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Eyelash rains of marigold

After the Tornado

By Barbara Steinhauser Published 3 years ago 8 min read

A whirling dervish caught Freya’s eye as she scanned the earth’s surface seeking Odr. Joy it was to forget all her troubles, to fling herself upon a tornado, to catch an upbound thermal and soar: bliss, in fact. Falcons circled ridges, rising in similar fashion. She swung arms to breast in a human hug before stretching her cloak of magic feathers and winging into the swirling air. The Lady felt a twitch as her left wing caught lift; she steeped her body into a counterclockwise turn, missed the rising air, tried again. Soaring was tricky, even for a goddess.

This raging funnel, scented with fresh grass, spoke to her of valley pebbles and uprooted trees. She dodged a heavy brown package, then found herself smacked by a floating gown of white. Peeling its silken fabric from her face, she admired its threads of gold, shimmering in the sunlight. What was that about? She returned it to circulation alongside the box, where it danced and gyrated, proclaim freedom from tyranny. Whose tyranny, Freya wondered. Was that a wedding dress?

Distracted, she flew out from the lift to hover outside its circulating winds. What was happening within this insignificant valley? The lives of human beings passed quick as butterflies, yet, on occasion, she found herself somewhat absorbed. Might this be one of those moments? Her eyes narrowed and she squinted into the valley like a war correspondent. There mightn’t be war correspondents in this century, but she had searched through time for Odr and understood the job. Traveling had its perks.

Once, as she sped centuries forward, she’d stumbled upon a placard announcing Viking football in a Super Bowl. Curious, she followed a crowd to the gladiator stadium only to discover no ball of foot, no extra-large bowl. In fact, small men in round helmets ran into and around a field wearing flimsy purple and gold padded garments, of what material she could not name, but thinner than wool or leather stuffed with fleece. And not one bit of mail armor. Upon closer examination, she’d been startled to witness upon the inadequate hats, images of blond, ragged haired men wearing helmets topped by horns. This cartoonish character reflected artistic license on an historical scale. How such proclaimed warriors drew great audiences, she never discovered; humans ceased to amaze after a time.

What folly lay below? She returned to this time, this place, this present awareness. Down valley to the left lay the results of a typical slow-moving tornado. Gnarled black roots exposed a history expansive as Yggdrasil, but personal. The World Tree would uproot in a massive cyclonic event. Its demise would bring the end of the world as she knew it: a debilitating Ragnarök.

She consciously lifted such thoughts from her mind and set them aside, returning to contemporary reality: that tiny tornado. Slimy, rock-pocked mud was being sucked around the corner and up the twisting funnel like a vacuum cleaner hose. Oh Freya, focus on the now, she scolded her restless mind. Something might interest you yet. Though what that might be escaped her. She’d been more stimulated watching Amelia Earhart fly solo across the Atlantic. Focus!

She took a cleansing breath, imbibing earthy stench she might have described as pleasant, had a pregnant goat’s poorly timed delivery of twins not expelled the stink of entrails. Disappointed vultures, deprived an appetizer, swooped toward the lower valley, as pebbles, rocks, and boulders whipped from exposed ledges smashed into a spring hive, releasing swarms of buzzing yellow jackets. It was a valley teetering out of balance.

The funnel progressed slow as a plow processing sunbaked turf. Was its target that pristine barn, white with fresh paint? Outside the barn, winds ripped deserted wagons from the ground like fallen leaves, splattering them against the structure, immense as a longhouse and sturdy, save for its splintering, shattering windows. Of all the futuristic additions, this particular upgrade was poorly played, inspiring screams from what sounded like multitudes inside. Was its architect Loki himself?

Above the fray, an eerie melody rose like a threat; a supernatural tune was being played upon a droning Hardanger fiddle. Fanitullen, Freya whispered. Agi! The Devil’s Tune.

Curiosity peaked, a slight movement above the valley ridge sped her gaze along the tree line. Was that a green berserkr seated upon a bloody skin? She whizzed closer, assessing the spectator to determine its value and began to laugh an hilarious laugh, not from boisterous humor but absurdity. This animal, were it not dressed as a man --or a troll-- might be a woman, so fragile was its structure.

Freya lowered herself like a hummingbird, hovering above the hooded creature before settling upon its blanket, startling the being.

“What’s this then?” The person regained her composure.

Freya focused on the swirling brown box as an intense gaze absorbed her form.

Soon, it settled back into itself. “Ah.” It grunted. “What’s it to you, Lady?”

“Who be judging?” Interesting, how the brown box kept its center, despite outside forces threatening to rip it apart and smash it against a rocky wall.

The figure shrugged.

Freya considered. “What do you suppose the box contains?”

“Box?” A high pitched voice; not a man’s voice- maybe boy. Not the groveled voice of dwarf nor troll.

Freya pointed.

“Ah. That be cradle, carved and polished from the likes of dwarves. One dwarf particular, that be. Me husband, that be.”

“Husband?” The goddess would not have thought this.

The hood fell, revealing the pale, freckled woman beneath.

“Ye not be green then?”

“The sky be green. I the lake, reflect the sky.”

“A sorceress ye be?”


“And what lay before us, here?”

The woman sighed the deepest, from her heart it came. “My gold-wrapped, glorious child fell to money grubbing. It were her Da, the Dwarf called father, backed me into a corner. What mor wouldn’t do what she must to free a child from certain gloom?”

“I too have a daughter.” Freya agreed.

The woman continued. “The King waits, chieftain of the reclaimed longhouse there below, meaning to wed my girl, to claim the gold such as was woven. The viol sings his treachery! The Thief had no interest of divine inspiration when he caught daily sight of her delivering Da’s handiwork each night. She were but servant, then, pretty enough but no veleda to wed.”

She rolled hazel eyes, gazing straight at Freya. “Twarn’t til the fool Da bragged upon her, claiming she spun straw into gold, that the empty man seized upon something grand as she.” Rocking back and forth, her face crumpled with anguish. “Foolish of a craftsman to sell what is most precious with a lie. She canna spin wool, nor straw. But more foolish than the father is an ungrateful treasure full of self-loathing, who belittles herself and accepts the proposal.”

Freya’s hands went to her necklace, her Brisingamen. She barely contained her wrath combined mirth. “And what of the necklace you wear? How did it return to you keeping? Speak plainly, Mor."

The woman wept silver tears. “I went to her, clothed as a Rumpelstiltskin. She sat, confined within that.” A wrinkled finger pointed to the reconstructed and sturdy longhouse below, battered by splintered wagons. “It were dilapidated where she languished, beside a still spinning wheel and mountainous collected straw. I asked what she might offer me to spin the bales to gold.” Weeping gushed forth and took time to settle.

Gulping air, Mor returned to her tale. “’My only valuable be this tarnished necklace,’ she said. ‘A parting gift from a vanished Mor. Take this.’ I near began to weep in that dank room. But take it I must and take it I did and now it hangs where it began, here upon my breast.”

Freya smoothed her warm stones, bidding them hush. “How did she na understand its worth? Mother, how did she na ken its value? Ye failed her.”

The Mother again slumped, eyes green as turbulence. “Headstrong be her name. One canna force what daughters unwill.”

“Ach ya,” Freya nodded, thinking of her own daughter, Hnoss, recalling how Oceans fire rests on shield’s damager.

They commiserated in silence.

“The stones called to me,” Mor confessed. “Rhodocrosite of deepest rose pink claim she does not love herself. She has no gratitude. She cannot marry an empty man: two common starlings whose external hearts glitter iridescent when the sun sparkles, beautiful to observe. Yet, inside where hearts truly beat, the Devil’s Tune bears witness.”

Freya considered Mor’s words; they overwhelmed and infused her being. “The deed was finished. Straw became gold?”

“With modest skill, the deed was accomplished. I bear the necklace.”

“And do ye love yourself?”

“I would love me Mor, had she betrothed another man.”

Freya tapped Brisingamen. “But are they wed?”

“Nai!” Mor's cry of pleasure rang down upon the valley, quieting winds. “The King stands destitute; he could na remember her name! And there upon yellow dun she rides beside young Od, escaping fate.”

Freya stiffened. “Young Od?” Might it be her Odr? Through time immortal she had searched, in every battle ever fought, through Seven Realms. Might he be here, now, within this dull valley, young and agile? With dread and hope, she rushed toward this essence, observed through eyelash rain the couple, bolting from whirling wind behind a herd of draft horses, freed from their wagons.

“No, Lady! Do not cry for Odr! Nai! Nai! Already fields of marigold seed and blossom!”

Multiplying blooms were indeed spreading across the valley before Rosalyn and Od.

"Not yet a man, is he! Oh Lady!"

“Weep not! I will not have it." Freya couldna see clearly so thick was her waterfall.

Mor moaned. "My child, prey to a greedy King and now The Lady lays down a further curse. I will na allow this manipulation. I canna! Recall your golden field, your love potion. Let Rosalyn love for her reasons or remain a maid.”

Tornado quenched, the valley calmed. Folk escaped the longhouse, whistling shrill calls to vanished Norse horses. The herd turned as one, but not before the yellow dun knelt, releasing a pair of riders to wallow in blooming fields, picking handfuls of golden, clustered flower heads, laughing at each other, basking in sunlight.


About the Creator

Barbara Steinhauser

Thank you for taking time to read my stuff. I love writing almost as much as I love my people. I went back to college and earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and often run on that storytelling track. Enjoy!

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