a work-in-progress by Terry Stamper
What are you here to do? She asked.
To teach. He replied simply.
With that, they continued, walking along the winding lake path. Trees rose before them and subsided into clearings of moss and lichen. This was the north in summer. Loons flew with their mouths singing. The wind gently moved wee bits of grass. They walked. He thought. This, she knew. Occasionally, she touched his shoulder and his head would lift but his eyes refused to acknowledge her presence. He hadn't slept well the night before and she knew he thought he was hallucinating. It was that damn Grand Marnier she heard him say to himself. He had come to seek his vision, to experience the ritual of passage. There was only one problem; he was beginning to feel that he was losing his mind. Lack of sleep maybe. A good walk, supper and a fire, he figured he'd be fine in the morning.
She didn't care for the walk. The terrain was rough and rocky. She had never really cared for the outdoors much and yet she had been sent here. She half-heartedly wished for another assignment, but that was not the plan. She understood his reluctance, but why was he so absorbed in the question of her presence? If only he would acknowledge her and then they could get on with it. At least he had given an answer. However, even that seemed unreal to him. She sensed that his answer surprised him and she sat listening to his thoughts into the darkness of the night.
To teach, he mumbled to himself. A teacher -- I have not intention of becoming a teacher. I am a musician and an artist. I'm not a teacher. He laughed as he envisioned himself in front of a group of students. Grade Two maybe. An art class or maybe music. Yes, okay. His daughter would be there. His daughter? Where did that thought come from? He was barely twenty, not married and certainly had no children. Where did that thought come from? Then, once gain, his mind focused on Her briefly. Was she real? Of course not, a figment of sleep-deprived imagination.
He awoke early. The sunrise was, as usual, spectacular. Glints of red and orange dappled the water, making it appear hot and fiery. A cold blast to his face .... Hmmm, he felt good today. The splashing had attracted the attention of a moose further down. He lifted his rather large head and gazed across the lake. Dan felt good. Hearty breakfast. Excellent. The events of yesterday were far from his mind.
With paper and pencil in hand he headed for his favorite spot. The climb was tight but not exhausting and once perched along the rock edge of the escarpment, he had a bird's eye view of this place in which he felt such a sense of peace. He started as usual with a brief note in his journal. Carefully, he opened the burlap case that held his most treasured pencils and art tools. Focusing on the blank page before him -- he breathed in the scent of pine and fresh dewy moss. Perching there in the early morning, he mused aloud about the possibilities of endless flight. Eagles, in particular, had always caught his attention. Majestic, all knowing, mysterious, free. All that the Gods exemplified were inherent in the Eagle. He made a mental note to research more about them. Their habits, breeding patterns, etc.
The sketch he began was an eagle of a different feather, so to speak. He rarely drew people and yet there before him was a woman that he had sketched in great detail. Although done in pencil, in his mind the sketch held glorious colors. Green eyes. Yes. An angular face, freckled and tanned. Auburn, no red hair. Yes. His heart was racing. The vision was clear. Was this her? The woman who had spoken last night? Who was she?
Above, stretched lengthwise across the smoothness of rock, she looked down at him. This was not going to be easy. She sighed and turned on her back -- staring into the endless blue sky. Uplifting and light, so large, so beautiful ... the sky. Life, exquisite life. Alas, if only ALL the senses could be used to their fullest. She meditated. He continued to draw.