Saturday, September 23, 2017
She escaped. Es, unaware of her placement in the shadows of cross hairs of crossfires, dove into the clay; its chocolaty thickness reminiscent of her Jewish grandmas old-school malteds. Clamping her lips tighter and tighter she nuzzled into the nether regions of the earth.
Each of the warring sides believed in the justification of their snares. Es had not even seen it coming, the battle to ensue. They were two distinct entities, each with their own placement in her life like alternating cans of corn and sweet peas upon grocery store shelves.
I had yelled for her to stop. “Es, please don’t. Es. Es!” But she had already known. She had ducked, then dove.
Es had been readying herself for the battle. She was determined not necessarily to defeat but to weaken so that no harm would ever come to another from their hands.
Weeks have passed. Call it ‘writer’s block’. I would not call it that, but the phrase sounds intelligent enough. Weeks have passed in which I have felt I could not get anything right. It is an over exaggeration and really among the possible worries one could have, I decided to latch myself to the ‘not getting it right’ boat. But to remain purposely in its safety seemed to block my own current. As the saying goes, “do not forget how much you love to swim.”
After months of court battles, city battles, financial concerns, and inner life questioning, any extra time to latch seemed justifiable. That may not have been the wisest notion I have ever had but I realize this time gave me a peace I had never known in my whole life. It is a peace to savor, a peace to live in, a peace upon which to build and mostly, a peace to share.
(Peace, like love, is not like pie. There is not a finite number of slices. Hmm. I had some learning to do.)
I saved for the dress – for a dress, really.
The owl dress is beautiful with a silky soft georgette overlay upon a similar printed nylon shell. Oh, I know ‘nylon’ is not the attractive word, but it is what it is. And it is fabulous fabric, hugging ones skin underneath while the filmy overlay catches even the slightest body movement and slightest wind. Upon the fabric is dyed midnight colors of owl feathers and softened, swirled owl faces.
I walked through my routine, unplugging lights and examining walls, realizing that one day I will trade my overalls at the Matthias Building for my dresses. There would always be days of work jeans but I knew for the first time I could let those days go. I could really replace those days with the days to come, with days I had only imagined but not felt, days like this one, wearing a midnight owl dress, dyed with the colors of deep ink feathers and clothing a body who, herself, had been carved from the haunts of nighttime.
We had been walking along, pleasantly breathing in the valley air. So thick the air with smells of green growth one could imagine it always smelling this way and could not imagine it ever smelling any differently.
I begged Es to stop. “Please Es, I need to sit.” She smiled, pointing at a granite ledge poking through the grasses of the hillside. Odd that the stone should be there but for once I would not analyze its peculiarity. I just wanted to sit.
Es waved then continued her study of hilltops, birds flying and clouds passing. How old was she? I chuckled to myself. As I sat I realized our walk had paused in a bowl formed by hills of granite exposed by wind and hidden slightly from ones first glance by waving tall grasses.
The warmth of the sun baked through my thighs as I sat. I closed my eyes to raise my face to the sky. My hair blew gently, tickling my neck pleasantly. Peace. I could still hear Es, her giggles at whatever discovery she was making. Peace.
I think I opened my eyes when I heard her gasp. My ears would have ignored a jet engine but not her frightened gasp. I looked at her and she at me. I saw the beast before she had; her body had frozen as one is trained to do when you feel the eyes of a grizzly or a mountain cat upon your skin. “Stand still. Don’t move. It is your movement which attracts the hunter.”
Es had not even seen her predator. But she knew she was in its cross hairs.
“Es.” I trembled. “Es.” I stood. “Es! Es!” I bellowed for both of their attentions. But the beast was a beast of many and would not be distracted.
Es had forgiven them years ago. It was all she had which itself was perfection. The only way to learn of the faith of forgiveness is in the state of forgiveness. Unconditional forgiveness is the foundation of ones faith, not to be bartered or sullied or especially not to be expected or advertised. And the cost of forgiveness is within oneself not to words or beings. At the time, forgiveness was all Es had.
For years she fought the memory of those few months which turned decades of her life upside down. She reasoned with invisible justifications like shadow boxing in rounds that never heard the bell nor felt the slam of a knockout.
Over and over, for years she would wonder why they had done it to her. She could only imagine what they had said among themselves, to each other as those telephone calls or care to her would never come. She would never hear explanations because there were none.
When Es fell the first time, the blow caught her off guard. She expected it to be some joke and looked back at the face who had dealt the first hit. Her face outlined mockery in thick, no-nonsense coloring book style lines. That face, that body, that heart had known how to hurt. The seasoned mixture of her glee at my shocked expression showed years of practice. This was no accident, Es realized. This woman joked meanly for pleasure.
I wished for Es to stand up, take a swing at her.
But I knew better. I watched as tears filled her eyes. She would rather take that blow than return in kind. Partially because Es knew she could not match the veil. No, Es was not that kind of fighter. Nor was I. Still, as I watched, I wished for both of us that she would have swung.
Es rose with tears in her eyes, puddles gathered on lower lids that could easily yet be explained away for anyone close enough to notice. Of course her attacker knew she would never strike back. She had known Es would never return fire. It took us both years to understand that the woman had known that fact. Es was the one person she could attack with full knowledge she herself would be safe. Safe from Es and safe from any question from anyone else. This woman was given the trump card of cards. She would never be questioned and never be accused.
No matter what she did.
Es was horrified at this realization. Later she would hear it, in the voice of mockery at Es’s family heritage. And the joining of laughter of those around her.
Es remained silent. She never cried out for help. Not once. I watched as they turned away from her. At one point during the fight, Es lay in the mud. The woman and those around her ate their lunch. They stopped the fight. Never offered her a morsel, a crumb to eat. No water to drink. They seemed amused that although to the world they called her comrade, now they made sure she did not and could not eat with them.
She had been hungry. They had refused her. She had been alone in the mud. They mocked her. And when she was fallen,
she kicked at Es once more.
The one friend who could have helped her, came to her. She too had watched the fight but when she hovered over Es, she asked Es
“Do you know how weird you are?”
Es said nothing. Her friend did not reach out to help her stand. Es watched as they ate. In the dark of night Es heard their steps approach nearer to her. Now they came, all at once. It was a remarkable sight, the many against the one. Es was weakened, assaulted in every way a woman could have been. She lay in the mud. I watched as they came back, their bellies full of feasting but wishing more.
“Es!” I cried out. “Es, please!”
On and on. Es would not stop. She would get up, swing with varying degrees of strength, missing most of the time, once in awhile landing a strike square on. But they would nip at her. Her feet were bloodied as they bit and lashed. Es was unreasonable. We could have walked away, but no. She chose to fight.
She never answered me. But I waited. And I prayed for her safety. I had never seen anything like it in my whole life. Fruitless fighting for the beast of decorated righteousness. But it was more than that.
Not one. Not one saw anything wrong with their attack upon her. Not one. Not one reached out. Not one.
The woman and the others….changed. I saw them look at her a bit differently, softer maybe. Es saw it too. The drying blood of her wounds crusted on her skin. The attacks had ceased. Es stood in her mud, a body length away from the woman and the rest. I froze at the sight, my mind racing forward with imagination wondering at what would happen. They would not expect her to reawaken the battle and she would. They would not expect her to remember the unforgettables which they had already forgotten.
As Es brushed off the dried blood. Her wounds, I saw were not completely healed. New blood trickled upon her skin. The woman and the rest smelled her perfume, a delicate iron protein signal for vulnerability.
As quickly as was the brush of dried blood, the trickling of new blood and the awakening of the woman and the rest, was as quickly as the moment the earth seemed to turn. Behind the rocks stalked a beast larger than the woman and the rest.
Sometimes I would wonder at Es’s collection of memories. Es knew the beast and the beast knew her. As quickly as I recognized the possibility that she had summoned a compatriot, as quickly as my body sighed in relief for the first time in ages, was as quickly as I became aware that this was no compatriot of Es’s.
“Es!” This time I screamed. “Es!” For the beast was coming for her, the smell of her blood awakening both the beast and the woman with the rest.
The beast with the fury of truly, I do not know of what, came, outstretched arms, clasping into its own dust storm for Es’s flesh. The woman and the rest, greedily clawed at the same air, not wishing to share the prized prey they had beaten, dirtied and outnumbered. But in the storm of dust and rubble and in the sounds of too many noises of greed and territorial roaring, Es dove.
As quietly as she had fought and as quietly as she ever was, in the middle of the greed and revenge, in the middle of misjudgment, lies and false righteousness, she escaped.
Es, unaware of her placement in the shadows of cross hairs of crossfires, dove into the clay; its chocolaty thickness reminiscent of her Jewish grandmas homemade old-school malteds. Clamping her lips tighter and tighter she nuzzled into the nether regions of the earth.
I stood dumbly. “Es,” I whispered in silent prayer. “Es.”
We left them there, the beast and the woman with the rest. They stood fighting over mud in the middle of dirt and noises of greed. They never realized we had left. What they had prized all along had simply and quietly…
Es looked like hell. And I never ever say that word but there was none other to describe. After all this time it had taken another monster, a bigger beast, with a hunger as equal to the woman and the rest, to free Es.
“Come on,” she finally said. “No Es, we cannot get back to the tree this way.”
“We are not going back.”
Es smiled through dried clay and blood.
“We are going to find Wind.”
Lots of love and loads of peace,
With tears and smiles,