The rainy season came early that year. It was a time of upheaval. The portents said trouble was inevitable. That the monsoon would be much worse than usual. Crops would fail and things would be washed away. The soothsayers spoke louder than normal. They charged extra coins for our fortunes. Made nuisances of themselves.
I prepared. Something in my bones told me that the predictions I kept hearing were right. Something big was coming. I stockpiled extra food and made the house ready. The metal shutters and drainage ditches cost me a great deal. Almost everything I had went into the readying. After two moons I felt that all I could do had been done.
I waited. Wrote my stories. Planned for the worst. Hoped for the best. Everything is nothing more than thinking and talking small steps. One foot in front of the other. Over and over. That’s how we move through life. The only difference between myself and others is in the way I see the process. The walking is all the same.
Ah, but when you can see where to go. That’s when the light and dark places all turn magic. That’s when each step takes you a little closer to heaven or hell. The places in between are just waypoints on the journey. Waypoints that bring one side or the other closer to being focused and real.
You two. Such beauties. Let’s get you out of that rain. Don’t let the flood wash you away. Don’t worry. This house will stand. I’m glad you knocked. We’re on high ground and I can use the company.
Sisters are you? Let me get some soup and coffee from the kitchen. You’re so young. Are either of you old enough for coffee? I’m not sure. We’ll risk it tonight. The winds are blowing so hard. Come in. Let me shut the door before the cold follows you inside.
This place was made as a refuge from all the ugliness out there. Take off your shoes and warm your toes by the fire. I’ll be back in a moment. Don’t mind the cat or the dog. They are friends.
Sit there, on that comfortable couch. Nothing will come in and hurt you. Not the storm. Not the worries that followed you. Not any hunger nor any pain. I’ll ensorcel away your demons with my words and the spells I know.
Sit. Enjoy this haven. We’ll talk in a moment after your bellies are full and your skin is warm. Be at peace. You are home. For as long as you wish.
Gather yourselves while I take stock of you two. So pretty. Why are your eyes doubtful? It’s dark outside. Not in here. Let me tell you a few things while you eat and drink.
That fire was made with wood I chopped and dried myself. I cut the fuel from the trees on this land. They are a beautiful gift that must be managed with care.
The soup is made from things I grew with my own two hands. Potatoes, leeks and thyme. The coffee beans grew in the field over that small hill you came up to get here.
Everything I have to offer is as much yours as mine. This house, the land, safety from the storm. Be at peace, little sisters. My hospitality is good and honest.
The two of you look tired and the rain won’t stop anytime soon. I’m afraid you’ll have to spend the night. I have extra room and warm blankets. The storm can’t get in.
Soon the sisters trusted me. Once the fire, soup and coffee had warmed them inside and out I showed the girls to the bedroom and let them talk together a little while so they would know their hearts better. In time, they asked me to tuck them in and tell them a story. I told them about the way starlight on your toes keeps you young forever.
Soon they were drifting into a dream state with soft smiles on their faces. When I knew they were content and saw that they would soon sleep, I doused the lights. We joined each other in the world of slumber and woke up to find that the storm had passed us by.
The rainy season came early that year. The predictions were right on that count. In one thing though, the soothsayers were wrong. The rains were fierce but they didn’t last long. My girls stayed on. They are with me still. I love watching my beauties tucked in warm under the blankets on cold nights. They whisper and giggle together. Then we talk about the nature of starlight.