CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN: THE RAINBOW
I am walking toward the Mother’s cabin today for the first time in one hundred and seventy-five days. Without Kala, it hasn’t even occurred to me to try to find anyone else. I didn’t care if I was alone, or if anyone had tried to find me. I didn’t care if the rest of the Earth was swallowed up the day he died. Wolf has kept me fed and the asshole crow that always circles us lately has turned out to be okay, too. I guess I just didn’t need the others, but I do now.
I haven’t slept or eaten much in a week. I don’t know what’s real anymore. I kept my promise to Kala; it’s been two weeks now since I touched the lights. I don’t know if that’s why I feel like this, but I can’t take it anymore. The dreams are killing me, the voices, the songs, the reflections in the water. I can’t go to the river anymore, and it was the one place I felt something like peace. I didn’t kill my son. Everything in these woods is trying to tell me that I did, but I did not kill my son.
I did not kill my son.
I stop walking and say it, though I know it won’t come out. It feels true when I move my mouth. I wonder if the words would sound true if I could hear them. I move my mouth to those words over and over, eyes closed, thinking them as loud as I can, willing myself to speak.
I did not kill my son…I did not kill my son…
Last night I dreamed I held him down in the river, held his head under the water of his favorite river in his favorite place in the whole, wide world, until he stopped moving. I was watching myself do it, screaming inside, but I didn’t stop until he was dead. I buried him in my dream just like I really did that day. It felt so real.
I did not kill my son. It is January twenty-seventh, twenty thirty-eight.
I’m losing him. His memory has faded just slightly, and I can’t conjure his voice like I used to. It was loud and crisp and real at first, and now it sounds hollow and far away.
I did not kill my son.
I don’t remember starting to run, but I’m running fast now. Wolf looks happy for the first time in one hundred and seventy-five days, his four steps replacing Kala’s two by my side. The minute I see the cabin in the distance, I stop again, doubling over with pain in my stomach. I feel like I’m going to vomit. Wolf runs off ahead, blissfully unaware I’ve stopped.
Everything is Kala. I only came here for him, and every single thing here reminds me of him. I sit on the ground and try to calm my quaking stomach. I need help. I know I need help. I repeat it inside, trying to talk myself into going. Wolf is back now, whimpering. He bows his giant head toward the ground and puts his nose in my elbow, nudging his head under my arm, and lifts me off the ground. He is pushing me toward the cabin.
I walk. I walk through my sickness and fear, my shaky legs march through my grief. I look past the house instead of at it. Wolf walks so close to me he nearly knocks me over. We don’t see a soul on the way there.
I walk up the porch stairs, my legs shaking so hard I nearly fall, and knock weakly on the door. Nothing. I can hear people inside. I knock louder, panicked, until I am frantically leaning in to each bang with my forearms. I bang on the door until I fall to my knees, exhausted and sobbing into Wolf’s fur.
I feel my heartbeat in my neck when I hear the door slowly creak open and see the Mother’s hand on the knob. She’s alive. She’s walking. I fix my eyes on her hand and squint hard. Please don’t let this be a dream. Please let her be real. Time is moving in slow motion and I see dark, blurry spots everywhere. I make it to my hands and knees right in front of the doorway just as she steps onto the porch. I lift my head and see Bodhi, running toward the open door so fast his feet barely touch the ground, a huge smile on his face, his footsteps in sync with my pounding heart. Tears pour down my cheeks as I close my eyes and reach out for him.
I feel the warm force of his energy for only a split second as it passes through my body and down the stairs where he jumps up and down, pointing up to the biggest, most vibrant rainbow I have ever seen. I stare at it for a moment, then Wolf, then my hand, watching my fingers move. Am I dead?
I look back at the Mother, and the sight of her takes my breath away. She looks healthy, strong, and absolutely radiant. Grace appears behind her, putting one hand at her waist and one on her shoulder.
“Mother, please don’t wander off without your cane. You could fall”.
I look into her foggy eyes. She’s completely blind.
“Grace, stop fussing. I know my way around this house better than all of you combined. I just wanted to see the rainbow.”
I swear she is looking at me. I can feel it.
Belle’s head pops out of the door frame and stares at the rainbow, her jaw dropped.
“You can’t see the rainbow, Mother, you don’t have eyes”
“She has EYES, Belle, goodness, don’t be rude”
“It’s ok, dear. It’s ok, Belle…I don’t need eyes to see it.”
The Mother lifts a hand very slightly toward me as she talks to Belle, never breaking what feels like eye contact, though it can’t be.
“Did you know that when you lose your sight, you get special powers that help you out? I can even see things you can’t.”
She is talking about me. She sees me. It is all I can do not to run up and hug her. I want to hug her so badly.
“I don’t believe you Mother. You can’t see it. What’s it look like?”
“Oh hush, Grace, the child is being honest...It’s beautiful, Belle. The prettiest red I’ve ever seen.”
I look toward the rainbow, through my tears. Those are the same words the Mother says about my hair.
“Aww, its leaving!”
“Don’t worry, dear, it’ll come back. Maybe it’ll come back tonight.”
“Rainbows don’t happen at night, Mother”, Belle pouts, her bottom lip sticking out.
“Oh, yeah? How do you know so much?”
“You can’t see them at night, Mother. They don’t happen in the dark.”
“Well maybe you can’t, but I feel things when they’re near. And if that rainbow comes back tonight, it’ll be coming back just for me, and I’ll know it.”
Grace and Veda exchange a worried look and guide the Mother back into the cabin. Her final message slips out the door just as it closes behind them:
“Come on back tonight, Rainbow. I’ll be here.”