Written by DeAnna Erdmann
I can’t believe this is happening to me, I thought as I walked through the rain. I did my best to push the thoughts of the growing life inside me away. I can’t be a mother, I’m still figuring life out. I was the only person out walking in this storm and it matched my mood perfectly. The wind was so strong that I had to lean forward slightly to ensure I wasn’t knocked back. The rain was cold, but the ground was still warm so an eerie mist was forming. Wispy tendrils lazily wandered the alley in front of me, reaching out to each other as though their union would hold the world together. Or maybe it was just me wishing that they could somehow hold me together. A loud crash of thunder made me jump and I fumbled the books I has been clutching to my chest. I knew the store I was delivering them to was close, so I squinted into the rain, desperately hoping that I would make it before my cargo was ruined. An old woman appeared out of no where, grabbing my arm and swinging me through a doorway.
“Heavens, child, you’ll catch your death out there. Are those for me?” she asked, extending her arms to take my armload. I pulled back slightly.
“I’m sorry, these are for the owner of Art and Lulu’s.” She chuckled kindly and raised her arm as though to show me the room around us. It was an old café with several tables, larger bookshelves that were overflowing, and a counter to eat at. The tables and counter matched each other with a marbled green top and chairs that had a similar pattern in vinyl. Chrome accents sparkled as though they were freshly polished.
“It’s not much to look at, but Arty and I enjoyed seeing our regulars. We never had any children and since he’s passed retiring just seems silly.” She reached behind her and untied her blue apron, taking the time to tenderly fold it before draping it across her arm. “I’m Laurel, but i’ve gone by Lulu as long as I can remember.” She extended her hand to me. I watched in slow motion as my hand reached out and enveloped her crooked wrinkled fingers. When we touched an energy shot up my arm and made me shiver. Laurels deep chocolate eyes sparkled with a new excitement. I pulled my hand away quickly.
“I’m Cassidy. Nice to meet you Ms. Laurel.” Laurel kept eyeing me with excited curiosity.
“Go ahead and set those books down on the counter. Poke through them if you’d like. I’m going to go in the back and get us some tea to warm you from that cold shower you just took.”
She disappeared into the back, so I took a seat at the counter and set the books down. There were three of them, all old and leather with beautiful calligraphy embossed in gold. It looked like they were a three volume set from some ancient time. I thumbed through the first one, enchanted by simple drawings of flowers and trees and whimsical characters. The pages flipped rapidly and settled on a picture that stirred up butterflies in my stomach. A young woman danced in a field to the left as another woman lovingly cradled a child to her chest in the rest of the page.
Peaking through both images was the face of an old woman, she was barely visible, like a water mark on a dollar bill. The page had a poem on it entitled “The Joining”. I traced the words with my finger as I spoke them out loud.
“The dawn belongs to the Maid,
Who chases the sun into motherhood
Guiding her child where she once stood.
Resting in the night of wisdom and age,
The Crone passes the sage.
Forever entangled by fate,
The moon decides the date,
A marked woman begins her flight,
From this day forth it is now my right.”
A bright light flashed and the next thing I know I’m opening my eyes and i’m on the ground. Laurel is standing over me with a knowing and welcoming smile.
“I knew when I saw you who you were. I’ve waited so long to meet you. Now, let’s get you back on your feet and some food for that baby.” I struggled to stand, feeling both weak and empowered at the same time. I wasn’t even surprised that she knew about the baby, it somehow felt right that she was with me. Laurel busied herself bringing me a feast of eggs and bacon to go with my tea. “I was joined a bit younger than you and to a mother and crone. You bring the maid and the mother all within you. What an adventure we’ll have my dear. Now eat up and i’ll explain it all after you’ve rested.”