In the Pines
This is a new 'Limora Gate' story --
# 16 of a required 24 for completion.
Written on our Honeymoon while Em
practiced her harp.
The heroin is 12 years old and has two views of life;
Sally and Limora
Sally knew that to walk alone in the woods was not wise, for many people had told her so. Yet she did, once again. Limora knew that it was essential to walk in the woods, and she would not choose to walk alone, if there were another who would listen. Sometimes she was lonely, but never when she was alone. Crowds of endless chatter -- people talking at each other, never hearing. Strangers calling to others by familiar names; afraid to touch, afraid to be alone -- and therefore often lonely. “If only persons were more like trees,” she mused. “Spread your branches in the sun -- shake them in the breeze -- just because you can. Drop seeds with faith that some will sprout and grow -- never seen, but never lost. Stay connected with the earth, and ...”
Sally interrupted, “They are only interested in tending weeds and stealing nuts.” She was willing to play the ‘people game’, mixing and mingling; idle chatter in phrases without subjects. Some thought her reserved and shy, but only because she bit her tongue and swallowed laughter. She listened more than spoke. Unfortunately, this attracted pesky flies of ‘good advice’, never practiced, but always with ‘good intention’. She liked those from sage authorities best. “Everyone knows.” “I once heard.” “Common knowledge.” Next on her list of hidden mirth were quotes from great authority, but never correct, and scripture citations with chanted numbers which never related to the topic of conversation at all. People were funny -- individuals were lonely. But they feared to be alone.
Limora took her turn, “They might have to talk to themselves -- what then? Worse, they might have to listen! She cringed as Aunt Beth turned up the radio so that everyone could hear, “You’ll love this song.” That is why she drew Sally to the woods. The noise there was not meant to mask or hide -- or pretend. Others spoke of the silence of the forest, and were afraid. Limora heard the songs and whispers of ferns and leaves and was never afraid of anything. Time for a walk. She would not be missed for a while.
Sally traced the main trail only until out of sight of the camp, just in case someone noticed her escape. Though it was a small kindness to think of other’s possible distress, it came naturally to her, she was little concerned that they might speak amongst themselves of the dangers lurking in the woods. She might even meet a stranger! Limora chuckled in anticipation -- an influx of a new view of the world, one that she could never know without the help of travelers. “Yes,” she cried. “Let us look for dangers here!”
There is a faint deer trail sneaking between the Dogwoods. Not much used -- it must be unimportant, of little value -- leading no where. I might get lost! Yet Limora knew that all paths cross in the forest. Sally was still less confident and whistled a bird call to linger for an hour or two to mark her passage.
Steep! Too steep for safety -- go around. Golden carpets of pine needles can slip or cover depressions and roots. Graying lichen make granite boulders perilous and might stain your cloths. A walking stick -- find a stick. Beware! It might be a snake. Limora had Sally close her eyes and reach out with her focused need. She paced to the right behind a rock protrusion and found her gift -- a perfect length of ‘strangle wood’ -- a branch broken off by a falling rock from the cliff above. Its twisted, gnarled shaft gave proof of another life -- a vine long gone that had also fought for sunlight. Sally rubbed the ends against an offered boulder to remove splinters and surrendering bark. With a new balance, Sally continued up the trail; drawing up energy from the earth. “Good job, Lord!” she sang.
The lake was no surprise. Memories of ancient Baba Yaga tales told of a troll that would drag her in. Sally laughed but stood well back from the muddy edge. The mark of beaver was everywhere. It saddened her a bit to see a whole stand of saplings chewed off at their knees. Yet, she sensed no lingering cries from the destruction -- as if the trees new they would serve a useful purpose. Partially gnawed trees whimpered in dismay, though Limora was no adept enough to know if this was from being chosen and rejected, or not being chosen at all! “The beavers are becoming too human,” she thought. “Any job worth doing is worth doing well!” She drug some stumps and rocks to the low side of some trees in faith that the beavers could continue their work. For other trees no too badly scared, she sang wordless songs -- nurturing, healing. Several animals gather about to join in the praying. An egret lifted gently from a cane break, giant wings but a sky ripple to match the echoing wave pulse tickled by dragging feet. She knew the beavers would return.
She would not have known of the stream bed beneath her feet save for the tactile crunch of hidden gravel. Only in early summer did a trickle eke its way down this shallow course, now buried in leaves and windfall branches. She followed. Down to a crack in the shale wall where it was swallowed up again to appear as if by magic in a spring below somewhere. Up between patches of dried up ferns. Up through hints of velvet moss. Up to an elfin cave behind a thorny bush. She lay on her chest to breath in the cool, most air. There was water still! And music! Tiny chimes as crystal drops rained on a hidden pool inside. Limora cupped her ears to shield out the rustle of the pines.
Ping-g-ggg. Ploink. Pledupe.
Now stream appeared at the lip -- a special balance of birth and death having been achieved in this crack -- womb and tomb the same. She reached carefully in -- barely large enough -- an adult never could. Her fingers dipped as in a font of holy water to touch three stones -- three alone, no bigger than pearls. Dare she? One by one she extracted them to lie on a leaf by her chin. She thought to take one -- but which. They seemed the same, yet cannot be, formed as there were by antiquity. She closed her eyes and listened to the thunder from the tiny cave -- a storm raging within -- her soul that is. She sensed a movement. Open! The tiniest frog imaginable had emerged from the pool’s protection. It could have been a fly had she not have been so close -- irony. Its skin slowly changed to match the color of the leaf -- then gone; only to appear again on the farthest stone.
The shadows were longer on the journey back -- the better to reveal the texture of root and stone and cones. Birds echoed back her earlier whistled markers -- the twisted staff tapping a secret rhythm. Sally and Limora were one with the absorbing silence calling out from between notes allowed most little girls. Tree bark chattered in its growth -- then paused and breathed. Cascading needles crackled whispers of fulfillment as they piled on the waiting loam -- then waited patiently in stillness. Chiding squirrels distracted from hidden seeds, then prayed over their cache in silent dreams.
“What an incredible stick -- just perfect for my collection,” shouted cousin Chad. Her special friend was snatched from her hand. “My reward for having to waste time looking for you!” No adult said a word, having worn themselves out telling Sally’s mother what they thought.
“I saved you a piece of watermelon. I knew you were all right. The others had some fun games in the meadow -- it would have been fun.”
Gradually the other kids and parents drifted back to their own camps for supper -- leaving Limora by herself -- alone; except for a tiny pebble in the pocket over her heart, and an endless symphony in her soul.
© Sakin’el 2005