Three Word Wednesday cxcii hidden noble roam
Mackenzie curled up on the swing on the back porch with her book. The swing creaked and if you moved wrong you would get splinters, but it was her favorite place. Ever since Mom dropped her off at gram’s six years ago, the swing was her refuge. Gram knew that if she was sideways on the swing with her legs up, clutching the blue and yellow cotton pillow, it was “leave me alone” time.
In the summer, she sat on the swing while Gram sat in the rocking chair, both with metal pans on their lap, snapping beans. Mackenzie loved those times. Gram told stories. When it rained, Mackenzie would sit on the swing and listen to the water pelting the tin roof.
When they got the news that Mackenzie’s Mom wouldn’t be coming back, she stayed on the swing all day, not speaking. Gram brought the blue and yellow pillow to her then and it had stayed on the swing ever since. Everyone should have a place. This was hers. Gram always understood.
It was hers, except at night, that is. Mackenzie never ever went outside at night. Not even to the porch. Gram said things were hidden in the dark. Mackenzie knew she was right. She had seen them roaming in the shadows of the woods behind the house. They were never clear, too dark in the shadows. She saw enough. Gram said the noble spirits lived up in the high places. In the summer they walked up into the hills and Gram was teaching her to see.
“Quiet your mind Mackenzie. Really look, not just at what you expect to see. See past the shadows. Tell me what you see.” That had been a good session. The best.
“Mackenzie, your mother would be proud of you.” They were walking back down the hill and stopped at a waterfall. It was warm and they sat on a ledge and stuck their feet in the cool water.
“”I miss her.”
“I know you do, but you have grown into a lovely young woman and you have been a good student. You are stronger than she was, stronger than me. When we get back to the house, I have something for you.”
“And I guess you aren’t going to tell me what it is?” Mackenzie smiled. Gram liked to tease her.
“No but the longer we sit here, the longer it will be til you know.”
They put their shoes back on and headed down the hill. “Wait here.” Gram went into the house. When she came back she had a stick in her hand. It was carved and about a foot in length. “Gram, it’s beautiful!”
“It was your mother’s. When her body was found, they sent it to me. I kept it until you were ready.”
She handed MacKenzie the wand and sat down next to her on the swing. “For the last two nights I have seen a Bodach in the woods behind the house. If you are left here alone there are things you need to know. I’ve taught you what I can.”
“Gram, I can’t even think! No, you must have been mistaken. Here. Take it back!”
“No. Listen to me. She took a red ribbon out of her pocket and placed her hand on the wand with Mackenzie. She wound the ribbon around and around the wand. With each wind she spoke the words, “The power of Rowan protects me and thee.”
“I love you granddaughter.” Mackenzie shook her head.
“I will not let anything happen to you.” Mackenzie put her hand on her grandmother’s cheek.
“We don’t choose, when my time comes it comes. I don’t think anything will happen in the next few minutes though so why don’t we get ready for bed. I’m an old woman you know and that trek up the hill today wore my old bones out.”
Mackenzie frowned. “You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, child. Come on. Let’s go to bed!”
Mackenzie’s sleep was restless. She tossed and clutched at the blankets. She woke up just before dawn. A crow cawed from a branch outside her window. Mackenzie sat straight up and shivered. With the feeling of dread building with every step, she padded to her grandmother’s room, her bare feet cold on the floor. “Gram?”
She stepped through the door, no snoring, no sound at all. “Gram?” She went to the bed and knew even before she touched her. She was gone. “Oh Gram. No.” She crawled up onto the bed next to her and smoothed her gray hair. She cried until there was nothing left but gulping sobs. What was she going to do now? She was not ready to be alone. The sun was high before she got up and wiped her face. She slowly went about washing and putting on clothes. She looked in the mirror and started to cry again.”You look like you’re ready. You’re a mess!” she told the reflection bitterly. She washed her face again and went out to the back porch. She took the shovel and headed to the path at the base of the hill. There was a small grove of trees there. She began to dig the grave.