When evening fell over Stitchtown, it was accompanied by the sound of low deep humming as the Cuica players began. They cradled the large bass drums between their legs, striking with their finger tips. Sosa was fascinated by the instrument's sound. When a drummer ran his fingers along the bamboo rod protruding from the drum head, the vibrations would transfer into the body of the drum and rumble through the air all around them.
Sosa sat next to her fiance while he played. She was aglow with excitement. Fiance. When they had confided in Ol' Mother Button before dinner they hadn't expected her to make an announcement. The whole thing had spiraled out of control in a fabulous way.
“I hope you don't anticipate this will go unmarked, girl.” she'd said. Well Sosa had, actually. She hadn't thought anyone but her mother and Shawn's father, Neithan would really need to know. And Ol' Mother Button of course, since she would have to officially approve the marriage.
Sosa closed her eyes and listened to the sound of the Cuica. The bass hum seemed to move insider her stomach and her chest making her light headed. She hadn't smiled this much in her whole life.
A few people were picking up Udus and the rhythmic tapping and quick hrum hrum of the instrument joined into the mix. There were Buttons everywhere, like they'd been spilled from a jar. She hadn't thought there were this many people in the whole of Stitchtown. The noise of them all was almost overwhelming. The talking and the laughing. Mother's were shouting for kids to carry food to the tables. A few people were starting to sing along with the drummers. It was all getting to be a bit much for a girl who'd spent most of her life in the quiet comfort of a small family, alone on a dirigible.
Sosa pulled herself to her feet and ran her fingers through Shawn's hair as she passed by him. He smiled up at her, but didn't stop playing. She drifted away from the light and the noise toward the edge of the main island. She hadn't meant to, but found that she had wandered lee of the house and was now standing in the dark watching the heart tree like she had on so many nights. It was a place to get away. There was rarely anyone here.
The light in the branches seem to run like the yellow heat of charcoals behind the leaves. It was almost like a beacon in the dark. It could be seen for many miles. On an overcast night, the clouds beneath Stitchtown glowed softly yellow for hundreds of spans in every direction.
“Some people find it uncomfortable to look at.” Yarny had stepped up beside her and given her a little start. “I'm sorry to have startled you, dear.”
“I'm fine, thank you. There's just so much going on.”
“Yes.” Yar reached out and took her hand long enough to give it a squeeze. “But good goings on, to be sure.”
“I don't,” Sosa said.
“Don't find it uncomfortable to look at. Sometimes I come here at night and just watch for a long time. It helps me think, it's so beautiful.”
“You think it’s beautiful do you?”
“Especially at night.”
Yarny’s face scrunched up in an exaggerated expression of considering. “There are human hearts nested in it's branches Sosa. Lives of sacrifice and blood in the stories it has to tell. For my money, they are the only stories worth telling. But they are not always beautiful in the classic sense of the word, and do not always make us happy to hear.”
“But sometimes they make us happy to know.” Sosa said. She gave Yarny a side long glace. Mr. Stevns was usually a lighthearted man, but he wore a dark countenance around him suddenly.
“That is a truth, young lady. A fabulous truth. And I'll tell you something precious to me because today is a precious day for you. And because,” Yarny took a breath and looked like he might change his mind. “And because at this happy moment you ended up here,” he gestured with his hand across the gulf of empty space between the main island and the one on which grew the heart tree, “standing at the edge of great changes in your life.”
“Have you ever noticed that there are no stone paths that lead out there,” he asked.
“Myself and Pearl are the only ones here who have ventured across. Ol' Mother Button indeed,” he snorted a bark of laughter with a little of his normal good cheer in it. “Older than you know. That woman! Anyhow, there’s a reason. “
Yar Stevns held out his hand like a cup and said, “There is a shadow hold up in the roots of that tree.” She could almost see the roots and shadows nestled in palm of his hand. “And as bright and filled with life as the light is in its branches,” his other hand moved along in a tender motion over the place where the branches of the imaginary tree in hand would be, “Well, that is the equal measure of the shadow that crouches beneath. No man wants to set foot on grounds that contain such a thing.”
Sosa looked unsure at Mr. Stevns. The image of the tree in his palm was so strong she could almost see it as clearly as the real one before her. She could almost feel the slow seep of sap beneath the bark, rising through the trunk, connecting Yar’s hands together. “They hold and bind each other and between them stand men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. We burn like matchsticks in the flow of time, a fire that turns to ash at the feet of our children.” He was an imposing figure in the dark beside her, his voice like a Cuica. It scarred her to see. “We add a brief flash of color and light and also darkness to the world and then we are gone.”
His hands began to shake and the image fell away from her eyes: the imaginary tree, the furrows in his brow, the portent of the moment. The ideas crumbled between his unsteady hands and he chuckled to himself.
“So go enjoy yourself, dear, instead of hanging out with an old story teller in the dark. Go be with Shawn and your family and learn to love the noise and the silliness of our home.”
Sosa began to blush hard. She was truly embarrassed. She hadn’t thought her motivations for wandering off were so obvious.
“I...” she began.
“Bah! Don’t do that. Just go enjoy yourself. I saw Maggie making a beet root cake for after dinner, and you definitely do not want to miss any of that. Even Shawn won’t be able to save you a slice if your not there in time.”
“Don’t tell anyone.” She was really worried suddenly that the Button family, that the Chaulk family all knew how uncomfortable she was with them.
“Don’t tell them what, Sosa? That you are kind and keep old men company while they ramble?”
Sosa gave him a quick hug, which was an unusual display for her, and half skipped half dashed back across the island to sit by Shawn,. He had set aside his drum and was already eating when she fell onto the cushion beside him.
“Mrs. Button’s made a red cake.” he said and kissed her on her cheek. He leaned in close and whispered in her ear. “She must really like you.” Sosa almost started to cry she was so happy, but smiled instead.
Created: Nov 09, 2010jstandifird Document Media