Copyright(c)(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: Womynstar@aol.com
Finian sat in the dimly lit restaurant, watching the green glow from the candle dance around on the red and white checked tablecloth instead of focusing on the menu in front of her. She was remembering something that Marty had said the last time that they were here. Something that had caused her to think for a moment that perhaps Marty would understand what was happening between herself and Caer. She had said something about the rocks and stones making her feel that past, present and future were all one. A sense of timelessness.
That's how she felt when she felt the connection with Caer. Timeless. There was no separation by the man-induced notion of time. She felt such a familiarity to the golden-haired woman of her dreams that some part of her knew that they had known one another before. She hadn't given much thought to reincarnation of the soul before, but she thought if she had; she would have to believe that the soul continued on.
Finian was drawn back from her musings by the waitress's voice. "And what can I get for you, ma'am?"
The dark-haired woman was momentarily flustered. She hadn't even looked at the menu and hadn't heard what Marty had ordered. "I'd like the baked manicotti," she said a little too quickly and closed the menu.
As the waitress reached for her menu, she asked, "And what kind of dressing on your salad?"
"I'll have the house dressing, thanks." She watched as the young woman scribbled on her pad and walked away, then she turned her head slowly to look at Marty who sat watching her from across the table.
"You were quite a few miles away," the short, blond woman smiled at her. "Were you in somewhere in the land of leprechauns?" Marty's brown eyes twinkled in the light from the candle.
Finian felt her cheeks begin to warm. "Actually, I was thinking about something you said last week when we were here, about timelessness and about the past, present and the future being as one and that led me to thinking about other things." She smiled back at the other woman. "What did you mean when you said that?"
Marty thought for a moment, trying to recall in what context she had spoken about timelessness. "I feel that rocks and stones are a link to the past and the future. They were here long before us and will be here long after us. When I hold one or touch one, I feel such a connection to that which has gone before and that, which will come." She hesitated for a moment. "Have you ever been to Mystery Hill and experienced the energy of the stones there? You can almost see the past if you let yourself go."
Finian, spontaneously, sucked in a great breath of air, which did not escape Marty's notice. "Yes, I've been there. Many times, as a matter of fact. I grew up not far from there." The blue-eyed woman quickly dropped her eyes to the checkered tablecloth. She suddenly wanted to share everything about Caer with her almost look-a-like, but she didn't know where to start. She felt a connection with Marty. Not like the connection she felt with Caer, but a kindred spirit sort of connection. 'Almost like sisters,' she thought even though she had never had a sister.
"That's where I met Caer." Finian spoke softly as she raised her eyes to meet Marty's. She was afraid that Marty wouldn't believe what she was about to tell her, but felt compelled to tell her anyhow. She gauged the look on Marty's face and continued. "I didn't actually meet her there, but it was there that I first felt her energy, or an energy that I couldn't explain, coming from one of the stones. It was actually in a dream that I first met her. That's why I asked you about timelessness." Finian stopped and looked across the table at the younger woman.
"Marty, Caer is not only in Ireland, but I believe she is also in another time." Finian let the words fall out of her mouth and she waited.
Marty watched the tall, dark-haired woman as she spoke. She could sense that Finian was building up the courage to tell her something important and found herself pleased that Finian trusted her. She was, however, unprepared for what came out of the woman's mouth and was rendered momentarily speechless.
Marty sat staring at her from across the table. 'Shit,' thought Finian, 'now I've totally freaked her out. She thinks I'm as crazy as a shithouse rat. Why did I say that?' She wished intensely that she could recall the words she had just said. She berated herself for thinking, for some stupid reason, that Marty would understand, when she herself still didn't fully believe or understand what she thought was happening and was still suppose to happen.
Finian opened her mouth to try to cover up as best she could, what she had just let fly out without rational thought, but before she could form the first word of her cover-up, Marty spoke.
"I have to admit that when I first met you, I had a strong feeling that there was something special and mysterious about you," the brown-eyed woman smiled warmly at the tense, frightened woman across from her, trying to put her at ease. "Why don't we ask the waitress to pack up our food to go and we'll go back to the shop and you can tell me more about Caer."
Finian was so surprised by Marty's seeming acceptance after her initial stunned speechlessness that all she could do was nod her agreement as she fumbled in her backpack for her credit card.
'Better make sure all my bills are paid in full before I go sliding through any rocks,' she thought as she searched. 'I don't think I'll be able to send a check from wherever it is I am going.'
The random thought surprised her but helped to ease her tension as it blended the reality of the situation with the unknown, seemingly crazy aspects of it. She let her dry sense of humor bleed through her fear and tension and felt herself begin to relax.
Marty was asking the waitress to pack up their food for them as Finian retrieved her credit card from the bottom of her backpack. When Marty was finished talking, Finian handed the waitress her card and told her to include a twenty-percent tip for herself.
Turning back to face Marty, Finian was surprised when the other woman reached across the table and placed her hand on top of Finian's. Suddenly Finian saw Caer's face and felt a distant twinge of panic. As quickly as she felt it, the disassociated feeling disappeared along with the image of the green-eyed woman's face. Finian didn't have time to dwell on the strange event as her attention was pulled back to the woman whose hand rested gently on top of her own.
Marty smiled warmly at the tall raven-haired woman across from her. "There are stories like yours, Finian. You are not the first person to cross the boundaries of time and space. According to legend, there have been many before you, some even in our lifetime. It has been thought by those of us who are open to these types of occurrences that many unexplained disappearances might be attributed to the type of thing that you are experiencing."
Finian smiled in relief as Marty let her know that she understood what Finian was saying. "Thank you," she whispered as she turned her hand over to grasp Marty's and gave it a slight squeeze. "For a minute there, I thought you were thinking I was just plain crazy," she said as she slowly let go of Marty's hand.
"I admit that it did stun me for a second," the blond woman said as she pulled her hand back across the table. "Not that I don't believe it is possible," she smiled, "it's just that never in a million years did I expect to hear that come out of your mouth. It took a minute for it to sink in."
The waitress returned with a large bag containing their lunch and handed Finian her card and the credit slip for her signature. Finian dropped her card into her backpack and grabbing the strap, stood up and followed Marty outside.
The two women were silent as they walked the short distance to Marty's shop. When they arrived, Marty let them in, leaving the closed sign in the window and locked the door behind them.
The short blond woman noticed the questioning look on the taller woman's face. "Lunch hour isn't over yet," she grinned up at her and led the way to the back of the store.
"I don't think I'm very hungry at the moment," Finian said as Marty placed the bag of food on the small round table and motioned for her to pull up a chair.
"That's okay, I'll just put it in the refrigerator and we can eat whenever we want to. How's that? I know I'm more interested in hearing about Caer than I am about anything in that bag, anyhow," she winked at Finian as she grabbed the bag and placed it into the small refrigerator against the back wall.
Marty returned to the table with two steaming cups of coffee. "I just made this before you got here. It shouldn't be too bad. What do you like in it?"
"Just milk or whatever kind of creamer you have, no sugar. Thanks."
Marty placed the small container of half-and-half on the table and sat down. She waited until Finian had added some of the dairy product to her coffee and took a sip before she asked her about Caer. She wanted to know how Finian had come to the conclusion that Caer was in another time. She made sure to let the other woman know that she did not doubt her, only that she wanted to understand all of it.
Finian took another sip of her coffee and began to tell Marty of how she had met Caer and of the strange events, beginning at Mystery Hill, that Finian now saw as subtle hints that led to the first meeting.
She explained to Marty that she still didn't know if it was she that had connected with Caer or Caer, her. It had just happened is the only way she could explain it. There was no conscious thought involved.
Marty listened intently to what the other woman was telling her. Every now and then she would interrupt with a question that Finian would stop and answer and then she would continue on with her story.
"So how do you propose to be at Mystery Hill on Samhain?" Marty asked when Finian had finished her amazing tale.
"You do get right to the point, don't you?" Finian smiled at the brown-eyed woman. "To tell you the truth, I really hadn't given that part of it much thought, yet. I've just been trying to put the whole thing together to try to understand what is happening and why. I have thought about it, but not to the point of working out a plan."
"It sounds like you have got it pretty well figured out. There doesn't seem to be any doubt, if what you are telling me is true, that Caer is as real as you and I and that you and she are soulmates. How you two ended up separated by not only countries but by time is a mystery left for someone else," she laughed, "but I think I can help you out with how to be at Mystery Hill on Samhain Eve."
Marty told Finian about a group of women that she studied with and who had received permission from the owners of Mystery Hill to hold their festivals at the site. "Why don't you come with me to the solstice festival on the twenty-first? The solstice and equinox festivals and the full moon circles are open, meaning guests are allowed. Beltaine and Samhain are closed and usually only practicing members are allowed to participate due to the powerful energies that abound on those two particular days. If you start getting involved now, by Samhain, you will be known well enough to be allowed to participate."
"It would sure beat sneaking in through barbed wire in the dark," the dark-haired woman smiled at her new friend, "but I know next to nothing about the rituals or the belief system. I read a couple of books when I was a kid about Wicca and my friend, Michelle and I pretended to worship the Goddess," she laughed when she thought back to her and Michelle sitting around the small table in her bedroom with the lights out and candles lit, holding hands and praying to a female God.
"I don't think you were pretending, Finian, I think you were practicing. Wait here for a minute. I'll be right back." Marty got up and went through the curtain to the front of the store.
Finian took the opportunity while Marty was gone to think about what she remembered from her childhood foray into the occult. She remembered the feeling of rightness and acceptance that she had experienced when she had come upon her first book about Goddess worship and how she remembered thinking at the time that she didn't get that feeling of acceptance from the church. The Catholic Church had repressed women for centuries and in the early days, the Church taught that women did not have souls, that only a man possessed a soul. It is because of this ancient belief that women are not allowed to participate in most Catholic religious rituals and cannot take the holy vows of priesthood.
The whole patriarchy thing had never made much sense to Finian. They only spoke about God, the Father. The only mention of a mother was in the sense of the Virgin Mary, who was mother to Jesus. Everyone knew that men couldn't give birth, so Finian had always had a problem with the church-fueled creation story.
The first time she heard of the Goddess, she felt that maybe she had found the missing piece of the puzzle and had started to study the little bit that she could. She had told Michelle about her new interest, and the two girls read as much as they could get their hands on and practiced candle rituals on the full moon when they could manage it. They did manage to keep some semblance of ritual and consistency in their studies and practices for about two years. At which time, their spiritualism fell by the wayside, for lack of stimulation and interaction with others of a like nature.
Marty walked back through the curtain, carrying several books that she dumped in a heap in the middle of the table. "Here are a few of the better books on earth-centered spirituality and embracing the Goddess. If you're a fast reader, you can get through them before solstice and you will at least have an idea of what is going on."
Finian calculated in her head for a second. "Why don't you pick out the two that you think would be the best. I've also got to prepare for the class that I'm going to teach, beginning in two weeks and I don't think I'm going to have a lot of extra time for reading."
Marty leaned over the small table and began looking through the books. She pulled out two pretty large ones and handed them to Finian. "You don't have to read them from cover to cover. Just read about the basic rituals and learn about the holidays that they honor. Learn a little bit about the Gods and Goddesses and the energies that the different ones represent and which of them are invoked on which days."
Finian raised her eyebrows at the mention of Gods. "I thought this was Goddess worship," she said when Marty paused. "I thought God was reserved for the Church."
Marty realized that the tall woman sitting across from her was going to need a little bit more than reading to help her understand the balance sought after in studying the earth religions.
"The Church has done away with the mother, the Goddess, the female principal as an equal co-creator with God. Those of us, who left our Churches unsatisfied by what we were being taught, knew that there had to be more than just a male, father energy that created the world. We know that the Goddess, the Mother, is as equally important as God, the Father. The two forces, energies, must work together, in unison, to create. One without the other is barren and fruitless."
The brown-eyed woman sat down in the chair opposite Finian. "If we worshiped only the Goddess, we would be no better along than the Church. We do tend to give the greater power to the Goddess in our belief system, however, as it is only the Mother who can give birth. Without the ability to give birth, there is no creation."
Marty hesitated and waited for Finian to give her a clue as to whether or not she understood. The blue-eyed woman nodded her head.
"That makes sense, now that I think about it. I just haven't thought about it in so long that my reaction just now was based on my fourteen-year old memory of why I first became interested in learning about the Goddess."
Finian quickly looked down at her wrist. "Speaking of memories,' she said as she looked back up at Marty, "I remember that you have a shop to run here and I have work to do at home."
Marty smiled and nodded. "Well, now you know the part you were missing. Take those books and read them when you get a minute. I could stay back here and talk all day, but you're right, I do have to pay the rent."
Finian reached into her backpack and pulled out her credit card handing it to Marty.
"Put that away. The books are an early solstice gift," the other woman waved her hand at the offered card.
"And if you happen to get an extra minute with all the cramming you will be doing, you can always give me a call and maybe we can get together for coffee or something and I can help you with what to expect on solstice." Marty noticed the puzzled look that crossed Finian's eyes.
"Everyone does things a little differently when conducting rituals," she added. "No one ever follows a book word for word. The books are just to give you a basic idea of why you are doing certain things."
"That would be great. I'm sure I'll need a break, sometime," she smiled at the blond woman. "And thanks for the books. But you really should let me pay you for them, you know. You do have to pay the rent."
"The rent will get paid just fine if I get out there and unlock the door." Marty said as she stood up, grinning. "Hey, don't forget your lunch in the refrigerator," she called as she moved through the curtain and toward the front door of the shop.
Finian slipped her new books into her backpack and got her food from the small refrigerator. 'Well, at least I don't have to think about what I'm going to have for dinner," she thought as she moved toward the front of the shop.
Finian sat in the late, May sun on her small balcony overlooking the small, man-made pond that separated her building from the woods that stretched for miles. She had not had an easy time adapting to life in an apartment building after growing up in her grandparent's large farmhouse and having the great outdoors as her playground. She was glad that at least this one had a view of the woods and wasn't surrounded completely by a concrete jungle.
Finian placed the book she had been reading on her lap and stared out at the expanse of trees before her. She thought about her connection to nature and how she had always felt most at home in the woods, whether it was climbing the majestic trees or just walking along old, unused paths, that had not been graced by the imprint of human feet in decades, if not centuries.
Suddenly, Finian saw herself in those same woods in another time. She was dressed in a worn, leather tunic and leather britches. High, leather boots came to just below her knees. To her right, a small harp slung over her shoulder walked a short, flaxen-haired woman.
She turned at the sound of muffled voices behind her and saw a small group of people laden with what personal belongings they could carry, chatting quietly among themselves.
Finian was brought out of her reverie by the sound of the telephone ringing. She decided to let the answering machine get it as she let her mind drift back to the scene she had just been a part of in her mind. She had seemed to be leading a small group of people through the woods that she was now staring at and Caer was with her.
The tall woman was confused, not by the vision itself, but by the placement. She had been led to believe, by previous events, that she was going to Ireland. She couldn't reconcile in her mind how or why this vision placed her here, virtually in her own back yard.
Finian laughed out loud. 'Like I can really rationalize any of this.' She thought of her chance encounter with Marty at the bar, her second, unplanned encounter at the rock shop and Marty's resemblance to Caer. She thought it a little ironic that the woman who had approached her that night at the bar looking for a date, was the woman who was helping her get to Caer, and even looked like her.
Suddenly, Finian flashed back to earlier that day at the restaurant. She remembered a quick feeling of panic when Marty had reached across the table and placed her hand atop Finian's. She also remembered the vision of Caer that had accompanied the feeling. As she let herself re-experience the feeling, she realized that it had felt somehow disassociated from herself, almost like it wasn't her feeling. It was like the panic she felt had come from outside of her. She realized that she, herself did not feel threatened by Marty. The blond, brown-eyed woman was becoming a good and trusted friend.
She tried to recall Caer's face. She wanted to see the expression it contained, but the image had been too fleeting to remember. She wondered if Caer had somehow 'seen' her at the restaurant with Marty.
'No,' she thought, 'that would be just too strange. Caer getting jealous over Marty?' Somehow, the thought didn't seem as farfetched as it should.
Somehow, Caer must have tried to connect with her earlier this afternoon when she was with Marty. She wondered why the green-eyed woman didn't make contact with her. She then knew that her earlier thought was not farfetched at all.
Finian knew in her gut, even if her mind couldn't quite rationalize it, that Caer had misinterpreted what she had seen at the restaurant and was now in a state of panic. The dark-haired woman closed her eyes and tried to center herself enough to reach through the void of time and space to Caer. She met only resistance and finally gave up.
The tall, lithe woman stood up and walked to the edge of the small balcony, staring out at the darkening trees, feeling her own panic trying to creep in. 'How in this world, or hers, am I going to make her understand that she did not see what she believes she saw. I can't talk to her. I have no way to send her a message.'
Finian turned around and walked slowly, into her apartment, picking up the book she had been reading on her way. She spied the twin crystal out of the corner of her eye as she walked by the bedside table. She looked down at the book she was carrying and back at the crystal. Walking over to the small table, Finian picked up the stone and carried it to the living room. She didn't quite know yet what she was going to do, but she knew she had to do something. If Caer was thinking what Finian thought she was, she could lose her. As this thought came to the surface of her mind, she felt a gut wrenching pull in her midsection that threatened to physically sicken her.
Finian placed the crystal and the book on the coffee table in front of the leather sofa. She felt as if she were being directed by some inner voice, that she couldn't quite hear with her physical ears, but yet she felt it whispering to her soul.
She went to the kitchen and opened her utility drawer; found the candles that she was looking for and grabbed a book of matches. She chose a white one and a red one. Returning to the living room, she found a matching set of clear, glass, candleholders, shaped like crescent moons, that were being used as bookends. Finian set the two candles in the candleholders and placed them on the coffee table behind the crystal, the white one on the left and the red one on the right.
The tall, serious woman let herself sink into the cool leather of the oversized sofa, crossing her arms over her firm, ample chest. She stared at the double crystal, her mind running in what seemed like a million different directions.
Finian leaned forward and picked up the book of matches. She sat poised on the edge of the dark, leather sofa and closed her eyes, willing herself to breathe deeply and connectedly. She had to find her center, to bring the energy of her mind and body into harmony and alignment with her spirit.
Several minutes later, warmth and confidence flowing through her, Finian opened her eyes and slowly, tore a match from the book that she still held in her hand. Leaning forward, she lit the white candle, whispering as she did so, "I cast a circle of white light and protection around myself and Caer and ask for guidance and assistance."
She reached over and lit the red candle. The image of a single red rose bloomed in her mind as the small flame grew up from the top of the candle. The blue-eyed woman was struck by the image as she watched it blossom. The blood-red petals unfurled slowly, revealing tiny drops of moisture hidden within its folds. The image was so real, that for a moment, she imagined she could smell its sweet, intoxicating scent.
As the image slowly faded from her mind, her eyes came to rest on the twin crystals in front of her. She focused her attention on the small, thin crystal that horizontally connected the two larger crystals.
Her mind silently acknowledged that the double crystal symbolized her connection to Caer as she gently directed the energy that she felt flowing through her toward the stone. Finian closed her eyes and let her mind fill with the face of the woman that she had not yet met, but felt that she already knew.
As she held the picture of Caer in her mind's eye, she focused her breathing on her solar plexus, willing the energy that was flowing outward to connect with that of the green-eyed woman.
Suddenly, Finian felt the flow of energy stop as if it had come up against a brick wall. Slowly, Caer's face began to fade from her mind, replaced by a darkness that was pierced with angry red spots that flashed like fireworks behind her closed eyelids. Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with a deep sense of sadness and grief that threatened to double her over.
Her hands went to her midsection as her anguished, blue, eyes opened and fell upon the twin crystal in front of her. 'She won't let me in,' she thought with a gut-wrenching intake of breath.
Finian felt her own panic rising to her chest and closed her eyes again, fighting to regain control of her breathing. When she felt the panic start to subside, she slowly opened her eyes and gazed, once again into the crystal, her eyes coming to rest on the small, clear, horizontal crystal that formed a bridge between the other two larger ones, and the reflection of the candles dancing within.
For a moment, Finian remembered the young girl, who on that night, so many years ago, had sat across from Michelle, candles burning, and asked the Goddess to send her love to her.
Finian felt a warm breeze lightly caress her face as she watched the reflected flames from the candles licking at each other inside the crystal. She watched as the two flames came together, reddening as they did, wrapping their flickering tongues around one another, until they were wrapped like the petals of a newly budded rose.
She closed her eyes and felt a presence settle deep within in her and with it came a sense of timeless guidance and ageless wisdom. She felt her center open and the energy begin to flow outward.
Finian focused all of her energy toward the image of the rose that had grown inside the crystal and gently nudged it toward the larger crystal on the left. She visualized the rosebud gliding along the crystal bridge until it reached the left hand crystal, where it blossomed into the image she had seen of the blood-red rose, earlier.
Suddenly, from somewhere deep within, she heard a whisper and her lips began to move.
"The Lady showed a rose to me,
A symbol of our love,
The Goddess' sacred flower,
As red as our hearts blood.
Two souls, through space and time, entwined,
Though for a time apart,
The life force that connects us
Has never left our hearts.
And like the rose, whose petals die
Before the winters snow
To bud anew with the warmth of spring
Our love again will grow.
I ask the Goddess on this day
To take this gift to you
A blood red rose, to show my love
What is in my heart is true."
Slowly, Finian opened her eyes, the words that she had spoken, echoing through her head. Blue eyes came to rest on the twin crystals and the fading image of a fully bloomed blood red rose.
"Thank you, Great Mother," she whispered as she raised her eyes upward toward the ceiling.
As she dropped her eyes back to the table in front her and leaned forward to blow out what was left of the candles, the dark haired woman felt a sense of peace settle over her.
* * * * * * * *
The flaxen haired woman sat up when she heard the rain pounding on the thatch roof of her small earth and log home. She winced as she tried to force open her tear-swollen eyes and suddenly the memory of why her eyes hurt and would not open came flooding back on her.
The rain outside causing such dampness and robbing the light from the day, did nothing to ease her dismay and small wet streaks began to run down her cheeks.
"How can there be any left inside of me?" she thought, as she felt the wet tears round the curve of her cheek and head downward toward her slightly pointed chin.
The small, spent woman lay back down in her quilts, shivering against the dampness around her. She didn't know if the fire was still going at all or even if any coals remained. And most of her didn't care.
The small part of her that did care, couldn't get her eyes open to even check, so she certainly couldn't manage to add wood to it or relight it if need be.
'You won't freeze, it's not cold enough for that even without the fire,' that same part told her as she pulled the quilts up to cover her chin.
Caer's tears finally stopped forcing their way through her swollen-shut eyelids and she again drifted off into troubled sleep. Her vision of the previous day became entwined with her dreams and it was she who sat across a table from the tall, raven-haired woman, who was looking at her and then suddenly closed her anxious blue eyes.
The green-eyed woman stared across the table at the other woman, studying the angles of her high cheekbones and the slight indentation under them as her jaw angled inward and down the sides of her face, slightly straightening as it reached the lower part, forming a strong, not quite square chin with a slight dimple in the middle at the very bottom where it rounded out giving a softness to the face that without it would have been handsome instead of beautiful.
She cried out in her sleep. 'No. Don't leave me. Open your eyes. Look at me. It's me, Caer." She started sobbing in her sleep as she reached across the table in her dream clutching at the tall woman, who still sat with her eyes closed, seemingly unaware of the younger woman's anguish.
Before she could reach her hands completely across the table, she heard a voice whispering to her. She stopped her forward movement toward Finian and listened, falling backward gently onto her seat.
Words began to issue forth from the whispers. Words that, at first, she did not realize were coming from the woman who sat across from her. The voice that sang the words was low and rich, with a huskiness that seemed to reverberate to her very heart. She felt her eyes closing as the voice and the words soothed her.
She had a fleeting feeling of disappointment when the words ended much too soon. Her disappointment was short-lived, however, when it was replaced by awe at the beautiful blood-red rose that suddenly blossomed behind her closed, reddened eyelids.
Caer let herself drift off into more a more restful sleep as she saw the blue-eyed woman hand her a single red rose. As she reached out in her dream to accept the flower, she felt a sense of quietude settle over her. She clutched her empty hand to her breast as if holding a dear and treasured heirloom and a small smile appeared on her tear-swollen face.
Continued in Part 13
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