River of Dreams #28: The Water Princess Sings

Chapter 15


Maddie Comes Home

Maddie ran home hooting and leaping, skipping and singing. She came charging in. Debbie and Matt were once again parked amid snack foods and beer on the sofa with a movie on.

“What’s got inta you, Missy,” Debbie started in with attitude.

“Nothin’ jes’ happy ta be home were I am loved and respected,” Maddie sent the attitude right back.

“Don’choo talka me that way, missy,” Debbie slurred a little around the edges.

“I’m goin’ up ta do my homework. Any calls?”

“No we jus’ got back, Hey were you been all this time.”

“I left you a note. Dincha read it,” Maddie said handing her the note.

“You was out at the ol’ piss hole hunh. I din’t think nobody went there no more,” Matt said reading the note over Debbie’s shoulder.

“They don’t. I do. That’s why I go there.”

“I don’t know why you are so antisocial alla time.”

“I am not antisocial. I jus’ choose my friends instead of lettin’ them choose me.”

“Well you better get outa my face with that attitude, Missy less you want me in your face.”

“I’ll be up here studying my attitude.”

As Maddie stomped up the stairs, she heard Matt say.

“That girl gotta mouth on her. You should put her in her place,”

“Whatchoo know about raisin’ girls. I don’ need no sidelines coach.”

“Awright I’m jus’ sayin’.” Matt finished then silence.

Maddie was too wired to settle down with her schoolwork so she put on some headphones and turned on her boom box. She had it set to the classic rock station out of San Jose. It came in crackly but good enough to dance to.

It was Led Zeppelin “It’s Been A Long Time” and she began a stompy dance to the baseball bat beats. She always made up her own words and the moves were all hers too.

Chapter 16


Lonely tree, Dark Room, Joy and Thunder

Emmylou was settled in her bed at the usual time, 9:00, with her reading light on and little boom box playing Beethoven’s 9th. She usually fell asleep to music and let it shut itself off at the end. She loved all of the 9th, its drama and moody slowness and then the festive joy and triumph at the end.  She was hoping that life would be like that, but knew in her heart that it probably wasn’t. That was OK too.

She was reading “Of Mice and Men”, but was becoming disgusted with the lack of female characters except the plot device femme fatale. She loved Steinbeck’s language, and knew he saw the male side of life because the other was not open to him at that point.

She put down the book, and lay her head on the pillow, closing her eyes lightly, letting the somber mood of the music take her.

She stood on a ridge looking down a small winding river in the gloom just before dawn. She sat down with back against a lonely snag that leaned out over the edge above her. She felt a confusion alien to her well ordered life.

She woke up heart pounding at the realness of vision and feelings.

“Thoughts like fishes sparkling in the gloom,” she said in a soft incredulous voice. She never spoke to herself and the sound of her own voice against silence of the room was shocking to her.

Then way in the distance the orchestra started off on the horizon of hearing, a festive return that leads the whole thing back to the triumphant Ode. The music grew enveloping her. She turned it up and felt the joy of the voices and thunder of timpani in the dark room.


Dream Theory from the Orinoco

“I am familiar with the word the raven spoke,” Lucille said after Random told her about the dream he had at the side of Highway 9.

Random sighed skeptically. “Not that it means anything. But what is Tegethnot?”

“You are not going to like this at all, my boy,” Lucille said with a broad grin on her face. “It means “The before waking dream.” It is one of the 4 states of being of the Maino mystic belief system. They are a tribe that up until recently inhabited central Venezuela near the Orinoco River.’

“Which is where Essie was born,” Random said carefully as if wary of his own voice. “But, she never said anything about any of this.”

“There is Teregnot, the sleep of darkness, Naragnot the waking or day dream, and Moaya the dream we all dream when we are awake.  Of these Tegethnot is thought to be most important and powerful and also most dangerous of course.”

“How is it dangerous?” Lin asked.

“Because it bleeds into the others and thoughts have immediate power in Tegethnot, and the creatures that inhabit Tegethnot have the power to manipulate reality, but they are not of the waking world and so can’t understand the damage they do.”

“All of this is just myth,” Random said shaking his head slightly and wrinkling his forehead.

“It’s a matter of belief, yes.” Lucille said as if unconvinced. “I collected quite a few stories and illustrations directly from some of the old shaman. I did a lot of research in the field and wrote my doctoral thesis  on it. I still have a  file of bits and pieces I collected while doing the research. I gave most of my work to the library at Stanford, but I still have some interesting trinkets that I have found in cleaning out my file cabinets. I’ll bring it down, and you can thumb through it. See if anything makes sense.”

She got up and went upstairs. Her footsteps sounded faintly over their heads.

“She is one interesting old dame,” Steve whispered wondering why he was talking so softly.

Random suddenly realized there was no TV or stereo. No electronics of any kind besides the microwave in the kitchen. He wondered why he hadn’t noticed this before.

Lucille returned with a triumphant smile and thrust a bulging hanging file folder into Random’s hands.

He grunted a little in surprise. “You’re stronger than you look, Lucille,” Random said as he lowered it into his lap and spread it open to a color print.

“I actually went to the region and did interviews. I spent a lot of time in some obscure libraries and private collections. The shaman were very eager to share. The culture was dying and they wanted to preserve it. It was not a literate tradition, but they had seen books and knew that writing was there best hope of preservation. I was going to write a book, but then my husband died and I lost my way a little.” She took a deep breath as if to collect all that the memory of that time had to offer her now, and let out the air and with it releasing the ghosts involved.

Random glanced over at her, saw her recovery and looked back at the picture.

Lucille looked at the illustration he was studying of a man dressed in blue and gray feathers holding a sparkling chalice to the sky. He was standing in a broad boat on a river surrounded by flowers of purples and blues. Underneath the picture it said.

Ymawilato: He who moves on the water.

“Interesting. Ymawilato. He is an emissary of the dream world.” Lucille stopped and thought for a moment. “He is actively moving and yet passive because he must follow the stream. He must find his way through, but carries a message from one realm to another. He is a major figure in many stories in which the beings of the dream world communicate or interact with waking world characters.”

There were many more pictures with captions. Random browsed through the file and Lucille commented on each.

He stopped and studied one picture of a woman bending over a mirroring pool. Her face was visible in the pool. It was the same shape and color as Essie’s face and framed in the same raven black hair. It was as if the deep brown eyes were looking back at him. She is pouring water from a spherical container made from a gourd carved intricately with fish of all kinds in rings of white scratched into black. She held the gourd with both hands. A brilliant yellow star was both in the deep blue sky and the more gray blue water. In the background was a small tree with deep green leaves and round blood red fruit. A large black bird perched among its branches.  Ba’amatzuta the Water Princess, the caption read.

“This one,” Random said pointing at the Star, “The woman looks like Essie.”

“This picture illustrates the story of the water princess,” Lucille said almost sounding like a tour guide in a museum and then shifted into storytelling mode.  “One day she finds that her people have nothing left to eat, and her father the head of tribe of people who live under the river had fallen into to a deep sleep and could not be awakened. So she journeyed to the place where the land touches the sky and sang to the stars such a beautiful song that they wept, and their tears were silver fishes that fell into her gourd pot. She took the star tear fishes and dumped them in the river and they swam off and to this day the river has many beautiful silver fishes that are food for the water people.”

Lucille told him about many other pictures: Prozantia the World Tree, Morkor the Enslaver, Ynab Lord of Death, Ga’adi the Chief of the Tree Lords, Ka’asanti She Who Bears the Blade, Ma’ani Tubo the Wanderer, Narro’owana the Carried Chair, and Nakwa’i the Moon Dog.

“These names have all since been replaced by Spanish names. I had to go deep in the jungle 40 years ago to get this information. Now I fear this is all that is left. The people that gave me these stories have either died off, retreated deeper into the rainforest, or joined modern society. There is less and less room in our world for the old myths and stories seems to me.”

This entry was posted in California, conversations, dancing, dangerous creatures, developing relationships, Dreamtime, Family, Fiction, file folders and nut shells, House and home, mindworks, Mythical and mysterious, NaNoWriMo, novel projects, Of the Road and The River, River of Dreams, Singing, Teaching and Learning, Telling Stories, time travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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