Angelina waits up for me, offering oat cakes and fermented whey, relishing a woman’s time without men or children. I bound up the steps, busting with zeal, anxious to tell her of the night’s discoveries.
“I know his name, my husband’s name. It is John, Jonathon. He came to me in a vision that was not a vision but a visit. I saw him for a fleeting moment standing before me and I remembered. I am beginning to remember!”
Angelina pulls me into her arms in the sisterly embrace I’ve come to know so well, and I can smell her goodness and strength.
“My senses have changed,” I tell her, my hair wild and knotted from the wind.
She listens to my tale, smiling.
“Soon you will remember everything, and find your way home, and I will be happy for you. And I will be distressed to lose my sister and friend. Life is pushing you forward with its own hand. It seems you have little choice. Each day you become a woman of greater power, like Matruska.”
The thought of it alarms me. “I will never be like Matruska – an old woman living alone in the woods? I do not want that life. That is not mine to have. I do not want visions. I want to depend on things being predictable.”
The room feels deliciously warm as I remove my boots and hang up my coat.
Angelina laughs. “Life is not predictable. Your accident and training have opened something in you, something the rest of us do not have, the gift of seeing, and once opened it does not go away.”
“But,” I protest. “I will never sit by midnight fires again or hold the kestrel feather. Once I am home I want to put this all behind me.”
She sips the fermented whey, slowly, measuring her words. “Who you have become will not leave, Maya, but can serve you in ways you can not yet imagine. These gifts are an embodiment of the divine mystery, allowing you to look behind the mask of appearance to see things as they really are. They allow you to see to the heart and to bring influence into being that can inform your life.”
I remove the rest of my winter clothes, slipping a soft yellow tunic over my head, the warmth and weight of it welcome against my skin.
“You have been like an instrument out of tune,” she continues, “each day moving closer to your truest tone. You will find, as I do, that your new sound has many variations and rich hues. Do not be eager to dismiss it.”
Angelina leans against one wall of the caravan, smelling of honey and cabbages, and I against the other, a blanket thrown across our legs.
“And what of you, Angelina? What will you do when I find my way home?”
“I will do as I have always done, serve my children and my family. I will spend the morning cleaning, drawing water, building fires, finding herbs and preparing food. I will look at the sky to see what the clouds look like, listen to the voice of the wind, the songs of the birds and count how many trees have lost their leaves. If we are near a town, I will sell my dried flowers or work in the hop fields, and in the evenings there will be stories and songs. But through it all, I will think of you and the joy you have brought into our lives, secretly wishing that you had been free, able to stay and marry my Luca.”
We laugh from our bellies. Angelina loves Tarnia but finds her blistering temperament and controlling ways as difficult as I do.
The web of sleep pulls at us as Angelina gets up to leave. “Rhiannon is a great queen, a Goddess from Wales often appearing in the night as a white horse or stag. She is a muse standing between the gates of death and rebirth. She will guide you home and feed your creative spirit, if you ask.”
My creative spirit. My thoughts turn to painting and then to Edwin as I drift off to sleep, wondering how his betrayal will find its way into my life.