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 staring at the computer screen. Her field trip to Mystery Hill was day after tomorrow and she still hadn't finished her preparations for it. Since her experiences the night of Summer Solstice, she had been having a difficult time concentrating on her daily schedules and duties and was glad she had taken the time earlier to do the syllabus that she now stared at. She felt a small twinge of guilt that she wasn't giving this summer class the attention that she should and had always given her classes in the past. But for the past five weeks, she had been trying very hard to stay in the present.
She had even done a pretty good job of avoiding Michelle and her unending questions, having only run into her once in the elevator since her last visit. Her best friend was still convinced that there was more to the Marti story than Fin was telling, or that she had a secret online lover.
She felt a quick pang of guilt as she thought of the story she had fabricated about her upcoming trip to Ireland to visit her, as yet unmet, cousin. She wanted desperately to tell Michelle and Bobbi about Caer and what was really happening to her, but she knew that Michelle would never believe that any of it was possible.
Hell, until the incident on Solstice, even she hadn't truly believed that it was possible. She thought she had, but since then she had realized that she had only been hoping it was possible, but not really letting herself believe completely that it was. The possibility of moving through and into different times had still been in the realm of fantasy and not reality; given only to the place of dreams and visions.
Finian let herself idle for a few moments longer on her memories from the night a few weeks ago when she had been pulled to Caer's side for far too short a time. She remembered the fear that she had experienced upon returning, when she had thought Caer dead and her anger at Marty for calling her back.
Since that night, she had realized that Marty had not called her back from Caer's side. The Goddess had called her back. Finian's dreams the last several nights had been very vivid and she had been having almost total recall when writing in her journal. The single subject, spiral bound notebook that she used as a dream journal was quickly filling up. She made a quick mental note to pick up another one the next time she went out.
Her musings had left her thinking about the small, blond woman whose lips she could still feel on her own when she let her memory take her there, as she did now for just a moment. She pictured Caer sitting in front of a small table with the contents of the backpack laid out in front of her. She could imagine the look of puzzlement on the other woman's face as she looked over the items that had come to her from her future.
Finian tried again to remember all of the items that had been in her pack the night of Summer Solstice. She knew there was a bottle of water, a pair of old jeans and a tee shirt, a couple of pens and a small notebook. Suddenly she remembered the book of poetry by Yeats that she had found on the floor that first night after her experience at the Hill. She remembered placing the book in her backpack after showing it to Bobbi and Michelle several weeks ago and had no memory of having taken it out.
Her sudden memory of the book in her backpack, led her to wonder if she and Caer would even be able to communicate once they were finally together.
'What if she doesn't speak English?' Finian let her mind wander for a moment, trying to recall what she knew of the Irish and the Celts in the sixteen hundreds, as far as language and the written word were concerned.
She remembered from her studies, that a large part of Ireland was English-speaking in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds, due to the imposition of the Crown. However, she also knew that Gaelic, the 'old language', was the primary language used in most native, outlying Celtic homes and villages, and most certainly in the Druidic clans, of which she was sure Caer was a member.
"Guess maybe I should brush up on my non-existent Irish Gaelic." Finian mused aloud as she once again focused upon her computer screen.
The morning of the field trip dawned bright and warm. She had decided to let the tour guides at Mystery Hill do most of the teaching on today's trip, deciding that they had much more up to date information than she did. She had picked up a couple of updated books on the site the last time she was there, but it had been years since she had actually gone with one of the tour guides and listened to their spiel. The books would serve more as an aid in answering questions and providing fodder for discussion after the trip.
As the small group of students, led by one of Mystery Hill's scholastic guides, approached the Summer Solstice stone, Finian found herself trembling. She hadn't been back here since the night of her impromptu journey to an unconscious Caer's side. Unconsciously, her hand rose to her mouth, her fingers gently brushing her suddenly tingling lips. The warmth that she still remembered lingered there; reminding her that Caer was alive and waiting for her.
'and in one piece,' she silently prayed to the Goddess.
It was the guide's deep voice that shook her from her reverie as he pointed at the large stone and began to explain the calendar system of the ancient world and how our ancestors used the standing stones to mark the seasons of the year for planting and harvesting as well as knowing when to travel and for conducting other day to day life.
Finian's eyes were drawn to the large piece of granite which was once a massive megalith, now tilted at an angle, with huge boulder sized pieces missing and worn almost smooth with the passing of time. She tried to focus on what the guide was saying but her mind kept wandering to what she had planned for tonight.
It was Lammas eve and in ancient times it was celebrated as the beginning of harvest. Thanks were given for the first fruits yielded forth from the Goddess and farewell was said to the declining sun God for his life-enhancing light, as the days would now begin to grow shorter until autumn equinox when the day and night would be equal. It was a time of balance; when growth stops and ripening begins. A time when things learned were shared in order to improve and gain insight from the past seasons mistakes.
Finian had learned a lot about herself over the last months and had decided to invite Michelle and Bobbi over for coffee tomorrow night and to try once more to tell her best friends what was going on in her life. She had never kept so much from Mich in all her life and it just didn't feel right. Now that she knew it was actually possible for her to go to Caer, she really had been feeling the need to tell Michelle and Bobbi the truth. She had tried to avoid it, pushing the feeling that kept nagging at her away, but it just wouldn't leave her. But tonight, she had other plans.
The tall woman glanced down at her watch and was momentarily shocked when she saw what time it was and lifted her head to see that they were standing outside the visitor center at the end of the tour and the guide was thanking them for being such an interesting and interested group.
Finian called out to the students as they emerged into the parking lot from the visitor center. "Be ready for discussions and questions on Tuesday. Have a great weekend."
The tall, dark teacher was again grateful for the books she had bought a few weeks back. She didn't remember anything about the tour after they had arrived at the solstice stone. Her only memories of were that June night. She had no memory of the discussions at the other calendar stones they had visited, including the large, August first stone upon which the sun would set this very night, marking the end of summer and the beginning of fall, which would fully arrive on the autumn equinox.
She waved her hand and was rewarded with wide smiles and waves in return. "Thanks for a great day, Ms. Delaney, see ya Tuesday and other farewell good wishes," were choused across the parking lot as the students headed for their cars and she to hers.
The day had been extremely warm and Finian was peeling off her clothes as soon as the apartment door closed behind her. The new backpack was the first thing to hit the floor. Her Reeboks ended up with one on either side of the large, black bundle and her sunglasses were tossed on the counter where they slid over and hit the answering machine, which she noticed was flashing.
'Later.' She thought as she headed for her bedroom and pulled the white tank top she was wearing up over her head and tossed it at the foot of the bed. She stepped out of the black jeans and crossed the threshold into the bathroom, toward the promise of relief.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Tonight her people would pay homage to Lugh, the God of the sun, who now returns to the Mother's womb to grow strong in order to incarnate again for the next growing season, his work for this one, finished. The next two or three cycles of the moon, would find the small village consumed with the task of harvesting and preparing food for animals and humans alike, to sustain them through the coming winter season. Tonight's celebrations would include dancing, games, and competitive sports, in keeping with the spirit of the energy of the sun God.
Caer had decided that she would make an appearance at the games, but would leave early and return to her small home, having a small, private celebration by herself. 'And if I am fortunate, perhaps I can find a certain raven haired woman to envision.' Caer surprised herself with the thought that flitted across her mind and shook herself when she realized where her mind was heading. A small smile shaped her pink lips and she let her mind go where it wanted.
Caer was soon pulled from her reverie by the voice of her foster mother. "Caer, are ya in there?"
The short, round older woman poked her head into the darkness of the small hut. "You'll not be thinking about taking part in the festivities tonight, are ye?" Enya asked the small woman sitting on the stool in front of the fire.
"The injuries you took are not yet healed enough for you to be dancin' round and carrying on, and I came by to bring ya some stew and make sure ya had none of the crazy stirrin's goin' on in ya head." The older woman had pushed her considerable bulk through the small doorway and was placing the still steaming pot on the small wooden table as she spoke.
Caer, slightly annoyed that her foster mother had distracted her from the thoughts that were beginning to fill her mind, forced the smile that was upon her face to stay there, altering it slightly to more appropriately fit the occasion. "Hello, Enya. I was only planning on going to the festivities for a short time to watch. Don't be such an old mother hen. I'm mending quite well and am becoming quite stiff sitting and lying all the time. Thank you for the stew, but that really wasn't necessary. You know that I have been up to cooking for myself for most of a half cycle of the moon, now.
"I know, darlin', but I had the feelin' that you were going to try to sneak out to the festival tonight and I'll have none of it. You, yourself know almost as much of the healin' arts as I do, I should know, I taught you most myself, and you know that if you try to do things too soon with the broken ribs and the bleeding and bruising to your insides, you'll be in worse shape than when I first found you, lying on the floor right there." The older woman pointed to the spot on the floor where Caer had landed when she passed out in the middle of inspecting the large package she had managed to drag home the night of solstice.
"Caer, you know that your injuries were worse than Loic's. Your just a bit more hard headed and obstinate than he was." Enya smiled sweetly at the small, blond woman who had carefully risen from her stool and was walking slowly toward the table. "And you have a very vigilant guardian right close to you for you to have made it home by yourself, in the condition you were in."
As she remembered the night that she was trampled, the picture of a beautiful, raven-haired woman filled her vision, causing her to momentarily lose sight of the large woman before her.
"So, are ya going to argue with me some more? Because ya know I'll win, even if I have to bar that doorway with me own plenty big body, to do it, or are ya going to humor an old woman and stay home, eat some of Enya's famous mutton stew and have a simple little celebration of your own?"
After a moment's hesitation, she added, "I can even come back later to help you celebrate, if you'd like."
Surprised by the sudden visual encouragement she had just experienced, Caer replied quickly, as she gently put her arms around the older woman, "Oh, Enya, no, you don't have to come back. You've done enough already and you are absolutely right. I am not going to the stones tonight. I am going to stay home, eat some of your wonderful stew and go to my pallet early. You go to the festivities and have a wonderful time."
Caer let her arms drop and stepped back from the other woman, a huge smile spread across her cherubic face. Enya wanted to reach out and pinch the slightly dimpled cheek as she had done when the young woman was a child. She was pleased to see that the color had returned to her cheeks and the sparkle to her emerald eyes.
"Ya are a good girl, Caer, but I hope your suddenly being agreeable, doesn't mean ya have something up your sleeve."
Caer's grin quickly turned into a full laugh that made her face grimace slightly in pain, causing her to have to almost force the words out. "You do know me, foster-mother, but this time, I have nothing planned other than what I just told you."
Still eying her former charge rather suspiciously, Enya placed a meaty hand on Caer's shoulder and turned her gently in the direction of the single stool that waited for her at the small table.
"Then eat while the food is still warm."
"I thought you said you brought stew. There's enough food here for half a cycle of the moon!" Caer blurted as her eyes fell on the small table that she now saw was laden with much more than a pot of stew.
"Just the basic fixins for a small feast in honor of the first harvest; bread, corn, lamb, berries, and a bit of ale. Now sit yourself down and partake of it."
Caer turned and again faced the other woman who now stood watching her, with her hands on her wide hips and knew there was no use in arguing with her. "Thank you, mum. I will eat, soon, I promise, but first, I want to tidy up a bit and prepare the space for a proper feast, such as you have been so kind to bring to me." She smiled at the older woman who stepped forward, wrapped her arms around Caer's small frame, and squeezed gently.
"Then I shall go and leave you to your preparations so the food might still be edible when you get to it." Enya dropped her arms, stepped back from Caer and turned toward the small doorway.
"Wait, please, Enya." Caer said before the other woman could take a step. "I have something for Da'an, in celebration of her and Kenet's oath honoring tonight. That is the reason I was going to try to go to the festival tonight. Will you give it to her for me?"
She started off across the small room toward the cupboard as Enya waited. She picked up the small hand-woven basket and fingered the contents gently as she slowly made her way back toward her foster mother.
"It's a small token of my happiness and my blessings to them on the half cycle of their handfasting. They are going to renew the oaths that they promised to one another at Beltaine, affirming their commitment and making known their desire to move forward to their lifelong handfasting, which will take place at Samhain, instead of the next Beltaine."
Enya nodded as she reached out and took the gift from her. "Yes, I will take Da'an's gift to her and I will take the blame for you not being there to present it to her in your person." She smiled as she continued.
"It is fitting that Da'an and Kenet will have their life handfasting on Samhain. It is a union blessed by the Old Ones for ages past. They are the fortunate ones, to have met and recognized one another at such an early age and with few obstacles. It is not always so, some never will in this lifetime." The older woman sighed as she pushed her large bulk through the small doorway. She stopped just outside and turned around, peering back into the dimness.
"I pray every day, Caer, that you, too will find your anamchara in this lifetime and I hope that my prayers are soon to be answered. Then I will be able to leave this life in peace and contentment." With a slight wave of her hand, she turned and was gone.
Caer stood staring at the doorway for a long time, the feast upon the table, forgotten. She wondered at the pangs of fear and guilt that stirred her. Fear at the portend of what her foster mother had implied, that perhaps she was beginning to prepare herself for her final journey, her death; and guilt for keeping secret, the knowledge that she had, of the one thing that she knew Enya so deeply wished for her.
Caer thought about calling out after the other woman and telling her everything, but now she was even more reluctant to tell the older woman than she was when she had the dream of the ship.
She wasn't afraid of Enya's possible lack of understanding and belief anymore, she was afraid that her foster mother would give up her spirit and leave her earthly existence if she knew that Caer had met or was soon to meet, her anamchara. She had noticed the aging in Enya's face and the slowing of her body over the past few years, but recently, it was even more visible. Part of her had known all along that her foster mother would not leave her home if it came to that choice, no matter the reason.
Caer thought for a moment about Finian being on the ship with her in her dream. She contemplated what she thought she knew about destiny and wondered if staying behind, knowing about the uprisings that threatened their homeland might be part of Enya's destiny but not her own.
It still seemed absurd that she would be leaving her homeland. Yet, if her dream meant what she and the people she had told about it believed it did, she would not be much longer in the land of her birth. And that would mean leaving behind not only the land that she loved, but some of the people, also.
It was hard for her to think about. Yes, they got word of uprisings happening from time to time, from passing brothers usually on their way back from Drogheda, but her small village was so well isolated, it seemed that the danger of the rebellions was so far removed that she had a difficult time believing there would ever come a real need for her and her people to flee their own homes. Though she had heard stories from some of the elders and she had seen the monasteries closed to her in her youth simply because she believed differently and celebrated life differently, still she did not believe that one people could kill and enslave another because they did not hold to the same beliefs.
She thought about Loic and how he had come to them, beaten and left for dead. It was her first real, physical experience of the unrest that was happening around her and the first real sign that her homeland was not the safe haven that she had always depended on. She had tried convincing herself that what had happened to the young man was just an unfortunate event, perpetuated by passing ruffians, but Gregor's concerns and her own dream had told her otherwise.
Caer suddenly found herself thinking about Finian, wondering if things were like that where she was. It must be a very different place than where she was, if the things in the strange bundle were any indication. Caer didn't have much of a memory of the tall, dark haired woman being here, but the fact that she had survived her encounter with the crazed cow and finding the large pack indicated very clearly, that Finian had somehow found her way to her. What puzzled her still was why the other woman had not stayed with her.
Da'an had been to see her as soon as she heard about her injuries and Enya would let her through the door. Caer had managed to tell her best friend what she thought had happened on midsummer's night and then confessed her confusion as to why Finian had come and gone so suddenly. She didn't tell her friend about the pack she had found. She didn't feel that she could share the only physical ness of Finian she had right then, with anyone.
Da'an had seemed, at first, to think, that due to her injuries and her unconscious state, she had been dreaming about her encounter with Finian, but after talking to Enya about the extent of Caer's injuries and Caer's retelling of what she remembered the dark haired woman doing to her, she had to believe what the flaxen haired woman was telling her. Finian had been there and had helped, in some way, to save her friend's life.
Da'an had stoked up the fire and sat upon a small pallet next to Caer, holding her hand. She had heard the anguish in her friend's pain-filled voice, when she had wondered at the sudden appearance then departure of the woman that she waited for.
"Caer," she started. "It is not time for you and Finian to be reunited. It is only first harvest. The Goddess has indicated that Samhain is when the circle will become full for you and you will come together, in completion. Two souls on separate paths, yet moving toward one purpose."
"I understand that, or I thought I did," Caer whispered through her pain, "but she was here, Da'an and I don't understand why or how she came and then she was gone. If the Goddess intends us to be together at Samhain, why did she allow Finian a momentary presence? It is hard enough waiting now that I have truly convinced myself that she is real and it will happen. Then to have a touch of her presence and have her whisked away is almost more than I can bear."
Da'an had watched as a tear made a thin trail down the small woman's pale face and dripped onto the quilt. "Caer, I think what happened to you out there the other night was what brought Finian to you. I think she sensed the danger that you were in and the power of the bond that you obviously share is what drew her to your side; but because the circle is not yet complete, the power was not strong enough for her to entirely separate from the bonds that hold her where she is."
Caer had looked at her friend for a long moment. "Do you honestly think that is what brought her to me now? My getting hurt? You think that she felt it from as far away from me as she is?"
"She may be far away in distance, but not from your soul, Caer."
Continued in Part 19.....