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Joel awoke the next day to find Oak Branch and Ivy Petal at the foot of his bed. They begged to hear more stories of earth and parts of heaven that they still dreamt of seeing. Joel ‘uhmed’ and ‘errd’ his way out of it, promising to tell them a story later.

The children pleaded a little more until Oak ushered them away. “Go now children, get to your chores and then to school. Joel will be here later, when you return.”

Oak waved to Joel to get up out of bed. “Let’s go earth-angel, there is work to do and things to explain. Come have a seat at the table with Ivy and me. She’s prepared a breakfast of grain cereal and pancakes.”

Joel got up, and made his way to the table. The bath made his body want more sleep than usual. The food that Ivy had prepared was delicious and reviving.

During the course of the breakfast, Oak explained to Joel that he had found a letter from his sister, Lily, the night before. He also had to untangle the story of Lily’s long waiting for a mate who it appeared was Marc. “So when Marc was following her yesterday, I hadn’t expected him to turn out to be the one. I only hoped that they might hit it off, so that this would influence her to stay in Utopia. After hearing the bell, however, I knew that it was Lily and Marc who were at the Root Tree, and I came to the conclusion that they had chosen each other as mates.”

“Well I would never have guessed it. Did you know that Marc had never taken a wife?” said Joel. “Marc taking a wife, well this is a time for celebration.”

“‘Fraid not. The men have to go up and work on the third level. And I believe that Oak has offered your strength to the effort,” said Ivy clearing the table.

“Don’t be sad Joel. Tomorrow morning You, Marc, Lily, and Rin will be setting off to continue your quest.” Oaks voice became acidic when he said Rin’s name. “That’s when you’ll see them next.”

Oak stood up and fetched his lunch box. “Come on Joel, the elevator will be leaving in a little.”

With that, the two boys were out the door.

That day, Joel learned how the trees were carved and the roads were lain. However, he did not actually see any work being done. Oak explained that it was a custom among the Soron to relax in the sun the day after any wedding. This was not something that Soren or Branches learned of.

So on that warm morning and hot afternoon the men lay scattered about the roads that were still under construction. They ate, talked, told long winded stories, and slept. No one was actually watching for quitting time, and for apparently no reason, all the Soron said a prayer and left for home.

After they had eaten and cleaned the dishes, everyone went and sat in what could be compared to the living room. The room was in fact the same room that was used as Joel’s bedroom the night before.

They were not seated long when Ivy Petal again asked if Joel would tell them a tale of their adventures in heaven.

Joel thought back to his earlier encounters and decided that the best one to tell them would be the one with Noah. Even though Oak’s children were over two hundred years old, Joel thought he had a responsibility as an adult to choose the nicer one.

Joel wove his tale from Noah’s first shout of ‘water’ to a frog and his instrument. When his story was ended and the children were satisfied, it was passed their usual sleeping hour.

Oak sent his children upstairs and to bed. Ivy followed them, as far as her bedroom. Joel and Oak stayed up for a few more hours talking mostly about Marc. Joel was sure that this had to do with Lily’s marriage to Marc. When Oak was more comfortable with the knowledge he had learned, he wished Joel a good night.