Rock of Ages Past--

Part 10

Copyright©(1999-2000) Elaine L. Becker

All Rights Reserved

DISCLAIMER: This story is an original creation and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, real or fictional are unintentional. Any words to any songs or any poetry used in this story are attributed to their original artists in the story itself. Television and/or radio programs that are referred to in the story are not to my knowledge, real program content, but created by me solely for use in this story. This story is about two women in love and may contain language or sexual scenes unsuitable for children or others who are easily offended by material of this nature. This is a story about same gender relationships. If you have a problem with same gender relationships, you should probably see your therapist. Hate is an illness that love can cure. Comments or suggestions should be sent to:

Wednesday morning dawned gray and overcast. It looked like it was going to be a repeat of Sunday's weather, wet, and chilly, but the rain hadn't started yet. 'With any luck at all, maybe I can make it to the rock shop and back before the sky opens up,' she thought as she headed to the kitchen to start the coffeepot.

While the coffee was brewing, Finian returned to her bedroom and quickly got dressed. When she returned the to the kitchen, the coffee was waiting for her. With her large thermal cup full of fresh coffee in one hand, she grabbed her backpack, slung it over one shoulder, and walked out the door.

She had never been to a rock shop before. She knew what a lapidary was, but had just never been that interested in rocks. She had passed by this store many times but had never had the urge to go in. Today was different, she had a reason to be here.

Finian parked the Ranger and headed inside. It was early and she was the only one in the place other than the short, blond woman behind the counter. As she turned to her left and walked toward the bookrack on the far wall, the woman called out, "If you need any help, just yell."

Finian glanced back over her shoulder as she kept on walking, "Ok, thanks." For a moment, Finian thought she detected something familiar about the woman's voice, but she soon forgot about it as she looked around her at all of the different colors, sizes, and shapes of stones that graced every available bit of space not reserved for walking.

There were amethyst geodes that had been cut in half, some taller than she was, that she could have walked inside of and quartz crystals as big as fire hydrants all around the inside of the shop. There were tables every where covered with stones of all kinds from the smallest pebbles to large geodes. All kinds of lapidary tools and supplies hung on the walls and there were a few glass enclosed cases, like the one that woman sat behind, that held the more precious stones and jewelry settings.

Finian suddenly noticed that her energy level seemed higher since she had walked into the shop. She glanced down at the coffee cup in her hand. She didn't think she'd had enough coffee yet to really wake her up, but she definitely felt more alert and aware than when she had left her apartment.

Finian finally made her way to the back wall and began looking at the books and magazines. She had never realized that there were so many books written about rocks. There were lapidary journals, there were books and magazines on how to cut your own stones and how make your own jewelry either by casting or using gold or silver wire to wrap the stones and make your own unique settings. There were also books on Wicca and different styles of Pagan practices and Goddess worship. The majority of books, though, were on the metaphysical uses and healing properties of the different stones.

Finian pulled up a stool that she hoped was there for the customers' comfort and sat down. She didn't bother with the lapidary journals or jewelry books, but began looking through the metaphysical books. At first, she felt a little silly. She had always been one to steer away from New Age stuff. She looked at it as a passing fad and something that had no real foundation.

After going through almost every book on the rack, Finian settled on five books. She chose three books about stones and how to use them, a book about magical places and places of power, and a book about Pagan festivals.

Satisfied with her choice of books, Finian headed for the display of quartz crystals. Actually, as she looked around, she realized that there were more quartz crystals than any of the other stones. They were grouped on tables according to their sizes and types. Finian's eye was drawn to one table in particular. On it, were several crystals similar to the one that had caught her interest on the television show she had watched yesterday. As she approached the table, she was drawn to a beautiful double crystal about four inches tall. The base of the crystal was about five inches in diameter, though not perfectly round. From the base, grew two identical crystals that formed an X. The left-hand crystal's flat, five-side window was facing her. The right-hand crystal was facing backward, in the opposite direction. There was something unique about this particular crystal. On the upper part of the crystals, above the point where they crossed to form an X, was a tiny double-ended crystal that grew across from one to the other, again, linking the two together.

Finian reached down, gingerly and picked up the perfectly clear double crystal. As soon as she touched it, she felt a very subtle vibration begin in fingertips that radiated slowly up the length of her arm and spread over her entire body. She had the distinct feeling that the crystals were connecting with her.

Finian turned the crystals around in her hand and looked at the one that had been facing away from her. It was almost identical to the other one except instead of having a five-sided window, it had seven sides. As she brought the crystal closer to her face, she noticed tiny little triangles on the face of the crystal that were only noticeable when the light hit the surface of the crystal at just the right angle.

She didn't bother to examine any of the other crystals on the table or on any of the other tables around it. Clutching her find in her hand, she headed toward the cash register. The blond woman who had been sitting there when she walked in was gone. 'Must have gone to the back,' she thought as she placed her books on the counter. As she went to set the crystal down next to the books, she felt reluctant to let go of it.

Still clutching her prize, she decided to wander around the shop and look at some of the other stones while she was waiting for the woman to return. As she stopped at the different tables and examined the stones that they held, she found that she was especially drawn to some of the stones. By the time she heard the cashier return to the front of the store, she had a handful of different colored stones.

Finian looked at her watch and was amazed that she had been in the shop for almost three hours. She glanced out the window and noticed that it had begun raining. With her hands full of rocks, Finian turned around and started toward the cash register. What she saw as she rounded a tall, spinner rack that held pamphlets on where to dig for gems and minerals and other tips of the lapidary trade, stopped her dead in her tracks. There, standing at the counter, facing her was Marty.

Finian's first instinct was to bolt; just drop every thing and run. She felt the palms of her hands begin to sweat, despite the coolness of the stones that she now clutched tightly in them. She took a full, deep breath and felt her backbone straighten. 'One foot in front of the other,' she told herself as she started to move across the floor.

As she neared the counter, Marty began to smile. "Well, hello there. Are these yours?" She asked as she reached over and swept the pile of books closer to the cash register. "Ah, yeah, well, they will be when I pay you for them.

Finian smiled back. "I didn't know you worked here."

"There's a lot you don't know about me." Marty cocked her head slightly.

Finian kicked herself mentally in the butt for opening the door that she prayed would stay shut. Marty looked at her watch. "How about lunch? There's a great little Italian restaurant just a couple of doors down." She started ringing up Finian's purchases.

For a moment, Finian didn't know what to say. This was not what she expected. "Ah, yeah, okay, sure, that would be great. I am getting kind of hungry and Italian sounds great, but what about the store?"

"That's the nice thing about owning your own business," she smiled, "you can take your breaks whenever you want to." Marty finished bagging the books and stones, carefully wrapping the double crystal in layers of tissue paper before placing it in a bag by itself. She took Finian's credit card and ran it through the scanner.

"You own this place?" Finian asked trying to conceal her surprise.

"Yeah, I opened it six years ago. I've always been fascinated with rocks and minerals and went to school to study lapidary. Shortly after I graduated my dad died and left me a few dollars. I spent the next few years travelling around the country, hitting all the places where you could dig and mine your own stones." She stopped for a moment and laughed as she handed Finian her bags. "My mother thought I was nuts."

Finian took the packages from her as Marty turned the key, locking the cash register and dropped it into her pocket. "Let me grab my jacket from the back and we'll get out of here." While she waited, Finian wandered over to the other end of the store that she had not explored earlier. This end of the shop was filled with shelves and tables which held Tarot cards, books covering every metaphysical and occult subject imaginable, magical tools, such as wands, cauldrons, candles, and incense.

"Ready?" Finian jumped slightly and turned around at the sound of Marty's voice.

"Yeah, I'm ready, just give me a minute to toss this stuff in the car," she said as she headed for the door. Marty followed her out, turned the "Out to Lunch" sign around, and locked the door behind her.

The two women were led to a booth along the back wall of the dimly lit restaurant. The flicker of burning candles graced the tabletops and cast a warm glow over the interior of the small room. Marty ordered a carafe of red wine and a large antipasto.

Finian took a sip of her wine, letting the cool liquid relax her slightly constricted throat. "So, why did your mother think you were crazy to take some time off after school? 'This was safe ground,' she thought as she looked at the brown-eyed woman sitting across from her.

Marty laughed lightly. "I think my mother has always thought I was a little strange. She never could and still can't understand why I went to school to study lapidary arts. "Why did you?" Finian smiled. "From the time I was very small, before I could walk, even, from what I've been told, I was picking up rocks and saving them. By the time I was four, I could tell you where every rock I had was from. As a child, whenever someone asked me what they could bring me for a souvenir from someplace they were going to visit, my answer was, a rock," Marty grinned as she stopped for a moment to take a sip of her wine.

"I guess that would be a little strange. Most kids would want a T-shirt or a stuffed animal or some kind of toy."

"Yeah, my mother was always trying to talk me into asking for something like that, but all I wanted was rocks. There is just something about them that makes me feel connected. They represent a link to the past and the future. When I hold one in my hand, I feel such a sense of timelessness; like past, present, and future are all one."

Finian almost spurted the mouthful of wine she had just taken, across the table.

"So, when I finished school," Marty continued, seemingly unaware of the other woman's amazement at what she had just said, "I bought an old, Volkswagen camper and hit the road. I wanted to get in the dirt and dig. I really am a hands-on kinda girl," she winked at Finian before continuing, "and my mother just couldn't understand my actually wanting to go and get dirty," she laughed. "She also thought that it was just downright crazy for two young women to go off across country, with no real agenda, by themselves."

Their conversation was momentarily interrupted by the waitress placing the large antipasto on the table. The two women filled their plates and ate in silence for a few moments. "So, you didn't go off on your adventure by yourself?" Finian was beginning to notice a soft, warm glow beginning inside of her and felt herself begin to relax.

"No, my girlfriend, at the time, Annie, came with me. Of course, mom didn't know she was my 'girlfriend', she just thought that Annie was someone I met at school and became friends with." Marty smiled across the table.

Finian took a sip of her wine and thought wildly about what to say but she didn't have to think long. "So, Finian, enough about me." Marty picked up her glass and took a sip of her wine keeping her eyes on the dark haired woman's face. Finian's thoughts were a jumbled mess.

She knew the question was going to come eventually, but she still wasn't prepared for it. 'Why didn't I just tell her I was busy and had something to do? Why did I ever agree to come to lunch with her?' She berated herself silently.

"That night at the Labrys," Marty put her glass of wine down and refilled both of their glasses as she talked, "I gave you my phone number but you didn't call. Did you lose it?" Finian struggled with herself about whether to lie and just tell the woman that yes, she was so drunk, she must have dropped it, but she just couldn't do it. "Because the way you were holding me while we were dancing. . ." She let her words trail off.

"Yeah, well, no, I didn't lose it." Finian picked up her newly filled glass and took a long drink letting the liquid courage do it's work. "I, um, I'm really sorry Marty, I . . .," Finian slowly raised her blue eyes to look across the table at the woman sitting there watching her, "I had way too much to drink that night and, yes, I did enjoy dancing with you." She paused to take another sip of her wine. "I was very confused. Please don't take this wrong," Finian implored with her voice and her eyes, "While we were dancing, I guess I had an alcohol-induced flashback. For a moment, I confused you with someone else. No, wait. . ." Finian said as she saw the look of disappointment cross Marty's face. "You remind me very much of someone, " Finian thought for a moment, "someone that I haven't seen in a very long time." There, that was sort of the truth. "When that Beatles's song started, it just took me. I don't know what came over me. It's not that I don't like you, I do. It's just. . .that when I confused you with. . .ah, the other person, it really freaked me out."

Marty's eyes dropped to her plate for a moment, as if she were trying to find words, "So, this other person, where are they now?" Suddenly, Finian felt like a trapped animal. Her mind frantically searched all its hidden crevices for an answer. "Ireland," she finally blurted out, perhaps a little too forcefully.

"Wow," Marty looked up at her, "Well, I'm assuming here, and please correct me if I am wrong," she smiled, trying to ease the tension and uneasiness that had settled around them, "that this person we are talking about is a woman."

Finian began to relax slightly, partly due to the wine, and partly because of the blond woman's attempt to lighten the atmosphere with her smile. "Yes, she is." Finian felt a small sense of relief at having it out in the open, with someone other than Michelle and Bobbi. She almost felt like she had jumped over a hurdle, but at the same time, she knew that this admission had just opened another whole can of worms.

Marty looked down at her wrist. "I really do need to get back to the store, why don't you come back with me and let some of that wine work it's way out of your system before you get behind the wheel and attempt to drive anywhere?" She winked. "Besides, somehow I get the feeling that there is a whole lot more to this story about a woman in Ireland than you have let on."

Finian wasn't sure that she really wanted to do that. In fact, she was downright sure she didn't want to do that. It had been hard enough telling her best friends about Caer, how in the world was she ever going to explain it to a stranger? But, she knew that Marty was right, she had allowed herself to drink way too much wine in her attempt to relax, and at this point, she didn't have much of a choice. "Besides," Marty started, "maybe I can help you learn a little bit about all those rocks you just bought. Again, I'm assuming here, but what with all the books you bought, it looks like you plan to do some studying. Maybe I can help make it a little easier." The brown-eyed woman pushed her chair away from the table and stood up, looking at Finian, waiting for an answer. "Yeah, I think that would probably be a good idea," Finian said as she stood up and felt the room start to move around her. She reached out and placed her hands on the tabletop to steady herself before moving.

Marty grinned. "What is it about me? I think I'm beginning to get a complex. We've only met twice and both times you've had too much to drink." She laughed softly.

Finian reached out to pick up her check as she let go of the table and stood up. Before she could get her hands on it, Marty snatched it off the table. "My treat, after all, if it weren't for me, you wouldn't be too tipsy to drive." Finian opened her mouth as if to protest, but Marty held her hand up.

"No arguments, please."

"Ok, no arguments, thanks, but at least let me leave the tip."

"You've got it," Marty smiled at her. "Let's go." As the two women walked back to Marty's shop, Finian, thought about her fierce need for privacy. It was akin to self-preservation. She wondered when she had formed that belief and made it her own. Somehow, it was beginning to feel foreign to her. Her cloak of privacy was beginning to feel more like a heavy suit of armor.

Marty unlocked the cash register and pulled another stool out from the back room, placing it alongside her own, but not too close. She had definitely noticed the other woman's hesitancy and trepidation in talking about herself. Marty suddenly realized that it didn't matter any more whether she got a date with the beautiful, raven-haired woman. Something about Finian fascinated her. She wasn't quite sure what it was, but she felt that the blue-eyed woman was a very old soul and had some kind of connection to the past, similar to the rocks and minerals that Marty felt so drawn to. That sense of timelessness.

When Finian came out from the back where she had gone to rid herself of some of the wine, Marty motioned to the stool she had placed there for her. "Have a seat. Relax. How about some iced tea? It's Jasmine and guaranteed, non-alcoholic." She grinned at the tall woman who was wavering slightly on the stool beside her. Finian reached out one hand to steady herself before answering. "Please, that would be great, it might even help flush out the rest of the wine." She looked over at Marty and a slightly crooked smile lit up her face. "I can not believe I did this again." She said as Marty got up to go get the tea. "You're going to think I'm an alcoholic and the truth is that I hardly ever drink." Finian shook her head as if telling herself, 'no more, never again'. Just the mere shaking of her head threatened to throw her off balance again.

Marty laughed a full, hearty chuckle. "Just hold on tight, Finian, I'll be right back."

Marty returned with two large glasses of iced tea and placed them on the counter. The entrance buzzer on the door sounded as two young women walked in and headed for the tables filled with various stones. Marty called out her usual, "If you need help with anything or have any questions, just yell," and left the women to their quest.

Settled back on her own stool, Marty turned slightly to face the other woman at a slight angle. She did not wanting to intimidate her any more than she already had and a face to face sitting was always more intense. She really wanted to put Finian at ease and get to know her better.

She had decided not to ask Finian why she bought the double crystal and all the stones or any other personal questions, for that matter. She had a very strong feeling that it wasn't because she was a rock hound or a New Age enthusiast and had a gut instinct that the reason was more involved than Finian was able or willing to go into right now. Marty reached over beside the cash register and picked up a pad of paper and a pen. She looked over at Finian. "Here I go assuming again," she flashed the tall woman an animated smile, her brown eyes twinkling, "I noticed that you didn't write down the types of stones that you bought earlier. That and the books you bought, sort of give me a clue that this is all new to you." Finian nodded her head in agreement and opened her mouth to say something, but Marty continued before she had a chance. "So, let's start by writing down the names for you. Then I'll tell you a little bit about their composition, where each one is from and the ancient beliefs associated with each one."

She saw Finian breathe a deep sigh of relief, when she realized that Marty was not going to go in for the kill. She didn't know how she knew, but suddenly she knew that Marty was not going to ask her out, at least not as a date. For a brief moment, she felt a pang of regret. Her newly out ego was secretly playing with the idea of actually going out with an another woman on a date and not as just friends. Finian silently chastised herself and suddenly felt a twinge of guilt. She didn't want any one except Caer, at least not that way.

"That would be great." Marty heard an audible expression of relaxation and thanks in the other woman's voice. "And you were right in assuming, all three times, but who's counting." Finian's mouth broke into a wide grin; her blue eyes sparkled with just a touch of teasing.

The next few hours were spent with the two women sitting side by side, at times their heads almost touching, as they talked, and examined stone after stone. Marty wrote down notes on the pad of paper of things that Finian would probably not find in the books she had purchased, but felt she would want to remember. There were few interruptions throughout the afternoon, as the rainy, cool weather seemed to keep people home where it was dry and warm.

Finian finally glanced at her watch and was surprised to see that it was after five. "What time do you close?" Finian asked the shorter, blond woman.

"Five, why?" She asked looking up at the clock on the wall above the door. Finian saw Marty's eyes blink in astonishment.

"Well, we sure managed to make this a short day," she grinned.

Finian looked at Marty, then looked down at her hands. Slowly, she raised her blue eyes so that she was looking directly into the brown ones that looked back at her. "Marty, thank you. I've had a wonderful day. I mean that. I have to admit that when I came in here and saw you, I was more than a little nervous. For many reasons. Thank you." Somehow, she instinctively knew that she didn't have to explain any more.

Marty reached out her hand and placed it over Finian's. "Finian, I must admit that I was all set to ask you out. You are one hell of a good looking woman." She grinned and winked as she watched Finian's cheeks turn pink. She marveled for a moment at how the pinkish hue to her cheeks accentuated the sculptured angles of the woman's handsome face. "But, I am not as dense as I might seem," she laughed, "it is obvious that your heart belongs to someone else. And I might add, she is a very lucky woman."

Finian felt herself blushing. 'Damn, I hate when that happens,' she thought. "Marty, you are anything but dense." She hesitated, trying to find the right words. "And I am honored," she felt her face get a slight bit warmer. She realized that she had come to be quite comfortable with Marty and no longer felt the least bit threatened.

Finian stood up and took the handful of papers that Marty held out to her. "Thanks for everything, you have been a tremendous well of information." She started to walk around the end of the counter toward the door. "Hey," she said, stopping to turn back to face the blond woman, "I have an appointment Thursday morning at the college. I don't know exactly what time I will be finished over there, but how about lunch when I'm done? I should be out of there by around twelvish. This time, my treat."

Marty looked at her, slightly surprised, "That sounds wonderful, I'll be looking forward to it. See you Thursday, then," she picked up her arm and waved as Finian made her way across the floor and out the door. ***** Finian sat on her bed, holding the double crystal in her hands. She had done what Marty had suggested and instead of coming home after leaving Marty's Rocks and Minerals, she had taken a drive over to the coast and cleansed her stones in the icy cold, salt water of the Atlantic Ocean. Marty had explained to her about the cleansing effects of the salt water and when Finian thought about the cleansing effect that the ocean had on her, she decided to make the short trip. The short trip had turned into over three hours and it was almost ten o'clock when she finally got home. After cleansing her stones in the cold water, Finian had sat on the damp sand and held the nearly transparent crystal in her hands, letting the moon bathe it in her light, filling it with gentle energy.

She now sat holding the twin crystal in her hands, the books and papers cast about her on the bed. There were many interesting things about the twin crystal that Finian had been drawn to, and she now examined the beautiful piece of almost perfectly clear quartz as if it were a new born babe. She held it in her hands gently, so as not to break off the dozens of tiny crystals that grew up out of the base of the double crystal, surrounding it like a mini crystal garden.

One of the first things that had caught her attention in the rock shop about the crystal, was the small, double-ended crystal that grew from about an eighth of an inch inside the left hand crystal, horizontally across, to connect to the right hand crystal. This tiny, thin, perfectly clear double-pointed crystal grew perfectly straight across between the two glass-like, larger crystals, about one and half inches up from where they connected at the base.

Finian picked up one of the books, checked the index, and found that double-terminated crystals were used to share or exchange energy between two people. A double-terminated crystal that grew between two other crystals was like a conduit through which energy could flow. Finian replaced the book on the bed and continued examining the crystal.

The left-hand crystal had a five-sided face on the point, which according to the information she found was called an Isis crystal. The five-sided shape seemed to tip slightly toward the left. She turned the crystal around and looked at the right-hand crystal. It too, had a five-sided face, which appeared to tip slightly toward the right. Finian saw that this was because of the slightly different lengths of the angles on one side of the face.

As Finian tilted the double crystal in order to examine it from different angles, she noticed some tiny, pyramid shapes on the face of the crystal. When she moved the crystal to get a better look, they disappeared. She finally found that she could only see them, when she angled the crystal just right, so that the light highlighted the tiny triangles. She rubbed her finger across the tiny five-sided surface, but could not feel any ridges or dips where the pyramid shapes might be. It felt perfectly smooth, like glass. She looked again at the surface of the face, tilting it into the light, and again was able to see the shapes.

Finian turned the crystal around, so that the left-handed crystal was again facing her. She tilted the crystal and saw the same pyramid shapes on this crystal. Finian placed the crystal gently on the bedside table and picked up one of the books on crystals and stones. She turned to the index, then realized that she really didn't know what she was looking for. She didn't know what the pyramid shapes were called. She didn't see anything listed under pyramids, so she started thumbing through the book, hoping for a picture, as the book did contain some pictures of the different types of stones.

Not finding anything in the first book, she picked up the second and began thumbing through it. She was grateful that all of the books she had chosen had pictures. She finally came upon a picture of a large crystal that had the same pyramid shapes on its face as hers did. The three-sided shapes were called record keepers. Record keepers were said to hold the wisdom and the knowledge of the universe, to teach you what you most need to know. What she most needed to know was how to put all of this stuff that she was learning together, so that she could get to Caer. 'I'm going to need all of the ancient wisdom I can get if I am going to pull this off," she thought as she looked at the picture of the tiny triangles on the face of the crystal.

She continued looking through the books until she found a picture of a crystal with the five-sided faces like hers. They were called Isis crystals. Isis crystals were said to amplify the feminine energy and help you get in touch with parts of yourself that you had been out of touch with; those parts of yourself that in the past you may have had trouble accepting. Their energy was said to assist one in achieving change, especially when those changes revolved around feminine issues. They were said to put you in touch with power of the Goddess.

Finian immediately flashed back to the song that Caer had sung to her in the dream; the one when Caer had asked, 'Will you let the Goddess walk you through, to be back by my side?'

And she had answered her. 'Yes.' Now, she had to find a way to do that.

Finian drew her attention back to the book and found a chapter on the polarity of crystals based on their individual, hexagonal structure. Left handed crystals were believed to represent a timeline to the past and right handed crystals, a timeline to the future. She sat with the book in her hand and looked at the crystal sitting on the table. Caer was in her past and she was in Caer's future. The tiny, double-terminated crystal linked the two crystals together. She suddenly saw the small, double-terminated crystal much like the silver cord that had linked she and Caer that morning at the dojo when she had gone to work out and meditate. She had decided after that experience that it would be best to work out at home. She felt her cheeks redden at the memory of how she had felt when she had connected with Caer.

Finian closed the book in her hands and picked up the others that had been cast aside on the bed. She piled them neatly on the bedside table, being careful not to bump the crystal. She turned the crystal under the light on the table until she could see the tiny pyramids on the right-hand crystal. She laughed when she realized that she had already come to associate the right-handed crystal with herself and the left-handed one to Caer.

She had sat on the beach after cleansing the crystal in the salt water and held it in her hands under the soft glow of the moon. She closed her eyes and let herself feel the subtle energies radiating out from each side of the double crystal. Her practice of the martial arts had taught her to be aware of all the energies around her as one of the first lessons in self-defense. Learning to discern between different types of energy could often mean the difference between life and death. It was part of assessing a situation. She had found over the years that she was very attuned to and aware of the energies around her at any given time and place.

Finian returned from her musings and brushed her hand over the crystal as she reached to turn the light off; as she did, she noticed the swelling of the green buds on the apple wood. They were getting larger. She shook her head and turned off the light.

Finian lay on her back in the dark, staring up at obscurity. She thought back to what she had read about the Isis crystals and their ability to help you get in touch with and accept parts of yourself that you had kept hidden. She had recognized and admitted to herself, just a few days ago, that she was a lesbian. She had not yet, really come out to Marty, Michelle, and Bobbi. She felt like there was more that she needed to come to terms with before she felt free enough to fully come out. She didn't want to go to Caer unless and until she had come into herself, and she couldn't do that until she had examined her past and found the answers to her questions about herself. Only then would she be able to share herself fully. Finian stared into the darkness and wondered about when she had really realized and known that she was different and started to file that knowledge away as being bad or not accepted. She knew that it was long before Diane or even Patty. Finian found that she had to think back to what seemed, now, almost like another lifetime. The lifetime in which her parents were still alive.

She remembered flannel shirts and blue jeans, climbing trees and discarding the dolls that were given to her to play with the trucks and toy soldiers that had belonged to the boy across the street. She remembered wondering why the old biddy across the street use to get so upset when, in the summertime, she would take her shirt off to play outside, just like the boys did. Finian smiled an unseen smile at the memory. She felt like one of the guys, even at seven, and couldn't understand what the big deal was. Those were tomboy memories and they were fond ones. "Even if,' she thought, 'every one besides Buddy, thought she was strange.'

Finian let herself go a little further into her tomboy memories. She allowed herself to remember her feelings as well as the pictures. There were many times, more than she would willingly admit to anyone, when she secretly wished that she were a boy. Taking her shirt off, and running with the boys, for a moment in time, made her one of them.

She had hated it when old Mrs. Malloy would make her either put her shirt back on or send her home. It reminded her that she was a girl. And that meant that there was something wrong with her. Because she didn't feel like a girl when she compared herself to all the other little girls she knew. She remembered a little song she had learned in school when she was in the second grade. It went something like 'Bobbie Shaftoe's gone to sea, a silver buckle on his knee, he'll come back and marry me, bonny Bobbie Shaftoe." Whenever they sang that song, in her mind, she was always Bobbie Shaftoe, coming home to marry her love. And in her mind, the picture she had seen was of a little, wavy haired, blond girl with, emerald eyes, the color of the sea, that were set into a petite, angelic, pudgy-cheeked face.

She would hear all the other little girls in her class tittering over the little boys that they would want to be Bobbie and she would just keep her mouth shut. She knew she didn't feel the same way about the little boys that they did. She felt that way about other little girls. But she wouldn't let herself think about it very often. When she was alone sometimes, she would let that part of her come out and she would play a game by herself in which she was the 'man' and had a wife or girlfriend; depending on how grown up she felt that day. But she never told anyone and made sure that she would not run the risk of being caught. In her fantasies, she could like a girl. In reality, at the age of seven, she already knew that it wasn't possible. It wasn't possible to like another girl, like mommy and daddy liked each other. Girls were suppose to like boys and boys were suppose to like girls.

Finian lay there and let herself go back to an even younger age. She felt her stomach churn as she let herself remember her very first awareness that she was different and the way she felt was wrong. She was five years old. Her father's cousin and his wife had come to stay with them while they were waiting for their belongings to arrive and be delivered to their new home. They had a seven-year-old daughter, Brenda Sue. Sleeping arrangements were rather tight, as her parents' house was small. Finian and Brenda Sue had to share Finian's single bed.

Finian couldn't quite remember all of the details of that night, but she remembered how she and Brenda Sue had started kissing in the dark. She didn't remember anyone initiating it. It just seemed to happen; a mutual timing sort of thing. The next thing she remembered was her lying on top of Brenda Sue and how good it felt. Then they switched places and it was Brenda Sue on top of her. She had played doctor with one of her little boy friends, and it was nothing like this.

The door to the bedroom suddenly burst open and light from the hallway spilled across them. Brenda Sue's mother, Rita, walked into the room and found the five-year-old and the seven-year-old locked in an embrace that looked much more than a friendly embrace. She quickly separated the two and with her face gone ashen, told them they must never, never touch like that again. That it just wasn't right for two girls to carry on like that together. Finian remembered that she didn't say that it wasn't right for a girl and boy to carry on like that.

What Rita had neglected to say, had given Finian the clear message that it was wrong for her to feel good with another girl but okay for her to feel good with a boy. But even at five, she knew she felt differently toward boys and girls than her cousin said she should. In her childhood escapades of playing doctor, she always remembered feeling butterflies in her stomach, when it was another little girl she was with, and feeling excitement only because they were doing something they weren't suppose to be doing, when playing with little boys. She didn't know at the time, of course, that almost every child, if not every child, experiments with early sexual curiosity by playing doctor, or some variation of the game. So, at the time she had accepted the guilt for just playing the game, on top of the guilt that the game was more fun with members of her own sex.

Finian remembered that the next day, she had overheard Brenda Sue's mother talking to her in the bathroom. She didn't know exactly what was being said, but she could tell by the tone of Rita's voice that it was about what had happened the night before. Finian had stayed closed in her room all morning. She had only ventured out at the coaxing of her mother, to eat a bowl of cereal, which she could hardly swallow, and had crept unnoticed back to her room. At some point later in the morning, she heard her father and Harry arguing in the kitchen. She had her door closed and couldn't make out all of the words, but it sounded angry. She heard her father tell them to get out and she heard them gathering their things. She hid in the closet.

She could hear her mother and father mumbling through the wall of the closet, which backed up to the living room wall. She was terrified. She knew that it was because of what had happened, that Brenda Sue and her mom and dad had to leave. And she knew that at any moment, her parents were going to come bursting into her room and tell her how bad she was.

The next morning, when Finian woke up, her bed and her pajamas were wet. She quickly stripped the small bed and got a clean pair of pajamas out of her drawer that closely matched the ones that she had been wearing, as much as possible. She stuffed the damp sheet into the closet and the wet pajamas with it. She poked her head out of her bedroom door and saw that her parents were still asleep. She knew where her mother kept the clean sheets and crept out to the linen closet in the bathroom and got one. She returned to her room, and remade the bed as best she could and climbed back in it.

Finian was mortified. She had not wet the bed since she was two. She had walked and potty-trained early and had not had an accident in over three years. She was ashamed of herself. The bed-wetting continued for several days and Finian realized that she was running out of clothes and sheets, and her closet was beginning to smell. Her little mind knew that it was only a matter of time before her mother would find out her secret. She stood huddled in the corner of the closet, trying to figure out a way to tell her mother. She stood in that closet so long, her mother finally came to find her. The second her mother opened the closet door, little Finian began to cry.

In the darkness of her adult bedroom, Finian reached up and brushed a tear from her cheek. She remembered her mother kneeling down and opening her arms to her. She fell into them sobbing. Her mother had soothed her and given her time to calm herself down, then asked her what had been going on, nodding to the pile of dank clothes in the corner. Finian knew then, that Rita must not have told them what had happened. Finian decided not to tell her mother about her fear of being bad and instead told her mother that she had been having bad dreams and was scared. It was the truth, in her child's mind, without all the details. She had never asked the real reason why her father made Harry and Rita leave that day. She was too scared to ask at the time, so some part of her always feared that it was her fault. She finally knew that it wasn't. Finian lay there letting that acceptance settle around her. Absorbing the fact that she had been hiding from herself since she was five. She was now convinced that her newly admitted sexual orientation was not a choice and something she had no more power to change then, than she did now. It was who she was and who she had always been. She let the remaining guilt fall away and embraced herself.

Finian took a deep, cleansing breath and rolled over, hugging the long body pillow close. As she was falling off to sleep, she wondered at the mechanisms that caused people to create such angst for themselves, by being afraid to look their fears square in the face and to stare them down. She was thirty-two years old, and just now staring hers down. Fears created in childhood that turn into monsters chasing you in the night, until something profound enough makes you stop, turn around, and look at them.

Soon, all conscious thought was gone, woven into the tapestry of dreams. Her dreamscape opened on a moonlit night. She sat on the sand, with the roar of the sea behind her. She looked into emerald eyes that looked up at her from a petite, innocent face that was highlighted by the light of the moon and framed by long, flaxen hair. It was the girl from her version of the Bobbie Shaftoe nursery rhyme song of her childhood, grown up and now a woman.

Finian reached out her arms and felt the smaller woman come into them. She laid her face against the top of the blond woman's head, inhaling the scent of her clean, wind-blown hair. Gently, she placed her hand under the other woman's chin, slowly lifting the face to meet her own. The eyes of the woman in her arms were the same emerald eyes of her childhood dreams. The pudgy cheeks of her child hood fantasy had given way to the soft contours of the woman's angelic face. There was an innocence and purity about her that made Finian's heart ache with a longing to protect her from the life's hurts that she saw buried deep in the emerald pools.

Finian felt the energy flowing between them as she lowered her lips to Caer's. She felt her breath catch in her chest when she felt the warm, moist mouth rise up to meet hers. She was lost in the cleansing sound of the surf behind her and the wonder of the protectiveness and love she felt for the woman she held clutched in her arms.

Part 11

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