Copyright © 2012 by Outside the Box Ink. Image by polatkaya.net
She opens her eyes and for a minute she is confused by the web of twine suspended below the skylight above her head that is filled with food. A smile creeps to her face as she remembers where she is and she rolls over on the mat and pulls the wool blanket up to her chin. With a contented sigh, she takes in the face of the man who has changed her life forever.
Wildchild’s nose twitches in his sleep and he quietly grunts and snorts as if he’s laughing in his dreams. He looks so youthful in his sleep, like a bear cub, all bundled up with his fists balled up beneath his chin.
Kalika resists waking him and tries to ignore the itch on her calf. To distract herself, she plays through the events of the last few days that brought her to live in this yurt amongst the People of the First Nation. It was surprising that Truman turned out to be their escort out of the Red Zone. He was an interesting man who had seen a lot of life. She is glad to know she can call on him downriver, because the life that lays before her and Wildchild will be rife with challenges that Truman has already overcome. The wisdom that comes with age is the most valuable asset that any generation can impart on their successors.
The People were warm and hospitable when they showed up in their camp two days ago. They greeted her and Wildchild with a plateful of venison and roasted tubers and hot herbal tea. They helped them unload their horses and invited them to stay in this yurt until they could build their own.
The realization of how much there is still to learn is a little unsettling for Kalika. She could never have foreseen that one day she would be put to the ultimate test of survival. She is no stranger to independence, though. She was an only child, and after her parents died when she was 8 she lived with a host of foster homes. She learned to preserve that inner core of her soul despite the challenges of life, and drawing on that inner strength she created boundaries for self-preservation.
Over the years she learned to let people in, but it was not easy. She emerged from adolescence with a youthful wisdom that many people never even touch in their lifetime, and it served to open her heart with a compassion for others that was just as rare.
She looks over at the bags of item that they had acquired at the Market Fair. It was fortunate that Wildchild had found those bags of salt to trade because they proved to be invaluable. In a way, this felt like Christmas morning, but instead of gifts she had been given tools and the community that would teach her how to use them.
She smiles at the realization that her days will no longer be filled with the commutes, deadlines and paperwork of the world she has left behind, and she relishes the opportunity to dream up her role in this new world. She is pondering what her trade may become when Wildchild stirs and rolls to his back. He suddenly jolts and his dream-laden eyes open.
“You seem just as confused as me when I woke up,” Kalika laughs. “Good morning, sunshine.”
Wildchild rolls to his side and takes her into an embrace. Nestling his nose in the curve of her neck, he sighs contentedly and closes his eyes. His hair smells like fresh pine needles and warmth emanates from his naked body as he curls around her underneath the blanket.
“I can’t tell which is better- the dream I just woke up from or the dream I’m living now,” he says, kissing her shoulder. “They feel like one in the same.”
“That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
“When I left Columbia City not knowing where I was headed, who knew I was headed for love?”
“Wow, you trumped that already,” Kalika laughs and snuggles into his embrace.
“So, what do you think of our new digs?” Wildchild asks. “This yurt is a pretty slick setup. I figure we should build one about this size, maybe bigger to fit some children.”
Kalika freezes at the mention of children. This prospect was something she had only briefly considered during the last decade, and she had not decided if she wanted them or not. The question of whether she even has a choice in the matter held her back from consciously making that decision in past relationships.
“Are you okay?” Wilchild asks. “I hope I didn’t offend you with that.”
Kalika squeezes his should and sits up to reach for her shift, which was crumpled in a ball on the floor. She slides it over her head and pulls on some fuzzy wool socks.
“You didn’t offend me. The truth is, I’ve always been terrified of becoming a mother.”
“Oh, come on. You’d make a wonderful mother,” Wildchild says as he pulls up his trousers.
“It’s not that I don’t think I’d be good at it. It’s more like I’ve never met someone who I was willing to make that commitment with. I also wonder what kind of life I can give a child, especially in the world that we live in. There are 8 billion people on this planet, and almost all of them have the ability to reproduce. There’s not enough space and there definitely aren’t enough resources, especially when you consider how long people live these days. But I also acknowledge parenthood as an honor and the most natural and real contribution a person can make to the world. I don’t quite know what it will take for me to decide either way. Then again, maybe it’s not up to me.”
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