Sometimes, a choice is meaningless: whether to have meat or bread for supper, or to pick yellow or white flowers for a bouquet.
But sometimes, a choice can change the course of your family history.
Sometimes …a choice can change everything.
The golden light filtered down through the leafy green foliage of the trees in the early morning. Dew dripped off the brilliant June flowers and off the spiders' gossamer handiwork. Sleepy birds chirped and warbled their morning melodies into the poignant air. As the setting moon vanished behind a cloud, a pillar of mist rose up from the wet ground, spinning slowly, glistening like diamonds because of the dewdrops and filtered sunshine.
Slowly, the light formed the face of a young woman –ageless, regal, and unearthly, as the rest of her body resolved into a discernible shape. The long hair cascaded down her back, covering the cape she hardly needed, being ethereal. Her gown was plain, accenting her simple but noble features. She began to walk over the moss, a smooth motion one would take for floating if you had not seen her slippers occasionally peep out from under the skirt of her gown as she walked.
She paused at the edge of the forest bordering a meadow and her insubstantial form sat on a stone there, waiting. A few minutes later, a small fawn, no more than a few days old, poked its head out of the trees and trotted happily to the woman. A light smile graced her face; she reached out a thin hand and rubbed the fawn on the head. They were obviously friends. After a few minutes of this welcoming affection, the fawn trotted back to the edge of the forest, where a large doe waited patiently. The mother bent down to give its child a lick with its tongue, and then they both wandered out of sight.
A loud noise echoed, and the woman's head lifted sharply, making her hair swirl around her. Her eyes focused on a tall figure at the other end of the meadow.
A young man had dropped his axe. Mouth open with shock, green eyes wide, he stood there in his common woodcutter's garb, hand open. The woman frowned minutely, and he shut his mouth and picked up his axe hurriedly, blushing from embarrassment. She had not moved from her place upon the boulder except to place her hands in her lap.
He could not explain it –there was some connection to her that pulled him in. He hesitantly walked around the meadow to where she sat. When he got within a few steps of her, she stood, a fluid motion he almost could not see; one moment she sat and the next, she stood.
He reached up to snatch the hat off his blond head, and bowed to her.
"Do not bow to me. I am not God. But…you know who I am." Her voice was low, all at once embodying the burbles of the creek and wild songs of the birds. It was not a question, merely a statement of fact.
He straightened quickly. "Yes –Lady. You are… of the aelfe." He could have cursed his tongue for his ordinary sounding voice. When compared to her, he sounded like the squawking of a crow.
"Who… who are you?" She asked, and he could have sworn that if she were human she would have been hesitant.
"I am Amaranth."
They stood in silence for a moment, he, unsure, she, considering. Then she reached up to touch his cheek with her translucent hand. He felt as if a wet flower petal had caressed him. He reached up in order to cover her hand with his own, but his hand came away wet with dew only.
A small smile lit her face, part amusement and part regret. She twisted her hair around her fingers. The mist, light, and dew that made up her form only held for the early morning and late night.
"Will I see you again?" he asked her, bringing her eyes up to his once again.
"If you wish it," she whispered.
"I do." His voice was equally soft.
"Then I will see you tomorrow."
He became almost like the fawn, visiting every day for a month. They did not speak much or often, only enjoyed the other's company, but when they did speak, it was of great importance.
The day she healed a great scratch on his arm was the day his head realized what his heart had known since the very first day he had met her.
The day she cured his cold, not with her own arts, but with the natural herbs and plants gifted with their own healing abilities, was the day she realized what she wanted out of life: to bring healing to everyone, and him.
"You know that there is no going back," the deep ageless voice said to her.
"I know." Her voice was soft, weighted with the choice in her hands.
"There will be consequences no matter what path you choose, both good and bad," the deep voice continued. "Realize that."
"Then all that is left is to make your choice."
She closed her eyes in silence. There would always be consequences for actions, she accepted that. It all came down to whether she would regret her decision and give in or stand firm and deal with the cost of her resolution when trouble reared its ugly head.
She knew what she wanted.
"I have chosen." Immediately, it felt as if her world had turned upside down.
Linden walked into the meadow as usual, looking for Amaranth in her usual place.
She was not there. It felt as if he had swallowed the boulder she usually sat upon. Why was she not here? Had she not wished to come anymore? Had he been a fool to entertain the thoughts he had had?
Brush parted behind him with a loud rustle, and he turned. A girl about twenty, a year or so younger than he, emerged from the forest wearing a dove-gray kirtle. Her long hair, dark gold in color, fell down past her waist and her gray eyes sparkled in the light. Though her features were no longer otherworldly strange, they were still the same simple ones he remembered. He caught her soft, slim hand in his own large, rough ones. Though it was pale, she had flesh, human flesh!
"Amaranth?" he asked her in a whisper.
She shook her head in the negative. "I am Amaranth no more. Now I am Coriander."
He could hardly speak. He managed to get out, "How?"
"I made a choice." She smiled joyfully. "It was the right one."
She nodded, smiling wider. "I chose you."
He wrapped her in his arms, vowing to never let her go.
As the lovers embraced each other in the shaded glen, the aelfe watched, for it is their duty to watch, such as it is the bird's duty to sing and the ox's duty to plow and man's duty to govern over everything. And though consequences would come, Linden and Coriander –whose name means hidden worth –would stand firm under them, and they would receive the joys of a baby girl. They named her Celandine. And the aelfe would still be watching when these faithful parents would be buried in the earth and their grown daughter would find her calling as a woodwife. They would observe the birth of another baby girl –Rosemary, who would grow up to be the girl called Rowan Hood.
But that is another story.
Sometimes, the course of the world as we know it is made with a single choice.