Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Four Hundred and Thirty-two : Ancient Rituals

CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED and THIRTY-TWO

Thursday evening — 6:55 p.m.

“You clean up well,” Abi said to Tanesha.

Tanesha held out her arms and Abi hugged her. Abi wore a simple floor length velvet dress in royal burgundy accented by a rope of diamonds around Abi’s waist and a crown. Tanesha wore a simple sheath dress in the same colors but without the jewels. They were standing in the chapel’s waiting room for the naming ceremony to begin.

“I should probably explain…” Abi started and then stopped.

“Not to me,” Tanesha said. “You saved the Queen, helped her have her child, all the while saving Fin, your daughter, Delphie, me, and Heather. You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone.”

Abi hugged Tanesha tight.

“Can I ask you some questions?” Tanesha asked.

“Of course,” Abi said.

“Does it hurt?” Tanesha asked.

“Changing?” Abi asked. “Yes, it hurts a lot. It’s also exhausting, which is why I slept most of the day.”

“Oh, sure,” Tanesha said. “Is that what you really look like?”

“It is what I looked like at one time,” Abi said. “I’ve had to change as the planet has changed. Forms only work in the era in which they are created.”

Tanesha nodded.

“How did you know?” Tanesha asked.

“Know what?” Abi asked.

“What Fand needed,” Tanesha added.

“Oh,” Abi said. She shook her head. “After Fand was put back together…”

“By Jake,” Tanesha said.

“Everyone, really,” Abi said with a nod. “I had this feeling that something was missing. Jacob told me that he put together the pieces he could find, but he was sure she wasn’t whole, yet. I realized that she’s never really cared for her children. I wondered if the caretaking part of her was missing from her parents.”

“The ones who dropped Fand and her three sisters around the world?” Tanesha gave a disgusted shake of her head.

“Exactly,” Abi said. “I guessed that she needed her mother to have this child. I was in that form when she was a young child. Luckily, I guessed right.”

“She hasn’t taken her eyes off the child since we gave the child to her,” Tanesha said.

“Good,” Abi said. “The child needs as much attention as she can give her.”

“Because she’s has powerful magic?” Tanesha asked

Abi nodded.

“Why is her magic so strong?” Tanesha asked.

“I don’t think it is overly strong,” Abi said. “Certainly not more than Fin or Eddie.”

“Why did this child mess her up so much?” Tanesha asked.

“The child just showed us where her mother was messed up,” Abi said with a nod.

The door to the room opened and Fin came in carrying their child. The baby reached her hand out to Tanesha, and Fin set the baby in Tanesha’s arms. Only a few days old, the tiny child seemed wide awake and ready to take on life. Tanesha kissed the baby’s forehead. Fin kissed Abi’s cheek.

“They are almost ready,” Fin said. “Delphie’s almost finished setting up, and everyone is here.”

“Everyone?” Tanesha asked.

“The entire court is here,” Fin said. “As well as our family that lives in the Castle.”

Fin winked at Tanesha and put his arms around Abi.

“This is a beautiful idea,” Fin said and kissed Abi’s long neck.

“Naming the babies on the same day?” Abi asked. “It’s a great pleasure to share our joy with Fand and Manannán. Our girls will be raised as sisters and close cousins. It’s very exciting for everyone.”

“There is a feeling this time,” Fin said. “It feels …”

“Holy,” Tanesha said with a smile.

The doors to the room opened. Queen Fand and Manannàn came in with their new daughter. Abi and the Queen embraced while Fin and his father shook hands. Tanesha was sure she’d never seen Queen Fand so beautiful. The fairy queen’s face was calm and clear. When she smiled, the entire room seemed brighter.

Just then, Jeraine started playing the song that got the naming ceremony going. Tanesha gave Abi back her daughter.

“It’s time to go,” Heather said from the entrance to the room.

The new parents left the room and started down the aisle in the packed chapel. Heather and Tanesha followed close behind. They went through the outer chapel doors and waited before opening the chapel doors. After a moment, Jacob and Gilfand opened the chapel doors.

“Please rise,” Delphie said.

Tanesha peeked around the corner to find that the chapel had magically expanded to fit a coliseum full of fairies and well-wishers. Above them, the chapel was lit by thousands of pinpoint lights hanging front the midnight colored ceiling. The chapel seemed to be hanging in the middle of the stars.

Delphie waved a hand. Abi and Fin walked toward the front of the chapel. Once they’d reached Delphie, Queen Fand and Manannán started in their direction. As the Queen passed, the row of fairies and friends dropped down to one knee in a bow. By the time, she reached the front the thousands of viewers were all on bended knee. The crowd maintained that position while Gilfand and Jacob passed.

“You may be seated,” Delphie said.

Heather and Tanesha moved to either side of Delphie to help with the ceremony. Gilfand stood behind Abi and Fin whereas Jacob stood behind Queen Fand and Manannán. Delphie waited until everyone had seated before beginning.

“We are about to perform the ancient ritual of naming,” Delphie said. “This ritual is one of the most sacred and ancient ceremonies dating back to our ancestors.”

Delphie nodded to Abi. She looked around at the large crowd.

“We will ask you to participate,” Delphie said. “But, when it’s over, you will not remember what happened here. Not a moment of it. Only the parents and the children will bear any memory of this ceremony. There will be a large, informal party when the ceremony is completed. You will be able to retain a full memory of this event.”

“If you are not comfortable with this stipulation,” Delphie added, “we ask that you leave now.”

Delphie waited a few minutes to give people time to leave. No one moved.

“One more thing,” Delphie said. “We asked you not to bring electronic devices and recording devices. It seems like there are a few in the audience. Jacob?”

Two digital cameras flew through the air to where Jacob was standing. A few cell phones and voice recording came next. The gadgets continued to fly to Jacob until his arms were filled. He carried the electronic recording devices to outside the chapel.

“They will be waiting for you until after the event,” Delphie said with a nod.

“Let’s begin,” Delphie said.

~~~~~~~~

Thursday night — 10:07 p.m.

“We’re out here,” Jill said in answer to Jacob calling her name.

She was sitting on her wedding gift on the porch off the bathroom. The twins were at either side of her while Katy had fallen asleep with her arms around Jill’s neck.

“Hey!” Jacob said with a laugh. “You’re not supposed to be out here!”

She looked at him and smiled.

“It’s perfect,” Jill said.

“It’s your bride’s gift,” Jacob said.

Jacob leaned over to pick up Tanner. Bladen opened his eyes the moment Tanner moved from the bench, so Jacob picked him up as well. He sat down next to Jill on the bench swing.

“Thank you,” Jill said.

She leaned over Katy to kiss Jacob. She caught his lips and he smiled.

“What a lovely night,” he said.

The lights of the city served only to enhance the beauty of the still snow encrusted mountains. Jill smiled at him.

“It’s a perfect night to be out,” Jill said.

“I put some blankets in the chest,” Jacob gestured to the chest on the edge of the balcony. “If you get cold.”

“The Katy blanket is always warm,” Jill said.

Jacob smiled at Jill. The beauty of the scene in front of them seemed to capture their words. They fell silent.

“Lovely ceremony,” Jill said.

“Do you remember any of it?” Jacob asked.

“Not a bit,” Jill said. “You?”

“Only the sense that we were seeing something ancient and beautiful,” Jacob said.

“Do you think Delphie remembers?” Jill asked.

“She told me she would actively work to forget,” Jacob said.

“I wonder why it’s important not to remember,” Jill said.

Jacob shrugged.

“I think about Sunday …” Jill said.

“What’s happening Sunday?” Jacob asked.

She gave him a mock irritated look and he laughed.

“I want everyone to remember it,” Jill said. “I want Katy to remember the day her Mommy and Daddy were married in the church — when she got to participate — so that when she’s ready, she’ll know what she can have.”

“I think there’s something about the ceremony,” Jacob said.

“I was wondering if it was something that included Fand and Abi,” Jill said. “You know, something about being a God.”

“Manannán,” Jacob said. “He still has his own believers. There are still a chapel dedicated to Manannán. ”

Jill nodded.

“There not really like us,” Jacob said. “I mean Abi is ancient and Fand …”

“We were lucky to be there,” Jill said. “Or that’s what I remember that I felt. I felt honored just to be there.”

“Ancient rituals,” Jacob said.

“Marriage is an ancient ritual,” Jill said.

“I was just wondering about that,” Jacob said. “What is the ancient ritual of marriage?”

“I think marriage used to be pretty different,” Jill said.

“And then you have Queen Fand and her Manannán,” Jacob said with a shrug. “They’ve been together for as long as there’s been written word.”

“Maybe marriage was just for humans,” Jill said.

Jacob shrugged.

“Does it matter?” Jacob asked.

Jill fell silent. They rocked back and forth on the swing for a few minutes.

“Penny for your thoughts,” Jacob said.

“Oh, sorry,” Jill said. “I kind of faded out there. I was thinking about your question.”

“And?”

“I don’t know,” Jill said. “I want to say that it matters to me that our marriage vow is connected to something so real. But, I mean, look at us. There’s nothing more ancient that raising children.”

“I thought that’s what we were doing on Sunday,” Jacob said.

“What do you mean?” Jill asked.

“We were married in front of our families here at our home,” Jacob said.

“By Delphie,” Jill said.

“In a beautiful ceremony,” Jacob said. “We decided to get married in the church to solidify our union.”

Jill nodded.

“The church is an ancient governing board,” Jacob said.

“Oh, I see what you’re saying,” Jill said. “By getting married in the church, we are connecting to something ancient.”

“Not as old as Abi, though,” Jacob said.

“Not as old,” Jill said with a nod.

“Does it …” Jacob started at the same time Jill said, “I don’t think it …”

They stopped talking. Jacob nodded to Jill.

“I don’t think it matters,” Jill said.

“The more than two thousand year old Catholic Church counts as ancient?” Jacob asked.

“It does,” Jill said with a nod.

“We’re getting married with our friends and housemates,” Jacob said.

“In front of our families,” Jill said.

“Saying words that our parents said and their parents,” Jacob said.

“You’re right,” Jill said. “We’ve got the ancient covered.”

Jacob nodded.

“Are you excited?” Jill asked.

“You know, I think I am,” Jacob said. “I don’t think this will change our lives very much. For me, it’s kind of a first step into my Lipson-free life.”

“You mean other than getting out of the Sea of Amber,” Jill said with a grin.

“Well, there is that,” Jacob said. “Every possibility is in front of me.”

Jill turned to look at him.

“I can honestly say that the only thing I want to make absolutely rock solid is you as my wife, our love and, our family,” Jacob said. “Everything else is secondary to having you.”

Jill was so touched that her eyes filled with tears.

“I’m not sure what to say,” Jill said.

“That you’ll hang on to me?” Jacob asked.

“That’s a given,” Jill said.

Jacob smiled and looked out to the mountains ahead. They were silent for a few minutes.

“We should probably …” Jill said.

“Meet you here tomorrow after the rehearsal dinner?” Jacob asked.

“That’s a promise,” Jill said.

He leaned over Katy and kissed Jill’s lips. He got up and carried the babies back to their room. When he returned to their bedroom, Jill was already in bed. He took off his clothing and slipped in beside her.

“What was that you were saying about rock solid?” Jill asked.

She rolled over to show that she was naked. He didn’t need to be asked again.

~~~~~~~~

Thursday night — 10:07 p.m.

“You didn’t want to!” Tanesha said.

“What do you mean I didn’t want to?” Jeraine asked.

They’d been bickering since they got into the car to drive home from the naming ceremony.

“When I told you Jill, Honey, and Sandy were getting remarried in the church, you said you didn’t want to do that,” Tanesha said.

“When was that?” Jeraine asked.

“About a year ago,” Tanesha said. “A little more.”

“Oh,” Jeraine said.

He fell silent. Tanesha turned into the alley behind their house and pulled into the garage.

“Oh?” Tanesha asked.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Jeraine said.

“You told me that we were lucky to have gotten married when you weren’t famous,” Tanesha said.

“Kept it private,” Jeraine said with a nod. “That’s good thinking.”

“So, what’s going on?” Tanesha asked.

“Going on?” Jeraine asked.

“You’ve been really moody tonight,” Tanesha said.

“I have?” Jeraine asked.

Laughing, Tanesha grabbed her handbag and got out of the car. She waited for him and they walked into their little backyard. She was about to head inside when he grabbed her hand.

“Let’s stay out.” Jeraine gestured to the little seating area near the vegetable garden.

She slipped off her high heels and carried them to the bench. He sat down next to her. When he put his arm around her, she leaned into him.

“Do you want to get married again?” Tanesha asked.

“I don’t know,” Jeraine said.

“Then what is all of this?” Tanesha asked.

“We just saw an ancient ritual,” Jeraine said. “Whether we remember it or not, we were blessed to see something so beyond us. It felt so real.”

“Like it was a part of our very cells,” Tanesha said with a nod.

“I feel that way about you,” Jeraine said. “Like you’re a part of me and I’m a part of you.”

He patted his chest.

“Day in and day out, you’re with me,” Jeraine said. “But I …”

He sighed.

“I’ve shit all over our marriage,” Jeraine said. “I’ve not kept it sacred or special. I’ve messed up. And, anyway, I remember you saying that we’d talk about getting remarried once you were sure I had really changed.”

“Sounds about right,” Tanesha said.

“The shit on our marriage part,” Jeraine said. “Or you wanting to wait until you were sure I’d changed.”

“Both,” Tanesha said with a chuckle.

“What are we going to do?” Jeraine asked. “I can’t go back on the road knowing the state of our marriage is shitty.”

Tanesha covered his hand with hers.

“The state of our marriage isn’t shitty,” Tanesha said.

“But I …” Jeraine said. He turned to look at her. “I really want to spend my life with you as your husband.”

“You’re doing that,” Tanesha said.

“No, I’m not,” Jeraine said. “I’m screwing up at every turn.”

“You are?” Tanesha asked. “When was the last time you ‘screwed up’?”

Jeraine gave her a long look.

“Did we have this house then?” Tanesha asked.

Jeraine looked around the garden and shook his head.

“In the apartment?” Tanesha asked. “At the Pinacle?”

Jeraine shook his head.

“Then it couldn’t have been very recently,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine scowled.

“Why does it feel so recent?” Jeraine asked.

“That’s a good question,” Tanesha said. “Why do you think?”

They fell silent for a moment.

“This is my life,” Jeraine said.

“What is?” Tanesha asked to help him.

“This is my little yellow house. My little garden. My eggplant plant. My …”

Jeraine turned to look at her.

“My love,” Jeraine said. He kissed her lips. “My Miss T.”

“I think forgetting the naming ritual had messed around in your head,” Tanesha said.

“What naming ritual?” Jeraine asked.

Tanesha opened her mouth to explain when he laughed.

“Let’s do this,” Jeraine said. “Let’s plan our own wedding ritual. I don’t need the church, do you?”

Tanesha shook her head.

“We’ll do something when I get back from this tour,” Jeraine said.

“Deal,” Tanesha said.

“No delays,” Jeraine said.

“No delays,” Tanesha said.

She got up and held out her hand. They walked hand in hand into their little house.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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