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Chapter 7: The Green Man

April 7, 2013

It was properly dark now, but the steady stream of browsing customers hadn’t showed any real sign of slowing, so Lena and Hazel had kept Earth Ministry open.

They’d carried the bench around to the front, and Hazel went to fetch them both a crepe from the van across the way. Lena watched her go. Watched her waiting in line.

This had been the longest she had ever spent with Hazel. She still saw Andy. Still saw the man she loved. But she was starting to notice subtle, new things that she had never seen before. Maybe it was her own eyes that were changing: they hadn’t started treatment yet, no hormones, nothing.

She couldn’t stop watching her. She thought she would look and look forever.

As they ate the pancakes, sticky with sugar and sharp with lemons, Lena maanged also to keep half an eye on the customers. A Dad with a couple of kids out past their bedtime. Two teenaged girls, whispering – prime shoplifter material. She monitored them, but without much real suspicion. A tall woman in patchwork green, probably a Wiccan. They were never any trouble. Almost never. A guy with a camera slung around his neck. It looked expensive. He was gazing up at the banner, pensive.

She had finished her crepe. She grabbed a baby wipe to clean her fingers and then stood up, walked over to the nearest recycling area with the wrappings. When she came back, he was still there.

“Evening,” said Hazel, conversationally.
“Oh, er – hi,” said the man.
“Enjoying the festival? So far?”
He paused, fractionally longer than was comfortable. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, great.”

“First time here, is it?” asked Lena.
“That obvious, huh?”
Lena grinned. “You look like you’re still working it all out.”
“Yes. You’re right there.”

He glanced up again at the banner. “What is the Green Man, anyway?”
“Ah, now that’s an interesting question,” said Hazel.

The man looked at Hazel again. Lena could see he was out of his depth. She was willing to tolerate his confusion, if that’s all it was. Give him the benefit of the doubt. She was often confused herself.

“Come and look, over here,” she said, beckoning him over to the bookshelves inside. She pulled out a big hardback, a coffee-table book. “Have you ever seen something like this, in a church or some other old building?”

He looked at the pictures, stone faces sprouting leaves and vines, while she launched into the usual spiel. “Some call him the Horned God – he’s from the old times, before Christianity. He’s a god of virility, fertility, hunting. He rules the natural world, side by side with the Mother.”

He had neat hair and careful clothes, but an interesting face.
“And you can visit him here, can you?” he asked, looking directly at her for the first time. It was an odd look, sharp and – it took her a moment to put her finger on it – cocksure. He thought he could see right through her.
“You can find him here,” she said. “If you know how to look.”
“What do you mean?” But he was challenging, not curious.
“The Green Man’s in all of us. Sometimes we just need help finding him.”
“In all of us?” Incredulous.
“Yes,” she said, but she was backing away now. It had been a long day. She could see the cross-examination coming a mile off, and she hadn’t the energy to argue. It was usually a waste of time, anyway.

She sat back down on the bench, winked at Hazel and mouthed: “Arsehole.”

He returned the book to its shelf and came back out.
“Tomorrow, you should go and check out the Yurt of Man,” said Hazel.
“The what?”
“Down in the healing fields,” she said. “They do drop-ins, workshops, that sort of thing. For men.”
“What sort of workshops?”
Hazel shrugged. “Finding your place in the world. You know, men’s issues. Fathering. Pressures of being a man. Deconstructing all that macho stuff.”
“But I’m not a – ” He stopped, biting off the last word.
“I didn’t say you were,” said Hazel mildly.
“Well, thank you,” he said curtly. “Good night.”

Lena watched him leave.
“That was very public-spirited of you.”
“I wouldn’t have been so nice to him.”
“You know what they say,” said Hazel. “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”
“Before you judge them?”
Lena was silent.
“I’ve been walking in men’s shoes for thirty-eight years,” said Hazel.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2013 10:38 pm

    Word count – 751
    Prompt – “Sharp” (Sunday scribblings)
    Sharp lemons, sharp looks and sharp shoes.

    Please suggest prompts for Chapter 8 in the comments!
    (Check the sidebar for a link to more info about this interactive project!)

  2. April 8, 2013 2:02 pm

    Bright, savvy, rather wise…

  3. brendaalicante permalink
    April 8, 2013 6:11 pm

    Sheep pen – wool

  4. cath permalink
    April 8, 2013 10:37 pm

    lost , discovered

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