CROSSROADS ( III)
TOMLYN was back at the Crossroads. There was the tall Cross in stone and the Fountain, but the place was empty. The Market was gone. Maegan was gone. A slim girl he barely recognized was grasping him tightly, in tears. Janet.
“Oh, I knew it. I knew it! Only if you were taking me with you would I let you go. And it was so difficult… My flesh was burning!”
She let him out of her embrace and took a step back. She didn’t look at him, instead down to her blouse, passing her palms over her small breast.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she said in wonder. “It seemed to me that you were a piece of fiery iron and that my blouse was on flames, that the skin on my breasts was cracking, blackened under the heat. Oh it hurt so badly! But I would gladly take the iron you were through my heart than let you go. I will never let you go again!”
Tomlyn looked at her, amazed. She wasn’t really a beauty, a plain girl with her face and hands darkened by sun and wind. Not tall, with an open face under golden dark hair, straight brows and big, green eyes. He knew many other girls nicer looking than her, with better dresses and finer hands. But not with such beautiful glittering eyes that reminded him of Maegan’s.
“Janet?” he asked again, trying to remember a little girl he met before taking to the Crossroads.
“I would say you don’t know me” she laughed nervously, as she dropped a heavy weight from her shoulders. “But I came each day to the Fountain, happy to see you, to talk to you. Years after years…”
“Fountain? I was in the Fountain, then…” He could remember the long talk he had had with Oberon.
“Hey, I haven’t made you forget.” he heard the deep, mysterious – his own - voice coming from nowhere. “Oh yeah, I’m with you, the angel doesn’t leave his body not even in death. You forget Us, We never forget you!”
“Who is Oberon?” asked Janet. “Sometimes, when you answered me from under Water, you mentioned this name. And a girl’s name, Maegan. Is she your lover?”
“No, she lives on the other side…”
“She is the one who took you, isn’t she? The one the people know as Mab. The Queen of the faeries…”
“How did you free me?” asked Tomlyn, watching her eyes. He felt that a new feeling was growing for this slim unknown girl that he somehow knew so well, with strong sun-darkened hands. Yes, it was something different than he had ever felt for other girls. For Maegan…
“Ambrosia,” he heard Oberon mumbling. “I told you, pure Ambrosia!”
“It was not that easy,” accepted Janet. For a few days I waited for you, and then people started to talk about the Foreigners’ Market and your disappearance. One day I came to the Fountain to wash something and I saw you in the Water. So, I came back each day to see you, to cry, to talk to you. For years you didn’t seemed to see me, to know about me. Then, one day, I heard a woman laughing and one of my tears dropped in the Water. Your face disappeared in the circles of waves, but your eyes stared at me for the first time!”
“I told you” Tomlyn heard Oberon’s voice. “Maegan will lose you because of her, not of you. And because of the love this girl has for you!”
“I will stay with her, my soul?” Tomlyn asked Oberon.
“That depends on you, my Adamite.” Tomlyn looked at the girl’s lips, so beautiful, full and wet…
“And then, another day, another year, you talked to me! I thought I would die. You were coming back. All the years I stayed by the Fountain now were worth it. I was no longer the Village’s Fool Girl! I’ve never been a fool. I knew it! Only the Blind Man stood by me…”
“He he” Tomlyn heard the Blind Man’s voice. “I’m going to drink a cup of warmed beer for you children. And maybe you will help me, sometimes, to help them, the good ones, help us…”
“From then on we started to talk to each other. Not too often. You told me that I could find a way to free you. I thought and thought, but never found a way. So I went to old Birgitte, in the Forest. People said that only a fool would go to her – but wasn’t I a fool? I told her about you and the Fountain at the Crossroads. And she said to me: ‘There is an old story about Mab and the young men she takes away.’ ‘Is there any way they can be freed?’ I asked, full of new hope, and she answered: ‘Never happened. Mab is a harsh mistress. But yes, the telling says that there is a way. A girl, a virgin, with her heart full of love, should be at the Crossroads when Mab rides by with all her Court, at the Beginning of the Year. Should a girl pull down her lover from his horse and he touch the ground, he will come back in this world flesh and spirit. But it would be tough. Could you be that girl?’ Could I?”
“You could. You have.” murmured Tomlyn, looking at her longingly.
“Yes, haven’t I?” laughed Janet, happily. “But not right away. I went to the Crossroads at the First Day, at Christmas time, and I waited for three days and nights, but Mab didn’t pass. It was cold with snowy storms and I thought I would die, but I had to save you. I went back to Birgitte. She didn’t remember our talk before, but in the end I found that the Old People had a different First Day, at the end of October: Halloween Day. Today is Halloween Day, my love!”
Tomlyn took her in his arms and it felt so good. She continued her story, with her voice muffled in his coat.
“It wasn’t easy. When Mab, riding in a coach pulled by seven black cats, saw me, she started to scream. But I recognized you and had already pulled you down from your stallion. You turned into a slippery snake and tried to escape, but I was used to catching snakes. You bit me and I felt numb, but I didn’t let you go. She said to me: ‘You will die! Even if you free him, some other girl will have him!’ But I didn’t care; I wanted you to be free. That’s all I wanted at that time, you to be free! And I shouted back to her: ’I don’t care! Let me die, but let him be free. Anyway, I don’t know if he will want me or stay with me, but I would rather die, giving my life and soul for him!’”
“You see, my Adamite, what saved you? She gave her life and soul for you! Freely, with no expectation, no rewards… Her good one helped her, because We have to be helpful in our symbiosis. I know, I am her soul too. We are happy. Even Maegan is happy!”
But Tomlyn was listening to Janet, not Oberon.
“Then you turned into a fiery piece of iron and I was sure I was going to die, but I never let go. And you again turned into a something else: stone, heavy as a mountain. I dropped down with you still into my arms – but never let go of you. And when you touched the ground, here you were!”
“Yes,” said Oberon. “You see, my body, that’s the reason We stay with you. Your feelings are Ambrosia, the Nectar of Life. We feel stronger, better… Together. You live and she lives and We live together because we are Humans, together. I was worthy to be Birgitte, to ask Gaea to help Us. I did my part in our symbiosis. Now it is your turn to feed Us!’
“Yes” thought Tomlyn. Loving Janet. Loving our children, our family, our neighbors. Loving this world, its beauties, and the God who gave it to us.”
“You see, that’s why We don’t leave anymore. Even Us, the Souls, have to draw a line and say: ‘That’s it! No step back, no leaving anymore!’ When nothing remains, it is Love. My Adamite, together we can bring the Kingdom here, between us. To be one single world: Our World!”
Tomlyn didn’t have to ask. Our world was not yet their world, and their world wasn’t yet ours, but the Kingdom could be the Humans’ World! Instead, he asked:
“Now you’ll take away my memories?”
“Only if you want me to. We could live with our memories, you know? We are better whole in body and mind. Do you want Janet to forget how she freed you? Do you want to forget why you love her?”
Tomlyn didn’t say anything. He knew that his Soul just knew the right answer.