Here is the next part of Esther (Book 6 of Waldmeer). It is the end of Part 3: Borderfirma.
PART 3: BORDERFIRMA
Putting the World to Sleep
Back to now, in Waldmeer:
One end-of-summer morning, after Farkas’s dance aerobics class at the Waldmeer Warriors, Merlyn decided to stay and chat with her older friend, Ide. Merlyn had become so immersed in her life at Prana Community that she hadn’t been outside its perimeter since moving there. She wasn’t sure if her self-imposed isolation was due to an increased desire for spiritual progress or if it was a way of avoiding the pain of Ben’s relationship with Esther. Either way, it now seemed sensible to re-enter the world, even though that meant an hour-and-a-half drive for a single dance class.
Merlyn had hardly danced for the past year. Her intensive adult-ballet training stopped when she moved to Store Creek, and she had only been to a few of the Waldmeer Warrior dance classes before moving to Prana Community. She had participated in the rollicking fun of the Manipura Dancers of Ajna Temple, but that was only once a month. Pulling the body back into dance-mode takes considerable effort.
Even though Merlyn and Ide had only met a few times, they were like old friends.
“How are you, darling?” asked Ide. “Are you enjoying life in the commune?”
“Definitely,” said Merlyn.
“I envy you a little,” smiled Ide. “It took Bob Owens ten years to build Ajna Temple, right at the beginning of the community’s life. Even though I never lived in the ashram, I knew Bob and sometimes visited his property to see how it was all going. I was always that way inclined, although the rest of Waldmeer thought he had gone raving mad. I remember when Farkas and I got together, he was not a fan of Bob. Nor was he a fan of Salt. He got over that. By now, I think he has got over a lot of things.”
Merlyn remembered that it would be a year since Salt passed on.
“Did Salt like Ajna Temple?” asked Merlyn.
“He loved it,” said Ide. “It was right up his alley.”
Merlyn looked closely at Ide who showed no sign of residue grief. “You remember the good times you had with Salt rather than missing him, don’t you?” ventured Merlyn.
Ide took the conversation to a different level. “It’s not that I remember the good times and ignore the pain of loss. It’s that every moment is a gift, sweetheart. But when the moment passes, the gift is not gone. For the real gift, you see, is the life and spirit within another. That life is everywhere around us. It gets concentrated in a certain place and we call that a loved one. But if the loved one has to journey somewhere, we haven’t lost the gift of love or life. It swirls around and shows itself to us in a million ways. Look at the sea shining. Isn’t it brilliant? Isn’t it perfect? How could we not be happy to see it and live alongside it?”
Farkas appeared at the gym door and said, “I’ll be one more minute, Ide. I forgot to do something.” Then he left the women alone again.
Merlyn wondered if Ide and Farkas were back together. It seemed too personal a question to ask of a senior couple.
Ide pointed towards the door where Farkas had just stood and said, “I enjoy what the ocean brings, but I don’t insist on anything. Nature has seasons. After all this time, Farkas and I have been able to enjoy each other without any stress. Recently, I even asked him if he would like to share the same house; either mine or his. I’m no longer attached to houses.”
Merlyn was very interested to know what his response was.
“He said that he has to go somewhere soon,” said Ide with a slight frown, “and that an old friend has been calling in.”
“Who?” asked Merlyn.
“A woman called Milyaket,” said Ide. “I could see that Farkas was quite enamoured with her, so I asked him if she was a love interest?”
“And?” asked Merlyn.
“He laughed,” said Ide, “and said that Milyaket is not that sort of a woman.
In the interdimensional Borderfirma Mountains:
One more day, in the Great Valley, turned into one more and one more for Gabriel and Amira. They had been living there since winter and it was now the end of summer. At first, Amira said that her legs were tired and that she couldn’t walk back to the Borderfirma Mountains palace straight away. While she recovered, they settled into life in the forest. Amira busied herself with cleaning and sorting Odin’s cottage while Gabriel had an endless array of jobs in the large garden around the house. It was a never-ending task to keep the forest from reclaiming the house. As Odin had hardly been in the cottage since Nina’s passing, the forest-reclaiming was well underway.
This precious time in the Great Valley was the most amount of uninterrupted time that Amira and Gabriel had ever spent together over the more-than-three-decades of knowing each other, being together, and not being together.
“Why didn’t you go to Earth when Rybert opened the bell portal?” asked Amira, one morning. “I thought it would be the first thing that you would do after all these years of complaining about being stuck here.”
“Because bloody Odin took forever to tell me what happened,” said Gabriel.
“But, eventually, he told you,” said Amira, “and you still didn’t come.”
“I wanted to,” said Gabriel. “Every day, for weeks, I told myself that I would return to Earth the following day, but the following day came and I didn’t go. I was a bit afraid.”
“Of what?” asked Amira. “You have had to face many fears but I would have thought that the prospect of returning home would not have been one of them.”
“I was afraid that if I went,” said Gabriel, “that I wouldn’t come back.” He turned towards the forest and listened; an ability he had only acquired in more recent years. “It was such a mammoth decision to come here,” he continued. “It took all the courage I had. I was losing everything that was familiar; everything I knew. Except you. However, it wasn’t just that. I realised how many people I talk to here; how they come to me with their problems. I know I can’t help them like you because, well… you are you, but I help in a different way.” Gabriel was often sought for his warmth, support, and advice. “I know I’m not the most mature person in the world,” he said, “but I hope that I have learned something.”
Putting the World to Sleep
Farkas lay in his bed. It was nice to see Merlyn in class today, he thought. It was a good day. Nothing happened of any significance, but he felt good all day. Looking out the window, he could see a blanket of stars gently putting this part of the world to sleep.
“Are you ready?” asked Milyaket of the Homeland. Her translucent, ageless body was illuminated by the starlight.
“As ready as I can be,” said Farkas nervously.
“And you understand,” said Milyaket, “that it is a one-way journey, this time?”
“Do you remember what I told you when you first came here to Waldmeer?” asked Milyaket.
“Yes,” said Farkas. “That I would make better progress with a human body.”
“And something else,” said Milyaket.
“You said that we see the separation of life as very arbitrary,” said Farkas, “and that we have far more connection than we are even vaguely aware of.”
“And that you will not lose the love that is yours,” said Milyaket.
“What is that love?” asked Farkas. “Is it someone?”
“Partly,” said Milyaket, “but mostly not.”
Farkas walked to the window and said, “It’s what the stars do.”
Milyaket gestured that it was time to go. Farkas allowed himself to be pulled away with her. Blind trust, if it is trust in the right things, can make some things painless.
In the Borderfirma Mountains:
“You know how I’ve been telling you that Nina often talks to me?” said Amira, that evening, in bed.
“You’ve been telling me,” said Gabriel, “but I never see her.”
“Today, she told me that the frame may work again,” said Amira.
“What frame?” asked Gabriel. “Work for what?”
“Zufar’s frame,” said Amira. “The one that took you and Aristotle to Earth.”
“You mean,” said Gabriel, “that it may work as a portal?”
“Perhaps,” said Amira.
“I don’t know why you are telling me that now,” said Gabriel.
“I’m just letting you know what she said,” said Amira. “In case you ever wanted a change of scene.”
“I’m too old for a change of scene,” joked Gabriel.
“Sixty isn’t old,” said Amira. “People have started their most important life-work at that age. Also, remember that the travelling trio are coming tomorrow.”
As Amira and Gabriel hadn’t been outside of the Great Valley since arriving, their loved ones from the Borderfirma Mountains and Lowlands had been occasionally visiting.
“One more thing,” said Amira.
“Hmm?” said Gabriel sleepily.
“I love you very much,” said Amira. She didn’t often say those words. She lived them, but she didn’t tend to say them. She held Gabriel’s hand and watched him drift away.
The next morning:
Gabriel woke to bird-call and was surprised to feel Amira’s hand still on his. He thought, That’s strange. Amira’s hand is cold. The bed is warm.
He sat bolt upright and stared at her. She was dead.
Several hours later:
Gabriel had been sitting, almost motionless, for several hours. His mind was anything but motionless. At first, he thought that if he just sat there and waited that Amira would somehow come back. To his horror, every passing hour only cemented more deeply how truly dead her body was.
He got up and paced the room. There was no point finding someone to tell. It would take too long. And what could they do? Besides, he knew that the travelling trio would be at the cottage by late afternoon.
How, on Earth, am I going to tell them that Amira is dead? he thought.
“How on Earth,” he repeated out loud.
He went to Nina’s old bedroom and frantically rummaged through her countless possessions from every nook and cranny of the Universe. Behind the wardrobe – the frame! Placing it next to his and Amira’s bed, he wondered if it would work.
If it does work, he thought, is it cowardice to go? To leave Amira here for the trio to find? To leave the people of the Borderfirma Mountains when they have lost her?
He felt the pull of the frame. Was it cowardice? He didn’t know. All he knew was that if he went to Earth, the intense pain he was feeling right now had a better chance of dissipating. He also knew from experience that, with time, his memories of Borderfirma and Amira would dull.
In the early evening:
Maria had been crying for the past hour. “I want to go back to Mummy and Daddy,” she kept sobbing.
Rybert tried to pacify her but he was crying too. Odin wasn’t crying. He was too distraught.
“The frame must be working again,” said Odin as his gaze alternated between his lifelong-beloved, deceased queen and the frame.
Maria moved towards the frame with the obvious intention of using it as a portal.
Rybert grabbed her hand. “You can’t go, my love,” he said. “We don’t know, for sure, where it goes.”
Maria may have been full of sweetness and light but she was her grandmother’s granddaughter, and she got that look in her eye. She leapt for the frame. Rybert wouldn’t let go. Anyway, he knew that he didn’t want to be in Borderfirma without Faith. And surely Tom would be getting sick of managing the Wurt Wurt Koort Tearooms by now. Odin felt that there was no way he could live in the Borderfirma Mountains without his mother, Lady Faith, and a royal child to protect. Maria had brought the spark of life back into his existence. They were always together. He grabbed Rybert’s hand and the travelling trio were off. Odin on Earth? God help them both!
In the Homeland:
Amira moved along the light-path to the Homeland. Although Nina had been speaking to her for months, she had only recently told Amira that it was time for her to return to the Homeland. In the distance, Farkas and Milyaket were moving in the same direction as Amira. She saw them and they saw her. Saw in the way that only souls can see.
End of Part 3: Borderfirma