Kyra held Em tight, for whose benefit could no more be determined than what was twilight and what was dusk. In warmth, comfort found, and in silence memories roamed, triggered by a touch, a smell, or in this case, a simple phrase that opened the door to a time long forgotten (ago). Perhaps the coldness, perhaps the utter isolation, or perhaps the look on Em’s face and those simple words took Kyra back to Valla, to a time where need and want blended beyond perception.

“Papa, I’m scared,” said Kyra as she pulled her small four-year-old knees into her tiny chest as if she could roll herself into a doodlebug; her chin tucked in the valley of her knees, her eyes rolled upward like full moons looking toward the sun of Papa’s face. Papa sat on the edge of her bed, his tanned complexion appearing golden and warm in the soft light from the nightstand, one hand resting on the bed and the other on his knee. Trying not to smile, for fear Papa would leave, for why would he stay if there was not a fear to ease, Kyra took a breath of Papa, a scent forever consistent, from earliest memories to the dock, a scent that could only be described as a non-scent, a scent of purity, of freshness, of cleanliness, of a fresh ocean breeze, yet, however one wanted to characterize it, the scent was Papa and the scent was confidence and the scent forever held the key to a thousand memories.

“We are all scared Kyra. If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.” Papa spoke to Kyra as an equal, as he would an adult in tone and delivery. There was no baby talk. There was no paternalistic patting of the head, of presupposition, but an openness to share without façade, to share on what he called a higher plane, which was to say, to share with the intent not to protect or even educate, but to share with the intent, to take the opportunity so clear in his mind, to build trust, to build relationship, to build the bonds of love and to do so not as one above the other, not as grandparent to grandchild, but to build a relationship in the flow of love with the acknowledgement that in that flow, there is no superior, no distinction, there is just the melding of souls into the universal mother of existence.

With the very thought that her Papa had fears too, that he was willing to share them with her, Kyra felt her heart open into the warmth of his being, as she would countless times over the next two decades. In later years, her mind often raced to find an incongruity in his behavior, to find a time when she felt she could not open herself to him, and she marveled at how he did it, at how no such time existed. Papa was not perfect, but he was perfectly open and honest and loving.

“There is a sound Papa, from outside. Be very quiet.” And so they sat for a couple minutes like two big radar stations on watch, ears attuned for the sound. “There it is Papa,” said Kyra, her arms springing from her knees like a lock released. “Did you hear it?”

“I did indeed.”

“See, I told you something was out there. What is it Papa?”

“It’s a mother owl singing a lullaby to her babies. The trees around our villa are filled with these beautiful creatures. In fact, they glow the most beautiful colors of the rainbow when they are happy. Would you like to go see them?”

Kyra looked up as if Papa had just told her of a magical tale, one just outside their doors.

“Let’s get dressed,” said Papa standing up. “Put on your slippers and a coat and I’ll go do the same and we’ll go sit and watch and listen.”

Papa came back a few minutes later and Kyra jumped on his back, arms around his neck and legs locked tightly around his ribcage. Papa could feel her small heart beating against his back and he smiled at the great adventure she must have felt. Grandma Kyra stood in the kitchen, a smile on her face, her robe on her shoulders, as they exited the back door.

“Kyra?” asked Em. “Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Kyra smiled, “Sorry Em, I was just lost in thought.”

“Are we going to be okay?”

“Have I ever told you about the time I first heard the rainbow owls back home?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Let’s grab a seat. I think you’ll like this story.”

Commentary within the reading: Rainbow Owls

Categories: Story, Kyra, Papa, Grandma Kyra, Emy