Ancestors and Apples
The others have been shopping, or celebrating yesterday's triumph, or resting from it, while I've been standing nearly the whole day on the dock overlooking Duwamish Bay just opposite the Inn. From time to time one of my friends waves or calls out for me to join them but I shake my head and turn away. They probably think me unfriendly, I know, but I can't be with people right now.
I got very little sleep last night; my dreams gave me no rest. They weren't nightmares in the ordinary sense, no monsters chasing me, or fear of what lurked under the bed, no endless descent through a pitch black hole. But there was an empty field with a gate leading nowhere, and dark steps plummeting down to an angry sea. There was a shell on the windowsill in my cell at the Abbey that whispered and wept to be set free, and a green woven basket back in the grotto that shook and trembled at the fierce fluttering inside it.
I look up as the water of Duwamish Bay begins to froth and churn. A fleet of boats approaches the dock, flags fluttering in the soft summer night. I strain to find the one that will take me to the Island of Ancestors but they all look much the same in the dark. The traveller next to me chuckles and mutters something about worrying too much then confidently boards a ferry. How did she know? The flag on the one nearest me, appears to show shafts of wheat and baskets of corn, no clue there, perhaps it's a boat meant more for farm produce than for passengers. Then in the dull glow of running lights I read Trefoil and remember my shamrock suite at the grotto. As I come aboard, the ferry pilot nods a greeting then goes about the tricky business of extricating her boat from betwixt and between the other boats and in a few minutes we are plowing through the starry night toward our destination.
Twenty minutes later the faint outline of the island appears and despite the fact that there are no lights to guide her in, the ferry is soon safely tied up and I find myself walking toward the grove of trees the enchantress told us to find. Apples are in season and I pick some (Braeburns--my favorite) and throw all but one in my tote bag. I walk the moonlit path munching on the tangy juice-filled apple, while I try to quiet my rapidly beating heart.
The stones that lead into the mound are easily two stories high and as I pass through, heading toward the faint red glow, I feel the warmth of the torches and hear them sputter and spit in a passing breeze. The well-worn path leads me downward until I finally emerge into a great hall of shadows whose only light comes from a small fire in the center of the room. My ancestor sits by the fire, cloaked and hooded, facing in the opposite direction and with my heart already overflowing with love, I circle around and sit on the bench opposite.
"Hello Bev." My birthday twin-almost-sister from long ago lowers her hood and smiles at me and I forfeit the question about myself to ask, "Do you walk now, Dear Heart?"
"Not too often," she answers, her eyes shining, "mostly I dance!"
How I long to stay and talk with her but there are rules and reasons for this meeting and I've already broken the first. She draws something from her pocket and presents it to me. It's a cylindrical object four inches long in black and gold. She waits patiently, watching in amusement as I try to make sense of the riddle.
I turn the spyglass around in my hand in bewilderment, wishing I could ask why. Finally it comes to me. "Ah, to see in the distance, to study details--to focus on my stories," the words tumble out and she gives me a thumbs up sign. "You always gave the best presents," I admit. "Okay, Bev, your turn."
"Are you doing what you love?"
"Every day," I assure her. I reach into my tote for the apples and place them into her outstretched hands. We both watch as they flatten and lengthen and turn into the prettiest pair of ballet slippers either of us has ever seen.
Dawn is breaking as our fleet of ferries makes its way across Duwamish Bay. Looking back at the island through my spyglass, I can almost see a slender figure in red and gold slippers dancing among the apple trees.