I’m still plugging away copyediting this novel to send out to agents and publishers (or to publish myself: what do you think I should do?) and have gotten about halfway through the second part of the novel. That’s about 35,000 words into it. So, here’s chapter 4 for you while I continue to finish up the rest of the book. Let me know if you want more, otherwise I will probably only post 10 chapters of the first part.
The Little Seer, Part I: Exodus
A Gift To See Things
“I still can’t believe it,” Aria’s dad said.
Aria strained to hear her parents’ low voices from where she sat in the back of her dad’s gray Porsche, snug in her leather bucket seat on the way home from church.
“He was doing it the whole time under our noses!” her dad whispered fiercely. He thumped his hand on the steering wheel.
“I know. I don’t know what to do,” Aria’s mom replied. She had tears in her eyes, and she tugged at her short dark hair.
Aria’s heart beat a little faster. She turned quickly to look out the window.
The elders were holding extra meetings during the week. Aria’s dad had come home from the last meeting with his shoulders slumping and had gone to bed early.
“We all see the budget,” her dad grumbled. “Just because I’m the treasurer doesn’t mean I see any numbers the rest of the church doesn’t see. He did this to all of us! And now that I’ve proved that I didn’t make any accounting errors like he claimed, he’s protesting that he must have made a mistake in ignorance. The gall of that man!”
Oh, great, Aria thought. Money again.
Aria gazed out the window at the dirty houses they were passing. The world smelled like clothes drying in the dryer. Power lines sagged between each house and the utility poles by the road, where the garbage cans were pushed up against clumps of yellow daffodils.
Aria snuggled down into her purple sweater and enjoyed the comforting rumble of the car’s strong engine against her back. The weather had turned colder again, but it was still dry. She couldn’t remember a spring that had ever been as dry as this one. The church lawn should have smelled like freshly cut grass by now, but it smelled like paper, like nothing at all.
“It seems like Aria somehow saw this coming,” her mom said quietly. “But how could she? She’s just a kid. When she told me her dream I honestly thought I had just put her to bed after letting her watch a movie that was too scary.”
Aria’s dad shrugged and didn’t answer.
Aria stared unseeing at her watery reflection in the window. She didn’t want to disturb either of her parents as the car came to a stop at the end of the street, a few pieces of gravel popping and grinding under the tires.
“If her dream really was a message from God, why did he tell her and not the rest of us?” Aria’s dad finally asked.
The engine purred.
“If something in church is rotten to the core, why warn a twelve-year-old and not the elders?”
Aria’s vision of the pulverized oak tree falling in the church yard replayed before her eyes. What was he talking about? Was something really rotten at church?
Someone believes my dream is a message from God, she thought. But why would God give me such a terrible dream? Ms. Nancy said he wouldn’t.
I thought you were good, God. When that revival preacher prayed for me, I thought what I saw was real.
Her breath came shallowly as she waited to hear more.
Finally, her mom spoke. “I know,” she said. “I think she has a gift to see these things.”
“But we absolutely can’t let her get involved,” she said.
“What if she needs help, though?” Aria’s dad asked, turning to look at her mom. “Shouldn’t we get her to talk to someone?”
“I have vivid dreams, too,” her mom replied crisply, “and no one has ever accused me of needing ‘help’… not to my face, anyway.”
“None of your dreams ever came true,” Aria’s dad said to the road ahead.
My dream came true?
Aria remembered the birds and shuddered. Her scars ached again, just remembering the blood. She hadn’t shown even her parents, so how could they know?
They turned into their neighborhood in silence, cruising past the tall maple trees and waving willows that had been saplings when Aria’s parents had moved there fifteen years prior. They passed Mrs. Coghill’s blue bungalow, and the Stauffins’ stucco home across the shady street.
Aria loved walking through Mrs. Coghill’s garden. She grew hydrangeas and roses in front of the house, and she kept bubblegum on top of the fridge. Aria could still hear the water in Mrs. Coghill’s backyard pond slapping against the underside of the worn wooden dock—a perfectly relaxed memory of long summer afternoons.
“It was a dream come true to move to this neighborhood with our friends and start our own church,” Aria’s mom reminisced as they rolled down the quiet street, past Mr. Bob and Ms. Gail’s house. “But what if it’s going wrong? What if this dream is really a nightmare?”
Aria’s dad set his jaw and gripped the steering wheel.