Archive for December 16th, 2021

Advent 2021 – December 16

December 16 – Starsha

As the Bard stepped back, his student stepped forward. Starsha had come to the Cove the same year Drew had, looking to study with Damien. She was tall, her dark skin marked all over with the white tattoos of her people. Her dark curly hair was haloed around her, and Molly saw that she had sprinkled silver and gold stars within the curls, so she sparkled. “My people do not celebrate Christmas either,” Starsha said, turning her beautiful face to the crowd. Her dark eyes with the star-shaped pupils were bright. “But we do celebrate the Winter Solstice, and we decorate trees, although ours are not cut down, so the animals that are our brothers and sisters in nature can share in our bounty.” She held out her hands to the Snow Queen. “As such, there is very little that is passed on year to year, other than the concepts, as we take each other. So I have brought this.”

The clouds wrapped around Molly and when she could see, she was in a cool forest clearing. A younger Starsha, dressed in the tooled leather vest and soft dress that she’d worn the first time Molly and Schrodinger had seen her, was sitting with several other young people dressed similarly. They were stringing what looked to be cranberries and small balls of something coated with seeds onto thread. Nearby, others were using more thread to make silvery fish and chunks of meat into garlands. The trees that ringed the clearing were already sporting several other garlands, and there was an older man and woman chanting something that neither Molly nor Schrodinger understood. Everyone in the clearing was laughing and smiling. Then the clearing blurred again, and they were outside of Damien’s house in the Cove.

This must be the first year after she came to the Cove, Schrodinger said.

The Starsha before them was standing on the porch, dressed in jeans and a sweater, with leather boots on her feet, and she was cradling a steaming mug of tea in her hands. “It will be the Solstice soon,” she said to Damien, who was sitting in a rocking chair to the left of her. “And I am not ready.”

“Not ready?” he said. “To go back, you mean?”

“Not exactly,” Starsha said. She turned to him, and Molly caught a glimpse of the uncertainty on her face. “I won’t be going back this year.”

“Not even for the Solstice? Well, that’s your decision, but may I ask why?”

“I don’t belong there anymore,” Starsha admitted sadly. “I don’t know that I should participate in the ceremonies that I haven’t contributed to.”

“Because you haven’t been there?” Damien got up from his rocker and came to join her at the porch railing. 

“That’s part of it.” Starsha looked down. “I…I don’t feel like a Mareesh anymore.”

“What do you feel like?” Damien asked her.

“I don’t know.” A tear dripped from her eyes. “I just don’t know.”

He took the mug from her, set it down on the railing, and held her why she cried. When the tears had slowed, he said, “May I tell you what I think you are?”

She mumbled yes into his shoulder.

“I think you are an explorer, an ambassador for the Mareesh, and that even though you didn’t gather the fruits of the forest and the sea, you have carried your people in everything you do. No, your Solstice may not be the one that you remember, but isn’t that part of growing? To learn who and what we are?”

Starsha said softly, “I…I did not think of it that way.” She stepped back from him. “And while it won’t be the same, I can still do the Solstice ceremony on my own.”

When Molly’s eyes cleared, she watched Starsha hand the wreath of cranberries to Jade, who sent in floating up to the top of the tree, where it settled like a necklace. Then Jade turned back to Starsha. “Thank you for bringing your customs to our tree. This is one of the ways we strengthen our bond as a town.”