Out of the Woods
Under cover of storm, those who might have been about all secured in their dwellings, Caela walks across the fields in a straight line to her destination.
By the time she got to Toriv’s school, the storm was spent. Soggy ground, grey sky, wind and rain now but wistful breeze and mist. A dark wet day for a stranger’s sudden appearance. The main house was abuzz with speculation.
There was already much concern about the troop of children Toriv had mysteriously taken in. Some kin of Merin’s, a dear teacher to many of them, but still unsettling. These are people who spook easily, do not trust strangers. They are not even on easy terms with their neighbors. They have chosen to live this more primitive style of life, as they see it, in order to be left alone, away from prying eyes and possible recrimination.
“That was why we had to. We had to protect ourselves. We couldn’t appear to be dangerous, harboring undesirables, enemies of the state.” They told themselves they had no choice. They needed to protect their own noble cause, the preservation of their kind. Toriv kept to himself at the school, apart from them. His concern was his own son, Kirin, and the children he taught; but now these other children as well. He is not part of their cohesive group, not really. “These children aren’t either, none of our concern. What are they doing here anyway, needing to be fed and who knows for how long put up with? It’s not that we wish them ill. Of course we don’t. They are children. But surely no real harm will come to them. Surely the authorities searching for them have everyone’s best interests at heart. They will just send over a couple of city reps to take the children away, probably to quite appropriate and loving foster care. We will be left alone. No one will have any argument with us.”
But perhaps this stranger has come to spirit the children away. “Perhaps we were too hasty in our action, reporting the presence here of these controversial youngsters. Oh, we don’t know what to think.”
No matter. Ripples of forces in motion find their outlets, moving acts and actors into place. Caela hears the chatter from the house as she walks up to the school door. She feels familiarity from those inside. They have been expecting her, without entirely knowing whom to expect. There are others expected soon, by those in the main house, whom Toriv and the children are happy not to see yet at their door. Never mind. It will all play out very soon. First, introductions must be made, brief summaries of stories exchanged, the creation of a bond already in the forming to be acknowledged.