The Meeting Place. ONE.
Charles Dickens was paid by the word when his works were serialized in magazines, and so the soap opera found breath, a cliff hanger in every issue. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, he claimed. A cogent opening if there ever was one.
In the next weeks, a serial story will appear here and feature a rotation of characters who will meet in weeks hence. The mystery of how and when and why will reveal itself in due time. At this point, I have no earthly idea. All I know is that adventure, confusion, creation, despair, divination, dreams, expansion, failure, forgiveness, flux, gratitude, imagination, impatience, kin, loss, pride, rebellion, retribution, reverence, self-hood, surprise, travel, and wonder will abide. Death will come. Love will find a way.
I foresee each week’s entry as a shapely piece from the jigsaw of an expanding story. Each piece may also be read as a contemplation, a sensory experience in paying attention with no strings attached, a getaway.
Here’s the first entry from the forthcoming collection called The Meeting Place. In today’s offering, three characters are introduced. Let’s see what happens.
The bones of the rocking chair groaned as her youthful shoulder went limp, her chin dropping to her heart. The letter fluttered out of her hands just as she dipped into sleep. A whiff of wind fashioned the neighboring curtains into timid sails. Afternoons profited little these days unless she drifted. If the summer sounds over the ridge were reaching her, she was not listening but coasting into that other world, where she could dream beyond time. And if her heart was pointed in the right direction, maybe into the sphere of severed souls.
Swift went the current, yet she needed to cross. Without rope or limb or friendly shore. What had her mother told her? Upstream. What had her father said? Down. No room for an argument between advice gone dry.
The water had never been higher — such a snow pack this year. What she needed was hidden in the old willow hugging the other bank. She knew it as did the curve in the stream that held the tangled roots and thus the trunk and limbs and branches and the sheltered hollow. And she was done with her fear of it — the water, that is.
This was the place. Time to fly. She fluttered across in the bones of a common song thrush and perched on a branch that stretched out over the whooshing rapids bursting any hope she had of seeing the reflection of her wings. Her ego, still alive in such a small creature, caught her off-guard.
A couple hops and she was close enough to peck at the scroll. She’d have to transfigure to reach for it, but a little lower to the ground. For now, she fluffed her feathers above the spray of the rapids and surprised herself when she started to sing.
So much had frightened her as a child. The shadows of the forest’s edge, the indigo shapes and rumbles of distant thunder. The screams of rabbits, the gutted goats, the men’s laughter when it turned ugly and sounded nearby.
All the fears she overcame — until her body went to curves and the bleeding began. She set her jaw and boxed her shoulders. Headaches pursued her but nothing could weaken her leathery will, a loveless construction more reptile than human. That was until The Meeting Place. Never would her voice speak of the meager possibility of its existence. She had taken a vow of silence. Others would have to tell what she could not.