Tuesday, October 12, 2004

 

the child, three


Sleeping and waking brought the sunshine of early morning peeking in at the window, beaming down on the Child. In the light of the bare sunlight, without the brightness that seemed to come and go with the voice, this room looked quite ordinary. The bed here, chair there, a small table, the window inviting in the soft light draping over all. Quite ordinary. Except...

Except - how did she know it was ordinary? She could remember nothing of what had happened before. So how could she know what was ordinary, and what was not?

How could she know anything?

The Child was burying her face in her hands when the door opened, and the brightness walked in. The light of the window was swallowed up by the light at the door.

'You are awake. Good,' said the voice, plainly smiling. 'Here is food. You are able to sit up to eat of it?'

The Child shifted up onto her elbows, then up to sitting. She was surprised at how much effort that took. But once she was sitting up, a tray of appetizing food was set on her lap. Ah, it smelled wonderful! though she could hardly see the food for the brightness of the light. Whether she could see it or not made little difference, though. She found she had good appetite for it - very very good appetite.

'Why is it,' she asked between bites, 'that every time you come in, there is so much brightness that I can barely see anything?'

'Ah!' said the voice, sounding a bit startled. 'This is so? That explains much. Your pardon then. We will see to it.'

And in a few moments, the light became less, and then less again, till the Child could see normally the things around her. And there, standing by the side of the bed, was a tall person dressed in a plain brown robe. A large shawl was draped over the person's head, framing a face that was somehow neither old nor young nor male nor female. 'This is better?' asked the voice.

The lips of this person moved with the sound, so this was surely the one speaking. But the voice, now that the dazzle of light no longer distracted the Child - ah, the voice! Like the sound of the rushing of many waters, it was.

Suddenly the Child was no longer interested in the food she'd been eating - not with such a strange and unearthly being before her.

'Who are you?' she asked.

The face smiled on her gently. 'You may call us Mathilda,' said the voice, rising and falling as the waves of the sea.

'Mathilda is a woman's name,' said the Child - and then wondered that she knew that.

'Such it is,' Mathilda replied.

'You are a woman?'

'What we are, we are,' the voice replied.

The Child opened her mouth to question further - why did Mathilda speak of herself as 'we'? But the very sound of Mathilda's voice stopped that question. For the rushing of the voice certainly sounded as if there was more than one speaking...

'When you have eaten, we shall go,' Mathilda prompted.

Go? The Child frowned, trying to remember. Ah! Go! The promised trip outdoors!

The Child set the tray aside and swung her legs over the side of the bed. 'I'm ready now,' she said eagerly.

And stood up.

And collapsed.

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