Rays of Hope: Chapter 26

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The election is behind us, but the tallying goes on. Perhaps by the time this is published we’ll know who leads the country for the next four years.

If you’re here for the first time, and you’re interested in starting at Chapter 1 of Rays of Hope, click here.

It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I intend to finish the first draft of May His Tribe Increase. Some of it’s already drafted, so I’ll be re-writing some, filling in detail, and doing some polishing, too.

As for Ray and Marla, every week they surprise me.

Chapter 26

“Where are the birds? Why did you tell me to keep an eye on the sparrow? And why did you turn the wheat black?”

All three adults muffle their laughs behind gloved hands.

Ray gulps back more questions. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She planned. She had all her questions arranged in order of how she wanted to ask them. One leading into another; from what she thought would be simple answers to more complex. And now they’re laughing.

Taedan reaches between Trumble and Marla and takes Ray’s hand. He pulls her forward as he accordions down to her level. Because of his height, he gives the illusion of having more joints to fold as he comes face to face with her.

“Have you seen any sparrows?”

“Not for lack of trying.” It’s Marla’s turn to talk as she closes in next to Ray’s shoulder.

“There’s so much to learn here. I just know it,” says Ray. “Like why is it so bright?” Ray bites her lip before the most pressing question wills its way out of her heart: what can you tell me about my mother?

“I’m sure you all have questions.” Taedan stretches back to full height, but keeps Ray’s hand in his. “Tea?”

“Why are you breaking the law?” Marla takes a step toward Taedan, sucking in her breath and pulling her lips together so tight they almost disappear.

Not for the first time, Ray wonders how many of Marla’s question intersect with her own.”

“Let’s start with tea,” Trumble says in a slow, smooth voice that he hopes is calming for everyone. “It’s been so long since we’ve seen you.”

“Oh. Is this a social call?” Taedan asks it in a way that even Ray knows he doesn’t expect an answer. “Have a seat and I’ll be out with some wheat grass tea for all of us.

Marla and Trumble do as Taedan says, their heads craning to take in everything on Taedan’s rooftop.

Ray follows Taedan. Partly because she wants to; partly because he still has her hand and she is loath to let go.

The two of them pass cages filled with resting bird as the cross the rooftop to a door. Small grey-brown birds with rusty cap feather bob around on the floor. Taedan opens the door and they enter a laboratory filled with plants, grow lights, instruments, and piles of notebooks crisscrossed on stainless steel countertops.

“Are you making tea with black wheatgrass?”

“Did you take seeds the last time you were here?”

“Why is the wheat black?”

“Is that the right question?” Taedan says.

“How did you make the wheat black?”

“What do you think?”

Not a single answer. Only questions. Ray thought Taedan more tedious than Marla.

She clenched her jaws together so hard, she heard them grind like she was chewing gravel. The next time I speak, he’ll have to answer.

She willed herself to stay quiet until just the right words came to her.

In the meantime, there was the matter of tea. She busied herself fetching cups and saucers, and molasses with faded labels, and cinnamon sticks, following each of Taedan’s commands and points. She had a cinnamon stick one Christmas. The spiciness tickled her memory as she stirred each cup of tea with a stick.

Did you really break the law?

What makes you ask that?

All the questions started to annoy me, too. I want some answers.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Until next Friday, when we’ll both learn more.


Reading is like food for the soul. u003cbru003eWriters like to eat biscuits, too.

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