I don’t think any of us slept at all the previous night, the night we finally all ‘found’ each other. But that next night, after working a busy day at the Diner on top of everything else… I think all three of us slept well. When I woke up that morning, my Bill… His real name is Shysage; he was propped up on one arm, looking so lovingly at me. As soon as I could, I climbed, well I wrapped my arms around his neck, and we kissed for a little while. “Shysage, I’m so glad we found each other…” I said that once, but I think Shysage felt the same way.

He answered quietly “Oh, Summer…”

Wow ok, so I like my real name… Shysage’s too. We were both smiling, but I think we were also working hard to avoid crying. I thought that difficulty would linger for a while… Well today was a sunday; the Diner was closed. And we would normally do our sunday tradition first thing. With Ariel here, I wasn’t sure how that would work. So I got up, and got bed time clothes on while Shysage watched from the rocking chair. I said something about doing some scouting, and walked carefully out of our room, realizing only then that Shysage still had nothing on. But I found Ariel, she was dressed, sitting quietly on the swing on the front porch. It was already warm outside, almost hot inside. I hugged Ariel tightly and told her we would be out soon. Walking back in to Shysage, I realized… Only work clothes would be a good idea around our precious daughter. Shysage had already concluded that and was getting dressed, so I did too. Soon, we were back out on the swing with our Ariel.

It was quiet for a bit, then Ariel said slowly “Well, I want to be freaked out still, that I didn’t even know how to find my own mom and dad, but I think true friend took care of all of that. Now, I want to try and look forward, anyway. I will probably still cry some, but…” We all cried quietly for a little while, anyway.

Shysage next explained our sunday tradition to Ariel, and so that is what we did. We just relaxed together, talked to true friend together some too. And I kept remembering things from previous sunday traditions, before I remembered anything. I know that sounds strange, but those memories, with my perspective now, usually just made me cry. I was right next to Bill, er Shysage anyway, so he hugged me tightly until I calmed down.

And Ariel said quietly at one point “I don’t ever want to lose this again…” That made us all cry quietly for a little while, too. But, until the sun was high and hot, we relaxed together on the swing… just us, just our family.

I think it was around lunch time, maybe a little later, when I realized I was really hungry. Honestly, I was afraid to say anything, because I just knew Ariel was probably starved, and that that Bill, er Shysage would want to take us to the Diner just to make her a nice burger. Yes, he would gladly do all that for his daughter. I agreed with that too. Like I said, Ariel admitted food was hard for her to come by up until she came to us. We would certainly fix that. I just wasn’t sure what…

Delores pulled up in her mini-van, and she, Tina and Kacey quickly spilled out, into the heat I’m sure. Well, I quickly hugged the three of them, then officially introduced Ariel as Bill and my daughter, and added that there was a long story that went with that, at some point. Soon after that, Delores said “Well, by family vote, I have come to kidnap the three of you to take you to our house for some pizza and AC for the afternoon.” I hugged Delores again. I think she knew that was a yes. Tina helped Ariel into the far back seat, and sat next to her. They talked quietly together the whole time. I sat next to Kacey, and she did my belt for me. I think, as Summer, I was a little more fearful of driving now. Bill (Shysage) sat in Victor’s man seat (Delores said with a chuckle). This all worked out fine, and we were soon in Delores’ house, enjoying her AC on this stinking hot day. And Victor met us at the front door, and Bill… Shysage hugged him briefly, then they shook hands. Shysage and Victor ended up sitting in the livingroom, and they talked together for a bit. Us girls sat at the table. Tina was quickly at work with her beads making a bracelet for Ariel. That was just fun to watch. Kacey explained to me briefly that she was on her short summer vacation, she called it. She had taken some summer classes, and she had a short break before classes started up again in the fall. Still, with her dad in between jobs, everyone was trying to economize, was the word she used. Shysage explained it to me later. Even as Summer, there are still a lot of words used here that I don’t understand. Shysage was born here, so he knows most of them.

Ok, so I guess someone would bring the pizza to Delores’ house. Before that happened, I asked Kacey to stand, and I hugged her tightly, and quitely said “Thank you” as we hugged. Kacey and I hugged for a little while. I started crying quietly, so she did too. From my vantage point now, I could see how much Kacey had actually done for me, and at some really important times. I didn’t try to communicate any of that, because I just felt… I think Kacey knew. We hugged for a few minutes, then I backed away. But well, I was on a mission next. As we both sat back down, I asked “Kacey, once you have posted stuff on your facebook thing, can you change it? Or does it need to stay the way you first did it?”

Kacey thought only briefly. “Nah, Maude, I can change anything on my facebook, and at any time.” Maybe Kacey was reading my mind as I smiled at her. “Did you want something changed?”

Still smiling, I just said quietly “Below every picture of me you have on your facebook thing, you need to add the name ‘Shysage’s Mare’. And I know that may make little sense to you, but that is who I really am, all I ever want to be.” Well, I was fighting back tears just saying that, but I think Kacey knew that too, knew this was pretty important to me. She pulled out her cell phone thing right away, and got to work, I think. Maybe a minute later, she turned her phone so I could look… It was the picture she had taken of me this last christmas, the first picture of me she had added to her page. Underneath, in nice letters… “Shysage’s Mare”. I did cry, and Kacey and I hugged some more. Kacey promised to change the rest when she was on her computer. I guess that was easier for her.

Kacey then started, quietly. “Maude, I… Something has really changed in you, and maybe I would like to find out… what… But you have become even more beautiful, and I just can’t explain that. It is just like, over night, you have…” Kacey saying that just made me cry again.

Sitting on my other side, Delores put her hand on mine, and said also quietly “Maude, Kacey is right. I would like to hear this story, too. You have changed so much in the last year, I just can’t believe… And it is even stranger because I think Edna knew your condition was temporary, and you would blossom so…” The three of us cried quietly at that.

Inside, I guess I thought “Well, if only Edna knew…” But I realized maybe, somehow, she did.

Just then I felt gentle hands on my shoulders. Shysage said quietly “My mare is crying. Can I give her a hug?” Shysage backed up as I got up out of the chair, then he quickly scooped me up off my feet. I melted, and hugged his neck tightly. We hugged, kissed briefly. Really forgetting who was around me, I said quietly “My Shysage…” That made Shysage and I have to fight hard to avoid crying. But we hugged tightly once more, then Shysage put me down.

Kacey said quietly “Shysage’s Mare… Oh, I get it now. My goodness, that’s so beautiful…”

Well, I knew the whole story would make more sense, but that worked. As Shysage helped slide my chair back up to the table with me in it, he said quietly “Yes, my real name is Shysage.” Shysage thought a minute, then added “And this precious lady is Summer, my irreplaceable Mare.” Then Shysage slowly wove his hands, his arms down around my neck from behind and hugged me again, kissed my ear. Tears came, but I managed to calm down. And Ariel jumped up and hugged her dad. So, Shysage added “And this Summer and my irreplaceable daughter Ariel Dawn.” Shysage couldn’t go on after saying that, and Ariel and her dad hugged for a little while.

Pizza came, and we all sat at the kitchen table for that. There were a bunch of different kinds of pizza, but everything I tasted was very good. And Victor calmly asked Delores if he could have seconds, he said, and Delores got up and gave him a hug. “It is hard not to say yes…” she said carefully. Then she got Victor some more pizza.

While we were eating, Kacey asked “Will all this be in your Journal, Maude? …uhm Summer?”

Well, I smiled right away. “Oh Kacey, I know this is a lot to grasp. Summer is my real name, but Maude works, too.” Then I laughed. “Well a bunch of the story will be in my journal if Shysage and I ever get caught up!” We all laughed, then I looked over at my Shysage, then added “Seems like that is always our problem…” Shysage and Ariel both laughed. It is an inside joke, I think. Then I softened my tone, and said “Well, Kacey, you are welcome to read it, personal stuff and all. You gave me that journal as homework, and it kept me sane until…” Well, I just had to stop there. I am sure Bill, er Shysage understood why. Still, some of the ‘personal stuff’… I realized maybe I didn’t think that through very well. We were way behind, so maybe…

Tina finished eating, then promptly put her latest creation down over Ariel’s wrist. It included just the word “Ariel” (her name), but with white and brown beads. I guess those were Ariel’s colors. And Tina had made one just like it for herself, using her name, “Tina”, but the beads on Tina’s bracelet were blue and brown.  I guess those were Tina’s colors.  But at that, maybe for the first time, Kacey actually look at Ariel… then said to me “Oh my goodness, Maude, you both could be twins!”

Ariel laughed and said right away “Except she is my mom!” and we all laughed.

I sighed, and added quietly “Well, I do have a Twin, and she looks just like me. Maybe you could meet her some day, I don’t know.”

Delores gasped. “Maude… Summer, you have an identical twin?”

I smiled again. “Yes… It isn’t what you think, and that is a part of the whole story. She looks just like me though, and I really miss…” Well, I had to stop there. Hugging my Twin again, I couldn’t do that soon enough. I think Shysage understood that though, so I wasn’t too worried. Except I quickly realized after that conversation… Our Ariel was suddenly having a hard time. Her Twin was my Twin’s daughter. I just sighed. I was pretty sure Shysage knew that too, how his daughter felt.

Ariel and Tina seemed to get along well, and they soon dragged a million beads up to Tina’s room and just hung out, Ariel said later.

Victor and… Shysage ended up in Victor’s domain in the basement and they talked about a bunch of stuff. Part of that was Shysage wanted Victor to have Ed’s gun collection, except for the one Shysage had used to take care of that snake. They talked about other stuff, too.

That left Kacey, Delores and I at the kitchen table for a while. It was almost painfully quiet at first. I could feel why. Delores and Kacey were overwhelmed at the change… I tried to explain. Well, finding my past and realizing my destiny (Shysage’s Mare), that was a really big thing for me, and I tried to carefully, briefly explain that to them. But I don’t think I was helping. It was like nothing I could say could help them see… I just sighed, got slowly up out of my chair, turned, threw myself forward… I was glad their kitchen is big; there was plenty of room as I changed… As that small, white horse with golden blond mane and tail, I shook out my mane first, then said quietly “This is my world, not here…” I thought briefly, then I added, looking down a little “Shysage says I look beautiful like this… I will never leave him… ever. I am Shysage’s Mare.” Then I threw myself back on my back legs, stood up, changed back into a people. For a while, the three of us just hugged, cried quietly. Well, I said just once “I think this needs to be kept between the three of us.” I didn’t think that would be a problem. And, I didn’t think I needed to say anything more after that. But I did thank them both, and pointed out that, when I was that scared little girl, they both had helped me so much. We all cried together a while longer after that.

After we calmed down, Delores pulled herself away and smiled. “Summer, will we get to hear the full version at some point?

I laughed. “When Shysage and I can get it written, yes.”

Kacey said immediately “I will be first in line!” I hugged her again. Delores and Kacey are such precious friends…

Soon after, everyone was back in the kitchen. We heated up some leftovers in the microwave, enjoyed a little more pizza, then Delores and her girls drove our family home. Writing that made me cry…

At our house, Shysage got out first, and checked carefully for snakes. It was still stinking hot, and the sun was low in the west, but there was plenty of light. Tina pulled Kacey into a tight hug with she and Ariel. Delores hugged me, then got this concerned look on her face. “You are not leaving, you know, going anywhere, right?”

As Shysage walked up and put his arm around me, I said quietly “Well, there are reasons I shouldn’t go back to my home, so yes, as far as we know. Maude and Bill… and Ariel will keep the Diner going for as long as we can see.

Delores sighed, a long sigh of relief. “Well, I’m glad…” she said calmly. Then, “I just wish Edna could see you now…”

That made us both cry…

————————-

1. CSR Maude: Revelations is copyright 2017 by Shysage. And “CSR Maude” is vol. 15 of the Chronicles of Summer Rain

 

 

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