In “The Gardens of Ailana”.

“What do you think we should call you?” little Sylva asked.

“Do I have to have a name?”

“Most people seem to think so. I think they’d get lost if they didn’t have their names. People don’t usually know who they really are, but they do like to pretend.”

“People think they need a lot of things they’d be better off without.”

“That’s what my mom says, but I’m still figuring on that one.”

“Want a little help?”

“No, I think I’ll just let my brain have it for a while; I’ve got other things to do.”

Some very brief bit, only one or two short, very mildy distracting lines goes here.

“What do you like to eat?” Sylva, lost in her pondering, was all seriousness now.

“I like strawberries.”

“No, that’d be a dumb name.”

“How about calling me Cuthbert?”

“Now you are just being silly. Pay attention. This is important business. People don’t come here and leave here the same, so they should get a new name while they’re here.”

“Okay, I can see that,” he said. “So what’s your brother’s new name? Or is Renn his new name?”

“Renn doesn’t need a new name; he was born here. Only the pretending people need real names when they stop pretending so much. But some people leave and they still don’t know who they are, so I don’t name them.”

“Aren’t you the girl people told me doesn’t talk very much? Guess they didn’t know you very well.”

“Good point,” she said. So then she went back to thinking again.

As they studied the land around them it seemed indecisive, uncertain. It hadn’t yet made up its mind. Was it spring now, or had winter merely blinked? Were some patches of ivy brown, brittle, dried out and returning to soil; or were they looking for a bit of their green again? Had they given up, or would they once again decide to live? Was that which had been there last year coming back, or had they seen the last of it?

“Y’know, people really should listen to children,” she told him.

“I’m beginning to find that out.”

“But not when we’re just being children.”

“Okay, now that’s something I’ll have to think about.”

“It’s good to give each other stuff to think.

“But you don’t wanna make a whole lotta noise when you’re doing it.”

“You mean like talking?” he asked.

“And other stuff. Like eating corn chips.”

He started to write on one of his special lumpy papers. She saw him holding a pencil he hadn’t had before, but hadn’t seen how he’d opened his box. She decided she would just have to start observing harder.

She thought she’d give him something to write.

“You know you can’t pet a stumblebee on the back while he’s flying because that’s where his flying parts are, and that’s why they stumble.”

“Ah, yes. That would be so,” he replied.

“You don’t really scare them when you try to, but they would ‘Really rather you would stop doing that!’ ”

And then she was quiet again. That had been a lot of talking for her. She didn’t usually pay any attention to grownups because most grownups didn’t know very much.

This one was different.

Besides, he was fun to watch because his light went out farther when he thought about people.

It didn’t shrink in and get all hard like that crippled lady’s used to. You could hardly call hers light at all.

“I think I’ll name you Mica,” she told him, “Because you’re all shiny.”

“Mica. I like that. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Mica it is. I am now Mica.”

“You are Mica, the Shiny One.”

 

At end of day, Paulette sat with Ailana on the porch, unwinding from her day of exploration. She’d been thinking about how much she had learned back at the healing and meditation retreat without even knowing it.

She tried to remind Ailana now of one particularly lasting and memorable lesson. “When you told us to listen to the forest, feel that deep Peace, and take it inside us … Well that just changed me somehow.”

“Except I never said that.”

“It … but … You didn’t?”

“Why would I tell you to take peace inside you? It’s already there. All you needed was to find it. I told you to feel it inside you, not take it there.”

– From my new novel-in-progress, “The Gardens of Ailana”.

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