mad. Will you believe me?
I said – Sure.
I suddenly had a terrible premonition. I imagined she had been told she had cancer and had months to live.
She said – I have elves living in my garden.
I waited for her to talk about the cancer.
She continued - Except, they call themselves alfs. More aelfs. Not Legolas nor that creature on the old TV show that eats cats.
I held my breath trapped in my body.
She continued, not meeting my eyes - They hunt for gold in the hills. They travel by rainbows.
She paused, waiting for a reaction.
Storm said firmly – Tell him about the dragon.
That was enough to break the spell.
I said - Wait. I promised to believe Kathy. I believe her. Absolutely. No need to gild the lily with talk of dragons, werewolves and bunyips.
Kathy looked at me and said – Werewolves and bunyips are imaginary.
I said – I thought you were going to tell me something terrible.
Kathy said – I have. The alfs will not leave. I am worried about the dragon.
I wondered if they had planned this together. To see how far they could lead me on. Not beyond the realm of possibilities. And then I started to remember. Stories I was told as a kid. Stories of rainbows and dragons and gold.
I bit my tongue and tried to see the innocent in the situation. It could have been so much worse. I was happy to live with a friend with imaginary alfs and dragons in the backyard. I said – I work with lots of dragons.
Words I had forgotten were starting to fall back into my head.
I knocked the table and spilt the tea as I got up.
My vision blurred. I stepped back from the table.
I saw myself sitting around the table with Kathy and Storm. Talking about alfs in the garden and the caves in the high country thata couple of dragons had colonised. Smiling and serious, worrying about Kathy.
On the couch to one side, I could see another, older, Storm, waiting for me to come back to Earth. I said – Wait.
I had a moment. I turned to Kathy – Listen! Stop now. Don’t go.
Kathy paused and turned to the younger Storm – The wind is coming up. We should get the clothes in.
I could feel my back crawling with pain as the figures at the table in front of me started to fade. I ran to Kathy, trying to hold her.
Storm said, in a manner of fact way – They cant hear you. I have tried and tried. Sometimes I see us all sitting there. Sometimes I see you talking with mom about the first time you both saw a dragon, or talked to one, or about the alfs, or the gold.
She said, with a slight tone - You spent a lot of time talking about the gold.
I felt my face starting to burn as anger started to build in me.
Storm said – Keep control. They changed you. You are not what you seem. If you lose control, we will lose everything.
Bits and pieces of the past were still landing. Spiders, alfs, sky towers, dragons. I said – What happened to me?
Storm said – Good. You are starting to remember. I know how to fix it all.
Then suddenly a memory unbidden. I was being cut from a cocoon by a wiry older man and a woman, talking as they worked. A number of sick or injured alongside me.
I heard the man say with a rough New Zealand accent – This one is human, eh.
She replied – Wonder how he got here – you recognise the face?
He said – Yeah bro, Nah. He is pretty cut up, eh.
They kept working cutting away the web from my chest and arms.
The man said – Nice tattoo, eh.
The woman froze. I remember the expression of anger on her face as she unfurled her wings.
> Part 12
Image - Rainbow, this evening, the first day of Autumn. Molonglo High Plains
(A lot of things got hurt writing this part, mainly feelings.)
This is a continuation of a story (a "braided yarn") that started on an earlier G+ post. Details and story at: