The Gods of Evergreen
Part 1: After the Storm
Part 1: After the Storm
Unconnected sensations: Pain. Sweat and something unpleasant. A triumphant shout. The sound of hands clawing at debris, then their touch, grasping and pulling. Dim light, yet blinding. Standing on wobbling legs, like a newborn calf or an old man. The acrid taste of sour wine from a skin, shocking disconnected senses into wholeness.
Sal and Jane loosened their grip but kept hands on his arms, ready to support him anew if needed. “You with us now, Johnny?” Jane asked. He looked to her and her husband Sal, wondering where they came from.
“Thank the gods,” Philip called from across the heap that had been Johnny’s house. “At least you’re whole.” Sal and Jane glared at Philip, who clapped his hand over his mouth.
Johnny shook his head, trying to clear his mind. “What — where are — ?” Philip tried, but could not block Johnny’s view of two bundles behind him; one large, one small. He looked to Sal and Jane; Sal looked away and Jane shook her head. He tried taking a step forward, but felt his legs give. His friends slowed his descent and sat him cross-legged in the dirt and debris.
“I saw it happen,” Sal sighed. “Your house was there one moment, the next moment the storm knocked it flat. I called Jane and we ran to you. Philip met us here and found Big Sara and Little Sara…” his eyes filled with tears and again he turned away.
“I thought we wouldn’t find anyone alive, but I heard you groan,” Jane continued. “I moved some boards and saw your hand under the tabletop.”
“What were the gods thinking?” Philip wept. “You and Sara were the best of us all. You gave what you had to whoever needed it… why would they have singled you out so?”
Johnny shook his head again. Sara would know what to do, but where was she? She can’t be dead, he thought. She needs to help me build a new house. But for the stinging of nicks and throbbing of bruises here and there, he felt numb. That pain was the only thing that told him he lived. He looked up, past Philip’s broad shoulders, as the afternoon sun found a break in the cloudy sky and shone on Mount Evergreen, the home of the gods in the distant east. Only a few weeks ago, the morning sun had risen over that mountain to signal the beginning of spring.
Suddenly, his mind was clear. He struggled to his feet, still watching the sunlit mountain. He ran his fingers through his thick black hair, then brushed himself off. As his friends followed his gaze, he spoke. “I will go to Mount Evergreen. I will meet the gods in their home. There will I sing my lament for my wife and daughter. I will learn the answer to your question, Philip. And then — then the gods may do with me as they will.”