What I saw across the road, through the watery gauze of the side window, sent an electrifying jolt through me. Magnified, blazing eyes lanced through mine, saying – you’ll find what you want. For a brief moment he was there, an intense presence, a man dressed in emerald green at the corner of a white-washed house, holding a staff capped with a skull exquisitely carved from ivory. For a brief moment we were one, intimately united in clarity of being, which was how I perceived the finest detail of the staff’s handle across the distance of twenty feet. When I looked again, the figure was gone.
Trust unfurled in fast motion, unlike the everyday subtle intuitions I weighed with reason as counterbalance. My attitude towards the unexplained was respectful but wary. Ellie’s entities were real to her, and felt by those around her. Not that I doubted the forces pushing through envelops of time, only that the deeply personal significance of a supernatural event could be misread and misapplied. Since every cell of my body had grown wings, I was convinced by the message I received, with no need to solve or snub the mystery.
‘The sky’s clearing.’ Ellie said. Brilliant light broke through the clouds. A breeze swept remnants of rain like sparkling trinkets from trees. Dowsed in afternoon light, the village roofs glistened like buffed silver under a giant rainbow. ‘I’m starving,’ Ellie added, at the sight of a grocery shop.
The woman behind the counter smiled at seeing us. ‘You brought the sun!’ She cut us wedges of freshly baked bread and topped them with local cheese. Rarely had bread tasted so delicious. ‘I’ve goats’ milk in the fridge, would you like some?’ Ellie burst into hysterical laughter, which shocked the dear woman.
I grinned, ‘We’d love some.’
‘I fancy it myself,’ the woman said, and filled two glasses to the rim with cool, silky milk. We savoured every sip and wanted more. The sweet, nutty taste so absorbed my attention, I forgot to ask her about goats, which is why I felt my heart wobble when she said, ‘Sadly the source will dry up. My friend, Marte, is getting too frail to milk her doe and I don’t have the space to keep goats.’
Marte lived in the next village. She had been forewarned and waved at us, stoically forcing her arthritic knees towards the gate. Her goat, Fleck, was white with random patches of brown and gracefully curved horns. ‘A gentle creature,’ Marte said, ‘unless you annoy her.’ She giggled, as if she shared a pun with an inner companion. I had an ear for this kind of banter, having companions of my own. ‘She needs a good home,’ she said. ‘I gladly give her to you, if you take her weaned kid as well.’
Fleck was used to cars from trips to pastures in the hills. She calmly walked the plank into the hatch of my estate. Her adorable kid followed. The goats ogled Marte as she raised her hand in salute with a tear in her eye. Equipped with sacks of grain, lore and advice, we drove home with two new passengers comfortably bedded in straw. Their curiosity was engaging. I fell in love with the pair. And even Ellie, contented after her anxious day, was too protected by bliss to predict the trouble ahead.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. A wise man does not need advice and a goat won’t take it. Anon
@ Ashen Venema July 2012
Don’t miss this wonderful drawing, created especially for this story by Natasha Tonkin, my son’s partner. If the link doesn’t work you can find the post in the archive under August 2012