White Rock Maiden
This is chapter 39 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK
“I’ll take you up on that offer of a ride if it’s still good.”
Edwin was speaking to Sean as they were eating breakfast with Tina. Mary was still asleep and although Sean was tempted to put his ring on, to be able to experience what she was dreaming, he didn’t—knowing that it might interfere with her much-needed rest.
“Sure, Edwin, I’ll take you right now. Mary should be up by the time I get back. She had a restless night, the thunder kept us awake,” said Sean, “I’ve got some boxes in the car that I want to take to the UPS store to ship back to Seattle.”
“She knows what she’s getting into,” said Tina, “I can’t help but think that she’s in real danger.”
“She’s never been one to back down from a challenge,” said Sean, “Is there anything you need from town, Tina?”
“Twinings black tea and a pint of half and half. Something for dinner tonight, if you want, otherwise I can make a meatloaf,” Tina said, “How long do you think you will be gone?”
“I should be back by twelve, at the latest,” said Sean.
While Sean drove to town, Edwin didn’t speak. Finally, Sean broke the silence:
“Do you think you’ll be spending much time at Tina’s this summer, at least up until the auction?”
“That’s entirely up to Tina,” Edwin said, “I wouldn’t want her to think that I was taking advantage of her.”
“She’ll let you know if you do” said Sean, “She’s the kind of person who speaks her mind. It would be a big change for her, of course, as will leaving the farm in the fall. What about you Edwin? Would you consider moving into an assisted living place to be near her?”
“Old habits die hard, Sean,” Edwin said, “My apartment above the shop is all I've known since I came back from Korea. It’s been over sixty years.”
“And almost seventy since Emily left,” said Sean, “Mary’s last visitation from Emily was very disturbing. Mary feels as if Emily is still alive or, rather, exists in some form.”
“That may well be the case. It seems that now Mary is the only person who has the power to reach her,” Edwin said, shaking his head, “We’re only playing supporting roles in this drama, Sean. Emily and Mary will have to see this through. And the baby, of course, in the next generation.”
“The baby,” said Sean.
“Is Sean out?” said Mary, as she walked into the kitchen.
“He’s bringing Edwin into town and is going to run some errands. He said he’d be back by noon,” said Tina, “Were you finally able to get some sleep?”
“The thunderstorm was bad enough, but the visitation from Emily that I had in Mineral Point Saturday night keeps coming back to me in my dreams. My feeling is that she still exists: imprisoned, in some physical form, somewhere.”
“How many more of Emily’s ‘sites’ will you be visiting?” said Tina.
“Four. If I do two today and two tomorrow we should be able to head back on Wednesday. Not that we’re in a hurry—it’s been great being here—but ‘real’ life is waiting for me in Seattle. One of the sites on Edwin’s map isn’t far from here,” said Mary, as she pointed to the spot on Edwin’s map, “I should be able to walk there.”
Tina examined the map.
“That’s Edwin’s folks’ old place, it was where he grew up. Didn’t he tell you?" said Tina, “It’s probably a ruin now, it was abandoned and surrounded by a thicket the last time I walked back there. When the bridge washed out they never bothered to make a new road, so it’s been left alone for a long time. It’s accessible by foot—if you don’t mind wading through the creek.”
“It’s about a mile, right?" said Mary, “I’ll be able to get there and back by the time Sean returns.”
“A mile more or less, although you might have to backtrack a little,” said Tina, “Be careful in the creek, it might be running high after last night’s rain. There’s an old cow path that starts right behind the barn. If any trace of it remains it will lead you to Edwin’s parent’s place. No breakfast?”
“I’ll take a banana, I won’t be gone long,” said Mary, as she headed out the door.
“Here you are, Edwin,” said Sean, as he parked in front of his store, “We’ll be leaving Wednesday morning so, if we don’t see you again, it’s been good to get to know you, and good that you and Tina have made amends.”
“Yes, it has been a good thing,” said Edwin, “You take care of yourself, and Mary as well.”
Sean left Edwin and went to the UPS shipping center where he spent nearly an hour preparing the boxes containing his old computer hard drives and other things from his college days. There were also some personal effects of Emily’s that Mary wanted to keep. She didn’t want to risk losing them if someone were to break into their car on the way back.
The path behind the barn was overgrown, although Mary could tell where it had been from the ‘lane’ that was suggested by a lack of large trees. When she reached the creek, it was about two feet deep and considerably more active than the trickle it had been when she and Sean went to the old bridge site the previous week. Mary slipped off her shoes and socks and, after looking around, her pants. She could sense animals in the woods around her and their relative calm indicated that there were no other humans nearby. The water was cool, it carried a fresh scent of rain from the previous evening’s storm. She could feel curious minnows nibbling her toes; it made her smile. There was a large, white boulder on the far side of the creek. After crossing over, Mary sat on it, drying her legs in the sunshine. After a couple of minutes, she took off the rest of her clothes.
“The Black Psyche,” she mused, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her skin as she gazed at her rippled reflection in the flowing water, “This is paradise.” When she was finally dry, Mary reluctantly put her clothes back on and continued to the site marked on Edwin’s map.
What had once been a farm yard was now a tangle of small trees and scrub plants. There was an open area where the barn had once been; stones of its foundation peeked through tall grass. The house still stood, although it was obvious that it was beyond repair. A flagstone path to the backdoor was still usable, however, and Mary approached the house with caution. She began to sense the proximity of a ‘site’ as she entered the kitchen and, after carefully walking through the debris which covered the cracked linoleum, she came to a doorway leading to the living area. The room was divided by three large uprights which supported the joists of the second floor. The ceiling was falling down in places and the walls held traces of peeling wallpaper. Many of the floorboards had been ripped up. She stepped into the room and it immediately exploded in a riot of color.
The possession had begun.