Authors: Deborah R Stigall
Panic rising, Kaitla crossed to the opposite side of the table nearest the door. “Who are you and what do you want from me? Stop this strange game of yours and tell me what’s going on!”
At this outburst, Etain arched her brows, casting a quickly hidden smile at Jared. “Remind ye of anyone ye know, Jared?”
Aye, Etain, she’s her father made over.” Jared folded his arms across his chest, cocking his head to one side and studying her as if she were on display. His slight smile was sympathetic and something else. There was another emotion playing across his features that she couldn’t quite define.
If you two don’t start explaining immediately what this is all about, I am out of here!” Kaitla snapped. Turning abruptly, she latched onto the doorknob to emphasize this last statement.
When neither of them replied, she jerked the door open, triggering Etain and Jared to cry aloud in unison, “Wait!”
Kaitla slowly closed the door, then turned, facing the two of them. “I want answers and I want them now,” she stated calmly. Inside she was trembling with uncertainty but she had learned long ago to maintain a cool façade in order to survive uncomfortable situations. Mentally, she scored the current situation at about a twelve on her one to ten scale of uncomfortable.
Exchanging quick glances, Etain and Jared seemed to come to a decision. “If ye’ll but come inside and have a seat, Etain and I will try to explain.” Jared approached her cautiously, holding out his hand as though she was a colt on the verge of bolting. “I know your first day here was a bit unnerving and these have only confused ye more,” He motioned with his other hand towards the table containing the sketches. He continued holding out his hand in supplication, then softly let it drop to his side when he realized Kaitla wasn’t ready to trust him.
Taking this as a signal, Etain moved to the cushioned seat beneath the bay window. “Jared, come and sit,” she said, patting the cushion beside her, “Then perhaps Kaitla will be kind enough to join us and hear her story.” Casting one glance in Kaitla’s direction, Jared joined Etain on the window seat, slowly shaking his head. His blank guarded expression replaced by one of grim resolution.
No longer feeling cornered, yet not entirely comfortable, Kaitla cautiously moved to a chair across from them and waited. This was beginning to feel like a chess game, with each player carefully sizing up the next move to control the outcome of the game. It was now their move.
Do ye ken anything of the legends of Ireland and Scotland, Kaitla? Have ye heard of the Tuatha De Danann?” Etain watched Kaitla carefully as she spoke.
Yes… I’ve read a few of the stories.” Kaitla spoke slowly trying to figure out what Celtic legends had to do with her current situation. “In fact, that’s how I chose my last name…why?” Glancing at Jared, she noticed his gaze had dropped to his carefully folded hands in his lap.
Then ye’ll know the Danann’s are the divine race that rule in the Clas Myrddin. The realms that may be reached through the
or faerie mounds,” Etain quietly replied. Etain stood, walking slowly back to the table littered with the sketches. She eyed Kaitla carefully, drawing a deep breath, “Kaitla Danann,
are of that divine race and the time has come for ye to return to the realm of your birth and fulfill your destiny.”
Kaitla stared at Etain wondering if she’d heard her correctly. This poor woman was obviously deranged, one of those rich eccentric types that couldn’t quite keep up with reality. Etain visibly straightened, replying, “I am not daft.” Noting Kaitla’s surprised expression, she added, “Yes, I can hear yer thoughts and if ye’d but listen w’your heart instead of yer ears, ye could hear me and understand what ye know ta’ be the truth!”
I really think accepting this project was a mistake, Mrs. Balmurray,” Kaitla murmured, rising from the chair. “I’m sure Nettie will refund any money you’ve already invested. We’ll also refund the airfare.” Sidling toward the door, she was determined to make her exit from this twilight zone as quickly as possible. Etain Balmurray was obviously way beyond eccentric…this woman needed professional help.
Etain’s face settled into a grim expression of determination as she slowly returned to her seat. “Ye will not leave until ye have heard it all,” she intoned sternly. She glared at Kaitla with her huge dark eyes. Instantly, Kaitla felt as though her body was somehow detached from her mind. For some reason, she returned to the chair, quickly sitting. It was as though someone else controlled her body and all she could do was sit idly by and watch. Trying to open her mouth, Kaitla found she was completely paralyzed. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak, she was a captive in her own body.
Verra effective, Etain,” Jared observed drolly. “And why have ye no’ shared that trick with me?” he asked, arching an eyebrow in Kaitla’s direction.
Etain glared reprovingly at Jared, “Hush, lad and mind your manners. ‘Tis your own fault the lass doesna’ trust ye.” At this rebuke, Jared bowed his head with shame, eyeing Kaitla apologetically through his dark lashes.
Finished with her recriminations, Etain took a deep breath and began the tale of Laird Caymber and Lady Bristna, the cruel Laird Ravon and the hopeless realm of Clas Myrddin. As she spoke, she held both hands before her, palms up. Images of the people she was describing materialized just above both hands, replaying the past in front of Kaitla’s eyes in what appeared to be a three-dimensional hologram. Etain was thorough, leaving nothing out. Kaitla witnessed the rape and beating of Lady Bristna, the union of the Laird and his Lady, the birth of their child and the terrible murder of the new mother. Caught up in the drama before her eyes, but still entirely under Etain’s control; the only response Kaitla was capable of was the silent tears that filled her eyes to over flowing, then ran coursing down her cheeks. To convince Kaitla further of the truth of her words, Etain proceeded to show her the past of the babe itself. As she watched the images of the child growing older, the truth suddenly struck her. The child Kaitla was watching was herself. The images she was seeing were her own memories but from an entirely different angle. This time, she was seeing the memories as an observer instead of remembering them from the viewpoint of the participant. As incredulous as Etain’s tale was, Kaitla slowly began to believe her. As soon as Etain sensed her acceptance, Kaitla could once again move and speak. Now, though, she had no idea what to say or where to go.
Jared rose from his seat beside Etain, squatting on his heels in front of Kaitla. Looking up into Kaitla’s face, he gently took her hands and held them in his own. The warm large hands felt strong and reassuring. The deep gray eyes gazed deeply into hers as she warily tried to lean away from the kneeling man. “Kaitla, ye must trust me. I came here with Etain to help and protect ye.” Jared took her chin in his hand, forcing her to look directly at him. “I will never harm ye or let anything else harm ye. I’ve sworn this oath to your father as I now swear it to you.” His deep voice was soft, imploring Kaitla to believe him. It seemed as though he could sense the inner turmoil and confusion she was struggling with and he honestly wanted to help her. With that said, he released her hands and face and slowly stood by her side, “Ye’ve much to learn and much to be wary of, but Etain and I are not the ones ye have to fear.”
Rubbing her temples with both hands, Kaitla finally just closed her eyes. She didn’t want to look up, think or react because she didn’t know what to do. She just wanted to roll up into a ball, keeping her eyes shut until everyone went away and left her alone. As unbelievable as all the circumstances were; the pieces of the puzzle of her life, all the oddities and fragments slowly started falling into place.
Kaitla had never felt as though she really
She had always been a loner, the outcast all the other kids thought was weird. The one nobody wanted to invite to slumber parties or sit by at lunch. Even after she had struggled through puberty, blossoming into a beautiful young girl, she hadn’t been accepted by any “group”. Her golden eyes had been labeled “cat eyes” and even in this “modern” age, there had been whispers and rumors of “witch”.
Relationships during her adult years hadn’t fared much better. After the miserable experiences of childhood and adolescence, she’d taught herself to never trust anyone. Unable to ever really open up and reveal her true self, none of her relationships had survived. She had never belonged or been loved by anyone and now she was beginning to understand why.
Lifting her head from her hands, Kaitla found herself sitting in the over stuffed loveseat back in the corner of her bedroom. Now that she had heard the truth and believed it, all pretenses of subtlety were over. The gloves were apparently off and she was about to embark upon her destiny, whether she was ready or not.
After all the revelations of the past few hours, she weakly climbed into the bed not even bothering to remove her shoes. Curling into a fetal position, Kaitla hugged the bunched up comforter fiercely to her chest. Suddenly, she felt a gentle hand stroking her hair tenderly. She opened her eyes to find Etain sitting on the bed beside her, eyeing her with a sympathetic smile.
I know it’s not easy, child.” Etain spoke softly, as though Kaitla was five years old instead of thirty-five. “But ye will soon warm to your gifts,” she assured Kaitla, “Once ye again feel your homeland beneath your feet, your spirit will fare rejoice!”
Kaitla eyed Etain warily, barely managing to whisper, “I’m afraid…why can’t you just leave me alone?” Edging away from Etain’s comforting hand, Kaitla retreated backwards atop the bed until she felt the cool smooth headboard pressing against her back. As Tobias jumped to the bed to survey the situation, Kaitla quickly snatched him up into her arms, cradling him against her chest in desperation. Tobias was the only familiar friend she had right now…the only scrap of sanity she was certain of. Everything she had always known about her life, all the realities she had been trained to accept…nothing came close to preparing her for the story Etain had unfurled and laid open at her feet.
Setting her mouth in a thin firm line, Etain gazed at Kaitla thoughtfully. “Dinna fear what I’m about to do…ye must try yer best ta’ trust me,” she instructed carefully, moving slowly closer to Kaitla as she spoke.
Something in the fathomless reflection of Etain’s dark-eyed gaze seemed to strike a chord somewhere within Kaitla’s being. Etain might have completely shocked her with the revelations of her true past, but somehow deep within Kaitla’s heart, she knew Etain would never harm her. Nodding silently to Etain, Kaitla remained motionless as Etain placed her tiny hands gently on Kaitla’s temples. Closing her eyes, Etain slowly pressed her forehead softly against Kaitla’s brow.
As Tobias wriggled free of her grasp, Kaitla experienced a brilliant flash of light. Feeling a lurching shift in her equilibrium, she felt as though she had come to a sudden stop while traveling at a high rate of speed. Opening her eyes she found herself cradled in Etain’s arms, staring and cooing into her face. But the Etain she was looking at now was much younger then the Etain sitting on her bed only moments ago. This Etain’s eyes were filled with sorrow and her voice caught in her throat as she hummed an ancient Celtic lullaby to the baby within her arms. As she placed the wriggling baby in a box against the bench, tears coursed down her cheeks, as the infant Kaitla crowed indignantly to be picked back up. Kaitla relived the moment of her abandonment, this time witnessing and remembering Etain’s suffering as she left the child alone in an unknown world. Etain had truly loved her.
Returning abruptly to the present, Kaitla now scooted closer to the familiar woman, placing her head upon her lap. Kaitla now remembered her completely; and felt Etain was the nearest thing to a real loving relative she had ever known. Etain continued gently stroking her hair, disentangling the errant strands that were stuck to Kaitla’s tear-stained face.
I know ye are afraid, lass…there is no shame in that,” Etain continued softly. “But ye must believe in yourself and those of us that love ye.” She gently stood, carefully placing Kaitla’s head upon one of the pillows from the head of the bed. “Rest now. After ye’ve had a wee nap, Jared and I will show ye the wondrous things ye can do.” As Kaitla watched her, Etain suddenly dissolved into the tiny little finch Kaitla had been feeding on the sill and flew out the open window. As she lay in a fog of weariness, Kaitla was vaguely aware of the stray black dog curling up on the bed beside her. Tossing an arm across his body and snuggling close to his soft fur, Kaitla closed her eyes and finally escaped into a fitful sleep.
Kaitla awoke from her nap slightly more rested but no less confused about everything Etain had revealed to her. Rising stiffly from the bed, she stumbled into the bathroom. Leaning against the cold porcelain sink with both hands, Kaitla peered into the mirror, studying her reflection as though looking at her face for very the first time.
The golden eyes that had caused her to be teased and ridiculed during her early years stared back at her. The reddish blonde hair surrounding her face tumbled unkempt past her shoulders. The full lips reminded her of the image of the woman Etain had shown her earlier, her mouth crooking slightly to one side whenever she smiled.
The image of the woman…her mother. Kaitla finally knew where she was from and why she had been separated from her parents. For years, she had always wondered what had landed her in the many foster homes she had grown up in. But never in her wildest dreams had she imagined what the truth might actually be. Shaking her head in a vain attempt to clear it, she filled the sink with cold refreshing water. Splashing the water on her face, she ran her still wet hands through her hair, failing all attempts at controlling the errant strands. Blindly locating the handtowel, she patted her face dry, straightening once again to look into the mirror. Gazing back at her this time was not only her own golden eyes but a familiar pair of gray ones as well!