starless part sixteen
Sally waited patiently as the first time mothers of one year old and down babies settled on the pads waiting for class. She had already examined the babies and the mothers. Only one worried her.... Charity, first time mom, and a widow for one year... Life was not fair, but Charity was not bonding well with her child, any fool could see that. It did not help that she had no family, and that his family would not recognize or take her in. Life was not fair....
"May the truth of the matter always be found."
Everyone smiled at the familiar words, save one.
"May the heart of the matter always be heard."
Everyone nodded, save one.
"May the conviction of both bring the matter to a close."
Everyone applauded, save one.
"Today, I want to talk to you about Grief. Grief is defined as an inconsolable loss, a feeling so deep that it can rob the soul of joy, the body of strength and the mind of logic." She looked out at the faces.
"How many here have lost a loved one?"
Hands raised, save one. Charity was withdrawing into her world of torment, barely holding onto her three month old who lay as listless as her mother in her arms.
"It is a personal experience.... but everyone goes through it. There are five stages of grief... Not everyone goes through these in order, and sometimes we go through them together." Looking at the now confused women, she gave them a smile.
"Let me explain. Denial... When I saw the landslide take my mother, I could not believe it. It wasn't happening. Witnessed by my own eyes, I could not ...would not allow myself to believe it." She paused.
"Anger.... we are at the loss. I remember when I lost my mother, I was so angry for her going that day and dying, that I threw all her medical books away.... It is irrational anger, but there... and it must be dealt with so, I cleaned the house of every reference book and every note she had ever taken and trashed them. Guilt... I felt so guilty for being the one left alive. This colony needed my mother for its survival...not some first year apprentice that was barely wet behind the ears." She felt her voice shaking as she shared with the group.
"Depression... I was so sad that I could not look up. I felt cheated, betrayed, lost....and had no one to talk to. Finally, I settled on my mother's picture and talked with her about it all. I talked until I was blue in the face and nothing... no one answered me."
"Bargaining.... I made deals with my mother's picture. Today I will get up and get dressed and walk outside. Don't ask anymore of me. I would keep that up until I realized...."
"Acceptance.... My mother was gone forever. But she wasn't. She would always be with me. She would be in my heart, and live on through me. So, I went back to the recycling area and found all my mother's books, notes, and diaries intact. The Guild master of Recycling found me and gave them back. All he said was, "I was wondering just how long it would take for you to get through it. My daughter is sick and I need you to see her."
"I realized that I allowed the grieving process to last a month. While I selfishly sat in pity, my community was suffering. and the love for that community grew in my heart that day."
The group had some tears in their eyes, save one.
"As I said, we all will experience grief. It cannot be helped. These stages are not experienced by everyone the same way nor at the same time, and for some, not all the stages have to gone through. What we have to remember is. as deep as our grief, we experience joy and happiness too, if our hearts will allow us."
The group gave a collective nod, save one.
Sally sighed. "It is important that we support one another, especially when one is lost in that grief. Do you agree?"
One hand raised. "But we must not help those who do not help themselves."
"So do we toss out those who are in the throes of grief and are barely able to breath from the effort, let alone help themselves?"
Everyone looked at each other like this was a new concept.
"If the guild master had not saved all my mother's books that day, where would we be at now?"
"But you made the effort to go get them." stated Patience.
"Yes. And I might have gotten there sooner if someone had come to help me."
"Ah".... like a light bulb going off on top of their heads, the collective understanding began.
Sally watched Charity pull even further into herself.
"So today, I want you to remember those who you have lost, and remember how you got through it. Hold onto your babies and love them... Be strong in this knowledge for one day, your children will go through it too."
The mothers nodded, save one.
A hand shot up from Patience who was holding her six week baby.
"Ah, er, um, so when can marital relations begin?" Everyone giggled, save one.
"Patience is a name not quite fitting, I see." Sally teased as the women now laughed harder. "Ah, well, six weeks. Isn't baby Ely six weeks old today?"
Everyone applauded and Patience turned red.
"Okay. Class over."
The group left as Charity tagged behind.
"Master Guilds-man Sally?"
The girl barely got the words out. Sally turned and looked at her.
"Yes, Sister Charity."
"I am sorry. I cannot keep this baby." She handed the three month old over to Sally.
"What do you mean?"
"I... am....not fit... to be a mother. God has punished me, he took my man, and now I cannot bring myself to love this baby... "
"Stop. Do you think God punished me by taking my mother?" She paused and placed her hand on Charity's shoulder. "Did you not listen to anything today?"
"I lost my Charles a year ago when he saved me. How could I be the one to survive... He was so strong. Yet the big wind took him away and left me."
"Charles loved you very much and wanted more than anything for you and his son to live. How can you question him, even now?"
Tears started to form.
"Charity. You are caught. You have to get over all three steps. Your anger towards the situation has not changed. You are so depressed, you are only going through the motions of being a mother, and you are still in denial. Have you removed all of Charlies' belongings to go to the recycling center?"
The girl looked at Sally with contempt. "How can I just throw away the man I loved?"
"Charity.... he gave you the greatest gift of all. He gave you a part of himself in this baby. You still haven't brought yourself to name him. How would Charles react to that?"
"He would tell me to stand up and be strong. He would tell me to name his baby after him and pour all my love I had for him into this child."
"And since when have you not listened to your husband?"
Charity looked at Sally.
"You need some rest. Baby Charles and I will have a good day together. You will go home, sleep and then get up and remove Charles things. You will talk to him the entire time. After that, come back and collect your baby. I am not a mother yet, and I don't think Baby Charles will appreciate me experimenting on him."
The girl actually cracked a slight grin.
Charity walked slowly up the slippery hill towards her house on the other side. Sally held the baby on her hip just as she saw James sauntering past. He saw her holding the baby and stopped suddenly.
"So, this is interesting, Miss Sally. Are you keeping secrets?" James felt a little fiesty today since he had made his decision.
Sally narrowed her eyes, appraising the boy. "Humph. You look like you just won the lottery... as they would say on earth. Did something happen?"
"I think I was asking that of you first." He grinned again, noting how natural she was at holding the baby in question.
"Ah, Master James. I am but a baby sitter today for a mother who needs a break. Now your turn."
"I am but a fourteen year old who has decided on his apprenticeship."
"Really?" She reached for his arm excitedly. "Healing, right?"
"Ah, I forgot by chance. I referred to you as Miss Sally. It is Guild master Healer, now isn't it?" He teased and deflected her inquiry at the same time, congratulating himself on his cleverness.
"Master James. You really are back to your old self. Deciding on one's destiny can bring one joy, hope and peace all at the same time. I wish you well." As she turned toward the house to get the baby some food, and a diaper change. She had already planned a bath, and touch therapy. This baby was suffering from a failure to thrive.... and Sally prayed she could pour as much love as she could into it today.
"Wait, aren't you the least bit curious?"
"I was, but now other duties call. I will come when I hear the bells toll for me." She waved as James was left to walk on by himself.
Patience stood outside the door and sighed heavily for strength. She had left her baby with her mother in law and wanted to see if she could be of help. She raised her hand and knocked with more force than was required as she stepped back waiting for the door to open. As it did, she saw the ghost of a woman, named Charity. She saw the inside of the little house with clothes strewn about in no particular order.
"You know, Charity... we grew up together. I was always envious how Charles doted on you. I wish I can be of help. It looks like you have done something, now I want to come in and help." The girl so inappropriately named Patience barged in... Charity sat down.
"How did you know that Charles doted on me?" She paused. "He was forever telling me what to do."
"All the time?" Patience asked.
"Well, no. Just when it came to being safe and all... I guess."
She smiled. "Charles told me he liked you before he told you. Did you know that?"
"Yup. And he knew his parents would not approve of you, but he did not care. It was not your fault that you were an orphan and penniless."
"So he told you first?"
"Yes. He wanted to be part of the Weather guild... and wondered since my father was one, if they would make enough money to support the both of you."
"Yes. And I told him that they would. That is why he decided to join the guild... and he married you."
Charity looked around the room. "This is not good at all. If Charles saw how I behaved, he would be extremely angry."
"Then let's get a move on. I overheard the Guild master healer this morning give you instructions. No one wants to get scolded by a guild-master. So.."
Charity swallowed and got up to sort.... through Charles' belongings and clothes...while Patience did the dishes and tidied the small house.
The two women talked and gossiped the whole of the night, with both of them falling to sleep.... the next day, a knock came at the door.
"Patience. Are you there?" A tall young man stood at the door.
Charity opened it, and bid him come in.
Patience stifled a yawn and came up to the man.
"Husband? Why did you come to fetch me?"
"Because, mother has the baby. She told me you had planned to visit here, and thought you had left the baby there all night so we could be together."
"Why would we..." She blushed.
At that, Charity laughed. "Master Joseph. Thank you for allowing me to borrow your wife for the night. She helped me get my house in order."
Joseph sighed looking at his pretty wife and took her by her hand. He could not stay upset with this girl, once a need came within her sites she could not help but meddle.
"Well, I will be taking her back then."
Charity grasped both of Patience' hands and thanked her wholeheartedly. Then glanced at the old clock that sat on the mantel.
"Look at the time. I must go get Baby Charles."
"Ah, so you named him?" Joseph inquired.
"Yes. Charles after his father, and William after my father."
"Strong names." stated Joseph.
"Yes. He will be strong. I must make sure of it"
"Sister Charity, you must not let your self get down anymore. You must have a purpose. Understand?"
"Yes. I think I do. I will raise Baby Charles William. and I think that I must go to Master healer and see if I am too old to be a healer."
The young couple raised their eyebrows at that. Most of the widows chose to be maid servants or teachers.... This could change things at Rockbridge if Charity, a widow and age eighteen, was allowed to be healer apprentice.
Charity sighed deeply as the two left her. She closed the door and stared long at Charles' picture on the mantel.
"Today, I will go pick up our baby and see if I can help the Guildmaster Healer. Today, that is all I have to give." She sighed again, and straightened her shoulders with resolve. I only have to make it through today. As she gathered the sorted belongings, leaving her house towards the recycling center.
Jane watched the night fall quickly over the foot hills of the beginnings of the mountains. She had managed to get about five miles out of town as she entered into the smallest of the large canyons that lay ahead. She found an overhang to the sedimentary rock formation similar to that of the limestone of earth and set up camp. She placed her dew collectors out to drain into her canteen. She placed the fire stick for warmth inside her bag, taking off her rain gear and settling inside. She munched on the last of the straw bread that would go bad tomorrow due to the humidity in the air. Her hardtack and ready made meals lay deep in her bag as well as the vitamin and protein supplements she had brought. She drank the rest of the water from one of the bottles she had filled from the well. Her mind strayed to thoughts of her father and mother. The day her mother had stopped speaking was the day when Liam Rogers had been assassinated by her father. ... She wondered if her father would send men to come after her, then realized, there would be no one. He had sent them all after the stolen item. Did he realize he had left Paradise Mound with out any defense? She closed her eyes and tried to sleep. Dreams wondered inside her, dreams of men, some she had recognized... as she saw the face of young Declan so determined in his pose. Of two strangers, talking amongst themselves with a thing that glowed between them, of a young boy talking to a young woman with a baby on her hip. She tossed and turned. Finally she sat up and punched the pillow under her head and heard.
She stopped and sat straight up looking at the pillow suspiciously.
Was that a dream? Or Reality? She pulled back as the pillow seemed to become no more and melted. She picked up the firestick and held it over the flowing mass. that stopped, and suddenely formed a shape of man with dark hair and green eyes.
"T..Thomas?" Jane spoke wondering if that straw bread really had been okay to eat.
"No. Miss. You speak of my son. I met you years ago.... in a deep well." The voice resonated.
"I should think I would remember meeting someone like you." Then wondered why the same calming feeling she had with Thomas seemed to be filtering into her soul. She knew herself too well. Fear always motivated her to move.... and as she was staring at this being, realized she felt no fear.....
"Well, you see, your red hair attracted me to save you. I am the bucket you clung onto for dear life. You cannot pronounce my name, but being in contact with you during that length of time has left a residual tie. A bond as it were, and one that I cannot break. That bond called out to me ever since Thomas has left your side. It has also given you a burden as I am the dream catcher of my village... and you share in that as well."
to be continued.
this is a collaboration between three fantastic authors and myself. it is important to note that in writing this story as a collaboration, cohesiveness may require us using parts and pieces of others involved to make this project happen. I want to thank Slarty O'brian, emichael and Motown2Chitown for allowing me to participate in this project. Thank you for reading, take care.