"How can I be ready for something when I don’t even know what it is?" Rory wondered aloud, certain she sounded as frustrated as she felt. “I wish you would stop talking in stories,” she groused. She’d said that to Nana more than once, when she’d use old stories and fables to try to get a point across without ever really saying what it was. It always annoyed Nana when she said that, because it was her opinion that figuring out the lesson was as important as the lesson itself.
Rory expected a scolding, but she didn't expect the cold evasiveness in Nana's reply.
"You are ready to learn which stories are true," Nana's voice was firm and serious. "In the forest, it is not the wild animals you need to fear. There is life out there that most will not believe and cannot see; things that once you have met...well, you’ll see." Nana broke a piece of bread from the load in the basket and held it out to Rory.
“Nana, I don’t understand,” Rory said emphatically, “Are you saying you are going to send me into the woods to meet with someone or something
other people can’t see? Do you know what that sounds like?”
Nana didn’t dignify her question with a response. She changed the subject as easy as breathing. "Eat well and tonight I will show you how to truly see." Nana grinned like a cat baring her teeth; teeth still as straight and white. "Eat," she repeated, dropping the bread on the table in front of Rory.
That smile was frightening.
Rory wanted to march right out the door and never come back. She wanted to at least get up away from the table and straighten her shoulders and shake off the feeling of anticipation and anxiety that had descended on her. Instead, she sat still as a stone and slowly reached for the bread on the table. She took a bite.
This was crazy.
"Good, good,” Nana murmured and nodded with a smile as Rory chewed. “You will need your strength."
Rory swallowed. She recognized the feeling behind her ribs now; it had been ages since she’d felt it; she almost forgot what it was like. It had started the moment she heard that first rustle of leaves in the underbrush and hadn’t abated since. Maybe it was crazy. Butterflies and bumblebees buzzed wildly in her chest.
She was excited.
For the first time in a long time, it felt like something might really happen. It wasn’t just the forced hope she’d felt with Keller, but real, honest anticipation. Rory shivered as a wave of goosebumps rolled over her. The bread sat like a lump in her stomach and her mouth went dry.
Maybe it wasn't just Nana who was going crazy.