Adele inadvertantly upsets Neil, but after he talks to Claude and Heath, he feels better and calms down. He tells Claude he has a migraine, and the other man heals it for him and realigns his aura.
“How you feeling?” Heath walked up.
“You look better. And your aura isn’t as funky-do as it was.”
“That’s a technical term? Funky-do?”
“It is at my house.”
They sat down and discussed various aspects of the ritual. Soon, the women came out with some of the supplies for the ritual, as well as a platter of sandwiches and stone tankards and a pitcher full of some golden, frothy liquid.
“We found Cliff’s mead stash,” Dora said. “He used to make it for Christmas gifts. We forgot this past Christmas….” She blinked hard, gulping. “But it seemed a proper way to say—goodbye.”
They each got a sandwich and a stone cup. Cynthia and Dora served everyone some mead and they toasted Cliff.
A song came to Neil, something he and Cliff used to sing together. Humming, he found the tune and the words again. He hadn’t thought of it in at least fifteen years. Closing his eyes, he let the music fill him as he thought of his friend. Soon the other voices joined with him. Some sang the words, others hummed, all of them adding to the moment.
His voice caressed the words to the old Lenoard Cohen song, Bird on a Wire. When he got to the first chorus, his friends split into harmony, singing with feeling. He could almost hear the music play as they sang. He could swear he heard guitars, drums and mixed strings and woodwinds. It wasn’t his imagination! There really was music playing, but he didn’t know how it was possible. Not questioning, he finished the song, feeling a great weight lift off his heart.
They stood in silence, even the noises of the woods were still for a snatch of breaths. Opening his eyes, he saw the others doing the same. He hadn’t realized, but they had joined hands as they sang. He stood between Cynthia and Dora. Squeezing their hands, he hung his head, inhaling deeply.
“That was his favorite song,” Dora said, sniffling.
“Mine too,” Neil replied. “We first heard it at a Willie Nelson concert when we were fourteen. We went with our dads. You remember, Dora? You didn’t want to go for some reason.”
“I didn’t feel well. Cramps,” she whispered.
“Glad I didn’t know that then.” He winked. “He was singing with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard. Hell of a concert. They closed their first set with that song and it spoke to my soul.”
Dora hugged him, laying her head on his shoulder. “Thank you. I needed that.”
The others came over, hugging him. They cleaned up after their meal and got things ready for the ritual. The Outer Circle members had a meal planned for after, to greet Neil and Cynthia as official members.
Neil was nervous. He had no idea what to expect from this ceremony. They had inducted each of the Center Circle members as they reached maturity, but he hadn’t felt like hanging around as he watched his sister take the position he’d hoped to occupy. Now, he was taking it away from her. He sought her out, finding her at the edge of the property in a small meditation circle Cliff had made for her.
“Heya, Baby Sis.”
Dora grinned, tears in her blue eyes. “Hey, yourself.”
“I know this can’t be easy for you. Are you sure this is what you want?”
“I can’t do this without Cliff. Not only that, the Circle needs you and Cynthia now. Even if I wanted to stay, I don’t want another mate and the Circle needs a man and a woman, not two women. Besides, the bond between you strengthens with a marriage bond. It gets stronger when you first make love—don’t have to worry about that one.” She winked at him.
“Does the entire Circle know?”
“Honey, it’s all over you both. I’m happy for you. You’ve been purely miserable for twenty years, both of you. I’ve seen Cynthia go from one man to another. Some stuck long enough for her to hope, but mostly they faded away before they got past the first two or three dates. And you! How many women have warmed your sheets?”
“Not as many as you might think. Mostly friends with benefits, a few that I hoped would fill the hole in my heart, but they weren’t Cynthia.” He picked up a piece of pine straw, braiding the strands before making a loop with it. He tossed it away, but Dora picked it up.
“That needs to go in the fire. Things like that hold power.”
She handed it to him and he put it in his pocket.
“Lots to learn. You’re all twenty years ahead of me.”
“I’ll help you. We’ve all been working with Cynthia. She’s quick. You’ll be quicker. You had two of the best teachers in the world helping you prepare.”
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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This is the last installment of When Tis Done for 2017. I want to take the opportunity to thank you all for joining me on this literary journey as you follow my tales. I wish you Happy New Year and hope you will continue to follow me in 2018. On to greater things! May the New Year be blessed for us all!!