Tuesday, March 15, 2005
the child, forty-one
The rain poured down. She stood there, stunned, the closed tent door before her face, her stomach feeling like it had just been sucker-punched. What had happened?
Stone had said for her to go to the women's tent and get out of the rain. Starr did neither. Gasping with tears, she instead spun away and ran off through the woods, blindly, till she came on a fallen tree trunk. She threw herself down on it, crying, choking, nearly sick with the shock of it all. She sat there a long time, huddled within herself, barely able to think.
The rain rained down.
What had happened?
Slowly, she began to remember the Master's warnings that this would happen - that she would feel as if her heart was being torn in two. 'But what changed?' she asked the pouring rain. 'Why did he do this?'
'You must ask him that.'
And suddenly, though the rain continued all around her, it no longer fell upon her. She looked up, puzzled...
And saw a great white wing poised over her head, shielding her from the rain. Her eyes trailed over the wing, following it back to the shoulder it was attached to, and then to the face - 'Maccabees!' said she.
His face was calm, unperturbed by the hard and chilly downpour. 'He told you to go back to the women's tent,' he said. And now the many-voiced aspect of his words was plainly heard.
'You are one of the cherubim. Like Mathilda. You, and Malachi, and Morgenstern. I thought you were.'
He gave a tiny smile. 'Yes. We saw you, that first day, trying to decide who and what we are. You have told no one your suspicions?'
'No. What point is there, to say there are angels among us? No one else ever notices.'
'Some notice. You are not the only one with such sight. But very few have that gift. Please - continue to say nothing.'
'Because people begin to act differently when they know there are angels about. Meaning, they begin to put on an act. This company must learn to walk in reality, in honesty. As well as in unity.' He looked away, off through the surrounding trees. 'Only then,' he added, 'will they be prepared to take on the enemy. So long as there are factions and hidden realities - such things the enemy can and will exploit.'
Silence then for a bit between them. She sat on the log, and he stood by her, sheltering her still from the storm.
At last, he said, 'You should go back now. As Stone told you to.'
She got up, and he took her hand, his wing still protectively over her head. As he led her through the woods back towards the tents, she realized how reckless she had been, running off like that. She would have never found the camp again on her own.
'You must ask him,' he said again, as they came into the circle of the camp. 'Only he can tell you what has happened. Ask, and keep silence once you have asked, that he may tell you all.'
'Thank you,' she said meekly, as he brought her right to the door of the women's tent.
'You are welcome,' Maccabees replied. And, as a flash of lightning sizzled across the rain-soaked sky above them, he turned away to return to his tent, while she opened the flap and entered her own.
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