Cierra was dreaming. At least she believed she was. She was standing in the middle of a huge open field. There weren't any trees or shrubs, nothing at all. The landscape was miles of nothing but nearly flat field in the oddest of colors. The horizon was periwinkle, and the field was almost the color of soft coral. She could see every detail yet she would swear it was in the middle of the night. It was strangely quiet; not even the soft buzz of insects could be heard.
She looked in all directions, wondering why this dreamscape was so different from the others. At first she saw nothing then in the distance, far away, she saw a figure approaching. They were too far away for Cierra to see details, just the hazy outline of a human walking.
It would be a long time before they reached her. She took the time to look around further then returned her gaze to the walking figure. She gasped and saw a man just few paces away from her.
He wore Native American garb of soft pale buckskin, which was decorated in quill and shells. She focused on him but couldn't place his people. Was he of an Eastern Coastal tribe? She wasn't sure.
He stopped five feet from her and looked at her with interest. He was of an age that made it difficult to judge. He could be anywhere from his late thirties to early fifties. His dark hair was untouched by gray; his face strong but unlined.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I am a Dream Walker. And you?" he asked politely.
"My name is Cierra. Why are we here? This place seems familiar."
"It is a corridor between worlds. When we travel the dreamscapes we must pass through here to get to the other side," he informed her kindly.
"Odd, I can't recall ever being here before. Maybe in my childhood I came here with Grandmother," she ventured.
"No, you come here often. You just never noticed it consciously."
She focused hard on the landscape but still couldn't remember this place. Are you saying I pass this ‘corridor' every time I jump from the Old World to the new?"
"Yes, exactly. Although you only managed to find the path to one of many worlds."
"How many worlds are there?" Cierra asked in wonder.
"How many grains of sand exist? I certainly don't know. Every pathfinder must wander where they may." He turned to look at her then spoke once more. "Until we meet again Pathfinder."
Everything faded to darkness and Cierra woke to JP shaking her frantically.
"Oh thank God! I thought you were dead!" JP sobbed.
· * * *
Two days had passed yet Cierra couldn't calm JP down enough to leave her side. Her lover had been frightened too many time recently and Cierra didn't have the heart to force the tall survivalist into assuming her own duties. JP instead worked with Cierra for a while then visa versa.
The Jumper couldn't even speak to anyone privately about it. She did; however; convince JP to have one of the doctors give her a mild sleeping pill for the evenings. She needed it to sleep because she couldn't relax enough even with Cierra holding her in her arms.
Who would have thought someone so strong and steady could crumble so easily? Cierra knew JP loved her but hadn't until now realized how deeply those feelings went. Cierra was no longer the protected one in their relationship but the caretaker until JP dealt with her fears.
· * * *
Jenny watched with glee at the sight of Pam waving to Eva as she walked past the engineer, who was covered in muck because she was one of the crew building the combination adobe and cob hospital. Cob was basically the same as adobe but the building was slapped together bit by bit and not uniform. The lower half was adobe for strength and the upper half would have the bus windows encased in them for lighting. It seemed the practical way to build it. It would still have a ceramic roof because a thatch roof would shed. Not a good thing to deal with regarding patients' wounds.
Anyone who wanted a thatched roof would need a canopy over her bed. Thatching would finish the house faster since the tiles wouldn't need to be dried and fired, but it would need replacing more often. Few chose that route on their homes.
"I see she doesn't get lost in thought as much anymore," Jenny commented.
Pam grinned. "Nope, she always sees me now. I can even nick a kiss once in a while without her turning bright red. I think she's warming up to me," the professor said, her eyes twinkling.
"Uh huh. I think if she ‘warms up' any further she'll burst into flames."
"After kissing her I have to find a quiet place and calm down myself. Don't go thinking this is all one way. She's proving to be quite a hand full now that we're pairing off."
"TMI, TMI. Just be happy, that's all I care about. The two of you make a cute couple. Now, change of subject. How is the irrigation of the north field going?"
"Fair to middling. I think we should have planted the potatoes there because of the stones. At least one person is happy about them. One of the women wants us to pile them in one place so she can use them to build a smoke house later."
"We'll have to keep that in mind for next year. Cyd told me that the wheat is coming up well. She said thanks for the idea of hanging mothballs in sacks around the fields. It's keeping the deer out."
"There's another method too. I suggest a hair trimming for everyone. If we save the hair and strew it about the fields and gardens the wildlife will stay away."
"Well, at least we'll always have hair to use. We don't have that many mothballs."
"Strong smelling soap works too. We've done enough hunting in this area that our scents will keep them away," Pam said sadly. Until they came the animals had no fear of humans.
"Well, until our flocks increase we can't butcher any of them. We'll have to stay with game, fish or eggs for our protein," Jenny reminded her. "I must admit I've never eaten healthier before moving here. I was the original junk food junkie. I used to miss it but I guess I've gotten used to it. I loved fried chicken with all the trimmings."
"Ooh, and trifle! Bangers and Mash, Shepherd's Pie, Christmas Pudding. Oh, stop it Pam, you're going to drool," she told herself.
Jenny giggled. I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Bangers?"
"Um, you call them sausages. You yanks have your own terms and we have ours. But I do agree that we do eat healthier now. It is fortunate that I brought along my sewing basket. I've taken in my clothing once already."
"I'm useless with a needle. Luckily Judy is nice and fixed a few of my things so they wouldn't hang on me anymore."
"I do wish we had a few fattening items on the menu. I'd make Eva eat more. I hug her and feel every bone. She works much too hard."
Jenny had been wondering how quickly the subject would return to Eva. Pam loved to gush over her whenever she could. "Well, you could make a few goodies like baked apples stuffed with cinnamon and nuts and take them to her as a snack," Jenny hinted. "Any time she can find an excuse to spend with you," she winked.
"Clever, very clever," Pam grinned back.
· * * * *
"Everyone is champing at the bit to get it built," Carey mentioned. "We should just let them do it and get it over with."
"My bad," Kelly said with a smirk. "I knew everyone would love the idea."
The others laughed and shrugged. The hospital was nearly done and they would need two crews to make a working bath house and sewer system. They could have the construction experts set the foundation to it while everyone else could dig the first trench for the pipes deeper. Then they could connect the bath house pipes to the original row of houses and have it exit into the river instead of the sinkhole. Once the second row of houses were started they could connect another series of pipes.
"Admit it Kelly, you just wanted to get all the women naked," Cyd teased.
Kelly gave an exaggerated innocent look then grinned impishly.
"By this time next year we're going to have a sweet little town," Laura mentioned. Everyone agreed. They wouldn't be nearly this tired next year. Most of the large projects would be done and everyone could sit back and relax and work on personal growth.
Life would be good then.
· * * *
Cierra once more found herself in the corridor. This made her worry. Would this upset JP again? Her lover could barely separate from her without having a panic attack.
"Have her make a medicine bundle," said the dream walker from behind her. Cierra spun around and saw him smiling kindly.
"A medicine bundle. It gives the owner protection and guides them. It wouldn't hurt to have one yourself."
"How do we make them, what do they contain?'
"They are different for every person but perhaps the ones you use should be a buckskin bags. Carry them with you when you travel and sleep with them at night. What do they contain? Only your hearts can tell you this. Place items from each direction, of animal, mineral, plant, and earth. If you see something unusual with special meaning to yourselves, add them. Carry stones that look like animals, pouches of cornmeal and so on. Listen to your spirits and find peace."
"This will give JP peace?"
"It will help. Smudge your items with the scared sage or sweet grass to purify them and yourselves."
Cierra shook her head, trying to remember everything her grandmother may have mentioned. "Dream walker, how do we…" he was gone, and she turned to look for him and rolled within JP's sleeping arms.
The next morning she asked Carey if she had some buckskin or anything akin to it. The survivalist was curious but told her yes. Cierra asked if she could have them and the young woman promised to bring them to her home after breakfast. JP was also intrigued but was told that it would be explained later.
When Carey brought the soft skins to her she told Carey that she and JP wouldn't be joining the work crews that morning and had something personal to attend to. The shaman's serious expression said this wasn't for time off in order to romp in bed and Carey couldn't help but worry. Both women looked wiped out.
She nodded and left the Jumper and JP's home.
Cierra picked up a wicker basket after strapping on her pistol. "Grab your rifle, we're going for a walk," she told JP. The tall woman didn't even argue or ask questions. She knew her lover would eventually explain.
Cierra headed across the stream and well away from all the areas where the community was working. Elu followed them silently, his alert eyes taking everything in. Once far enough away she stopped.
"I went to the dreamscape again last night. The Dream walker spoke to me, telling me how to help you find inner peace. We're going to assemble medicine bundles for each of us. My Grandmother had one but I had forgotten about it until last night. She held great store in its powers."
"What are they for?" JP asked.
"They are for personal and family protection and to guide us," Cierra told her. "Once we make them we keep them near us. Anytime you feel uneasy, take yours and sit quietly with it for a while. I guarantee it will help take away your fears. JP, you are strong woman but what has happened lately has you shaken. You can barely eat or sleep. Let the spirits around us take the burden of watching over us. They have been ever since I found Mother Earth, you just call it dumb luck."
"Cierra, I love you. How can I just stop worrying about you? You're asking the impossible of me."
Cierra stood on her toes and kissed JP's cheek. "No, I am asking you to realize that you can't control and watch over everything. You have to believe something greater than ourselves watch over us. Do this for me, please?"
The lanky woman sighed and nodded. If it would please Cierra then she would do it. She asked what they were looking for and they began wandering, looking around them for things that would catch their attention.
Cierra found the first item along the stream bank, a small quartz stone that was nearly smooth and shaped like an owl. JP found some Indian tobacco and they cut some of it and placed it in the basket. After that items seemed to jump out at them, asking to be picked up. Feathers, a bear tooth, pieces of dried wood, stones, unusual flowers, and pieces of animal hair collected from brush found their way into the basket.
They returned to the village and JP helped Cierra making small bags and pouches from the skins Carey had brought them.
"Just put them all the pieces in the bags now?" JP asked once they finished.
Cierra smiled and said not yet. She opened her trunk and removed a very old wooden box that she had kept since Grandmother died. She hadn't opened it since then but she knew what was inside. She forced the old wooden box open and was nearly overpowered by the strong scent of sage, cedar, and sweet grass. JP looked over her shoulder and saw small dried bundles of braided grass wrapped in colored threads.
"For smudging," Cierra explained. She pulled out a ceramic bowl from the old trunk and placed a brittle piece of sage into its center. She lit a candle twist and held its burning end to the contents. It smoldered and she picked up a feathered fan and gently coaxed it into smoking embers. She walked through the room, purifying their home with its smoke and then stood over the contents of what would be their medicine bundles. She fanned the smoke over them and then themselves.
JP felt the tension of her shoulders ease. The mild scent of the sage comforted her and made their home seem warmer, more intimate. Perhaps this ‘primitive' ceremony had some merit. It certainly couldn't be harmful and seemed innocent enough. She was glad she hadn't opposed Cierra's request to perform it.
Finally, the embers died out and Cierra took the ashes outside. JP watched her place the ashes at the base of a tree and spread them over the roots.
"They are scared and should be returned to Mother Earth," Cierra explained.
JP nodded and would remember. They went back inside and silently assembled their bags. Once hers was finished she stood and reached into her own trunk. She had a fabric marker and quickly drew on a symbol without thinking. Cierra smiled and asked why she drew a wheel on the bag.
"I don't know. I guess I was thinking about the medicine wheels."
"It could mean that too. That is also the symbol representing home," she told her, kissing her cheek.
"We are home," JP said solemnly. She bent lower and buried her nose into Cierra's shoulder. "We are home," she repeated, holding the bundle against her breast.
Author's Note: This is the second of the Mother Earth Series. The next sequel is already dancing around in my head.
Return to the Academy