Time to Leave

 

Greg Hoose

 
Mom could never understand why she had to go up the mountain. It was rather dangerous; going through the bog, and at night too. But there was a full moon and she was sure, yes very sure, that Cauleen would be there tonight. No one knew where Cauleen came from and most were afraid of her, but when trouble came many thought of Cauleen's ways, and sought her help. This is how she had met her; when she had lost her sister and could not stop crying. Her mother had not known what to do, but her brother knew about Cauleen and had pulled her up the mountain through the bogs past the towers to the little church. There sat Cauleen on the steps in the sunlight as calm as could be. Her brother led her to the steps of the church and then backed away; afraid himself at the power of Cauleen. She stood there sniffling and rubbing her red eyes while Cauleen hummed a little song.

Finally Cauleen stopped and opened her eyes.

"What is this, child? What are you crying?"

Katie had told her through her sobs about her little sister getting sick and then finding her beside her in the bed; stiff and cold. Cauleen's eye's got very soft and she came down the steps and stooped in front of the little child.

"Dear, you will see her in heaven." was all that she said. But somehow Katie knew; she suddenly knew all about heaven. She could see the beautiful place in her mind and feel the comfort there. And she knew for sure, very sure, that her little sister was there happy and glad and warm. It made very good sense to her! Mother never really knew why Katie had stopped crying; but brother knew, and kept the magic securely behind his wise smile.

Katie and her brother came up the mountain often and played in the roofless church until the bell from home rang. More times than not Cauleen was nowhere in sight and Katie often wondered where she hid. Katie would look for her around the church and towers and in the nearby mists of the bog, but all she ever found was a large black cauldron hanging from a simple tripod. Sometimes in the twilight she could see the form of Cauleen at the cauldron singing softly to herself and rarely she would come up the mountain and there Cauleen would be sitting on the steps smiling at her. Sometimes she would curl up beside Cauleen and they would sit for hours as she sang strange songs to Katie and Katie would stay into the twilight hours and they would see the stars come out. Then the inevitable bell would ring and Katie would dart off, happy inside.

Tonight was different though. Something was happening in the town. People were talking about her Cauleen. Some mentioned witch and some were very angry. Many in the town were sick and some had died. The doctors were at a loss and could not find a cure and a few looked up the mountain and said it was Cauleen's evil magic that was cursing them. Why Cauleen would want to curse anyone she could not know. But some of the children in town over the years had gone up the mountain. Sometimes Katie would find the cauldron turned over or marks made in the wall of the church; but these would somehow get fixed or repaired before too long, so Katie gave it not much thought. Once she saw some children darting in and out of the tower shadows. They ran away when she called, and she knew they were into mischief. Maybe this was why the town was suspicious; it felt guilty. Maybe some of the fathers felt guilty; for Cauleen had been here for a very long time. Now Katie was approaching the church. She called out Cauleen's name, but all that answered was silence. She searched the towers, she searched the bog, she searched the church; but she could not find Cauleen. She could not even find the cauldron! It was missing. Katie sat on the old worn steps of the little church and began to cry. She was afraid for Cauleen and thought maybe someone had stolen her cauldron. Then Katie stopped sobbing. She felt something at her back. She turned and there was Cauleen! She ran to her sobbing and wrapped her arms around her tightly. She began blurting out all about the town and the black death and everything! Cauleen held her surely and just smiled. "It's time to leave." Was all she said.

 
 
 
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Author Bio

Gregory and his family live in their home in Fairfield Iowa, enjoying the snows of the midwestern United States and taking occasional trips to Germany and Italy to visit relatives; and the beaches of Florida. In this simple life, with its simple pleasures, the Word has surely found a place to grow.

 


 

 
 
 

Copyright © 1999 Greg Hoose. All rights reserved. Published by permission of the author.
 
This page last updated 11-22-99.

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