Thursday, August 11, 2005

 

the child, eighty-nine


Stone had a restless night. If his eyes were closed more often than open that whole long night, it would have surprised him very much. He wanted to sleep, of course, since his watch with Mac would be the last one before dawn this time, and he didn't much care to be sleepwalking through it. But sleep fled him.

He stared into the darkness of the tent, listening vaguely to Forest's light snoring. James and Forest were no longer quarreling. And today Lucy had set things right with Starr and with Linda.

So that left him. As far as he could see, among this whole group, he was the last major obstacle. The last flaw in the unity: him, and his inability to control his mind.

And even now, thoughts were flinging about through his head. He groaned and clutched at his ears - as if that would block anything out! He felt like there was a, a dark something, attached to his back, whispering constantly into his brain, jerking him around with its flow of thought-scattering nonsense.

'Get out of my head!' he muttered.

And thought he heard a chuckle in reply.

Well! That made his eyes spring open wide. And - was that the faintest whiff of - man! - some truly obnoxious smell lingering near him?

'Master,' he breathed.

Again the chuckle. Like the Master would care to hear from him? Mean-hearted. Cold-blooded. Abuser of Starr's sweet affection for him. There was his own voice again, echoing in his memory, snapping out ugly words at her till she fled. Fled to the wolves!

But then the Master healed her. And...

And healed me.

But what was the healing?

Healing! For him? How his mind scoffed. As if he would ever be healed!

He felt and saw again the touch of the Master's hand, laid over his heart.

The Master loves me.

Loves you!

And it dawned on him: This was the enemy! These whispers. This scorning voice. This was the wolf of Starr's vision, the one that was still circling him, still looking to crush his throat with its slavering jaws. Still out to kill him.

'The Master loves me.' He said it aloud this time, into the surrounding darkness. He expected to hear back another scoffing remark. But what he heard instead was:

Surrender.

His eyes snapped open again. Surrender. That was the same word he had heard inside the other day, just before he had given in to frustration and snarled at Starr.

Surrender. He knew what it meant. Giving up. Giving up on any of his own efforts, in his own strength. Giving up to the Master, to let him do it all. To let the Master work, while he simply loved and trusted. Like a child.

Like Starr.

Really, though, he didn't know how to love and trust like a child. He had never had the chance to just be a child. Childhood had been stolen from him; he had been flung into the deep part of the dungeons at an early age, where love and trust were as foreign as the far side of the moon.

All this he remembered far too well. Sometimes he envied Starr. To have no memories of the dungeons, as she did - that would be a blessing!

Forgive. Forget.

Frown. He thought he had forgiven? He knew that unforgiveness was as real a dungeon cell as the dank room the Master had set him free from.

Had he forgiven?

Mercy.

Where had that word come from? Mercy - was that what he lacked yet? - to ask the Master to have mercy on those who had hurt him, those who had stolen his childhood, those who had been locked in the same dungeons with him, hurt and hurting.

Didn't he want mercy for them? He thought he did. Wasn't the longing of his heart to go and set them free as well?

To set them free. Not in his own strength, but in the Master's. Surrender.

Ah.

Maybe that was it. That for all he had surrendered in the past, he still had in him some last bit of relying on his own strength.

The strength that had surged through him to strangle the wolf flashed into his memory. Yes, that had not been his own strength!

He needed that strength now. Continually.

'Master, what do you want me to do?'

The scoffing voice came, overpowering, trying to distract and confuse. But deeply, under that voice and far quieter, he heard it: not do, but be.

Not doing. Being. Meaning?

Being. He thought of Starr. And now he chuckled at himself. He was always thinking of Starr! But he thought of the dance in that dream. Her confidence in the Master's arms - how the being in his arms, flowed into the doing of following him in the dance.

Stone nodded. He could see that. Being. That was the same as loving and trusting the Master. The doing - all the doing - all the obedience, the ability of go into the dungeons and rob them of their victims - all that would flow from the being of being in love with the Master.

Slightly odd concept for him, as a man, to think of being in love with the Master. And he had never really known the love of family.

But now he would.

'Master,' he whispered. And slowly, deliberately, Stone opened wide his heart.

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