This is just a short visit with Kennedy & Carson on Easter morning, present day.
The sun was just rising on a cool Easter morning, its rays gilding the surface of the water pale gold, and painting the first warm block of light on a faded wooden dock. Carson sat on the edge, her legs dangling over the side, her bare feet almost, but not quite touching the water. It was one of her favorite times of day, provided she was awake to enjoy it.
A mourning dove cooed from beneath the boathouse eves, joining a chorus of other birds, all eagerly greeting the new day in simple, soulful, song. A faint breeze riffled through Carson's short, blonde waves, and raised goose bumps on her bare arms and legs. The scent o f clean lake water, fresh green grass, and hay from the nearby stables tickled her nostrils pleasantly, and she closed her eyes, savoring the sensation of the sun burnishing her slightly-chilled skin.
"Hey there." A raspy voice burred near her ear. She'd heard the back door open and close, and the padding of bare feet approaching from behind. Now, she smelled warm, rich coffee.
"Have I mentioned I love you yet this morning?" She accepted the offering gratefully, wrapping cold hands around the ceramic mug, the heat immediately sending warmth through her fingers and up her arms. The long body that settled in next to her was even warmer, pressing against her side and causing an inexplicable burst of happiness inside.
"Haven't said anything at all to me yet this morning." Kennedy nudged her, and pressed even closer, her arm lightly circling Carson's body. "You snuck out of bed and left me all alone."
"Sorry," Carson muttered, her eyes peering out over the water, unseeing. "You looked so peaceful, I didn't have the heart to wake you."
"I was just kidding, you know that, don't you?" Blue eyes glanced sideways, then narrowed, as she identified unmistakable melancholy in her partner's features. "Hey, you okay?" She gave the shorter woman a little squeeze.
"Yeah ... just ..." Carson trailed off, her expression pensive. "I don't know what to do with this day anymore."
"This day?" Kennedy frowned. "Oh. Easter. Gotcha." She drew in a deep breath, thinking on how to respond. Between her non-practicing Catholic mother, and her Comanche spiritualist father, most of the Christian holidays had bypassed her family, in favor of more Earth-centered observations. "You want me to go boil some eggs and paint them, and hide them around the back yard for you?" She decided on levity.
Carson laughed lightly and pressed her cheek against a strong shoulder. "No thank you, honey. That part of Easter isn't what I don't know what to do with."
"Because you aren't sure what you believe anymore." It wasn't a question, but a fact, something Carson had stated plainly and simply on more than one occasion.
"Yeah, and because of what I'm coming to believe - that Jesus was a man. A good man. An intelligent man. A man who advocated peace. And someone whose words we should probably listen to, but he was just a man. Not God. Not the Messiah. It makes me sad, is all, because this used to be a very special day of celebration, and now it's not." She sighed unhappily.
"What did you like about it most? The day, I mean." Kennedy trod carefully into uncharted water, traditional protestant religions far from her area of expertise.
"My parents and I went to church together, and Mom and I always had new dresses, but that's not really it. It's hard to put my finger on it. I think ... it's that it seemed like the true beginning of Spring for me. By then, flowers were blooming all over Dallas, and baby birds were being born. I liked having a nice family meal after church, too. The music at church was usually pretty awesome, too. I remember this one Sandi Patty song that used to bring me to tears. Now, the words themselves wouldn't mean so much to me anymore." She smiled in memory, blinking as tears stung her eyes at the same time.
"It can still be a celebration of new beginnings," Kennedy gestured around them. "We have flowers, and birds, even baby ducks." As if on cue, a mother duck and five fuzzy ducklings appeared from the thick marsh grass and paddled out onto the water, quacking and cheeping playfully as they swam along in search of skating water bugs.
"You mean we could make a new holiday of our own?" Carson seemed guardedly interested.
"Old and new. Carson, long before Christ, pagan cultures celebrated Oestra. You ever heard of it?" Kennedy dunked a toe in the water, concentric circles spreading out around it.
"Yeah, but don't know much about it." Carson stretched with all her might, but couldn't copy her lover's activities, even if she slid to the very edge of the dock.
"Careful. Water's too cold to be falling in." Kennedy grabbed hold of a belt loop. "Well, it was celebrated as part of the Spring equinox, but there was also an element of magic. Supposedly, the goddess Eostra turned a brightly-colored bird into a rabbit. The rabbit then laid colored eggs. Seems Peter Cottontail was really Patty Cottontail." Kennedy nudged her partner again, getting a giggle.
"So Christians stole that from the pagans?" Carson was incredulous. "First Christmas, and now Easter." She shook her head. "It's almost like they had to come up with Christian holidays to take the place of pagan ones they could no longer celebrate, but missed."
"Uh-huh." Kennedy smiled knowingly and waited for Carson's own words to sink in.
"Oh my gosh." Carson smiled. "Just like what I'm doing."
"Exactly." Kennedy ruffled her head. "If you could create a holiday to take the place of Easter, what would we do?"
"Hmmmm." A blonde head tilted in careful thought. "We'd both get up and watch the sunrise over coffee. Or tea," she hastily amended, nodding toward the steaming cup of blackberry herbal tea sitting on the dock on Kennedy's other side. "Then we'd go make a nice lunch and go out on the boat, just out here in our own little cove, and spend the day lazing around, enjoying the weather and listening to a little Carlos Nakai or David Arkenstone. And we'd stay and watch the sunset, and then go back in, and get cozy in front of the fireplace, if you get my drift."
"Completely. Sounds like it should be part of a celebration of life." Kennedy nodded sagely, then winked and smiled. "We can do all of that today, you know?"
"Uh-huh. Just one more thing that should be a part of this here celebration." Carson turned and wrapped her arms around her lover's neck. They gazed into each other's eyes for a very long time, watching the sunlight sparkle off blue and gray-green flecks. Slowly, Carson drew forward, capturing a pair of full, soft lips, and savoring them for a very long while.
They drew back and touched noses. "Thank you." Carson nuzzled a warm neck, planting tiny kisses there.
"I know holidays can be hard for you." Kennedy looked down, grasping one of Carson's hands, and twining their fingers. "If there's anything at all I can do to make that better, I'd like to."
"Well ... there is one more thing." Carson smiled wickedly.
"I turned down the boiled eggs, but I'd never, in a million years, reject chocolate ones."
"Oh, really?" Long fingers reached into a pocket, withdrawing a handful of colorful shining foil-wrapped orbs.
"Cool! Just one more of the many reasons I love you. You read my mind so well." She watched, as Kennedy unwrapped a chocolate surprise and held it out. Carson studied it, then opened her mouth, sighing as rich, sweet, milk chocolate melted on her tongue.
"Happy Oestra, Carson." Kennedy hugged her tightly, watching over her shoulder as the sun rose fully over the lake to greet an almost perfect day.