Historical setting: 584 C.E. The garden of Eve, pagan healer
Everyday now, I find I’m stronger and more useful. First I was able to do normal things for myself. I could eat at the table with the others, and now in this season of the fullness of springtime nearly into summer I am able to help Anatase and Eve with chores so there is more time for Anatase to read aloud from the pages left by Nic. Eve calls it the reading lesson when Anatase and I sit outside on a bench in the garden and Anatase unrolls the bundle of trimmed off ends of parchment on which Nic lettered his journals of these missing years.
Anatase said she wasn’t living here yet when Nic came up the first time. With her being only eight-years-old now, I mention she wasn’t even born yet. That makes no sense to a child whose lifetime in her mind is all of known time. No wonder it’s a youthful thing to believe life beyond death is an unexplored truth; then history, even with its indelible imprint on our physical world, seems only a fabrication. Of course, believing in history does require imagining those who went before us then mustering our empathy for another’s mortality. So she dutifully reads Nic’s explanation of laying out strips of linen in the shape of a man next to the very gravestones I once heaped onto Susanna’s grave myself. Anatase drudges through the squiggles of letters word-for-word to tell how Nic created the dome of wattle and daub as the sepulcher we have all seen torn away so recently.
Anatase much prefers reading Nic’s words about meeting my family here when they were so young all those years ago. So that is what she reads today.
“Page 2, Your Family.” He wrote about what all these people were like in the old times when he first came here. He said, ‘Your son Ezra is a true master of the vineyard here. Every decision made – from where to plant the yellow flowers I brought, to the perfect placement among your family graves for your rem…[peach pit] – all have to be approved by him and he is really too busy most of the time to bother with this guest who I am. Mostly while I’m awaiting Ezra’s various permissions, I’m sitting at his house and being hosted by the matron of these peasants, Colletta. Yes, your daughter-in-law is gracious but she seems cautious of strangers’.” Anatase adds, “He didn’t know about me, or Celeste’s children then. This page must be very old.”