She was standing at my feet when I opened my eyes. For a moment, I didn’t recognise her.
Her muscular legs were half-hidden with boots, and some kind of cape flowed down her back. She had on long gloves that seemed to be more for warmth than fashion. A pair of antlers burst out from amongst her long, tousled hair and stretched to the sky.
Strong, tree-like, wooden antlers. She seemed to be the forest personified.
I didn’t know quite what to think, though I knew who she was immediately.
She smiled, and raised a hand, palm towards the sky.
Serpentine, green vines emerged from the ground beneath me and wound themselves around my limbs and body, pinning me to the ground. The moment they stopped growing, this woman lifted her hands towards me and beamed a golden light down upon me.
My body filled with breath. A deep, relieving breath. As my back arched upwards, straining against the vines holding me down, a small black spike shot out of my belly and into the sky.
The antlered woman pulled down her bow and drew an arrow; took aim; fired; and splintered the spike into a million pieces.
They rained down into the earth and disappeared.
The antlered woman tilted her chin upwards, appraising the situation with satisfaction. Then she turned back to me, waved her arm, and the vines let go, writhing back into the earth.
‘Your grandmothers suffered because they could not digest the path, could not reconcile the Ways with their own.’ She stood strongly in front of me.
I knew exactly what she meant. They were Catholics, subsumed their own calling for the church.
‘You are not your mothers,’ she reminded me; I felt chastised. ‘Be aware and watch for the path.’
She turned to go.
‘Elen,’ I ventured, afraid to ask a ridiculous question. ‘Should… should I put you on an altar or something?’
She grinned, amused at my discomfort.
‘It’s not necessary. But,’ she winked, ‘it would be nice.’
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