Historical setting: 561 C.E. Gaul
This day of the longest night I waken shivering in the hayloft to the roaring torrents of cold sleet tormenting this frail roof. The longest night was surely inflicted with terrors – a man yelling above the storm at Eve’s cottage door. Fully awake now I’m aware it was no loose demon at play in my dream. Even in this morning’s waking I know it was a very bad night.
Waiting now at her door while she doesn’t answer I notice the walking tracks deep in the mud of the roadway sculpting yesterday’s ruts with forms of footsteps — a man’s, coming and going, and a woman’s smaller foot following over the top of the larger ones going away from here toward the east.
The commotion in the dark of night was surely not a mere night terror. I did hear a man knocking and calling to Eve, summoning help for his wife who was alone in a long ordeal of childbirth. He was panicked and tearful and Eve’s voice was strong and calm, assuring she would go with him and see to her. It was calming enough that I could sleep again not even wondering what my own child’s needs may be.
Now I set my pace into the tracks in the mud and follow to find wherever she may be. I take no time to put the donkey to cart, and besides it would be hard to follow these muds in the deep and sinking ruts of rain. Better, to be sure that I too am on foot.
The sameness this wash, rain rendered, was only shadows of roadway and farmlands, hills and trees all a monotone of drear, but for one silhouette at a distance on this road. The slender stalk of woman is coming toward me slowly slogging in the unrelenting waters flooding up from earth.
“Eve, is that you?”
She stumbles in the mud as I reach her. Shivering, quaking, and nearly silent except for a moan, I take her in my arms.
“Dear God, please stay near…”
“No Papa! Don’t summon God. This was all God’s fault so I cursed God for it. God is surely angry with me.”
My prayer is silent. Dear God, stay close, amen.
(New Year, new chapter – “Light May Come” starts tomorrow)