for Zoe, The Queen of Sweetness
by Andrea Lena DiMaggio
The figure looked out the window; the water cascaded down the glass as the rain had reached its sixth day. Arkansas in the spring can be all sorts of things; welcoming wasn’t one of them.
Living in an area that always promised to discourage ….it promised to discourage her as she saw very little means of escape. One more trip into Little Rock proved frustrating as the job market seemed destined to accommodate everyone but her. She sighed and looked out the window again, as if wishing would make the sun at least show its face long enough for a sun shower.
“I don’t…” She picked at her guitar, looking for a nice chord to fit her mood, if you can call a minor seventh nice.
“I don’t have the heart to play…this heart of mine hurts every day.” Almost emo, with a bit of country reluctantly thrown in for good measure. If anything, she knew what sold. She sighed and looked out the window yet again, her tears matching the dripping beat of the raindrops as she gave into her loneliness.
Outside, hovering above the home were four beings; tremendous power they held, since all the power they held was bestowed by another, and released not by will or dint of force, but by song. The old arts were wielded, not by compulsion or urgency, though their charges might be in dire straits or urgent need. Their arts were released through kindness and hope and love.
“She looks so sad.” Fiona said, her tears almost matching the soft weeping of the girl in the window.
“She feels hopeless, dear one.” Calleigh the Wise half-smiled; her own hope based solidly in the knowledge that the girl was loved, first by her creator, but by another who had yet to make her acquaintance.
“But she will hope, won’t she?” Siobhan the Merciful looked down and saw the glimmer; the trace; the promise that the girl would know love and friendship and life and song.
“And we will help her find the one, won’t we?” Orla the Resourceful smiled.
“Always a step ahead, dear child.” Calleigh and the other women were all centuries old, save for the newest member, but Siobhan’s heart had given way to the wisdom of the ages when she passed into this realm, and she laughed softly.
“Like a scout? She’s the advance wave of our intervention? Have you found the one?”
“Indeed I have, dear sister. Indeed I have.” The women looked down and the scene changed. Halfway around the world it rained harder still, if that was possible. Another woman in another home, but this one was not crying tears of sadness.
“Why does she cry if she be not sad?” Fiona asked, struggling to keep her own crying in check. She was almost always unable to stay her emotions, but that was the one thing that made her who she was.
“She is travailing; she has been thinking and praying without knowing why, but her heart has been moved by the needs of another; the one we saw only moments ago.
“She’s crying for someone she has yet to meet?” Orla asked.
“Oh…in a way, they’ve met already, since they are almost akin, but not by blood, but by the one thing that gives them to others; the motivator; the gift.” Calleigh explained.
“They sing the Song…the healing song!” Fiona said even as her tears fell to earth.
“The Healing Song?” Siobhan questioned and the other three smiled.
“We can only do so much to influence others to help their fellow mortals. All we are called upon to help have it in their hearts to do and say what will be a blessing; we urge and we suggest without insistence. But some cannot; they themselves have been hurt nearly beyond the ability to step outside their own pain. They wish to change but have not the strength and even some not the courage. The song is like a prayer…music that goes beyond words and notes …the heart of the creator moving upon the heart of those who hear the song.” Calleigh smiled as she looked below at the crying woman.
“Never more precious and giving hearts than the two we have just seen.”
“The one before…she is …different…like my own daughter?” Siobhan said, recalling how her daughter had not always been so, save for in her heart and mind, where it counted most.
“Yes…and she loves without having one to cherish.” Orla said, recalling her ‘research.’
“So the two…the girl here and the girl there? They will become one flesh? A Divine Duo?” Fiona began to smile with excitement.
“Yes,” Calleigh said. We will see them as they were always intended to be. As they were meant to be for each other and for those who may cross their path.
Zoe woke up the next morning, and something seemed quite odd; almost amiss. She sat up and noticed that she wasn’t in her bed. Looking around, she saw that she had fallen asleep in a very nice bedroom; nothing like her own since it really was the kind of room suited for entertaining guests; soft down quilts of aqua and gold lay across the bed along with down pillows, large and welcoming. She noticed the chair in the corner held a mandolin and a guitar case sat in the corner next to a dresser and mirror. The whole room seemed suited for a woman guest, and she felt welcome, as if someone she didn’t know had acknowledged her true self.
She rose off the bed and stepped to the dresser. A pitcher of water sat next to a basin, along with a folded towel and hand cloth. Pouring the water in the basin, she noticed that it was just the right temperature to wash her face, which she did. As she finished, she looked up and noticed her reflection in the gold-framed mirror. Her hand shot to her face as she caressed her own cheek. She was pretty after a fashion; not as glamorous as many might have hoped for, but prettier than she ever remembered.
“Zoe...my name is Zoe," she said; a needless recitation for some, she had been so used to being called something else by so many for so long, it seemed almost imperative to repeat her name. Her voice seemed to have changed; the tone was as pleasing and sweet as ever, but seemed softer in a way. She noticed that her hair had seemed to grow almost overnight, reaching her shoulders, and in a richer nearly auburn brown than she recalled. Her dress was a cream colored cotton; shirt-waist, with lace collar and lace-embroidery at the sleeve cuffs and bodice. Her waist was girded with a soft brown belt, wide and heavy. She couldn’t remember looking as pretty or as comfortable, ever.
A knock came at the door. As she walked toward the door, she noticed the guitar case opened and displaying her own Taylor…a baby Taylor at that. She didn’t remember bringing her guitar and then she realized she didn’t recall ‘bringing’ herself either. She opened the door and a very pretty young lady, about her own age, stood in the hallway, her strawberry blonde hair aglow from the sunlight peeking through the hallway window across from her door.
“Hello…I’m glad you’re up…the women have been waiting.” She laughed softly, as it to jest about an impatience none of the women would ever display.
“I’m Ashley, dear Zoe, and I’m so glad to finally meet you.”
“You know of me?” Zoe tilted her head in puzzlement. The girl had some sort of accent; Gaelic perhaps…she wasn’t sure of anything other than that Ashley’s voice evoked two strong emotions; joy over the sound of the sweetest voice Zoe had ever heard, and recognition over a voice that she had heard since she was a child.
“Know of you? I should say so. I’ve known of you and known you since we were little.” Zoe tilted her head again. She didn’t understand, but she felt like it was ….true. It made sense without making any sense at all.
“I…I feel like I’ve known you all my life.” Zoe said and Ashley smiled.
“I’ve been singing to you ever since we were small…wee ones, in fact. Since you and I are going to be together, it seemed quite appropriate, although when I was just four or five, it just seemed like the thing to do.
“Together?” Zoe’s heart skipped a beat. She had held very little hope of knowing anyone who would accept her…love her as she was, and she was the most precious being she had ever laid eyes on…the sweetest person she had ever met telling her that they were going to be together. And yet it made sense without sense once again.
“As the women told me, we were meant for each other; not designed or planned, so much as who else would we suit…whom would we be most likely to bless, and the makings of how it all fits together is just one glorious puzzle we get to solve over a life time.” Ashley smiled and began to cry softly.
“I’m sorry…have I said something to upset you?” Zoe had hardly said anything, much less upsetting, but she was always sensitive and caring and giving. Ashley shook her head no.
“When I was little, I was a bit afraid that I had been a silly, foolish girl who just believed in faeries and magic and other such things. But recently….my heart has been filled to overflowing with the faith and hope that what I wanted to be true as a child was exactly what would be true now. I’ve only just met you face to face, dear sweet Zoe, but I’ve known you and loved you all my life. I want to sing…and I want to sing to bless and give hope…the Song of Healing…you know of it?”
“No…but yes…I never knew its name, but I knew I was meant to sing it. For little children who have been hurt; for old men who never became who they were meant to be; for young women who lost what had been given to them at birth…for children who grew up feeling alone and scared….” Zoe began to weep, thinking about the little hope she had felt for herself for so long. She felt a soft hand caress her cheek.
“For you whom I have loved since I was six years old, no matter how you may have started, my dear sweet Zoe, I trust in you now; I wish to sing the song with you. It’s a duet, you know, always a balance, as the women say.” Zoe grabbed Ashley’s hand and held it tight against her face, feeling a healing pass between them; the hurt being healed; the lack becoming plenty; the fear becoming faith, and the loneliness becoming companionship.
A soft drone sounded off somewhere and a harp played as the girl began to sing.
Your name means life and not yours alone
Your destiny to share
Your heart becomes mine and mine to you
As we become aware
I plight my troth my hand to you
My vow and promise sure
As life begins for you and I
Our love shall ere endure.
And Zoe sang in return, a newness of strength and confidence and hope, realizing that there had been a plan for her all along; for sharing and giving to all and to one in particular…it was the first best day of the rest of her life.
I cannot begin to understand this
I cannot fathom this pure bliss
I cannot begin to even measure
How I came to gain such a wondrous treasure
You are my hopes my dreams I’m confessing
You are my song my heart my dear blessing
Ashley held her hand as they walked down the hall and out the door into a garden, where the four women stood.
“We have seen the uniting; the wedding of two like souls; kindred in both spirit and song; who shall affirm this bond; this union of peace and joy and love, “ Calleigh spoke in almost a sing song.
“We shall affirm their calling their life and their love,” the women replied in song. And then the garden was flooded with an almost whitish pastel green light. The music seemed to meld with the colors and the smells of all the flowers and then a quiet and a dim light and an almost buzz…..
“Zoe, did the shipment from Martin ever come?” The soft brogue repeated from the back room. A girl came walking out of the back, holding a piece of paper up.
“Already out on the floor….while you were out and about with your errands, love.” The reply came. Both young ladies were wearing jeans and matching polo shirts embroidered with “Life Music Store,” along with nearly matching name tags… Zoe Taylor and Ashley Taylor….The Singer and Her Bride!
to be continued in another, firmer plain of existence.
This story is a prequel of sorts to Down to Earth, but stands alone as homage to some of my favorite folks. As it says in song, dear sweet Zoe and Ashley, may the road always rise up to meet you; may the sun put a smile on your face; may the wind carry you where ere you go until we meet again!
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