by Andrea DiMaggio
The figures stood close together against the spray and wind; wet and cold, but dauntless. The tall man smiled and walked across the wet deck toward them as if the ship was sitting in a safe harbor instead of the unexpected storm.
“Not quite what we expected, dear ones, yes?” He turned back and looked at the handsome woman standing near the helm; calm and almost serene. He nodded.
“We seem to be pushed off course, but no harm, since setting out you already know that the journey is often the destination as well.”
“Yes,” said the younger of the two. He wasn’t nearly of ages with anyone else on board, but was likely almost as wise; his wisdom borne out of unspeakable horror and pain that also proved his quality, as a dear friend might say. He placed his hand upon the shoulder of his wizened kinsman; the man shaking from the cold air.
“We’re quite alright,’ he said on his uncle’s behalf, who nodded and smiled.
“Our havens are several and well within our new course. You don’t mind, do you?” the tall man asked. Both responded as one, moving their heads to indicate ‘no,’ they were not at all taken aback by the unexpected change of events.
“I have to say, as needs be, that whatever we find no matter where we go, all will be well since we set out on this greatest of adventures. The older of the two shrugged his shoulders in agreement.
“And all our travels hereon in are exactly what shall prove best for all of us.”
The sun poked through an ever-thinning cloud as the rain tapered off into a warmer mist. The tall man took off his hat and shook out the sea and salt before replacing it on his head. The younger of the two smiled and spoke.
“I wondered for so long if I could come back; dispairing almost to abandon all hope. Yet here I am, with you all on the greatest adventure yet.”
“All’s well as ends better,’ the older of the two said; recalling a family friend.
“We’re almost about to set upon land. You may debark or continue on as you choose,” they heard from behind. The tall handsome woman smiled conspiratorially and seemed to wink.
“What awaits, dear Lady,” the younger asked.
“For you, child, night is calling and you have come to journey’s end.”
“Why are you troubled, child?”
“I… I had hoped that things were different, and now that my task is accomplished I am … saddened.” He put his head down only to have the woman cup his chin gently with her hand.
“Be not afraid; take both courage and hope, dear one.” She kissed his forehead in the same manner of blessing as she did those many years ago, but the only token she bestowed this time was encouragement. He put his head down once again only to have her touch his cheek softly.
“Behold your rest, dear child.” She pointed with her arm in a broad gesture port side as the ship hove to off the coast of an island; lush and green with silver-grey gleaming castles set atop cliffs overlooking the inlet. He saw several of his kind standing on shore.
“You are welcome here, dear brave one. Find rest here, not just as a reward for your courage and sacrifice, though you deserve it. Here find rest and peace and joy just because you were created and loved.
“But I will not…. I cannot fit in. I am not….” He bowed his head once again. His tears fell freely and without shame but with still-lingering doubt.
“That is why you are here now, child. To be and do and know and be known as the one you have always been.” The woman placed her hand on his shoulder. A coracle pulled alongside the ship. A regal looking woman held out her arms in welcome. He turned and looked at the woman next to him and at his uncle and at the tall man. No one knew; how could they, since he had shared his secret with no one. But the woman smiled a knowing smile; piercing and dispelling his fear and doubt.
“Be at peace, dear one,” she said as she ushered him to the side of the ship. In a moment he had stepped aboard the boat alongside and even as he boarded he was changed in a twinkling of whatever star had guided him. Where once stood a brave man of quality, there stood now a young woman of good cheer and courage. Every sacrifice and every loss and every hurt and sadness was swept away in an instant of grace. The sea of glass of which his friend spoke was wonderfully simply the looking glass of his mind’s eye; now real and displaying the true image of the brave woman he…rather she had always been.
The woman beside her in the boat looked exactly as she had always imagined; a queen of beauty and peace and grace like every story, song and poem she had ever heard. She looked back at her friends on the ship. Her uncle nodded and smiled; his own destination elsewhere and yet perhaps just as if they would never part. As the ship set sail once again the three waved; still close enough to see their smiles; smiles that spoke of knowing that this was indeed her intended haven all along. She turned and the Queen of All smiled as she sat quietly in the boat; gesturing for the girl to join her as she calmly rowed back to shore.
And the girl laughed softly to herself as she remembered the words her uncle spoke just before they set sail.
“I think I’m just about ready for another adventure.” She grabbed the other oar and set it into the water; ready for her own adventure; the adventure that does not end…..
O Elbereth Starkindler,
White-glittering, slanting down sparkling like a jewel,
the glory of the starry host!
Having gazed far away
, from the tree-woven lands of Middle-earth,
to thee, Everwhite, I will sing,
on this side of the Sea, here on this side of the Ocean!
O Elbereth Starkindler,
from heaven gazing afar,
to thee I cry now beneath the shadow of death!
O look towards me, Everwhite...
Translation of A Elbereth Giltonel courtesy of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
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