Her people came from the place where the mist rests on the turf and the ladder to and from the heavens can unfurl. It was where they all still lived.
It breathes, mist does. The fog kisses the lungs in moisture like that from which all of them had come: the womb, the sea, the ocean sky.
Alana still dreamed of days before her mind awoke to awareness. Cocooned inside her mother, growing to the beat of steady drums and gurgling songs.
“Wombs are portable heaven,” her grandmother said, the peat spade matching her words thump to thunk. “All is created. All is attended to. All is removed that no longer belongs. It is magic personified.”
And magic has a price, Alana thought. For all things do. Sometimes it sends a mother back to heaven. Sometimes it sends back both if the ladder into heaven leans in too close.
Her grandmother, Meara The Midwife, had delivered her into the world. As she had practically everyone Alana knew. Nana also helped ease the passage of women, including that of her own daughter Nola – Alana’s mother – back into the mists of old where breath was no longer needed to sustain the soul.
“It is a blessing to be from the land of mist,” Nana’s strong arms tossed a steady stream of peat blocks for Alana to stack. “Even if blessings can carry a cost,” she added, pausing for a moment to rub the small of her back, and to regard the ten-year-old.
The child’s auburn curls escaped the confines of her kerchief and any ties and ribbons one tried to wrestle them into. She was a quiet one, even as a wee lass, green-flecked eyes like moss on peat and cheeks like peaches in cream. Observing. Taking in.
She’s one for the mists, Meara thought, but never said. One did not make words for such things. Not for anyone. Let alone for the granddaughter one wrestled back from heaven’s ladder. Born too early, this one was, and at the same time too late for her mother’s life to go on.
Meara sighed and smiled small reassurance at Alana, whose features tightened in response to her grandmother’s exhalation. A mist child indeed, this one. Reading others in the smallest of breaths.
Nola had been this way. Sensitive. Perceptive.
Secretive, too. In many ways like the babe she’d borne. Half of her time spent in dream and memories of mist.
Meara shook her head to clear her own. She pointed her chin toward the ground. “A few more of these and we’ll head home. Let us see if we can get there before this bank of fog rolls down to completely mist up our path through the bog.”