“Someday when you’re old enough to understand, it is then that you shall learn the secrets.”
Those were the last words that fell from her pale tinted lips.
I didn’t agree and tried to tell her so. I thought I was old enough and that I should be told now, not at some too far away time in the future, but now. She smiled at me, her mouth wrinkled in that crooked way that happened when she was being indecisive, and then she gave me that not-quite a hug embrace, as if she was afraid to hold me, as if I were a china doll that would break. Her long brown hair swept across my arm tickling it like when ants or spiders crawl across your skin and I remember thinking at the time that I wanted her to hold me so much closer. I didn’t want her to let me go. I think I felt angry that she with-held herself. I wanted to be a baby in her arms again and a yet a grownup at the same time but she let me go and took a step back.
I looked up into her green eyes that seemed to be filled with such a great sadness. Her eyes had always held a certain depth, a light I had always loved but somehow that light was dimmed now. I knew then at that moment that I would never see her again. I felt time standing still at that very second. I heard a faint bell ring in the distance and knew the church in town below always rang faithfully at noon. I don’t know how or why I knew that, and as I would later find out would be a piece of the secrets kept from me.
Those words and her absent touch would be her last goodbye.
I don’t remember if I cried as she pulled away. I only remember her words and how I felt unloved and angry for her not sharing her truth, for not leaving me that parting gift. I watched as she walked away down the path of oaks that seemed to move and sway with the gait of her walk.
Only then did I feel the hand take mine and as I looked down, the long rough and dirty fingers gently patted mine. I looked up at her, as she stood in the shadow of the clouds above me, so tall and stoic like a ship’s mast. She stepped closer to me and her eyes betrayed nothing. She just held my hand and watched as mother walked away. I felt my breath catch as the swaying brown-haired body went over the crest of the drive and out of my view.
I felt arms around me then, when I knew I was finally ready, when I needed her touch the most.
Her body bent like a sail in the breeze and she folded me in to her arms. She was my Aunt and I knew that she was all that I had left. I never saw any hint of sadness in her eyes at that moment, or at least I don’t remember if I had, but she looked at me and quietly said “when the time is right, your heart will know and then the truth will be told. It cannot be rushed. It is our story that will awaken like the tight bud on the tree the will unfold and blossom into itself. It will become what it is meant to be and you will be alive in the light of the possibility of all that is.”
It was then that I finally cried, in that moment that I finally felt loved.
The thought of the secrets slipped back into the dark corners of my mind, comfortably tucked away at that moment like a treasure in a chest and I knew that now was not the time for it. I was not to question it yet and I felt okay about that.
“Now is the time for growing my dear child, like the flowers in the garden or the apples in the orchard ” she said, and I wiped my face, smudging the dirt left on mine from her hands into my skin and I walked beside her under that sunlight that erupted through the clouds and felt a peace flow through me that all of my life had been absent. I felt her energy just by being in her presence, this woman I had never known but that I felt such a love, a connected kinship for. I felt like I had finally arrived home.
Her name was Alice and she was where it truly began.
She doesn’t live here anymore-Roxette
“We grew up together,
we’ve been here forever.
Barefoot in the summer,
cold in stormy weather.
She taught me all there is,
like magic and love,
lots of forgotten words.”
The Book of Alice and Amelie
The days were filled with movement and laughter the summer that we became. The time in our lives we had waited for, the night of the full moon in July when the ancient words were to be passed down from mother to daughter, a coming of age ritual that ran as far in the past as time itself. It was how it was to be and Amelie knew it as her truth. I was a little more distant at embracing it or as mother said, “always a little slower than the rest at acceptance”. She didn’t say it in a harsh or mean way, just as a fact that we knew as our truth. I was that way as I knew of no other way to be and I was always a little less eager at going first. Amelie was my twin and she had come first. She was first at everything and had a zest for life that turned her into such a whirlwind when she stepped into peoples lives that when they were around her, they felt as if the air were sucked away leaving them breathless as she blew through. She was born on the last day of June and I on the first day of July. The summer girls are what I remember most of the towns folks calling us. Our name was not summer but after awhile we just kind of learned to answer to it. “there goes those summer girls” is what we would hear as we passed through town and the people for the most part were friendly and welcoming but for some reason, they always kept a bit of a distance if mother was around. I remember the words I had heard from the Mary, “the town crier” as my mother liked to call her, when I was very young. My mother and I walked down the street to the corner farmer stand and I heard “there goes the witch breezing through with a summer child”. Mother kept walking, her grip still relaxed on my hand and I heard her muffle a soft chuckle and she smiled at me then and bade me to continue on. I did not know what a witch was and only later on our way home with our parcels did I ask.
“A witch is just a person who sees life through different eyes than the rest” she said and continued on to tell me of witches and their love of nature and all things that are sacred to their world. She did not say she was a witch. She did not have to. Later as I became old enough to attend school did I finally see the vulgar depictions of old hags on brooms and words that were thrust into my mind with any negative connotation to them. I was not one to speak of my feelings on things, instead leaving others to make up their own minds on what they held true. Amelie on the other hand was the complete opposite. Many fists flew if Amelie heard anything bad said about witches or their kin. I think the other kids got the worst of it in the end and after awhile the talk died down a bit, life returned to normal and Amelie actually gained alot of respect for standing her ground. I, being who I was, always kind of kept in the back ground and stayed out of the fray as much as possible.
She was in life the light and I was the darkness.
Her hair was a rich sable brown where as mine was the color of autumn wheat. For being twins, we didn’t look alike. I was tall and thin, almost boyish growing up and she was dainty and petite as I always thought girls should look like. But I accepted who I was as mother had taught us as children, that we are all built in unique ways, like trees that thrive in a forest, you will find many varieties and if we were to be trees, we would be apple trees of the orchard, each bearing a different kind of fruit. I held that image in my thoughts as I imagined myself a small green heart shaped apple and Amelie considered herself of the tart red variety.
It was summer time and where we lived the days grew longer and the air hung with the damp humid smell of earth. The cows layed about lazily and people moved a bit slower. Afternoons were spent floating in the pond or picking berries that grew in the weeds along side. We were fifteen that summer and in our souls we knew something was changing but I didn’t quite know at the time how important that change would be. Amelie and I spent all summer together, as we did most of our lives. We didn’t have to speak much and Amelie was always the chatter box, lately though, she had become more quiet than normal. We lay under the sun on the banks watching the dragon flies bounce back and forth, not worrying about much of anything. We were young and had no fears yet of the world. Our life had been spent in this small town for what seemed like forever and I was convinced that nothing would ever change.
I look back at those days and ask myself if I would have done anything any different? Would I have asked her to stay? I don’t think she would have nor do I think she could have, but I still would have asked. I never got that chance. I will never know how our lives would have changed had I had that chance. I cannot carry regret. What is done is done and the path was going to be tread by her feet alone. This moment of life was her journey, not mine and I could not follow the road she was meant to be on. I had my own.
Amelie and I had no secrets from each other or so I had thought. It was only after she was gone did I realize how wrong I was. Two can only be so close before the separation has to occur to enable growth. Like the trunk of a tree growing two at once together, after awhile one will rise up and move farther away to reach the sun to survive. There is only so much food to go around and as years pass by, it is separate or die. I just wasn’t ready for that tearing apart yet and like lessons learned in life, alot of times you don’t see the truth until in hindsight. When you can set aside emotion and really just see the truth that was always right there, you realize you just weren’t ready for it until you were. That is where the peace with things comes. The letting go and understanding that it is. It cannot be changed. Let it go and move forward.
To be continued…..