THE DEVOURED HEART

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THE DEVOURED HEART

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        It was nearly midnight as I hiked up the trail into Coyote Hills.

        It was going to be October 16th, my mother’s birthday had she still been alive.

        During my climb I stepped aside for only one traveler, a whirring night-bicyclist, her bright light beaming as if she were a falling star descending past me.

        A fog had begun to engulf the lower Coyote Hills.

        The fog luminescent in the moonlight, the peaks of the higher hills still visible darkly, the stars sparking above, I arrived at the crest of the trail where the great Weeping Willow tree spread.

        The great Weeping Willow was often a campsite for homeless people but I never saw the same person there twice. Or ever again. This night there was no one; only the debris of previous habitation.

        I stood beneath the great Weeping Willow and sighed at the unbroken view. I inhaled deeply the perfume of sage brush.

        Then I caught the scent of wild onion. I thought, “This is odd. Wild onion grows near streams.”

        I turned and I chilled with a shock.

        There stood a young woman, her long pale hair like fog cascading over her shoulders, her pale skin pearlescent in the moonlight, her eyes eclipsed beneath long dark lashes, and just as dark were her lips. She wore a short pale dress that might have been satin.

        I said, shaken, with a nervous laugh, “You startled me.”

        The young woman’s expression was of indifference.

        I offered, “It is beautiful up here, isn’t it?”

        The young woman did not reply. I felt that she was studying me. She raised her slender arm and with her fingertips she delicately wiped her dark lips.

        I offered, “My name is Adam.”

        The young woman then softly said, “I am Jannah.”

        I asked, “You aren’t really dressed for hiking, are you? I mean, it’s a great dress… You know… Just, uh… Not typical.”

        Jannah said, “I am not hiking.”

        I asked, “I’m not ruining your night here, am I? I won’t be long. I just came up here to say a prayer for my mom.”

        Jannah seemed to shudder imperceptibly. Then she said softly, “Then don’t leave because of me. I don’t mind.”

        Jannah stepped lightly toward me. I was mesmerized by her manner, her voice, her truly haunting presence.

        I thought to my imagination, “Down, hound.”

        Jannah stood now not far from me, looking out at the moon. I still could not discern her eyes under her long lashes and averted gaze. I thought her dark lips looked more… more wine-stained than made-up. She was an unnatural beauty. I smelled wild onions again and I liked it. I felt myself flush.

        Jannah smiled and she asked, “Should we talk the moon down?”

        I laughed, “I’d like that.” I suddenly wanted to howl at the moon like a coyote.

        I said, “So what brings you up here tonight, Jannah? You could be dressed for dinner.”

        Jannah answered after a moment, “I did dress for a late dinner. And I often appear here on nights like this.”

        I said, “Yeah. It is a unique place. That is so cool that you think so too.”

        We both watched the creeping fog below.

        I finally asked, “Are you up here alone, really? Are you meeting your boyfriend?”

        Jannah whispered, “Yes. And no.”

        I joked with intent, “You do have a boyfriend, right?”

        Jannah delicately wiped her lips as she answered, “I have had many men. And women.”

        I laughed in astonishment.

        I said, “Jannah, you are totally something else.”

        Jannah suddenly seemed sad.

        I quickly added, “But in a good way. I’ve just never met anyone like you.”

        Jannah smiled again, “Obviously, you would only meet such a person as I once in a lifetime. Ordinarily.”

        Once in a lifetime. She was right, I thought: Love at first sight. I felt giddy.

        I ventured, “Would you like to go out together some time?”

        The scent of wild onions became overwhelming. Jannah answered, “We are out together now.”

        I took that with perplexed encouragement and I asked, “Well then… Again, some time… Again?”

        Jannah tilted her head as if pondering a great conundrum.

        Had I been presumptuous? Had I misinterpreted her friendliness? I suddenly felt foolish.

        Jannah then said softly, “No.”

        I fell inside myself and I blurted, “But why?”

        Jannah replied, “Because… I have a… feeling for you…”

        My heart leapt. I quickly affirmed, “And I have feelings for you.”

        Jannah turned and took a step toward me and she raised her face.

        I gasped.

        Jannah’s eyes were sewn shut.

        I glimpsed moonlight sparking off of tears.

        I gasped again and again in anguish as Jannah turned slowly and left me alone on that peak.

        She had devoured my heart.

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HIDING OF THE FACE

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HIDING OF THE FACE

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        Trick or treat!

        Can you Trick or Treat on a web cam?

        Yes.

        Yes, I am Avri Kyrka.

        No, I am not too old for Halloween.

        And no, I am surely not too young to offer you the treat of Salvation.

        I am not supposed to be a witch; I am a Vengeful Angel, do you see?  You know already that as a child I could recite entire passages of Scripture.  I was baptized in the Spirit when I was nine.  The preacher submerged me and there were three distant peels of thunder.  The stream turned dark red.

        Emma Anderson, you heard me speak in Tulsa.  You came to me after my sermon “Jesus Was Adopted”.  Jesus came up from the water, Heaven was opened, and He saw the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and enter into Him.  And a voice from Heaven said, ‘You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased’ and again, ‘Today I have begotten You’.

        I told you all about Step-Momma and her boyfriend.  How Step-Momma’s boyfriend tried to help me.  How they both died when Step-Momma burned down our house.  How I escaped.  I don’t know why I told you about that.  There was something about you that did not judge me.  You said to me, “God hid Her face through your ordeal, but She is here with you now.  Everything has turned out for the best as a direct result of Her intervention.”

        It was your idea to go to Zion, Illinois.  You said you would like to adopt me.  You were the one that registered in the motel as “Ms. and Ms. Christian”.  They didn’t get your joke.  You were the one who dressed me up as Little Red Riding Hood for that Halloween.  You laughed at me when I said it was a warning to all Men, who are wolves.  You said that I could be President if I wanted to.  “President of the World” you would cry out at night when we were in bed.

        You introduced me to your church, the Gathered In Her Name.  But your enemies beset you.  You were arrested under the Mann Act.  I refused to testify, and I told them that we had nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed about.  But your ordination was still revoked.  I told them to be afraid of the “Woman Act”.  They were all bald, maimed, and deaf.

        I still think of you as Pastor Emma Anderson.  Do you think of me?  I wanted you to know that I am not sorry.  I am grateful.  Gathered In Her Name took me in and gave me a home and they are like a family to me.  They set me up in this wing of the tabernacle.  I wish you could be here now.  I pray for you out there, Pastor Emma, even if I can’t see your face.

        And so, everyone, this has been another edition of A Child Shall Lead Them.  Her Spirit will be with you until my next webcast, tomorrow.

        Let us pray…

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DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE WITCH AND THE WEREWOLF?

 

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THE WITCH AND THE WEREWOLF

         Snolly Goster was a twelve-year old witch.  Snolly Goster was out on this Halloween night walking her pet barking spider named Bumdinger.  Snolly Goster held Bumdinger on a leash of gossamer thread.

        Snolly Goster could mingle this night, without a spell, among all the happy young mortal trick-or-treaters and their parent escorts.  This was Snolly Goster’s favorite night.  It was every witch’s birthday.

        Snolly Goster watched the orange Halloween Moon moving behind small dark clouds first as a crescent, then as a cat, then as a face, then as a number 3.  Then the Halloween Moon peeked over the small dark clouds with orange rays like a sunburst.

        Snolly Goster heard from behind herself, “Snolly!  Hey, Snolly.”

        It was Lob Lolly, her werewolf friend. It was very unusual for a witch and a werewolf to be friends but they were young and idealistic.

        Lob Lolly came up to Snolly Goster and smiled shyly.  Then Lob Lolly looked down at Snolly Goster’s pet barking spider, Bumdinger, and Lob Lolly said, “Hey, Bumdinger, you are gettin’ big, little buddy,” then he looked back up at Snolly Goster and asked, “Has Bumdinger woven a web of lies yet?”

        Snolly Goster looked down at Bumdinger and said in baby-talk, “Yes you have, yes you have, haven’t you, that’s right, ’cause you are my sweet little Bumdinger, aren’t you, aren’t you?” and the gossamer leash twirled and vibrated.

        Lob Lolly shyly asked  Snolly Goster, “Can I walk with you?”

        Snolly Goster replied, “Of course.”

        So Lob Lolly and Snolly  Goster strolled side-by-side along the festively bustling neighborhood sidewalks.  Many young trick-or-treaters admired Lob Lolly’s werewolf costume and complimented Snolly Goster’s witch costume.

        Several parents said that Lob Lolly and Snolly Goster were a cute couple.  Lob Lolly silently agreed.

        Lob Lolly whispered a wish upon the Halloween Moon that Snolly Goster could be his girlfriend.  And more.  It was a lot to ask of the Halloween Moon.  Witches and werewolves almost never consorted.  Lob Lolly was still amazed at his good fortune that Snolly Goster had ever even talked with him in the first place.  Witches are so complicated and werewolves are so simple.  But such good fortune had emboldened Lob Lolly and he was sure that the Halloween Moon had a further destiny for him.

        Lob Lolly asked Snolly Goster, “Snolly, have you heard mortals speak of a ‘soul mate’?”

        Snolly Goster stopped while Bumdinger barked at a cricket and she replied, “Sure, Lob.”

        Lob Lolly continued casually, “I think it sounds nice.”

        Snolly Goster replied thoughtfully, “Yes, I think I agree.”

        Lob Lolly sighed, “It’s kind of a shame that we don’t have souls, don’t you think?”

        Snolly Goster and Lob Lolly continued their stroll with Bumdinger.  They passed a little girl in a princess costume who was crying into her mother’s knees.  Snolly Goster said at last, “Lob, you know that souls don’t always get what they want.  They aren’t governed by the Queendom of the Moon as we are.”

        Lob Lolly nodded, “Sure, sure.  But Snolly, don’t you think that Fate would be fun to try?”

        Snolly Goster said, “Lob, ‘just say no’,” but then Snolly Goster leaned toward Lob Lolly and giggled and whispered, “I do have a spell…”

        Lob Lolly trembled and asked, “A soul spell?”

        Snolly Goster nodded and whispered, “The spell rents a soul.”

        Lob Lolly said eagerly, “Snolly, I’ll try it if you will.”

        Snolly Goster debated herself, “This would be the perfect time to try it, but…”

        Lob Lolly asked, “But what?”

        Snolly Goster said gravely, “Lob, there is one danger.  If the rented soul encounters its soul mate then the..,”

        Lob Lolly prodded, “Yes?  If it encounters its soul mate… what?”

        Snolly Goster continued, “Then the, say, werewolf or, say, witch keeps that soul and becomes mortal.”

        Lob Lolly trembled but he asked nonchalantly, “Oh, what are the chances of that?” and then he silently beseeched the Halloween Moon.

        Snolly Goster grinned and whispered, “Do you really want to?  We could.  Should we?” and Snolly Goster giggled nervously.

        Lob Lolly smiled and said, “OK, sure. Let’s do it.  I want to do it.”

        Snolly Goster hesitated demurely, “Lob, this is my first time with this spell.”

        Lob Lolly gently encouraged, “Well, it will be my first time, too, you know?”

        Snolly Goster at last said, “OK, Lob, let’s do it,” and then she lifted Bumdinger up onto her shoulder.

        Lob Lolly crossed his claws as Snolly Goster began to twerk and chant, “Our Moon, Who glides in the heavens, Halloween be thy name, my will be done.  Give us this Fate, this nightly dread.  Fore give us a trespass into those who trespass into us.  Then lead us back from temptation and deliver us… a pizza,” and Snolly Goster said aside to Lob Lolly, “I’m hungry.”

        Lob Lolly trembled and said, “Whoa, the colors!  The colors of my fur!  It is changing.  I feel weird!  I don’t feel werewolf any more.  Whoa!”

        And so Lob Lolly’s fur withdrew under his skin and he stood there a handsome mortal boy.  He looked at Snolly Goster.

        Snolly Goster’s skin became milky and radiant.  Her eyes were no longer dark reflective whirlpools but they had become like lavender gems to Lob Lolly.

        Lob Lolly said urgently to Snolly Goster, “I love you, Snolly Goster,” and then he suddenly doubled over in pain.  His rented soul had taken root and Lob Lolly now belonged to that soul.

        Indeed, Lob Lolly was in the presence of his soul mate as he had hoped and prayed.  But he would be a werewolf no more, forever.  Lob Lolly didn’t care.

        Snolly Goster became frightened and reversed the spell upon herself, as was all she could do.

        Lob Lolly then saw himself back in the whirlpools of Snolly Goster’s eyes.

        Lob Lolly howled, “Snolly!  You are my soul mate!  What has happened!?”

        Snolly Goster covered her mouth and said, “Oh, my Moon, Lob!  Didn’t you realize that a soul mate can be solitary if the other soul doesn’t reciprocate?”

        Lob Lolly howled louder, “Reciprocate?” then still louder, “Reciprocate?!  I love you, Snolly Goster, and I know you love me!  Why didn’t you admit it?  Why?!”

        Snolly Goster chattered, “Oh, my poor Lob!  I am so sorry, but I really don’t think of you that way.  I am so sorry.  You are a friend, a good friend, but you are… you were a werewolf and I have so many other witch’s plans, so many.”

        And Bumdinger, sitting on Snolly Goster’s shoulder, happily spun a great big web with that lie.

 

 

 

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