Copyright 2018 Cindy Brandner
(Just a small preface to this excerpt- this is part of Yevgena's story and the glimpse today is from when she's about seventeen years old. She's using a pan of water as a scrying glass, essentially, and hoping to summon someone to her aide, as she's in a bit of a crisis situation. That's just to give you a bit of context, before I plunk you into the centre of a scene).
Long ago, a travelling puppet show had stopped in our village, and I had begged my father to allow me to attend. He had taken me the second night of their performance and I had been wonderstruck with all of it. The puppeteers were Roma, and the tale their theatre told was of a young maid who left her family to travel the wider world, and how this had led to her tragic downfall. At first, I thought it was this I was seeing in the water, a memory coming up through the strange clouding in my vision—a caravan, painted in a shimmering crimson, with shutters of ocean blue and puffs of grey wool smoke coming from the chimney. Beside the caravan, a fire, like the one I’d seen so long ago in the puppet theatre—strips of scarlet silk, with threads of violet fluttering amongst them. And then the puppets, a man, a woman and a field all around them which ran down to a rippling sea. The field might have been a bolt of velvet, spread all about, the sea, wrinkled banners of silk, tufted with a spray of salt, glittering under a tip-tilty moon. And there she was—the Gypsy girl, with a long braid of black hair, clad in a flared skirt and a blouse that kept slipping from one shoulder. The other puppet seemed wrong though, he wasn’t the dark-haired *gadije* seducer from the show but a different sort altogether—golden hair like a prince in a fairy tale, and not a top-hatted rake at all. The girl puppet had something on her hip, a basket filled with tiny bits of plant—lichens and soft rich mosses, miniature mushrooms, both poison and edible. I peered more closely—not a girl, but a woman, long full grown, with lines on her face and a touch of silver-gilt in her hair.
The picture changed then, rolling quickly as it had that time with the crystal ball, giving me the same feeling of having been shaken, and this time the scene was of a field of gold, with a line of people, as tiny as ants—at least from where I hovered above them—curving their way through the landscape. The plains were so vast that it was like the people walked within a great amber sea, small splashes of colour and motion within the greater movement of the grain. There were wagons— small and light—some open, some covered in canvas, weaving back and forth, a few children sitting within their shelter. I could see men singing, women stooping to pick scarlet-petalled flowers, children dancing and setting the grain to ever faster swaying, as light as though they were little more than petals themselves. Walking behind the wagons, his hands running through the grain, as though it were something terribly precious, was a young man—my young man, the one who had promised he would wait for me.
Can longing cross miles, span a world, pull another from across the sea? Can it speak to the object of one’s desire, even when your two minds are not yet well acquainted? In truth, I did not know, I only knew what I felt. I could feel the man all through me, the love he had for the earth, for the open road, for movement and forests and water, and rich soil and horses, and the things a man could make with his hands. And I simply said it then, “Come for me, please come now, before it’s too late.” I spoke the words as though I stood right there before him, and could reach out and touch him, draw him to me, feel his heat, and smell the earth and grain that was intrinsic to his scent.
He looked up then, startled. I could feel his surprise, and the ripple of his skin, as though he’d been touched by the chill hand of a ghost. His face was quite blank, and then suddenly he smiled and gave the smallest nod of his head.
Three nights later, I heard the music.