When Lorne proposed to her, Dixie had giggled and smiled. Her heart was happy but it didn’t soar the way hearts did in books. It stayed firmly rooted in her chest, although perhaps it got a little bigger. She couldn’t be certain as she didn’t feel any different.
She’d gone to community college in Hickory, even getting her own apartment there where she lived with another girl. Living in the city, although Dixie knew that Hickory wasn’t a big city, had been different than living on the mountain in a place like Corbin Meadow. Lorne had been there, of course, and they’d talked about moving in together because he was always over, so much so that her roommate began to resent him.
Still, Dixie knew that people would talk. The dreaded, “She wasn’t raised right,” would reflect harshly on her momma after all, and Dixie was close to her family. So in the end, he’d proposed and she’d accepted and they would go back to the town and raise a family there, although not right away.
Deep down, Dixie realized, she was relieved that she’d go back home. The wide streets of Hickory made her feel too exposed when she had to cross them, the constant traffic sounds, the hush of wheels on the pavement, the occasional squeal of brakes and the honk of a horn intruded upon her thoughts in ways she disliked. The smell of exhaust made her cough.
That would be mitigated in Corbin Meadow. Even if it wasn’t, Emrys would make it seem like it was.
And so when Dixie went back to her momma’s after a day of shopping for a dress, she’d taken a moment to sit in the back garden and look for Emrys.
It was a warm day out, almost hot. There was only the faintest breeze to ruffle the ends of her long hair and it helped keep her a bit cooler. Her momma had a wind chime now, which dinged and clanged with each little mini-gust that blew through. The damp scent of the forest reached her nose, and the smell of exhaust seemed to be pushed out with each breath she took.
She was home. Exactly where she belonged. It didn’t matter if she married Lorne or any other man. Dixie’s real love was the land upon which Corbin Meadow was situated. The town was secondary. This was her home.
Emrys appeared, watching her, an approving look upon his twisted and wrinkled face. Dixie wasn’t certain why he approved but she got that feeling from him.
“You understand you’re home,” Emrys said quietly. “How can I be of service? A perfect wedding location? Decent weather? Someone you don’t want there?”
Dixie smiled, thinking about it. She and Lorne would get married at the big Bible Church where her parents went. Her momma wasn’t much for church, which always surprised her. It was her father’s church, really. While her momma went, fearfully clutching her Bible, saying verses over and over again as if she wanted to prove her faith, her daddy was the one who insisted they get up and head down the mountain to the church no matter what the weather.
He was the one who participated in the choir and offered his time as an usher. He was the one who suggested that Dixie’s momma help out with certain functions. He was the one who kept alcohol out of the house. When they were down in Hickory looking for her first apartment, just Dixie and her momma, they’d gone to lunch and her momma had shocked her by having a glass of white wine with lunch.
Dixie hadn’t said a word. Neither had her momma. It was their secret. The ease with which her momma became someone Dixie wasn’t sure she knew bothered her from time to time and she wondered if there were other secrets her momma kept from her, secrets that might include her time with Emrys.
“I think the celebration will be fine,” Dixie said. “I wish, though, that I could love him more deeply.”
“I think you will,” Emrys said.
“Will you help me?” Dixie asked. “Lorne is nice and he’s steady and he’ll never leave Corbin Meadow but…”
“He doesn’t make your heart soar,” Emrys finished for her.
“Exactly.” Dixie was pleased that Emrys understood.
“A soaring heart is not always a good thing. It can keep you from seeing what you should see. Lorne is of this land, of this Blood. Your daughter will be stronger for it.”
“You can see that?” Dixie almost squealed. “That I’ll have a daughter?”
“Will there be other children? Maybe a son?”
Emrys was silent on that account, looking at her in a way that made her feel sad, as if he knew something but he wasn’t about to give it up. Perhaps in some way she would regret having a son.
“But you’ll grant my wish to love Lorne more deeply?” Dixie pressed, afraid of knowing too much of her future. To know the grief of losing a child, or of a being so disappointed in a child, might make her flee Lorne and Corbin Meadow, seeking refuge in her California dreams while she tried to forget this small town on the edge of the Appalachians.
“I can’t do that,” Emrys said. “As I’ve said, I can’t influence feelings. But I know you’ll come to love Lorne more deeply, nearly as deeply as he loves you.”
Dixie said nothing, saddened, not sure how she’d ever come to love that man any more than she did, which was well enough, but it wasn’t a fairy tale happily-ever-after kind of love, the kind of damn-all-things-to hell-and-let’s-be-together kind of love that she wanted.
It suddenly seemed to her as if the older she got the fewer wishes Emrys could grant, rather like he’d drawn her in, granting her small things but now that she was older and had real needs, not the kind of needs a child had, he always said no. What good was making a wish if it could never be granted, and what sorts of wishes could he grant?
Dixie had tried to get clarification but Emrys always gave vague responses that told her nothing, as if he didn’t want her to know exactly what power she might hold. Yet her momma had made a huge wish, a wish to keep her safe, and that had succeeded. It made her resentful a bit, not of her momma, exactly, but perhaps of her momma’s relationship to Emrys.
Dixie resolved that she would never have that happen with her children, or child, or the passel of dogs she cared for if there weren’t any children. After all, if Emrys couldn’t be counted on for wishes, maybe he couldn’t be counted on to know the future.
“Is the future set in stone?” Dixie asked suddenly.
Emrys drew back, a hand coming to his chest as if he’d never considered such a thing. “The future is now and in the past. It is every decision you made in all your yesterdays and the decisions you make today. I can read those decisions and see the line, but you can always change and begin to make new ones. And in that case, the future I see will change with each different decision you make.”
Dixie opened her eyes, thinking about it. She wasn’t sure what Emrys’ powers were but she liked to think he couldn’t read her if she wasn’t communicating with him, and she couldn’t do that with her eyes open. It might have been rude not to say good bye, but he often left her the same way.
She could change. Make different decisions. Dixie noodled that, like pushing around a loose tooth, even though, just as she had always known with her tooth, that she wouldn’t actually pull it, too afraid of the messy change that would come if she did.
Chapter 19 will be coming next Friday. Don’t want to wait? Find the book here.