“Not today, my love. Not today.”
The child’s blue eyes widen at his mother’s voice.
“Find nana. She’ll have a nice, warm bottle for you.” Maria smiles weakly and pets her son’s head. The day started with a coo from the bassinet. By late afternoon, it ends with a sigh in the parlor.
“How?” says Maria. “How could one person change so, in just two years? Diana and I used to agree on everything. Everything. But after today, after that post, I’m not sure we share any views at all anymore.”
Maria clicked her tongue. “How does one watch a friend spiral into that pit of wrong-headedness? Should I not reach for her? One last ditch effort? But the force of her negativity, it so shocked me that my usual courage was swept away.
“Courage, my son. In the face of the negative, it can save the self. But the self must be nurtured, bathed in the positive, accomplished in the art of avoidance of words and ideas that subdue and embroil, and those that may harbor and propagate such anathema. Only then will your courage be strong enough to save yourself, and only when you are saved can you save the wayward. Today, I lacked that strength, because of this very imbalance of proper exposure.
“Here is the world as it is, a great battle between the forces of the negative and positive. Gone are the fantastic concepts of good and evil that tie us to jealous gods and their rigid demands. The human being is a feeling being, and our feelings are never wrong. They are our mind’s compass, leading us to True North, a place of placid order and right-thinking.
“Go on, now. Find your nana. But mind her gifts. One day, when the taunts of bullies have whittled you to a nib, she may turn to you and say, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ Listen to me, boy. Do not be tempted to stand fast with this verse as your aegis. It brings no comfort in defense. Wings instead I wish she’d given me, as I’d give to you. If only I could.”
Nana strides into the parlor and sweeps up her grandson in a flurry of kisses.
“My little man,” she says. “Want me to feed him, dear? You look positively defeated.”
“Yes mother, please.” Maria sits up. “I think I’ll go lay in the sun for a while.”