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* The Library - Fiction for the Heart *

The Gathering
Ch. 6 - The Burning

Miri, head bowed, began quietly. "I remember a great burning."

Sara gasped and drew her knees up to her chest.

Miri said, "Yes, you were there too, Sara. I remember first reaching out in hope and love and longing. The reaching was a beautiful thing, it was a purely innocent dance of love. But somehow it was wrong, too. I don't know how. I don't know why. But I was struck by a great blast of fire. It hit me and burned me and blasted me into a million pieces. The pain, oh the pain... "

She wept, and Sara wept with her, "the pain... the pain... "

Miri looked at Sara. "We were hit with such force and the pain was so great, we broke. And some of us went hurtling off into space and were lost."

Sara clutched her legs and buried her face in her knees. "Burned and lost ..." she sobbed. "I was alone and so very cold..."

"Yes," Miri said, "you were alone and lost and helpless, but you weren't the only one."

Both Magda and Sara sat forward and gasped, "What?" at the same time.

Miri shook her head and tears spilled from her eyes. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. There are many many more of us, I don't know where they all are. I saw some of them ... before I became myself, when I was still a part of the whole. I saw some go flying off and later I heard their cries but there was nothing I could do!"

Sara asked, "You heard me crying?"

"I heard, and I wanted to go find you, I did. But I was afraid. I was hiding then, you see," she paused and hung her head.

"Tell us, Miri," Magda touched her arm gently.

"I was hiding, I was so afraid, because… it was my fault, it was all my fault!" She sobbed great huge gasps filled with tears and they sat with her while she cried, now and then stroking her arms and hair. "It was my fault. I reached, I did it. I didn't know it was wrong, I don't understand why it was wrong, but somehow I called to it and then the great burning fireball came, and we were all burned and destroyed, and it was all my fault."

She began to pound her legs and chest and Magda had to hold her hands to keep her from hurting herself. She raged, "Kill me, kill me, don't let me live, it's all my fault!" but they just stayed with her and listened while she cried.

When the storm passed, Magda gathered Miri into her arms and rocked her. Sara came and rocked with them, and assured her sister that there was no need to be sorry, and of course she forgave her, and she loved her still.

Sara said, "But the others, Miri, our sisters who are still out there..." She turned tear-filled eyes to Magda, begging her with her eyes to DO something.

But Magda didn't know what to do, and she feared her heart would break and shatter into a million pieces with the anguish of it. The others, they had to save the other lost and alone ones, but HOW?? She looked down at her fists, which were clenching and unclenching with frustration and rage.

Miri wept, "It's all my fault..."
And Sara wept, "All alone, cold and all alone..."
And Magda wept, "I don't know what to do..."

In the dark, around the fire, the trees listened and bent their boughs to encircle and protect them.


The morning sun kissed Magda gently. She lay on the grass by the cold fire. They had cried themselves out and finally just collapsed on the ground, trusting in the trees to protect them. Magda rose and stretched and yawned and...

felt something new.

Something entirely new. Something light and airy and sweet. It swelled in her, filling her chest with warmth.

She looked to Sara and Miri, wanting to share this new feeling, and stared in amazement. Where Sara and Miri had lain was a new child, yawning and stretching, one who looked like both Sara and Miri. A slightly older child, and more peaceful, Magda thought. Yes, more peaceful and whole.

The child rose and smiled and took Magda's hand. "Call me Mara, now," she said. And as she smiled, Magda saw her new feeling mirrored in Mara's eyes. Whatever it was, they were both feeling it.

Magda turned and looked around the whole valley. She turned again, stretching her arms out as if to touch the earth and trees and sky, and she imagined she could see rainbows of light shooting from her outstretched fingertips, filling the valley with a rippling sea of color.

She turned to Mara. Mara was cupping her hands over the warmth swelling in her chest. She felt as if the warmth were a rainbow of color bubbling up from her heart and spilling out and into her cupped hands. She giggled and felt the warmth spread into her throat and them she couldn't contain it and it burst forth in a great song that filled the valley with sweetness.

When the song ended, Magda and Mara joined hands. "What is the feeling?" Mara asked softly, as if afraid to break the spell.

Magda said, after a moment of silence, "Joy, perhaps?"

"And love?"

"Yes, and love. And something else. I didn't know I could feel such a thing. I think it is…" Magda paused and looked at Mara, her eyes wide. "I think it's ... hope."

"Hope," Mara said softly. "We felt hope..."

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