A Basket of Bones
By Silver RavenWolf
Once upon a time there was a Braucher (healer) named Victor who lived in the Black Forest. In the autumn of 1865 he knew his time to pass beyond the veil was near. Victor got down on his knees and prayed to that which runs the universe: “Spirit,” he said. “I know I haven’t got long to live; but, there is so much pain and suffering in the world I just don’t want to go. I have tried to be a good father, a fine husband, and a compassionate neighbor. My wife has gone before me, and I am so old that I have outlived all neighbors and friends. My son lives far away — and with the war, I don’t even know if he is alive. Yet…Still…I feel that there is so much more good work to do.”
Victor sighed and bowed his head for a moment. The room became deadly quiet. Not a creak. Not even a tick from the clock on the mantle. The hair on the back of Victor’s neck stood up and he suddenly felt overwhelmed with an amazing flood of pure love.
Victor raised his old and weary eyes, shocked to see a woman standing there. Eyes of jet, skin of chocolate, and a smile that lit the room, she bent toward him and touched the top of his head lightly. His entire body felt electrified.
“Victor!” she said, in a voice that echoed around him like the flapping wings of countless doves. “Your prayer has been heard. Tomorrow a woman will come to see you. She is a doll maker. She will sit with you so that you won’t be alone when you pass. And as the hours increase, she will rest in the rocking chair beside your bed. She will rock and sew and talk. As she stitches, the joy of your power — your love, your compassion, your ability to heal — will be passed to the bones. And even though you will go softly beyond the veil with great comfort, you will leave behind that which you know to be true — love, protection, wealth, health, and the answers to the mysteries. These energies — that which you respected and tried so hard to share — will be stitched into her work. Blessings upon you, Victor. We shall meet again soon.”
In the night, Victor fell ill. He passed from dream state to consciousness. In the small hours of the morning he heard the hoot of an owl far off in the woods, followed by a soft knock on his bedroom door. “Who are you?” he asked in a frightened voice as a small woman entered the room carrying an oversized basket of material, yarn, herbs and thread.
She set the basket down and came to his bedside, reaching out to hold his hand softly. “It is I,” she said quietly. “The doll maker. I am here to grant your wish.”
Victor sighed. “So? It wasn’t a dream?”
She smiled. “Not at all.”
After seeing to his comfort, she sat beside him in the rocking chair. “Tell me about your life,” she said. And he did. For hours she stitched, stuffed, and sewed. Sometimes nodding her head at his stories. Sometimes smiling. Once or twice, a tear drifted down her pale cheek.
By dawn she was finished.
And Victor had slipped peacefully beyond the veil.
The doll maker carefully put her finished art into her basket, then began to chant in a soft, singsong voice. Her musical whisper circled around the room. She finished with, “Peace be with you. Only the good remains.”
Midmorning found the doll maker sitting quietly in her market stall, surrounded by her precious dolls and stuffed animals.
“What’s this?” said one male customer, looking at the basket on the counter. “A basket of bones? Yuck.”
“It is what you see,” said the doll maker.
“All I see is crap, lady.”
The doll maker smiled. The man walked on. As the market was busy on Friday’s many folks stopped to look at the basket of bones. Some stared at them with curiosity. Others with distaste. A few reached their hands into the basket, and quickly pulled back as if they felt an electrical shock.
No one wanted the bones.
No one wanted what Victor had to share.
More customers. One or two inquiries. Each time someone asked how much the bones were, she would answer with a question, “What do you see?” With each answer, she turned her head and quietly said, “I’m sorry. I’ve changed my mind. They are not for sale.”
Shadows grow early in the autumn chill. The doll maker wrapped her shawl around her shoulders and shivered. Soon, she would close up her stall. She stood stiffly, bending to pick up the basket of bones.
“Wait!” came a frantic whisper.
The doll maker turned to face a young boy, his hesitant face peering at her in the dusk. “How much for the basket of stuffed doll bones?” he asked.
“That depends,” said the doll maker.
“Depends on what?”
“On what you see in these bones.”
The boy looked at her, his brow furrowed.
“Tell the truth,” she said. “What do you see?”
The boy bit his lower lip, as if unsure to answer what he really thought. Finally, he said, “I see light.”
“Well then,” said the doll maker. “These bones must belong to you.”
The boy paid for the basket of stuffed bones, grinning from ear to ear. As he turned away, the doll maker said. “I’ve never seen you before. You don’t live in town.”
“No,” said the boy. “My father and I live far away. We got word that my grandfather was dying. I never met him. And now…now it is too late. My grandfather passed away this morning, and we only just arrived.”
“That so,” said the doll maker. “Do tell. What was your grandfather’s name?”
“Victor,” said the boy. “Victor Geist.