Chapter 8 The Truth

As we made our way across the open fields of moorland a murky shadow crept across the estate due to a fine drizzle of rain and fog. Aware of the time Brammer and I kept a watchful eye over Misneachail as he sprinted ahead of us guiding us through the small burns and deep divots of marsh. 

All the while Polly cooryed down contently in the basket in front of me, trying to keep warm and dry as we sped steadily across the open countryside. After twenty minutes of driving the fine mist turned into a thick fog and with the pitter-patter of rain a fine layer of dew covered the fine hairs of Polly’s coat signalling a noticeable turn in the weather. Within a matter of seconds we lost sight of Misneachail as a harsh blistering wind gained momentum and began brushing across the open fields. As the distant sound of twittering birds diminished the noise of the wind swept across the contours of the estate floor bending every shrub, plant and sheaf of grass into submission. We gained temporary reprieve from the elements as we began descending into a small gully as the faint silhouette of Misneachail briefly reappeared on the horizon. As I motioned to Brammer to retrieve grandads waterproof from the side saddle I quickly threw the basket cover over Polly to protect her from the now lashing rain. As we ascended out of the gully we lost all visibility and sense of direction and through the fog I could hear a low resounding voice whispering, ‘Take care…’

As we continued east I could again hear the faint but indistinguishable voice of someone calling my name. Distracted for a moment I suddenly felt the front wheels of the quad tip forward as we began hurtling down a steep embankment of wet marsh and weeds. As Brammer forced his weight to the back of the quad we slimly missed toppling the quad head first into what we now realised was a fast flowing burn. With a steep marshy embankment on either side of us and a rising water level we had no alternative but to follow the burn downstream in hope of finding a path out of the steep gully. As the quad tasked its way along the steep marshy embankment I could now hear the echoing voice whispering in the wind in a firm tone. ‘Did you hear that?’ I asked Brammer briefly turning my head over my shoulder.

‘Hear what?’ he replied unknowingly.

‘Oh! Nothing,’ I replied, as I refocused my attention on the increasingly rocky and uneven embankment and noticeable strengthening current of water in front of me. After a few minutes in the now rising burn I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as I felt the emotion of blind panic overwhelm me egging me to turn the quad around and head back up stream. As the rain pounded off my back and the wind howled against the hood of my Mac I could hear once more the same faint voice whisper, ‘Surrender………Surrender, surrender to nature…go with the flow…’

Confused and bewildered I repeated the word surrender to myself and made the decision to keep moving downstream. The burn seemed to tease me as every few metres in front of me became more treacherous with unstable boulders covered in thick slimy moss that caused the quad to skid and spin erratically from left to right. Between me and Brammer we threw our weight from left to right rebalancing the weight of the bike as we repeatedly found the wheels locked between the uneven waterbed.

 After one obstacle after another of rocky outcrops, boulders and tall reeds I gradually came to a clearing where I could see a visible track along the embankment to higher ground. With a sudden change of fortune the wind altered direction and the rain began almost pushing me from behind. Immediately I turned to Brammer shouting, ‘Hold on we are getting out of here!’ Instantly I put the quad into first gear and revving the accelerator began climbing the rocky marshy embankment until through the fog I could see the brow of the hill and level ground. As soon as the quad settled on level ground I peered through the fog noticing the faint silhouette of Misneachail in the distance galloping towards us.

As Brammer and I reservedly took a sigh of relief we looked on in dismay as an angry and frustrated Misneachail came charging towards us. ‘Where did you go? I have been trying to track you two and we are running out of time!’ shouted Misneachail angrily staring down the embankment. ’Do you have any idea where that would have led you?’ he blurted staring a few feet further downstream to the Achall Gorge.

‘I had no idea where we were! I couldn’t see a thing in front of me’ I shouted back.

‘It doesn’t matter if you lose one of your physical senses, you have your instincts, intuition, remember you are like us you are one with nature so you have a connection to the universe listen to the whispers!’ he replied. ‘And where was your tongue it didn’t take you too long to adopt their human weaknesses!’ said Misneachail staring at Brammer disappointedly.

As I stood in front of Misneachail trying to compose my emotions I blurted out, ‘Why are you always so…. blatantly and brutally honest?’ I said angrily.

‘I am what I am Rhona!’ said Misneachail unapologetically. ‘No ego, no mask, no hidden agenda. I am the teller of the unadulterated truth… You are not accustomed to hearing the truth, are you?’ asked Misneachail. 

   I paused for a moment to think. ‘Well my Grandparents, they are always truthful with me, even when I don’t want to hear it!’ I replied defensively.

‘Yes! But who else do you have in your life like that?’ asked Misneachail inquisitively.

For a moment I suddenly found myself speechless.

‘When I speak, what do you hear? What is your instinct’s telling you? Do my words come from a source of truth or lies & self-interest? Have I said anything that wasn’t for your greatest benefit?’ questioned Misneachail. 

I thought for a moment to what he said and realised he was right. Whether I liked it or not he was the bearer of truth. Reluctantly I replied, ‘Ok! You are right, you have been blatantly truthful with me, from the moment you met me,’ and immediately I thought of Gran’s mantra tough love is true love.’ I looked at Brammer and sheepishly dropped my head and followed Misneachail back towards the dirt covered quad.

 As I mounted the quad I realised that maybe for the first time in my life I may have found myself some true friends. I was a misfit at school, other than Polly I didn’t have a so called best friend. I certainly never bought into being part of the agreeable cloned divas at school that allowed others to do their thinking always dressing, speaking, thinking and acting the same. As Brammer and I sat on the quad Misneachail turned his head before leading us in the direction of the Blacksmiths cottage,  ‘Rhona if you remember anything from today people who truly love you don’t care if you get upset with them, they are prepared to risk everything, even what you think of them, even your friendship if it means protecting you but more importantly protecting the integrity of your soul’ replied Misneachail unapologetically as he sprinted ahead across the fields of peat in the direction of a small smoking chimney top far on the horizon.

As we drove off Brammer said something strange in my ear, ‘The greatest lesson you can learn from us creatures and in particular Misneachail is that unlike you humans we are not trying to be anything other than who we are, you need to find the self-worth to just be not become someone else.’