Monday, March 28, 2005

 

the child, forty-five


He stopped, hesitated, then came closer. 'Starr?'

'Good, good evening, Stone,' she whispered.

His eyes were bouncing back and forth between her and Maccabees. It wasn't hard to guess what he was thinking.

'Good evening,' said Maccabees. 'Thank you, Stone. I hope you will be able to sleep after your watch. I will go now.' And he walked towards the camp.

And stopped, Starr noticed, close enough to keep an eye on what would transpire between her and Stone. If Stone noticed that the angel had not gone all the way back to the camp, he gave no sign of it. He just stood there, looking at Starr, his eyes moving restlessly from her face to the ground to her face to the sky...

'Mac's not married, is he?' Stone asked at last.

'...No...' she answered slowly. Nor could he marry, she knew. But Maccabees had asked her to not reveal that he was an angel, so she didn't say the rest of what she was thinking.

Stone was silent for a very long time.

'Do you want me to go?' Starr ventured at last.

'Yes - no! Starr...'

She waited, wondering.

'Starr...' His face twisted, miserable. 'Look... If you'd... rather be with Mac than with me... I can understand that.'

She stared at him. Rather...! But she hadn't been with Stone in ages! He had thrust her away. How...?

She said nothing. There was nothing she could think of to say, that wouldn't just make things worse.

'...I need to walk, do this watch...' he added. 'So I need to go.'

She nodded.

'You get right to bed?' said he.

Another nod. She held the tears in till she was far enough away from him that he wouldn't hear her.

Maccabees met her, escorted her back to the camp.

'He thinks I'm interested in you now!' she whispered.

'I am sorry,' the cherub replied.

She shook her head, mopping the tears off her face before she entered her tent lest anyone within see that she'd been crying. That was all she needed, for one of them to start asking awkward questions!

Could it possibly, she wondered, get any worse?

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