Story of the Day: Comminatory Company
Many of us might wish for Divine Interference, but for someone like Baba Connridh, who is regularly visited by the whole pantheon, godly visits are never worth their weight in pie:
Sometimes the skies are starless, however, and the merchants of mischance will plot and devise, but tenacity will triumph, and the unwavering affection between the Gods and their children will champion over the agony of distance despite decrees. The Edict had made the Gods sensible of their own loneliness, the pangs of severance ruining composure and wracking hearts, it taught them forbearance, and they had learned to plan and think. They understood their children’s despondence, and where Frewyns were willing to trade feasts with prayers, the Gods would not relinquish visiting their children for a mere glance at their lives from somewhere beyond the clouds. Schemes of secrecy followed, leading to the God of Earth and Mountains being wedged in between the cabbage beds.
“Well, glad you’re here anyhow,” said Baba presently, folding her arms. “The thatch needs some doin’. I know you ain’t the God o’ straw, but you do things, wavin’ yer hands around till somethin’ happens.” She looked beyond Menor’s head into the fields behind. “The japer come back with you?”
Menor shook his head, and the snow shook down from his shoulders. “He is in the north—“ he paused and struggled, suddenly discomfited, “—blessing the fields early.”
Baba scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Aye, the fields, and I got water in the well and gold in the hearth and all. He ain’t ploughin’ no field, son. He’s partin’ a few female furrows, puttin’ his share-end where it don’t belong.”
She humphed, and Menor seemed almost ashamed, his eyes downcast, the mist around him dissipating, the moss on his head curling over his cheeks. He knew his brother’s habits and disapproved, but could say nothing that would stop Aoidhe from granting wishes and answering prayers that ought to be left unfulfilled. Even speaking to Aoidhe about his Divine Rights never ended well, and Menor must submit to his brother’s meretricious merits and resign himself to the notion that though Aoidhe was more generous with his visits than his situation should otherwise admit, he was only visiting those who called out to him and not blessing those with propitiatory progeny against their will.
A low vibration drew Menor’s eye toward Baba’s feet. The soft rataplan of paws came from the house, and Baba’s cat appeared on the threshold, marching toward the stile with a stately air. It sat beside Baba and rubbed its cheeks against Baba’s leg.
“Go along with you now, Beagin,” said Baba, trying to be dismissive and feeling, leaning down and petting the cat in spite of herself. “Go aff and find a mouse if you’re wantin’ yer dinner now. You’ll get yer wee bit o’ lamb in a bit.”
The cat pressed its head into Baba’s hand. It roawred and rattled, giving Baba’s finger an affectionate press with its nose, and seemed rather pleased to be working on the old woman’s feelings. She would get her way eventually; there were always a few scraps of meat that needed to be cleared away from dinner preparation, and when it would be time for the pie to be served and the plate set out,
Menor remarked the cat with grave suspicion. It spied him from the corner of its eye and seemed to grin, and a doubt as to whether Baba was sensible of the cat’s nature began to rise. It eyed the God of Earth and mountains with proud presumption, fruzzled itself against Baba’s leg, and sat down, leading Menor to believe that if Baba did know, she had no intention of letting on. A conscious look passed, a familiar furole danced in the cat’s eye, and Menor, recognizing and understanding the hint, made only a nod in reply.
“Heh,” Baba rasped, “for someone who said he couldn’t stay a few minutes, you sure are mussin’ my rows.”
The moss over Menor’s brow tented. “I have not injured them,” he assured her, inspecting the furrows around him.
“Aye, better not, elsewise what’re you god of?”
Menor hummed and seemed grave. “I will assist you with the thatch when the time comes,” he promised.
“Well, least you’re done somethin’ for yer dinner, unlike yer brother. It’s ready, if yer wantin’ any, made with the meat the Regent brought over. Warmed some o’ the miner’s puddin’ for the drippin’ I saved too.” Baba turned toward the door and away from the field. “Better come in and have a slice, ‘fore yer brother comes back. He’s here before I cut you yer piece, that’s you not gettin’ any—“
A rumbling interrupted her. The ground trembled and whinged, the stones gasped in retreat, Baba turned back toward the field, and the God of Earth and Mountains was gone, leaving no geomorphic trace behind him, the snow and mist melted away, the loam plagued with silence.
“Huh, that’s godly gratitude for you,” said Baba, spying the rows. “Offer him a dinner he ain’t gonna get anywheres else, and he burrows away without sayin’. Well,” kicking a pebble off the stile, “he ain’t gettin’ another dinner on this farm till he does the thatch’, I’ll tell ya that for nothin’. God o’ earth—hah! – God o’ frottin’ in my furrows.”
He murmured to herself, grumbling over the destiny of troublesome gods, of how they would all congregate in her garden and play at being all-knowing and all-useful without knowing when they were making themselves a disagreeable nuisance or using their abilities to improve an old woman’s dilapidated farm, and she turned back toward the house, looking forward to having a dinner without being collocated between two deities who had no idea what relative size meant. Despite her petulance, she did not mind the company of two clever and well-behaved gods, but having the best part of a lamb pie was become a luxury to one who kept such comminatory company. The miner’s pudding she could have parted with as a somewhat second-rate offering, but as solicitous and compassionate as Menor was, and as jovial and good humoured as Aoidhe must always be, Baba was hardly equal to giving them the spread their presences demanded. If a standing pie with suet crust would do for a one-hundred-and-thirty-one year old farmer, it would do for the gods of however many millennia.
A pie done well transcends the barriers of mortal sufferance.