There are two weeks until Christmas. The countdown is on. This past weekend was my first round of holiday parties. Is there anything so delightful as a table spread with merry hors d’oeuvres? And we all know that just as Santa is able to deliver gifts to all the world’s children in one night, the fat content of cheesecake is magically null and void during December. I believe, I believe! Needless to say, I’m looking forward to another festive weekend. My husband and I plan to drive up to Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico. I hear tell of a luminaria beach walk and floating lights parade that are extraordinary, and I’m in the mood for something of that exact nature.
Before I go, here’s the 4th and final installment of The Plains Fairy Tale. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. It certainly put me in the spirit this holiday season.
Yours truly, Sarah
The Plains Fairy Tale
by Sarah McCoy
Ezie took one, still warm, and ate. Lenna hadn’t lied. The scone was the most decadent food Ezie had ever eaten. Crumbs caught on her lip and she greedily licked them up. It was too good to waste.
“Sunnyberry tea to wash it down.” Diane poured her a mug and set it on a mosaic table made of colored glass bits and shells and glitter. “You’ve come all the way from the Plains—through a monsoon, too! Take a load off, honey.”
At the table, Lenna buttered a scone and laughed loudly with another woman. “Ezie!” She wiped her eyes. “Come and meet my sister Thalia.”
Thalia extended her hand, and Ezie took it without pause.
“Very nice to meet you. Please, sit here beside me,” said Thalia.
“Poor girl. Coz ran you through the rain like a carwash!” Thalia rolled her eyes. “Tsk, tsk. I promise we raised our baby brother to treat women with the utmost respect.”
“And I always do.” Coz entered wearing a dry polo and khakis. Diane handed him a steaming cup of Sunnyberry, and he kissed her cheek. “Thalia, I see you’ve met Ezie.”
Thalia sighed and leaned in close to Ezie’s ear, though her words were audible to all. “I’ve never been able to stay mad at the man. He’s just too darn cute.” She sat up. “Bring me a scone with extra sweet cream butter and all will be forgiven.”
They all laughed the kind of warm laughter that gurgled up from some hot inward spring. Ezie remembered laughing this way once, on a family picnic when she was very young. Her father picked buttercups and insisted on placing one beneath her chin to see if she liked butter. It tickled and she laughed so hard and true that tears ran into the creases of her nose. She’d thought she’d drown in her own happiness. She hadn’t felt or heard that kind of joy since. It was a solitary moment and not the usual way of the Plains people.
Coz presented the pastry to Thalia with a bow.
“Brother dear, how I do fear, your face is far too kind. You heal the heart but if you’re smart, you’ll try to change some minds.” She winked at him then bit into her buttered scone. “Oh, Mum, these are the best you’ve ever made!”
“Thank you, love,” said Diane, balancing a mountain of half-moons on a plate.
Coz took a seat across from Ezie. “I wish you could meet the rest of my sisters, but they’re abroad charming the world.”
“You’re the only son?” asked Ezie.
Coz leaned back in his chair and smiled gently. “I had a brother, Peter, but he died before I was born.”
Across the kitchen, the scone on the very top of Diane’s pile toppled to the ground. She picked it up. “This one’s for the birds. They’ll be hungry after all this rain.”
Ezie drank her tea. The sweet berry water made her lips pucker. Death was not spoken of in the Plains. People moved to the Great Falls or Walhalla. Those who died young were forgotten altogether. Suffering was not permitted. Death was a bitter reminder that life ultimately began and ended outside their control—that something bigger than themselves just might exist.
“Peter’s where he’s meant to be.” Diane put the plate in the middle of them and sat beside Ezie. “At this very minute, he’s probably at heaven’s table with your father, God rest them both, eating scones with cream. No butter for that boy. He was always partial to the sweetest treats.” She smiled.
Lenna patted Coz’s shoulder. “Speaking of Peter, while you were gone, his bush bloomed yellow and pink polka-dots. Come see.” She pinched Thalia’s arm. “You, too.”
Thalia took the hint with an ‘ow’ and followed her sister and brother, leaving Ezie alone with Diane.
Once the banter of her children had grown distant, Diane turned to Ezie. “So I hear you’ve come to see me.”
Ezie gulped, but her hands stayed steady. Her belly remained calm, preoccupied and contented with the rich biscuits and tea. She didn’t quite know how to begin. “I—you see—my Twilight is at the end of this week and I—I haven’t got a Purpose to claim.”
Diane took a bite of scone but said nothing.
“I have a friend named Odette, and her grandmother told her about you. That you have the knowledge to see hearts.” She traced the lip of her cup. “She said you could tell someone their Purpose within a minute.”
Diane swallowed then sipped her tea.
“So…” Ezie sighed.
“So?” echoed Diane.
It was only then that Ezie dared to meet Diane’s gaze, full of glimmers and shadows. “Could you tell me mine?”
Diane grinned. “Child, is it not obvious?”
Ezie shook her head and willed back budding tears.
Diane took Ezie’s hand between her own. “Your Purpose began the minute you decided to come here.”
Ezie fingered the soft edge of her sleeve. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s simple. Your Purpose is to be extra ordinary. Different from all the rest.”
“But there has to be more to it,” said Ezie.
“Isn’t that enough?” Diane chuckled. “Just think. In everything and anything you do, you must be wonderfully unique. That’s a pretty considerable Purpose if you ask me. That alone will bring you great joy and great pain, so you must decide if you wish to follow your Purpose or find another. You have a choice, my dear. Everyone does.”
A choice? She’d expected Diane to give her an absolute prognosis; not having that left Ezie puzzled. She thought it over. She was different from Lilith, Odette and Penny, different from her mother and father and all the people of the Plains. Just as Diane had said, deep down, Ezie was not plain ordinary. She was much more. She wanted to be more.
A timer bell dinged on the oven.
Diane stood. “The last batch of scones. Would you help me?”
Ezie rose from the table. “Yes, of course.”
“I know they’re sweet enough, but I like to add a sugar-dusting. Makes them,” Diane shrugged, “even more special.”
“How’s it going?” Coz asked from the doorway.
“Wonderful.” Diane slipped into canary-yellow oven mitts and removed the tray. “We’ve been having a lovely chat.”
Ezie sprinkled the hot scones. The sugar stuck to the buttery tops and glistened like diamond halos.
“Now don’t those look divine!” said Diane.
“They do seem…” Ezie turned to Coz. “Providential?”
“Exactly.” Coz smiled and something in Ezie’s chest fluttered like a caged bird released.
She had what she’d come for. It was the end of her journey and yet, it seemed the beginning of an extraordinary ever after.