Friday, July 31, 2009


The sky grew dark
And thick clouds covered the mid-morning light.
Rain splattered against the roof and threw itself against the windows.
I listened to it coming down.

A thunderstorm.
Moisture in this thick air of summer,
lightning like fire.
I stayed in bed,
Warm, and paying close attention to the music of the storm.

The windows were open.
My eyes were closed.

A cool breeze blew through one open window and out the other.
My nose caught the draft, the damp air mixed with fresh flora and fauna.
I filled myself with the scent, with the newness of the outside.

Just beyond the window was the high pitched drone of tree leaves taking a beating.
Big drops of moisture came down with unrelenting force.

Flashes of lightning lit the inside of my eyes.
The thunder seemed synthetic, like the toy drums that simulate the real crashes of nature…
But it was real.
It was just outside the walls of wood and flesh.

Several seconds passed…
Several seconds passed…

The wind continued to rush across me.
I heard a bird calling.
What was it saying?

I turned my attention to the high pitched drone,
it was light, almost imperceptible in its squeal.
My body grew heavy, my mind receded to deeper layers of motion.

The thunder became scarce.
The lightning subsided.
The gray clouds vanished.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I tossed on my thin pillows the other night, waiting for a wave of sleepiness to carry me away. In my layered haze of drifting colored consciousness, I remembered the long forgotten wooden dining room table I ate at as a child. At its modest size, it could easily fit six people, but when there were more guests, there was a wooden insert we would use to make it longer and, during these special occasions, my mom would usually bring out the piano bench and put it at the end of the table. Two small kids would then be seated close together on the back-less bench. I don’t remember when it was bought, I don’t remember picking it out of a showroom or the delivery men bringing it inside and assembling it. Perhaps it was bought before our move to the west coast and transported by truck to a small Southern California town that resembled New England but lacked any of the snow. In my memory, it was always there in our dining room, a piece of furniture, an active and eternal element in the Harari family story. The table itself was a lacquered medium colored wood, a chocolate brown that matched the color of my hair.
Coupled with the table were six matching chairs. The seats were a cushion of woven material in an alternating weave of tan and white yarn that varied in thickness. The back of the chair was a lattice of thin woven wood which was tall and straight and the sides of the chair went straight up but tapered into a carved, elegant peak that curled like crashing waves. Because of the weave on the back of the chairs, every couple of years, my mom would take the broken ones to be re-caned by a man whom I always imagined to have a long white beard and dirty jeans.
We ate almost all our meals at the smaller kitchen table. It was a sturdy table made from blond wood, a table I would expect to find in a modern Norwegian home. One side of it was placed against the wall of our kitchen and, because of its orientation, during meals, two people sat on either end and two sat facing the white wall. The dining room table was only a couple of feet away from the kitchen table. There was no doorway separating the two rooms, the kitchen flowed into the dining room which opened to the living room. In fact, it was not really a dining room, it was a large room with a couch, TV and a fireplace on one side and a large table and bookshelves on the other. The distinction between rooms was made by the tiled floor in the kitchen and the cream colored carpet inside the dining room and also from an architectural accent of the ceiling. During Chanukah, my mom would hang a “Happy Chanukah” banner from the small wall.
The dining room table was reserved for Friday night dinner (Shabbat), holidays, for entertaining guests and other rare occasions. One of these days was a Sunday morning when my dad made his famous crepes and we little girls squealed when he flipped the flat pancakes in the pan with only one hand like a 5 star chef. There was also a rainy Saturday afternoon when my dad made fish'n'chips after my mom and I fought the enormous downpour of rain to get potatoes and white fish fillets at the supermarket. We ate that meal at the dining room table, maybe we had struggled so much to make it happen. Sometimes today, when the smell hits the air just right and the temperature enters me in the perfect way, I will say it’s fish n’ chips weather. On Friday nights and whenever we ate on it, we would cover its smooth surface with either a blue or white polyester tablecloth.
When I cleaned the house on Thursday’s, which also coincided with my dad’s regular payday, I would Pledge the dark wooden table with a soft rag and I would make sure to get the polish into all the grooves and contours of the wooden chairs. There was one blemish upon the table, a spot where my mother had accidentally left the iron face down and, because of the heat, the varnish on the wood had warped and formed a crater like a surface the size of a saucer.

As I lay drifting into sleep, I remembered this table and its little deformed scar. I cannot remember what happened to the table. When I was seventeen, we moved into a smaller condo. I cannot remember if we brought it with us. The table has vanished from our history.

And then another night, as I clutched my pillows and wished I was holding onto the soft folds of a beautiful man, I remembered a small decorative pillow I used to have as a teenager. Its origins begin long before it ever existed. When I was in eighth grade, I was best friends with Aryn Wilder. In junior high, we met another team of best friends: Erin McAdoo and Shelly Coleman. We became a close group, a close knit mass of weird alternates in a mainstream school. For Christmas, we decided to have a gift exchange. We made or bought something for each person, and that year we opened gifts at Aryn’s house, on the linoleum floor of her kitchen next to her big Christmas tree. We took turn opening gifts and the gift opening seemed to go on forever and each gift was thoughtful and beautiful and a little bit of electrified joy. That year Aryn gave me a small pewter seahorse pendant, which I have since lost in my dozens of moves but I did wear it faithfully for years. The next year, in high school, our group merged with some new girls, other awkward, artsy weird girls that we had somehow never connected with the year before. That year, we also had a Christmas party with all the new people. The next year, our group of mainstream rejects had grown to about 10, and we made or bought presents for everyone that year as well. That year, Erin and Shelly had joined forces and sewn me a small yellow purse and a small pillow. The pillow was about a foot square. On the back, what I considered to be the back, was a solid patch of blue cotton fabric with very small flowers, the standard print used for quilts. The front was made from nine patches, each the same size in 3 rows of 3. They were the same style of fabric with little flowers, but each was a different color. Red, blue, yellow and maroon. The red and yellow patches stick out in my mind. The inside was filled with a soft fluffy material. I had that pillow on my bed for years. I cuddled it at night and, when I made my bed, it was the one decorative pillow in front of the other flat ones I slept on.

I have no idea what happened to the pillow. The pillow has vanished from my history. I look around myself now, knowing that all I see, every single thing down to the smallest detail, will some day disappear from my history as well, and then all these things will be like fading dreams, like an old table, like an old pillow, like an old boyfriend, like an old human form. If they will be dreams then, if they will make that leap into a land where rules are not so fixed and heavy, are they not dreams now? Is it only my insistence on their reality that keeps them from fading even as I stand before them now? I press my face into the new thin pillows, finding comfort in their presence, relishing the thought that they haven’t yet disappeared.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Going For A Walk

It was quiet in the way that it can be quiet even as cars drive by you, because there’s not that many cars, and the cars that there are, they’re not that noisy, and you’ve heard them so much, that their sound just sounds like silence and in the distance there may be a bus crossing an intersection and further away there may be more cars and maybe even some music in the distance but it all adds up to a kind of silence that is full and empty at once, and it slides through the edges of the afternoon like a breeze that has no direction and comes from everywhere at once. In this pool of quietness, his boys were the ones making waves, as they ran after each other, up and down the sidewalk, as far away as they could get, and then a little further, testing the limits, checking to see when he would call to them and say “Boys! Come back! That’s too far!” and they knew that their mother would say it sooner, the mother who was now in his arms, who walked up the sidewalk next to him, pressing up against the side of his chest, but when she said they could run a little more, they would turn to look at him, because they knew that then he would say yes or no, and if he said no, then and only then, would they have to turn back. And so they ran laughing and screaming, and they ran hard and intensely, both small and blonde and thin, both full of raw energy that had to be expended one way or another, and he looked at them with a relish that swam on top of the waves of warmth that he felt coming from her, warmth that trickled up through his chest, up through his throat, to his head and his eyes and his nose, and even to the tip of his short brown hair and he could tell that she could feel it too, and when a particularly strong wave would hit her, she would press closer to him and right then the boys were running all the way to the corner and he had to call to them again, “Boys! That’s too far! Come back!” and one of the little blond boys said to the other, “I won! I won! You lost! I won!” and the other boy didn’t bother to acknowledge what his brother was saying but simply ran back to the edge of their racing field, which started wherever their father stood at the moment and ended when he called to them to turn back, and the boy that had won called to his father and said: “Dad! I won that one! I won! Did you see it?” and he nodded and smiled at him “I did see it. Good! Now come back!” and the boy did and they both lined up again ready to run some more. Her body was thick and full and warm and it vibrated against his arm and his chest with a constant rhythm and his left hand trailed down her back and all the way to the edge of her blue jeans and pushed past the boundary of her waistline and came to rest at the place where her buttocks met each other, and when she felt his hand there, in the little crease of her ass, she let out a small sigh and turned to look at him and he turned to look at her, and her eyes were soft and seemed to be ready to spill their content all over her cheeks and his eyes were soft and warm and content and his fingers dug a bit deeper under her pants, under the tight jeans, feeling the slightly sweaty flesh of her big buttocks and then the boys had run all the way to the corner once again and she smiled as he called out to them, “Boys! That’s far enough! Come back!” and the two boys were even at that point so they simply turned around, knowing that neither of them had won, and they walked back to the two people that stood together at the edge of their racing field who were their parents who were really not people at all but pillars that moved slowly up and down the sidewalk, and both boys knew they would be there forever and whenever they ran too far they could always just run back and find them standing there, waiting for them, but he knew that her warmth would vanish someday and she knew that his gentle hand some day would not caress her under her waistline, and they both felt that knowledge like a little wave of cold air on a gentle warm afternoon and it just made them walk a bit more slowly, and it made them smile a little more because the day was so quiet and still and it would soon come to an end.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Snow Food

They cried out like little doves, their mouths open and pink and bare.
“Please don’t leave us!”
Their wails started to tear at the edges of her heart, but she had no choice. It was either wait and starve and appease their surface level fears, or put her soft white cheek to the bitter cold and look for something to fill their stomachs. There had to be something out there, because here, they had already boiled all the spare leather shoes and they had already consumed their small house plants and eaten the cinnamon dust that had settled on in their cabinets. There was nothing else. Nothing else they could close their eyes and pretend was food, there just wasn’t anything else to hold on to, and no one was coming to save them. It was them and the relentless snow. Three little bodies in the vastness of a small forest clearing that was just big enough for a small wood cabin and a vegetable garden that had long ago been buried in white. It was so beautiful outside, clean as a cold cloud, silent as death. Each bough was covered in a line of white, but it was a cold beauty, an unforgiving beauty that had no remorse for their hunger, it would not cry for their frozen bodies. It wouldn’t even notice, and then, more snow would come, covering them up like a gravedigger. So she had to go. She had to forage while she still had a little bit of strength in her muscles, while she could still walk into the snow and have a chance of coming back. Another couple of days and it might be too late. She looked at them, tears streaking down their pale cheeks.
“I have to go, you need to eat. We can’t wait for the snow to melt, I have to go now.”
She looked out the window into the nearly solid white landscape. Her body was motionless as she imagined herself out there, snow prickling at her soft thighs as she stepped through mound after powdery mound. And then, in a sudden burst of energy that assaulted her stillness, she went to the musty closet to grab her boots and her thick socks and her mittens. In the drawer by the closet was her scarf and woolen hat and she put them on with a stoic face and a thin lipped half-smile.
“Please don’t go, who will tend the fire when you are out?”
“You’ll just have to do it, you’ll have to learn as you go. Remember, we went over this, just put small pieces of wood on when the fire is small and when it’s blazing hot, you can put in the larger logs. If the fire turns to small coals, do not smother it with a large piece of wood. It’s very important to match the pace of the fire. Understand?”
She gestured to the stacked wood by the front door.
“There’s an ax over there, next to the pile, if you need to cut some smaller pieces, just make sure not to cut a finger off if you try it.”
She smiled at her little boys. They looked at each other, both wondering if they would manage to keep the house warm while she was gone. They were desperately hungry, and they were aware of their urgent need for food, but they didn’t want her to leave. They walked arm in arm to the hearth and sat on the warm stones by its base.
“Okay now,” she said pulling on her coat, “I’m going to go, I don’t think I’ll see many animals out today, but I’m going to look, even if I have to stay out there til dark, we can’t go on like this.”
The boys looked at her, again, they cried like little doves.
One spoke up, “Can’t we wait a little longer? Maybe the snow will stop falling soon.”
“No, we’ll be skeletons by the time the sun comes out and turns this all to water. It’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen. Maybe there’ll be a deer out…they need to eat too. Everyone needs to eat. Or maybe I can find some Douglas fir and take some of their tips, at least we could make a nice tea from them.”
The boys looked at each other, they didn’t really like the sour tea their mother made. She opened the door and a terrible wind filled with echoes and chills entered the room, it danced with the flames of their hearth and threatened to smother it with its cold whip. One boy immediately turned his attention to the flames, adding a couple of small pieces of wood to the relentless red mouth.
“Here you go,” he said, “you can eat this.”
“Okay, I’m going.”
They watched her take her first step into the snow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Tale of Absence

She looks out the window, into the misty morning air, thick with gray and moisture and the smell of the sea. She looks at the street, towards the rusted red car that sits still on the side of the road, lined up with all the other patient cars. It’s the red she associates with him, the color of him coming for her. The arrival of joy and the coming of eager pain. It’s the peeling paint, the dented bumper, the rusted roof. Her heart skips when she sees a dinged red car, and there are many of them on the road. Red, the color of erosion. Dried blood that moves along cemented veins.
Her attention comes back from the street to the kitchen table, she pulls it in like a retreating wave and her eyes fall to the pile of newspapers gathered on the carpet by the window. Weeks worth of news stacked in the bags they arrived in. There are old breadcrumbs left on a place mat, an unused coaster lonely without its glass of chocolate milk. She lays between his black bed sheets and drinks in the smell of his vitamins and old pillows. She has worn his underwear for days, refusing to change it, living just as he would. How easily she becomes another, how easily she becomes a ghost.
The collections of music magazines are here and notebooks full of twisted dreams and journals filled with ideas that could last us another thousand years. Her finger slides across a bookshelf, across the thin layer of discarded skin he has left and forgotten. None of these can make up for his absence. There are artifacts of his life, but none of them are really him, and she shudders to imagine a home without his body and the sound of his cough. Without him, these are only things, matter collected and stored.
She walks in the space between walls, a silent guard, a quiet caretaker. She walks in the shadow of his life, in the carefully arranged collections and the guarded secrets that she cannot read. In his room, she dances, letting tears run briefly while her arms breathe life into the shadows, her blackened image her only companion on the wall.
She wants to read every book, listen to every song on the CD shelves, but she fears the fright, the loneliness in a collection of words, the quiet in songs without a hug of understanding. It is him that breathes life into the story, him who looks deeper than the superficial article in TIME and finds the moment of awakening in a hardened politician. The books are nothing without the eye of the guide, the one who turns rain into food and dust into magic.
She flips through the glossy magazine on the table, reading each article, but sharing it with no one. She wishes for the sound of elephants to come up the stairs, wishes for his heat to travel to her through the glass panes, to come into her as she swallows another spoonful of oatmeal. There is no creaking door to inspire panic, no piano scales above her head. She cannot force her will upon him, he refuses to bend and it is she who must learn to unwind and untie the cords of reason and logic. She must bend, until pretzels become common and acrobats seem like tame cousins at Thanksgiving.
She waits for his voice coming with the night.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Waiting at the Light

I see the stoplight fifty feet ahead of me change from yellow to red. I press on the brakes and pull up to the white crosswalk at a crawl. On the other side of the street is the pole of the steel stoplight, holding out its blaring red circle like a still wizard. He commands my patience. My muscles tense as I sit. It’s just a few minutes past nine and the morning air is full of cold mist and whisper-light gusts of fog. The sky high above is a force of thick gray and white. My body shrinks slightly. There is annoyance, there is the deadness of wasted time. The forced motionless wait. I look ahead, at the street beyond this intersection. There is a silver car on the right side of the road, double parked next to the long line of cars standing still next to the sidewalk.
And then, something ruffles my attention. Something faster and more subtle than consciousness or thought. A force quicker than lightning, a movement so fast as to be close to indescribable. I look again at the double parked car, at the yellow blinking headlights.
The street is lined with one-story box-like houses, packed so tight and neatly that they touch walls. Yellow touches white, white touches beige, beige clings to blue. The yellow lights keep blinking. The street ahead rises at a slight angle for five hundred feet and then at a stop sign in the distance, drops abruptly out of sight.
Ten houses past the blinking car… I watch a man walk down the front stoop of his box house. His head is slightly lowered, watching his feet and the stairs. The distance between us has turned all his colors black. His skin, clothes, hair, all his features, he is one movement of blackened limbs. He walks across the street and disappears from sight. A moment later, a man begins to walk out his front door and down the stoop. Didn’t I just see this? Is it the same man, did I watch the future from this vibrating car? Is it his brother, following him out the door? How many people live in each of these houses?
Warm walls that protect against the cold of this air. They seem extra important on a day like this.
A red car starts to my left and moves to the right side of my vision. It zooms past, unhindered by a red light. I stare ahead. The yellow headlights are blinking, there is no one in the street, the houses sit quietly in the fog. From the world beyond the stop sign, a white car ascends the hill and approaches, passing the car with the hazard lights.
Two cars cross the field of my vision, one red, one black, they cross parallel paths in the asphalt square of the intersection. In my peripheral vision, I see two cars coming to join me at the light of patience. They settle into stillness on my right and my left. I do not turn my head, but I am completely conscious of their arrival. I feel the strength of their idle mechanical parts, the humming of their churning engines.
I see myself from the outside… the girl dazing off…she does not even blink. What thoughts dance in her mind?
But no, I am aware of them all. Conscious of every movement that has passed my body. Every car, every sound.
I am really here, only here.
My own past is non-existent, my future is a blur of white, even my immediate destination is far beyond any thought.
The car beyond the stoplight keeps blinking. I am with them all at this moment. Completely immersed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gray Light

There was something subtle and soft here this morning. It was sort of gray. The shades were drawn and the light seeping between the plastic cracks carried the cool foggy air of the ocean. It was the kind of Sunday morning when people are still hidden in a world of dreams and even the birds have muted their tones. Without moving, I could tell that the sky was covered in clouds. The eucalyptus grove outside moved so softly in the wind, so softly that I could only hear it moving with my mind, with my wild imagination that paints the sky with a flat backdrop of gray and the rustling of a silvery chorus. I was laying warm under a thick pile of blankets, propped up slightly by two pillows.
The morning was still, I lay quietly and softly breathing, my nose letting out a gentle whir indicating life and movement. In the stillness, I tried to grab the gray light. The feeling that cannot be described. I was wrapped in my own heat and I closed my eyes to listen to the music of the house. As soon as I tuned in, another world opened. The floor boards were popping and the drone of the fridge cycled. There were some birds out there, talking amongst themselves.
A timer rang and my body jumped. I had forgotten. I lay there, in the gray space. Could I call this peace? Was this a heart at rest? I stayed soft for a couple minutes, until I picked up the phone and dialed and gave voice to the demons that always start to itch in the gray light. Together we came up with reasons to be scared, reasons to be mad. And then the heart started beating a little louder and then it was all over.
Like a soft mist beneath the sun, the gray light left. Whatever it held, what it carried with it, had fled this small room. Now worry had sprouted.
If I could get used to anything, how come I hadn’t gotten used to this? It had been years and I was nowhere close. Would it be easier to kill guerrilla women in thin cloth dresses? What was it that my body could absorb? Every day seemed like a struggle. There was always a reason to cry, a reason to be mad.
I gave voice to the inkling of worry and it ballooned, in a second it grew and took off into the cloudy sky.
I wished for a peace that might not exist, or if it does somewhere, it wouldn’t come like a falling star, bestowing me with an easy gift. It wouldn’t come to me like a silent present through closed blinds. Maybe it would come, but without my work, it wouldn’t stay.
This body has to be pushed, molded into the new form. I ache from the process, from the hands of the sculptor, to transform from the mold that doesn’t fit anymore and the new one that has not yet taken form. I wait in the corner, I wait in front of the computer, I wait in the garden, pulling leaves of sage and praying as I tuck them behind my ear. I wait and I move. I move so that the waiting may end.
The gray light was gone and now it was time to write.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I wrote down my dreams this morning. I reached for the pad of lined paper and the pen laying beside it before my eyes were really open, my fingers clutched the plastic tube while the body tried to catch up with the brain. As I wrote a long sentence about houses and car garages and loading plastic bags of groceries and my sister refusing to stop clipping her nails, I kept leaving out important letters in simple words and everything was slurred and jumbled, looking like the penmanship of a lunatic. The thing that stuck out, the one letter that seemed more defined than all the other ones was the letter “m.”
Meg is my mother’s name. “M” is the letter I tried over and over to perfect as a teenager, when I had access to a car all week and my parents were at work and the day was much too sunny and blue and full of promise to sit in a classroom and pretend to listen to those that had let their passion fall like the crispy leaves of fall. And in the haze of dreams, where little songbirds flew in and out and stood on the ledge of a circular hole in the house for sale, I watched my hand move across the page. I watched with the eyes of a silent observer while I made the exact “m” my mother uses to sign all her checks, the name that I tried so hard to forge and now, through time and accumulated habits, have seemed to have spontaneously imitated and absorbed.

When I was 13 and looking through a bookstore in Laguna Beach, I found a book with a hot pink cover: “How to Find the Right Mate, Lover or Friend Through Handwriting.” I bought it and studied the copied writing samples of John Lennon and Adolph Hitler. What always remains with me is the anecdote the author uses to justify the importance of handwriting to understand what’s happening in the brain. According to the author, there was a small study that observed Vietnam vets that had learned to write with their feet after losing their hands in war. The study found that their writing samples (written with their feet) were nearly identical to their old handwriting when they still had hands. The author argued that the hands are merely a tool, a vehicle that expresses what’s in the mind and emotions. The devil’s advocate in me wondered how come the veterans, who had clearly been through a traumatic event, would be unchanged enough to keep writing in the same style, but today I know that habits can go that deep. It could take more than bombs and missing fingers to release recurrent patterns.

My mother is deep inside me. Her sorrows are mine. Her insecurities, her strangeness. Whatever part of her brain that expresses itself with those curved “m’s” is also deep within me. What wasn’t quite perfect as a teenager has solidified recently. And each time my hand grabs a pen and I write “movement” or “motion” or “mayonnaise,” I see the evidence.

How much of her is in me? Does the killer sleep in my bed, just as Joseph Raymond thought? How much do I wish to destroy? It scares me to think of myself this way and I can see my dad laughing… “you’re going to be just like her,” he would always say, and I would take it as a curse. A grim prophecy of the not too distant future. The dough is ready, all I need to do is sit back and wait for the years to pass through like water. I could become her, fill her shoes, assume her role in this world without much thought or struggle, I could become her reflection. And yet, even though her “m’s” look like mine, three years ago I began the half-conscious/half-unconscious habit of writing “5’s” in a new way. I would watch my hand as it moved in a new way, creating a new shape. I watched as my “b’s” and “n’s” transformed in another form of imitation.
This machine can absorb and release. I can watch the evidence in a dream tale materializing on a blank page.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Offering

The car came to a full stop at the edge of the long lawn that curved away from the road on the northwestern side of the park. The car was a small blue compact, covered in scratches and holes where the paint was peeling and bumper stickers proclaiming freedom and power and revolution and truth. Three girls walked out of the car smiling. They came to stand together on the dirt path that separated the asphalt from the lawn. All three girls were dressed in black, one in a short black dress, another in black shirt and black skirt, and yet another in a black T-shirt and black jeans. The one in the dress was the youngest and her face was peppered with freckles, her hair was blonde and her eyes were wide open and eager. The one in the black skirt was the oldest and her face was long and thin and her eyes were narrow and full of suspicion and her chin protruded like a broken ledge and her hands and arms were thin and moved through the air with slow gracefulness. The one in pants had streaks of red and pink and green on her hair and she had deep black lines of make up under her eyes and her arms were thicker and she stood with her legs slightly apart as if preparing for a fight. They stood in a small circle on the brown road of dirt and pebbles and they looked at each other. The oldest one leaned forward and smiled, and the others responded by bowing and smiling as well. Then the oldest one started to walk down the incline of the lawn, towards one of the several empty picnic tables that stood close to the dark bushes that outlined the wide curves of grass. The other two followed, moving quietly, eyes fixed on their leader.
The leader came to the bench and sat on the surface of the table, with her feet on the bench, and she turned around to look at her friends who were just behind her. Her legs were very white and they were shining with the sunlight of the early afternoon as she crossed them and leaned back.
“Are you both clear on what we are doing?”
The youngest girl stood nervously to her right and nodded. The tough girl nodded as well and shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“As clear as I can be, I guess…”
“No,” the leader said, “I want to know that you are very clear, I want to know that there are no questions left behind at all.”
The younger girl shook her head swiftly, “no questions, no questions at all.”
The tough girl nodded and frowned, “I don’t have any questions…”
“Then we will look for the gifts…” she took out a small bag made of black cloth and placed it carefully on the table. She opened it and looked inside. “When you find what you find, bring it over and put it in here…”
All three then went their separate ways, around the lawn itself, behind the bushes, through the trail that led back to the soccer fields and even around it to the hidden lawn and the darker areas full of trees where the grass was taller and the afternoon was not as warm. The young girl looked around carefully as she walked, and every once in a while her eyes would come to rest on a bit of twig, or a loose leaf, or a loose pebble or even a flat stone. She would then pick up the object and bring it back to the black bag that waited on the table. The tough girl did the same, but moved faster and with more decisiveness. She made two or three trips in the same time that the younger girl did one. She went further away and brought back some small brown rocks from the other side of the soccer field and some little purple flowers from behind the big dark bushes on the other side of the road. The older girl stayed close to the bag but still looked for what was there, and managed to find many bits of bark and little pebbles and even a tiny shiny rock. It all went into the black bag. When the leader determined that they had enough, she asked them to stop. She tied the bag with a small piece of light white rope and they walked over to one of the most prominent bushes, just a few feet away from the table.
“We offer this gift to the goddess, as an act of sacrifice and love for the many gifts that she has chosen to offer us,” she spoke slowly and in a very soft voice that seemed to trail off with the slight breeze that was flowing through the long empty lawn.
“We offer this gift to the goddess in a sincere act of humility, with our hearts opened and our minds at ease,” said the young girl and she blushed slightly as the other two looked at her with crisp attention.
“We offer this to the goddess for her powerful presence and her infinite wisdom, that she may continue to share her abilities with us who are only her servants,” said the tough girl and the others nodded and smiled at her.
The leader then tied the loose end of the white rope to one of the thicker branches of the dark green bush and, for a moment, they all stared at the black bag as it dangled in the midst of a world of light brown twigs, green leaves and pregnant shadows. After a few minutes went by, the leader turned to them and smiled broadly, and let out a long full breath. “It is done… now we can go back…”
And they walked back to the car together, in the same formation as they had come.