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Anna

Premiered 1 May 2004 (Beltane)

 

Chapter 22

Heir Apparent

by

Dan Sewell Ward

 

Tina had her back to the wall, so to speak. Rather like the poker playing gunfighters who always kept their backs against a wall where they could observe everyone else and hopefully not be shot in the back by some revenge minded relative of a former victim of the gunfighter's talents. For Tina's part, instead of worrying about mentally deranged relatives -- of which there was an ample supply in her family -- it was more like she was not yet ready to join their party. Instead she preferred to remain on the periphery, to evaluate the fire before jumping from the frying pan, and to observe the players in what was apparently the new scheme of things.

Standing with her back to a low rock wall and atop a slight rise, she did just that as the other members of the wedding party began arriving, some of them taking seats, with others taking positions along the periphery just as she had. The beauty of the surrounding area with bright sunlight broken up by shady oak trees, grass, rocks and natural flowers scattered about in subtle patterns, brightly colored ribbons and other decorations strategically placed... these attributes of natural and artificial beauty hardly caught Tina's attention. Even Harrison 's art sculpture, his unique gift to the newlyweds, failed to catch her appreciative appraisal. She was far more interested in the people; the witnesses who had take the time and effort to be present for this, the main event.

As she watched the new arrivals and those already in place, she felt the first of several mild surprises. They were all present!! Uncles, brothers, half-brothers, sisters, ex-wives, and a host of others, some of whom Tina could recognize, and some of whom were strangers to her. Uncle Hal was there, standing in a shady area with someone so ugly that he had to be a bodyguard. Well separated from him were Uncle Paul and his wife, sitting with their own small party of observers. Even Aunt Ester was there, sitting with a younger woman decked out in a host of colors, both beaming with delight!

There was even a covey of Zak's ex-wives and ex-lovers, Helen and Denise Spear, Lisa Delos, and Myra Travers, all seemingly content, sitting together. This was an amazement in itself! They were even talking to one another as life-long friends might have. Or perhaps, in the manner of combat veterans who had been in the same war, going to hell and back together.

It was then Tina turned to see Lars limping down the aisle, attended by... Tina abruptly flushed, swallowed and guffawed almost at the same time. Accompanying Lars was Perses, carefully taking his arm and followed by Don Hess. Tina simply stared for several moments. Then after breathing a series of heavy sighs, she noticed behind Don the entrance of her Uncle Chirles, with his daughter, Teresa, on one arm and Joy Daniele on the other.

'Incredible!' Tina thought. 'Everyone is here! All the variations, the wide assortment of human beings that this family, in-laws, and friends encompass... They're all represented! As her eyes continued to take it all in, she noticed Herman, sitting between Tess and April, obviously gathering information in his own unique way. In fact, Herman seemed to be surrounded by women, two of whom were each holding a new-born baby. 'What was the attraction?' Tina briefly wondered. 'Why should otherwise intelligent women tend to cluster around someone like Herman?' The question raised another mystery for Tina. 'Exactly what characteristics did Herman have?' Tina began to suspect that she, perhaps, did not know her half-brother all that well. Maybe there were some hidden talents of his with which she needed to become familiar. Then again, maybe the women clustering around him were simply not that smart!

Glancing away from a mystery that she was not likely to solve in the next few hours, she saw Dan Davidson and his covey of women as they took their seats on the bride's side. Now there Tina was fairly confident she knew, at least in theory, why women were attracted to Dan. It just wasn't as obvious with Herman. On the other hand: 'Why was Dan sitting on the "bride's side"? Why not the groom's side?' The fact that one bride and both grooms were so intertwined in their relationships with everyone else might have explained something -- for example the idea that some of the traditions would not be strictly observed. For her purposes, however, Tina was remaining on the groom's side. At the back of the outdoor area. With her back to the wall.

Then Harrison entered, dressed for the occasion -- a surprise in itself! When Tina saw him, he had just slipped into a seat next to April Ikaria. April quickly gave him more than an affectionate hug, and the two of them began an animated conversation. Abruptly, Tina realized that April had been saving the seat for him! It would be typical of April to literally throw herself at any man, but the connection between her and Harrison was obviously more intense than a casual flirtation. Tina thought about it for just a moment, quickly deciding that they'd probably been lovers. It would be only natural, considering Harrison 's alleged obsession with April. Not to mention the family history!

Tina shook her head, wondering once again how she could be related to such a strange assortment of human beings. The variety within her own family was enormous, while the only common feature appeared to be that everyone was interested in going to bed with everyone else. Except perhaps for Tina. This made her the outsider. Which didn't feel all that good.

Feel? Tina wondered about that as well. She even analyzed it, which is a particularly strange thing to do with feelings, but which Tina did from habit. In the process, Tina grew to acknowledge that she felt things. She had feelings of pain and joy just like everyone else. Perhaps not in quite the same degree, the same intensity. Abruptly, a radical thought crossed her logical mind. Perhaps, just perhaps, it might be a good thing for Tina to feel with more intensity.

Tina quite rationally considered the concept for what at the time seemed a prolonged time. There, in fact, might be good reason to experiment with the idea. There was also the possibility that she was not going to have a lot of choices in the matter. What was it that Dan had said about a mid-life crisis? Tina!? Wasn't she immune!? Maybe not.

Before Tina could decide one way or the other, the ceremony began. As expected, the grooms were delighted and expectant, much like young boys on a Christmas Eve, while the brides were glowing and beautiful. Actually, the brides were more than beautiful; they were stunning! Metese carried a grandeur Tina had never seen, while Anna was simply gorgeous, magnificent, and brilliant. Tina swallowed as she found herself immensely attracted to the younger women. Anna had a presence that Tina had never before known. It was incredible!

As the ceremony progressed, Tina's first series of experimentation studies into her emotions began to occur as well. Feelings of every manner of description, joy and delight, sadness and melancholy, all flooded across her consciousness with sufficient intensity to wash away her rational and logical defenses. Immense beauty seemed to spring up everywhere, fringed with a powerful sense of the profound. Tina found herself with tears in her eyes, strange vibes in her heart, and goose bumps all over her body. She began to feel things, both physically and emotionally, which seemed to be entirely new experiences.

As the ceremony continued, Tina felt herself drift back and forth between shell shock and wondrous awe. Despite herself, she felt drawn into the ritual, feeling her energy merge with others even as her energy increased within herself. In some form or another, everything seemed to connect and integrate her own inner stirring, as well as connect them to those assembled around her. There was the sense of energy being incarnated and transformed. And yet, with all the conflicting emotions raging about her, the ritual seemed to contain and control them, as if ensuring the correct dosage of feelings being imposed upon her. In this way she was able to relate to the emotions without being overpowered by them.

There was something else for her. Early on, Tina sensed the need for all aspects of the ritual to be felt in all its many forms. Without such feelings, her consciousness could not relate, heal or transform. But with feeling every aspect, the emotions could be incorporated within her. Not repressed, but allowed free rein. It was an essential element.

As the ceremony came to an end, Tina felt joyously exhausted. And then intrigued. For at the end, the words she heard, as the now-married couples each drank from shared golden goblets, were: "What is the meaning of this?", "What shall it teach?", and "Whom or what does it serve?" The latter question seemed to reverberate in her mind.

*********

By the time the ceremony had ended and a wedding reception line formed, Tina felt a renewed ability to think and observe. Her emotions, having had a field day, were in for a quick R&R (and a small celebration). True to form, Tina set them aside, and began watching the guests as they lined up to greet the married couples. Then a thought immediately caused her to frown: Everyone would now be ready to kowtow to Andy, the new Chief Executive. To ingratiate themselves with the new head man. Or so Tina thought.

For several moments she watched the process. Sure enough, the reception line began to immediately develop a clog. Everyone was held up as the guests stopped to spend extra time with Andy and Anna. Tina, her cynicism gaining the upper hand, waited for someone to fall to their knees at Andy's feet!

But then she noticed something odd. The movement of the line had faltered in front of Anna, just as much as in front of Andy. In fact, the people with Andy seemed less interested in the new Chief Executive of Worldwide Enterprises, and instead were intent upon watching Anna, relishing the moment when they would receive their turn before the bride.

The idea seemed nonsensical to Tina, until she realized that Anna was more than radiant! The men seemed to bask in her presence. Whereupon, Tina noticed: 'the women too!' Everyone was glowing under Anna's attention to them as if they were the most fascinating, glorious human being she had ever encountered. For Tina, it was nothing short of incredible!

"Fascinating isn't she?"

Tina started at the words directed to her, and quickly turned to see Herman. 'Only Herman!' Tina thought. Then she smiled. "I noticed you were sitting with April again."

"And Tess as well," he replied, his voice tinged with an air of authority. "Between them, I've learned a great deal. And with my own research, it's all finally come together."

"Yes, I know," Tina answered casually. "But I already know who the heir apparent is." With a quick glance, she gestured with her eyes toward Andy. "It's my baby brother."

"Oh?"

Tina looked back at Herman, as a broad smile began to creep across his face. It was obvious that he knew something she didn't. When her face began to change to: "Tell me what you know, or I'll cut your heart out and bar-be-que it!"

Herman decided to explain. "It's true Andy won Worldwide," he said, gently and assuredly. "But he's shared it with Anna! She's as much the heir apparent as Andy! Perhaps more so."

Tina had had enough experience in shell shock in the last several days that it had very little chance of slowing her down for long this time. But the latest shell still carried an impact worth noting. Consequently, the only intelligible response she could manage was, "What!?"

"Andy has deeded half of everything over to Anna. She will be the heir apparent half the time and Andy the other half." "When Tina continued to look blank, Herman continued, "It's all arranged. Andy is the Chief Executive from November first through the end of April. Anna runs the show for the other half of the year. And of course, right now, it's her time of year." Smiling the look of possessing secret knowledge, he added with all appropriate wisdom, "It's the need for balance, you know."

Tina couldn't quite grasp the possibilities. "But Zak said he lost Worldwide to Andy!?"

Herman shrugged his shoulders. "That's only because Andy had to be the one on the front lines. Zak would never have taken a woman seriously enough to find himself in the position of risking everything with her. Andy had to be the front, the point man. But there was never any intent to win control and then vest it totally in him! Keep in mind this was not a one man effort. It was a cooperative one, with a dozen or so orchestrating it -- a jazz band without a leader, instead of a symphony with an all-powerful maestro."

Tina's mind formulated in sequence: 'You're kidding!?', 'I don't believe this!', and 'Somebody has got to be out of their minds!!' Just as quickly, she dismissed each of them without ever opening her mouth. Ultimately, her only contribution was a simple, "Anna!?"

"Right," Herman assured her. Then he added, "Anna is the receptor, the feminine principle into which all the information can find its way. She synthesizes in the best sense of the generalist and then sets policy. Andy carries out policy using the masculine talents of focusing on and solving problems. It's a perfect combination! With the power shared."

Tina could only shake her head.

"Don't you get it, Tina? The Goddess has returned. The men and women in the reception line are simply paying their respects. It's a new order, Tina! The patriarchal system is crumbling of its own weight. In its place, the feminine is reclaiming her power -- an equal power -- one which respects the androgynous nature of the world."

"I really don't understand," Tina replied, meekly.

Herman was only too willing to explain what he had just learned in the last twenty four hours. "Instead of pointless competition, we have cooperation: everyone working together, supporting one another, nurturing each other. We're tossing out the hierarchy, Tina! The false authorities, the drive to have more of, the persistent propaganda of possessions! We're now going to replace the power struggles, the rivalries, and the subjugation of women and the majority of men, with something far greater: Balance, legitimate partnerships, and a true, meaningful equality. Instead of the disenfranchisement of virtually anyone who isn't willing to struggle to the top of the pyramid, we're acknowledging all the contributions and their connectedness. Vulnerability, emotion, intuition, and creativity are now things to be respected and enthusiastically encouraged."

Tina looked intently at Herman. "You've completely bought this, haven't you?"

"Oh yes! That way everything falls into place! The patriarchy we're living under now is wiping us out! It's most notable invention, war, stemming from the time when hunters became killers of humans as well as animals, is bleeding our very lifeblood. We can't hope to survive as long as we honor those who bring death, instead of those who bring life.

"You know as well as I do, the patriarchy is destroying the environment and the very life support system all human beings depend upon. It's degrading the individual, the quality of life..." Herman trailed off for a second. Then he said, "Everything's connected, Tina. Everything! And all the problems the world faces today are ultimately tied to the patriarchy." For a moment, he let it sink in.

"But now, we've begun the transformation in earnest. With every man or woman who dumps the old system, who begins to nurture and teach their children cooperation, balance, and respect for all living things, the value of their inner knowing, and a sense of their own ability to create literally every joy imaginable... When more and more individuals no longer feel the need to control, to protect themselves, to do something, and instead, let go of all of the fears, the pains, and the horrors, and simply expect joy... When from the grass roots, people begin to respect all living things, including the earth... Then the Goddess will have truly returned! We'll have created a new myth, one in which every human on the face of the earth can finally achieve their ultimate potential."

Tina continued to stare at Herman, as if by doing so, she could force all the ideas into a simple rational scheme. 'Somehow it would work,' she instinctively felt. 'Somehow it would come together.' Then she realized that her conclusion as to the viability of Herman's beliefs and ultimately their all fitting into a self-consistent whole derived from what she could only describe as "a knowing", something within her that assured her the words were true. For Tina, it was a strange sensation. And totally irrational.

Herman smiled. "The phenomenal part is that everything is peaking at once. All the problems of the world are reaching their respective pinnacles at the same time such that when they crash, they will all crash together! Total devastation for the old order! It's almost as if the worse the problems appear to be, the more optimistic we can become knowing that it is when we hit the bottom that we can change and build an infinitely better future. It's the ultimate transformation in its beginnings."

Tina smiled slightly. "It's a nice feeling, I will admit. But..."

"Don't talk yourself out of it," Herman quickly warned. "If it feels right, even when it doesn't think right, don't write it off! Thinking is always limited to the conscious facts readily available. Feeling, on the other hand, has access to the entire universe, even to the divine!"

Tina looked at him, out of the corner of her eye, for several seconds. Perhaps the strain had been too much for Herman. Perhaps he had finally flipped out!

He continued, unabated, "We're returning to a time, Tina, where all of the earthly, instinctual and sensual aspects of our being are no longer repressed, controlled, or denied. The god who fell into time is finding his way back out. No more repressing the femininity, the intuition, either in women or men. For it was in repressing our inner feelings that we learned to repress others, and to try to force them into some kind of mold, all for 'goodness' sake'!"

"But we just can't..." Tina tried to say.

"Why not? Repressing feelings doesn't inhibit our actions, it annihilates them, it discards our emotions. To be at peace with others, we have to be at peace with ourselves. Instead of 'Thou shalt' and 'Thou shalt not', we get: 'You may. Maybe. Try it anyway. Play along with universe and we'll find out together.' All the repressed shames, urges, feelings, weaknesses -- all the things to which guilt was always attached -- can now be viewed as indispensable to life, indispensable to the transformative powers, to change. The pains and wounds we encounter are nothing more than the motivators of our search. Even the 'gifts of emptiness' of our childhood."

A deep, inner feeling allowed Tina to smile inwardly, even as her rational, logical mental process found Herman's words as... at best, plausible. For a moment, her smile surfaced.

Herman, suspecting as much, said, "It's not the play, the particular stage on which we find ourselves; it's how we respond, ad lib, and modify the script. What we think of as the stern limitation of our destiny, the play we've selected, is in reality the freedom to be our authentic self. Whatever that self is and whatever it seeks! Free from the restraints that inhibit the expression of our genuine being! Individuality is no longer defined by external values, but by our inner values. No more competition, guilt, fratricidal power strife, and the necessity for scapegoats. We can now be responsible for ourselves!"

"You make it sound so easy." Tina looked at her younger sibling, as is yearning for him to pull out an Ace and somehow convince her. It was so emotionally appealing, even if there should have been a war on the mental front!

"Don't think about it, Tina!" Herman urged. "How does it feel!?" When her face registered surprise, he added, "Feelings can now validate! Femininity allows for subjective affirmations of your being! What counts is the feel of the moment."

Getting in touch with feelings was not Tina's strong point. Nevertheless, she felt good. Nothing seemed to say, "Hey, wait a minute!" Instead, it just felt right!

Herman smiled, as only he could, loving the moment. "The feminine is receptive to what is felt, the impulse from the spirit. An active receptivity. Interconnected to the process of growth and decay, life and death, the very rhythms of nature and time. We can now respond to nature, patiently waiting for and then knowing the right moment, rather than imposing or invading with our ego-oriented action. We can even accept the instincts and passions of nature without fearing them."

"It's a nice idea," Tina replied.

"It's a nice feeling," Herman corrected.

Tina laughed slightly. "That too." Then her thinking reasserted itself for one last try. "One question. What did they mean, when during the ceremony, they asked, 'Whom or what does this serve?'"

Herman smiled, knowing he had discovered the answer to that one on his own, having already had the question posed in his dreams more than once. "It's from the Grail/Aquarius myth. Ultimately, it suggests that by being conscious of the drama of our lives, we can bear witness to our own evolution. Instead of unconscious martyrdom, instead of looking for scapegoats for our so-called problems, we can forego questions of 'Why is this happening to me?' and replace them with 'What is the meaning of this?' 'What can it teach me?' and 'Whom or what does it serve?' It's the guide to the direction and purpose of our lives."

Herman paused, everything seeming to have been said. Tina let all the thoughts and ideas flow across her mind and body, her thinking and feelings alternating in their appraisal of all the ideas that had found their way into her life in the last ten days.

He watched her intently, trying to guess her thoughts. Then, quietly, with an unexpected intensity, he asked, "So... Are you going to join us?"

Tina looked at him for a moment, not yet fully understanding. "Me?" When he acknowledged as much, she asked, "Why do you care if I agree with you?"

Herman swallowed. Earnestly, he answered, "Because I care a great deal for you." Then as she smiled slightly, he added, "And because we all know that if you, Tina Mettese Gilan, decide to fight this, to raise holy hell in what Zak has done with Worldwide Enterprises... then all our hopes and dreams of transforming this world into something immeasureably better, will be infinitely more difficult to accomplish. If not impossible."

Tina looked at her younger brother for several moments, feeling and analyzing every aspect of his words. Quietly, she asked, "My vote's that important?"

Herman smiled encouragingly. "It could be the swing vote, the decisive one. You've always had that power to make the difference."

Tina continued to watch Herman. Then she smiled slightly. "I will admit that all you've said... feels right." For just a second, she paused. "When I rationally analyze it... It makes sense!" For several moments, Herman missed the agreement. Then as he began to catch on, Tina smiled even more. "It feels right. And it thinks right!" When his smile began to stretch across his face, she added, "I suppose I've always cast my vote for the patriarchy. But this time, I think I'll vote against it."

For several moments the two of them stood there, Tina feeling the most incredible sense of joy and sudden completeness; Herman simply continuing to smile. Then as the two smiles fed upon one another, both growing seemingly without bound, Tina tentatively stepped forward. Herman held up his arms and they embraced. Being the same height, they fit together as if they had been designed for that express purpose. For several minutes, they simply hugged one another, two diverse archetypes momentarily joining for the sheer joy of it!

It was Tina who finally noticed, over Herman's right shoulder, the young woman, the colorfully attired friend of Ester's, who now stood watching them intently. Standing only three feet away, it was clear that she was simply waiting patiently for Tina and Herman to 'break it up'. Tina eased her grip ever so slightly, which in turn told Herman to relax his arms as well. As they stepped back slightly, he looked into Tina's face. Rather quickly, he noticed her intent gaze behind him and turned to see what it was. His recognition was swift.

"Iris!" Amazingly, the single word told Tina all that she needed to know.

"Hello, Herm," she said, her two words lighting a small fire under him. Then to Tina, she introduced herself. "I'm Iris, a friend of your mother's, Anna's, and..." Abruptly, she laughed. "Most everyone else's!"

"Nice to meet you," Tina replied, smiling and intrigued at the same time.

"And hopefully," Iris added, "your friend as well."

Tina smiled and replied with confidence, "Of that I have no doubt."

Tina's answer was sufficient to turn Iris' cordial smile into a delighted one. Then she turned to Herman, smiling an even brighter (albeit somewhat mischievous) smile -- which from his point of view was 'dynamite!' "So! If the two of you are finished hugging..."

Tina's smile was genuine. "I think so."

"Then," she announced, looking directly at Herman, "I think it's time you and I started our relationship!"

It took perhaps two point four seconds for Herman to make up his mind in response to this rash and unwarranted assault. It wasn't clear he would be able to keep up with Iris -- she did tend to move at the speed of light -- but he couldn't imagine not trying. Grinning from ear to ear, he offered his arm, and without an apparent care in the world, the two began walking away, intent only upon the other person.

Tina watched, in total amazement. Silently she asked herself, 'Now whom or what does that serve?' The answer formed in her mind as quickly as the question had. Surely it was obvious! Tina smiled, even as she shook her head in wonderment. The pace of events seemed suddenly so incredibly accelerated. It was going to take everything she had just to keep up. For a moment, she wondered if Herman could handle it as well. As she formed the questions, she seemed to receive from the universe, something resembling an answer of the form: 'Sure! Herman has met his match.' Tina just smiled, continuing to watch the two walk away.

"Hello there."

Tina turned to the man suddenly standing in front of her. It was Percy, the man she had met in her father's room prior to the wedding. He was now smiling, more handsome than she remembered and obviously intent for the moment upon Tina. Her entire body warmed gloriously, her emotions returning in full force from their momentary R&R. Nevertheless, Tina was only able to manage a moderately brilliant reply. "Hi," she said.

Being the sensitive type, Percy avoided the full frontal assault of an Iris, and said in a conversational way, "This really is an auspicious day, isn't it?"

Tina abruptly recalled her mother's similar words, the ones which had continued to puzzle her, even now. "What do you mean?"

"Astrologically," Percy replied, slightly puzzled. "It's a good day to get married."

"Oh yes, of course," Tina lied.

For a moment, silence reentered the space between them. Then Percy, struggling for conversation, asked, "Did you ever see so many geese?"

Tina glanced around. Geese were, in fact, everywhere. Tina could not imagine why, or if there was a why. (Naturally, there was; the universe having a delightful time on this particular day, indulging itself with old images.) "Yes, there are," she managed to reply, abruptly deciding that if she never knew why there were so many geese around on this particular day, that would be okay. It could constitute a mystery that needed no resolution.

Tina looked back at Percy, who, having already used his cleverest opening gambits was temporarily at a loss for words. It's a common problem when one is limited to conversation which is initially neither suggestive nor improper. Tina, on the other hand, experienced by all of the propositions that she had suffered in the last week or two, knew without a doubt that Percy was interested in her body. And not just for medical research. Accordingly, her mental defenses, by reflex, went up to defend the ramparts. But only for a split second. Abruptly, her emotions wiped them out with a quick wave of the hand. 'This felt good!' something told her. And if times were indeed changing, if Tina was going to be required to change as well... then Percy was certainly worth the gamble. Or as Zak might have said, the risk.

For Tina, however, there was a small problem: How did one go about this? How did one get their feet wet, so to speak? When it came to initiating the first moments of a relationship, Tina was just slightly out-of-date. After a long pause, she began to realize that, obviously, the only solution was to wing it!

Turning slightly, she took Percy's arm in as close to an affectionate manner as she could muster. No longer having to look directly at him and learn immediately what his reaction was, she said, "So, tell me! What's your sign?"

Tina had been wise in not wanting to see Percy's immediate facial response. Waves of incomprehensibility flowed across it as he tried for an adequate response. 'This woman,' he began to think, 'is either so far behind the times in using that line in the traditional meaning... Or! She's a lot sharper than you might think. She could even be at the forefront of a reincarnated fad! In which case, she is definitely worth investigating!' Aloud he answered, "I'm a Leo. With an Aries rising, conjunct my Venus."

Tina tried to smile, as she realized that she had no earthly idea what his being a Leo and whatever... and her being a... whatever she was (double Aries) had to do with anything! She was completely out of her league. And astrology was obviously too weird for words -- even if it was her best connection for the moment. Then Tina realized that her dating skills had probably gone out of style with hoola hoops. Whereupon she simply smiled at Percy, who in turn assumed that she was pleased with his answer.

They began to walk across the grassy area, when abruptly, she stopped in mid-stride. Suddenly very concerned, she turned to him and asked, "Wait a minute! We're not related, are we?"

Percy took a moment to respond before he answered, "No. I don't think so. I'm a friend of Andy's. I don't think I'm related to anyone here."

Tina said, "Thank goodness!" Tina breathed a very heavy sigh of relief.

*********

They were the same woods and Herman abruptly recognized the same old well, but now rebuilt, and again surrounded by grass and flowers. When the beautiful young maiden appeared as well, he felt more relief than surprise. As he smiled at her return, she again offered him pastries and clear water from a golden cup.

He gently took the proffered food and drink, and then hesitated. Looking back at the maiden, he asked, "Why don't we share this food and drink?" Even as he spoke, he offered her first choice of the pastries.

Her smile suddenly brightened even more, radiating an intense warmth. He returned the smile, seeing in the maiden's face something more than just a momentary delight. Clearly, the possibilities were unlimited!

For a moment, he stirred slightly, the pleasant dream affecting his sleeping body. His movement, in turn, caused Iris, who was sleeping beside him, to respond by curling up against his side. Because of her closeness, his next dream was as glorious as the first!

 

The End

"Him who is willing the Fates guide, the unwilling they drag." -- Seneca

 

Chapter Twenty One Showdown at Longwood

Forward to:

Appendix Dramatis Personae

Sources

Up a Creek

Novels

Short Cut to Fictional Works

               

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