Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nanowrimo - Flying


I wrote this years ago because I was asked to tell a story about rocks at an advent assembly.  I used it as the starting point of Chapter 28.   

She awoke to the telephone ringing pulling her quickly out of sleep.  Her heart was pounding, but it quickly settled when she heard her son’s voice cheerfully greeting her, and the day. 
The had a long chat, about Thanksgiving, about a camping trip he was going on, about this and that.  He often called on the weekends, but it had been a few weeks since they had connected.
After hanging up she thought about a story she had writing years ago – a legend she had told at a school assembly.  While the coffee was brewing she dug around in her study and found it.  She read it, stopping to wipe the tears that would well, and then spill down her cheeks.

Everything that lives wants to fly,
A Mohawk friend said to me 
One winter afternoon
As we watched grosbeaks take seeds,
Fluttering close to our eyes.
Those were dinosaurs once, he said,

But they made a bargain.
They gave up that power in return for the sky.  (Feathers by Joseph Bruchac)


She had lived with that poem all her life. All her life she had dreamed she could fly. And the dreams were so real, that every morning when she awoke for a split second she forgot it was a dream. And in the next second was the disappointment that she could not, in fact, fly.

All her life she had been bound to the earth, to the hard rock that covered the land she lived on. Her home was by the sea, a sea, that although it’s name meant Peaceful, could be stormy, harsh, unforgiving and angry. The waves would crash against the stony coast land. A coast land that was jagged, like the coast of Finland, like the coast that was said to have been made by the shoulders, and arms and neck of a giantess who was so tired of swimming.

She had grown up on that rocky coast. Running over the barnacled rocks with her bare feet, calloused and cut numerous times. She had fallen on those rocks so often, bandaged knees were the norm. Her mother dabbing the blood with a soft cotton cloth as she picked out the shells and pebbles before bandaging her up yet again. She loved those rocky beaches, she always had rocks in her pockets, or on her bedside table, or on the kitchen window sill.

She had met her son’s father on another beach not so far away. A beach where large basalt, six-sided formations rose as cliffs against the ‘not so peaceful’ sea. He was a scientist. He was older than she was. He knew so much about the rocks that she had taken for granted all her life. She loved him, And she loved those rocks, she did. But sometimes, she still dared to look to the sky.

As often happens in stories such as this, love stories, a son was soon born to her. A son with eyes as blue as the sky that domed the ocean, and a will as strong as the rocks that surrounded her.

And so her life went on and she raised her son to be a strong young man. She grew older, and weary, and forgot about flying - she let her dreams go. She just kept her feet on the ground, on those rocks, and kept her eyes on the sea - in case it would decide to lash out at her and steal those she loved so much.

She shared her name with another young woman who had lived a long time past. She too had a son, she too had married a man older than her. Sometimes she wondered if that ‘Mary’ had ever dreamed of flying. She had only heard stories of her adult life, homeless, scared, blessed, mournful.

Her son knew her well. He would see the far off look in her eyes when she talked of her youth, of the rocks, and the sea, He too shared his father’s scientific mind, and he too wanted to show her the magic and mystery of these giant rocks that have stood for millions of years. For him rocks were a freedom, for he understood that rocks could help you to fly.

Come, he said, one late summer afternoon. Let’s walk. Let’s go on a hike. There is something I want to show you. He had a gift for her. And so they walked. Up. Up the backside of a huge granite column. It rose six hundred and fifty metres above them, the trail slowly zig-zagging its way up and up and up. Above the tree line, above the ‘not so peaceful’ ocean, above and away from her rock bound life. On the ascent she could only feel the rock beneath her feet, the scrap on her knee from a tumble, the cool rock on her hands as she supported herself through thin crevices, the hot rocks as she scrambled up the last few metres.

They reached the top. A plateau. Flat, and warm. Isolated and still. A chipmunk welcomed her by running up to her and perching on her ankle. She felt like a small girl again. A great raven flew over her head, so close she could hear the whoosh of air in its mighty wings. She could look right into its eye as it flew past her. She remembered her dream. She remembered the words of her Mohawk friend. So did her son.

Come, he said. Come to the edge. Kneel down. Crawl forward. Push yourself out over the edge. So she bellied out until her chest, her shoulders, her arms, and her head were jutting out over the edge. Six hundred and fifty metres above the sea. The sides fell away so steeply she could not see them.

Put out you arms, he said. Look up, he said. She put out her arms. She looked up. The warmth of the great stone under her belly and her hips secured her to the earth, but she felt like she was flying. She soared with the raven. She felt like she was flying. Her dream had not died after all.

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