Tuesday, November 30, 2004

 

the child, twenty-one


She gasped. 'Fall in love?' she squeaked.

'Out of all the sons of my house, I have made choice to give you to Stone, and Stone to you. He shall be your husband.'

The earth under her feet seemed to give an unsteady lurch. For a long moment she said nothing - because she couldn't. And when at last she found her voice again, she whispered, 'Are you sure?'

'Starr,' he responded kindly. 'Is it possible for me not to be sure?'

No. No, he was right. 'Then,' said she, 'make me sure.'

'I have chosen Stone to be your husband,' he said simply and clearly. 'Mind you, you are not to tell him that,' he added.

'I'm not?'

'Oh no. When he knows it for himself, then it is for him to tell you. You understand,' he said, talking her hand and leading her along as they walked through the lush grass under the nodding trees, 'that this is part of marriage being a symbol of my people and me. As the Master, I lovingly lead, and my people are to lovingly follow. Even so, Stone shall be husband; he shall lead, and you as his wife shall follow his lead.'

He stopped and she stopped at his side, looking up into his face. 'You are to trust him, Starr. As you trust me. It will be different, for Stone is but a mere man, and he will make mistakes. But your gift to him, and to me, is for you to trust him. Trust him by trusting me. Trust me through trusting him.'

'But if he makes mistakes...' she said slowly.

'When,' the Master gently corrected. 'But do not worry about them. So long as you are trusting him in obedience to me - I will see to his mistakes.' He smiled. 'I am very good at that, Starr.'

'What do you want me to do?'

'Love him. As I have told you. And do not worry, but be at peace. Utter peace.' He looked on her for a long time, and then, to her amazement, slow tears began to slide down his cheeks.

She put her hand up to touch his tears. 'Master?' she whispered. 'Beloved? Why do you weep?'

'Little Starr, my sweet, my love...' And he sighed. How he sighed! 'Little one, this shall not be easy for you. You will feel at times as if your heart is being torn in two. And there will be times when you will desire that I should release you from this. And you shall even be angry with me, for speaking of Stone to you, for telling you to fall in love with him.'

'No...' she whispered.

'Starr.' His hand lingered on her cheek, her stricken face. 'Do not be afraid, mine own. The valley shall be dark, but endure through it. Keep your hand in mine, and follow my steps before you, even when you see those only one at a time.'

'Why...?'

'You cannot understand all my reasons for why I do these things that I do. Only know this: I love you, and I love Stone. And it delights me to put the two of you together. What you shall be together is far more than either of you can be apart. But, Starr...'

'Yes, sir?'

'My enemy knows this. He knows the potential Stone and you have together, in me. He will fight this. And he is subtle. At times, he will seek to turn you against Stone and Stone against you. Be aware and watchful against such tricks.

'And always remember: Stone shall be your leader as your husband. Let him lead you in all things. Begin now. Do not put yourself forward, or pursue him. But let him lead; let him pursue. He will pursue you, in time. And in time, your love - you allowing me free flow through you towards Stone - will be a healing for him.'

He looked beyond her for a moment, his deep clear eyes clouding with the remembrance of the dungeon from which he had rescued Stone. 'Know this, my darling, that love is hard for Stone to receive. Nor is love easy for him to give.' His eyes returned to her face, and he sighed. 'As you will see.'

'He seems friendly...' she said slowly.

'He is friendly. That is no mask. But as he draws closer to you, then shall he begin to see the potential he has to be hurt by his relationship with you. And he will fear. For he has been hurt much in his life. His heart has been wounded many times, has been splintered into a myriad of sharp shards, like glass. He will fear to draw close to you, for fear of being hurt again.'

'I would never hurt him!' cried Starr, surprising herself with the strength of her cry.

'Not intentionally.'

'I - I will hurt him?' And Starr could feel her own heart nigh to shattering.

'Not so much you, as the enemy seeking to use you as a weapon to wound Stone. To cause him to fear you, and through you, me. For it is my intention to use you to heal Stone. To heal the deep wounds of his heart. Wounds that Stone yet carries within himself, unhealed - for fear of the pain.'

'What pain?'

'The pain of healing, my love. You see, often in the process of healing, there will come pain. And once the healing becomes painful, many draw back from being healed. It seems to them easier to hold on to the wounds instead of being healed, instead of hurting once more.

'But they do not understand. If they would only permit me to finish the healing, then would the pain at last be over and done. But out of fear, they cling yet to their wounds - until at last they become desparate. And then, then will they finally pursue the healing, desiring to be whole no matter what it costs.' He paused and added, 'And the same shall be true of you, dear one. As you shall find.'

'Me? But there are no wounds in me, are there, that I am holding back from you?'

He smiled gently on her. 'In my timing, you shall see what it is that I am speaking of. For now, my Starr - simply be steadfast, live in my peace, ever forgive - and trust. Trust me; trust Stone. He is a rich gift given to you from my hand, as you are to him. It will not always be easy to see that the two of you are my gifts to each other. But keep your mind stayed on me, and so shall this road not be as long nor as rough as it might be.

'And for right now, Starr - for right now...' He smiled on her. 'Go back to your room and rest. Catch up the sleep that you missed overnight. Yes?'

She smiled bashfully. 'You always know everything,' she said.

'Everything,' he agreed. A sweet kiss on her forehead he gave her, and sent her off to the house to sleep.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Saturday, November 27, 2004

 

coming soon ~ to a blog near you ~ storyblogging carnival VII


I am very nervous about this, having never hosted a carnival before. Hey, I wasn't even blogging three months ago!

I will be hosting Storyblogging Carnival VII, which will be up online for your perusal (I sincerely hope!) on Monday, Dec 6th. Entries need to be in, then, by midnight Friday, Dec 3rd. If you would like me to include a story you have on your blog, please email me at sheyajoie ~at~ yahoo ~dot~ com, or leave me a note in the comments area of this post.

I will need the following information:



The post containing the story may be of any age.

And now, the rest of the guidlines, which I have shamelessly lifted from Donald Crankshaw's 'Back of the Envelope' (the originator of this carnival):

The story or excerpt submitted must be posted on-line as a blog entry, and while fiction is preferred, non-fiction storytelling is acceptable.

The story can be any length, but the Carnival will list them in order of length, from shortest to longest, and include a word count for each one.

You may either send a complete story, a story in progress, or a lengthy excerpt. By lengthy excerpt, I mean that it should be a significant portion of the story, at least 10% of the whole thing. You should indicate the word count for both the excerpt and the complete story in the submission, and you should say how the reader can find more of the story in the post itself.

If the story spans multiple posts, each post should contain a link to the beginning of the story, and a link to the next post. You may submit the whole story, the first post, or, if you've previously submitted earlier posts to the Carnival, the next post which you have not submitted. Please indicate the length of the entire story, as well as the portion which you are submitting.

The host has sole discretion to decide whether the story will be included or not, or whether to indicate that the story has pornographic or graphically violent content. The ratings for the story will be decided by the host. I expect I'll be pretty lenient on that sort of thing, but I have some limits, and others may draw the line elsewhere. Aside from noting potentially offensive content, while I may say nice things about stories I like, I won't be panning anyone's work. I expect future hosts to be similarly polite.

The story may be the blogger's own or posted with permission, but if it is not his own work he should gain permission from the author before submitting to the Carnival.

If you'd like to be added to the e-mail list, please let me know. Also, feel free to advertise the carnival on your own blog.


Looking forward to your entries.

Thanks,

sheya


 

the child, twenty


'What do you think?'

Yes, that same question. And once again asked of her as she was watching Stone out of sight. She turned to the Master, feeling a bit guilty to see that he had been watching her watching Stone.

She could not look him in the eye. Till his hand reached out to her and gently lifted her chin.

'Starr,' he said. 'Do not be afraid. Be at peace.' And she felt the sweetness of his breath flow over her.

'You aren't angry with me?' she whispered.

A smile. 'Tell me, Starr,' he said. 'How did you meet him?'

'How?' The question stunned her. 'But... you were right here. You know how I met him.'

'Yes, I know. But I ask you questions because I want to hear your answers. And,' he added, his eyes so deep, so deep. 'Because I want you to hear your answers.'

'Oh,' she said, not completely understanding. 'Well, you - you were becoming larger than everything.' Which was still overawing, even just to speak of it. 'And I started to fall over. And he... he caught me.'

'Yes. He was right there, at just the right moment.'

'Yes. He was, wasn't he?'

'Because I orchestrated it so. I directed his steps this way. He does not realize I did so. Anymore than you had realized it.'

'He didn't see you, either,' she recalled.

'No. That truth about me he was not given to see.'

'And he thinks you're just the sword master?'

The Master smiled. 'What Stone needs to see, when he needs to see it, I myself will show him. It is enough for you right now, my Starr, to know that I have brought Stone into your life. At this time. For a reason.'

'A-a reason?' Her heart came nigh to stopping, and her face - oh, this was quite the opposite of a blush!

'Yes, Starr. And again I ask it: what do you think? Of him.'

Her voice failed her for a moment. She swallowed. Yes, and swallowed hard. 'What,' she managed to say, 'what do you want me to think of him?'

He chuckled. 'Starr, my love, you please me. That was exactly the right answer! And my answer to you is this.' And again he tilted her face up to his, meeting her eye-to-eye.

'I want you to fall in love with him.'

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Thursday, November 25, 2004

 

the child, nineteen


She didn't have time to think what to do - whether to walk away, or run, or hide. For Stone spotted her immediately. 'Yo, Starr!' he called. And a smile that made her heart stop splashed over his face. 'How you doing?' he asked.

She couldn't think how to answer him, for to say 'fine' would be a lie. She was certainly not fine; she was all in a turmoil inside, just from the sudden sight of this man.

She did not want to lie, so she answered not at all.

Stone didn't seem to notice, though. In fact, he went right on talking, giving her no time to answer him anyway. 'Your timing's perfect, Starr-girl,' he said. 'We were just about to start my lesson this morning. And Josh had just said he would like me to do a bit of sparring with one of the other new learners. And just at that moment, here you come! Wanna train with me?'

Her mind seemed to be working as fast as a snail this morning. 'Josh?' she asked, puzzled. 'Who's Josh?'

Stone chuckled. 'Well, the sword master, of course!' he said, half-turning to glance at the Master standing nigh him. 'He's been training me with the sword...' And then it was Stone's turn to be puzzled. 'I've seen him working with you as well. Didn't you know his name is Josh?'

'Starr has a different name by which she knows me,' the Master put in, coming forward to greet her. A hug and a kiss on the cheek he gave her, and with the kiss a few words he dropped into her ear: 'Say little; learn much.'

She glanced into his face to be sure she had heard him aright. He nodded to confirm that she had.

'Really?' Stone was saying. 'Another name? What is it?'

'It is time for the lesson,' the Master said, sparing Starr from having to answer. She was relieved. Somehow, for some reason, she did not want to reveal to Stone that she called the Master her Beloved.

'Now, my children,' said the Master, 'these swords you have been given are strange and unique. For they sharpen in the use of them, but dull with neglect. As you practice together, you will find that the blades will become honed, even as your skills are being honed. A word of caution then: when iron sharpens iron, the sparks may fly. So be careful to take no offense. Starr, do you understand me?'

She was embarrassed to confess it in front of this man. But she dare not lie to the Master. 'No, sir,' she admitted, her eyes cast down.

'Take nothing to heart, nor aim for the heart - in other words,' the Master said. 'In practicing with these swords, do not set out to wound. And if you receive a wound, forgive. Quickly. Yes?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Sure.'

'Very well. Then begin.'

They both took their stances as the Master had taught them. Both drew their swords. And then each took a moment to admire the other's sword. For where hers was filigreed, with a look of delicacy to it, his was more rugged and hardy-looking. A man's sword.

Starr turned her eyes from the man's sword to his face. And again her heart skipped and gamboled within her at how handsome he was. Well, maybe not classically handsome. But oh, his features were certainly pleasing to her eyes!

And yet... It wasn't just the surface of him that she found pleasing. There was something about him - some indefinable something - an inner quality of this man that her heart was reacting to.

She closed her eyes briefly to steady herself.

'Ready?' That was Stone's voice.

She opened her eyes. Looked into his. They were dancing, animated. Like a young boy's. Anticipating...

She nodded. 'Yes. I'm ready,' she said.

Ready - and yet neither of them moved for a long moment. Finally, to her own surprise, it was Starr who made the first move, stretching out with her sword to tap the flat of her blade against his. Tentative, questioning, that tap was, and Stone grinned and rapped back against hers in answer.

She felt the strength of the man in that small opening clash, and immediately wondered was she in over her head. He was far stronger than she! Dismayed, she glanced to the Master. Read his smile. Felt his strength flood into her.

Again the blades clashed. And again. They were moving now, Stone and Starr - close and apart - circling, darting, closing, clashing, dancing...

Yes - dancing. This was like a dance. Stone's eyes were sparkling. He was thoroughly enjoying this.

Starr was enjoying it too.

Suddenly, without really meaning to - for she had nearly forgotten that these were in fact swords in their hands - she saw a break in his defenses and took advantage. Reaching in, she smacked him sharply with the flat of her blade, there just below his shoulder on his sword arm.

'Hey!' he cried, his free hand springing to cover the spot she had hit. His sword arm dropped, leaving him defenseless - though he did at least manage to keep hold of his sword.

Starr dropped hers entirely, stricken. 'Oh, Stone! I didn't mean to! I'm sorry!' Her hand went out to him, to touch the wound she had caused. And her heart, to heal it, if only she could. 'Are you bleeding?' she asked.

Stone was inspecting the damage now, such damage as it was. For not even the cloth of his sleeve showed any harm. 'Aw, it's only a bruise,' he said. 'Don't worry about it. I'm a big guy, Starr. You'd hafta do a lot worse than this to phase me. No, what you need to worry about, Starr-girl...' And he grinned as he brought his sword back up and got into his stance again, '...is the fact that you dropped your sword. En garde!'

'Eek!' She spun and scrambled to snatch up her weapon again, getting it into her hand and whirling to face him just in time.

For he was right there, pressing his advantage, grinning, laughing, enjoying this, enjoying the dismay in her face.

Teasing.

With a laugh, he reversed his blade and sheathed it. Held out his hand to her. 'Good game,' he said as she fit her small hand within his large one. A big guy he certainly was - a full head taller than she - and she saw that it would not be hard for him to hurt her, quite without meaning to.

'Is your arm all right?' she asked, still amazed that she had managed to wound him.

He flexed it and shrugged. 'Yeah, it'll be fine. Maybe a bit sore later on. But no worry. It's inevitable to take a few hits, doing sword play like this.'

'Faithful are the wounds of a friend,' said the Master, coming forward to inspect Stone's shoulder. He laid his hand over the wound briefly. 'You forgive her?' he asked.

'Oh, sure,' Stone replied. 'No big deal. Hope we can do this again soon. Oh, hey, Starr!'

'Yes?' she said, feeling shy suddenly.

'Maybe we can have lunch together.' And with a friendly wave, Stone turned and trotted off towards the house.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

 

the child, part 1, chapter 6 - symbols


'You will begin,' said the Master, 'to go among my people, showing me to them.'

'Showing you to them?' asked Starr. 'Don't they see you for themselves?'

'All of them saw me when I came to rescue them. But most of them do not see me for who I am. Most, when they see me, do not realize it is I. And many have lost the ability to see or hear me.'

'That is sad.'

'It is. But you see me, and shall show me to them.'

She fell silent. Remembering. Remembering the sight of him, the Master, becoming greater and greater till he was greater than all that exists.

'My true size,' he commented. 'Few see that.'

'Why me?' she asked.

'Because you know who you are.'

'I do? But who am I? I am nothing and no one.'

'Exactly. Apart from me, that is exactly who you are: nothing and no one.' He smiled. 'But in me, dear heart, you are my bride. And also...' He touched her cheek gently. 'You are my little girl. Just that. Always know that of yourself. For it is when you begin to think of yourself as somebody - ah, Starr! That is when you must beware. I will not work through those given over to pride. Only through those who are given over to me. Pride is Jessie's way, the enemy's way. And you do not want to go that way.'

No. That was true. She didn't.

His bride, he had said just now. That reminded her... 'You are more than I thought you were, at the first,' she said.

'Yes. I am.'

'I don't understand then. How can I be wed to you?'

He smiled. 'All those of my house will be wed to me, eventually. My Bride. One with me. I made marriage to be a rich symbol of that, of the oneness I desire with my people. As a husband loves his wife and protects her with his very life's blood - so I love my people. As a bride loves her husband, desiring with all her being to please him, to be with him, to love and admire and be one with him. To set aside her own desires and mold herself to his. So should my people love me.'

It was true. That she understood. For that was how she loved him, or wanted to. Selflessly. Utterly. Completely.

'I speak through symbols, Starr. I enjoy my symbols which I have woven into the world. Marriage is one of the deepest and dearest symbols I have given. Another symbol I have given,' and he pointed, 'is one that you bear there at your side.'

She looked where he was pointing, puzzled. 'My sword?'

'Yes. The sword. That too is symbolic.'

'It is?'

'Oh, yes. Very much so. And this is what it is symbolic for.' And as she looked up at him, he reached with his finger.

And touched his tongue.

'The sword is your tongue?'

'And yours also. You have seen, I know, how Jessie on the mountain uses her tongue as a sword. To pierce and kill and destroy. To devastate and ravage. You see how a tongue may be a sword.'

Yes. Starr shuddered at the awful memory.

'My tongue, my sword, has a different use. Against the enemy, it is to destroy and bring to nothing his plans of evil. Against people, it is not to destroy though, but rather to heal. To cut away those things of evil that have been implanted in the person, to set them free. As when I broke the chains from your arms to set you free. My sword heals and sets free.'

'Your words.'

'Coming out of your mouth, yes.'

They walked on in silence for a bit. Until Starr said slowly, 'For your words to come out of me, my Beloved, they must first be in me.'

'That is so, little one. That is why we have spent so many days, so much time, together. My words have I planted into you, into the fertile soil of your heart, my love. That when you need to speak, I will be what comes out of your mouth.'

They stopped walking and stood together, he towering over her, smiling down on her. 'And this too is a symbol, my Starr. A rich and sweet symbol, given to thee. This too is me putting my words into your mouth. My love.'

And he kissed her. And she melted.

~~~~~~~


Alone in the dark of her bedroom that night, she lay awake thinking, thinking. All the extraordinary things that had happened that day, one on top of another, coming far too quickly for her mind to make sense of it all. Now, in the solitary quiet, she had all night to mull it over.

Just what had happened?

The incredible, astounding sight of the Master her Beloved expanding as he had - becoming so great, so vast... Even now in memory, her mind reeled back from the vision of such a thing.

Who was he? She knew now, but was too awed to speak it.

'You see why you cannot understand.' His voice broke upon her memory. Cannot understand...

No, of course not. How could she understand? How could her little brain, housed within this small box of her skull, possibly grasp even the beginning part of understanding her Master? He who commanded the winds and they obeyed him. He who commanded angels. He whose mere presence had caused the Mountain of Spices to spring to such rich verdant life...

Hmmm. Verdant? Where had that word come from? Somehow, within herself, she knew the word meant living green - but how did she know that? Once again, the anomaly of her uncertain memory frustrated her.

Anomaly - and how did she know that word either? How did she know anything? Why couldn't she remember? Ohhhhh...!

Frustrated anew, she struggled vainly with her memory for some wearying minutes before she gave it up again. Oh, but there was just nothing there! Her life might as well have sprung into being the moment the Master had brought her into this room and broken the chains from off her arms.

The chains. Somewhere in the dark corner of the room they still lay, those chains. Mute evidence of the Master's love for her.

His love.

His bride.

And again her mind reeled.

How? How could she be his bride? Now that she saw more clearly who and what he was - how could he desire to wed insignificant her? And what had he meant, that all those of his house would one day be wed to him - all? Would they be joined into one, into a single vast she - the men as well as the women - to be wed to he who was greater than all things?

It confused her, and she didn't like to be confused. And yet somehow, deep within herself...

Somehow she knew that it did all make sense, even if she could not grasp it. She trusted - that was the word for it - that it all made sense. Because she trusted him.

Trusted. The way a child would trust. Was that why he called her Child? And also he had called her his little girl - which made her smile with joy. His bride he named her many a time. And then that day on the mountain when Jessie had fled before his face, then he had said daughter - sweet daughter.

If marriage was a symbol of her relationship to him, so being his daughter must be a symbol as well. And being his little girl. And his Child.

His. His bride, his daughter, his little girl, his Child - always his. His! How that word made her heart flutter within her!

And now another image from the hugely strange day that was just now ending swam into her head. The man Stone. Strange how both her pulse and her breathing quickened at the thought of him!

She pictured him again. Tall, ruddy, fair, with a touch of a beard round his mouth. Handsome? She blushed in the dark aloneness of her room. Oh yes. He was handsome.

And he had held her in his arms. Again she knew that she was blushing.

Why was she blushing? she wondered, annoyed with herself. Was she not promised to wed the Master? So why was this man she had just met affecting her so?

And yet... She now understood - though still only dimly - that to be wed to the Master was not the same thing as to be wed to a man.

To a man - such as Stone.

Ohhhhhh...! Why? Why was she thinking like this!

'What do you think?'

She sat bolt upright in the bed. That question! She remembered now. The Master had asked her that question. Yes, as Stone had been walking away, waving, the Master had asked her what she thought. And she had not answered him that question.

What did she think - about what? About Stone?

What did she think about Stone?

Or even - should she be thinking about Stone?

Ohhh...! She flopped back down on the bed, threw the covers over her head, and tried to stop thinking entirely and get some sleep.

She didn't succeed very well.

Morning light at last touched her window. She arose from her sleepless bed and dressed. Belted on her sword. Ate the breakfast that Mathilda brought her. Hurried out into the early dewy dawn to look for the Master, to ask him what this was going on inside of her. To ask him why she blushed so to think of Stone.

Ah, there was the Master. Her steps quickened at the sight of him. And then slowed to a stop instead. For there, standing near the Master...

There was Stone.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Monday, November 22, 2004

 

the child, eighteen


Alone in the dark of her bedroom that night, she lay awake thinking, thinking. All the extraordinary things that had happened that day, one on top of another, coming far too quickly for her mind to make sense of it all. Now, in the solitary quiet, she had all night to mull it over.

Just what had happened?

The incredible, astounding sight of the Master her Beloved expanding as he had - becoming so great, so vast... Even now in memory, her mind reeled back from the vision of such a thing.

Who was he? She knew now, but was too awed to speak it.

'You see why you cannot understand.' His voice broke upon her memory. Cannot understand...

No, of course not. How could she understand? How could her little brain, housed within this small box of her skull, possibly grasp even the beginning part of understanding her Master? He who commanded the winds and they obeyed him. He who commanded angels. He whose mere presence had caused the Mountain of Spices to spring to such rich verdant life...

Hmmm. Verdant? Where had that word come from? Somehow, within herself, she knew the word meant living green - but how did she know that? Once again, the anomaly of her uncertain memory frustrated her.

Anomaly - and how did she know that word either? How did she know anything? Why couldn't she remember? Ohhhhh...!

Frustrated anew, she struggled vainly with her memory for some wearying minutes before she gave it up again. Oh, but there was just nothing there! Her life might as well have sprung into being the moment the Master had brought her into this room and broken the chains from off her arms.

The chains. Somewhere in the dark corner of the room they still lay, those chains. Mute evidence of the Master's love for her.

His love.

His bride.

And again her mind reeled.

How? How could she be his bride? Now that she saw more clearly who and what he was - how could he desire to wed insignificant her? And what had he meant, that all those of his house would one day be wed to him - all? Would they be joined into one, into a single vast she - the men as well as the women - to be wed to he who was greater than all things?

It confused her, and she didn't like to be confused. And yet somehow, deep within herself...

Somehow she knew that it did all make sense, even if she could not grasp it. She trusted - that was the word for it - that it all made sense. Because she trusted him.

Trusted. The way a child would trust. Was that why he called her Child? And also he had called her his little girl - which made her smile with joy. His bride he named her many a time. And then that day on the mountain when Jessie had fled before his face, then he had said daughter - sweet daughter.

If marriage was a symbol of her relationship to him, so being his daughter must be a symbol as well. And being his little girl. And his Child.

His. His bride, his daughter, his little girl, his Child - always his. His! How that word made her heart flutter within her!

And now another image from the hugely strange day that was just now ending swam into her head. The man Stone. Strange how both her pulse and her breathing quickened at the thought of him!

She pictured him again. Tall, ruddy, fair, with a touch of a beard round his mouth. Handsome? She blushed in the dark aloneness of her room. Oh yes. He was handsome.

And he had held her in his arms. Again she knew that she was blushing.

Why was she blushing? she wondered, annoyed with herself. Was she not promised to wed the Master? So why was this man she had just met affecting her so?

And yet... She now understood - though still only dimly - that to be wed to the Master was not the same thing as to be wed to a man.

To a man - such as Stone.

Ohhhhhh...! Why? Why was she thinking like this!

'What do you think?'

She sat bolt upright in the bed. That question! She remembered now. The Master had asked her that question. Yes, as Stone had been walking away, waving, the Master had asked her what she thought. And she had not answered him that question.

What did she think - about what? About Stone?

What did she think about Stone?

Or even - should she be thinking about Stone?

Ohhh...! She flopped back down on the bed, threw the covers over her head, and tried to stop thinking entirely and get some sleep.

She didn't succeed very well.

Morning light at last touched her window. She arose from her sleepless bed and dressed. Belted on her sword. Ate the breakfast that Mathilda brought her. Hurried out into the early dewy dawn to look for the Master, to ask him what this was going on inside of her. To ask him why she blushed so to think of Stone.

Ah, there was the Master. Her steps quickened at the sight of him. And then slowed to a stop instead. For there, standing near the Master...

There was Stone.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

 

storyblogging carnival vi


...is now up at Back of the Envelope. Go and have a read.

I volunteered myself to host the next carnival. Eek! This should be a learning experience...

Friday, November 19, 2004

 

the child, seventeen


'You will begin,' said the Master, 'to go among my people, showing me to them.'

'Showing you to them?' asked Starr. 'Don't they see you for themselves?'

'All of them saw me when I came to rescue them. But most of them do not see me for who I am. Most, when they see me, do not realize it is I. And many have lost the ability to see or hear me.'

'That is sad.'

'It is. But you see me, and shall show me to them.'

She fell silent. Remembering. Remembering the sight of him, the Master, becoming greater and greater till he was greater than all that exists.

'My true size,' he commented. 'Few see that.'

'Why me?' she asked.

'Because you know who you are.'

'I do? But who am I? I am nothing and no one.'

'Exactly. Apart from me, that is exactly who you are: nothing and no one.' He smiled. 'But in me, dear heart, you are my bride. And also...' He touched her cheek gently. 'You are my little girl. Just that. Always know that of yourself. For it is when you begin to think of yourself as somebody - ah, Starr! That is when you must beware. I will not work through those given over to pride. Only through those who are given over to me. Pride is Jessie's way, the enemy's way. And you do not want to go that way.'

No. That was true. She didn't.

His bride, he had said just now. That reminded her... 'You are more than I thought you were, at the first,' she said.

'Yes. I am.'

'I don't understand then. How can I be wed to you?'

He smiled. 'All those of my house will be wed to me, eventually. My Bride. One with me. I made marriage to be a rich symbol of that, of the oneness I desire with my people. As a husband loves his wife and protects her with his very life's blood - so I love my people. As a bride loves her husband, desiring with all her being to please him, to be with him, to love and admire and be one with him. To set aside her own desires and mold herself to his. So should my people love me.'

It was true. That she understood. For that was how she loved him, or wanted to. Selflessly. Utterly. Completely.

'I speak through symbols, Starr. I enjoy my symbols which I have woven into the world. Marriage is one of the deepest and dearest symbols I have given. Another symbol I have given,' and he pointed, 'is one that you bear there at your side.'

She looked where he was pointing, puzzled. 'My sword?'

'Yes. The sword. That too is symbolic.'

'It is?'

'Oh, yes. Very much so. And this is what it is symbolic for.' And as she looked up at him, he reached with his finger.

And touched his tongue.

'The sword is your tongue?'

'And yours also. You have seen, I know, how Jessie on the mountain uses her tongue as a sword. To pierce and kill and destroy. To devastate and ravage. You see how a tongue may be a sword.'

Yes. Starr shuddered at the awful memory.

'My tongue, my sword, has a different use. Against the enemy, it is to destroy and bring to nothing his plans of evil. Against people, it is not to destroy though, but rather to heal. To cut away those things of evil that have been implanted in the person, to set them free. As when I broke the chains from your arms to set you free. My sword heals and sets free.'

'Your words.'

'Coming out of your mouth, yes.'

They walked on in silence for a bit. Until Starr said slowly, 'For your words to come out of me, my Beloved, they must first be in me.'

'That is so, little one. That is why we have spent so many days, so much time, together. My words have I planted into you, into the fertile soil of your heart, my love. That when you need to speak, I will be what comes out of your mouth.'

They stopped walking and stood together, he towering over her, smiling down on her. 'And this too is a symbol, my Starr. A rich and sweet symbol, given to thee. This too is me putting my words into your mouth. My love.'

And he kissed her. And she melted.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

 

the child, part 1, chapter 5 - ‘sword work’


Two days later, as the Child was strolling across the green lawn with the Master, he asked her gently, 'Starr, my dear, why do you never wear my gift?'

'Your - your gift?' Puzzlement bombarded her. What gift?

'Yes. The gift I left for you when I brought you here. The one Mathilda presented you with when you awakened.'

Starr gasped. 'The sword!'

'Yes, my love. The sword. Which you keep hidden between your mattress and the wall. Go and fetch it here, dear.'

Starr turned away to go to the house. And as she did, a huge weight of shame and anguish settled over her. She had disappointed the Master! She had hidden his gift to her. Surely he was displeased with her. Surely he was angry, she thought as she walked towards the house.

'Starr...'

Miserable, she turned again to face him.

'Little girl,' said he. 'Do you want me to forgive you?'

She couldn't speak for the lump in her throat. So she nodded.

'You need only ask me.' His voice was so gentle.

'Please...' she breathed. 'For-forgive me...' She was crying too hard now to say more.

'You are forgiven,' he responded. And opened his arms to her.

She pelted to him, burying her face in his chest, sobbing, sobbing...

When she could finally speak again, she looked up in his dear face right there above her. 'Forgive me,' she said again.

He tilted his head. 'I already did.'

'But I...'

'Disappointed me? Yes. But I have forgiven you.'

She shook her head, not quite believing it. 'That's it? It's that simple? I ask, and you forgive? You don't hold it over me, or make me work for it?'

'Make you jump through hoops as it were, to be restored to me? No. You don't have to earn my forgiveness. You can't earn it. You need only ask for it - and receive it - and then walk in it.'

'Walk in it?' she asked.

'Yes, dear. By not doing again the thing that displeased me.'

She hung her head again at the word 'displeased.' 'I never want to displease you. Ever.'

'That shows the reality of your heart beating after mine. It is your love for me that will protect you from doing what displeases me. In that way will you walk in my forgiveness. But...' And that word 'but' brought her attention sharply to his face. 'Be on guard against anything that would draw your heart away, to love it more than you love me. Whatever you love more than me is an idol, and it will destroy you.'

She searched her heart. 'There is nothing I love more than you,' she said.

'I know. But many things will crowd in to try to drown out that love. So be on guard. Also, fear will seek to paralyze you. So you must guard against that as well.'

'How?'

'By staying close to me, and putting your love for me first before everything else. I know that sounds selfish of me. It isn't. It is safe for you though. And...'

'Yes?'

He smiled on her. 'And do not let these things that you do not understand worry you. Simply trust me. And you will do well.'

She chuckled. 'Oh, you know me so well! Because I didn't quite understand that last part...'

'No worries. No fears. Only trust. Yes?'

She looked up into his face, that sweet dear kind face. 'Yes,' said she.

'Because,' he added, 'if you understood everything, you would not need to trust. Do you see?'

'Umm... No...' she said.

A sweet chuckle bubbled up out of him as he lightly kissed her on the forehead. 'My little girl,' he said. 'You please me. Now go and fetch here the sword, my love.'

She went, this time in lightness as if her feet were barely skimming the ground. Into the house, into her chamber, took up the sword, back out into the sunshine, and quickly to his side again. 'Here it is, my Beloved,' said she.

He took it from her and fastened it about her waist. 'This is my gift to you, dear Starr. I want you to wear it. Wear it always. For me.'

'I will,' she promised.

'My good girl. Now,' he said, taking her hand and beginning to walk, 'tell me why you have not been wearing it, or using it.'

'I didn't know how to use it,' she replied, her eyes cast down.

'Is that your whole reason?'

Ah, he knew her! He knew there was more reason to it than that.

'N-no. I - I was...' Tears began to spill from her eyes. '...afraid...'

'You don't have to be afraid, love,' said he. 'Not of my gifts to you. I do not give you bad gifts, or gifts that would harm you. This sword I gave to you is for your protection. It will not harm you.'

'I was scared to draw it,' she whispered, confessing. 'I was scared I would cut my hand on it.'

'Draw it now,' said he. They stopped walking, and he took her hands, placing the one on the hilt and the other on the scabbard, safely positioning them where the sword would not touch either hand as she drew it forth. Slowly, carefully, she pulled the sword from its sheath. And gasped.

'It's beautiful!' she cried. And it was, with fine silvered filigree running the length of the flashing blade.

He chuckled. 'Did you think it would not be?'

'But the scabbard was so plain...'

'Much that I have made, I hide within plain things, so that only those who are truly searching for the things of me will find them.' And at the blank look she gave, he said again, 'Do not worry about the things you do not understand. Now. Feel the edge.'

She quailed. 'But it will cut me!' she cried.

'Starr. Love. Will I ask thee to do a thing that will harm thee? Do you not know me better than that?'

Shame colored her cheeks. 'I'm sorry,' she breathed.

'And thou art forgiven. Do what I asked now, dearheart.'

Trembling, she put forth her hand and gingerly touched the edge. And blinked in surprise. 'It's dull!'

'It has never been sharpened. You will do that.'

She gazed up at him and gave a hiccup of a laugh. 'All - all this time - I was afraid of a sword - that wasn't even sharp?'

He nodded. 'Yes, dear. You were.'

She leaned against him, and he drew her close. 'I feel so foolish...' said she.

'You are learning though, dear. It is when one refuses to learn that one becomes a fool. Now. Shall we begin your training with the sword?'

~~~~~~~


And so Starr began training in the use of the sword. Day after day the Master taught her to wield it, both in attack and defense. She practiced till the sweat made her hair cling damply to her forehead, till her hand was so cramped round the hilt she needed to use the other hand to pry her fingers loose. She dropped into bed exhausted at the end of the days, and woke again in the mornings to the knowledge that again today, she would work with the Master, learning his skills. Her love for him, her deep desire to please him and to not disappoint him, made the training seem light and delightsome.

One day, as he called for a break so that she might rest, as he massaged the spasms from her weary fingers, he looked at her and said, 'Ask.'

'You always know when I am full of questions,' she replied.

He smiled. 'Ask,' he said again.

'Why am I to learn to wield this sword?' she asked. 'I remember Mathilda telling me that I was not to defend myself. And then you said you would ever be with me. So why is it I need to know how to use this sword?'

His smile deepened. 'You ask wonderful questions, my love. No, you are not to defend yourself, for I shall do that, and you shall rest in my defense of you. The use of the sword is not to defend yourself, not to promote your own ways. But it is to defend others, to protect them from the wiles of the enemy. Not alone, for you will not be alone. I will, as I have promised, ever be with you even when you do not see me.'

He paused and added, 'When you use the sword, it will be me wielding the sword through you.'

'Oh. I...' She laughed a bit. 'I really do not understand that!'

'It is cooperation, my love. I could do it all, and my people do nothing. But I prefer for my people to work alongside me, to work with me as I work. You are learning the use of the sword, that you may go with me to my work, going to the enemy's fortress. You shall there aid me in rescuing others who are in that bondage. As you once were.'

'Oh!' The thought had never occurred to her. To go back...?

'Yes,' said the Master. 'You are one of my firstfruits, and after you shall come forth many more out of the same bondage. You shall be privileged to have a part in rescuing them.'

A privilege - then why did she feel scared?

'There is no need to fear, dear Starr,' he said. 'I will be with you. I will not be seen when we return to the fortress, but I will be with you. I will,' he added, 'be in you. It will be the strength of my arms that wields this sword of yours, through the weakness of your gentle frame. Do you understand?'

Again the bit of a laugh. 'No.'

A kind smile. 'Do they weary you, my Starr, these things which you do not understand?'

She paused. The truth, now. A sigh. 'Sometimes...' And she dropped her head, feeling a bit guilty. A bit stupid.

'Starr,' he said. Gently. Sweetly. 'Look on me. Look and see what I will show you now.'

She looked.

'Many times,' he said, 'have you asked me who I am. And each time I have given you an answer that revealed to you an aspect of me. Now will I show you another aspect of me, something you have not considered and have glimpsed only vaguely. Look on me, Starr, and you will see why it is that you cannot understand.'

And as she watched, he stepped back from her, spreading his hands, spreading his arms. Again he stepped back from her. Except... except...

Except, no. He was not stepping backwards. He was...

Her mind fought to accept what she was seeing. He was... expanding... becoming greater. Larger. Huger. Greater than the trees they stood under. Greater than the mountain they stood by.

Greater than the sky. Than the world. Than the universe.

Starr stood, staring, trembling. Reeling. Collapsing.

And arms caught her before she could hit the ground. 'Hey! What's wrong? What are you staring at? Are you all right?'

It was not the Master, returning now to the size of an ordinary man before her sight, who had caught her. Nor was it Mathilda's voice of many waters that fell upon her ear now. So...

Who was that?

~~~~~~~


The Child hardly knew which way to look. In front of her, where the Master now stood looking perfectly normal again. Or behind her, at the unknown person who had caught her to keep her from falling.

The arms that had caught her now steadied her, setting her back upon her feet. 'Can you stand up? Do you need to sit down? Are you going to be all right?'

She turned to see who it was speaking to her. A man. Quite ordinary he was, with ruddy skin and shy eyes. 'You're all right?' he asked again.

'I - I think so,' she replied.

He smiled. 'Good. I've seen you around here for a few days now, practicing with your sword. My name is Stone.'

'Mine is Starr,' she replied.

'Starr!' he said. 'Now see, that's a pretty name. Not dull like Stone. You look up to see your name. To see mine, though, you look down.'

And she did look down, feeling somehow confused and fluttery inside herself, to be in this man's presence.

'You sure you'll be all right?' he asked once more.

'Y-yes.'

'Good. Hope to see you later. I'm learning to use one of these things myself.' And he tapped the scabbard that he wore at his side. A tilt of his head as a notion hit him. 'Maybe we could practice together some time. Would you like that?'

She nodded, suddenly not trusting her voice.

'That would be great,' he said, beaming. 'But I have to hurry right now. See you later, Starr-girl. Or wait. Catch you later!' And he grinned at his own joke as he went on his way, walking backwards the first few steps as he waved good-bye to her.

Starr waved as well, stunned. A long time she stood there, watching him out of sight. Till a voice spoke behind her. 'What do you think?'

The Master. She turned back to him, feeling completely dazed. 'Who was that?' she asked.

'As he told you. He is Stone. He is one of the sons of my house.'

'Why have I never seen him before? In fact...' She was totally confused now. 'Why have I never seen anyone else here? Only you, and Mathilda, and she who walks the mountain.' She shook her head. 'Why have I never wondered this till now? Your house is huge. Of course it must be filled with people. And yet...'

He touched her cheek. 'You have been gifted, my love, with uncommon sight. You see the things I show you. And part of that is that you do not see many things until I show them to you. Yes, my house is filled with people. I have many sons and daughters in this house of mine. Until now, you needed the solitude of being with me alone. Now you will begin to see the others, and to take part in the life of this house. Come, dear.'

And as before, when he had first showed her Mathilda unveiled, so now he kissed her closed eyes - one, two - and breathed his breath upon her. She breathed in the sweet fragrance of him, and looked up.

'See now, my love,' said he. And turned her to look.

But at first she saw nothing. The house was as it had been, the grounds green and empty. And she started to say this to him.

But then there arose a shimmering before her eyes, as when the air shimmers and dances in the heat of summer. And in the shimmering she began to see as it were shadows. And the shadows became solid. Became real. Became people.

So many people! Again the sight staggered her.

How had she walked so many days amidst so many people, and never saw any of them till now?

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Monday, November 15, 2004

 

the child, sixteen


The Child hardly knew which way to look. In front of her, where the Master now stood looking perfectly normal again. Or behind her, at the unknown person who had caught her to keep her from falling.

The arms that had caught her now steadied her, setting her back upon her feet. 'Can you stand up? Do you need to sit down? Are you going to be all right?'

She turned to see who it was speaking to her. A man. Quite ordinary he was, with ruddy skin and shy eyes. 'You're all right?' he asked again.

'I - I think so,' she replied.

He smiled. 'Good. I've seen you around here for a few days now, practicing with your sword. My name is Stone.'

'Mine is Starr,' she replied.

'Starr!' he said. 'Now see, that's a pretty name. Not dull like Stone. You look up to see your name. To see mine, though, you look down.'

And she did look down, feeling somehow confused and fluttery inside herself, to be in this man's presence.

'You sure you'll be all right?' he asked once more.

'Y-yes.'

'Good. Hope to see you later. I'm learning to use one of these things myself.' And he tapped the scabbard that he wore at his side. A tilt of his head as a notion hit him. 'Maybe we could practice together some time. Would you like that?'

She nodded, suddenly not trusting her voice.

'That would be great,' he said, beaming. 'But I have to hurry right now. See you later, Starr-girl. Or wait. Catch you later!' And he grinned at his own joke as he went on his way, walking backwards the first few steps as he waved good-bye to her.

Starr waved as well, stunned. A long time she stood there, watching him out of sight. Till a voice spoke behind her. 'What do you think?'

The Master. She turned back to him, feeling completely dazed. 'Who was that?' she asked.

'As he told you. He is Stone. He is one of the sons of my house.'

'Why have I never seen him before? In fact...' She was totally confused now. 'Why have I never seen anyone else here? Only you, and Mathilda, and she who walks the mountain.' She shook her head. 'Why have I never wondered this till now? Your house is huge. Of course it must be filled with people. And yet...'

He touched her cheek. 'You have been gifted, my love, with uncommon sight. You see the things I show you. And part of that is that you do not see many things until I show them to you. Yes, my house is filled with people. I have many sons and daughters in this house of mine. Until now, you needed the solitude of being with me alone. Now you will begin to see the others, and to take part in the life of this house. Come, dear.'

And as before, when he had first showed her Mathilda unveiled, so now he kissed her closed eyes - one, two - and breathed his breath upon her. She breathed in the sweet fragrance of him, and looked up.

'See now, my love,' said he. And turned her to look.

But at first she saw nothing. The house was as it had been, the grounds green and empty. And she started to say this to him.

But then there arose a shimmering before her eyes, as when the air shimmers and dances in the heat of summer. And in the shimmering she began to see as it were shadows. And the shadows became solid. Became real. Became people.

So many people! Again the sight staggered her.

How had she walked so many days amidst so many people, and never saw any of them till now?

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

 

the child, fifteen


And so Starr began training in the use of the sword. Day after day the Master taught her to wield it, both in attack and defense. She practiced till the sweat made her hair cling damply to her forehead, till her hand was so cramped round the hilt she needed to use the other hand to pry her fingers loose. She dropped into bed exhausted at the end of the days, and woke again in the mornings to the knowledge that again today, she would work with the Master, learning his skills. Her love for him, her deep desire to please him and to not disappoint him, made the training seem light and delightsome.

One day, as he called for a break so that she might rest, as he massaged the spasms from her weary fingers, he looked at her and said, 'Ask.'

'You always know when I am full of questions,' she replied.

He smiled. 'Ask,' he said again.

'Why am I to learn to wield this sword?' she asked. 'I remember Mathilda telling me that I was not to defend myself. And then you said you would ever be with me. So why is it I need to know how to use this sword?'

His smile deepened. 'You ask wonderful questions, my love. No, you are not to defend yourself, for I shall do that, and you shall rest in my defense of you. The use of the sword is not to defend yourself, not to promote your own ways. But it is to defend others, to protect them from the wiles of the enemy. Not alone, for you will not be alone. I will, as I have promised, ever be with you even when you do not see me.'

He paused and added, 'When you use the sword, it will be me wielding the sword through you.'

'Oh. I...' She laughed a bit. 'I really do not understand that!'

'It is cooperation, my love. I could do it all, and my people do nothing. But I prefer for my people to work alongside me, to work with me as I work. You are learning the use of the sword, that you may go with me to my work, going to the enemy's fortress. You shall there aid me in rescuing others who are in that bondage. As you once were.'

'Oh!' The thought had never occurred to her. To go back...?

'Yes,' said the Master. 'You are one of my firstfruits, and after you shall come forth many more out of the same bondage. You shall be privileged to have a part in rescuing them.'

A privilege - then why did she feel scared?

'There is no need to fear, dear Starr,' he said. 'I will be with you. I will not be seen when we return to the fortress, but I will be with you. I will,' he added, 'be in you. It will be the strength of my arms that wields this sword of yours, through the weakness of your gentle frame. Do you understand?'

Again the bit of a laugh. 'No.'

A kind smile. 'Do they weary you, my Starr, these things which you do not understand?'

She paused. The truth, now. A sigh. 'Sometimes...' And she dropped her head, feeling a bit guilty. A bit stupid.

'Starr,' he said. Gently. Sweetly. 'Look on me. Look and see what I will show you now.'

She looked.

'Many times,' he said, 'have you asked me who I am. And each time I have given you an answer that revealed to you an aspect of me. Now will I show you another aspect of me, something you have not considered and have glimpsed only vaguely. Look on me, Starr, and you will see why it is that you cannot understand.'

And as she watched, he stepped back from her, spreading his hands, spreading his arms. Again he stepped back from her. Except... except...

Except, no. He was not stepping backwards. He was...

Her mind fought to accept what she was seeing. He was... expanding... becoming greater. Larger. Huger. Greater than the trees they stood under. Greater than the mountain they stood by.

Greater than the sky. Than the world. Than the universe.

Starr stood, staring, trembling. Reeling. Collapsing.

And arms caught her before she could hit the ground. 'Hey! What's wrong? What are you staring at? Are you all right?'

It was not the Master, returning now to the size of an ordinary man before her sight, who had caught her. Nor was it Mathilda's voice of many waters that fell upon her ear now. So...

Who was that?

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Thursday, November 11, 2004

 

the child, fourteen


Two days later, as the Child was strolling across the green lawn with the Master, he asked her gently, 'Starr, my dear, why do you never wear my gift?'

'Your - your gift?' Puzzlement bombarded her. What gift?

'Yes. The gift I left for you when I brought you here. The one Mathilda presented you with when you awakened.'

Starr gasped. 'The sword!'

'Yes, my love. The sword. Which you keep hidden between your mattress and the wall. Go and fetch it here, dear.'

Starr turned away to go to the house. And as she did, a huge weight of shame and anguish settled over her. She had disappointed the Master! She had hidden his gift to her. Surely he was displeased with her. Surely he was angry, she thought as she walked towards the house.

'Starr...'

Miserable, she turned again to face him.

'Little girl,' said he. 'Do you want me to forgive you?'

She couldn't speak for the lump in her throat. So she nodded.

'You need only ask me.' His voice was so gentle.

'Please...' she breathed. 'For-forgive me...' She was crying too hard now to say more.

'You are forgiven,' he responded. And opened his arms to her.

She pelted to him, burying her face in his chest, sobbing, sobbing...

When she could finally speak again, she looked up in his dear face right there above her. 'Forgive me,' she said again.

He tilted his head. 'I already did.'

'But I...'

'Disappointed me? Yes. But I have forgiven you.'

She shook her head, not quite believing it. 'That's it? It's that simple? I ask, and you forgive? You don't hold it over me, or make me work for it?'

'Make you jump through hoops as it were, to be restored to me? No. You don't have to earn my forgiveness. You can't earn it. You need only ask for it - and receive it - and then walk in it.'

'Walk in it?' she asked.

'Yes, dear. By not doing again the thing that displeased me.'

She hung her head again at the word 'displeased.' 'I never want to displease you. Ever.'

'That shows the reality of your heart beating after mine. It is your love for me that will protect you from doing what displeases me. In that way will you walk in my forgiveness. But...' And that word 'but' brought her attention sharply to his face. 'Be on guard against anything that would draw your heart away, to love it more than you love me. Whatever you love more than me is an idol, and it will destroy you.'

She searched her heart. 'There is nothing I love more than you,' she said.

'I know. But many things will crowd in to try to drown out that love. So be on guard. Also, fear will seek to paralyze you. So you must guard against that as well.'

'How?'

'By staying close to me, and putting your love for me first before everything else. I know that sounds selfish of me. It isn't. It is safe for you though. And...'

'Yes?'

He smiled on her. 'And do not let these things that you do not understand worry you. Simply trust me. And you will do well.'

She chuckled. 'Oh, you know me so well! Because I didn't quite understand that last part...'

'No worries. No fears. Only trust. Yes?'

She looked up into his face, that sweet dear kind face. 'Yes,' said she.

'Because,' he added, 'if you understood everything, you would not need to trust. Do you see?'

'Umm... No...' she said.

A sweet chuckle bubbled up out of him as he lightly kissed her on the forehead. 'My little girl,' he said. 'You please me. Now go and fetch here the sword, my love.'

She went, this time in lightness as if her feet were barely skimming the ground. Into the house, into her chamber, took up the sword, back out into the sunshine, and quickly to his side again. 'Here it is, my Beloved,' said she.

He took it from her and fastened it about her waist. 'This is my gift to you, dear Starr. I want you to wear it. Wear it always. For me.'

'I will,' she promised.

'My good girl. Now,' he said, taking her hand and beginning to walk, 'tell me why you have not been wearing it, or using it.'

'I didn't know how to use it,' she replied, her eyes cast down.

'Is that your whole reason?'

Ah, he knew her! He knew there was more reason to it than that.

'N-no. I - I was...' Tears began to spill from her eyes. '...afraid...'

'You don't have to be afraid, love,' said he. 'Not of my gifts to you. I do not give you bad gifts, or gifts that would harm you. This sword I gave to you is for your protection. It will not harm you.'

'I was scared to draw it,' she whispered, confessing. 'I was scared I would cut my hand on it.'

'Draw it now,' said he. They stopped walking, and he took her hands, placing the one on the hilt and the other on the scabbard, safely positioning them where the sword would not touch either hand as she drew it forth. Slowly, carefully, she pulled the sword from its sheath. And gasped.

'It's beautiful!' she cried. And it was, with fine silvered filagree running the length of the flashing blade.

He chuckled. 'Did you think it would not be?'

'But the scabbard was so plain...'

'Much that I have made, I hide within plain things, so that only those who are truly searching for the things of me will find them.' And at the blank look she gave, he said again, 'Do not worry about the things you do not understand. Now. Feel the edge.'

She quailed. 'But it will cut me!' she cried.

'Starr. Love. Will I ask thee to do a thing that will harm thee? Do you not know me better than that?'

Shame colored her cheeks. 'I'm sorry,' she breathed.

'And thou art forgiven. Do what I asked now, dearheart.'

Trembling, she put forth her hand and gingerly touched the edge. And blinked in surprise. 'It's dull!'

'It has never been sharpened. You will do that.'

She gazed up at him and gave a hiccup of a laugh. 'All - all this time - I was afraid of a sword - that wasn't even sharp?'

He nodded. 'Yes, dear. You were.'

She leaned against him, and he drew her close. 'I feel so foolish...' said she.

'You are learning though, dear. It is when one refuses to learn that one becomes a fool. Now. Shall we begin your training with the sword?'

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

 

the child, part 1, chapter 4 - ‘return to the mountain of spices’


And so began the sweetest days of the Child's life. Days spent in the company of the Master, her Beloved. Days spent walking together, her small hand in his, her eyes feasting on his dear face - as he delighted in her delight in him. His voice filling both her ears and her hungry heart as he spoke songs of love into her.

Mornings and noons, evenings and under the stars they spent together, as the Child's love of her Beloved grew and flourished, filling and renewing her, giving her wings as the eagles as it were. For her heart soared in delight of him. His face was all she saw, or wanted to see.

And on a certain day, as they sat together, his arm round her waist, her eyes sparkling as they lingered on his dear face, he leapt of a sudden to his feet with a shout and a laugh. Taking both her hands, he called to her, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.'

She giggled as he pulled her to her feet. 'The voice of the turtle?' she asked.

'Of the turtledove, my precious dove,' he declaimed. 'The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Come away!'

She laughed, his poetry filling her mouth. 'Draw me, I will run after thee.'

His smile was contagious. 'O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs,' said he, 'let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.'

How lovely her blushes! 'My beloved is mine, and I am his,' she replied breathlessly. 'He feedeth among the lilies.'

'Among the lilies,' he agreed. 'Starr, mine own, my beloved trusting girl.' His hand caressed her sweetly uplifted face. He bent over her, to join his smile to hers.

'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,' she whispered as she stretched up to meet him, 'for thy love is better than wine.'

He chuckled as he did as she requested.

'Sweet wife,' said he, when the kiss was accomplished. Sighing, peace-filled, she rested her cheek against his chest, her ear over his beating living heart. 'Beloved husband,' said she.

For a long moment they neither moved nor spoke. And then he lifted his eyes and said, 'Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. Wilt thou come with me, my sister, my spouse? To the orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Yes, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. Come, my love, to the mountain of spices...'

He stepped out, his hand drawing her after him. But she hesitated.

'Starr?'

'I... I went upon the mountain once, with Mathilda. And there was a woman there. She...'

Compassion made his features all the more sweet. 'Yes, I know, my love. She greeted you with anger and with hatred. As she does all those of my house. Do not fear her, sweet Child. I don't.'

'But you're...' she began, about to say that he was the owner of the mountain. When the very thing she was about to say comforted her. Of course he was the owner! And she his promised bride. Why then should she fear? Squeezing his hand, she laughed and said once more, 'Draw me, I will run after thee.'

'My good girl. My trusting girl. I will not lead thee in a way thou shouldst not go. Come.'

'My Beloved, I come,' said she.

~~~~~~~


Eager as a young boy, the Master her Beloved led the way to the path up the mountain, the Child giggling and giddy as she followed him. Up, up they climbed, amidst the myrrh and the pomegranates, the cinnamon and spikenard. How green...! How lush...!

The Master tucked Starr gently under his arm, against his side, the easier to watch her face and enjoy her reactions. For it was hard to tell which was greater - her joy in the rich verdant beauty all about her, or his joy in getting to share in hers.

Except... She turned her face up towards his. 'I don't understand,' said she.

'Tell me what you do not understand.'

'This mountain. I was here with Mathilda not very long ago. And there was hardly anything growing. Now, the mountain is overflowing with richness. How did that happen?'

Together they stopped walking as she gazed upwards into his face and he smiled fondly on hers. 'I am come,' he said simply.

She blinked. 'You mean - because you are here, the mountain blooms?'

'I am the Gardener, and this is my garden,' said he.

'But... I don't understand. These plants revived, because you are here?' A hush fell over her, as she realized that was indeed so. 'Who...' she whispered in awe. 'Who are you?'

For answer, he said, 'Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.'

A breeze stirred about Starr's hair, caressing the locks of her head, as gently the wind picked up, coming out of both north and south at once. The trees and bushes about them tossed and gamboled, spilling forth their fragrances, filling the air nearly to the point of intoxication.

And then the winds subsided. The Master stood in the midst, calm and serene, gazing down on Starr.

Amazement shone from her features. 'How did you do that?'

Merriment sparkled from his eyes. 'Yes,' said he, 'What manner of man is this, that even the wind obeys him?'

'Oh!' said she. 'I've heard that somewhere before.'

'Indeed you have,' he agreed.

'If only I could remember...' And she sighed.

'In its own proper time, you will remember much. But come.' And on they walked, under a canopy of trees, breathtaking in splendor.

Soon the Master led his Starr to a mossy place where he bid her sit and rest while he gathered flowers to weave into a garland for her hair. The breeze was soft now, the sunlight dappling the ground about her into intricate, ever-changing patterns as she rested and waited.

The crunch of a footstep on the path. Starr turned up her eyes to see.

To see a face of anger bearing down on her. The enemy's daughter.

~~~~~~~


Starr froze. She could only sit where she was and watch as the daughter of the enemy descended upon her. The woman moved so swiftly, her feet barely seemed to touch the ground.

In an instant that hate-filled face was inches from the Child's. 'What are you doing here, weakling?' the woman hissed. 'Did I not tell you never to come here again?'

Mutely, Starr nodded.

'Then why are you here? Mathilda is a fool for bringing you here again. Mathilda!' The woman straightened and glared about, searching. 'Mathilda!' she demanded.

Finding her voice, though it had gone quite hoarse, Starr stammered out, 'Mathilda's not here.'

'She's not?' Slowly the woman turned again to stare at the Child. 'You're here alone?'

The unholy light suddenly gleaming from the woman's eyes so frightened the Child that she made no answer. The sharp tip of the woman's tongue flicked out, licking her lips. There was something so feral, so hungry-looking about the gesture, that Starr truly wondered if the woman had in mind to eat her.

And how red the woman's eyes were!

'Alone,' she whispered, sounding for all the world like a very large cat purring. 'How sweet. The little weakling comes here on the mountain again, alone and unprotected, and quite without permission.' She smiled a smile both hideous and fascinating as she sidled a bit closer again.

'I had permission,' Starr whispered, edging backwards.

'Oh, I'm sure!' the woman purred. 'Mathilda hasn't the authority to grant you permission, you know. That isn't good enough.' She reached a hand out, reaching to grasp the Child's wrist.

Something Mathilda had told her bubbled up in Starr's mind. 'You don't dare touch me,' she said.

'Oh, don't I?' the woman laughed. 'Who told you that one? Of course I can touch you!' But, Starr noticed, the woman's hand had arrested in mid-air, inches away, no longer drawing closer.

'Little fool,' the enemy's daughter hissed, those red eyes and that sharply pointed tongue glittering, drawing the Child's attention. 'You never should have come here again. Not alone. This is my place. I say who goes here. And who doesn't.'

That was not true, and Starr knew it. But it was hard, while face-to-face with that face, to remember what was true and what wasn't. 'This isn't your place,' Starr managed to say.

'It isn't? It isn't? And who told you that?' The hand was inching closer again.

A distant movement caught the Child's eye. There, beyond this vicious woman, there was the Master! Leaping down from the mountain heights, coming to her rescue! Leaping like - like ...

Starr blinked. For a moment, just for a moment, instead of the familiar figure of her Beloved, she thought she saw - yes, a lion!

The sight of him filled her with courage and strength. Not her own courage and strength, she knew, but his. Straightening, she faced the enemy. Looked in those red and hungry eyes. Felt the courage drain away again...

Looked again to the Master, who was leaping and spinning as he came closer and closer. Starr's heart leapt as well, for she realized suddenly what he was doing. He was dancing. Dancing! Yes, she saw it now. She need not stand here and talk with the enemy's daughter. She need only go to him who loved her, to join with him, joining into his dance of joy.

Laughing, without another glance at the woman who hated her, Starr slipped past her, saying, 'My Beloved brought me here. This place is his. If you have a problem with me being here, take it up with him.'

The woman's hand, like a claw, stretched to clutch at Starr as she passed. But in that instant the Master was there, gathering the Child in his arms, whirling her up into a glad embrace. Gently he set her again on her feet. Smiling, he set upon her head the garland of flowers he had gathered for her and lovingly woven with his own two hands.

'You have something to say, Jessie?' he said to the woman, his eyes not on her but on Starr.

'She's trespassing.'

'She is? If she is, I am.' He turned then to face that woman, his voice mild, but his eyes the eyes of the lion. 'But if I cannot trespass on the mountain that is my own - who then is trespassing here?'

'She is weak,' the woman went on, trying another tactic. 'She does not belong here. This place is for the strong, not for her.'

'Her place is here at my side,' the Master replied, smiling down on Starr. 'Will you presume to tell me whom I may love, and whom I may not?'

'I presume nothing...' the woman began.

'Jezebel,' the Master interrupted her. 'You lie and shade the truth and seek to confuse - but the truth is that this mountain is mine, and this Child is mine, and she is free in me to go wherever I want her to go. You seek to upset and confuse and steal away the place I have for my own. But if you truly want to live here and enjoy this mountain and my garden - you need only lay down your own ways and come into love with me. As Starr has done.'

The red eyes blazed. 'There is nothing wrong with my own ways! I walk this mountain as I please! It is mine!'

The Master shook his head. 'Oh, Jessie! Do you believe your lies so strongly that you think to confuse me with them?'

'I am strong! She is weak!'

'You are willful and stubborn. She is willing and obedient.'

'I...'

'You have no part in me, Jessie. Nor shall you until you surrender yourself totally and stop clinging to your lies and half-truths.'

'Lies? Lies? How dare you?' she began. But the Master merely looked at her. And such a look! Not anger but sorrow. And such a deep deep profound haunting sorrow.

For her part, the woman's eyes grew larger in her face. Her jaw clenched as her skin turned a horrid livid color. 'Don't you pity me!' she hissed suddenly. 'I am strong! I need no one's pity!'

And she turned and fled from before his face.

The Master's arm slipped round the Child's waist. 'Sweet daughter,' said he. 'You did well.'

'I did?'

'Yes. You did not accept her lies, but spoke the truth in response. You spoke my words to her. I am pleased.'

Starr blushed and cast down her eyes.

'Ah, so lovely...' said the Master, pleased with her modest response. 'Now, precious one,' he added. 'Tell me what you learned.'

Oh! She looked up into his face again, thinking it over, sorting it all out. 'Well... I learned that when I look to you, your strength comes into me. But when I looked at her, that strength drained away. So I need to not look at her, but at you.'

'Yes. Anything more?'

Again she thought, reviewing the events in her head. 'That she can try to frighten me, but she really couldn't touch me.'

'She was hoping you would not know that. You could have allowed her to touch you, if you hadn't known that she couldn't.'

'She came very close. And you were so far away...'

'Not really. It only seemed I was far. But I am ever at your side, even when you do not see me.'

'You are?'

'Oh yes. Never fear being alone, for you never shall be alone. Not anymore; not since you became mine.'

'I don't understand.'

'You don't have to understand. You need only trust. I will do the rest, both in you and through you. Trust is your protection, dear Starr. That is why she questioned the truth you spoke - a trick she learned from her father.'

'Her father the enemy,' said Starr.

'Yes. He is a liar, and the father of lies. He ever tries to take my words, which are truth, and twist them. And sow doubt. Where he can get my people to doubt my truth, there he can strike at them, to wound them. To steal, and kill, and destroy.'

Starr shuddered, as if a cloud had come across the face of the sun.

The Master's arm about her drew her still closer, enfolding her in his loving protection. 'You see that you must never doubt me, my love. Always look to me and draw strength, even when you do not see me with your eyes. Your trust in me is your strength; your willing obedience to me is your strength; your joy in our love together is your strength. The more fully given to me you are, the more the enemy will fear you. He will strike at you because of that fear. But keep your eyes on me and neither fear him nor listen to him, and he will have to flee from you. He will put up a good show of it first, claiming he does not fear you. But because of me in you, here in your heart - Starr, he will fear and he will flee. Trust me.'

'Always will I trust thee,' she promised, her face shining.

But promises made in the light of day up on the mountain top are not always so easy to keep when the dark closes in, in the depths of the valley.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

 

the child, thirteen


Starr froze. She could only sit where she was and watch as the daughter of the enemy descended upon her. The woman moved so swiftly, her feet barely seemed to touch the ground.

In an instant that hate-filled face was inches from the Child's. 'What are you doing here, weakling?' the woman hissed. 'Did I not tell you never to come here again?'

Mutely, Starr nodded.

'Then why are you here? Mathilda is a fool for bringing you here again. Mathilda!' The woman straightened and glared about, searching. 'Mathilda!' she demanded.

Finding her voice, though it had gone quite hoarse, Starr stammered out, 'Mathilda's not here.'

'She's not?' Slowly the woman turned again to stare at the Child. 'You're here alone?'

The unholy light suddenly gleaming from the woman's eyes so frightened the Child that she made no answer. The sharp tip of the woman's tongue flicked out, licking her lips. There was something so feral, so hungry-looking about the gesture, that Starr truly wondered if the woman had in mind to eat her.

And how red the woman's eyes were!

'Alone,' she whispered, sounding for all the world like a very large cat purring. 'How sweet. The little weakling comes here on the mountain again, alone and unprotected, and quite without permission.' She smiled a smile both hideous and fascinating as she sidled a bit closer again.

'I had permission,' Starr whispered, edging backwards.

'Oh, I'm sure!' the woman purred. 'Mathilda hasn't the authority to grant you permission, you know. That isn't good enough.' She reached a hand out, reaching to grasp the Child's wrist.

Something Mathilda had told her bubbled up in Starr's mind. 'You don't dare touch me,' she said.

'Oh, don't I?' the woman laughed. 'Who told you that one? Of course I can touch you!' But, Starr noticed, the woman's hand had arrested in mid-air, inches away, no longer drawing closer.

'Little fool,' the enemy's daughter hissed, those red eyes and that sharply pointed tongue glittering, drawing the Child's attention. 'You never should have come here again. Not alone. This is my place. I say who goes here. And who doesn't.'

That was not true, and Starr knew it. But it was hard, while face-to-face with that face, to remember what was true and what wasn't. 'This isn't your place,' Starr managed to say.

'It isn't? It isn't? And who told you that?' The hand was inching closer again.

A distant movement caught the Child's eye. There, beyond this vicious woman, there was the Master! Leaping down from the mountain heights, coming to her rescue! Leaping like - like ...

Starr blinked. For a moment, just for a moment, instead of the familiar figure of her Beloved, she thought she saw - yes, a lion!

The sight of him filled her with courage and strength. Not her own courage and strength, she knew, but his. Straightening, she faced the enemy. Looked in those red and hungry eyes. Felt the courage drain away again...

Looked again to the Master, who was leaping and spinning as he came closer and closer. Starr's heart leapt as well, for she realized suddenly what he was doing. He was dancing. Dancing! Yes, she saw it now. She need not stand here and talk with the enemy's daughter. She need only go to him who loved her, to join with him, joining into his dance of joy.

Laughing, without another glance at the woman who hated her, Starr slipped past her, saying, 'My Beloved brought me here. This place is his. If you have a problem with me being here, take it up with him.'

The woman's hand, like a claw, stretched to clutch at Starr as she passed. But in that instant the Master was there, gathering the Child in his arms, whirling her up into a glad embrace. Gently he set her again on her feet. Smiling, he set upon her head the garland of flowers he had gathered for her and lovingly woven with his own two hands.

'You have something to say, Jessie?' he said to the woman, his eyes not on her but on Starr.

'She's trespassing.'

'She is? If she is, I am.' He turned then to face that woman, his voice mild, but his eyes the eyes of the lion. 'But if I cannot trespass on the mountain that is my own - who then is trespassing here?'

'She is weak,' the woman went on, trying another tactic. 'She does not belong here. This place is for the strong, not for her.'

'Her place is here at my side,' the Master replied, smiling down on Starr. 'Will you presume to tell me whom I may love, and whom I may not?'

'I presume nothing...' the woman began.

'Jezebel,' the Master interrupted her. 'You lie and shade the truth and seek to confuse - but the truth is that this mountain is mine, and this Child is mine, and she is free in me to go wherever I want her to go. You seek to upset and confuse and steal away the place I have for my own. But if you truly want to live here and enjoy this mountain and my garden - you need only lay down your own ways and come into love with me. As Starr has done.'

The red eyes blazed. 'There is nothing wrong with my own ways! I walk this mountain as I please! It is mine!'

The Master shook his head. 'Oh, Jessie! Do you believe your lies so strongly that you think to confuse me with them?'

'I am strong! She is weak!'

'You are willful and stubborn. She is willing and obedient.'

'I...'

'You have no part in me, Jessie. Nor shall you until you surrender yourself totally and stop clinging to your lies and half-truths.'

'Lies? Lies? How dare you?' she began. But the Master merely looked at her. And such a look! Not anger but sorrow. And such a deep deep profound haunting sorrow.

For her part, the woman's eyes grew larger in her face. Her jaw clenched as her skin turned a horrid livid color. 'Don't you pity me!' she hissed suddenly. 'I am strong! I need no one's pity!'

And she turned and fled from before his face.

The Master's arm slipped round the Child's waist. 'Sweet daughter,' said he. 'You did well.'

'I did?'

'Yes. You did not accept her lies, but spoke the truth in response. You spoke my words to her. I am pleased.'

Starr blushed and cast down her eyes.

'Ah, so lovely...' said the Master, pleased with her modest response. 'Now, precious one,' he added. 'Tell me what you learned.'

Oh! She looked up into his face again, thinking it over, sorting it all out. 'Well... I learned that when I look to you, your strength comes into me. But when I looked at her, that strength drained away. So I need to not look at her, but at you.'

'Yes. Anything more?'

Again she thought, reviewing the events in her head. 'That she can try to frighten me, but she really couldn't touch me.'

'She was hoping you would not know that. You could have allowed her to touch you, if you hadn't known that she couldn't.'

'She came very close. And you were so far away...'

'Not really. It only seemed I was far. But I am ever at your side, even when you do not see me.'

'You are?'

'Oh yes. Never fear being alone, for you never shall be alone. Not anymore; not since you became mine.'

'I don't understand.'

'You don't have to understand. You need only trust. I will do the rest, both in you and through you. Trust is your protection, dear Starr. That is why she questioned the truth you spoke - a trick she learned from her father.'

'Her father the enemy,' said Starr.

'Yes. He is a liar, and the father of lies. He ever tries to take my words, which are truth, and twist them. And sow doubt. Where he can get my people to doubt my truth, there he can strike at them, to wound them. To steal, and kill, and destroy.'

Starr shuddered, as if a cloud had come across the face of the sun.

The Master's arm about her drew her still closer, enfolding her in his loving protection. 'You see that you must never doubt me, my love. Always look to me and draw strength, even when you do not see me with your eyes. Your trust in me is your strength; your willing obedience to me is your strength; your joy in our love together is your strength. The more fully given to me you are, the more the enemy will fear you. He will strike at you because of that fear. But keep your eyes on me and neither fear him nor listen to him, and he will have to flee from you. He will put up a good show of it first, claiming he does not fear you. But because of me in you, here in your heart - Starr, he will fear and he will flee. Trust me.'

'Always will I trust thee,' she promised, her face shining.

But promises made in the light of day up on the mountain top are not always so easy to keep when the dark closes in, in the depths of the valley.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Monday, November 08, 2004

 

storyblogging carnival V


Storyblogging Carnival V is now up at Back of the Envelope. I haven't had time to read all the entries yet - been trying to add a Table of Contents at the top of the page here. (So if you don't see a ToC yet - I'm still working on it.) I did make a point, though, to read this story by Donald Crankshaw (the current host). It is part three of his as-yet untitled story. And I'm looking forward tremendously to more, more, more!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

 

the child, twelve


Eager as a young boy, the Master her Beloved led the way to the path up the mountain, the Child giggling and giddy as she followed him. Up, up they climbed, amidst the myrrh and the pomegranates, the cinnamon and spikenard. How green...! How lush...!

The Master tucked Starr gently under his arm, against his side, the easier to watch her face and enjoy her reactions. For it was hard to tell which was greater - her joy in the rich verdant beauty all about her, or his joy in getting to share in hers.

Except... She turned her face up towards his. 'I don't understand,' said she.

'Tell me what you do not understand.'

'This mountain. I was here with Mathilda not very long ago. And there was hardly anything growing. Now, the mountain is overflowing with richness. How did that happen?'

Together they stopped walking as she gazed upwards into his face and he smiled fondly on hers. 'I am come,' he said simply.

She blinked. 'You mean - because you are here, the mountain blooms?'

'I am the Gardener, and this is my garden,' said he.

'But... I don't understand. These plants revived, because you are here?' A hush fell over her, as she realized that was indeed so. 'Who...' she whispered in awe. 'Who are you?'

For answer, he said, 'Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.'

A breeze stirred about Starr's hair, caressing the locks of her head, as gently the wind picked up, coming out of both north and south at once. The trees and bushes about them tossed and gamboled, spilling forth their fragrances, filling the air nearly to the point of intoxication.

And then the winds subsided. The Master stood in the midst, calm and serene, gazing down on Starr.

Amazement shone from her features. 'How did you do that?'

Merriment sparkled from his eyes. 'Yes,' said he, 'What manner of man is this, that even the wind obeys him?'

'Oh!' said she. 'I've heard that somewhere before.'

'Indeed you have,' he agreed.

'If only I could remember...' And she sighed.

'In its own proper time, you will remember much. But come.' And on they walked, under a canopy of trees, breathtaking in splendor.

Soon the Master led his Starr to a mossy place where he bid her sit and rest while he gathered flowers to weave into a garland for her hair. The breeze was soft now, the sunlight dappling the ground about her into intricate, ever-changing patterns as she rested and waited.

The crunch of a footstep on the path. Starr turned up her eyes to see.

To see a face of anger bearing down on her. The enemy's daughter.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

 

the child, eleven


And so began the sweetest days of the Child's life. Days spent in the company of the Master, her Beloved. Days spent walking together, her small hand in his, her eyes feasting on his dear face - as he delighted in her delight in him. His voice filling both her ears and her hungry heart as he spoke songs of love into her.

Mornings and noons, evenings and under the stars they spent together, as the Child's love of her Beloved grew and flourished, filling and renewing her, giving her wings as the eagles as it were. For her heart soared in delight of him. His face was all she saw, or wanted to see.

And on a certain day, as they sat together, his arm round her waist, her eyes sparkling as they lingered on his dear face, he leapt of a sudden to his feet with a shout and a laugh. Taking both her hands, he called to her, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.'

She giggled as he pulled her to her feet. 'The voice of the turtle?' she asked.

'Of the turtledove, my precious dove,' he declaimed. 'The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Come away!'

She laughed, his poetry filling her mouth. 'Draw me, I will run after thee.'

His smile was contagious. 'O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs,' said he, 'let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.'

How lovely her blushes! 'My beloved is mine, and I am his,' she replied breathlessly. 'He feedeth among the lilies.'

'Among the lilies,' he agreed. 'Starr, mine own, my beloved trusting girl.' His hand caressed her sweetly uplifted face. He bent over her, to join his smile to hers.

'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,' she whispered as she stretched up to meet him, 'for thy love is better than wine.'

He chuckled as he did as she requested.

'Sweet wife,' said he, when the kiss was accomplished. Sighing, peace-filled, she rested her cheek against his chest, her ear over his beating living heart. 'Beloved husband,' said she.

For a long moment they neither moved nor spoke. And then he lifted his eyes and said, 'Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. Wilt thou come with me, my sister, my spouse? To the orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Yes, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. Come, my love, to the mountain of spices...'

He stepped out, his hand drawing her after him. But she hesitated.

'Starr?'

'I... I went upon the mountain once, with Mathilda. And there was a woman there. She...'

Compassion made his features all the more sweet. 'Yes, I know, my love. She greeted you with anger and with hatred. As she does all those of my house. Do not fear her, sweet Child. I don't.'

'But you're...' she began, about to say that he was the owner of the mountain. When the very thing she was about to say comforted her. Of course he was the owner! And she his promised bride. Why then should she fear? Squeezing his hand, she laughed and said once more, 'Draw me, I will run after thee.'

'My good girl. My trusting girl. I will not lead thee in a way thou shouldst not go. Come.'

'My Beloved, I come,' said she.

~first~ ~previous~ ~next~

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