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Amber Moon

Seeing in the Dark

By JBazPublished about a year ago 12 min read
15

We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. Not that I could see it, my vision disappeared nearly two years ago, the day after we buried my wife. I woke, and the world around me remained dark. It was sudden, like Marie's death.

Content with driving in silence and listening to the radio, we hear Whitney Houston singing ‘Do you hear what I hear,’ reminding us of the season.

My granddaughters voice sings out softly. "We're almost there, grandfather."

I roll down the window and breathe in the fragrance of the forest and fresh snow. A cool wind washes over my face and refreshes my soul. I fill my lungs with the crisp air covered in that distinct tangy, yet sweet smell of evergreen needles. A forest in winter has a unique scent that tickles my nose. It is neither masculine nor feminine, but calming, like a cool breeze blowing away any worries.

Turning my head towards the voice, I hear her heartbeat, maybe I sense it, but I know it is finally slowing down. No longer panicking. I am unsure who needs this retreat more, her or me. We both have demons of our own to expel.

As the car veers gently to my right, I feel a slight incline as we proceed up the long driveway to my cabin. I welcome the vibration coming from the tires rolling over the fresh fallen snow. As the vehicle slows I hear the soft crackle and pop like ice in water and the final crunch tells me we are here. Also, the car stops moving, I just like the sound better.

"I'll get you inside, then come back for our stuff, ok grandfather?"

Nodding my head, I proceed to exit. I can discern shapes in shadow form, I feel capable enough to get myself into the cabin without help. I also know Sarah, she is a kind, troubled but kind. She feels the need to help me. The peaceful sound of crunching snow echoes off the forest wall as we walk, it is the only sound we hear.

She gets me settled in the armchair by the fireplace and drapes a blanket over me, while I wait for her to bring in our items. In no time Sarah has a fire blazing in the hearth. Smells of food cooking in the kitchen waft towards me and for the first time today I feel hungry.

"Suppers on."

I hear her shuffling feet, softly slide across the wooden floor. Setting the food in front of me she tells me where everything is laid out, including my tea. We eat in silence. She thinks because I cannot see I will not know that she has been crying. She is wrong.

She hands me my heads phones and tablet, asking if I am ready, I reply. "Yes dear, I am."

I begin to listen to my audio book, while she cleans up after supper. Morgan Freeman continues where we left off. His voice takes me to another world. A favorite story I used to read to my child, 'Follow the drinking gourd,' helps me escape to happier memories.

To soon I feel the touch of gently being shaken. I must have fallen asleep, because there is only a soft hum from my headphones.

"Time for bed grandpa."

Sarah helps me up, I change and then like a child she tucks me in. Leaning over she gives me a hug. I feel how thin she has become and smell residue of drugs on her. She has seen so much pain for one so young. My angel is falling, and I do not know how to help her fly again.

With my mind full of doubt, I fall into a slumber, I let the world of dreams take my soul. I drift among the blessed past, a troubled present and the unknown future.

So silent is the night, I toss and turn, my mind is unaccustomed to the quiet. Creaking from the aging building wakes me. I am grateful, there is something about this hour I have always enjoyed. It feels like there is no one else in the world but you. Unfortunately, this is becoming all too true.

I find my clothes and get dressed. That is one positive thing about being blind, I do not need light to guide me. I feel an urge to go outside, as silly as this sounds, the feeling is too strong to ignore. I am unworried, this cabin and land has been in my family for generations. As the saying goes I can find my way around here blindfolded, only I do not need a blindfold.

Slipping on my boots and coat , I find my cane and enter the world of night. I miss seeing the stars and moon in the evening sky. I remember making snow angels and gazing at the constellations with my little girl. There is an excitement building within me that I cannot explain. As Bilbo once exclaimed, 'I’m going on an adventure.'

My boots crunch the top layer of snow, as I place one hesitant foot in front of the other, sinking up past my ankles in spots. I am drawn to where I do not know, but I continue. The crisp air bites delicately on my cheek and nose, little kisses of frost let me know I am alive.

I know this land, it is the land of my people, but I feel that I am now walking in an undiscovered area. A warmth begins to radiate within me, and for the first time in a long time, I see light. It is a hazy brightness at first. A far away glow in the distance, as I approach, the land becomes visible. The coniferous trees laden with pillows of snow. The stars above twinkle with life and the moon is a color I have never seen before. It glows golden bright; an amber hue surrounds this celestial sphere. A transparent dark blue sky marries with the sparkling bright white of the snow.

If there is a heaven, I believe I am seeing it.

Marching into a clearing with an apparent purpose, the area shines as though it has been sprinkled with fairy dust, the air is electric. I am so transfixed by the beauty around me, I fail to see the giant shape lurking amongst the trees. Until I feel a presence behind me. An amber mist drifts past. A low rumble vibrates the very air, I slowly turn around and freeze.

In front of me is a large grizzly, huffing and bobbing from side to side. A thin veil of mist floats between us with every huff, adding an illusionary effect that this is my imagination.

I cannot scream, I cannot move. The beast lumbers up to me, my feet refuse to answer my request to flee. His giant head nears my face, I feel the warmth as his mouth begins to open. I hear something unexpected. “Little man, welcome."

I stand there, mouth open. A gurgle is the only sound that escapes my throat.

The lips of the large Ursus pull back with what can only be considered a smile, bowing his head low he speaks. "Fear not on this night my friend, we are all as one. “Gesturing with his head he continues. "There is one you must talk with. They await your presence."

Turning my head in the direction of his gesture, I see a magnificent Buck walking towards us. Light radiates from his coat and antlers, there is something majestic about him that leaves me even more speechless than I already am.

In a voice, deep and rich with life he speaks. "Welcome Joseph, we have been expecting you."

“How do you know my name?"

Instead of answering, the great beast replies. "You may call me, Wa'patii."

For the first time since entering this magical realm I finally find my voice, and my manners. "Thank you for welcoming me, but.... have I died?"

"I truly hope not, otherwise this meeting would become awkward, even more than it already is."

Looking into his rich and soulful eyes, I realize I am no longer fearful. Why did this feel ...natural?

Hesitantly I ask. "Is this a dream?"

"Perhaps, would that be so wrong?"

I ponder his statement.

Turning back the way he came; I hear him say. "Walk with me Joseph."

I follow. From behind, a great voice bellows out. "Farewell little man, may you find what you are looking for."

Picking up my pace I notice we are heading to an open area of the forest, a clearing where the entire glow of the moon appears to gather. Familiar and unfamiliar sounds of nature fill the air. Worldly musical notes bring joy to my heart, and I am filled with a sense of excitement, like that of a child waiting for Christmas morning.

Images of animals begin to shimmer into form. I pause in wonder as I witness before my eyes, what once was an empty vale is now teaming with life. Every forest and plains creature walking freely amongst each other, mingling as one.

"How can this be?"

Pausing, Wa'patii stares into the night sky. "It happens once a year. On this night we congregate as one, our voices become one. We call it the Gathering."

"There are so many, I see prey and predator, are you not fearful of this?"

"No." A simple answer.

"Do you not hate them?"

"Who?"

"Who? The wolves and cougar who kill your kind? I see them walking among your young, how can you not hate them"

"Tonight, no one will come to harm. We are here to understand each other. They do not take life out of hate or anger, only out of necessity. We may not like it, but it is the way of the world."

I try to understand this reasoning, wondering if I could ever be so forgiving. "How can this be?"

I hear a chuckle. "Why question what is right in front of you?"

I cannot argue with that logic.

My mind is spinning with questions, trying to make sense out of this. Reality is starting to take control, and this is not reality. Is it?

"Why am I here?"

Wa'patii stands tall, a hush covers the vale, as all become motionless. I sense hundreds of eyes upon me.

With Solemn dignity he explains. "Every year we are granted a wish, it is this discussion that brings us all together. In the past we have asked for the necessities like, plentiful rains, bountiful food, or healthy young. This year was different. This year a spirit came to us, pleading with such passion, and sharing such loss, yet asking nothing for themself."

There is such a reverence to the silence, I realize the sacrifice they have given to grant this one wish to another. Emotions so powerful overwhelm me, I must ask. "What was the wish?"

In answer Wa'patii stares off to his left, paws the ground and walks away. "Farewell Joseph."

I follow his gaze, my feet begin walking on their own, leading me to a lone tree in the center of the clearing. The closer I get the vision becomes clearer. An apparition sits under the tree surrounded by animals of all types. All in rapture of this lone figure. I catch my breath, fearing the image may vanish, I whisper. "Hello Marie."

She looks up, her smile warms my heart. The world around me becomes a whirlwind, with us in its calming center. Patting the ground beside her she beckons me to sit. "Hello Joseph, you appear lost."

"I am, without you I am...lost."

Setting myself down next to my love, I feel her warmth. I take her hands in mine, feeling the familiar touch, I break down. Uncontrol sobs wrack my aging body, words refuse to release themselves. I am unsure how long I weep while she holds me. Finally, I am spent. Raising my face to hers I ask.

"Am I to stay here with you?" Hoping the answer will be yes.

"No, Joseph you must return, Our grandchild needs you, but first I must share something with you."

I push back. "I am blind, I cannot help. I rely on her and yet I fear she may not be around for much longer."

In a voice strong and stern, she admonishes me. "You are not blind. You chose to blind yourself to the troubles of the world. They do not vanish in the dark, only in light can you banish them."

I feel ashamed.

Marie comforts me. "It will be alright, now listen to what I have to say.”

She whispers in my ear, I listen. My spirit grows stronger with her words. Morning light creeps upon the land, the gathering is slowly disappearing. My love is fading. Before she is gone I lean in, close my eyes, and kiss her. Holding her close, our bodies fit so well together.

I am made new.

I remain in the dark with my eyes shut, until I feel a gentle shaking.

"Grandfather, it is time to wake. you have been asleep long enough. I made us breakfast."

I hear her leave the room, I get dressed and walk out into the kitchen. There is an unfamiliar yet familiar scent lingering in the air. Sarah must see me sniffing and looking confused. She settles me in a chair, places a hot cup of tea in my hand.

She speaks. "I burned them."

"Burned what?"

She swallows hard, her voice quivers. "My drugs, I burned them all."

I say nothing, a small smile creeps upon my lips.

Sarah continues. "Grandfather, I had the strangest dream last night, and when I woke I felt ...new."

Reaching out I hold her hand. "I feel new as well, let’s say we try this newness together?"

Sarah smiles. Then, for the first time in a long time she laughs, happiness fills the cabin and my soul.

Looking into her eyes I say. "You have such a beautiful smile."

Thank you for reading my story, I truly am grateful. If you enjoyed it, please click on the heart and press subscribe.

Jason

Snow crystal Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

FableYoung Adult
15

About the Creator

JBaz

I have enjoyed writing for most of my life, never professionally.

I wish to now share my stories with others, lets see where it goes.

Born and raised on the Canadian Prairies, I currently reside on the West Coast. I call both places home.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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Comments (12)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran4 months ago

    That dream thing was so magical and divine! So glad that Sarah burnt all her drugs and the grandfather can now see. That was such a beautiful ending and a new beginning. I loved your story! Also, I laughed at Wa'patii, lol. Before I proceed, may I know the meaning of that name? In Tamil, 'vappatti' means mistress, lol. Also in Tamil, when said separately, as in 'vaa paati', it means 'come grandma' 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Mackenzie Davis4 months ago

    Wow. What a lovely story. The pacing is superb, and I really like how you brought in the animals to make the wish happen. Your emotional grounding in this piece is beyond what I was expecting, and is truly impressive. My own heart is feeling fuller. ❤️

  • Celia in Underland4 months ago

    Oh my. I am speechless and bawling. Stunning JBaz. I am so grateful to Hannah for 'digging' this one up. It is truly beautiful x 🤍

  • This is such a sweet tale, with an optimistic ending. "Sarah smiles. Then, for the first time in a long time she laughs, happiness fills the cabin and my soul." Looking into her eyes I say. "You have such a beautiful smile."

  • Donna Renee4 months ago

    ❤️❤️ this is such immersive writing! I can see why it made the finalist list in DF’s graveyard challenge!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)5 months ago

    Jason, I think I have juts found my all time favourite piece by you! This was breath taking and left me feeling "new". The line: "My angel is falling, and I do not know how to help her fly again." was soul crushing and really helped bring in that foreboding mood to turn this into the uplifting story it really was! The LOTR reference was so well timed/ placed within this breath taking story... it prepared me for the journey you took us on with Joseph! Such an amazing piece of work by you! 💚

  • Hannah Mooreabout a year ago

    That was lovely.

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Pass the box of tissues, please! A Beautiful story brilliantly told!!! Bravo!!!

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    This one tug on my heartstrings. Beautifully written with such sincerity and warmth. I loved it :)

  • Kelli Sheckler-Amsdenabout a year ago

    Oh my!!! What a wonderfully magic story. Your imagery and plot hit me hard

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Oh my. This is such a beautiful, heartwarming tale. Well done.

  • I really fell into this, great story and loved the images you used. Excellent Challenge entry

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