“He must have left after the rain stopped,” said Marc. “Because we aren’t wet at all.”
Joel walked around their campsite. “He’s nowhere to be seen and there’s no trail.”
“Well he brought his hammock.” Meribah stretched the sleep from her bones and muscles. “Maybe he was hiding from people after all, or maybe he can only take them in short doses.”
“Poor man, must be terribly lonely.” Lily picked up her belongings.
“I don’t think so. He lives a happy life,” said Marc. “He does what he wants. He never has to check in with anyone. And he never needs to work to survive.”
“Come on,” Marc whistled, “we better get moving before we wind up spending another night here.”
The road veered around a rocky plateau, and then lead into a valley. A lake that was fed from the mountain runoffs sat in its centre. A few trees grew around the lake, but mostly there were just long weeds and wild flowers that grew in the valley.
They followed the road until it came by the lake.
“I have to stop,” said Lily sitting down.
“Why?” asked Joel looking around. “And why here? We’ve only been walking for an hour.”
“I don’t think we can do any more walking today.” Marc sat beside Lily. “I feel it too. We were meant to stop here, I think we’re early. But this is the place.”
“What?” Meribah asked. “What in heaven are you talking about?”
“I just know this is where we’re suppose to meet someone. I’ve never been so sure in my lives.” Marc gave Joel a smile. “Sorry it’s just how I feel.”
“Okay, you two wait here and find who you’re waiting for.” Joel shook his head. “We’ll go and see if we can find some food or something.”
Meribah and Joel walked about the field looking for berries or plants that they recognized. Joel stopped by the lake and started picking some cattails.
“What are you doing?” asked Meribah.
“Why I’m picking some Typha latifolia.”
“Don’t be smart! Why are you picking cattails?” scorned Meribah.
“Well, you can dry and ground up the roots to make meal. Or you can eat the roots and the lower stem in a salad. You can also use the fuzzy head for stuffing a mattress.” Joel instructed Meribah. “But I think we’ll just eat them in a salad.”
“You forgot one thing,” said a voice from behind him.
Joel turned to see a very short and old man looking at a cattail which Joel had plucked. “Did I? Mister?”
“Just call me Feg. And yes, you forgot that the young spikes are delicious when roasted over a camp fire.”
“That’s one on me.” Joel got up from the damp earth, and shook Feg’s hand. “Joel. And this is my girlfriend Meribah.”
“I know, I was talking to David this morning.” Feg helped Joel harvest his crop.
“Oh, a friend of David’s?” asked Meribah.
“No, not exactly. More like neighbours.” Feg looked over his shoulder to Meribah. “He is recluse. And so when someone comes by me towards him, I give him a little warning. But yesterday, you came towards him first. Not too many people travel up the mountain, most go down.”
“Why’s that?” said Joel picking up more cattails.
“Don’t know. Haven’t been off this mountain in years.” Feg looked around him. “I planted everyone of this trees you know.”
“One person planting a whole mountain of trees.” Meribah looked doubtful. “I’ve never heard of anything like that before.”
“I was also in charge of Canada.”
“We don’t follow,” said Joel.
“Well when God was busy making the major changes to the universe, he had some angels making the minor ones. My wife made the Great Lakes. God complimented her on those.” Feg smiled at his acquaintances confused faces. “Oh, we use special tools to do all the hard work.”
“If you’re a Sorom why don’t you have wings?” asked Meribah.
“Oh, my wings. After preparing a planet for humans to live on, and living like humans, and seeing that even though Paradise was very nice, it would never be as nice as earth. I left it and came here to be human. And here I am human. An angel out of his surroundings doesn’t know any more than a human. We are equals, we are brothers. I know that that is what God had intended from the very first. After all, I was there. So I guess I went native, or Terrain.”
“Would you like to come to dinner with us? Our two friends are waiting for us to return,” invited Joel.
“What’s that? There are two more of you? That makes four,” Feg shouted loudly. “Of course, you’re ‘The Four’. Why else would you be walking up the mountain. You are ‘The Four Companions’. You’re Joel and Meribah, and your friends names’ are Marc and Lily.” Joel nodded. “I can’t go back with you, but you’d better hurry. My sister is going to visit your friends, she has a gift for them.”
Joel thanked him and started off. Feg gave his load of cattails to Meribah. He then removed a short piece of branch from his pocket.
“Everyone has a piece of ancient power in your group but you,” Feg said to Meribah. “Here, it’s a maple tool, wherever you press it into the ground a maple tree will grow.”
“Thank you,” said Meribah looking at the branch that Feg had placed on top of her cattails. “I don’t know what to say. But why are you giving it to me?”
“I told you, everyone has a piece of power but you.” Feg wrinkled his nose. “Oh you still don’t understand do you? You are the ones who will bring change. The Dorom and Soron are waiting for you, and the Sorom are fearing your arrival.” He pointed his finger at her. “How I envy you. Go join your friends.”
Feg walked away, toward the mountain. As he went she could hear him talking, “So close. Oh yes, I can feel it. So close now. Soon, all will be made right. At least better. Yes, yes. Very soon.”
Far from where Joel and Meribah were talking to Feg, their two friends slept. They lay side by side in an affectionate embrace, waiting for the someone to arrive. Even in their sleep, their dreams were haunted with the rendezvous.
From under the water, she arose from the lake. Her name was Meg, and like all life she emerged from water. She appeared older than Feg and also shorter. Her hair stretched behind, twice the length of her body, as she walked. Around her neck she wore jewels made of algae, and her gown was of the deepest blues ever imagined.
She walked over to where Marc and Lily slept. She then bent down, touched Lily’s forehead and said, “Blessed woman be happy.” Meg touched Marc’s forehead and said, “Blessed man be happy.” She placed a bundle, which was wrapped in thick seaweed, between the two sleepers. As she walked into the water, she smiled and said, “Blessed family be happy.” Her head disappeared beneath the waves, leaving only the faint smell of algae behind and the bundle.
“Uncle Joel, tell me another story,” said the baby which had been in the bundle.
“Maybe later.” Joel looked over to Meribah, “How long are they going to sleep?”
“I don’t know, I wasn’t this aware when I was born. I couldn’t talk for at least the first week. And it’s not like anyone ever invited me to come and see a birth.” Meribah looked at the baby, “How long are your mommy and daddy going to sleep?”
The baby shook her head, “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor… Yet.”
“How should I talk to her? Like she’s a baby or like she’s eight years old?” asked Joel.
“I’d say like she’s eight. I just don’t understand how she can use words she never used before.” Meribah continued to cut the cattails.
“Oh,” said the baby, “that’s because my parents are soulmelded. And I had the opportunity to listen to them ‘think’ for twenty-four days now.”
“Twenty-four days,” said Marc sitting up from his nap. “I’ve really missed out on a lot then. Haven’t I?”
“Daddy!” screamed the baby.
“Come here, my little Petal,” said Marc.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to talk to you. You sure can sleep, huh?” said Lily Petal.
“I sure can, Petal. Have you been behaving yourself?” Marc picked up the baby.
“Daddy, why do you have wings? And how come I don’t?”
“What wings?” asked Marc, looking at his back where his wings had been a second ago.
“Hey, you did so have wings. Just like mom has.” Lily Petal pointed to where her mother slept, but her wings were gone too. “This isn’t a very nice game to play on a newborn,” pouted Lily Petal.
“Oh Petal, we had wings now we don’t. We didn’t have you, now we do.” Marc winked at Joel.
“So what do you think?” Marc asked Joel.
Joel shook the water from his ear. “I think it’s time for supper.”
Marc pulled his gown over his still damp body. “No I mean what do you think of Lily Petal?”
“She’s kind of big.”
“No, she’s only eight and a half pounds.” Marc smiled proudly.
“Well she’s very mature.” Joel skipped a rock across the water.
“Yeah, it should be kind of a shock.” Marc started walking back to their campsite.
“I know, but it just feels right,” mocked Joel. “I hope bringing a baby the rest of the way won’t be a problem.”
“What’s eating you?” asked Marc.
“Well even though I’ve lived three lives, most of what I am now is from my last life. Which means I’m mostly fourteen years old.” Joel shook his head. “Your daughter was born eight years old, I just don’t know how to act around her.”
“Lily says most kids in heaven learn to speak in the first week or so. So for heaven’s standards, she’s not that advanced.” Marc put his arm around Joel. “Remember what Soren means, ‘blessed born’. You knew there had to be differences. You got to live with it.”
“Well as long as she doesn’t get a crush on me,” Joel joked as he ran ahead.
“I don’t think you have to worry, physically your eight hundred years older than she is,” shouted Marc.
After supper they talked and became acquainted with their new travelling companion. She did have a mixture of Marc’s and Lily’s personalities, and she was quick. Marc suggested an early night so that they could regain the hours they had lost that day. So everyone prayed and went to bed.
“One last question okay?” No one answered. “Okay, why was the sky blue and now it’s black? And while you’re at it, where’s uncle Nathanial? And how come we have to sleep? And…”