Merina's Hope - Part One
She meant to ask him more questions but the flossies stopped in a line just ahead of them. They shivered. It wasn’t from the cold. Through the branches, at a distance, she could see a large, old farmhouse surrounded by tall, teal eucalyptus trees. Its many windows revealed flickering lights, fiery tongues leaping high and then retreating. Merina’s nape hair lifted at the sight and her arm hairs prickled.
Parnan stooped down and picked up a black and gray striped flossy. He petted it. The small creature stopped trembling and curled up in his hand. “They must go back,” he said.
“I don’t want them hurt again.” Merina felt fear take root in her gut. The Worbans hated all life. It made her sick to think of Yanna in there. “How do we fight them?”
“We remember who we belong to and we pray without ceasing.” He pointed to the hunting knife in the sheath on his belt. “And, defend ourselves.”
“I have no weapon,” she said. She felt foolish, just a silly girl.
“Oh, but you do,” he said. He touched her cheek. “Your love for the Holy One and Yanna, more than your own life, guards you. Listen and follow. He’ll be with you.”
Parnan didn’t know her at all. She couldn’t lie, not now, when they were both likely to die. “I’m disobedient and shameful,” she said. “Out of pride, I used my evil gift to impress you and left Yanna defenseless. Why should the Holy One help me?” Merina closed her eyes, to hold back tears.
“You’ve been lied to, Merina. Your gifts of healing and mercy come from the Holy One. Your village is full of deceivers. They make the Worbans look like saints.”
Merina felt surprised by his harsh tone. “My village is full of Wise Women, our gift to the Realm,” she said. “You don’t know us.”
Parnan took in a deep breath. “I’m sorry to offend you. We’ll speak of this later. I can’t let anger overwhelm me now. It would do us no good.”
He leaned over and released the flossy and petted the rest. Then, they dashed back in the direction of the village.
Merina let go of her indignation at his insulting words. She was grateful he was there.
“The Worbans will try to kill us,” she said. She remembered Wise Women stories. Worbans’ victims died, mouths open, frozen in a permanent scream.
“Let’s ask the Holy One to come,” Parnan said. He bowed his head and ceased speaking.
Merina watched him for a moment, and then silently prayed, too.
At first, the winds rustled overhead branches. Then, the breezes grew stronger, until the trees bent and clashed against each other. The noise deafened her.
Parnan patted her shoulder. She looked up and he pointed to the house. He took a knit hat from inside his jacket and pulled it down, almost covering his ears. He started out ahead of her, their steps drowned by the fierce gusts whipping the forest.
Merina grasped her shawl tightly about her face. Tree needles stung her exposed skin.
On the far side of the first eucalyptus tree, Parnan turned back and spoke into her ear, “Wait for me. I’ll go in and get Yanna.” He began to leave.
Distraught, Merina caught his sleeve and then pulled his head close to hers. “No! It was my mistake!” He couldn’t die for her. She must pay the price.
He held her close, and cupped his hand to her ear as the shrieking winds buffeted them. “Merina – things in there – you shouldn’t see!”
He wouldn’t back down; she couldn’t abandon Yanna or him, even though she’d just met him. She shouted into his ear. “I’m coming, too!” She wouldn’t let go of his wrist.
He placed his hand over hers and gently squeezed it. She relaxed. He took her hand. “Don’t be afraid, the Holy One is with us.”
He led them to the tall front door, going before her as they walked up the steps. The door opened by itself. Red flames shot out and engulfed him. Parnan stood, head bowed, deflecting them from her.
Merina whimpered once and then said, “Holy One, save him.” A slight pressure lifted her right hand. She reached into the flames, and touched Parnan’s back.
The Touch healed his burns at once and he straightened. The flames faltered and died. He turned, took her hand and kissed it. Then, he led them across the charred threshold, into the darkness.
See Short Stories - Part 2 for the second installment. Leave story feedback on my blog or at FB: ktsweet19 Thank you for reading!