Log 48: Looking Forward and Back

Weather: Impossibly cold and stormy.
Encounters: None outside the boat.
Expenditures: Yesterday I bought socks and rope, but I forgot to document it.

We paused our journey to observe the day of Looking Forward. Each year all of Juniper Vale stopped working to prepare for a productive new year. All people paused to mend their clothes, clean their houses, and cook huge meals. Most lit candles to cast out the darkness of the impending winter. They left the candles lit until they burned out on their own signifying the passing of the season.

The weather was cold and treacherous. The boat lurched and rocked. We gathered downstairs in the clinic around soup and tea. We lit the Healer’s dusty candles and sat around the crackling fireplace (I felt uneasy about a fireplace in a mostly wooden boat... but, I didn’t vocalize that). We successfully navigated Senelala down the rickety staircase into the belly of the boat. He sat with his legs pulled into his shell and his eyes closed. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to get him back up the staircase. I looked at my rag-tag group: the Healer, his peaceful brother, and my turtle. My body felt at rest. How did I end up here?

The Healer yawned, “What’s that?” I was turning my small candle around in my hand. I hardly noticed I had pulled it out of my bag.

“Oh!” I said and leaned over to store it away, “Nothing, really.”

The Healer got a curious glint in his eyes, “Come on, tell us.”

I could tell the story, what was the big deal? I started, “Hmm... Well, Senelala and I were traveling through the woods when we stumbled on a path of candles.” I thought for a second... how would I tell this story?

I continued,  “The candles were made by a woman who was searching for the spirit of her missing mother. Lost spirits can attach themselves to the flames of her candles. They can stop wandering for a little while. They can talk and interact...” I started to think of an idea. I looked toward the Healer’s brother who was rendered passive years before by modern medicine.

The Healer stiffened, “What?” He looked toward his brother, who had closed his eyes and sat so still he could have been made of stone. He held his tea in his hands, warming them.

“Do you think his spirit is still out there?” I asked him quietly.

“I’m not sure.” The Healer stiffened and murmured, “What good would it do? I would lose him again as soon as the candle went out.”

I could feel the smooth wax of the candle on my palm, “But, maybe he knows how to reverse the medication.” I could tell I was pushing my boundaries. The air grew tense.

“Out of the question.” The Healer put on his usually cheerful face, but it was a mask. He clapped his hands together (something he was apt to do), “Hey! It sounds like you have some interesting stories from your travels. Why don’t you tell us some?”

“You want to hear my stories?” I wasn’t sure what I would tell. I twisted my hair into a knot on the top of my head.

The Healer stood and grabbed my journal out of my bag before I could stop him. “What do you write in this thing? Is this full of stories?”

“Give it back and I will read some to you.” I snatched it out of his tattooed hand.

He lowered himself into a seated position, patted his brother on his leg. “Alright, just make sure you read up to the good part.” He sighed and lifted his tea

“The good part?” I asked and scanned through the Travel Logs to find tales worth telling.

The Healer smiled his mischievous smile, “The part where I show up.”


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