Limbo

Following Lunch on the patio, red lettuce with a creamy sweet mousse and a crunchy root( like a purple carrot) , Marie twirled her spoon in the glass. She had been thoughtful and distant, her dark,and pale waves catching the light making it hard to tell her hair color.

I dabbed at the chocolate crumbs on my plate, so yummy. I don’t know what you call it but it was just like the chocolate dream layered dessert my Mom used to make . So GOOD!! I drank some juice and folded my napkin. I am never sure where you put the napkin when you’re finished with it. I held it in my hand and then crumbled it up on top of my plate.

Marie dropped her spoon onto of her plate, shocking me into a jump, bumping my knee and almost knocking the flower vase over. Marie grabbed for the vase,righted it and carefully looked at the leaves of the two stems in the vase . She was shocked herself and I surmised that she was embarrassed at her manner,too. “Goodness, I was in a fog, !” Marie reached for her salad plate and began nibbling. She always interested me , because she also her salad last with her coffee. Oh well, I tended not to eat the salad at all. The sad expression was still in her eyes. I thought it was from the changing light of afternoon. ” I gather you know the -um – headmaster. ? ” I was nursing a carrot dipped in peanut butter.

“He is not a headmaster, heaven forbid the time when he is in charge. ” She raised her eyes skyward. There are people who like his style of leadership , I am NOT one of them. I have known him for years . He knows just enough to get by, She was stabbing at a piece of parnip and loading green tomatoes onto her fork. “some students and researchers really like his way of doing things”. She picked up her lunch plate and walked it over to the tray set up in the corner . She grinned ,her eyes shining . ” Ok, Joy and I have been talking and you need your own private room. She said that you have not gone exploring . Is this right? Regardless, of his Lordship, you are not going to get into trouble learning about the Council house. ” My eyes widened and started watering. I grabbed my hands in a tight squeeze. ” My own room?” The teardrops darkened the sleeve of my nightshirt. ” Well, I know you have your workroom , but you need a place to take a bath and store your stuff that is more secure than the garden sunroom. ” She was cheerful and her brow lifted puzzled.

, ” You need a place to get away from casual visitors, especially with all the meetings and research starting up in the season. She was looking at the door inside I picked up the rest of the dishes and walked over to the tray” but I am only here temporarily- I am going home soon. ” I was very cold, the afternoon was getting chillier. I started into my sanctuary- albeit temporary! Marie put her arm around my shoulder. ” We should have given you a room sooner. No one does well in Limbo! Not even those who are transistory in their crafts. Let’s get you settled and then I could need another viewpoint . You certainly can help for a bit, couldn’t you?” We sat on the bench against the wall ” So, do you like upstairs, dark room to sleep in or big, sunny and crowded.? We have both ,upstairs and down. ” I like dark to sleep in but I also like sunny ,comfortable uncrowded room. ” I smiled at the number of times that my sister and I argued over whose room was more cluttered and crowded AND WHO was going to be lectured first from Mom and Grandmother!

Lies in Limbo

The brown ,graying hair of the gentleman who came in was quite different from the “professor”. He was fairly tall ,with a thick folder of folders(?) tucked under his arm. The sleeve of the woven coat was folded around the folder, causing a tight vice around his elbow, making his hand red. He put down the briefcase with a loud bam on the edge table . ” What kind of ruckus or joke did you think you were pulling ? It’s hard enough keeping discipline and security without you disrupting the sessions. I don’t like the students here anyway! This is NOT a boarding school!! What Claire thought she was accomplishing by allowing access . It is STUPID!! ( at least I think that was what he was saying, I was having a lot of trouble with his accent. )

“What are you talking about? No one has been over in the conference hall , certainly not little bit and I . We have been HERE! ” Marie was standing just behind me and I couldn’t get to the couch. A room of my own sounded perfect now, with a thick deadbolt and strong hinges.!

” Cyrus is apologizing to everyone in the conference for his absence , because a council staffer stole his cat and was locking her away for being on the premises . He had to plea for her release, because she was accused of destroying property and the staff wanted to turn her over to Security for disposal! ” He came to the doorway and motioned for us to come in. I followed him into my room. His posture was tense and his demeanor was boiling , grounding him to blocking access to the interior of the room.
I looked at him and was angry! I could be just boiling and just as rooted in rug next to the sofa end table just inside the door. I have had enough . ” What? Who does He think He is ? The cat wander onto the patio and came in through the open patio door. She was just looking around . Mr. Cyrus came in and found her , I hadn’t restrained her or called anyone! ” Marie came in and stood with me. ” He was yelling at her about being in here. He was off on one of his power trips like he does when he is flustered by a student. ” Marie looked at the gentleman ” I thought Claire understood , that she was responsible for any trouble HE caused. ”

The folders were sliding and it was all I could do not to yank them away from him and put them on the table or couch or– To my relief, He dropped them on the “game” table and switched on the lamp. ” He has told everyone who would listen . There is going to be dissent and you are going to be asked a lot of questions. ” Marie slid down to the chair and grasped the table edge. ” She is our guest. This is our home. He doesn’t live here and he doesn’t want to have any responsibility except when he doesn’t like something.” The shadow crossed the far window and the room darkened. ” What can we do?”

Respite

The building was tucked in between the outer walk and the lecture building. The dirty, turquoise, huge A/C was humming making a pleasing barrier between the outside world and the inner peace of the refuge inside. Pancakes, eggs and slightly burned coffee greeted anyone in need of rest , food and strong brew to keep on. The navy blue cushion sank in a squishing whisper underneath me. I stared at a plate nearby smelling of something that I would NOT eat. The guy was carving into it with vigor, while reading an engrossing paper. It was amazing that he found his mouth. I snorted while I pulled out my kleenex. Smells of bacon and fried apples made my stomach sing and the clamor was just enough sound to be reassuringly alive.
Of all the times, I have been here, I have never eaten much. Always, there had been assignments, worries and class lectures in which to be overwhelmed. There was a familiarity here that I had missed, not like the last few hours. With a little tugging, I sipped the tangy, bitter, hot cup. My tears spilled over, I missed my mild, creamy mochacchino with the foam deep inside that buried my nose.


The woman in the matching mask and bear t-shirt ( she always seem to wear), came by, lifting the pot inquiringly. She spoke an order into her wrist band. “Aren’t you empty? ” She asked me, as always, putting some silverware down. ” Cavern toast will solve that. ” and she rushed away to the next crowd.
I shrugged and nodded, not sure what I would be eating and too tired to care that my own mask was around my neck. I shook my head and wiped my tears. I sipped more of the hot, bitter brew. Wrinkling my nose at the burned smell. I had no luck in getting any other drink. I stared at the pictures on the walls around me.
They were pictures of food, plates with mounds of grits with pools of butter or white peppered gravy, eggs staring up and wheels of sausage. The photos were all faded and tinged with brown. Pictures, showing events on campus, were crammed into sort of a grouping. Some of the pictures had lots of bushes, trees and flowers in large beds. Some were of floral paintings on the walls around dirt piles. The buildings were somewhat the same, but the pictures were so different and yet full of people. I looked around glad to be back and to have someone else serving me food.


Dad’s ways

Joy shifted her load and walked away. I swept the path with my hands and looked at the birds circling over head. The clouds were moving in . Getting up , my scrapped knees groaning. ” I guess I should go over and help her. ” I said to the birds or the worms or whomever. Catching up with her, I opened the squeaking metal door, and cringed . The air was dank and dirt was floating on the beams of light coming in from sides “Orders?” I said. ” No. I was thinking of my mother and how she always knew what to do.” I moved some wood laying in our way with my foot and caught my heel on something that shifted quickly.
“Hold on ! ” catching my arm, Joy shoved at a cord hanging down in her way. and dropped the box. ” You really have NO IDEA of what is worrying anyone?”
I looked at the light beams and shook my head feeling like I had failed a pop quiz flat.
“No, my Dad taught us to examine things that we didn’t know especially if we got afraid. He had a very precise way of dealing with the unknowable and the unseeable. He did research at the college.” I was speaking fast,I knew. ” He would say.’ When looking at samples and examining unknown pathogens, the researcher has to know how to treat fear. You have to treat the fear as you would the virus or organism. Virus’s have to be starved, cut off, prevented from reproducing. Fear has to be contained, prevented from reproducing as well’ ” I shifted the box over, so nobody would trip.

Joy turned and walked out. I followed. Squirrels were running all over the place. I smiled, shook my hair to loosen the dirt that I felt was in my hair.
“Perhaps that is what the study group needs, treat the fear like a virus, Cut it off, respect it, lessen it by paying attention to all that is warm and loving, stronger than the fear. Wash our hands and our emotions, frequently! Support each other, but somehow, lessen the fear and the cause. ” I turned to her.
“We may not be able to get close to other people outside . ” Joy handed me a basket filled with grasses and corn. I twirled around, enjoying the sun peaking out and the smell of the garden.
” That doesn’t mean that we can’t work out how to treat the questions-AND the fear.” I twirled as I shouted at the campus buildings. Joy put her arm around me and turned me back towards the manor as she gazed out on the open grounds. ” Perhaps, we should use our imaginations and try to – see what we CAN achieve.”

Hypotheses

Since this morning’s class was postponed, I still haven’t heard why. The garden is calling as are the birds. They stay up high but if anyone appears in the upper windows, there is such a quick series of tweets, calls, high pitched wails and back to tweets again and again. The garden walkway was ill kept. Grass and weeds were growing in a motley green, overgrown path. I started pulling the beige, sharp grass, wishing I had a digger tool and garden gloves.
‘ I don’t know what is going on, ‘ yanking on a tough patch lodged in the corner. ‘ I can feel it, walking this morning. The air was warm, flowers smelled springlike, but the fear was there when any other person approached. It was all over the campus. ‘ My thoughts causing me to shiver.
Joy was walking towards the supply shed, pausing and coming over said. ” You have little memory of the times of ill and hurt, the helplessness, the unknown, the unseeable, the indefensible”.
The way she stated it. I found myself wishing I could have my dog to hold on to, right then. I brushed off my scratched knees, ‘ The walkway is going to have to take some time’. I made a mental note.
” the unseeable? like a virus?” I shoved the grass pieces in my pocket. ” No, I don’t understand. What there is to fear.” She stared at me. I brushed off my hands and smiled. Joy’s smile was sad and her eyes were the haunted fear that was all around.
I rubbed my hands on the back of my pants. to get rid of the dirt . I chuckled ” Keep your hands, legs, and face away from other people.!! Don’t get up in their space!” Tears clouded my eyes, but I wiped my eyes with the top of my shirt. Remembering my mother instructions flooded my eyes, then I smiled . ‘How many fall and winters had we heard?’
” Wash your hands, frequently . Sneeze or cough INTO tissues and keep you hands away from your face!” I intoned like my mother, who reminded us all of the things that needed to be done.
Joy smiled, puzzled at my outburst. ” orders? from the plants?”

Fear's descent

I brought in the plate of small crescents -with all kinds of stuffings. There were some of our favorites and they seem to appear on the hall table every afternoon. I bit into a sweet nutty cream one. Marie choose the biggest round biscuit on the plate, as usual. I crossed my legs and sank back into my chair. Marie was sitting at her table, still notating something? I started again, telling her about the night drama.
” I felt like I was out of depths, like there was a first act that I had no inkling about and yet it was confusing. Everyone got scared and there was a shivering , like deep, deep fear that was in everyone. from the moment when the senior scholar talked.” I sipped my hot, citrus, mint tea and wiped corners of my mouth, where the crumbs were dropping on my pants.
” Nothing had changed – the lights were the same, although everything seem dimmer. The air smelled the same -that cool, antiseptic inside smell . Only? Now – there was a fear, coming in, a fear tangible, poking at different places, different members,” ‘ fear descending. There was a fear, not knowing when, where or how Fear’s object would suddenly land. It’s a kind of waiting, a not knowing, not understanding, helpless like boxing a shadow that just moves on its own. ‘ I thought as I chewed the melted cheese in one of the biscuits.
Marie pulled out her case from the pocket of the Desk pad . She began flipping pages and frowning . ” There was Pink stating her complaints and Ginger standing looking at her, but also at the others seated behind her. They were watching the senior gentlemen whom were gesturing and conversing so that nobody could hear.” I tried to describe again. “The whole campus is stocking up for what I wasn’t sure. For how long, the guesses were all across the range. ” I frowned as the cat strolled to the crack in the door. ‘ Should I stop her?’ I thought.
“We were all waiting, only the guys who were the closest to the Black gentleman were rubbing the shoulders of the people in front of them. They had a blank, non-emotional expression but their bodies were straight and stern like they were working at not showing their fear.” Their concern for those in the room, scared me. These guys were the hardy, nonchalant daredevils. Fear seeped into me like a cold, light cape. I chewed on the side of my thumb .
” There is a kind of instability, a unknowing that shifts the community, even those that aren’t hurt.” I looked down at my thumb and shook my hand out. Marie kept make notes and not saying a word . She hadn’t all afternoon, I realized. I felt confused, well, fine, helpless and unsafe? Fear seeps in and doesn’t leave – until?

Sudden Warning

Sipping my tea, I pulled my blanket over my lap and tucked it around my knees, drawing my knees up with my interlaced fingers.
” We were talking about the farms, the towns and the problems people were having now. Then someone said that the places needed more security, the usual cooperation discussion went on. One of the senior scholars started talking about how the issues were SO critical and began sounding so scared. Ginger, all of a sudden, threw a yarn ball towards Pink and hit her. “
Marie stopped writing and glared. “What ?”
“She didn’t mean to, she apologized. She just wanted to hear from someone’s new. She did it so quickly, But” I leaned forward ,” it was somehow different. Frantic, fast ” I steepled my fingers. Marie looked puzzled, and made a scribble on the desk pad underneath her cup.
” But that is just it. The tension tightened. The words took on a submerged anger. Pink wasn’t hit that hard. Ginger was 4-5 ft away, it was a yarn ball.” I tossed an air ball.
” Pink reacted as if the governor had ordered her to leave. The people sitting around weren’t angry, they weren’t standing or yelling in her defense. They were staring at him.” I chewed on my lip. “That is when Ginger threw the yarn ball from her bag, that is when I looked around. They were in fear. Nothing was said but all eyes were hooded, guarded, hesitant .” Scratching my forehead,I brushed hair out of my eyes. “The senior scholar, the black gentleman, was warning, saying that what he had heard was bad, serious, unknown. At the point, when he was sounding scared? He and the other senior were talking together, whispering . “
I reached over and poured myself some tea. Marie leaned back, sipping on her tea cup, watching me.

Bruises fade?

Pink stance drooped and shook her hands which had balled up . ” That is the important question! ” She tucked her head and snuggled back into the group of white haired girls , who moved in closer and protected her . Ginger stood up and reached for a piece of fruit, absentmindedly .
She seemed to have grown old. Her hair had fallen around her pale face. Her forehead was creased deeper than when we had stayed up most of the night, finishing our project several days ago .
She toss the fruit in the air and gasp when the fruit slipped through her fingers and caught on the edge of the table before hitting the floor. Her hands were shoved into the front of her tunic. . ‘ I hadn’t even notice the very large,deep pouch at waist level and going down to the thigh length edge of the tunic? ‘ Such a deep teal color, it looked really good on her.’ I noted to myself. I hunched forward like I was watching– a play, in a close dinner theater . ( only it wasn’t a play and I wasn’t leaving here and driving home.) Sam leaned forward and cocked an eyebrow at me. I quit smiling and leaned back into the cushions.

” I am hurt by my actions in hurting you. It WAS NOT PLANNED. I didn’t – I wasn’t trying to hurt you . My emotions were strong and I wasn’t concentrating on what I should have been. ” Ginger held up her cupped hands, with the ball of yarn . ” The ball was a means of making warmth for cold times, to help others who you want to help. It is not for creating more bruises.” Ginger held out her hands and hugged Pink , trying to keep her balance and not step on girls’ toes.
She nodded at the white haired girls seated there in their green dyed leather pants and jackets. The smiles were small and the eyes were a buttery warmth with broccoli green hues .

Bruises

Ginger pulled the ball up from under the edge of the couch and threw it across , hitting the pink haired gypsy girl. Pink startled and tears gathered.
“I am – I didn’t meant to throw it so hard. I sorry!. ” Sam frowned as did the Parliamentarian . ” I was just trying to hear from someone new!”
The girls who were sitting on the arms of the far couch reached over and patted her . The black gentleman went over -stepping across legs and brushing Pink’s hair, he checked her cheek. ” This is NOT the place in which to invite steam in. Burns are hard to heal. ” He rubbed her chin. ” Actions are hard and words keep living all around us.”
Pink rolled the ball in her hands. She frowned and glanced at all the staring , confused faces. Rubbing her ear, she darted a look at Ginger and at the people behind her. She stood, her forehead all crinkled and her face pale, bruises fading in several spots on her face and neck.
” We have survived and are doing well ,at last but there are others who want to submerged us and control – ” she drew up her shoulders and then dropped them as she squared her head. She met Tom’s, Sam’s and Ginger’s eyes.
” I am not from here, I was NOT INVITED! ” She moisturized her lips and looked at Diamond ” I know nothing about the issues you talk and talk and dislike. I am a Tag!” She rubbed the tight ball of yarn and teared up. ” All this talk! all the pushing and pretending ! ” She faced Diamond. ” All your complaints and disagreements. -” She wiped the tears from her cheeks. ” All the yelling about OTHERS – It’s just heading for the destruction again ! “I was a child , BUT I REMEMBER! ” She skidded the ball across the table at Sam.
She looked at him ” Who brings weapons to a place where middle Hope is? ” She picked up and held her cup against her reddened cheek, bit her lip and shivered.

Time and again

The black gentleman sank his head to his knees, a squeak sounding like the whine of a weapon before it explodes emitted. His voice was the closest to a cry of pain I have ever heard.
“We KNOW HOW THIS ENDS! We all know what will happen again, and again, and again. The arguments, the accusations and THE ATTACKS. ” There will be comments, statements, JUDGEMENTS! from ALL SIDES. !!” he slammed his fists on the table edge, looking up , his voice rose into a cat howl. AT THIS POINT, HE WAS YELLING, he remembered the smoke in the streets, the uniforms and the looks that he got for following her parents.. He had thought there was NO WAY that the mistrust and spike in silence or in yelling and proceeding with the screaming and accompanied paperwork could happen again. THAT was just a one time thing ! Wasn’t it?

There were glances, stiffened backs and people leaning forward rubbing shoulders. Diamond guy huffed and his eyes were glistening with tears. “This is what happens when the over others are more interested in themselves. We have to — ” He paused and looking around frowned. ” They HAVE TO — ? I mean- calm everything down. ” He drank a swig from a tall, curvy, blue pegged bottle, while he looked at everyone gathered in the area and the people gathering down the next level.


Gingered Knowledge

Ginger clasped the black gentleman’s hand as she rose from the couch.
She tilted her head and pondered the young man. ” Scotty, I have visited your processes a couple of weeks ago. Mr. Joffrey took a group out to see. The place is clean, pure and simple. It is enchanting and not believable unless one sees in person.”
Ginger smiled and her face was warm and happy. I don’t think I have seen her so happy. With her hand protecting the back of her neck, She unzipped her overvest, partway. She sat down, sternly looking at the black gentleman. He was staring down at the carpet, near my blue canvas tote bag. He nudged it and it nudged back, sliding towards gravity and the edge of my heel.
Ginger stood up and easily matched the young Scot in presence . ” You were invited because you are within the roadways. ” She arched her eyebrow and pulled her long warm hair into one hand . Her hair much thicker and longer, she held it off to one side.
” There are several groups and villages who are rumored to be planning campaigns and rounds to protect and procureate their resources. Securing their harvest seems to require a lot of boxes and explosions in the off times. Have you heard of the Blue Circles?”

The young Scot’s face looked like an enraged bird of prey landing for a kill. I scooted backward, seeing as I was on the floor underneath them. I slid up on the couch with Diamond’s girls and pulled up my feet. Sam reached over and pulled the bowl of fruit and the bag over to them and off the table. The table had been shifted away from the pair, by the two of them . ” My name is Eochan Thomas Silvar. ” He cleared his throat and hiccuped. “Confederation of Blue Circles? Why would we join an undisciplined and envious military play group? ” I wasn’t sure what he meant but the men behind us in the hall, laughed and continued walking away, very quickly.

Who possesses Hope?

A young man in a blue tartan flannel shirt, a yellow tie and a long robe stood up from one of the back benches. The robe was red with tiny, yellow horses worked into the design . The young man squeezed between the couches . He was a muscular, bearded man with broad girth and a wide nose. The brown eyes were deep pools and his yellow hair was falling down his forehead . He blew it away from his eyes. He picked up Sam’s fuzzy ball, squeezed it and pounced, so much, everyone drew back and some pulled their feet under them . The Scot, I suppose, was not fearful or nor hesitant.
” Our FIRST tall harvest, which we have culled and cared for years. People telling us we were wrong and should just not try. ” He ran his hair back and pinned it with his multicolored cap. His voice accusing everyone as he twisted and turned including all the people here.
” We figured out how to grow and clean up and how to save our own. WE DID, when nobody,” — he paused and nodded to Ginger.” ALMOST nobody gave us any chance! ” He tossed the string in its tangled mess and caught it like pizza dough. ” Then you people show up and demand that we give you parts!!”
He glared at Sam and Diamond, his muscles were so tight that I could see the tendons in his face. He stared at the Black Gentleman, turning his back on the larger audience. “You marched and demanded to see the Cite. Of course, we are protective, we have had it with the hand-outs and the making leftovers work. ” He was winding the yarn in a unstructured way, while his voice filled the halls. The yarn began to appear similar to a bird nest. “We did something that nobody could do.”
He turned and glanced down at me. His frown deepening and the ball yarn irritating my nose. I brush it aside and glared back. ” Now, you wanted us here to talk about joint issues and protections.” He stopped , grasping the ball , fingers wound through the mess. He nodded his head . ” Very sound. . We need supplies and merchanters ”
He had been winding the yarn ball without looking at it. Many people seemed intent on watching, barely breathing, It was tight and loose, at the same time, almost as if the yarn was obeying his fingers. ” I haven’t heard a block or support about anything worthwhile. Just usual lies!. ”
At least I think that is what he is saying. I couldn’t make out what he warns or means?’ I thought, ‘his voice was so fierce, almost malevolent.’
The Black gentleman looked at him. ” A lot of research was done for you. We haven’t threatened your people. You could – ” He paused as the Scot looked down at him. Sam started to speak, but a frown from the black gentleman caused Sam to sink back into the loveseat, holding Sherriel’s hand.