The outside world seems to have taken hold of our fire-side chat as it takes an unexpected turn. My heart feels like it skips a beat. I sit straight up in my chair anticipating his next words. Reenie remains unmoving in his rocker, his face a blank canvas as he stares into the fire, the colors of the flames embracing his face, making him seem older than he likely is.
"The world of men-folk is a queer one," he says. "They have strange ways."
"You have been there." I am awash with a stirring emotion. I begin to perspire at the news; my skin feels clammy.
"As I say, I have been there." He leans back and begins to rock again. His bride remains quiet as he begins his tale.
"The world of men is far above us, above the Flatlands, north of your valleys."
"My valleys? Are they not your valleys? You are Sheima, are you not?"
"I am a Sheima by birth, yes, though the valleys are no longer part of my world. I no longer claim that heritage." He continues as his chair finds the ruts in the floor. "Your world is small and peaceful by their measure. That is not the world of men. Theirs is chaotic, ritualistic. It is filled with legends and sorcery, not the simple rituals of farmers like yourself."
"You have seen this yourself?" I stammer. I have now asked the same question three times. I do not know what else to say, so striking and unexpected are his words. My nervousness shows through as Clarisa lays her hand upon my arm, a calming smile directed my way.
"It is a world I knew long ago; a world I struggle with during the night. It is a world that invades my dreams and keeps a peaceful spirit at bay. Yes, I have seen it, and I will carry it with me to my grave."