Julie van der Wekken
Julie van der Wekken



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The sun is bright, yet today is still full of winter’s icy bite.

Nearby, your granddaughter mashes down the earth in the pot, making it even just like you told her to. She is so precise and so serious about this simple task, you stifle your impulse to laugh.  You unfold the waxed paper bag with the tiny seeds and pour them into her hand.  She scatters them carefully across the big pot, not too many in any one place.  You hand her the watering can, and she meticulously moves it back and forth as she ensures every centimeter of the surface is wetted.

You hum and sing as you wrap the top with cellophane to keep the moisture in, and place the pot in the south-facing window.

Inch by inch, row by row, I’m gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row, someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below 'til the rain comes tumbling down

The sun beats down through the sweltering summer air.

Your broad-brimmed hat gives you some protection from the sky, as you find the tiny weeds trying to grow amid your berries and pull them out.  You take a sip from the cold beer sitting atop the raised beds, and then pour a little bit into the dish set out to distract the slugs.  You smile to yourself as you think of your mother flinging the poor creatures through the air when they got close to her garden.  She was so kind and peaceful, but that all changed as soon as a cabbage, tomato, carrot, or fruit was in peril!

You walk over to the green garden hose, turn on the spigot, put your thumb gently into the end, and spray water over your plants.  You know singing to your plants makes them thrive, so you let loose a melody.

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones, we are made of dreams and bones
I feel the need to grow my own 'cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain, I'll find my way in nature's chain
I tune my body and my brain to the music of the land

The warm sun of spring shines through the still chill morning air.

You push your fingers into the dirt, making little holes in the garden for the seedlings to go into. The loam is cool and damp, sticking to your skin. Your mother inserts the gardening tool into the pot with the little plants and levers one out, tapping the roots to shake the loose soil off.  She hands it to you, and you put it into place and pack the earth around it so that it’s nestled firmly in place.

Your mother hums the song she used to sing to you when you were small as the two of you place the strawberry starts one by one.

So plant your rows straight and long, temper them with prayer and song
Mother earth can keep you strong if you give her love and care
Now an old crow watching hungrily from his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I'm as free as that feathered thief up there

The fading autumn sun is gently shining, the days still warm but cooling by the by.

You just hung up the phone after talking to your daughter, calling to tell you that she’s pregnant.  Your eyes still sting from crying.  You find yourself in the kitchen, assembling the flour, sugar, and eggs, and taking the strawberry preserves out of the refrigerator.  You laugh at yourself, as you realize you’re making her favorite: strawberry jam cake.  Hopefully she will still want to eat it, even with that first trimester nausea.  You try to remember what it was like, when you first knew you were going to bring her into the world.

You hum to yourself as you mix the ingredients in the bowl and set the oven.

Inch by inch, row by row, someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below 'til the rain comes tumbling down
Inch by inch, row by row, I’m gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground

Here the Verses Discord was offered a choice.

Xavi puts her paw on your shoulder, and you can feel the warmth of her purr.  The feline mystic can guide you where you want to go.  Are you finished, or do you want to stay here longer?

A: Go back to spring.  Be young and discover the world again.

B: Go back to summer.  Be in your strength and make your way in the world.

C: Go back to autumn.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor and celebrate your life.

D: Accept that it is winter.  All things come to an end, and you have left a legacy.

(If you’d like to vote on our stories, influence Verses lore, what happens next, game mechanics, and even future cards. Then join our Discord at http://discord.gg/verses)

[8 members of the Para Initiative advocated for accepting winter, while 5 wished to return to summer, 2 to the fall, and a single vote for spring.]

You become light, floating out of your body, ascending into the air.  You can see yourself, with your granddaughter.  You can remember being her, and being her mother.  You remember planting strawberries, nurturing them, picking them, eating them, and making them into preserves.  Lifetimes of memories wash over you in this house, in this garden, of family, of song, and of the changing seasons.  It is beautiful, and as you lift higher and higher toward the warmth of the sun, you already begin to miss it.

Xavi leaps from sunbeam to sunbeam, jumping through the sky as if it were a cat tree.  She brushes past you, perhaps even through you, and you can feel her thoughts.  She wants you to know that you had to leave.  Some buds are never ready to leave the shell, to rest eternally in familiar soil.  But you have chosen to burst forth from the earth into the realm of light, and become whatever it is you might grow into.  You can feel Xavi’s joy in what that might be.

[SHK-E Assessment: You have gained the KNOWLEDGE of a lifetime. The Knowledge Corps spends many cycles reading your report and interviewing you for additional details; trying to tease out the meaning of your vision or the nature of Xavi.]

HEART: Excellent

Para Initiative Reputations: Interventionist

Para Initiative Inventory:
‍Oystersand’s Illustrated Arcana
Notes on Xavi and 1086
Gloomspark Portarray]

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