Authors: Madeline A Stringer
by Madeline A Stringer
All rights reserved. Except for use in review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s fevered imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, (with one exception, see Author’s note at the end of the book), business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
hath had elsewhere its setting,
and cometh from afar:
not in entire forgetfulness,
and not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
from God, who is our home”
Intimations of Immortality, William Wordsworth
“A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind,
and another woman shall bear me.”
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
and I am exasperated with this ‘guardian angel’ job. David will be here to get married in a minute, and it’s not in The Plan. He’s meant to marry Lucy, not Kathleen. I have been trying to stop him for two months now with no success. It’s a crazy system, putting these humans here on Earth without telling them the plan and giving them free will. And we have to ‘guide’ them without an easy means of communication. They think they’re on their own and don’t listen. As David would say, it is bloody stupid. And he would say, if he only knew. No, if he knew he’d be clinging to me, begging me – “Save me, Jotin, save me!” – and I would. Of course I would. I love the silly creature, have done for millennia, since he was brand new and I had just been promoted. He was one of the first souls to be put into my care, before going into his first earth life. But he has never been very good at hearing me in any of his lives and this time he’s woeful.
I wish we were given bodies, then we could grab the silly fools and push them where they needed to go. If I had a body David would be safely in hospital, not on his way to get married. As it is, he felt only a tiny draught as some of my energy punched through his face. I know, I know; I shouldn’t have done it, I should respect his energy field, but I mean really – I had tried everything.
I had to get out of the house. I couldn’t watch his smug grin a moment longer. That’s why I’m here. Hovering in a church garden, if this sad square of grass merits such a title. I should go inside and try to put a stop to this nonsense, but I’m running out of ideas.
The guests are arriving now. The women’s smiles are bright and false. The men are, appropriately, wearing black - the colour of mourning in this culture. Here comes David now, still grinning.
I’m not much help to anyone. Spirit guides are supposed to be calm, knowing what we do, but I've been in a human body often enough to make me irrational and furious sometimes. And I’m quite good at using humans’ best bad language, which strangely, can soothe my energies a little. It doesn’t make me feel less helpless, or less angry at Kathleen. She thinks she’s getting what she wants. Big mistake.
My darling idiot boy is about to waste another of these precious lives.
David emerged from the church, his bride on his arm, grinned at his envious pals and looked around the small garden at his friends and relatives gathered in the sunshine. He watched two small nephews, uncomfortably dressed, chasing each other just inside the railings. Then he noticed some flowers. He stared, only realising after a few moments that the flowers were on the T-shirt of a girl standing outside the railings, looking in at the wedding party. She was licking a choc-ice, paying attention to the piece of sliding chocolate, and drinking in the details of the wedding. David smiled at the sight.
Jotin leapt up and down and shouted to the girl’s guide -
“She’s too young, I told you. Stop trying to get them together. Get her out of here. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Nice one, David, hold it!” David smiled vaguely towards the photographer, but he was watching the little girl with the choc-ice, noticing that she was holding the handlebars of her bicycle with one hand and managing her ice cream with the other. There was a loaf of bread in the front basket of her bike. Flowers on shirts, thought David, what is it about flowers?
“Nothing now, David. She’s not for you now,” said Jotin.
“OK, Lucy, my darling,” said Trynor, as he concentrated, his energies pulling at the wheel of Lucy’s bike. “Come on, we’re not wanted.”
The bike fell, the bread fell out of the basket, and Lucy turned around to rescue it before the bag of tomatoes could roll all over the path. She hauled the bike upright, got up on the saddle and pedalled away.
David watched the two boys, who were fighting now, before turning to his new wife.
“OK, Kathleen?” he asked, “Not too much for you?” Kathleen smiled at him and shook her head, her glossy hair bouncing under the veil.
“No. Everything is just fine, thanks.”
James came over, all Best Man efficiency.
“We really should be moving, if we’ve to get to the hotel by two.” David and Kathleen walked with self-conscious dignity towards the car under a shower of confetti.
Lucy was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a tomato sandwich and breathlessly describing the wedding to her parents and sister.
“The bride had a long white dress with lacy bits and it had a long tail out the back that people stepped on by mistake and there were three ladies in pink dresses down to the ground and little creamy waistcoats and they had bunches of flowers too like the bride and there were two little girls smaller than me -"
“My size?” Alison butted in.
“One was about your size and one was very little, maybe she was three,”
“Oh my goodness,” said Lucy’s mother, “imagine the trouble of controlling a three year old at a wedding!”
“I think she was being good. She was holding the older girl’s hand,” said Lucy after some thought, “and there was a big black car waiting for them, with ribbons on it.” Her eyes were shining.
“Where was this wedding? I hope you weren’t at George-n-John’s, it’s much too far away.” Lucy’s father looked stern.
“Of course I wasn’t. It was at that church just past the shops. The one we never go into.”
“Our Lady of the blessed somethings. And was there a groom at this wedding?”
“I don’t know, what is it?”
“The man who is getting married.”
“Oh Daddy, of course!” Lucy considered this, “There would have to be, wouldn’t there? I think he was just in black.”
“You women,” said her dad, “see nothing but the clothes.”
“Well, when I was busy watching, the bike fell over and I had to rescue it, so I didn’t see everything. Can you please take off the trainer wheels? Alison is far too old for them, they’re loose anyway - that’s how it fell and they get in my way. And it’s embarrassing, I’m ten. Actually, I think I need a bigger bike, then we wouldn’t have to share. Can I have a bigger bike, Dad, please?”
“Yes, Daddy, get another bike, then I can keep the staylisers on. I’ll fall if they’re off. It could just be my bike, with staylisers.”
“Stabilisers, baby!” Lucy mocked.
“I’ll think about it. Help Mum with the tidying, both of you. I want to get on with the garden while it’s dry.”
Jotin was waiting when Trynor arrived. If he had had a body he would have been sitting still, staring into the middle distance. As it was, his energies were just a little flat.
“I told you it wouldn’t work. That you were too late, that she is too young for him. Stop trying to get them together now.”
“It’s only twelve years. That’s nothing. Why are you so fussed about it? I’m seven hundred years older than you and we get on fine. And my little Spanish Infanta was only three when she was betrothed; it worked out well.”
“Oh, Trynor, that was hundreds of years ago and because her parents were royalty. We just used the fashion of the times and their social surroundings. Times have changed. Did you still not take another life?”
“I did, but I could only be spared a short one. I had to die young, during the second big war. But I got to taste some food. The latkes were wonderful - and strudel! It was almost worth it for the strudel. The hunger later was terrible, it hurt. I certainly know now why humans are so interested in food, when it hurts if you have none. The other children cried.”
“Did you not cry?” Jotin was interested; he could remember being in several wars.
“No. I seemed to remember here. I knew there was more than that camp. I think I could hear my guide. When the end came, I held some of the children and told them it would be all right and they were calmer.”
“Good for you. So there is some value in spending all your time here!”
“Yes, it seems so. Of course, some of the others were very young souls. Hadn’t spent much time anywhere. It is very tough on such babies, to learn so much so suddenly.”
“Grows them up fast.” Jotin was pensive. After a long time he spoke again. “So what will we do about this problem? Apart from the fact that we’ve made them different religions, twelve years is too much. I thought you understood that there was no point showing Lucy to him just after he married Kathleen. Husbands do not leave their brand new wives for ten-year-old girls. Or as the humans would say, not the well behaved new husbands we get to look after ‘up here’!” Jotin and Trynor laughed, amused as always by the notion that there was a fiery ‘down there’ for the sinners. After a while, Trynor spoke again.
“But you’ve married him off now. What did you do that for?”
“I tried to stop him. I sent him three hunches. When he didn’t pay any attention to the first two and explained away the third as pre-wedding jitters, I burnt out the kitchen of the hotel they had booked. But it wasn’t enough, because Kathleen had told him that lie. He’s too scared not to marry his pregnant girlfriend. They’re all so caught up in the nonsense about sin and think it makes a difference if a priest mutters the right words over them. And not always too bothered about being good people, so long as nobody finds out.”
“What has he done?”
“No, I don’t mean David. Just people in general. Look around at some of them, misbehaving in all sorts of ways, but telling other people how they should behave. The Cretan priestess thought she was doing nothing wrong, but she made our people take that vow and she’s still going on about it. At least these days they say ‘till death do us part’ and we can all start fresh. Maybe that’s what we’ll have to do, yet again, if my idea doesn’t work.”
Trynor’s energies shifted and eddied as he thought through the situation.
“I’m sorry, Jo. I made a big mess, didn’t I? Got distracted by that war in the east. A few of the others I look after were caught up in it, and being in a war myself so recently, it seemed so important-”
“Maybe it was. Maybe even more important than our problem here. Death on a large scale always seems so urgent. It doesn’t really matter how soon we get Lucy and David together again, except for all the nagging we have to put up with from their ‘baby’; not to mention that Planidi and her wretched vow. Being a priestess in Crete went to her head, I think.”