Sunday, December 9, 2007

Osiris And The Big Dodge & Weave

Starr Ann and I found Jodie in her barn, cleaning up Amelia. Nothing looks dirtier than a paint horse after she's wallowed in mud. Amelia looked like a giant piece of fried chicken as Jodie worked to brush and crumble the thick dried mud that coated just about every inch of her longish winter coat.

Jodie didn't look so good. The drawn face, hollow eyes and tight mouth that greeted us from the other side of Amelia's withers didn't belong to the Jodie we knew.

I said, "Let's cut to the chase, Jodie. What's up with you and Lane?"

She said nothing was up.

I said bullshit.

Jodie shot a look at Starr Ann, then gave in. "Lane has no business going into the service."

I said, "Our sentiments exactly, but it's Lane's life and besides having no power to stop her, I'm not sure, after talking to Lane and Amanda about it, we even would if we could."

Jodie ducked under Amelia's neck to get to her right side. Weird, but I've watched Jodie work on Amelia enough to know she never moves in front of her like that without putting a kiss on Amelia's nose. "Well, then I don't think we have anything to discuss, Margo. Might as well leave it right here."

"Nope, not an option."

Jodie tossed her brush into clean shavings and came barreling out of the stall. "Look! I need to be on a certain plane to keep my sanity and write this book about the war at the same time. Can you understand that?"

"I understand perfectly, but shutting Lane out and pretending you aren't invested in someone who might end up in Iraq isn't a healthy way to stay grounded, Jodie. Really."

Starr Ann put her arms around Jodie, saying, "Margo's right, baby."

"The book really does need to be written, Jodie. And since neither Starr Ann nor I've been to college, or have the credentials to write it, you've got to figure out a way to balance writing and reconciling with Lane before she leaves."

A little bit of Jodie's sense of humor was already flowing back in. "Great, Margo, the education factor was bound to come up sooner or later, wasn't it?"

Starr Ann released Jodie, picked up the discarded brush, and started on Amelia where Jodie'd left off. I bopped Jodie on the head with the rub rag I'd been folding. "Yep, but don't worry. Unless you mention it, nobody'd ever guess you're a professor. You come off as perfectly normal. Really."

I watched Starr Ann cross in front of Amelia's chest and kiss her nose on the way, just like Jodie usually does. Jodie saw it too, and all of a sudden looked like she could just about eat Starr Ann alive.

I said, "You know what? This is one of those places in life that could be a real turning point. A lot of people couldn't get beyond watching Lane go off to the Army during this war without having it turn them into adults."

Starr Ann had Amelia nice and shiny and was in the middle of picking out a front hoof. She paused in mid pick and said, "But we know Neith is watching over us and we're keeping the Osiris myth in mind the whole time, right?"

Jodie cocked her head and said, "I'm familiar enough with Neith, but can't recall Osiris."

Starr Ann said, "It's that one where after death, the only thing that happens is your heart is placed on the pan of a scale. In the other pan, there's a feather. If you escape this life with a heart that's lighter than the feather, you advance to the next world. If not, you come back to this one and try again."

Jodie took my hand and towed me over to a bale of hay. She sat down and pulled me into her lap, where we could sit and watch Starr Ann finish up on Amelia. Tightening her arms around my waist, she said, "Well damn it all, then! You two aren't going to leave me behind. Fuck it. I'm following you into the next world." Jodie squeezed my breast, pushed me from her lap, and popped into the stall to give Amelia two nice kisses on the nose. Then she reached into her pocket for a mint.

As Amelia's strong, flat teeth crushed the candy, her nostils widened and she breathed out forcefully. Jodie took in a huge gulp of the cold, pepperminted air and said, "Just smell that!"