Plopped down and annoyed just under the edge of the ancient oaks oversized limbs that dominate the seemingly tiny hilltop on our family estate. The constant buzz of the surrounding forest nearly deafening as the first rays of morning sunlight slowly sweep overhead, the multitude of creatures of the night calling out one last time before daybreak.
This was Ariande’s favorite time of all. The briefest moment in time where the forest went completely silent for a heartbeat as the night creatures fell silent and just before the day creatures began their songs.
She cherished these moments more than anything in her entire live and this past summer she has been able to capture this magical moment and experience it for nearly the span of a single breath, and in the breath she lost herself completely. The angst of the male bullies forgotten, the anger towards those insufferable men hardly a thought in these precious moments.
All emotions vanished except for the sadness and an echo of the Fury that lurked ever so close to the surface, lurking in the shadows like a starving best. These remained just close enough within her mind to prevent her from exploring this magical moment any further. The sadness of thinking about what if they kept her from what her heart most desired? What if this “Mans” world she lived in prevented her from pursuing that which she felt she was born to do? The fury that built up inside her was like a hot burning coal of bile. How dare they tell her she can’t do something simply because she was a “girl”!
The moment passed over as they always did. She felt refreshed and confident, that extra little boost she needed to face the coming day and the battle of wills between her and her parents that was by now well overdue. Ariande new it was close because her papa had avoided eye contact with her all yesteday as he tried to focus on everything else but her, failing miserably at hiding his own anxiety and frustrations behind a veneer of smiles and calmness. Mama felt it to, but a few days earlier than the rest of us which explains why she too has been on edge of late.
My two bull headed brothers, twins no less, could feel it too and of course they blamed it all on me without even knowing the facts! But the fact is that it most likely was about me which has made me feel even more guilty and rather irritated. Seri and Leim, or “Dolt” in the singular, which is what I call the twins now since they continuously go to great measures to be as exact as possible, seemed to be taking everything in stride and appeared quite unaffected by everything, they even looked a bit amused by it all and quite happy for any excuse to further torment me without sympathy.
But this exotic mix of emotions, crowding, colliding, even penetrating, cares not for the light hearted and even the twins this morning were beginning to wear down under its influence and excused themselves nervously after breakfast without even a second look at me.
In their haste to flee from the impending explosion of emotions they left their plates and cups on the table, which is normally followed by papa’s roar for them to get back in here and “Show some respect”, which quickly escalates to them both cleaning the entire table and doing all the dishes. I must admit that the tiniest little smile tried to push its way out.
I saw Papa’s head and line of sight raise and settle upon the abandoned dishes and pause. But before his iron jaw was even clenched and before he could even take in another breath I calmly stood and reached over the table and began gathering up their dirty dishes and said to Mama that I told the boys I would take care of these for them today.Ignoring Papa and hopefully abating the tirade that was about to happen.
Mama just pinched a small smile onto her face and nodded as she too stood and began consolidating the remaining food onto one large platter.
She too had avoided eye contact with me but I could see the stress on her face and the dampness of her eyes, threatening to let loose a single tear at any moment now.
Papa slowly pushed back his chair and stood with plate and cup in hand and took the two steps needed to reach the trash bin and emptied his plate into it. Without turning back around he sat his dishes on the counter and began digging at a piece of something lodged between his teeth with the pointy stick he always kept in his pocket for just such a time.
Normally it was about this time when papa would utter the first words towards me once I entered into his peripheral. Calmly and as relaxed as he possibly could, but the frustration and annoyance could not be completely hidden, which would be picked up by me in an instant and despite all of my personal coaching and self-pleading I would forget it all and verbally attack as if I were possessed. Followed immediately by papa bellowing and smashing his massive fists onto whatever surface was nearest and mama disappearing to find a quiet place to cry for a couple of hours and returning to clean up the abandoned mess. Papa would by then be in back single handedly sawing logs into manageable pieces and chopping them up for firewood until he was completely exhausted and collapses on the ground next to the small hill of ravaged wood. I would then always find myself curled up under the same massive oak in a pitiful ball having cried myself to sleep with bruised feet from the kicking and sore fingers from the clawing.
The time was here now! There was no scenario available to avoid the coming wave of verbal destruction. I froze in place, holding my breath and willing myself to disappear, Mama leaning against the sink, unmoving, her head slowly swaying as if praying deeply. But I dared not stand in this spot any longer, for that would be an open invitation. But I could not leave, that would not be possible nor could I move because to do so in either direction would bring me into his exceptional field of vision. I could tell without even looking that he was ready. His mind made up and his resolve clear. If he didn’t see me in the next second he would turn to find me and……
In that very instant, that illusive fleeting moment in time, I released myself from the bonds of my emotions and let my instinct take over.
I gently reached for the back of the chair I was standing by and tilted it just far enough for me to begin to slowly drag it across the floor towards Papa. The thick back legs softly hummed as they were pulled across the flat marble. I could see that the deep calming breath Papa had taken to steel his nerves and to utter the first words had been slowly released, it purpose unfulfilled and now forgotten, for this was something new and unexpected and warranted a moments attention away from the impending doom. Mama’s head had stopped swaying as she herself dared to glance over her shoulder. Papa too turned his head towards me, slightly cocked to the side and brows crunched together in the middle of his forehead in a confused mess of determination and inquiry.
The path before me was set in stone. I knew what I needed to do, I knew what I must do. As if by magic I was happy and I was smiling the smile of a happy young women. A smile impossible to paint, filled with truth, power, transparent and wonderful.
Papa was now standing, facing me, immovable and solid as a mountain, massive hands resting on his hips, his face still filled with determination but my smile, my genuine smile, merciful, longing and joyful, quieted the giant, purging the air of all anxiety. Mama unmoving, breath held and daring not to move and upset whatever this was that was happening.
My eyes never leaving papa’s chiseled face, my smile unaltered; I gently brought the chair right up to him and placed my foot on the seat to elevate myself up. His hand moved instinctively out to assist me, which I accepted without pause. His forearm as hard as steel under my soft hand, his fingers and palm rough and callused yet left my elbow unharmed as he effortlessly helped me up onto the chair to now stand before him, eye to eye, our faces mere inched apart.
I gingerly reached up and placed my tiny hands on his temples to guide his forehead down towards me and on my tip-toes I kissed it just below his hairline.
His mouth still in the shape of the unspoken word now long forgotten, his breath now moving in and out of his body without effort and relaxed. I grabbed him by his neck and hugged him as hard as I could for as long as I could hold the grip and whispered into his ear “I love you Papa” and “I will make you proud”.
His rigid frame and iron like muscles felt like pillows of soft fur against me as he gently hugged me back and lowered me to the ground like a baby bird.
He took a deep breath, eyes never leaving mine, and whispered back “I love you too Daughter” and “I am proud of you” and smiled back for the first time in a very long time, which made him look much younger than his years.
He then stepped past me and left through the side door. Moments later I heard his voice calling out for Seri and Leim. “Let’s go boys!” “Them fish ain’t gonna swim by themselves into Mama’s cooking pot”.
After what sounded like the walls of the house were collapsing, the twins immerged dumbfounded yet ready to go. Nearly tripping over themselves to get to Papa and grab there fishing poles on the run.
Feeling relieved and finally unburdened I casually walked to the side door to see Papa standing there with two poles in his hand?. The twins long gone in a race to the fishing pond our family alone fishes in.
“Are you coming daughter” he said as he held out the extra pole. “I think it’s about time I showed you a few things? How bout it!”
I awoke the following morning under the great oak as predicted but this time with dry eyes and no bruises. I sat up and patiently waited for that magical moment but I did not search for it as if a hungry beggar, this time it found me…
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