The Yearning Part VIII
~ Sheri Rene’ Watson
Sweet medicine--the sound of water was joyous

to her ears.  She needed fresh water for the coyote

and her to drink.  It had been a long journey and

she had run out of the basin water a day ago.  The

tunnel wall she had been feeling for spirals was

getting smoother.  She guessed that water had flown

through the mountain eons ago.  But now only flowed

Inside....she was awaiting the answer to that question of what WAS. The Spirit had led her here, through the medicine woman.  Something came to mind, then fleeted away.  She was too tired to try to recall and grasp it.  Somewhere, though, a seed had floated away on the water.
The water sound was getting louder, and she could have imagined that light was illuminating the tunnel.  She knew it was improbable.  Not long after, she came upon a large spiral, feeling it deeply carved into the tunnel wall.  It was filled with dust or dirt.  Then the light grew brighter; it wasn’t imagination.  She couldn’t believe it at first, but grew a little wary too, not sure what the source of the light was.
She didn’t smell a torch.  Nothing was burning, not even a fire.  It grew brighter as she went forward, still sliding the injured coyote behind her on the rabbit skin throw.  The coyote had stopped moaning for half a day or what seemed like that amount of time.  It was still breathing but very shallowly.  It seemed it had swelling inside but there was nothing the young woman could do, until maybe now, with the light.  The young woman slowed down as the light streamed into the tunnel after she rounded the last part of the bend.
She gasped.  After the last earthquake, as with prior ones, each eroding the wall of the mountain a bit more, a great portion of the mountain had slipped away, revealing a tremendous view of the valley below the mountain.  And inside, with the streaming shafts of light, was a giant bristlecone pine tree.  All kinds of waterside plants lined the water, left from ancient seeds carried by the water, and birds and animals from far away. None of the plants looked familiar but the bristlecone pine tree.  She dropped to her knees near the water and filled the watertight basket with it.  She drank deeply, the water fresh from underground and untainted by any debris.   She thought of the coyote and turned to put a soft reed in its mouth and by mouth delivered water down the reed into the coyote’s mouth.  The coyote didn’t respond right away but soon the trickle of water was followed by swallows.  The young woman did not give it too much water now.  She knew she would have to treat it soon, but was needing to rest a bit in relief and exhaustion.  
Anka was seeing light as well.  But not through her eyes.  Something within was illuminating her heart and spirit, shining brightly through the pain.  And the letting go.... She traveled a shaft of light, and 
A small child ran up to her mother, laughing, as her mother laughed too at her playing with the wild dogs in the center of the circle of huts.  Her mother had long known not to try to curb the child’s whims, as the mother knew there was something special about her spirit.  This was the only time she had to play, and it was always around the animals and the elders.  She kept asking why this and why that...listening to the sacred stories of their people around the winter fire, soaking up all the knowledge.  But she was a quiet child too, very shy and seldom spoke otherwise.  She followed the elders and the medicine man around constantly...looking for some answer she did not know the question to.  She had a yearning for...more...but no one knew what that was.  
In time the medicine man passed, as did the elders of her childhood.  As she grew up, she learned and lived their lessons of life, and sacredness.  She cried when she had to hunt for her first she and her mother had to share hunting, gathering and farming tasks as her father had left to another camp.  The now older child had to live the taking and giving of the sacred principles in life.  All was alive and sentient.  And to give thanks for a life and to be grateful were one of the lessons she learned while hunting.  That made it somewhat easier for her. 
A medicine woman had been trained by the medicine man, as she had been the one with the GIFT.  The young girl liked to be near her, following her around now as she had the elders and the wild dogs.  Some of the time the medicine woman shooed her away, if a situation warranted adult attention.  Most of the time, however, the medicine woman let her watch her gather herbs, other plants, roots and bark, and tend to the ills of the people.
One of the girl’s favorite alone times, when she could escape the people and responsibilities, was to watch the birds and other animal peoples of the land.  She learned to track and follow to wild kills, where she gathered feathers, or fur, of the passed animal person.  She had her own gifts of making crafts which were useful to the people for ceremonies.  That came easily to her and made the responsibilities flow smoother.  Knowing she had a place.  
 Still, sometimes she was uneasy.  There was desire unanswered within her.
Anka felt and saw the child, and a maternal instinct arose in her.  She could know her only in her spirit and as a coyote, but there was a bond she immediately felt from the vision.  Something undeniable was guiding her toward the child.
The young woman lay down, marveling at the light and feeling relieved after so long in the tunnel.  She slept, dreaming of faraway places, and a place in a woodland, perhaps long in the future.  She had never been in a woodland like it before, yet, it seemed familiar, and on the edge of her mind, she felt a compelling to run like the wind.