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The Presentation

A Short Story by Rob Mohr

 

I was at peace, focused on the majesty of mixed hardwoods that surrounded me, when a young woman, more doe that human, jumped a log and came to a breathless stop beside where I stood. Her face unleashed the force of the wind of the past whose force rekindled a fire that was smoldering within me.

I reached out to her and asked, “Where have you been? Where are you going?”

         She tilted hear head and responded, “To the Presentation. Come with me.”

         Before I could question this inexplicable apparition from my past, she ran away from me into the dark cavern formed by the ancient forest. Left with a memory of the play of shafts of sunlight on her light blue clothes and white skin, my mind went back in time only to encounter the laughter of the gods who saw my confusion as a great joke. Her fair skin, her still slender feminine body, and the pastel blue of her shorts and top, became a specter given life then swallowed by the forest. I resisted the urge to follow her. Uncertain, I forced myself to continue along the trail leading to the small village below.

         The world was changing around me. I had lost all control.

         The streets of the village were empty when I arrived … houses locked and gates latched. Hungry and thirsty, I settled into a comfortable wooden chair in front of a small restaurant I had visited before, a vantage point from where I could see rising clouds gathering in the distance driving a crown of birds south toward the village. As the birds passed overhead, a young boy, a child I remembered from my earlier visits, now about fourteen years old with swirls of unkempt blond hair and an open smile, wearing a waiters bib, appeared to announce with a sense of pride, “My father and mother have gone to the Presentation, but I am able to serve you from what’s prepared in the kitchen.”

         Delighted by the prospect of food and drink, I responded, “Of course! Please bring me a bottle of wine and some bread accompanied with cheese and ham...” while inside I was troubled by his reference to a presentation event.

         His smile broadened.

         “Yes, there is a salt cured ham. It’s quite good.”

         I returned his smile.

         “That would be perfect.”

         As he disappeared into the dark of the restaurant, I called out, “What Presentation?”

         There was no answer.

         Satiated with the dry sherry and the sharp taste of the cured ham and aged cheese, my mind began to drift into places and times where I had lived before. She was there – the woman in the blue shorts and top, nestled deep in a soft corner of my memory. God! I remembered her taste, the feel of my hands on her soft skin, how easy loving her had been. We ran together, played together and lay together in our soft bed upon the floor. Our poverty did not matter.

Our love and our love making gave us comfort that I had never experienced with another. My narrative can never fully express what we felt, the sweetness of our intimacy, her completely feminine being.  I reached out through time to hold her, to a place at the heart of things where reality’s light rose above the horizon. Her overture played with all the elements in place.

         I was the failure.

         “Would you like more ham?” His words pulled me with jarring force into the present.

         Disoriented by my veer through time, I replied, “No, just bring me the bill.”

         He looked at me with unusual intensity.

         “Are you going to the Presentation? They are expecting you.”

         Startled, I responded, “Expecting me? What do you mean?”

         He considered my confusion.

         “My parents mentioned that you would be there.”

With a desire to end this impossible conversation, I asked, “Where is this Presentation?”

         He matched my candor. 

         “Don’t know exactly. Somewhere close by. The woman who is making the presentation says   there’s a thin place by the river, where worlds intersect ... a holy place.”

         “Which way?”

         “My parents walked north.”

         I sensed in that moment that every thread of creation, every aspect of being, were conscious of me and my presence.

         The bill paid, I headed north away from the high forested mountains with the hope that a gathering of that many people would be visible from the road.  The land around me was desolate, stripped of all signs of life, brushed by the hand of the powers who govern darkness.  I seemed destined to wander roads that have no history, across a land where each step forced me to challenge the mistral.

         The prognosis was not good.

         Covered in dust driven by the wind, I sought shelter in a small grove of knurled trees. I fell back exhausted against one of the trees. But the moment I opened my eyes and looked around, I realize this place was alive with meaning. Even the trees were conscious of my presence. They reminded me that she and I had once shared a grove like this. We had lain under the trees covered by a blanket of woven dreams. She had whispered her secrets into my ear until they settled locked deep within my heart. The memory of our oneness was strong. The work of our souls had been to love.

         Aware of my need, the mind of creation encouraged me to rise. I stood just as a large crow flew down and settled on a rough path where a number of people had walked through the grove. I followed the crow as it flew to the northwest. We soon reached the bank of a dry river bed where the crow landed by the small stream of water, a vestige of the river’s former life.  My guide, his thirst quenched, flew up the river to where we could hear the soft hum of voices. My search was over.

         I found the villagers gathered on the bank of the river facing a small bathing pool secured by a natural dam of rock. Sensing my arrival they turned as one, and watched me as I made my way into their midst to where a mature, statuesque woman was speaking.

         She, in her wisdom, paused, looked at me and said, “Welcome Somerled of the Mountains. Welcome!”

         I nodded in response as she continued her soliloquy. Her words rang clear in the dry air:

         “I am thankful that our community is one of many that have decided to enable the advent of a new way of life. We have learned that consciousness is a primary element in all of creation. This expanded understanding confirms our right to seek personal freedom, and a world without violence. There will be no more war in a world where we will share equal access to continuing education, preventive and curative health care, and the resources needed for our comfort and security. This promise means the end of marginalization and division. We are reborn today a new people with a new future.

         We are entering a world where humans will never again need to work to sustain our lives. Technology and the growth of robotics will free us to use our lives in creative ways, to redistribute the wealth produced to insure that all people have enough to live and thrive.

This new world begins now with the advent of this child, and thousands like him being born every day ...”

         The crowd began to clap as a small boy, four years old, rose from his seat and came and stood by the enlightened, dark-skinned Earth Mother.

         “This boy, Donald, is the result of evolution, one of the children born with heightened awareness that hear and understand the energy vibrations created by humans, insects, trees, plants, and even the stone that blocks the river to give us this pool of water. They will use their insight and wisdom to insure health and well being of all creatures and of creation.”

         A wave of excitement went through the community, many, filled with joy, many began to cry as she continued, “Will the mother of the child come forward for the presentation of her child to the          community and to the world.”

Shocked, I watched the woman of my dreams, wearing a pale blue dress, come forward. She smiled her inviting smile and waved to those gathered, then nodded her acknowledgment of my presence.

Touched by the community’s response, the Earth Mother intoned with emotion, “Will the father of this child please come forward to present his child to the community and the world?”

         For the longest time no one moved. I searched through the crowd to see who would step forward, but as I looked around I saw all eyes turn toward me. Stunned, I stumbled forward to join the mother of my son for the presentation of our child.

         Our son stepped forward and began to speak …

 

 

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