Friday, March 25, 2005

 

the child, forty-four


'Yes.'

'Why?' she asked.

'Why circles? Why walking round and round this mountain?'

'Yes.'

Maccabees looked her now in the eye. 'You yourself already know the answer,' said he. 'This group is not ready.'

Not ready. James and Forest arguing flashed into her mind. Lucy and Linda's squabbles. Her own anger - yes, anger - with Stone. All these things. And more besides, things that she had not seen. Yes. Maccabees was right. This group was not ready.

'How long?'

He stood, took her hand, walked on. 'Until they are ready,' he said.

'But how long will that take?'

He all but laughed. 'The group will decide that.'

On they walked through the silent woods. 'But...' she said slowly, 'what if the food runs out?'

'It will not,' he replied confidently.

'You're sure?'

'Did not the Master say it? All you will need, will be provided you. His word stands. He has provided, and that provision will not run short for this journey.'

Again they walked on, in silence. At last, Maccabees added, 'It is not good, Starr, for you to be angry with Stone.'

She nodded miserably. 'I know. But... we were so happy before. We were in love! And now... Oh, Maccabees! I could almost wish it was you I was supposed to be in love with, instead of him. At least you seem to like being around me!'

He said nothing, waiting till she looked at him. Then he answered gently, 'You know, little one, that I am not one who can marry.'

Yes. She knew. But it didn't make her a bit less miserable.

They walked on, her hand in his. Round the camp, keeping the watch. Round the camp again.

'Hi, Mac,' came a voice through the darkness. 'I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd go ahead and take over the watch and let you go rest. Didn't figure you would mind. I left a note for James, to let him know I was swapping watches with him.'

Starr froze. Guiltily, she realized she was still hand-in-hand with the cherub. She dropped Maccabees' hand quickly and hid her hands behind herself.

For the voice, and now the figure looming up from the night, from the direction of the camp -

Was Stone.

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