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Building of the Shire

It was night when she first spoke to us, one of those calm silent nights when it seemed the whole world was asleep.  the three of us sat around the campfires warm embers.  No one spoke, we hardly ever did back then.  But we were a cell, the strong connection of origins binding us together.  I was a surprise when she stepped out of the tree line and approached us.  We had grown use to her, standing to the sides, watching, observing.  There was always a sense of calmness about her, not exactly safety, but some kind of inevitability.  In a world ruled by fear and hiding she was an enigma, someone unsafe that wasn't feared.   So as she approached, that deep green cloak of hers swishing against the long grass, we didn't scatter, rather we waited the growing anticipation of something dramatic strong in us all.  She crouched amongst us, quiet still, waiting and watching.  Her eyes, cold but accepting, and when she looked at me, I swore they saw everything I was, as if my life was lain bare before her.  Which wasn't far from the truth.  The strange thing was when she started to talk her lips didn't move.  It wasn't like telepathy but rather they appeared in the air as if placed there.

She spoke to us for awhile, about the future, saying it was time to come back out into the open.  Initially  the thought scared us.  The idea of losing the safety of the trees.  It had been our home and although living in the woods was dangerous and frightening, it was all we knew.  Now there was talk of living in an open clearing, away from the dark places.  It was appealing.  The idea of that world.  When she spoke of our weariness of purely surviving day to day, of having to fight for survival, we knew she was right.  This life we had was going nowhere, was not the future we had hoped for, dreamed about.  And if we followed her, there would be so much more.  She talked of houses, of having homes, of its quiet beauty and safety, a true community.  It was then that she said the thing that scared us the most.  That living there would require new attitudes, ones of communication and acceptances.  We could no longer ignore those amongst us and the others that would come.  We would have to talk to each other and work together.  The idea of that was almost enough to make us run.  Even though the three of us had lived together during the years that lead up to this meeting, we barely acknowledged each others presence.  Now we were faced with having to talk and work together.  And now there was also others.  Were they the sounds we heard, the movement amongst the trees we had seen?

She lead us a short way through the woods.  With each step the trees grew less dense, until finally we were standing at the tree line looking out upon the clearing.  Spreading out in front of us was a lush meadow.  Dawn had crept up upon us as we talked and as we stood there the sun's light hit the field.  The crystal waters of the stream snaked across the field until it reached the remains of an abandoned village.  The buildings looked intact but they seemed long disused.  There was about half a dozen stone houses surrounding what appeared from this distance to be appeared to be a church.  There was something vaguely familiar about this sight, a feeling of home as if from a long lost dream.  Even with that feeling, none of us wanted to step out into the open, to leave being the comfortable safety of the trees.  We watched the woman step out into the field, sure some disaster would hit her, and when it didn't we believed that was because of the mystique of her, and that for us it, that bad thing, would come.  But she motioned us forward, so we inched our way into the clearing, feeling for the first time the unfettered light and warmth of the sun, and the soft grass beneath our feet.  Its hard to describe how that felt.  A lifetime spent hiding amongst the dark trees of the woods had made us forget such small pleasures.

By the time we reached the village, we were less frightened about being out in the open, nothing bad had happened, and knowing the woods were insight helped, knowing there was an escape, a short run would return us back to their safety.  The village itself, unused and neglected, centered around a bend in the stream.  The buildings, made of stone, had survived the time of abandonment well.  They looked intact and solid.  We wandered through the streets, investigating our surrounds, it all seemed so peaceful.  There would be a lot of work needed, the gardens were overrun, and through the windows we could see the dust of years built up.  But in the center, beside the Church, there was a park, overgrown out of its cultured imagery, but so beautiful in its natural way.  We stood there in the middle of it, feeling so at home and turned to the woman.   But she was gone, and we were alone.  We couldn't believe we didn't notice her leave, but there was something about her that made it acceptable.  So alone we found a house, the door open but years of disuse had made it stiff.  It took some effort to open, pushing our way inside the dust, undisturbed for years puffed into the air, swirling around us.  When it settled again we stood in a room, large with a fireplace in one corner.  There wasn't a spot covered in dust, layered thick.  It would take some work, sweeping and cleaning, but we knew we were home.  That somehow walking into this place had made it permanent.  There would be no turning back.

We spend the next few months, cleaning and organising.  This village had been home to many before, and would be again.  Houses were opened up to the fresh air, cleaned out and made ready.  As we worked we would often notice movement amongst the tree line, people coming to the edge and watching.  They would come out soon, take that first, hard step into the open.  But life in the village exist and was better already than hiding amongst the trees.  The new challenges were not for survival, but for life.  We had to learn to live again, had to learn to trust one another.  But that was for a purpose.  It meant that life would be more than existing day to day, holding on to life with a tenuous grip.  We sat on the stone bridge one late morning, and watched them approach.  The first five brave enough to step out of the trees.  We knew more would come, just how many we weren't aware of.  But the beginning had started, fearful of it as we were, there was also a hushed anticipation of something wonderful beginning.