ABBY POURS HER HEART OUT
Illustration by Carlos Uribe
Abby stared at the fire. She knew that the moment for the grim details had arrived. “Well,” said Wendy. “Get it all out then. Hurry up.” Abby opened her mouth but couldn’t begin. Her eyes filled with tears. Her throat was sore.
“Let me put some tea on for you,” offered Wendy. “Your eyes are glassy. Lemon balm with sage, very hot. And you should take this whole container back with you, and grow some lemon balm in that churchyard of yours.”
“I’m not going back,” Abby told her. “Not ever.” Her voice broke and tears dripped down her cheeks. “I’ve failed. We lost the election for church trustee. The Morphy people have a majority. Tuck will be fired. They’ll sell the churchyard to Morphy for an office building, probably higher than the church itself. They’re taking over the town, and are in league with the governor to push Sonny and his people out of Rivergate, and get mining rights to the forest preserve. They know dreamstone is under the forest. Everything will be destroyed! Everything! And it’s mostly my fault. My relationships are a mess. Just when we had a chance, it all collapsed. It’s over.” Abby was sobbing. “Saving the earth? We can’t even save Middletown and the forest! And now I understand that all the dreamstone under us could turn a quarter of the planet into small farms, forests, wild lands, enough to preserve the life to come. I’m not a fool. I think about these things.”
“Ahhhh!” exclaimed Wendy. “Don’t you know? A group of us have thought about that every day for fifty years. And I hope you realize that as the keeper of the mapstick, you are now responsible for that opportunity, and that terrible danger.”
“Well, thanks for telling me,” replied Abby with bitter sarcasm. “But it’s too late! Haven’t you been listening?”
When Abby was all cried out, Wendy handed her the cup of tea. Abby took a few sips. “Nowww…” came the old woman’s sing-song voice in its most quiet and gentle mode, “please give careful thought to what I ask. Are you sure… really absolutely sure… that all is lost?” Abby’s head turned to Wendy in surprise. A suspicion arose in her mind that she was missing something. She felt her whole mood shift in the wink of an eye. “Well… maybe I’m not sure about… all of it. But there are horrible things I am sure of.”
“Yes… and those things are?”
“After the election Reverend Tuck told me that Dr. Bear, who was counting the votes, had told him that Becky Scutter had won. One of the trustees had already asked for an audit of the church finances and valuables. I had to take the mapstick and this case of my father’s drawings and flee through the storm. A mob tried to attack me. And an edition of the Middletown Standard came out with a picture of me hugging Jeremy, Phoebe’s boyfriend, in the churchyard, when I was supposed to be working. And George, who likes me, might have betrayed me. And these are just a few of the bad things.”
“Mmm…” returned Wendy. “Do you have any friends?”
“What?” Abby stared. “Of course I do. I love my friends. But now it’s all a mess.” She stared angrily into the fire. Wendy warmed her hands near the door of the stove. The pine logs crackled and flared up. The veins on the back of her hands stood out like blue worms.
‘She’s old,’ thought Abby. ‘Old! What am I going to do when she’s gone?’
“Sooo…” Wendy went on in her gentle mode. “All these things are bad… Is that correct?”
Abby lost her temper. “Oh, stop it! If you know something, tell me!”
Wendy smiled. “I’m glad you can use me to let out all your pain… and your picture of our hopes and fears is quite true. But let’s imagine you were talking to one of your friends. Let’s say, Phoebe for instance. I’m sure you would present things differently. Instead of waiting for me to give you answers, you and Phoebe would exchange news, encourage each other, and continue building the good road together. I won’t deny that I can help you, and believe me, I will. But consider all you can do even without my help…” Wendy’s voice became strong, and her eyes glittered. “I promise you in a day or two you’ll see things rather differently. You underestimate yourself, and the partners gathered around you. Already the good road has begun.”