“That’s her, that’s Emily, about the time she painted that picture of the pasture.”
Tina placed the loose photograph on top of the album from where it had fallen.
“She would have been thirteen, maybe fourteen. She always dressed nicely, too nicely for some folk around here, but she really changed when she went to New York City. Whenever she came home from New York she always had very nice clothes—in the latest fashions. Folk said that men gave her clothes for ‘favors.’ I don’t need to tell you what they meant. She never denied it. She wouldn’t talk about it. That was why she never stayed here long; she didn’t like anyone telling her what she should or shouldn’t be doing. That and the money. Whatever it was she did out east, it made money. She was good about sending some home every month. It saved the farm and made things a little easier for us as well.”
“Did you miss her when she was gone?” said Sean.
“Oh I suppose so, but I never really knew her as my mother. A little girl knows what she knows, and doesn’t think much about what she doesn’t. When Emily did come back it was akin to a visit from an eccentric aunt. Now… well, I think she’s still here with me, somehow. Mary, you’ve seen her for yourself. I may be an old fool, but I do talk to her sometimes and she answers me—not in so many words—but in feelings. That’s why I’ve had such strong feeling for you, Mary. When Emily allowed you to see her, it was her way of telling me that you were the one.”
“We stopped at the Ice Cave on our way back… ” said Mary, “… and I certainly felt something there.”
“The Ice Cave? Sean why, of all places, did you bring her there?” Tina said, looking concerned. “That’s a dangerous place. What happened?”
“I can’t say it in words, but there was a great influx of energy, of information. I’m still processing it. It didn’t feel other-worldly, it felt as if came from the rocks and the air, it seemed to be like a lattice of… ” Mary paused, “… of what the stuff of reality is made of.”
“She was actually glowing,” said Sean.
“Oh dear,” said Tina, “This is going so fast.”
“Have you had episodes like this?” asked Mary.
“Emily tried to show me how to ‘bring one on’, as she called it. It was after she had come back in ’46, to give birth to Sean’s mother. I was sixteen. I had had some ‘stirrings’ but it was not to be, not in my case. Emily talked to me about so many strange things, things I couldn’t grasp, most of which I still don’t understand. She told me that we were part of a special lineage—The Matriarchy—a line which had come down through her mother, and her mother’s mother before her, going as far back as the beginning of humanity, Emily told me, even before we were human. ‘Female first, then woman!’ That was exactly what she said. ‘It’s in us, it’s in all women, the only difference between them and us is that we have become aware of it.’”
“What about me,” said Sean, “I don’t have it?”
“Emily talked about that as well. She said that the awareness of The Matriarchy needs a spark from a man who has the trait. It is hidden in men, for the most part, they are only the carriers.”
“Huh,” Mary thought about what Tina had said, “That would explain why my episodes started after I became pregnant.”
“It’s the spirit growing within you that triggers it. Emily had heard about it from her grandmother, and started to experience it for herself when she was pregnant with me,” Tina continued, “She told me that she wanted to experience it fully, that there were others like her in New York who could help her.”
“What happened to her grandmother?” asked Sean.
“She ended up in an insane asylum,” said Tina, “Emily's mother told her that her grandmother was only a little odd when she went in. They quickly turned her into a basket case. She never got out.”
“That’s something to look forward to,” said Mary, “What else did Emily say about this ‘awareness’ that she received?”
“She said it gave her the power to see inside another person’s being, ‘It takes off the mask’ that’s what she said. There were other things as well. She said she could tell when harm was directed her way, that she could see into the hearts of people at a distance. She said she it could help her find places of power, places she could use to grow and recharge her power.”
“The Ice Cave?” said Sean.
“That was one of the places.”
A lengthy silence ensued. Finally, Mary spoke: “You asked if I was good at codes. You have something of hers that she wrote? A journal?”
“There were books.” Tina rummaged through the drawer that held the photo album. She brought out a small, leather-bound notebook. “This is the only one I still have. She took the others with her when she went back to New York. I’ve examined it many times, but it’s written in some kind of cipher. I was wondering if you could take a look at it, Mary.”
“I’d love to have a go—if I may.”
“It’s a family heirloom, and now you’re family,” Tina said, handing the book to Mary, “Speaking of which, how did the wedding license application go?”
“We’re all set for Thursday morning. We’ll have our prenup agreements tomorrow.”
“Do you have a ring?” asked Tina.
“Hm, I hadn’t thought about that,” said Sean.
“I hadn’t either," said Mary, “It would be nice.”
Tina went back into her drawer and retrieved a small box covered in faded purple velvet.
“Here. It was my great-grandmother’s.”
Mary opened the box and her jaw dropped. It was a ring holding a large emerald, in an antique platinum mount. The gem was surrounded by diamonds.
“In ancient myth, a green emerald represents Venus, the goddess of love. It symbolizes eternal love, faithfulness, and wisdom,” said Tina, “Here’s wishing the both of you all of those things."
“I don’t know what to say,” Mary said, dabbing her eyes.
“Don’t say anything, dear,” Tina said, softly, “Just feel the love.”