Samhain. Sybil felt awkward. While she still had nearly four moons to go, she was always bumping into things in the cottage. Cern had brought wood in so that she need not go out at night. Tending the fire and the stew, she wondered if he’d be there tonight. Normally, she celebrated with the rest of the village as the year turned. The children ran from cottage to cottage with wee turnip lanterns, asking for treats. Later on, the families would remember those that had died in the last year or in years before.
Tonight Sybil lit a candle for her husband and the babe she lost. She sat a cake next to each candle and prayed to the Goddess that they have a safe journey around the Wheel of the year. She wondered if her babe would be reborn in the child within her belly. She’d just made a small offering to the fire when Cern came in the door.
“Ah my Goddess, how thee shine.” He bent and kissed her.
“Samhain greetings. Are you hungry?”
“Aye. Fair famished.” Cern sat down after taking off his cloak. He was thinner and harder at the same time. He dug into the bowl of stew that Sybil gave him.
“Do Themins keep the year as we?”
“Aye. Each tree, rabbit, doe and flower that passed, we remember.”
Sybil nodded. She had thought as much. Wondered if that was why Cern waned with the year. When they were finished eating, he pulled a bottle from his hunter’s pouch. He poured a glass of the clear brown liquid for each of them.
“Cern, What be that?”
“Uisge Beatha. The water of life.” He handed her a cup and motioned for her to wait to drink.
He held the cup up towards the ceiling of the small cottage. “To all gone ahead. To all here. Blessings!” Then he clinked glasses with Sybil and drank. Sybil drank too, and gasped at the strong liquor.
“Aye.” He put down his glass and gathered her in his arms. “To bed.”
They undressed slowly and took their time loving and touching. They spooned to make love. Sybil’s belly was big enough to be cumbersome. Sybil came first and then Cern. He was gentle and cradled her against him as they slept.
In the morning, Sybil woke to find him gone. The only proof that he’d been there was the bottle of Uisge Beatha on the table. Once she was up and dressed, she tucked it away. It was too fine for everyday.