Rock of Ages Past--

Part 17
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.
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Caer thought she heard her name being called. It sounded so far away; at first she wasn't sure. She was swimming hard against the darkness that enfolded her; trying to reach the voice that called to her. It reminded her of a time when she had been very young and on the only occasion she could remember, her parents had spent an entire day together and had taken her to the shore. It seemed to have taken forever to get there, much like it seemed to be taking forever now to reach the source of the sound of her name.

Once they had reached the shore, young Caer had been so delighted at the sight of the endless water and the opportunity to trade her parents' constantly bickering voices for the sound of the crashing waves and calling seagulls, that the young child had bounded down from the small wagon and rushed headlong into the pounding surf. Before her parents could reach her, a swell in the water snatched the small, seemingly weightless body and dragged her out into the murky depths. She had struggled to swim against the darkness that day, too. Her father's frantic shouting and shaking her, as he carried her out of the icy water, had called her back that time. But that time, she hadn't felt so far away.

The small, blond woman tried to open her eyes to see the face that she could feel the heat radiating from; the face that called her name in the darkness. She was getting closer; the sound of the voice calling to her was getting louder.

She felt warm hands rubbing her arm. As the physical sensations became more intense, she became aware of a loud humming that seemed to vibrate through her entire body.

"Caer!" She heard her name screamed out in a voice that could only belong to one person.

Caer now struggled frantically to get through the last barrier between consciousness and unconsciousness. The anguish she had heard in the wailing of her name pulled her forth.

"Finian." She mumbled as her eyes flew open and she pushed herself to a sitting position.

A flash of intense light split the darkness, once again rendering her momentarily sightless. In an instant it was over and she found herself shaking her head and blinking her eyes, wondering if she was really awake, dreaming, or if she had drifted out past the heavy darkness back into the void from whence she had come so many times before.

Caer stared at the spot that now was only darkness. As the young woman leaned forward to a kneeling position, a sharp pain in her chest once again rendered her breathless for a moment. Clutching her hands to her breast, she slowly and gently pulled the cool night air back into her lungs and was surprised at the soreness that radiated through her body.

'What in the world hit me?' She wondered as she gave herself time to catch her breath more fully.

Suddenly she remembered hearing hoof beats as she had approached the end of the path that led her away from the sacred well. That was the last thing she consciously remembered. From somewhere in the depths of her unconscious she remembered hearing her name being called and knew that she had answered.

Caer slowly and carefully got to her feet, wondering for a few moments if her shaky legs were going to support her. Her chest still hurt, but her breathing was stronger and steadier. Finally sure that she was going to stay upright and not land on her face again, Caer slowly began to look around, trying to figure out just what had happened to her tonight.

She gazed into the darkness where she had seen the intense light just a few moments earlier and her eyes came to rest on some sort of bundle laying on the ground. As she got nearer, she could see that it had handles of some sort and when she reached out to touch it, her hand slid easily across the smooth material.

Caer shook her head as images flashed through her mind. Everything seemed fragmented. None of what she was thinking or seemingly remembering, made much sense at all. She grasped the rather large bundle with both hands, grunting when a pain shot through her lower chest as she lifted it. Making a mental note to check her injuries later, she tried to ignore her discomfort and clasped the strange, large bundle to her.

As she started off across the clearing toward the path that would lead her to her home, she heard hoof beats coming from the woods behind her. She turned just in time to see a cow emerge from the path that led to the sacred well. The cow stopped suddenly and looked at her warily. The large animal finally looked to it's left and deciding on an alternative path, took a wide path around the human who had been the cause of her earlier fall and headed off in the direction of the barn.

* * * * * * * * * *

The focus spent on fighting down the nausea and the feeling that her body had been drawn through the eye of a needle, accompanied by the damnable humming in her already imploding head, effectively worked together to block out any and all sounds from outside of herself.

She was first aware of a stinging sensation on the left side of her face and instinctively tried to raise her hand to brush away the annoyance. Finian felt herself begin to panic when her body would not obey the simple command she had just given. As she fought to get her seemingly glued-shut eyelids open, she was aware of a woman's voice calling her name and a warmth surrounding the hand that would not obey her.

As soon as the evening's festivities had ended, Marty had strongly offered to stay and see that things were closed up properly and the site left as they had found it. The group that owned the Hill was gracious enough to let the women use the space for their celebrations and they always made sure that nothing was abused or disordered by their presence. Usually, the three of them stayed together, but tonight, Marty assured Linda and Nancy that she and Finian could handle closing up.

She had said hasty good-byes and returned to the solstice stone where she had last seen Finian. There had been no sign of the tall, dark-haired woman and in a near panic, Marty had began pounding on the stone and calling her name. When nothing happened, she had run around to the back of the stone, pounding and yelling. Still not getting the desired result, the small blond woman ran back around to the front of the stone and nearly tripped over the tall, dark haired woman who rested limply against the cold granite.

"Finian. FINIAN." She shouted as she gently slapped the other woman's cheek.

When she saw the other woman stir, she stopped her frantic gestures and began rubbing the back of Finian's large hand, still calling to her, hoping to draw her the rest of the way back.

"Caer?" She whispered hopefully through rapidly swelling lips.

"No, Finian. It's me, Marty. Finian? Can you hear me? Come on. Come all the way. Come on Fin, you've got to come back. You can't go yet; it's not time. Come on." She watched as the dark haired woman struggled to open her eyes.

"MÉMarty? What happened? Where am I? Where's Caer? Is she alright?"

"Hold on, Finian, slow down. First, are you okay? I don't know what happened. You seemed to be unconscious when I found you." Marty reached slightly behind her and grabbed the lantern, bringing it closer to the woman who still sat on the ground in front of her, leaning against the large chunk of granite.

Instead of answering, the dark haired woman suddenly pitched forward, turned her face away from the glare of the bright light, and began retching violently. Marty quickly set the lantern back down and placed her hand on the other woman's shoulder, surprised at the intensity of the tremors she could feel moving through her. She gently rubbed Finian's back as the tall woman gulped in mouthfuls of fresh air, trying to get control of her trembling and heaving body.

"WÉWater," she managed to force out in a shaky voice.

Marty scanned the area quickly. "I don't think there is any water here, Fin. The girls cleaned up pretty well before they left and took everything with them.

"InÉIn my backpack." Finian lifted an unsteady arm and started feeling the ground around where she sat.

Marty again looked around on the ground but did not see anything resembling the black backpack that the tall woman always carried with her.

"I don't see your backpack, Fin. Where is it?" The short blond woman was now on her feet, brown eyes scouring the area around the stone.

Caer sat staring at the large, black bundle that rested on the small table where she sat sipping a mug of hot chicory. The walk back to her hut in the cool, pre-dawn air had helped clear her head and by the time she walked inside and placed Finian's backpack on the table, her previously fragmented thoughts were starting to come together. Her chest still hurt, but not as badly as it had. She could now draw a full breath without gasping in pain.

"Breath." She whispered, as she recalled the vision she had seen of the tall, dark haired woman bending over her still form in the shadow of the stone. Immediately following that image, was another, in which she watched Finian pushing on her chest with both of her hands.

'She was trying to make me breathe.' Caer thought as she remembered the feeling of all the air in her small body being squeezed out of her and feeling herself slipping into darkness. She raised her hand to her now tingling, swollen lips.

She had been here. Finian had been here; not in a vision or a dream, but kneeling beside her on the ground, sharing her own breath with her when she had none of her own.

Caer brought her eyes back into focus and let them rest upon the big, sack-like object in front of her.

"Why didn't she stay?" Caer seemed to ask of the pack as she reached out her hand to touch it.

The two women drove along in silence. Marty had somehow managed to get Finian to the parking lot and into the passenger seat of the Ranger.

Thank the Goddess that the other women had done such a great job of cleaning up before they left; the only thing that she had had to do was to lock the two gates. They had never found Finian's backpack, so the only thing that Marty had to carry, besides supporting the tall woman, was the small bag that carried her robe and personal ritual items.

Marty glanced over at the tall woman who sat slumped against the door with her cheek resting against the cool glass of the window. She held the now empty bottle of water that they had found on the front seat of the Ranger and was turning it over and over in her large hands, something obviously troubling her.

"Finian, are you okay?" For a long moment, she wasn't sure that the other woman had heard her.

Marty watched as a range of emotions flashed across the other woman's face as she pulled herself into a fully upright position and turned in the seat to face her. Fear, anger, agitation, and unfulfilled desire spiked all through her aura and came to rest on her face as the vision of Caer lying on the ground, green eyes hidden behind closed lids, raced through her mind.

"Oh my God." The words fell off her lips.

"STOP! Stop the truck. Turn around, Marty. We have to go back. I have to go back. I can't leave her like that." The tall woman was becoming frantic, her voice getting louder with each word.

Marty quickly pulled the Ranger over to the side of the dark road. "What is wrong, Finian? What are you talking about? You can't go back. Not now, not yet."

"I have to go back. NOW!" Finian all but yelled the words across the cab of the truck.

"She's hurt, Marty. I left her lying on the ground in the dark, alone. She wasn't breathing. Marty, we have to go back. I have to go back, before it's too late." A long, frantic, arm reached out and grabbed the gearshift.

Marty quickly reached out and covered the large hand with her own, stopping the other woman from shifting the truck into Drive.

"Finian. Stop. Tell me what happened." Marty turned in her seat to face the very agitated woman, reaching awkwardly with her left hand and turning the ignition key off as she did so.

"Fin, please, calm down and tell me what happened. It won't do any good to go back to the Hill. You can't go back to Caer tonight. You're not supposed to be there yet. It's not time yet, Fin. What in the world happened tonight?"

Marty saw raw emotion flashing from the blue eyes across from her as she watched her friend struggle to find words.

"She was hurt, Marty. Some kind of large animal, I think maybe it was a cow, ran into her, knocked her down, and then fell on top of her. When I got to her, she was unconscious and not breathing. I was doing CPR on her when I was pulled back into the stone and back here. I can't just leave her there, injured, not knowing if she's okay or not." Finian's voice sounded frantic as she continued.

"We've got to turn around and go back. I have to go back. I have to make sure she's okay. Please, Marty, let's go, turn around." Blue eyes pleaded with her from across the darkened cab as an arm shot out toward the ignition.

Marty reacted quickly and grabbed the larger woman's wrist before she reached her goal.

"Finian, stop. Calm down. We can't go back. You can't go back. Not tonight. I'm sure Caer is okay. I don't think you would have allowed yourself to be pulled back if anything serious was truly wrong with her. You must have felt that she was in danger and somehow managed to get through to her. The mere fact that you are back here makes me think that Caer will be fine. I don't think any force could have made you leave if Caer were still in any danger."

As she tried to calm herself enough to listen to what her friend was saying, Finian remembered the humming that had started to fill her ears just before she lost all senses. Somewhere in the drone she thought she remembered her name being whispered.

A certain knowing from somewhere deep inside of her told her that what her friend was saying was true. She had heard Caer call her name as she was pulled back into her own time. Caer was still alive. She wasn't sure how she knew, but she did.

After several quiet moments, Finian raised her eyes and looked at Marty.

"Take me home, please." Marty barely heard the whispered words and without any of her own in reply, she started the Ranger and pulled back onto the dark roadway.

Caer sat staring at the items on the small table in front of her, the empty pack on the floor beside her. It had taken her quite a while to get the large sack opened after turning it over and over and examining every part of it. She could feel the items inside and was beginning to get frustrated at not being able to retrieve them. She was just about at the point where she was ready to use a blade to cut the strange, slippery material open, when she noticed the small, black fastener tucked between the two edges of a long slit at, what she presumed was, the top of the package. She fished it out, grasped it between her thumb and forefinger, and pulled on it. She watched in amazement as the fastener slid along a zigzagged path, the top of the bag opening up as she continued pulling.

The only things that the small woman was fairly sure of, were that two of the items were some type of clothing, one of the items was water, contained in something that she was quite unsure of, and two of the items were some type of books, but quite different from one another. The other various items on the tabletop were still open to speculation.

Caer reached out and slowly picked up the book that was bound in leather; similar to the ones she had seen the monks carrying when she was a child and the one that Brother Richard had taught her to read English from. For a moment, Caer let her mind wander back to the sweet, elderly man who had befriended her as a young girl when she had first come to live among the druids. Caer had been taught how to speak the Reformer's language as a child, before being sent to Enya for fostering, but had not been old enough to learn how to read it. Once in the small village of druids, her oral histories studies began and it was forbidden to read or write in any language. It was important that all histories, stories and music be committed to memory and passed down orally from one generation to another. It was the only way to ensure their posterity. The spoken word could not be burned as books and scrolls could.

She turned the time-darkened book slowly in her hands until she held it the way that Brother Richard had taught her. Seeing nothing inscribed on the outside, Caer carefully opened the front cover and gazed at the characters printed on the sheet of white. Though it had been over fifteen cycles of the seasons since she had last sat down with her old friend, Caer often looked at and read the small holy book that he had given her as a parting gift, the one he had taught her from, before the Reformers threatened the Irish Catholic brothers against communing with any except their own kind.

The script was different than it was in the few books and writings she had seen and from the one that she owned and at first she thought it was written in a language other than the King's English. After close scrutiny, Caer was able to see the resemblances between the script that she was accustomed to and the script before her and she began to let the words form in her mind.

"The Wind Among the Reeds." Caer pronounced the words very carefully, aloud, so she could hear their sounds on her ears, as Brother Richard had taught her. Satisfied that she knew the title of the book and not really interested in the author's name, which she did not recognize, Caer started slowly turning the pages. The way that the characters were printed on the page, reminded her of the book of sonnets that Brother Richard had let her read.

'This must be a book such as that," the small woman thought as her hand stopped and her eyes fell, drawn to the page in front of her. The words appeared to be shimmering upon the page and she found herself blinking against the sudden distortion of her sight. When her sight finally cleared, the black words seemed to jump off the page at her. 'The Song of Wandering Aengus'.

Two lines of the sonnet stood out from the rest upon the slightly yellowed page:

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands

The words were familiar to her. Caer suddenly remembered back to many months earlier, before she had first started having the dreams that had led her to the beautiful, raven-haired woman. She now recalled a dream that she had not been able to call forth upon awakening at the time she had dreamed it. She had tried for many days at the time and sometimes since, to remember the dream from that night. It had left her feeling as if she had been prodded to begin searching for something or someone.

In her dream she had been sitting by the Sacred Well singing the song that she now saw on the page before her. It was taken from an old Celtic love story and the words that she saw now before her were somewhat different than the song she had been taught, but she knew without a doubt that it was the same song that she had sung in the dream.

The Goddess had sent the same words to Finian. She knew now, with no more doubts, as she held the brown, leather book that belonged to her anamchara that this reunion was destined and blessed by the Great Mother.

Caer remembered back to a few weeks ago when she had seen Finian sitting at a table with another woman who resembled herself. She had nearly panicked when she thought that she had somehow been caught up in Finian's dream world by mistake and that it was the other woman that Finian was meant to be with. Then she had found the rose that she knew was a gift from the blue-eyed woman of her dreams and those fears were quieted.

She still didn't understand why Finian had come to her tonight and not stayed. She had come only long enough to give her the breath of life and had gone, leaving behind the large bundle that contained her belongings and new questions.

Continued in Part 18.................

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