Everything Changes Now

The continuing saga of Allyandrah and Kru’Nah.
This week’s prompt: Her life changed at that moment, nothing would ever be the same again.
Allyandrah woke up the next morning in a comfortable bed, wrapped up in thick, warm blankets, her stomach not growling, her head not hurting, brightness filtering gently through the forest green curtains, wind howling outside. It took several minutes before she could remember where she was and what had happened the day before.
Kru’Nah’s grandfather, who hadn’t yet shared his name, had gently led Allyandrah to a room and tucked her in after sharing her tale. She tried to remember what he’d said to her. “Get us together?” she whispered. Crawling out from under the covers, Allyandrah immediately started shivering. She found a bulky woven robe hanging from a hook on the wall at the end of her bed. Slipping into it, Allyandrah opened the door and nearly tripped over the house boots set outside her room. She slipped her bare feet into the lined, animal skin boots.
Allyandrah wandered to the end of the hallway and down three steps into the room where she’d spilled her story before. The interior was made entirely of smoothed boards, the pine scent offering a calm she’d never known. As she looked toward the back of the small house, she saw Kru’Nah’s grandfather sitting at a table drinking tea, the outside of the windows completely white. He glanced over as she stepped off the last step.
“Good morning, love!” he beamed. “Come, eat!”
Allyandrah settled herself into a simple wooden chair across the thick wooden table from him and stared directly at him. “You really Kru’Nah’s grandfather?”
“Do you think I’d make that up?”
“Prob’ly.”
“Well, dearest one, I assure you I am not lying. I have nothing to gain from lying. Eat some food here and I will show you.” Ha passed over a biscuit and some sort of preserved fruit spread. As Allyandrah ate, he bustled into the kitchen and rustled up a bit more dried meat and some dried fruits. He brought it all back in a wooden bowl and placed it in front of Allyandrah.
He then went into the main room and opened up a drawer in the small desk on the far end of the wall and pulled out a stack of letters. Bringing them back to the table, he sat quietly and untied the bundle. Opening one of the letters, he slid it across the table. Allyandrah looked at the meaningless scribbles on the page.
“Means nothin’. Can’t read,” Allyandrah said with her mouth full of biscuit.
“Oh, of course, of course,” Kru’Nah’s grandfather said, hastily standing. He pulled his chair around the table and settled next to Allyandrah. He pulled out a pair of glasses and started reading the letter, pointing at the words as he read.
Dad,
Here are more supplies.
Kru’Que’Nah
“How do I know you’re not lyin’?” Allyandrah asked.
“Now that’s a good question, isn’t it?” he replied. “I could tell you that I’m not creative enough to do that, but that still means you have to take my word. So how do I get you to believe me?”
Allyandrah pointed at the first word. “That really say ‘dad’?”
“Yes! It does. I can show you the same words.” He stood up and grabbed all the bundles. “These are just her replies. I’m a lonely old man, so I make two copies of my letters. Helps me remember what she isn’t answering.” He then walked back to the desk and pulled two more stacks.
“Those yours then?”
“Yes, you are quite smart.”
“For a slave,” Allyandrah finished his sentence.
“No, just smart. In this house, you are not a slave, no matter what the world outside says. In here you are–” he looked expectantly at her.
“Allyandrah?” she guessed, assuming he was searching for her name.
“Allyandrah. What a beautiful name.” He smiled at her in a proud, grandfatherly way. “Alright. Since we have a squall to live through here, there’s no time like the present to teach, right? Let’s move to the couches.” He quickly got up and gathered up the letters. “Bring that bowl of food, too.”
Allyandrah picked up the bowl and followed him. He pulled the low-lying table close to the couch and spread out all of Kru’Que’Nah’s letters. Each was short. Allyandrah looked at the top of each letter. They all began with the same combination of symbols. ‘Dad’
“So that one means ‘dad’.” Allyandrah said quietly as she slowly chewed on some dried fruit. Kru’Nah’s grandfather sat without speaking as he unfolded his own letters. Allyandrah picked up one of the letters and turned it over to see the writing on the back.
She noticed that the letters on the front matched the letters at the bottom of the note. Pointing at his name she asked, “what does this say?”
“Kru’Dael’Nah,” he replied. Allyandrah sat back, thinking.
“Okay, so you’re related,” she said. “Then why’re you up here?”
“Oh!” Kru’Dael’Nah exclaimed. “Right to the good stuff! Well, like you, I’ve been banished.”
“What?” Allyandrah asked. “How can she banish you?”
“She is the queen. She can do as she pleases.”
“But weren’t you king?”
“Technically, no. She married into it. Even as her slave you don’t know this?”
“Don’t tell us much. Plus I was always out in the forests and stuff. Not much time for stories and the like.”
“Yes, I imagine you were,” he said thoughtfully.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Would you care to hear some history?”
“Got nothin’ better to do, I s’pose.”
“I’ll take that,” Kru’Dael’Nah said. “Back about 200 years ago now, Kru’Que’Nah, who was simply known as Kru’Nah at the time like my grandson is now, was ready to be married. You must be what, about 125?”
“No!” Allyandrah scowled. “89.”
“Forgive me. My alone time here makes me tactless. So this was quite before your time. How old is your mother?”
“192.”
“Oh my, young isn’t she? It’s logical that you may not know this story at all then. I expected she would be older.”
“Gree-na dumped her off soon as she could. Too many others in the house, I s’pose. Ma just had Allya and me ‘fore she died. Gree-na took us in since all hers was gone by then.”
“That must have been difficult.”
“Weren’t so bad at first. Was young ‘nuf to be the playmates of the palace kids. I mostly ran around with them, doin’ stuff for ‘em and the like.”
“Presumably where you met Kru’Nah?”
“Yeah, we was close, always gettin’ in trouble. Well, I was always gettin’ in trouble. He never got in a lick of it, not that I’d let him. I always took the blame. They shoulda known I weren’t smart enough for most of that stuff.”
“I’m sure they did,” Kru’Dael,Nah said, “but who would pass up an opportunity to beat a slave?”
“Ha,” Allyandrah said angrily. “Not a one of ‘em.”
“What a sad, sorry state that is.”
“Is what it is. So she was gonna get married?”
“Right. The story. I was a palace official–,”
“Doin’ what?”
Kru’Dael’Nah smiled. “I was the treasury official, actually.”
“In charge of the money? What did you do?” Allyandrah sat up, her eyes large.
“Now, now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I was the treasury official and Kru’Que’Nah was ready to be married. I had my sights set on the son of the guard captain, but not Kru’Que’Nah. No, not her. Only the prince would do for her. If she’d had her way, it would have been the king, I’m sure. I fear she rather settled for that poor prince. She had a way about herself and wooed him. I was so busy at the time, I never suspected anything until the engagement announcement came. Imagine, finding out your daughter is marrying the prince through official announcement channels. I confronted her about it, privately of course, and she threatened me. The next year, after they were married, I was banished here. I’m sent supplies several times a year. No one writes, so I can only presume the general populace believes me dead. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting my grandson nor do I know anything about him, save his name. I only knew he’d been born because she changed how she signed her name. ‘Que’ like queen. Wasn’t enough to stick with family names, no, not for her. She needed to be her own star.” Kru’Dael’Nah winked, but Allyandrah could see the hurt in his eyes.
“I knew she’s horrible, but I didn’t know she was so horrible. I mean, sorry, shouldn’t talk bad–” Allyandrah began to slide off the couch into a submissive slave posture.
“No, no, sit. Sometimes the truth is terrible. After the king died, I’m certain it wasn’t natural causes, my couriers changed.”
“Least she feeds ya,” Allyandrah said.
“Oh, I suppose. I am still alive and without her, I likely wouldn’t be. I suppose she is doing what she can to keep favor with the Guardians. After all, they wouldn’t take kindly to her banishing me and killing me through starvation. She doesn’t care about me, she cares about herself. Keeping her place with the Guardians.” Kru’Dael’Nah grew quiet, his eyes focused on some far away point. Allyandrah took another piece of food from the bowl and nibbled on it while she waited for him.
“Y’know, I think I remember Gree-na saying somethin’ like his death was ‘spicious. Wish I could remember what he said.”
“It doesn’t matter now. The Guardians know. But that they led you to me tells me that her favor is wearing thin. I’ve lived a hard, lonely life in this little cabin for nearly two centuries, my companions are bears and vermin and the like. I think that Guardians have heard my prayers and have chosen you, Allyandrah.”
Allyandrah gasped and choked on the last bite she’d taken. “Guardians don’t care nothin’ ‘bout slaves,” she said.
“That is not true at all, love. Guardians care about us all. They’ve simply been waiting for the right moment to strike. With you and Kru’Nah, it couldn’t be a more humbling matching for her.”
“She ain’t gonna allow it. She banished me for him rescuin’ me.”
“I’m certain she sent you into the forest on purpose. I wouldn’t even be surprised if she had the fire set.”
“She wouldn’t do that! Not to the forest!”
“I fear she just might. Prudence is not her style. Only her fear of the Guardians keeps me alive, which ironically, just might be her undoing.”
“But me? Me? Chosen by the Guardians?”
“It does seem unlikely, yes, but what else could it be? These circumstances have no other logical explanation, wouldn’t you agree?”
Allyandrah nodded before she really thought about it. Besides, what else could she say? Who was she to try to figure out the plans of the Guardians? Their knowledge and way of thinking were so much higher than hers could ever be.
Her. A slave. Nothing. A nobody. Chosen.
This changed everything.

Imagine…

I came across this question on my facebook feed and found it to be a powerful writing prompt. I answered on the page that posted it, but I want to expand it more.

You are one of the disciples. Today is the day after the crucifixion. What are you thinking AND feeling?

I woke up this morning lost, confused, and scared. All of us are crammed in this little room. We’d been praying for most of the night, trying to figure out what was going on when exhaustion took over and we slept.

The morning light is filtering in through the window, the dust of the desert air floating through the rays. The morning is cool but I can tell it’s going to be hot today. Oh man, my  head is throbbing. What just happened yesterday? Is it even real?

I look around. The others are starting to stir, too. We all look at each other. I think their expressions match mine and match what I’m feeling inside.

“Am I dreaming?” I ask Matthew.

“I don’t even know,” he replies. He looks he’s just gotten word he’d lost everything. Like Job. I suppose we all have.

I get up and walk over to the window. The city is still silent. Joseph of Aramethia got the body and buried it hastily yesterday. We didn’t have time to do it properly before the Sabbath today.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.

Was it?

I can’t help but think that something has gone terribly wrong. I thought Jesus was supposed to save us. I thought he was supposed to overthrow Rome. I thought he was supposed to be a king. I thought… so many things. Did this really happen?

What are we supposed to do now? I feel so lost. Peter hasn’t said anything since the night before last, when he denied Jesus. When we all did. We all ran away. Is that why this happened? If only we’d all stood together, fought back. Things would be different then.

Maybe it’s all our fault.

We let him die. We just ran off and let them kill him.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Weren’t we just riding in Jerusalem like heroes? How did everything change so fast? What went wrong?

Was this really what he meant? He’d been talking about how he needed to die. I didn’t think he really meant die. I thought it was just a figure of speech. A parable. He talked like that so much. I just thought it was figurative.

I can hear more people moving around behind me. I hear someone sniffling. We all feel that way.

“We should keep praying,” John suggests.

“Pray for what?” I think that was Thomas. I don’t want to turn around. My eyes are brimming with tears.

“I don’t know,” John admits. “But we should anyway. It’s what he would have done.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Thomas replies. “It’s all over.”

In my mind, I agree with Thomas. It is over. God’s kingdom? Here? Now? It’s completely impossible. We can’t do anything else. We can’t do this by ourselves. My soul is heavy and aches in a way I never thought possible.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

I blink and the tears fall. I quickly wipe them away and clear my throat. I turn around and see that no one is looking at anyone. Everyone is looking at the floor. I see John’s lips moving. Thomas looks like death. I walk across the room and sit down next to John. I feel like Thomas, but I want to feel like John. Maybe if I sit close to him, it will rub off on me.

I breathe deeply and try to pray. I have nothing. All I can say is that it wasn’t supposed to end this way. All I can do is ask why.

Is that good enough for God? Will he condemn me for my lack of faith? How can I even believe anymore? I thought we were promised victory.

I can feel myself getting angry. How is John even praying? Who is he praying to, even?

I stand up and head for the door.

“Where are you going?” Thomas asks.

“I’m going for a walk.”

“But it’s Sabbath.”

“I’m going for a walk,” I repeat. What else can I do?

It’s over.

How I manage to stay home and stay sane

I’ve had a number of friends over the past three years comment to me about how they could NEVER stay home. They don’t understand how I can possibly stay sane while being surrounded by tiny human dictators completely incapable of controlling their emotions.

I’m going to spill the secret today.

I place a high level of importance on pursuing my own activities and hobbies throughout the day or throughout the week. That’s how I do it.

I have a number of creative endeavors I pursue, such as writing, knitting, and crocheting. I intentionally spend time away from the kids, yes when they’re awake, so they learn to play by themselves and I do something for me, whether it’s just going to the bathroom alone or writing up a blog post (such as now). I also pursue my hobbies in front of them. I crochet while they watch. I read while they watch. I write while they watch.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m screwing up like when my three-year-old makes sure she has a phone and laptop with her. I get really self-conscious about that sometimes. When I think about it, though, I’m not perfect. Some days, I spend WAY too much time on my technology because I feel like I need to escape. Other days, I spend a good portion of the day interacting and playing with them. I write on my laptop. I edit my youtube videos on my laptop. I do my social media stuff on my laptop. I do have a number of ventures that require technology and so her imitating that is inevitable.

What I don’t understand is how parents stay home and stay sane WITHOUT pursuing some kind of activity for themselves. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to find something you like and engage with it, especially when the kids are watching. They need to know that mom is a person outside of mom. Mom has interests. Mom has things she likes to do too. When they are really little, they don’t understand that fully, but as they get older, they will understand it.

Having my own hobbies and interests sets a good example for the kids, too. At 1 and 3, they are already learning the importance of self-care even if they don’t know what that is yet. They are watching someone else pursue hobbies.

It teaches them to entertain themselves, as well, which I believe is a key factor in being successful. If they find themselves bored, they need to figure out a solution. Sometimes that means they get into my vacuum cleaner and make a huge mess. Sometimes that means they go up to my daughter’s room and play for 20 or 30 minutes.

Yesterday, I asked my daughter if she wanted to play outside while I edited and everyone else napped. She took her friend Elmo outside and played for an hour and it was COLD! She came in and out getting various toys, we put on more and more layers as she got colder. She took a break for a snack. She played by herself the entire time, though. Sure, she needed my help for this or that and once I had to scold her for going into the street, but that’s exactly the kind of behavior I want to form in my kids. I was able to do what I needed to do and she was able to have fun by herself.

As the weather is getting nicer, we are spending much more time outside, too. Soon, I will have a garden to tend to and they will have to play outside while I tend the garden or pick up dog poop or do chicken chores. What I cannot do is spend every moment with my children. That will drive me crazy and make into the kind of person I don’t want to be. When I intentionally and openly take care of myself, I teach them valuable lessons.

It’s easy to take this too far, though, and start neglecting the kids in favor of my hobbies. I have days I do that because I need more self-care on those days, but they are days. Isolated events. I can be hard to find the balance between spending enough time with them and enough time by myself. After 3 years, I feel like I’m finally getting it figured out.

Of course, none of this is possible without the generous support of my wonderful husband. He thinks my hobbies are great and that I should pursue them. He doesn’t get huffy when the dishes have been ignored or the laundry I dragged downstairs yesterday is still in a massive pile in the laundry room unwashed or is washed but in baskets in the living room. He doesn’t get on my case about the house not being immaculate. He does his share. He does the dishes. He washes his own laundry because I couldn’t guarantee that I would give the care and attention necessary to keep his nice clothes in one piece. He offered to do that. He doesn’t complain. He does remind me when I’m going to far in one direction, though as much as I hate that in the moment. I know he cares. I know he wants the best for all of us. He knows that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to take care of the kids and still have energy for him in the evenings.

It’s a team effort. We can’t do this without each other. Mutual support, respect, and understanding. I love my kids, but they drive my crazy sometimes. I am an introvert and I need time by myself to regroup and fill my tank. I make sure to do that. I make sure to care for myself. Also, never underestimate the power of a good soundtrack mix on YouTube.

What about you? What do you like to do for yourself?