It is almost noon as I enter the forest. The cloudy day cast its own shadows around, making me think of fairy tales. Ahead is Fantasy, harvesting items from her garden. She is a quarter of her normal size, but still growing.
"Hi Fantasy!" I raise my hand in greeting.
A smile lightens up her face, "Hi Michelle! Have you a story for me?"
"Yes I do Fantasy, but first, how are you feeling these days?" I asked.
"I'm good, feeling better these days, and you?" She picked some peas.
"I'm doing well. I've been pretty saturated with life in general, but I think I'll get through with it. You've been helping me a lot Fantasy, and for that I'm so grateful. I hope you like what I have for you." I sat on a log with my laptop open on the story.
"Hi Nana." Cherine was a ball of sunshine as she bounced into the room. I set down my knitting and enveloped her in my arms. I inhaled the sweetness of her blond hair, and marveled at how like a golden meadow kissed with sunshine it looked and smelled. I loved it when my grand daughter came to visit. She always brightened my life.
"Good morning Cherine." I smiled, "How are you today?"
"I'm good!" She looked up into my eyes with her bright blue eyes, reminding me of the summer sky. She had radiated magic ever since she was born. Her parents didn't see it, but I did. In my time, many people had magic, but in the generations that followed, the magic dwindled for some reason. I remember having been disappointed when none of my children had magic, but when Cherine was born, I knew, just by the sparkles in her eyes, not to mention the intensity of their color, and other senses, that she would be the start of another generation of magic, but would it carry on, or would the magic fade even more? Only time would tell, but it wouldn't be in my lifetime.
"What are you thinking of Nana?" She asked.
"Oh, I was just thinking of how everybody was like you and had magic." I sat her on my knee and gave her a squeeze.
"Will you tell me a story?" She asked.
"How about something better?" I asked.
"What?" Cherine bounced on my knee.
"Oooh, Cherine, you're getting too big to do that. You're hurting Nana." I said, "You'll have to be more careful."
"Oh! I'm sorry Nana!" She hugged me.
"That's ok Cherine." I smiled as I returned the hug, "How would you like to bake today?"
She got off my knee before expressing herself this time. She jumped up and down, "Yippie! I love baking!"
I smiled, "I know you do Cherine. How about you go see grandpa and get some apples for me, ok? Then we'll figure out what to bake when you get back." I smiled.
"Ok!" She laughed as she ran out of the room, taking the extra sunshine with her. I sighed. I had a good life, and I was for the most part content with my life, so why was the energy of this little girl affecting me like that? I knew it was part of her magic, but every time she left the room, it seemed like my soul grieved. But who was my soul grieving for? Her or me? I shrugged my shoulders and hauled myself out of my chair and shuffled to the kitchen.
I reached inside the cupboards and brougt out flour, baking powder, and salt, standard ingrediants for a cake, as well as cinamon, brown sugar, as well as oats. She could want to make a cobbler too. No one knew what Cherine wanted to make or who to make it for. She had known people needed something cheery before I did, and at one time that me disconcerted. That was before her abilities increased with her age. Cherine would have to go to boarding school, but convincing her parents would be another thing. I thought of this latest thing just as my sunshine came back into the room.
"Papa says he'll be here in a few minutes." She crunched on an apple as she walked.
"Good Cherine." I smiled, "What would you like to bake today?"
She tilted her head to the left, and placed her right forefinger on her chin, an expression I loved right from the beginning. She did it every time she was thinking.
"Um, how about some applesauce cake, and apple pie?" She smiled.
My heart sank. I was totally out of applesauce, so that meant making a batch of it before making the cake. I must have frowned, because Cherine walked up to me and took my hand.
"Are you ok Nana?"
I laid my hand on her head, "Yes Cherine, I'm all right. We'll have to make a batch of applesauce before making the cake, though."
"If we do a big batch, we could take some to Mrs. Tomson and her little baby. He would like some." She said.
"How did you know they needed food?" I almost dropped the corer.
"I heard you and Papa talking about it, but....I felt it." She touched her heart. It was something she had never been able to express before. "I don't know what it is, I just know."
"Cherine, have you told your Mommy and Daddy about this before?" I sat on a nearby chair so I could look her in the eye.
"No." Her curls bounced as she shook her head, "Mommy and Daddy won't believe me.
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"I heard you, Papa, Mommy and Daddy talking about it one day when I was in bed." Tears filled her eyes, "Nana, what's happening to me? I'm not telling lies when I tell what's going on. I want to help people."
The child fell into my arms and started to sob. I caressed her hair. "Shhh Cherine. It's all right to feel that way. People in my generation did."
She looked up into my eyes, her face wet with the dew of tears, "Really?"
"Yes Cherine. That's how come your Papa's apples are the best around, and how come I can sometimes heal people with just a touch."
"Oh! I remember that! You healed my ankle once." She smiled.
"That's right." I reached for a tissue and wiped her face. "There now, feel better?"
Cherine nodded as we heard the door bumping open, and we heard my husband's voice, "Can I get some little help here?"
It was his way of asking for help from Cherine, and immediately she was back to her old bouncy self, for helping was her nature. She bounded to the door where her grandfather was lugging in two giant pails full of apples.
"What's goin' on?" He grunted.
"I think Cherine's finally sensing there's something different about her." I said, "Nothing that a little cry couldn't fix."
"Oh. Well, we had better keep an eye on that. Her parents need to know, and if they can't or won't pay for..."
"Chit! Little ones have big ears." I said, "She's not far away, you know."
He grunted in response as he set the apples on the floor. I put my hand on his shoulder. "It's ok Rupert. I know you were only trying to help, but she needs to be a child for a while. Besides, that's how she found out that her parents don't believe."
His breath was like a jet of steam, "I see. Ok. Well, we'll talk later. I'll be in the orchard with the boys."