Monday, January 17, 2005

 

the child, thirty-one


They all knew, everyone who lived in that house, that they were there for a time and a purpose. And that the time was the same as the purpose: to train and make ready to be sent out to do the work the Master had in mind for them.

So why did it always seem to come as a surprise to be sent out?

They were all in the dining hall, sharing breakfast, when Stone suddenly said, 'What is he doing?'

Starr hastily swallowed the bite of food in her mouth. 'Who?' she said, turning to look.

Stone pointed with a nod of his head. 'Josh. The sword master.'

Oh! Starr swiveled in her chair to see. Yes, there was the Master himself, walking among his people, pausing here and there to say a quiet word to this one or that one. And as he moved on from speaking, each one he had spoken to immediately rose up from table and followed after him.

One of those, Starr saw, was Forest, the young man whose training she had interrupted a few weeks before. And now, as she and Stone watched, they saw the Master stop at the table where Lucy sat with her friends.

Lucy's fingers flew up to cover her mouth. And something that looked to Starr like it might be tears sprang up and glistened in the woman's eyes. She scraped back her chair and stood.

'That's your friend,' Stone commented.

Instead of moving on, the Master turned and spoke again. And now two men stood as well. Starr recognized them; they were the men she had thought might be Michael that evening so long ago.

And now the Master moved on. He was passing by tables, smiling but shaking his head as those he was passing began to realize what was happening, and began to ask the sword master if they too were being chosen out at this time.

No. He shook his head no. Again and again as he dodged among the tables. Coming closer. Closer.

Starr found she was holding her breath, And Stone had gone completely pale.

For here he came, straight to the table the pair of them shared. Stopped. Stood there. Spoke:

'Stone. Rise and follow; the Master has need of you,' said the man he knew only as Josh the sword master. Turning, even as Stone got to his feet, the man she knew as the Master himself, her Beloved, said also to her, 'Starr. Rise and follow; the Master hath need of thee.'

Her hand flew to cover her mouth, and she knew her eyes were glistening with tears even as Lucy's were. She too rose, as Josh turned now and led the little group from the dining hall.

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