“Alynn! Come inside, child! You’re crazy!”
A sixteen-year-old girl spun circles in the midsummer afternoon’s rain. “Mum, can’t you see the rainbow?” she asked, laughing as the raindrops tickled her neck. “It’s out above the ocean! I wonder who’s to find the pot of gold!”
The girl’s mother, Caitriona, sighed helplessly from the doorway of St. Anne’s Monastery. “You’ll catch yer death of cold. Come inside.”
Alynn filled her chest with fresh, damp air. “It’s rain worse than this I’ve been out in, and I’m fairly certain I haven’t died yet,” she said. Laughing, she flew through the yard and took her mother’s hand. “Come see the rainbow!”
Caitriona picked up her skirts and ran into the yard, ducking her head against the rain. Alynn smiled. She knew that her mother, somewhere deep within her, had a free spirit. It shone through her shamrock-green eyes and her smile as she looked up at the heavens.
Suddenly, Alynn slipped on a patch of mud. Her shoulder blade hit something wooden, and she landed hard. She looked up—she was sprawled in the vegetable garden, propped up against the pea trellis. Helpless with laughter, Alynn glanced up at Caitriona to find her laughing, too.
“Not the peas again, Lynder!” she exclaimed before tripping over a tussock and landing in a puddle. She looked at her ruined dress, then at Alynn, and laughed even harder.
Alynn beamed. She gazed at the heavens to see the rainbow, glowing like a smile from God. Truly, He was smiling—restoring in a moment of time the years that had been stolen from her childhood. Even Caitriona, her dripping golden hair hanging nearly to her knees, had returned as the mother Alynn remembered.
Caitriona helped Alynn to her feet and pulled her into a hug, whispering a “thank you” as she fingered Alynn’s strawberry-blonde tresses. Alynn smiled.
“I missed you, Mum.”
“Beautiful girl, I missed you, too.”
Even though it had been over two years since she and Caitriona had been reunited, there were times when Alynn still couldn’t believe it. The moments were rare when Caitriona was exactly as she had been before the Vikings took her, but when she was, Alynn was eight years old again.
Caitriona gave her a squeeze, then took her hand and led her back to the monastery. “Let’s get you dried off.”
She led her through an arched doorway, then the kitchen that was designed to feed a hundred monks. Alynn passed rows of unlit cooking fires on her way to the hearth. She spun before the fireplace, letting her blue dress drip-dry on the stone floor.
Caitriona snatched a rag and made Alynn stand on it. “Don’t slip,” she cautioned. “Did you finish lettin’ down the hem on yer Sabbath dress?”
Caitriona sighed, toweling her hair dry. “Child....”
“I’ve my plain dress.”
“It needs patched.”
“It’s still a dress.”
Caitriona handed Alynn her towel. “Hurry and change, then put some bread in the oven. I’ve half a day’s worth of carding to do.”
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.