Here is the next section of Prana (previously Esther) Book 6 of Waldmeer.
In Prana Community:
In India, Mahashivratri immediately precedes the spring equinox which is the herald of spring. In Prana Community, Mahashivratri precedes the autumnal equinox which is the beginning of autumn. Both equinoxes have the same amount of day as night. Thus, they are a time of transition and reset.
Rybert said that the autumnal equinox or Mabon was the Witches Thanksgiving. It is the end of a year’s growth cycle, he would say. Everything changes. The trees change colour. They shed their leaves. It’s a time of general shedding. He would then add with a wink, Shedding clothes is also appropriate, but it does depend on who is doing the shedding.
“I won’t come in your car, today,” Merlyn said to Shambhavi, that morning, before they left Prana Community for his class at Waldmeer Warriors. “I’ll take my own because I want to go and see Rybert at the Wurt Wurt Koort tearooms afterwards. He has been away since last winter.”
It was around the autumnal equinox of last year that Merlyn moved to Store Creek. She quickly became a frequent visitor of Rybert’s cafe. At first, she went there to see her friend, Tom, and his Brussels Griffon, Hardy. However, she soon became fond of Rybert as well. Then, she was happy to see either – Tom or Rybert. There was twenty years age difference between the two gay men (who weren’t partners) but it was equally interesting to talk to either. Rybert was older and grumpier, but he was also wiser. Both were engaging and caring, and both were fond of Merlyn. Before leaving for Borderfirma, Rybert asked Tom and Merlyn to take over his shifts at the cafe. Tom took the bulk of them. Merlyn did some, but that reduced to zero once she moved to Prana Community, a few months ago.
Although Merlyn wanted to reconnect with Rybert and see how his trip had gone, she also had another reason for visiting him.
A Chance to Fly
In the Wurt Wurt Koort Tearooms:
“You seem different,” said Rybert to Merlyn.
“It’s living at Prana,” said Merlyn. “It would change anyone. You didn’t come to Mahashivratri?”
“I have enough of the supernatural in my life,” said Rybert pointing to his witch-themed cafe. He was the offspring of a long line of witches. “How was it?” he asked.
“Spectacular,” said Merlyn. “Lots of people there. Lots of dancing and chanting and bare-chested men. [Traditionally, men at Mahashivratri dance with only half their clothes on.] A bit of screaming and drama. [Some people like to let loose in their healing processes. They like the theatrics.] Everyone was on their best behaviour and made a big effort to be positive and friendly.”
Merlyn picked up one of the witch quotes that went with Rybert’s coffees. It read, Everyone deserves a chance to fly.
“I don’t think people realise the powerful aftermath of Mahashivratri,” said Merlyn, “especially when it is done in a place like Ajna Temple. It has a long-term effect on people in ways they would not be aware of.”
Rybert looked at Merlyn with focused attention. He knew she wanted to say something else.
Merlyn fiddled with the yellow thread which was wound three times around her thin wrist. It had only been there for seven days of the mandala period of forty days.
“Since Mahashivratri,” she said, “I have been hearing a voice in the temple.” She paused to gauge Rybert’s reaction. “The voice only speaks when no one else is around and it says not to tell anyone.”
“Then why are you telling me?” asked Rybert.
“The voice said that she is Amira,” said Merlyn.
Not many things surprised Rybert, but he was visibly surprised and moved.
“Faith,” he said softly, more to himself than to Merlyn.
“Why do you call her Faith?” asked Merlyn.
“By the time I knew her, she was Faith; Malik’s mother,” said Rybert. “However, for most of her life here, she was Amira.” After a pause, tinged with sadness, Rybert asked, “What did she say?”
“That you should come to Ajna Temple,” said Merlyn.
That afternoon, in Ajna Temple:
“She’s not saying anything,” said Rybert. “Are you sure she is here?”
“She’s not saying anything to me either,” shrugged Merlyn, “but I think she’s here.”
After sitting quietly, for fifteen minutes, looking around at the intensely beautiful space of the temple and at the intensely powerful linga of black granite, Rybert turned his gaze to Merlyn. In this special space, this sacred atmosphere, Merlyn looked, likewise, beautiful. Rybert thought about Faith. He had always felt that, somehow or other, he had missed out on connecting with Faith in the way that he would have really liked to. He didn’t know if it was him or her or Gabriel or something else. It felt unfinished, incomplete. And now she was gone. The discomfort of it gave him a sudden but very clear idea.
“You know what you need, Merlyn?” said Rybert breaking the mesmeric silence.
“What?” asked Merlyn. “What do I need?”
“A boyfriend,” said Rybert.
“What about me?” said Rybert.
“I don’t know if you need a boyfriend or not,” said Merlyn.
“No, silly,” said Rybert. “What about me as your boyfriend?”
Merlyn laughed even more. “You are gay,” she said. “Not even bisexual. You are completely gay.”
“True,” said Rybert, “but I will make an exception.”
“Do you even know what to do?” asked Merlyn, still smiling.
“Err, how hard can it be?” said Rybert with absolute confidence. Becoming more serious, he said, “I’m actually serious. I’m sure I can work it out, but it’s not really about that. At sixty, you rule your own body. It doesn’t rule you, anymore. You tell it what to do, and it does it.”
Realising that Rybert was making a genuine offer and was waiting for an answer, Merlyn silently said to Amira, Now would be a good time to say something.
“The main thing is the relationship, isn’t it?” said Rybert. “No one has to know, unless you want them to. We only have to go as far as we both wish, and either of us can abandon the idea if we find it’s not what we want. The important thing is that we would care about each other’s life in a way that is more committed than the average friendship. We would make each other a time priority. A heart priority.”
Merlyn heard not a word from Amira but decided to make her own decision and said, “Sold!”