Chapter 1: Seeing the Totality
A full moon evening, late in May, in Waldmeer:
Purnima means full moon. Full moons are auspicious occasions for new beginnings, and so we begin; again. Merlyn and Gabriel stood awkwardly at the entrance of Twenty Mile Track. Awkward because they barely knew each other, and this seemed too big an adventure for virtual strangers. Nevertheless, there they were, brought together by some unknown force.
The force wasn’t exactly unknown. It was Amira, after all, and she wasn’t unknown. Gabriel certainly knew her; knew her more than anyone else; knew her until that night, a few months ago, when she left this world. Actually, it wasn’t this world that she left. At the time of her passing, Gabriel and Amira were living in the Great Valley of the interdimensional Borderfirma Mountains. So, she didn’t leave Earth, but nor was she here. Except for one place – Ajna Temple – but that was only known to Merlyn (and also Rybert who, upon Amira’s instructions, had been told).
This evening was brought about by another of Amira’s instructions. Amira recently told Merlyn that the entrance to Twenty Mile Track was a gateway to the interdimensional Stone Ground. Stone Ground was a large, round rock, balanced on a flat rock, next to the Borderfirma Lowlands palace. Amira’s son, Aristotle, and his wife, Indra, lived in the palace. Just as Floating Cave Monastery was built around the sacred salt pond of Floating Cave, the Lowlands palace was built around the equally sacred and powerful rock structure, Stone Ground.
Indra had grown up in her father’s house next to Floating Cave. She knew how to guard the etheric power sources. And Aristotle was part of the spiritual bloodline of Faith-Amira with his own gentle, intuitive, and loving nature. Gabriel had a lot to do with Aristotle when he was a child. He considered him partly as his own. That was a good considering.
Amira explained to Merlyn that, every full moon, the grassy area at the beginning of Twenty Mile Track became an interdimensional passage for a period of twenty-four hours. Then it closed again until the next full moon. The portal was aptly called, Purnima Passage. However, as far as Merlyn could tell, no one in Waldmeer called it that. Not even anyone in Prana Community called it that. So, Merlyn wondered who were the people referring to it as Purnima Passage.
This full moon was a particularly special one. It was the Buddha Purnima which celebrates all-things Buddha. However, of more widespread interest, it was also a red moon. In opposite parts of the sky, as the sun set, the moon would be getting ready to rise. Normally, the full moon passes either below or above the Earth’s shadow. On red moon, it passes directly through the Earth’s shadow causing a lunar eclipse called totality. Instead of blacking out, the moon becomes red and turns on a show.
Merlyn heard the folk of Waldmeer talking about the red moon. She knew some of them were planning to take up a possie, on the pier, to witness the event. As Waldmeer’s magnificent main beach faced east, the sunrises and moonrises were spectacularly unhampered. She hoped that none of them were intending to come to Twenty Mile Track which started a mere few streets behind the Waldmeer shops.
It’s not particularly secret or hidden for an important energetic gateway, she thought.
Some things are best hidden by remaining directly in front of everyone’s eyes.
Chapter 2: Waldmeer Advancement Association
A few days ago, in Waldmeer:
It had not been an easy matter to get Gabriel to meet Merlyn at Purnima Passage. A few days ago, Merlyn went to the Waldmeer Advancement Association and waited for Gabriel to finish the art class he was teaching there. Assuming she was a new student, Gabriel handed her an entry form.
“Umm, no, thanks,” said Merlyn nervously, “I’m not here to enrol in the art classes.”
Gabriel looked at her more intently and said, “Oh, I recognise you. You are Ide’s friend from the Waldmeer Warriors dance classes. She told me about you. And I also remember your face from when I was at Prana Community for Mahashivratri.”
“Yes,” said Merlyn feeling partially relieved. “I know it sounds a little strange but I have a message for you.”
“From who?” asked Gabriel suspiciously.
“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you,” said Merlyn.
She knew that sounded pathetic. She wished that Amira would allow her to tell Gabriel that the message was from her. It would make everything so much easier, but Amira had insisted that Gabriel could find her himself when he was ready.
“I don’t take messages from anonymous people,” said Gabriel turning to leave.
“It’s about Borderfirma,” said Merlyn quickly.
Gabriel stopped walking and turned back to Merlyn. “Go on,” he said.
“There is a gateway to Borderfirma at the entrance of Twenty Mile Track,” said Merlyn. “It’s only open once a month for twenty-four hours. I’m going to go and I need a guide.”
“No,” said Gabriel. “Not me.”
Feeling that there was nothing else she could do, Merlyn said, “I’ll be there before moonrise.”
Chapter 3: Buzz Beanie
Back to this evening, at Twenty Mile Track:
While most Waldmeerian eyes were on the eastern horizon and the red moon, Gabriel and Merlyn stared at the opening ball of light at the entrance of Twenty Mile Track. It was as big as a two-storey house.
“Seeing as we are both here,” said Gabriel forcing himself to put a foot into the glowing light of Purnima Passage, “we might as well go.”
Merlyn hesitated and said, “I do have to be back by tomorrow evening. I’m starting a new job in Waldmeer.”
“Where?” asked Gabriel.
“At the Waldmeer Warriors,” said Merlyn. “Malik asked me if I would take over his wife’s job, on the desk, as she hasn’t been well lately.”
“I thought you lived out of town,” said Gabriel. “It’s a long drive.”
“Yes, I’ve been living on Shambhavi and Veronica’s property,” said Merlyn, “but I decided to move back into town. Malik told me that the granny flat across the road from him is empty again.”
It was the same flat that Merlyn had lived in last spring and some of summer. After she moved out, to go to Prana Community, the owners had no trouble renting it to all the holiday makers, but now that the weather was cold, they were happy to take a long-term renter again.
“I had two dogs,” said Merlyn, “but not now.”
“Sorry,” said Gabriel.
Bella was put to sleep not long after moving to Shambhavi’s. The vet had told Merlyn that she was a ripe old age for a cavalier. Normally, their predisposition to heart problems means that they don’t get to have old-age problems which Bella did have. One afternoon, a few weeks after Bella’s passing, Bertie, Merlyn’s German shepherd, put his heavy paw in her lap and quietly closed his eyes for the last time. Merlyn knew he wanted to go. He was grateful for his happy time with her, but he missed Bella, and wanted to see his old mistress again, and he felt tired.
Not long after, Merlyn told Shambhavi that as she no longer had dogs, it would be best for her to move back to Waldmeer and take a job in town. He understood. It wasn’t only the dogs. Merlyn felt she was living a bit too close to someone else’s marriage, although, of course, she would never say that. He understood that too.
He did give her a parting gift; his electric shaver. It was just what she wanted! He knew that too. According to the tradition of Guru Gadubanud’s monks in his Southern Indian ashram, Merlyn decided to shave her head. It was to be done the day before Purnima. She told Shambhavi her idea and, in his customary, well-mannered way, he suggested that instead of completely shaving it, she could use his electric shaver guard, set to a reasonable length, and then she wouldn’t be too cold which translated as too bald. Merlyn took his advice, and the shaver, and now had a buzz cut which she had ceremoniously performed, alone in Ajna Temple, according to the traditional rites. That is why she had a beanie on tonight, but Gabriel would have simply thought it was a cold night.
“If we don’t hurry up, we won’t be going anywhere,” said Gabriel.
“You lead the way,” said Merlyn. “You know what you are doing.”
Gabriel wished that he did know what he was doing. Regardless, he reassuringly touched Merlyn’s beanied head and stepped forward into the shimmering glow.