We collapsed into the chairs, on the front deck, in a fit of giggles. “Sometimes, I tell myself that I didn’t need my mother, I had Rose.”
“I like Rose,” I replied. “She reminds me of my Nona.”
“My great grandmother.” I sighed and looked at my hands. “I can’t say I understand your pain but I know what it was like for my mom. She lived with her parents until she was seven. Nona had gone to surprise them for my mom’s birthday. Mom was locked in a closet, her parents passed out in the living room. Nona took her and never looked back. I think the saddest part is they never came for her. No calls, nothing. My mom had always been inconvenient to them. Nona said she should have taken her sooner but she had hope.” I smiled with memory. “When my parents got married, they bought a house with a separate space just for her.”
“What do you want to do when you get married,” he asked, his eyes were light, a slight smile on his lips. I let the breeze pass over me, the last fragrances of the vine blossoms caressed me.
“I could be glib, you know. Ask you what makes you think I want to get married or why would that be a defining moment but the truth is, I keep thinking that life will be different when I do get married.” I shifted, my forearms resting on my thighs. “I read these journals and I am envious. Marian talked about the wife being the anchor. I see it. I see it with my parents, together they are just so perfect. Right now I feel like a balloon floating in the breeze. I’m sick of the view. I’m sick of traveling. I love what I do but I don’t feel contented.” I shifted back in my seat and looked up at the passing clouds, the grey skies finally gone. “I have expectations. I expect that I will feel whole, relaxed, understood. I want to have a life where I can wake up in the morning and go through the motions of my routine. I want to make coffee and tsk at my children. I want to be away from everything and have someone who has escaped with me.” I let my thoughts wander. I couldn’t say what I really wanted. Did I even know what that was? My watch beeped to remind me it was lunch time.
Rose allowed us to bring the ladder into the kitchen and plunge it down the hole to the darkness below. Thomas went first, carrying a tall lantern. I followed with the flashlight and the rope.
“This is such a weird cellar. Not that I am an expert but it doesn’t seem to be efficient for storage. Do you think the stairs rotted?”
I shook my head, knowing he probably couldn’t see. I started to set the rope on the ladder, just in case. Instead, I looped a section through a ring on the wall and attached the rest to the ladder, carefully laying the excess on a rung.
The darkness was stifling. Room after room of nothingness. The light barely penetrated. I passed Thomas as he explored one space. Something pulled at me. He was a room behind me but I didn’t wait. I turned my head to double check that I was alone and started for another door opening. As I returned my attention to my path, I saw a face.
I screamed before realizing the face in front of me was on canvas. Instinctively, I pulled it down. “You okay,” Thomas asked, his light coming around the corner. I put the picture behind my legs.
“Sorry, I scared myself.” My flashlight caught on an object in the last room. “What’s that?” His light followed mine. He walked into the room while I stayed in the doorway. In the room was a large pile of glass bottles.
I returned my attention to the painting I had torn down. The face of the gargoyle stared back at me. The top had been attached to the rock with a thick wire. Trying to adjust the wire, one side broke off slicing my hand. ‘Stave off the blood,’ I told myself. The wound stayed dry as I rolled up the painting. Keeping my hand from bleeding took more energy than I had.
Thomas brought me a bottle. “These look old, maybe a hundred years. I’m just guessing,” I said before indicating we had seen all we could. I followed him through the maze back to the ladder. The end of the rope had come off its perch. My brain filed the information away while still concentrating on keeping the blood from flowing.
I tucked the painting in a corner of the little room as I exited into the kitchen. “We should shower before dinner,” Thomas said walking out of the room. I nodded. ‘Stave off the blood.’ Weakness threatened to consume me. I made my way to the bottom of the stairs. Blood was gathering in my hand, not yet pouring from the wound. ‘Wrong Moon.’ I wracked my brain. I was too far from home. I could try to contact Rael for help but if he wasn’t there it would be too late for a Plan B. ‘Plaintain.’ Plantain staves the blood. Had I seen that plant amongst the vegetation?
I returned to the kitchen. “Is everything alright, dear,” Rose asked as I walked through.
“Need to stave,” I said. All I could think – Plantain to stave the blood, find energy to heal. I fell to my knees as my foot hit green. My brain was fuzzy, I must concentrate. Plantain – find the leaves, spears of green, towers in the center that reminded me of pineapples. I scrambled amongst the plants. The blood now poured freely. I should have grabbed a towel.
“Lanie,” Edward crouched beside me, “is everything okay?” I stopped, he can help. I reached out my hand, ignoring the blood, and grabbed his wrist. “Plantain staves the blood, please help me.” I squeezed his wrist, the pain of the cut finally breaking through. He took my wrist. “Help me.” I waited for the exchange that did not come. He took my hand and pressed a cloth into the wound. I looked into his eyes. “It’s the wrong moon.” His expression was filled with concern but no understanding.
“How,” I asked. “No.” He didn’t know. “How can you not know? How?” I examined his face. I was in desperate trouble and he would be no help. “Could it be,” I asked, my mind reeling. “How does he?” The thought came slowly, they didn’t know what they were. So many things came clear. The innuendoes, the questions, I had been so stupid.
I let Edward lead me back to the kitchen. I surrendered to Rose’s experience. They spoke of stitches, time and healing. There was no easy way to get me to a doctor. Rose’s wisdom was enough to stop the bleeding while I remained conscious. Once it was deemed I wouldn’t bleed to death, Rose had me put to bed.
A knock at the door broke my reverie. I started to get up but the blankets confused me. My head spun with the effort. ‘I am stupid,’ I thought, completely forgetting the knock.
“Lanie.” I looked up. Thomas stood in the doorway, his hair damp and in his eyes. I wanted to reach out and touch him. Pull him to my bosom. No wonder he was so distant. Was I distant? I collapsed against the pillow.
“I heard you got hurt. Did it happen in the basement? Oh this is my fault.” His face was so close to mine. I brushed the hair away from his forehead, my fingers lingering against his skin. “There is a cycle to the world,” I said to that sweet face. “Cycle after cycle. Seasons, tides, fertility, death, harvest, rebirth. So many cycles. Moon after moon. Wrong moon for me. So much darkness when it’s new.” I caressed his cheek as I spoke, letting my fingers trace the bone to the bottom of his lips.
He clasped my hand. His face scrunched with worry. “Rose says you lost a lot of blood. Why didn’t you tell me? I would have fixed it.”
“You don’t know how. You didn’t tell me. I thought I was a mess, I am so sad for you.” My free hand found his face. “I won’t make this mistake again. You will understand.”
My head fell back. The laptop came into my view. “I need a favor.” What little energy I had was fading fast.
“Of course,” he replied.
I instructed him to send an email to Rael ‘injured, T typing, New moon, weak, G’s don’t know, please advise.’ He showed me he sent it before I found oblivion.