Kage Baker is just about always on my mind. She slips away from me when I sleep, though – she’s immune to my attempts at lucid dreaming, and just will not show up when I try to call her. She was never one to be summoned …
She does show up in my dreams, though. It’s just that she’s in the background, or in another room, or I’m counting on meeting her somewhere really really soon and trying hard to get there. It’s usually a dream about getting ready for a Renaissance Faire, and I’m trying to get the Inn set built – complete with some out-of-proportion addition like a mead hall or a bowling alley, and all the screw guns have dead batteries … oh, that horrible whine as a Makita winds down to nothing!
This is clearly a metaphor for the writing. Either Kage or my subconscious needs some lessons in subtlety.
Staring at Iris kept me occupied for a time, while the new grownups set up in my empty family cave. She was dressed like them (and me) in fur and leather; she carried in firewood and what I hoped were bundles of food, hefting as much or more than a grown man could. She was just so odd-looking!
As I sat by the fire – rapidly built up again by my benefactors – I became aware that I could feel Artur and Eiluned. I could feel their heart fires; and even more, I could feel them feeling mine. I’d only just begun to learn how to feel the heart fire – it enriched the grownups’ conversations, and made me feel safe when I caught the edges of it: but I wasn’t very good at it yet. It was how I was left behind, I’m sure – Momma and I couldn’t feel one another’s heart fires, because I was too little to do it right.
She may have thought I was dead. And I couldn’t feel her to track her. Babies have to learn to do it, you see – both to feel it, and to be felt. First they learn to talk, but that’s just making noise. It’s the heart fires, the shared feeling among the People, that really makes us the People. I could feel it now from Artur and Eiluned as they moved about, smiling at me; it was the most wonderful thing I had ever encountered.
Iris smiled at me, too – she had teeth like a baby! – but I couldn’t feel her heart fire at all. I smiled back, though, because I was so happy to feel People near me again. And I knew it wasn’t her fault she was ugly. Still, between knowing my Momma was gone, and the continuing weirdness of my rescuers, I just slowly, unconsciously, started to cry. I didn’t mean to. But the tears filled up my eyes and rolled down my face, fracturing the fire into red streaks and stones in my vision; it felt like I was watching from behind a hot wet mask.
Eiluned came to me at once – I could still feel her; and I knew she could feel me. So when she sat down and put her arms around me, it was the most natural thing in the world to burrow into her and cry and cry and cry. Artur came and sat down beside us, until all I could feel was their two big hot hearts holding me close in the darkness behind my eyes. I could even tell that Iris was nearby – a little pale flame, like thin moonlight. But even feeling her was so much better than being alone.
Now came something we all encounter in our first few hours, all we rescued children. Some of us deny it, some dismiss it. Most of us take the memory and make it part of our personality foundation, integrating into the new person we become. They talked over my head: and while I couldn’t understand it then, I very quickly couldn’t forget it either. Their voices came clearly out of the fog that burned away my old brain, became one of the first clear memories for the thing I would become.
It’s that way for all of us. Sometimes what our rescuers say in those first few hours is all we remember at all of our pasts. It certainly stays more important than anything that happened to us before they found us. It is the Word in the Darkness, that becomes Light.