August 12, 2008

Zion's Children - pt 19

"It's your own fault, Levi," remarked Admiral Hiawithus as the two sat in the shade of a lone maple-like tree. It was the only tree on this branch of the New Jerusalem River, where the two frequently met outside of politics and religion and were just friends.

Levi cast his fishing line out, and sighed. "I suppose you're right, Archibald. I didn't exactly set a good example letting you befriend me, did I?"

The old admiral chuckled. "Well, you certainly gave me a hard enough time about it!"

"Our life here has never been easy. We were sent away from our homes, exiled from the planet of our birth. Trusting those who came afterwards was not something that we were taught as children. Did I err in going against those lessons? Have I set my granddaughter up for failure?"

"Rubbish," Archibald replied, casting his own line out, farther to the left than his friend had. "First of all, Miriam has a good head on her shoulders, and she is firm in her faith. No one is going to lead her astray." He let the current pull his line, tugging on it only lightly to keep it from tangling with Levi's line. "Are you afraid that someone will someday talk her into leaving the planet? That she'll leave you alone?"

Levi snorted. "Miriam will no sooner leave this planet than you will. She believes in this world, in this people, as much as you do."

"And does she support partnership with the Conglomerate?"

That drew the colony man up short. "You know, I don't think she's ever said."

Archibald laughed heartily, which given his sickly appearance was startling for someone not prepared for it. "Maybe you ought to ask her some time!"

"I think I might." Levi tried not to grumble.

"Seriously, Levi...what are you afraid of?"

"I'm afraid of many things, Archibald. Mainly, I'm afraid that Miriam is going to get this disease. But even if that doesn't happen ... I'm afraid I'll lose her anyway ... that her spirit will be crushed at the sight of so much death. She's held the hand of dying friends, Archibald. No girl her age should have to go through that."

"She's your granddaughter...and your spirit hasn't been crushed one bit," replied Hiawithus.

Levi sighed. "Yet."

August 01, 2008

Zion's Children - pt 18

"I worry about you."

They had this conversation every morning. Miri smiled as she sat down next to her grandfather at their wooden table. Her father had made it from trees from the forest long before she had been born, a betrothal gift when he was courting her mother, Levi's daughter. "I know you do, Grandfather. It is how I know that I am loved."

Levi Davidson snorted. "You work too hard amongst people who do not share our faith, Miriam."

"I'm trying to keep our families from dying," she protested lightly as she bit into overcooked eggs. Not only did her grandfather overcook them, he never seasoned them to her liking either. She sprinkled salt and pepper on them even as he continued his arguements.

"Our people have always been dying. Even before Hitler Exiled us to the wasteland of space. God sent plagues in the desert long before we were sent into the desert of the stars." Levi sighed, knowing that he would loose the argument as he did each day, no matter what new twists he put into it. "This is just one more Plague sent by God to try our faith and weed out..."

"This illness does not come from God!" Miri actually slammed her fork to the table. "And you cannot tell me that God would count the children I have seen die as unworthy! I have read the scriptures just like you, maybe not for as many years, but I know that He loves the children! He scolded his own disciples publicly when they tried to send the children away."

Levi was quiet, conceding the point.

Suddenly, her breakfast no longer appealed to her. She ought to be used to his disaproval of her work in the Post hospital, but it was a tiring subject. Why couldn't he just be proud of her? She slid the plate away and stood. He caught her hand, and held her back from leaving.

"Do you go for the people, Miriam? Is it a burden given to you by God? Or do you go because you like the off-worlders? Because they praise you and stroke your ego?"

This was the newest twist to her grandfather's disapproval. And it cut her to the core that he would think such things of her. But, she answered all the questions truthfully with just one word before pulling free from his gentle grip. "Yes."

Levi sighed, unsure how to interpret her willfulness. "It cannot be yes to all Miriam...pride goes before the fall and I do not wish to see you fall."

"Yes, I go for our people...if I can help find the natural reason for this illness, then I will. Yes, it is something I believe God wants me to do. Yes, I like the off-worlders...Many of them are kind good people. I have seen Marcus...Doctor Alexander weep for the patients he has lost. Lily Bennett is a colony girl, Grandfather. She might not be of our world, but she is of our people and our faith! Yes, they praise me...they encourage the giftings in me, and make me believe that I can be something more than a man's property. It is not pride to acknowledge who I am. And it is not my pride that will doom our people." Miri sighed, then planted a light kiss on his wrinkled forehead. "We really need to find something new to argue about, Grandfather. But later. I must go now if I am to be on time."

Levi sighed in the silence. Knowing his granddaughter as he did, he had no doubt that it wouldn't be long before she supplied him with something new to argue about.