Sarah's Phoenix: Transition (Part 1)

A hand touched her arm, startling her. Sarah’s head jerked up and she found herself looking at Jason. “Jay?” she whispered, both relieved and concerned that he was there. “I thought,” Sarah swallowed the lump in her throat, “it would be months before you got back.”

“It did not seem right to leave you here. And I…” he gently opened her hands. Taking the chain from one and the ring from the other, he strung the ring on the chain. Sarah closed her eyes. She felt him place the chain over her head and gently pull her hair from under it. Clasping the ring where it now sat against her heart, she sighed. Jason sat down beside her. “I owe you an explanation about the ring.”

Sarah opened her eyes, holding the ring out. The gem gleamed in the moonlight. There was a peace settling on her with Jay next to her. They sat as they used to in the Grove, backs against a tree, so close they almost touched. Looking at the ring, Sarah angled it different ways to catch the light. At last Sarah tucked the necklace under her chemise.

“That was my favorite ring of my mother’s,” she told him, “It was the first gift Dad ever bought her. There were very few times when it wasn’t on her finger. When I turned 16, my mother told me that someday, she would give it to me. Every year after I asked her when and she always said she was waiting for a special occasion. Only,” Sarah choked as the lump rose in her throat. She took a deep breath as she turned toward Jason. “How'd you get it?” Jason looked at her and then looked out over the fields. He took a deep breath before speaking.

“My men had just left, leaving me to our first ten day watch. As I was out hunting, I felt the shift that always precedes the appearance of the Grove. It was so strong that it caused me to stumble right into it.” Jason paused. Sarah turned so that she was sitting cross legged beside him, watching him. His eyes were closed. “When I entered I knew things were not right. The light had a very odd haze to it. The wind had a very acrid smell. And you were not there.” He opened his eyes and looked at her. “In all these years, in all my visits, there has never been a time when you have not been there.”

Sarah bit her lip. Memories of that fateful night where beginning to slip into her consciousness. She nodded for him to continue, not willing to break his story.

“So I began to look for you. I searched the whole Grove twice over, before I tried to part the branches through which you always enter and leave. They gave no resistance and I found myself staring at a woman. She was carrying you.” Sarah watched Jason swallow and close his eyes yet again. “I held the branches back, but she could not pass through. She tried to speak but a loud explosion covered her words. The ground shook and she stumbled forward letting you go to catch herself. I caught you. She took a ring from her fingers and held it out to me. ‘Give it to Sarah’, she told me, ‘take her with you, care for her.’ When I took the ring, she clutched at my arm. She did not let go until I swore upon my family’s honor that I would.”

“What happened to her?” Sarah asked, as the silence lengthened.

“I don’t know,” Jason said, “there was another explosion that forced me back into my world.”

“She died, didn’t she?” Sarah gulped, remembering the bombings had begun.

“I don’t know,” he stated again.

“Don’t lie to me Jay!” Sarah got onto her knees. “My four bothers died in that God Forsaken war and the military never told us the truth, I don’t need that from you!” she sat back on her heels, “not now.”  Her hands were clenched at the memory of the run around her mother was always given when she inquired about her boys. Jason studied her for a moment.

“When she stumbled,” he whispered, “she began to cough blood and she never stood back up. When the second explosion came, she disappeared.”

Sarah closed her eyes and squeezed the tears out. “Did you see the cloud, from the explosion?”


“It doesn’t matter.” Sarah knew that the nuclear weapons had been taken out. After all it had been the EMP caused by an exploding nuclear bomb that had cut off her conversation with her mom and caused the bus to crash. Sarah’s hand went to the ring. Her mother had sacrificed herself so that Sarah could live, but would she? With all the radiation exposure she’d likely had? “When you brought me back,” Sarah asked hesitantly, “how sick was I?”

“Very,” Jason said, “You felt like fire to the touch and stayed unconscious for eight days,” he shook his head frowning. “I tried to get back to the Grove after I had stumbled out, but,” Jason looked steadily at her, “there was no Grove to go back to.” Sarah turned away to look into the distance.

 “I should be dead,” she said, shaking her head.

“But you are not.”

Sarah turned back to face Jason. “My world has blown itself up in a nuclear war. I’ve been exposed to enough radiation to kill a cow instantly. Yet I’m alive.” Sarah looked back out over the fields. Tears ran down her cheeks. “Why?” she yelled to the stars

“Only the Gods know,” Jason said, gently wiping away her tears.

“Gods,” Sarah gave him a half smile. She caught one of his hands as he moved it away from her face. She studied it for a moment before letting it go. “It feels strange to be able to touch you,” she said.

“I know.” Jason stood and turned to face her. He smiled as he held out his hands to her. Sarah accepted his offer and he helped her rise. He kept a hold of her hands. Sarah waited as he studied her, her heart hoping for a sign that they were more than friends. Instead, he dropped her hands and spoke. “I want you to re-join me with my troop.”

“But I thought,” Sarah started, now totally confused.

“I promised your mother I would take care of you and no matter what I think of, the only thing that seems right is to have you by my side. I know it is only going to become more dangerous, but,” Jason sighed and shrugged.

“But, weren’t your men concerned that I was female, or something.”

Jason smiled, “I don’t know what you did, but Mathew is convinced it would be all right.” His face became more somber and he sighed. “Besides I have the feeling that your cooking will be needed to keep our spirits up.” He offered his arm. Sarah took it and they began to move toward the house.

Sarah stopped them at the garden fence. “What about me?” she asked, “I don’t know if I could pass myself off as male.” Jason turned to look at her. “I’m not just talking about trying to bind my chest, but I,” Sarah struggled for words. “I’m just too female in my ways.”

“Then do not disguise yourself,” he stated. “There is no reason for you to be bound by convention.”

“You mean be a woman in pants?” she asked puzzled. Jason nodded. “Won’t that make me an outcast?”

Jason shrugged, “Only if you wear them all the time. Besides,” he smiled at her, “you will always have me.”

Sarah couldn’t help but smile back, “Thanks Jay.” She gave his arm a squeeze. It wasn’t the kiss she’d been hoping for, but a true friend was much better than no friends at all.

The End

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