Moriah stood before the stile. They were a collection of rocks, which were stacked in such a way as to form steps, up one side and down the other. People used this stile to go out to the “Slug Field,” which separated the lane from the field.
She remembered her earliest attempts to get over the rocks and follow her father. She was chastised initially, as that was a throughway between the villages and her parents did not want her to be out there on her own. Finally her father relented and lifted her over the stile with a warm smile on his face.
There were blackberries, and elderberries in abundance, as well as trees of all kinds along the banks on either side and all the wild flowers and grasses laced there ways around the edges of the way. Wild strawberries, so tiny, and sloes, dusty green gray, grew in abundance on the banks. There were great wheels of primroses in the early springtime, on the side of mossy banks wherever they could get a hold.
When she was a bit older and could climb over, she followed her mother on a mission to “thin the carrots.” She would hand Moriah some of the bigger carrots to munch on as she sat between the rows. They were very sweet and crunchy and shared with her younger sibling.
She sat on the stile and lapsed into the memory of her father’s anger with a cat, that ate some pretty young ducks, two yellow ones in particular. He slung the cat againt the stile nine times, one for every one of the cat’s lives. The cat was just able to scamper away and never came back.
Moriah and her siblings watched from a little distance, as their father morphed inot a mad man, with his ordinary blue cardigan on and his old dark tatty britches, getting his anger out bang after bang. The look on his face was staring and his eyes glassy. He was not smiling now.
Mariah was about five years old and had twin siblings who were double that age. Within days her siblings got a hold of Moriah and with one holding her arms and the other her feet they slung her against the stile. She was petit and pulled herself up after the first shock of hitting the rock. They did it again. She got up more slowly. They did it again and each time Moriah was less aware and able to get up. Then she lay there in a heap and her dead weight was too heavy and her sisters went away.
Her father found her there on the ground and carried her up to her mother who was an anxious woman, who hit her when she came too and gave her a good dose of herbs. Moriah had seizures after that as she had a brain injury. It was treated with a visit from chief druid of the herbs and she gradually got better except for an occasional seizure in the night.
When this happened, she was with one of her twin sisters who held her tight and related the affair to her mother. Her mother consulted Druid Bernie who got a group of his fellow Druids together to heal her. They put her in the center of a circle. They each had a three-foot long stick from the hawthorn tree. It was springtime. The sticks were dark and bare and just a little suggestion of green buds coming out on them.
Moriah was well wrapped up in wool and fur and she soon fell asleep as they circled one way and them the other around her swinging the sticks above their heads as they circled. Some times they made individual circles and other times passed the sticks around above their heads as they went around in their flowing robes.
They created vortexes within themselves and within the center in which Moriah was laid. She was soon fast asleep as it was early morning and the sun was not up yet for a few hours.
As she came awake she remembered a dream. She felt parts of her body down deep in the ground, other parts out to the right and the left. She felt the swinging back and forth, like the hitting of the wall in reverse.
When she awoke fully the druids were sitting in a circle around her and they had made a tent of their sticks, which came together in a loose point held together with some gossamer threads of grass. The sticks were now covered with foliage and with blossoms, white and fragrant. The sticks had bloomed during the cermony. The sun was in the sky above and the knot of the point of the sticks shielded the sun from her eyes. She sat up blinking and smiling at Druid Bernie.
He whispered some words she did not know as he helped her out of the tent of sticks. He gave her a bag of big red apples, jenneting variety, sheep nosed at the top, and told her to eat one each day for 10 days. Mariah stared into that bag and was mesmerized with their red shiny color. She had a hard time not eating them one after the other.
As she left the stick tangle, Druid Bernie led her and his druids to a table laden with marvelous food and a great fire lit outside nearby. Mariah was soon fed and ran away to play with her friends. Her mother brought out many dishes for the druids and she nodded and served as they laughed uproariously at their own jokes.
Their laughter and good humor spread out bringing a great boom rolling out in every direction, carried on the fragrance of the hawthorn blooms, which were everywhere growing, and all bloomed that morning in unison with the sticks used in the ritual healing ceremony. Her night time seizures left and never returned, although it took everyone a while to notice, especially Moriah. The end.
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