The sun beat down on her, and the sand reflected that heat back up to her. Darn, she hated the sand. It got everywhere – in her wagon, in her books, in her skirts…. She laughed to herself; sand was the only thing getting into her skirts!
She wryly shook her head. She didn’t know how all the natives of Mondrago endured this weather so well. They were a good people though, loyal and friendly if a bit formal, and Lynn counted herself lucky to be amongst them, though she had trouble with their culture and ways. She had once tried to (privately) belly dance like many of them did at the Djinni, until she had caught sight of herself in the mirror in her wagon and had broken down in a fit of laughter at how bad she had been.
She reached the small oasis as evening fell, and let Sabb go hunt what she could find. Sarai crept out of her bandana and explored the area. It was fitting that these were her only companions apart from her two instruments that she had allowed herself in this ritual.
The next morning she also explored the very small oasis, and found the spot that would do. The area wasn’t much, but it was more than just sand, and there were trees. Just a few, and not really the right kind, but none of that really mattered. It was peaceful here, off the beaten track since there were other, more accommodating areas elsewhere for travelers.
She spent the rest of the day carving the names into the chips she had brought specifically for this day, stopping only for a light lunch. Each name was not simply carved, each one brought a memory that she allowed herself to savor. ‘Maria’, the plain looking girl whose face lit like a sun and became so beautiful when she smiled; ‘Antonio’, the boy who eventually made it his heart’s mission to see that smile for the rest of his life; ‘Juan’, who was a magician with horses; ‘Ines’, who she had learned to dance from; ‘Marcos’, her first kiss; ‘Karina’, oh sweet Karina whom she would never forget… she wept remembering dark hair that went on forever and laughing eyes that pierced her soul.
There were so many.
Finally, the last four. Drina, Granmama, who had taught her of herbs and potions, and so much of life and wisdom. Isabel, oh Mama, who had given Lynn life and was the lady she aspired to be some day, and the prettiest woman Lynn would ever know. Papa…. No name needed ever… a big man with a heart of gold who could fix anything, even a little girl’s heart. Santiago. Big brother. Confidant. Best friend. And too many memories….
Yes, she would adapt to Mondrago but she was still gypsy. She would still wear the dresses of her people. She would still never leave her wagon with her head uncovered, like Mama said. And she would observe the ritual they deserved.
She dug into the ground where there was some small greenery, and lovingly placed each chip into the hole, saying each name aloud. Sabb and Sarai watched, silently observing. Finally she covered the chips with dirt, creating a mound over them, and pulled out the guitar she had recently purchased. She was an average guitar player at best, she had always played the violin accompaniment at her clan’s funerals in the past, but she was the only one here now. And no, it wasn’t the right trees and the stream was a mere trckle..… but none of that really mattered.
As the sun slowly set, she began to play, and lifted up her one small voice.
((Here is an mp3 of the song, with a bit more orchestration))
The ash and the willow, the maple and oak
Stand guard over green silent mound
All is silent, not a word is spoke
Yet listen closely, and music is found.
The wind’s soft whisper, a stream’s playful bubbling
The soft creaking branches of trees
The music plays softly, not at all troubling
Nothing plays in the minor of keys.
The maple and oak, the ash and the willow
Stand guard o’er me as I cry
I lay down beside you, green mound is my pillow
As I sing to you my last lullaby
Each note wakes memories as weeping I sing
And the leaves rustle gently o’er me
Soft whispers laden, my voice softly breaking
As I know I must go leave you be.
The ash and the willow, the maple and oak
Stand guard in a small silent grove
I stand by you gazing, not a word can be spoke
As I say good-bye to you up above.