We stand together in the back porch, watching through the windows as they approach — a mass of people spills through the quiet streets. A parade? The men are clad in work clothes and overalls, the women in loose, white gowns. But — there is no organization to their ranks. No drums. No music. Just a loosely arranged throng, choking the street, crowding sidewalks and pushing through our neighbors’ neat yards. They advance in growing numbers as twilight gathers; a tide of men and women with little concern for borders or boundaries.
In an all-encompassing wave, they flow through our hedge, course about our house. So many bodies. So many heedless, trampling feet. I dash outside to protest crushed Spring blooms and young, tender branches snapped. Thus, I hear them — the low unison of their voices weaving through the cool breeze. They have settled in our back yard, intent upon increasing the numbers of their cult — by persuasion, reproach, or force of will.
I find them around the porch’s corner. To my alarm, the women encircle my young hawthorn tree and — arms up stretched, necks craned — they strip its slim, dark branches of fruit. Grabbing, clutching, they gorge themselves on the bright red berries, greedily overfilling their mouths till the juice runs down their chins and necks to stain their bodices.
“If you do not believe in the Fey and the magic of the Hawthorn, its fruit will poison you!” I shout. I wonder at my words, uncertain of their truth, but I will say anything to save my tree. To my relief and astonishment, the women — shocked, fear dawning on their smooth, stained faces — halt their greedy, all-consuming harvest.
Beyond this scene waits another crisis — several huge men crouch over our gas and electric meters. Bare-handed, they bend and twist narrow pipes, rend and snap delicate wires. One pauses just long meet my gaze and says they are “reading” the meters.
An anger uncoils inside me unlike any I have felt before. The intrusion. The disrespect. The greed and unkindness and self-absorption. My voice is enormous, crashing through the descending night. My words scathe and pierce. There is no room for doubt or discussion or misunderstanding. All flee before the the lash of my demands. In his haste, one of the men has abandoned a heavy, yellow backpack. Like a shot-putter, I heft it, whirl it around and around my head and body in a great curving arc. When finally I release it, it carves a bright streak through the night and crashes, lost in the distant woods that swallow the mob’s retreat.