Oracion, upon hearing her neighbor was sick, dared to venture into the village one evening by light of the remaining stars. She donned a simple black cloak which was roomy enough to hide herself, and her offering for the poor – which in this instance consisted of waxed candles, fruit pastries and clover wine, a bundle of hearth pumpernickel, a bundle of rye, and a pound of soft, sweet cheeses and herb butters.
Oracion had packaged the gifts in pale papers and wrapping twine, placing them carefully into a small, moss-lined basket, adding as if in after thought, a clutch of gypsy blue violets, gathered before dawn on the previous day.
As she drew nearer the house she was marveling at how her flowers (those that grew in Oracion’s hidden part of the wood) were different, and she hoped they might bring her friends a secret kind of joy and health. Indeed, flowers that grew freely seemed to benefit from a wild sturdiness not intrinsic to most.
Oracion recalled in comparison, the stunning genetically cultivated flowers she had marveled at in the priest’s chambers, so long ago when she had been imprisoned there, which were all perfect, identical and grew artfully arranged in rows – but which were somehow strange, and without heady fragrance or longevity.
They grew in even numbers as well, not odd, and they bloomed for just one day, then curled up to rot like obedient expendables.
Oracion was aroused from such botanical contemplation when the house which she sought loomed suddenly before her, modest in size and well shuttered. How ironic that a row of the priest’s day roses had perished recently in a tidy window box attached to the dwelling, and as per usual, there remained just a neat pile of thorns, for it was night.
Ascending the porch steps, Oracion thought she saw for one moment – behind the shutters, though closed – curtains fluttering slightly in a cool evening breeze, then realized the windows were not open at all to welcome her, such a night, or any heady, woodland breeze borne fragrances in anticipation of spring. And the windows not only were shuttered and curtained, but had also been sealed. There it was. She saw it plainly now; a pane of thick, sealing glass.
The cleansing had begun.
And what Oracion really had seen behind the glass – someone drawing the curtain aside to peek out from within – which would once have been welcoming (it’s our beloved friend, so come let us open the door) had turned furtive and cold.
The Dichobots had already been here, and Oracion was to be shunned.
She had drawn in such a sudden, startled breath, that she almost dropped the carefully laid basket at her own feet, as if the added weight of realization, loss and sorrow in her heart had also caused the small basket gravitational pull, and her own rare wild violets to tremble, wither and collapse. Then Oracion caught hold of herself, considering.
She would not disturb her friends in the night.
She would leave the gift basket however on their steps without gift card or note, and in that manner, and in only that manner, could the small offering still be used. This way in the morning her beloved could still take part in it, and be nourished without excuse, blame or shame, nor threat of scourging or punitive dispatch. They could not be punished for any reason at all.
For though Oracion’s guilt was imaginary, as long as it was still imagined by some or by one, she would not share it with another, especially not with those that she loved.
And although the scentless gasses emitting from the wicked priest’s genetically designed flowers were sure to have already altered her friends’ minds to some strange and curious degree, plucking and destroying memories and understandings from their brains as efficiently as dying day roses (leaving just their thorns) she prayed that in their hearts they would still know she had been present, and remember her name.
For they had been sisters once.