Saturday, August 06, 2005

 

the child, eighty-seven


In the midst of the clamor of her companions, Starr stood dazed still, holding out her arm, touching the new skin. 'I dreamed this,' she repeated over and over. 'I dreamed the Master was healing me - and he was!'

Understandably, they were a bit late starting out that morning. Breakfast, the morning sword drill, the breaking of camp - and when they were ready to go, James gathered them first. 'Change of march,' he said. 'No more straggling out,' and Stone knew he meant him. 'We need to keep closer together. No running off from the group,' and here Starr blushed and ducked her head. 'Especially not alone. Mac?'

'Yes?' said Maccabees.

'I want you to take the rear guard. From now on, no one walks behind you. Everyone understand?'

Yes. They all assented.

James nodded. 'Good. Because we don't want any more wolf attacks. Right? All right, let's move.'

And they did. Mac hung back, waiting, while the rest started out. Mal and Morgen waited with him. A bit self-consciously, Stone took Starr's hand and followed the main group.

'Well,' said Stone, still a tinge of a blush on his face, 'I guess James told us, huh?'

Starr's cheeks turned bright pink again. 'I guess. I'm so very sorry, Stone.'

'Don't worry about it, Starr. You already apologized. You're forgiven. I forgave you; the Master forgave you.'

She looked again at her arm. 'It's good as new,' she said. 'Better, even.'

He smiled and took her arm, then tucked it through his. 'Tell me your dream,' he said.

She began to describe it: the light, the voice, the Master, the healing.

'The dance?' put in Stone.

Her eyes went wide. 'How could you know that?' said she.

'Well,' he replied. 'Last night, I dreamed too.' And as he told her his dream, her eyes just got wider and wider. And when he was done, she smiled and said, 'Wow, you dreamed my dream with me! But I wonder what your healing was?'

'I hope it was what I've been dealing with lately. My attention span. All these thoughts blasting through my head all the time, playing havoc with me.'

'I guess,' she answered slowly, 'that not all the thoughts that come into our heads, are our thoughts. Are they?'

'True,' said Stone.

'That's why I saw a helmet. It was for your head, to block the enemy's thoughts.'

'True again.'

'Meaning?'

'Meaning - I don't know yet. I was trying to think it through yesterday, when I got frustrated and took it out by yelling at you.'

She walked at his side, looking thoughtful. 'If it was your thoughts he was healing,' she said at last, 'then why touch your heart?'

Stone frowned, thinking that over. That was a good point. 'What are you getting at?'

'I'm not sure yet.' Long pause. 'Stone, where do thoughts originate, anyway? In the heart, or in the head?'

'Oh, ask an easy question!' said he. Silence, for a long time. 'You would think they start in the head. But maybe not. Maybe the heart is where they start. Maybe I need protection over my head, from the enemy shooting in his thoughts, and healing for my heart, for the thoughts I come up with on my own...'

Somewhere, deep in her own heart, there stirred a memory. Starr frowned, pursuing it. What was it? Something from long ago - the Master speaking to her, speaking of Stone. Of how love was hard for Stone to receive, or to give. Of the man's heart, and how it had been so wounded till it had been splintered into thousands of sharp pieces, like glass. And of how the Master wanted to heal Stone.

Through her. Through her loving Stone, and allowing the Master to love him through her.

She had forgotten that. She hadn't thought of it in months.

Healing Stone's heart. Had that happened for him last night, as the healing of her arm did? Or was this still a slow process, only just begun - like Forest's leg?

Stone shifted, changing from having her arm tucked through his, to having his arm wrapped round her shoulders. 'I think,' he said softly and seriously, 'that I still have a long way to go. A long way.'

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