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A Ring to Axiom
In a small forest amidst Ireland’s endless green, there stood a tree that would sway and dance among other trees that cowered in violent storms. During one of these tempests, rain pounded the earthen home of a family of sisters that nestled at the base of the tree. They tried to busy themselves by playing games, but grew quiet and irritable before one of the sisters broke the silence.
“Would anyone like to hear a new story?” Vanora suggested.
“Yes!” Raelin was the first to kneel before her in sudden interest. “Is it really so new?”
“Oh, I’m sure of it,” she giggled.
The sisters emulated Raelin and gradually fixed their attention on Vanora’s tale.
“It was not many years ago that a stranger approached The Godfather’s home,” she began. “He was from a world that preferred to know almost nothing of ours.”
“But what brought him here?” a sister questioned.
“His great-great grandparents.”
“Were they immortal?” The girls perked.
“Nooo. They had long passed before him.”
“Then why..?” Raelin interrupted. One of her sister’s slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Heritage.” Vanora leaned into the group, eyes wide and twinkling. “He was always curious about the land of his descent.”
“But why…?” One of the sisters whispered.
“Shh. I’ll tell you why.” Vanora’s story unravled over the hollow thump of the rain outside the home. “The Ireland sun does not shine brightly in the sky because…”
“Its radiance rests on the heads of its children.” Raelin quipped.
“Yes, yes. “ Vanora blushed. “Such a man bore this favor on his head and followed its identity.”
“His hair was red?”
“It was, though I dare say that this man did not understand the gift.”
The sisters gasped.
“I was there to watch as he walked up the path leading to The Godfather’s home.” Vanora’s voice distanced. “I can remember how the fog rested oddly on his straight shoulders, his square jaw set tightly as if he had forgotten how to smile.” Vanora shook a head of auburn curls. “I could see what he was that very first day.”
The sisters leaned in, linking their arms in a circle around Vanora.
“He carried a small bag, and a tangle of polished wood that he tightly wrapped in cloth. His steps were confident and purposeful.” Vanora’s voice became warm. “The Godfather and his little girl silhouetted the windows for quite a time to watch for the young artist.”
“Was he a relation?” Raelin interrupted.
“Just a visitor.” Vanora continued. “When the young man appeared through the mist, The Godfather leaned on the gate to greet him with a subtle dip of his frosted chin. They exchanged simple words.”
“Surely The Godfather received him well.” Raelin whispered.
“Yes.” Vanora’s almond-shaped eyes narrowed. “The man immediately inquired about the weather. He wanted to see the land when it was bare and vulnerable; uncloaked by the fog.”
“He was going to run a brush along the rolling emerald hills, steal a sweet drop of the swirling brooks and capture the skyline’s rich hues. He was going to mingle the angelic pure of the clouds with the cream-white of the grazing sheep and stretch the meadow tightly, dead, dry on a canvas to call his own.”
The family gasped.
“He was treated well by The Godfather and the little girl. They warmed the hearth, filled his bowl, and set up a cot for the visitor.”
The rain began to viciously pound the sister’s home, so the family squeezed themselves closer to hear Vanora over the storm.
“The Godfather welcomed him to the meadow.” She raised a sharp brow. “However he did warn him of the treacherous cliffs and the wiles of the forest at night.”
The family trilled in agreement.
“The Godfather’s warnings were fair, and yet it was the little girl who stole the visitor’s ear to tell him of a special tree.”
“What did he say?” Raelin squeaked.
“The man assured the child that he would not disturb any of the trees. He did tell her that she was a silly girl to believe one sacred, however. Both the visitor and the girl turned to The Godfather for defense.
“Yes! The Godfather would know,” one of the girls chirped.
“He responded: ‘Do you know more than a child who has fully spent the narrow span of her years in its garden of learning? Do you know the land’s clearest brooks, the places for mushrooms, or the trees to climb?’ The Godfather’s eyes twinkled. ‘Do you know the secrets of the hillsides? Have you heard the winds gossip of storms?’
‘Perhaps as a boy,’ the artist laughed.
‘Because as a child,’ The Godfather continued, ‘you were listening.’”
“The man avoided such conversation since. He spent his early mornings and afternoons walking the faded paths, sketching the lines of meadow, and stretching himself lazily beneath the trees. Occasionally he would encounter the child. She would invite him to play, but he always refused and would awkwardly take up his easel to leave.” Vanora’s eyes narrowed . “After a week of walking the paths and sleepily tasting the sweet air of the meadow, the man decided to find a place to begin painting. He found a gentle hill that clearly spread the countryside before him. Behind him was a twisting oak tree that blocked the glare of the afternoon sun. To him, the place was perfect.”
The sister’s eyes widened.
“The next day he set up his easel and began mixing paints, his fingers twitching in anticipation. It was early morning, the grass was still glistening with moisture. He began with a sweeping gesture, his brush gliding across the empty canvas in a streak of yellow-green.”
The girls giggled in anticipation.
“From there, the rich color of the morning drained from the land to the empty canvas. By mid-afternoon he began to perspire, and hung his paint-splattered shirt on one of the oak branches. His hands were now smeared with the life essence of the grass and the delicate tints of the Ireland sky. He let out a long, fulfilling breath when he heard a faint gasp come from behind him.”
The sisters tensed. Vanora rolled her eyes and continued.
“He glanced over his shoulder to find the little girl standing behind him, her brows knit tightly in disapproval.
‘Girl, I’m a little busy right now,’ he turned and resumed painting.
‘This is the special tree.” She said, running her fingers lightly down the richly knurling bark. “Little fairies come out here in the mornings and dance along the roots.” Her eyes brightened. “Godfather says that the roots stretch deep under the ground, all the way down the hill…and into the forest.”
The artist twitched irritably and continued with his eyes fixed on the meadow forming before him.
“I hope you’re not offending them by painting here.” The little girl frowned. “You didn’t even ask…”
‘I’m terribly busy. Can you not play elsewhere?’
The girl became quiet.
The canvas began to take shape and breathe synced breaths with the meadow. He painted in silence for ten minutes (nearly forgetting about the girl) until he felt a sharp peck at his shoulder. He turned and the little girl remained with one of her hands resting on the oak.
‘Child, I know that this must be incredibly interesting, but you are making me nervous,’ he scolded.
She pointed at his shirt that loosely dangled from the branch in shreds.
‘You little imp,’ the artist’s face reddened. ‘That’s some nerve you’ve got, destroying my property! That was a good shirt.’
She gritted her teeth.
‘It wasn’t I.’
‘Don’t lie to me,’ he waved the brush, accidently flinging a splatter of red at the silent oak. ‘Shoo!’
The girl raised a brow, and turned, shuffling down the hill. For another hour the artist dipped his brush in the swirling colors of the meadow and expertly spread them along the canvas. As the colors became more vivid, his cheeks rose in satisfaction. He took a neatly trimmed brush from the deck of his easel and held it to the edge of the landscape where deep greens of the forest seeped into the yellow-green of the meadow. His lips parted, his brow becoming tense. With an effortless flick of his stained wrist he dipped his brush in the dark green, running along the forest a bold sweep of:
He gasped. Dropping the brush, he staggered from the painting, his eyes fixed on the gaping ribbon of blood tearing through his muted forest.
A giggle came from behind the tree.
His face burned. He leapt around the tree in time to catch the forest rustling. Glancing at his canvas once more, he chased the sound.
Tearing through the trees, the path began to narrow, the rustling distancing. He doubled over to catch his breath, closed his hands around his glistening brow and collapsed on the carpeted forest. He sat there, mulling over the feverish morning of painting, the odd afternoon, and the mysterious red paint streaking through his landscape. He glanced up at the aging sky poking through the swaying trees. The rustling returned. He tensed. A pair of tiny bare feet padded around the tree, the girl stood before him, a hand slapped over her mouth.
‘Wait, I’m not going to do anything.’ The man held out his hands defensively. ‘Just tell me, why? I never bother you…’
Eyes wide, the child pointed.
‘Sitting in a fairy circle,’ she finished, her cheeks burning apple red.
‘You are in a fairy circle!’
The man’s gaze cautiously drifted to a ring of fungi that circled his folded body. A wave of amusement passed over his brow.
‘Why…imagine.’ The corner of the man’s mouth twitched. ‘So I am. Tell me, does this mean seven years bad luck?’
‘You get a wish.’
‘The fairies will grant me a wish?’
She nodded, beaming.
‘Since you found it…why don’t you make the wish?’ He stepped out of the ring.
Her lips parted.
‘I don’t know…the fairies might think me to be dishonest,’
‘I think those fairies just might be a little wily themselves,’ the man teased.
She cautiously stepped into the circle to close her eyes. A cool breeze snaked through the trees, whisking leaves and shaking branches as it passed through the forest. Slowly she opened them.
The visitor asked the girl what she had wished for, but she only sheepishly explained that wishes were broken when they were told.”
The sisters giggled.
“Alarmed by the fading light, the painter and the girl hurried along the path to get home before dark. When they exited the forest, the man returned to the tree to take up his abandoned easel and painting. By the light of the fading sun, he noticed the streak of red had vanished. Puzzled, he looked back at the smiling girl that stood with her hand on the tree.
He remained puzzled.
‘Come on, Godfather is going to worry,’ she laughed, offering a tiny hand to the artist. When they reached the bottom of the hill, the artist glanced behind him at the twisting oak that bobbed cheerfully in the wind.
‘The possibilities are endless once you start believing,’ the girl smiled.
‘Do you suppose that they just thought it was a bad painting?’ He chuckled. The girl squeezed his hand and they ran for The Godfather’s home just before the sun disappeared over the hills.”
The sister’s chittered happily.
“That was the day an element of childhood was reborn in the man.” Vanora continued: “because it takes a child to recognize what they don’t understand so that they can truly begin to discover.”
The rain ceased. The oak silenced. The girls broke from Vanora’s circle and stretched their wings. Giggling, they linked arms and danced into the damp grass, leaving a circle of tiny footprints behind them.