I guess it was only when I got precious memories back, that I actually realized how much a part of me they were, how crucial they are. Being Summer and Shysage, together again… And this would be our first full week together at the Diner. Over the course of that week, memories from our past would continue to flow into my thoughts, blaze brightly, then nestle calmly back where they belonged. Some of them made me laugh out loud, out of nowhere, and I had to apologize a few times for that. Others… Well, I just had to say “excuse me, I’ll be right back”, then run and find Shysage, and cry for a few minutes as he hugged me. Of course, he never minded; he would stop whatever he was doing immediately, and hug me tightly as he calmed his Mare down.
The title I chose for those few days, it was actually one of those memories. It just seemed like, looking back on all that Shysage and I have been through together, we just kept having to adjust to auguring change. Something significant would happen, maybe even very painful, then we would have to adjust to that change, that event, and work on finding out what “normal” was afterwards. That seemed to happen to Shysage and I often… I felt that way again through most of that week. Bill and I were still Bill and Maude, and we still worked so well together at the Diner, serving food and smiles to every customer that came through our door, and helping any way we could. Of course, our Ariel helped with that! Our precious treasure of a daughter even took over for me a number of times when I had to… just be next to my Bill, my Shysage. Ariel laughed and said it wasn’t rocket science, what I did. Well, each day seemed an almost insurmountable task for me, without my Bill, anyway. He made it so much easier, now so much easier for both Ariel and I. That made me cry too.
But viewing everything as Summer now… That surfaced so many changes… As Maude, I really was just a scared little girl. Well, I had lost so much… Just about everything terrified me, and after Edna passed away, that really was every step of every day, keeping the Diner going… keeping salesmorons from taking… But when Bill came… Oh, my goodness… Having Bill around, that really did make such a huge difference, and Bill lovingly protected me from so much. I was still that scared little girl, but I had, I was really enfolded by someone, some man who so deeply cared for me, above himself, I found. That just amazed me… But now, as Summer, well with my Bill, really my Shysage… Everything made sense. I wasn’t scared any more. I began to completely calm down. This world is huge, far bigger than where I came from. But Shysage knew all that, knew many of the hazards here. Shysage protected me, and would continue to do that. And our Ariel… Our family, we were together (amazingly, miraculously), living in a small (tiny) town, enjoying every day together, helping others. I sighed deeply even writing that! I really couldn’t ask for more… And I remember writing this… Yes, we could do this together… until I was 98, as long as Shysage and Ariel were close by. I now doubted it would come to that, but still. Well, I guess I really didn’t know…
Shysage, Ariel, and I, as Bill, Ariel and Maude, we absolutely did so enjoy helping the people of the town, and visiters, even the salesmorons who came to the Diner each day. We enjoyed helping everyone together. And Ariel did increasingly take over my job as I just watched, or relaxed maybe, hoping for Shysage to come sit with me, which happened often. Ariel would come over and ask for a turn, she said with a smile. I gave her the pen and small notepad, then found an empty booth, then looked for my man. As the week progressed, I often just found Shysage, and we would hug and maybe kiss some, depending on where we were, who was around. And the middle of that week I think, I asked Ariel if… Well, I briefly explained salesmorons, but I guess Ariel had developed her own sense… “Wolves” she said immediately. “Wolves get nothing from me. And with you and Daddy near, I don’t have to worry about that at all.” Ariel and I hugged, then I found Shysage and cried on his shoulder while Ariel took orders and cleared tables. I think she has a map for the dining room in her head, with each table, and she just knows, remembers, somehow keeps track of what is going on, what is needed at each table, even the local’s annex. I don’t know how she can do that. But I think her dad (Bill, er Shysage) does the same thing. I smiled as I wrote that, too.
And this made me cry that tuesday… When I first woke up as Maude, I was quickly doing so much here at the Diner. I was increasingly more concerned about Edna wearing herself to a frazzle (I overheard someone say, and it sounded bad), so I did more, a lot more, so Edna could do less. Then, when Edna died, I did everything, and I mean everything, well except what only Sam the cook could do. It just seemed, every day just seemed so brutal to me, on me after that. I really did have little energy left for anything besides everything I did at the Diner, 10 or so hours a day, every day of the week except sunday… And then the trauma salesmorons dumped on top of all that… But the first thing that Bill did when he came (my Shysage!) was take over the hardest jobs. Honesty, after the first week, Bill was doing 3/4 of the work that I used to do solo. And he increasingly did more here and there, so that all I had to do was take orders, and deliver the small ones. He helped me with large ones. And he did the rest, and far better than Maude ever could, as I have observed. But over those few days, trying to find the new normal for us now, I spent more time just sitting… watching… thinking… remembering… My favorite booth was booth 4 if it was empty; it was close to the front door in case someone came in when Ariel was busy. The view out across the desert to the mountains in the distance was nice too. But as that week wandered majestically onward, I found myself there more and more. Well, Ariel and Shysage found me there more and more too; it became our un-official spot, I guess. But I think I was just so completely unwinding… from everything that Maude meant… from the hardships the year or two before that, in my home world involved, along with Chard-onix, PonyRos… Maybe here, maybe now… I finally could simply… relax… I didn’t mind anything I had to do for the Diner, but Ariel more often did what I do, and just as well, and she enjoyed it too. And Shysage took plenty of time out from his chores to sit next to me, let me cry softly on his shoulder… I wasn’t being lazy, and generally took each lunch and dinner rush as it came. But I rested more in between; my body, my heart, my soul… I just relaxed.
That tuesday evening, after a long day at the Diner together, we walked slowly home, hugging. I can’t see that changing. Ariel said the only thing… “I really love my mommy and daddy…” That made us all want to cry. Ariel and I did for a few minutes. When we got home, Shysage let us in, and we all went to our rooms, opened windows, set up fans… While Bill was doing that, I mentioned I wanted to talk to Ariel a minute, and left him in our room. After Ariel was happy with her fan, we hugged right away. Wow, I missed my daughter, and our hug wasn’t short. “I love you mommy…” Oh, my goodness… We both cried a little more.
“Ariel honey, before you came, dad and I would… enjoy…” I ran out of words, wow, I ran out of words… Shysage and I had enjoyed each other all over the house, the swing, the back yard… I was just trying…
Ariel laughed, then was quickly sobbing on my shoulder… She couldn’t talk until she settled down some, then, still sniffling, Ariel said this. “I have spent over a year… desperately searching… for my mommy and daddy… together… I know you both… so cherish each other… I knew that growing up… and never… found any others that… I don’t want to get in the way of that…” That made me cry, and we hugged tightly, and cried together some more. Wiping away tears, Ariel… “Let’s try this. You can do whatever you want in the back yard; none of my windows are on that wall anyway. But I think the swing on the front porch… I really enjoy just relaxing out there, just about… whenever… And with you and daddy…” This made me cry, which made Ariel cry…
We cried a little longer, then, still sniffling, still hugging our precious treasure “Ariel, I missed you so much… You are such a… our precious little girl…” We cried together a little more after that.
“Can we have family swing time for a while?” Ariel asked. How could we resist that! We didn’t. Ariel headed to the swing, and I found Shysage in the rocking chair waiting, and brought him out. We rested in the swing together for hours. It was amazing. Shysage and I didn’t make it into the oats, that night anyway. We ended up naked and in our rocking chair, really clinging to each other as Shysage had it tipped way back. I curled up on my forever man, enjoyed the music soft in the background(1), and cried quietly… for hours more as he held me close… until I fell asleep in this amazing man’s embrace. I don’t even remember him gently laying me down in the bed, then curling up, around behind me.
When I woke up the next morning, he was still laying behind me, still sort of curled around me, but he was awake. “Hi Precious” he said quietly when he realized I was awake too. I rolled quickly over, and pretty much climbed on him and cried quietly as he rolled over on his back and hugged me close. But he had been thinking, and when he could, he explained, slowly. I think these were painful memories.
“I woke up on the beach, shivering cold, as the water washed around me, glad at least that I didn’t drown… And I didn’t have any clothes on either… When I realized that, I ran clumsily for the closest cover I could find, a small wood door in a long wall facing the beach. I found a small beach towel in a little shack on the other side near the door, and that was my clothes at first… I was shivering and cold… But I was mind-numbingly… alone… I felt so at a loss without you, not even knowing that you were what was missing… It wasn’t until I found Maude that I could even…” I guess that was all my man could say, then he cried quietly as we hugged tightly. He said this a few times. “Summer, I missed you so much…” Wow, that made two of us… We cried together, hugging tightly for a while… Well, we were running just a little late that morning as a result. We both got up, still wiping away tears, and tried to dress as quickly as we could. Then, surprising me, Shysage swept me off my feet, hugged me close, and I hugged him tightly. “My precious treasure” he said quietly. We wanted to cry some more, but he gently set me down, and we found Ariel ready to go, sitting on the swing, enjoying a little calm. We joined her briefly.
While we were swinging, I asked quietly about driving the wagon to the Diner today since we were a little late. Shysage smiled. “There is gas in the Mustang.” Ariel and I both smiled at the same time. Shysage’s Mustang has a single, long front seat, but Ariel scooted across, and I sat next to her, sort of in the middle, with my legs over next to hers. Shysage’s Mustang has this stick thing that he needs to move to make the car go. He laughed and said he wouldn’t need to move it a lot, the Diner isn’t far. But the ride was very fun, and it is clear my man likes this car, even driving slowly. Ariel and I do too! And Shysage even stopped on the way and found two of those pretty white and gold flowers from those stringy plants. I held them until we got to the Diner, then Shysage put one in my hair, then I did Ariel’s. Wow, our daughter is beautiful! Both flowers survived until mid-afternoon. And Shysage parked the Mustang in the back, and we walked around front like we do every morning. Open windows, set up some fans… Shysage and Ariel did that while I did a few basic chores; find pen and small (paper) tablet, turn soda maching on… Shysage did the ice and we were ready.
Midweek is usually our slowest days. But it was late in the summer; maybe there were more travellers as a result. We stayed pretty busy that day. But Delores did come in that afternoon, ordered her usual and relaxed in a booth. I guess Ariel is beginning to connect things… When Ariel saw me pick Delores’ special order up from the order up shelf, she held out her hands (for the pen and tablet). “Mom, go take a break!” Ariel said with a smile. I took Delores her special burger, and sat down next to her.
Delores sighed. “Oh Maude, wait… Summer… You really are so very beautiful… I only hope Bill, er Shysage knows the treasure he has…”
That made me cry, and we hugged briefly, then Delores started eating. After a few minutes, staring out across the desert, talking slowly as I thought… “For over a decade… Shysage… has always taken such good care of me, even at his expense… He almost died recently because of that(2)… He so protects me, so treasures me… He doesn’t just know I am his treasure, he treats me like I am his treasure… all the time… Like I said sunday, I am his Mare… forever…” I guess that was all I could say…
Delores finished her lunch, then, I don’t know… “Victor has lost 30 pounds already… He says he feels so much better too.” She sounded very excited about this, but then, slowly… “He asked me yesterday why I didn’t try to tell him about this sooner. All, I could do was cry, but he quickly realized that I tried a lot, even to the point of making him mad… He apologized for that… I am just so glad…” Delores and I hugged a little more, then Delores had to go pick Tina up from soccer practice.
Standing, we hugged briefly again. “Thank you Delores, you have helped me in so many ways…”
“Oh Maude, er Summer, you have helped me too!” We hugged again, then Delores headed out into the heat.
Staring out the window, deep in thought… Helping others… Shysage and I, we continue to find those willing to do that. It just seemed such were a minority… That was kind of scary. Ariel walked up and hugged me. “Party of 12… mom can you help me deliver burgers?” I hugged her again and wiped away tears as we served Sam’s amazing cooking to a bunch of locals and their visiting family. I don’t know why anyone would want to visit this stinking hot desert of a place, but at least it was cool in here!
The dinner rush came and went, and it seemed like the dining room cleared out a little early. And wow, Ariel and Bill clean fast! The sun was still up (it was still hot) as we climbed back into the Mustang for our trip home. Shysage had us open both doors first “to let some heat out” he said with a chuckle. Well, we opened the windows on the doors, too. Driving slowly home in Shysage’s car, it was fun.
We were about to climb the steps to the front porch. “Mommy, daddy, can I watch you both do some flying?” Shysage and I both looked at each other and smiled. Still, we went through the house, got it opened up, got some fans going. A few minutes later, we made our way down the back steps into the cool, freshly watered oats. “Maybe we could fly out some, then back. It has been a while for both of us, and I don’t want to push it” I said slowly, really thinking out loud, looking at the seemingly endless oats in our backyard.
Ariel smiled. “That’s fine. I just want to see my mommy and daddy…” This must have been an important memory for our daughter. The three of us hugged briefly, and Ariel calmed down. But as we hugged, I remembered the day we taught our Ariel to fly(3), and that made me cry a bunch. Still, it was clear this simple gesture would mean a lot to our precious treasure Ariel. At the same time, Shysage and I backed away, then threw ourselves forward, changing into small horses on the way down. We rubbed noses briefly… Then we took off running together, away from the house, and spread ourselves some for wing clearance. We were soon in the air; I was laughing… Flying felt so amazing! I guess we had kept our bodies in good shape and we were immediately flying higher, pulling quickly higher together. The stinking hot desert looked so much prettier from up here… Shysage and I both sighed a lot. We are a Pegasus family; there is no way around that! We flew high, then glided slowly back down in huge circles over the oats behind our house. And from this height we could see that the lush green carpet of oats went far back, way past the pump house even. It seemed the only green around! And we saw our Ariel, still a people standing in the oats, some distance away from the house, watching us. She said she was crying or laughing on and off, the whole time… Shysage and I actually flew back up a second time, and again glided in huge circles slowly down. It felt so good to be in the air again…
What we didn’t notice a little later was that our other neighbor Earl rode his horse to our house, then around back into the oats, stopping next to Ariel. Ariel said that Earl was watching us intently, too. He only spoke twice to her. “Miss, am I just seein’ things?”
Ariel laughed, then said proudly “Nope. That’s my mommy and daddy up there!” Then she cried…
After another minute of wonder, Earl said quietly “Ain’t never seen nuthin’ like this…”
Shysage saw Earl, and realized who he was, maybe because of his horse. “Summer, we should land and rescue our Ariel…” At the end of that slow spiral down, we flew up towards the house, and landed gently in the oats near Ariel and Earl. I think Shysage and I, we wanted to change back to people right away. Ariel had other plans, and ran quickly up, kneeled, and hugged us both tightly, wrapping one arm around each of our small horse necks, pulled us both close, then sobbed loudly… Shysage and I cried with her.
Probably sooner than she wanted, Ariel got back up, and Shysage and I threw ourselves back on our hind legs, stood up, and changed back into people. Earl gasped loudly; we heard that. Then Earl got down off his horse. He was still speechless, and said nothing, which… didn’t surprise any of us. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen here. Bill (Shysage) walked over to Earl and shook his hand right away. “Yes, it is still me. It is just that I can…” Shysage sighed slowly with contentment, but said nothing more; Earl had seen the rest. Then Shysage just added quietly “I think this needs to be kept under wraps, though.”
Maybe, now that we were people, Earl was getting back to normal. “Well, I always thought a Pegasus was… Well, I seen two now!” There was a brief pause. “You really are such good folks. And Edna was right, what she said ’bout this young-un…” Earl was looking at me! Still, remembering Edna made me cry… But I realized just then, people kept saying things like that… Maybe Edna somehow knew more than… Earl tipped his hat back, then pointed to Ariel “Her too?” he asked calmly, which made us girls laugh.
Shysage smiled. “Yes, this is our daughter Ariel, and yes, she can fly too.”
“Well, I’ll be…” Earl turned, and climbed calmly back up on his horse. “Yeah, this kinda’ thing worth keepin’ a secret. I’ll be keepin’ my eyes on the sky though, hoping to see y’all flyin’ again!”
Shysage was almost crying, I knew that. “Earl…. Thanks again for the oats. They are so…”
Earl laughed loudly. “Yeah, now I know why! And all my horses like ’em too! Earl turned his horse, and they walked off. “Well, I’ll be…” Earl said quietly again as he rode around the house, out front and back home.
Shysage and I were hugging as we watched Earl head around the house. When he was out of sight, I turned to look at Ariel… Our precious daughter had somehow figured… Well, she was a small horse now, white like me but with Shysage’s light brown mane and tail… And her beautiful eyes… Almost whining… “Aww… Can I have a turn, too?” Our precious treasure… As the Pegasus family we are, we took to the air and flew together some more, flying high then gliding slowly back down in huge circles. Earl stopped and watched us a while more, until it was almost too dark to see… Then we landed, and cried together in the dark, laying there in the wet oats.
Well, it was getting late, and we all had work at the Diner tomorrow, so we got up, stood up. I asked Ariel “Can you…” I didn’t finish.
Ariel said “Hmm.. I don’t know, let me try.” She tried a few times just to jump up on her hind legs. I know that took me a lot of practice. But she managed to do that, then fell over backwards. But as she fell over backwards, she changed back into a people, and was still laughing as a people even before she fell down backwards into the oats. She wasn’t hurt, and quickly got up, still laughing. “Well, I think I need more practice…” That made us all laugh. Laughing, then crying, Ariel hugged us both, then walked to the house then inside.
Shysage laid on his belly, and I did the same thing right next to him. Well, I was next to my Shysage, and didn’t want to move. Maybe he felt the same way. After a few minutes… I sighed. “Oh, Shysage, I love you so much…” My heart said, really cried that out. But I knew my Shysage felt the same way, and I was waiting maybe, pretty sure he would say…
Shysage got up, moved to face me, knelt down on his front legs, stretched his wings out wide, then carefully tilted the tops of his wings slowly towards me, closed his eyes, and put his head down… “I love my Mare…” From right there, right like that, he looked up at me… Oh, my goodness… This amazing man wasn’t just telling me he loved me, he was showing me… For the next hour or two, we played together in the oats, running, kneeling, laughing, kissing… Then we took care of each other…
I could never leave him…
- …The slow, understated elegance of ‘The Celestial Capital – Al’Taieu’* from the ‘Chains of Promethia’* expansion for Final Fantasy XI* (*c2014 by Square Enix).
- CSR Princess, Ch. 22, Chard-onix
- The Chronicles of Summer Rain, Volume 10, Ariel Dawn, Ch. 12, Pegasus Family, on FIMFiction
- CSR Maude: Revelations is copyright 2017 by Shysage. And “CSR Maude” is vol. 15 of the Chronicles of Summer Rain