The Meeting Place. SEVENTEEN.
Karolina didn’t believe in irreplaceable things. Not anymore. Not after having lost everything except her own sense that one person’s loss is benign in the Universe of Losses. What mattered was not to get too caught up in what had gone missing and instead stake a claim on what morsel might be there on the path at her feet.
What she saw when she looked was a flattened circle of grass, the circumference of a deer or young elk. She imagined one resting there in the cool of the evening after a trip to the river on the trodden trail at the forest’s edge. She spread her cape over the impression and noticed two other spots nearby where kindred had rested. A family had been here, she mused. And her wish to travel back to the days when there was a mother and father and brother and two cows and a hen-house full of chickens and three barn cats tugged at her like a child wanting one more story before bedtime.
Her bag was heavy around her shoulders and as she lifted the leather strap over her head, something thumped to the ground. She tried to guess what would have found its way out of the deep well she had sewn. There on the blue wool of her cape was the knife, unsheathed, the one that her mother claimed cut the umbilical cord between them when Karolina was born. Its silver edge glinted like a star in the low light of sunset. Keep me close tonight, the knife reflected. She wasn’t one to be frightened by such portents, but she took the tool at its word. The wisdom was in the listening, and she had heard and she would obey.
Karolina’s path was uncertain now that Albert had refused to acknowledge that Samantha was pregnant with his child. Forcing him into submission was unthinkable; she would keep his secret. And she would find another way to push justice forward, to give the mother and child the chance to thrive. Samantha would have to agree to Karolina’s terms without question. One step at a time, she thought.
The night grew dark and cool, so she pulled her cape around her. Her round of daily gratitudes began with Albert. Despite the conflict reignited between them by Samantha’s impending motherhood, Karolina had been thankful to see him again, knowing that her peace was closely entwined with his no matter how separate they had become. After claiming thanks for him, she named the good weather and her capable legs and the dried fish she had called dinner. She had learned that gratefulness spurred her toward happier dreams.
Under the light of a waxing gibbous before closing her eyes, Karolina stabbed the soft ground with the knife, its mother-of-pearl handle iridescent and a moment’s reach from her left hand.
The Meeting Place will continue in a couple weeks.