Well, I didn’t get any feedback from you alls on Chapter 1 of The Little Seer, but I did see an uptick in my traffic, so here’s Chapter 2 for your reading enjoyment. Let me know what you think of it? Maybe you’ll have more to say once you’ve read a few chapters. I wish I could find a way to make the prose match at the beginning of this Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2 of the book, which was so much easier to write in one piece!
The Little Seer, Part I: Exodus
Aria gripped the sides of her Sunday school desk with aching hands. The black wings flapping in her mind had drowned out the lesson.
“God spoke through a dream…” Ms. Nancy said, and held up a book.
Aria’s head was swimming.
God. Dreams. What is going on? Could a dream like that be from God? Or me? Or somewhere worse?
Aria looked down at her arms. She had covered them carefully with a long-sleeve shirt, despite the fresh spring sun outside. Bloody scrapes peeked out of her cuffs.
She went pale and sat back in her seat.
What if I did that to myself? Her mind worked through all the possibilities—none of them nice.
Her arms and hands throbbed.
Aria tried to slow her breathing. She inhaled the fading scent of paint that mixed with the mustiness of old hymnals the church stored in the metal cabinet on the back wall.
If only the excitement of building a new church weren’t fading along with the construction smells, but there was undeniable tension in the air now that the thrill was beginning to wear off. Aria thought back to the sermon she had just heard.
“A sign of good stewardship is a consistent tithe,” Pastor Ted had said as he admonished the congregants yet again to give more money to the building fund. “You need to ask God what you should be giving, and then be faithful with blessing his work.”
“What if he tells us to take our tithe where it does some good?” Aria heard Phil Donagee grumble in the pew next to her. She looked up at him, startled. He grimaced, smoothed his thinning blond hair, and went back to reading the Bible in his hand.
“Psst, Aria!” Aria’s friend Tara was holding out a note. Ms. Nancy had briefly turned her back to write a scripture verse on the board up front.
Aria smiled and reached out to take the note.
One of her Band-aids came unstuck from her stiff hand, revealing a fiery red scratch that reached around most of her wrist.
Tara’s eyes opened wide. Aria shoved her fists into her lap along with the folded note.
How could she explain that when she woke up from a dream of birds attacking her she had actual cuts on her arms from protecting her face? How could she explain the other dreams she had been having, or how this had all started?
You seemed so good when I saw you, she prayed. Why would you let something like this happen? What is going on?
When Aria wouldn’t meet her gaze, Tara flipped her blonde hair and turned back to the front of the room.
“Aria, what does it mean?”
“In the Bible when Joseph dreams that his brothers’ sheaves of wheat are bowing down to him?” Ms. Nancy shifted the bag of Jolly Ranchers in her hand to remind Aria that she gave rewards for correct answers. She picked an invisible piece of lint off her white blouse as she waited for a reply.
“Joseph’s dream told the future. His brothers really would bow down to him when they had to beg him for food during the famine,” Aria replied.
She put her head back down on her desk. Then she raised it again.
“Yes?” Ms. Nancy turned around and squinted through her narrow glasses.
“Does God ever give us bad dreams that come true in the future?”
“What do you mean?” Ms. Nancy asked.
“What if God gave me a dream where Pastor Ted ordered crows to, um,” Aria stole a glance at her classmates, “peck out my eyes?”
They were staring.
“Aria! You know Pastor Ted would never do such a thing!” Ms. Nancy said.
“God never gives us bad dreams,” Ms. Nancy admonished her. “If you had a bad dream then it came from your imagination… or from the devil!”
She straightened her skirt as if neatening her appearance would banish the unruly thought.
Jimmy grinned at Aria around a half-eaten Jolly Rancher. He pantomimed one of his hands pecking him to death and cast his red head back across the empty desk behind him, tongue lolling over his pale chin.
Aria turned back to Ms. Nancy.
“But he did, and a tornado destroyed the church, and—”
“And what?” Ms. Nancy put her hands on her hips.
“… and—he wasn’t wearing pants,” Aria finished in a small voice, slouching down in her seat and crumpling Tara’s note in her hand.
Someone behind her let out a snort.
“I think we need to ask the elders to pray for you,” Ms. Nancy said, frowning. She paused again and repositioned her glasses on her nose before continuing. “Now, let’s get back to biblical dreams.”
Her plaid skirt flipped around her knees as she whirled around and returned the bag of candy to her desk.
Aria’s cheeks burned hot. The classroom suddenly felt stuffy, airless. She looked past Jimmy to the garden outside, where poppies the color of his hair were blooming.
A black butterfly flitted from the poppies to a stand of purple irises under the oak tree in the yard. The bright sunshine started to fade in and out as tall, whipped cream-topped storm clouds passed overhead, flipping the leaves of the oak tree upside down with a stiff breeze.
In her mind’s eye, Aria pictured herself outside, standing under the large oak as the wind thrust against it.
Suddenly, she imagined the wind toppling the tree. It narrowly missed her as she jumped backward. The bark fell off the oak tree when it struck the ground, and underneath Aria could see that the wood had rotted through long before the tree fell.
It started to rain. The wood pulp washed away, leaving just the bark on the wet grass.
“Sometimes God gives us warnings about things that are about to happen.” Ms. Nancy’s voice brought her back to the present.
The images she had just seen reminded her of last night somehow, but why?
“But they’re never negative,” Ms. Nancy said with a hard stare in her direction.
Aria twisted her hands in her lap.
Why is this happening to me? First the dreams, and now I’m seeing things while I’m awake! God, if this isn’t you then I must be crazy.
But if it was Him…. The thought gave Aria goosebumps.
What if you’re not who people say you are? she thought. Then I don’t know you at all. Neither does Ms. Nancy!
The wounds on her arms began to throb. She opened her hand, finally, and unfolded the wrinkled paper.
“I like Jesse. Who do you like?” the note said, with hearts over the Is.
Aria sighed. She held her pen above the paper.
I see things that aren’t happening. What boy is going to like a girl who cuts herself in her sleep? she imagined writing back.
She paused and then wrote, “Nobody.”