Rays of Hope: Chapter 31

white fungi Photo by Visually Us on Pexels.com

My real world seems look more distopian than my fictional world. More than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in the USA yesterday.

Here’s a link to the tool developed by professors at Georgia Tech. Maybe it will help you make the decision to stay home.

And don’t even get me started about Washington D.C. Ugh!

It’s been a couple weeks since Marla and Ray last visited. In the meantime, I learned a lot about mushroom mycelium.

I need a little help with May His Tribe Increase. If any of my readers are in a mixed Catholic:Jewish marriage, please send me a message. Also, if you know a Black person who was in WWII or remembers stories, I could really use your help. Ephraim and his brother, Thomas will be forever thankful for you helping me get it right.

If you’re here for the first time, and you’re interested in starting at Chapter 1 of Rays of Hope, click here.

Chapter 31

Thoughts kaleidoscope in Ray’s head as she tosses in the bedroll Taedan pulled out from under one of his lab benches.

“But, I’m wide awake,” she begs Marla. “I’ll never sleep.”

“You will,” Marla replies.

Taedan had fixed a dinner of stir-fried Kale and garbanzo beans with something Ray never tasted before. It was difficult and easy to chew and at the same time, and left stringy bits between her teeth.

“Frog legs,” Trumble laughed. “I ate these when I was in grad-school. I couldn’t afford beef.”

“You killed the frogs?”

“Just the ones near the end of their life span. I tried letting some go, but the environment is not ready. But the sparrows, that’s another story. The sparrows come and go.”

The conversation among the adults weaved and wobbled around birds and frogs and seeds and fish. Ray’s mind followed until it hit a catch and then their conversation went on without her. Her mind stuck, turning what she heard over, backing up and re-thinking, forming questions, only to let them go in favor of another. She began to scribble in her notebook.

When would Taedan talk about her mother? She swallowed the question in favor of patience. They moved back into the large entry room. The light there had faded to something more recognizable: shades of shadowless grey. They settled onto pillows where Taedan served a flavored tea unfamiliar to Ray.

“Where did you ever get the chicory?” said Marla. She cradled her mug in both hands and inhaled the aroma with closed eyes. To Ray, her aunt looked as though she breathed in a memory. She closed her own eyes and let the woody aroma fill her lungs. Something stronger than a memory pulled at the back of her eye. Something that melted down her spinal cord and made her heart feel like it was opening to a light. She waited to see where it led.

“Alice said the mycelium network was the answer,” Taedan said. “She knew.”

Her mother’s name snapped Ray to attention. That’s what she had been waiting for. She clung to every word, not wanting to interrupt for fear the conversation would take another turn or worse, turn away from her mother altogether.

And now, Marla lay inches from Ray exhaling and inhaling in the slow, growly breath of sleep. Ray tosses herself over to face Marla and lays her palm on Marla’s stomach. She tries to match her breathing to Marla’s. That’s how Marla taught her to relax whenever she felt fretful. Tonight, Ray knew it wouldn’t work. Too many images and thoughts and feelings surge through her nervous system. She stares at Marla’s eyelids, eyeballs fluttering back and forth beneath them.

Ray sees white mushrooms talking to dandelion poking out of sidewalk cracks while a sparrow tilts her head listening for the slow crawl of an unseen underground creature. Ray stoops and cocks her own ear to listen.

“My silly, ceily, um, bum,” sings one of the mushrooms raising her stem to reveal stretchy white threads. Another mushrooms pulls back, obviously connected to the first. “My silly, ceily, um, bum is connected to your silly ummbum,” she sings. For as far as Ray can see, mushrooms dance and sway to the same song. In the distance a woman steps lightly between the mushrooms, a bouquet of dandelions in one hand, she stretches out the other to balance herself. The woman wears no Outsider, only a thin cotton dress that reveals her legs.

“Stop!” Ray shouts, waking herself from the dream.

“Stop what?” says Marla, reaching for Ray’s outstretched hand. “It was just a dream.” She cradles Rays face with her other hand.

Ray sits up straight and looks around. She blinks at the bright light shining from above her. “I didn’t even know I was sleeping,” she says. “It was so real.”

“Tell me about it.” Marla pulls Ray to her lap.

For the first time in a long time, Ray offers no resistance. She burrows into Marla’s arms and drinks in the chicory clinging to her shirt.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

I really want to know more about the mycelium. And Alice, of course.

I hope you are enjoying Ray’s journey.

Until next Friday, when we’ll both learn more.


Reading is like food for the soul. u003cbru003eWriters like to eat biscuits, too.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart (and my stomach, too.)

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly