Monday 6th February 2012
A gift before another journey commences
URSE, she liked to be called, the young woman who stepped out of the cage in a jangle of bangles and swirl of skirts, rushing forward to embrace me tightly.
“Sorry the car’s a mess. I sort of… live in it. Here. Xenia… she’s my birth mother… told me to give you this.”
From round her neck she took a narrow thong – one of many, on which hung shells, stones and wooden carvings – and handed me a quartz-like crystal, into which was set a tiny eye-screw for the thong to pass through. It seemed inappropriate to have marred the gem in this way, but Urse immediately explained…
“It will balance your shack-ruz.”
…which was vaguely reassuring.
I thanked her, putting the thong around my own neck. Such was the flow of energy from the crystal that I felt… no difference whatsoever. Arthur gave me an awkward smile.
“Let’s go, shall we?”
He and I squeezed into the rear seat of the cage, settling ourselves amid the clothes, books, blankets, footwear and other paraphernalia that suggested Ursula’s birth mother’s crystalline balancer could have been put to better use in restoring some equilibrium between comfort and storage inside the vehicle.
But a guest rests best in any nest, as we are often told, and I was as grateful to Ursula for her mobile home as I had been to Rose and Colin for their mobile phones.
She started the engine.
Arthur said we would have to stop for food and petrol, but would do so only when some distance from the town. Meanwhile, he asked that I recount to him what had befallen me since he and I had been parted at the house of B-squiggle-B.
Most pleased by this suggestion – for the teacher would appreciate the enhanced linguistic knowledge of his former student – I recalled my collision with the church, the happy times with the Walker family, being seized by Stokes, meeting A Minister, Norman’s tests, and the unhappy times in Isobel’s fortress before my escape earlier that day.
He was very kind and chose not to interrupt.