Sunday, June 19, 2011

Story Time: Chapter 4

The Procession
Blackberry Winter
The trees’ shadows ticked as clock hands against the sunlit grass, sweeping off the minutes under the dirt.
The cobblestones witnessed, but would not testify: Matty’s face turned on its axis, like the jealous moon stares and steals the earth’s second-hand light from the sun: stealing the looks, thieving the glance, pilfering the moment. Her eyes locked on the young woman’s position. Imagine a stargazer’s crude model of the sun and planets: the center star punctured by metal rods spindling the rocky, bobbing planets, spiked and imprisoned. Her eyes did not leave the procession. She was the moon gazing at earth.
The entourage of servants, litter carriers, handmaidens, and bodyguards resembled a walking garden path, a botanical imagery. They all wore silk robes embroidered with lemon yellow and mint silk flowers on fields of white, golden braided thread crackled the fabric, with long, thicker rope braids of gold tied around their waists and breasts. Their hair was swept up in elaborate stacks, and songbirds sang in golden cages, swung from brass poles carried by children. The group was comprised of elves and humans.
If Matty considered the feelings of the fixation of her gaze, the young woman at the center, she would have been unnerved further. Mat’s own dusty dryness of spirit blew over the boiling mess of her insides. There was no heart, there was no stomach, or throat: all of her internal organs felt as if they had melted together and may dissolve in heat. The beautiful bride was solid and steady. And as the moon does not think about the rumblings or calm of the earth’s core, nor does it care. It is only jealous of the light of the sun that shines on it. This was the day of her eclipse, her light being overshadowed.
Although the young bride’s breath blew shallow against the stays of her dress, there was no nervous fidget: her confident resolve was her birthright: this was her love, and he loved her. He had been promised to her. And they were to be together forever. She didn’t even think about it. Never crossed her mind that a piece of him was never going to be wholly hers.
Matty’s own breath was not so calm. Warning of a storm does not decrease fear. She had known about this for minutes, hours, and eternity.
It is difficult to know, to capture, a point, a fixated point, when the resolution has made a choice, or destiny stands. The trajectory of fate is too entrenched. But this is how she knew. She knew.
On an indigo night, they vowed a damning promise: if they were to part, if the ashes rained over them, and the other found another to marry, they would get word to one another. Promise.
They didn’t speak of what they would do if they ever had to say the words: “I am getting married.” Would the other flail against the sides of the wall, or simply say, “I wish you both well?” But in the moment of the promise she saw that her future as his wife was dissolved. Her prescient vision was the truth of fate. He was trying to tell her he loved her, but had other binding promises, when they made this terrible deal.
She had no idea, no hint; she was so naïve, that his parents had underscored a silent betrothal to the daughter of a wealthy business associate. He knew her, of course, and if he knew of this arrangement, never told Matty. The family connection may have seemed inconsequential to him. His family would come to love and accept Mat, and what was a serious contract would become a joke, a trifle.
He mentioned her name over the years, that she was a good friend, good family friend, from a good family. Deeply good.
And this deeply good family maneuvered a lot of gold flowing in and out of the auction house and street vendors. (Gossip told of when the gold-clover prices collapsed, the patron of the family lost every piece of gold: however, they still had their noble name, and that was worth plenty in prestige. One can always make more money, but one can’t create lineage.)
Matty never stood a chance in the path of a wealthy agenda. The gold was too strong.  Her mother had taken Matty’s face in her hands, and tried to warn her that a mixed love would never work.  She was a creature, an animal, compared to the elves, humans, dwarfs, and gnomes. Her own lineage was questionable. On one occasion, to her deep humiliation, she was at his manor, and a visiting houseguest made a bawdy comment on how her tail “worked.” The group laughed, as did she, but she realized later he did not take up for her. Maybe she was taking herself too seriously. What was the real harm, after all?
So, he sent her a goblin messenger, not a scroll, to let her know the day was coming. And her response was: "I wish him well." 
Between the space of their initial inseparability, and the time when their families had taken them away from each other, across worlds, she to the east, and he to the west, opposite points from true north. that is where the promise thinned. There is no real blame: he had adventures and gees to fulfill: she had yet to fully discover that she was powerful. They both ill-used their gifts, and broken each other’s hearts. Simple as that. And when he sent the missive, it was with no small amount of retribution. He felt she had been disloyal: if she had been truly worthy, she would have locked herself in a tower. Conversely, if he had been truly hers, he would have flown in the face of his family’s wishes.
But they didn’t.
Simple as that.
She could not know at that moment that there was more than love, sometimes. More than white dresses and blessings. More than sanctification or approval. Her mother had known this, but it was a lesson that couldn’t be taught by rote instruction. She would learn she possessed a part of him that was hers and hers alone. It was not lost.
She watched the procession shimmer into the cathedral district. She wished herself at Guarf’s. She hoped he wasn’t there. 
She just needed some time.

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