Sparks o' a Story: What My Lord Will Do
I don't think that I have ever, in my whole life, posted a piece of fiction with as little editing as this one has received. It's kind of terrifying, but also oddly exhilarating. We'll see if I get more accustomed to this sort of thing by the time the week is over.
In first person, from the perspective of an old man
|Jacob Maris | Praying Monk|
At times, my aging body still surprised me with its unwillingness. My knees cracked as I rose from a kneeling posture, and I could not suppress a groan at the sharp spasm that traced the length of my back. "'The days of our years are threescore years and ten.'" I recalled. "'And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.'" I slowly eased the kinks from my spine as I pulled myself erect. I walked stiffly to the window and stood where the sunlight could pour its warmth into my aching joints.
I looked out over a panorama of houses and courtyards and the winding of dusty streets. The familiar scents of dirt, smoke, dung and spices rose on a whiff of morning wind. A woman in the courtyard below burned incense at the tiny altar alcove before her house. The pungent thread of sandalwood drifted up to me, along with the high-pitched intonation of her prayer.
"How much longer, my Lord? How much longer in this place?" I traced the well-known streets from house to house of friend and neighbor. "I promised to win it for You, back when I was young and believed myself to be capable of too many things. But now I am old, and my body wears thin."
The response came in that well-known voice that I had followed for so long. "But I was with you, even in your recklessness, and My kingdom is coming here."
"You are as faithful as the sunrise, and even more welcome." I acknowledged gratefully. "And the kingdom..." My gaze lifted to the distant hill, and the sunrise-crowned spires of the palace seated at its top. "I suppose it's simply a matter of adding to the residents."
I shut my eyes against the dazzle of light and breathed deeply the atmosphere of peace. The walls of my flesh weakened with each passing year, and I felt that more and more of the Divine shone through into this battered temple of mine. I recalled the story of Enoch, walking with God. The idea did not seem so outrageous as it had been years ago.
"Three hundred years, and then You took him." I mused. "Will my soul wait so long?" I stretched lightly and felt again the familiar aches and pains. "I doubt my flesh will endure such a time."
Don't be in a hurry. There is yet work to be done. There was the feeling of a smile in the words.
"And gladly will I do it." I replied.
I looked out again over the movement of the wakening city. A bright flash of color in the courtyard caught my eye, and I glanced down to see the woman finishing her prayers. She had draped a lemon-tinted scarf over her braids and the fabric fluttered gaily about her as she rose. Her lighthearted colors brought a smile to my lips.
I leaned over the casement. "Good morning to you, Anila!" I called.
She lifted her head to me and flashed a bright grin. "Good morning, bey!"
"And what has your god said to you this morning?" I asked.
"Lord Chara is the inscrutable one, and hides his council until the proper time." Anila replied. "What of your God?"
"Oh, He has spoken many things to me already, and I did not need a day wage-worth of incense to entice Him."
"Perhaps He could smell mine and was confused." Her eyes sparkled in amusement at her own audacity.
I chuckled. It would have been impossible to take offense at Anila's sunny charm, even had I been so inclined.
"Is your mother better this morning?" I asked.
Her smile faded. "No."
"And so you burn sandalwood to Chara. Let me come and see her."
Anila cast a quick glance at the stone-carven idol at her side and did not reply.
"Come now, tatlim." I coaxed, "Am I not your dear old bey? We have known each other since your childhood, and have I once done you anything but kindness?"
"Uncle says that your coming will offend Lord Chara."
Yes, I reflected, a priest of Chara would not be overly pleased at the presence of my Lord and me in his family house.
"Then let your mother come here." I offered. "Surely that will not offend either Chara or your uncle."
Anila's bangles chinked as she waved one arm in the direction of the palace. "Would you do for her as you did for the Maharajah?"
"Such things are not for me to decide. But come and see what my Lord will do." I replied.
"Will we...see Him?" Anila's voice was hushed in awe.
"He says that those who seek will find, as I have told you often before."
The woman's brow creased as she pondered. "It is still so strange to me. Even after all these years. But I will see what mother says." Without another word, she whirled away from the altar in a riot of color and went quickly into her house.
"Well?" I queried into the light-soaked silence.
"They will see."
The words of the prophet Jeremiah were recalled to my mind: "'I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is the Lord.'" I quoted half-aloud.
Strength rose and spread throughout my members. I carefully stretched my back and eased my muscles, warm and limbering now. I felt the old, familiar excitement thread its way through my heart. Yes, there was still work to be done before my Lord took me home.
Clara will be posting her piece on The Golden Dusk, so don't forget to hop over there and see what direction she ran with today's prompt!