Thursday, August 30, 2012

Erin awoke with a start; another of the strange dreams that had plagued her for the last three days. She would have put it down to the anxiety she felt each year at this time... when she made her pilgrimage to the forest where her parents and sister died, but the scenes and characters in the dreams were consistent and linked somehow. Tonight a new character had entered... a tall man, handsome and middle-aged with midnight black hair and piercing blue eyes. There was such sadness in those eyes... they haunted her when she awoke.

Were these actually visions? She had the sight,as her mother had... but she could not have imagined a stranger group of people... gargoyles, soldiers, women who all seemed to have bewitching beauty, it was truly a mystery.

She stretched and rose from bed... throwing open her terrace door as she did every morning; stepping out to face the sun with arms raised to thank the lord and lady for another glorious day. The sun glistened on her burnished brown hair;the soft natural waves drifting around her face, she greeted life through clear blue grey eyes... when she had a vision they appeared to take on fire giving them a golden glow. 

She had a soft rounded figure and was considered comely among the Celtic community. Erin was 36, a spinster in the eyes of many among the village... and the ladies were constantly dragging pictures of some nephew or son to try and turn her head; but she wanted none of it.

Her people had always loved but one; and she had never found the one that quickened her heart. Erin had turned away suitors till there were no men within miles that hadn't stood at her door, because her beauty was not just of the face and body... but the soul.

She emitted a sense of serenity and kindness that drew people to her... no vanity touched her face, she was genuine and sweet.

Today she was going to the forest glen where her parents and sister died in a tragic fire several years ago. It was a spring Beltaine festival and while the people worshipped the gods and celebrated the beginning of another cycle of growth and renewel... haters had set fire around them in the night; and few escaped alive.

Each year she returned to the site; wondered what had kept her away that night... why she was spared. Erin planted a new tree each time she returned, and broadcast wildflower seeds to help disguise the sparse injured area. It was a way to keep her family's memory alive.

Erin seldom relied on a car around the village; Ireland's green rolling hills and craggy outcrops pleased her and often she rode a neighbor's horse; but today she packed things in her small car and set out across the valley to the mountains in the distance.

It was less than an hour till she had her destination. Erin slipped packets of wildflower seed into her pant pockets and putting her arms around the tree container, with trowel in her back pocket she set out for the clearing.

Erin enjoyed the walk, stopping to listen to the birds... to watch a scolding squirrel... and before she realized it the parched meadow was in front of her. Along the edges of the clearing wildflowers bobbed their heads from her previous plantings; but the young trees she had begun planting did little to disguise the burned tree skeletons that littered the edges of the green meadow. She set her tree down and drew the trowel from her pocket, leaving them on the ground as she did her pilgrimage around the site... thinking of her sister's smile, the look of love on her parents' faces; and she paused to put her face to her hands and cry softly for all that was lost.

When Erin glanced up she realized she wasn't alone... a few yards away a man stood looking toward the meadow edge; he turned partially as he surveyed the scene and she saw the scars on the side of his face that revealed he was probably a survivor of this tragic fire... here to grieve his own loss. She decided to greet to let him know he was not alone; and as she drew nearer he turned... and shock must have shown on her face; because it was the dark haired man of her last dream...

The man looked at her, and turned aside... when he turned again his face was unmarred; she realized in that moment that he thought her shock was his scars; and she also knew he was a fellow witch... his glamour spell woven to conceal the scars that branded his face.

Erin stammered..."I am sorry; I startled you, I only meant to let you know you were not alone." She smiled that gentle knowing smile of hers; and he smiled in return.

"I didn't mean to appear offish, I was just surprised...  my name is Traeger." He was scanning her face, his piercing eyes missing no details of her appearence; his vision reading her heart and finding no fault there.

Traeger smiled softly at her..."I was about to enjoy a picnic lunch, would you join me?" He knelt and drew a basket from behind him,spreading a soft blanket ... he put the bread and cheese, the ripe red grapes, and a thermos from the basket on the open plaid quilt and plopped down on the ground... waiting for her to join him.

Erin felt at ease and sat beside him; waiting to know more about the man who so recently had inhabited her dreams.

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