The grass had grown in just this place to cushion her, the branches spread themselves precisely, leaves positioned only to provide her shade. Even the sun conspired to perfectly deliver warmth without blinding light or burning rays.
As she lay, all knowledge came, as the waves of the sea caress a beach, spreading gently and soaking into the sand. No longer was she filled with dread of future or regrets of past. All original thought melted slowly and drained into the ground as it was replaced with absolute certainty, answers provided before her mind could form the question.
Time was suspended, the very clouds of the heavens did not drift nor did a breeze blow across her brow. She was held, and all she could lay eyes upon stilled, as this enlightenment permeated every cell of her being. Only one truth was withheld, the crucial instruction. What now, was her purpose? Surely she had been chosen, gifted and now must share the truth. This perfect understanding must be released across the earth and she, the vessel, destined now to announce all that she had gained.
The earth suddenly buckled, heaving her upward into turbulent winds that tossed her body as easily as a piece of straw ripped from a bale, depositing her in the stream nearby. The rocks that lined the bank fell upon her in great number and forced her under the surface of the churning water, preventing even a small gasp of breath from entering her lungs before she was pinned there.
Once again the knowledge entered her, this time forcibly entering each pore, reverberating instructions to keep silent all that had taken place, all that she was made privy to, or, she would be eliminated.
Addy startled awake fighting the sheets, damp with her sweat. Her amber brown eyes surveyed the room hastily, feeding her the information of where she was, if there was danger and if anyone else was present. She was alone in her room the only sounds were those of the television playing downstairs and the indistinct voices of her mother and grandma. She visualized the two, moving about the kitchen in motions made fluid by years of repetition, preparing breakfast. Soon, one would come with a tray and encourage her to eat some dry toast, maybe a bite of a poached egg. There would be spearmint tea sweetened ever so lightly with honey and this she would nurse until it became cold.
It was not until Addy lay eyes on her that she knew which it was to be. The knowledge hung in the air like an aura around the old woman as she entered the bedroom, smiling sweetly and inquiring how she was on this, God’s glorious gift of a new day. The tears that slipped from her eyes were mistaken as an answer that she was still quite ill as she had been for almost three weeks now. In fact, Addy could feel her strength returning, muscles readying. The weakness had dissipated and the fever no longer raged.
She rose to help her grandmother with the tray and asked her to sit beside the bed as she would like some company while she ate her breakfast. With promises to stop this foolishness of jumping up out of bed to help, her wish was obliged and Grandma Yancey lowered her generous frame into the rocking chair. With a satisfied groan acknowledging the weight had been removed from her aching hip, she offered again the inquiry of Addy’s condition.
Fully cognizant of the repercussions if she uttered a single syllable of what she had learned, the young girl tried to convey her message by staring deeply into the clouded eyes of her elder while speaking of the beauty of the sunshine and how much better she felt. She tried to will the knowledge, as it had come to her, gently, easily until she had crossed the unexpressed line.
As a searing hot coal being pressed onto her most tender flesh would inflict unspeakable suffering, so were the voices of generations of the Knowing Ones shrieking claps of thunderous warnings inside of her head.
She rose and walked to the window looking out upon the grounds, rich with many seasons of care, plantings of all who had been there before her. Her eyes settled on the oak, whose years were more than all of the generations, but to her it had been the support of her tire swing. The stream, just over the hill offered up its bounty to fishing lines and in turn the evening plates were filled, brimming with fried catfish and salad made from potatoes dug that very day from the earth that had been turned, a shovel full at a time.
In fall the leaves would grip the ground as rakes fought to bring them into burning piles and those that escaped would decay, melting away into the earth to reappear in a future spring as buds eagerly awaiting their turn in the sunlight.
“Have you seen what you need to child?” the old woman’s voice settled softly and drew her attention back inside the room. “If you have, then put on something suitable and come sit with your Mother and me for a spell before the day is half gone.”
Addy replied, “Ma’am,” and received a wink and a smile in return from a woman whose eyes were clear amber brown, as clear as her own.
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