The rubble of the trail bounced off of Patricka’s shoes as she ran into the chapel looking for her father. The beauty of the building and the honesty of the tradition were lost on her as she made her way down the aisle of wooden pews. The image of all five kings of the world presiding over the globe overlooked the girl, but again she did not pay attention to the importance behind such a statue. She ignored the stained glass, the hanging torches, the alter, the Book, everything that a ten year old takes for granted when they live in a family with a priest as father.
She turned the corner, bounded up the steps and burst through the thick wooden door to reveal Moshe, her father, working on his next sermon. “Papa! I have news! I have news!”
Moshe slowly lifted his balding head to his daughter and suppressed a chuckle at her excitement. “Dear, is this how you enter the house of God? The workplace of your father? The monument of our great ruler?”
“Sorry Papa.” Patricka quickly curtsied turning her focus to one of the many Penta Diamonds attached to the walls of the wooden room. She mumbled random syllables at an inaudible level hoping her father would assume she recited a prayer. “My news!” She swiveled her orientation back to her father.
He held up a finger as he put a last few words to paper before he could move his attention to Patricka. His eyes slowly moved up from the paper to meet the young girl’s. “Go.”
“I received my calling!” Excitement burst from her face as if she were turning to steam.
It was news that should be considered a great achievement, but it was also news that Moshe had been dreading for the last four years when he first met his daughter. He closed his eyes to fight tears while letting a smile shine through to honor Patricka’s achievement. He rose to his feet looking like a man ready to face execution. He straightened his spine coming to his full stature and made his way over to the panting girl and leaned over for a hug.
“Don’t you want to know what I will be doing?” Patricka hugged her father back out of habit, but she could not hide the annoyance that he was not inquiring about her announcement.
Moshe held her tightly, a tear forming in the corner of his eye, “No, not now. You will from this point forward be a woman and in so you shall announce this as a woman would. We must have a feast tonight!”
Patricka pushed herself away from her father to bounce about the room displaying the sheer giddiness she possessed. She turned mumbling thanks to her dad and hopped back down the steps to go on with her day.
Moshe sighed in frustration at the fact that this moment had happened so soon. The king always gave children their calling, but most would not find out until they were nearly twenty years old. But, for Moshe, his daughter would begin her adult life and her training for her life’s work at the young age of ten.
As he made his way out of his office and back down to the stone framed chapel he let his mind wander. It contemplated things that he was, of course, ashamed of questioning, but things that were only natural for his situation.
‘Why did he choose her?’ He thought to himself. ‘When I was talking to the children of choice to pick my daughter, why did I have to pick Patricka? Why did I pick the child with the most promise?’ The idea of having not picked her darkened his outlook briefly, but it was just a horrible fantasy. He picked her because she was the one. He felt a connection with her that no other child came close to providing for him. Unfortunately, the king had felt it was time she started doing God’s work now.
Maybe it was his own connection with God that he chose her. Maybe the connection he felt was in actuality a connection between Patricka and God. Maybe he knew all along that his family would be torn apart quicker than most.
He turned back at the statue of the kings and the world before he left the chapel. He bowed to the image of the five kings and the Earth they presided over. The Penta Diamond hung there portraying the image so clearly. The world was overlooked by the five kings who were the only people in existence that had communication with God. It was the reason they were the only people who were represented inside the chapel. The symbolism was lost to some, but Moshe understood it, he had written sermons on it before.
He followed his religious practices. He bowed and thanked the black king while looking into the eyes of the statue within the black diamond. He bowed and thanked the yellow king while eyeing the face within the yellow diamond. He did the same for the red king in the red diamond and the fat king in the grey diamond. He then touched his forehead, the metaphoric third eye, as he thanked the white king, his king, the ruler of his home lands, and gazed deeply into the visage of the man in the white diamond. Then he touched his heart and thanked God as he looked up at the ceiling of his chapel.
The stepped out of the building taking backwards steps letting the image of the statue make an impression on him. Letting the importance of everyone’s attachment to God become visible to him, he breathed deep.
He closed the doors to the chapel.
Wyndsoria was frantic to get the preparations for her daughter’s feast together. When Moshe had chosen her as the mother for their family, Patricka’s calling had become the biggest event of her life.
When Wyndsoria was sixteen she received her calling from the white king. She remembered sitting in school, trying to understand the importance of avoiding progress, when a guard entered the class room with a note from the king.
Blessed be this day, the fourth of winter in the nine hundred eighty first year of their dynasty, the white king. You, Wyndsoria Wyndhaven have been called upon to serve your country, your fellow man, your king, and your God as a Water Bearer. In one day’s time, you will travel to the town of Listerbourne to manage the water source for the community. Celebrate and pay homage to your God by devoting your life to this work.
When she held the note she shook with gratitude. The moment when she realized that God had a plan for her and he had told the king it was her time to work, was the most meaningful occasion of her life. But now, with her daughter of four years being called upon, the biggest experience of her life would be honoring Patricka.
Her hut was filled with smoke and steam as she prepared a feast. It was a lot of work to make a meal for the whole of their society, but this was her task and she would not fail for Patricka.
She had wanted the celebration to be a surprise to everyone in their village, but she had to tell the hunter to round up five hogs. And, she had to tell the farmer that it was necessary to use up three percent of their harvest for this one day. And, there was no avoiding telling the musician that he would be needed all night. But she still managed to keep it a secret from most.
She had managed to get three of the hogs over a single fire pit and only needed find one more pit to roast the other two. She had cut the onions and carrots for the soup and retrieved a couple gallons of water. That would be used to make the broth when the hogs would come off.
As the smoke began to burn her eyes, Wyndsoria stepped out of her hut to get some fresh air. The village was working its daily duties. The pebbled path in front of her home was freshly raked, the huts of the other families had been straightened back from the heavy winds of the morning. She could hear the patter of carriages being pulled by horses down the way. And the scent of the blacksmith just around the corner melting metals into the items he needed drifted across the entirety of the town.
Sometimes she wished she had been assigned to a richer community, but not that night. That night she was thankful for what she had and the passion everyone would show for Patricka. As she basked in the glory that would soon befall her daughter, Moshe walked up the trail. His head was low and his dark robes slowly gathered the light colored dust that plagued the small village.
Wyndsoria rushed over to embrace her husband, the duties of a wife, “Wonderful day! Our daughter has become a woman.” Her words were what she knew she should feel, but they betrayed her true feelings about her daughter walking out of her life. He put his arms around one of the members of his house that was not leaving him in the next few days.
“I know you have been looking forward to this day. Maybe I should leave you to preparations and go get Ash from school?” Moshe tried to put a happy tone to his suggestion.
“Yes! Go get her brother. He must hear the news!”
Moshe kissed his wife on her smoke stained forehead and continued his trek through the town. He passed his hut and went down the trail towards the school. He was reminded of just yesterday when he was walking the trail to gather both his children, but now he did not know where his daughter was. But, it was no matter, she was no more his daughter now than anyone else’s. She was another active member of society.
He imagined his Patricka going out to her new town, her new job, her new life and he wondered what it would be like. Moshe had the luxury of staying in his birth village. When he was called upon to spread the word of God he was taking over for his village’s priest who had been sent away to the yellow king’s land.
It was the way of commerce. The kings would barter with each other to gain new technology or fashion or entertainment by trading citizens between kingdoms. Luckily the former priest had no family left when he was traded. It was the way they did things. The best and brightest, it seemed, were traded away, but it was always those who were now alone, those who had no family to speak of.
The thought brought horror to Moshe. What if Patricka had been traded? What if the girl he had spent the last four years raising was being sent to the yellow king’s land where she would become a savage like those who followed their barbarian king? But he pushed the idea aside. She had a family, it was not the way things worked.
He walked up to the school. It was a lone wooden building in the middle of their desert. It seemed calm while the classes were still in session, but once they let out he knew of the madness that would encompass the school yard. He enjoyed the silence as he kicked the rubble from the trail, allowing it to bounce off his religious robes.
There was not much time to dwell on the change in his life before the time had come for school to be dismissed. A faint rumble like that of an impending thunderstorm rolled across the ground as the children began to emerge from the building.
The sound thickened with each child that emerged from the doors. After a few minutes, Moshe saw Ash come out of the building frantically looking around.
Moshe rushed to him to ease his fear of his missing sister. “Over here!” He waved his arms wildly in an attempt to catch Ash’s eye.
His son nodded at him and made his way over to his father, “I can’t find Patricka.”
“She is home.” The words came out solemn.
“Is she ok? What could have happened while she was in class?” Fear and panic invaded the boy’s speech.
“No. She has received her calling.”
Shock. Ash’s jaw dropped. “But, she is only ten. How could I not have been called first? I am sixteen.” It was all mumble, but Moshe felt his son’s despair.
“Let’s walk home.”
The village was buzzing with anticipation. Festivals of this type were both a celebration as well as a somber goodbye party. It was almost unheard of for someone to stay with their village. Most people were sent to far away cities to serve a new community, to keep their emotions and attachments subdued while their obligation to God remained at the forefront.
Wyndsoria had prepared all five hogs, two gallons of soup, ten loaves of bread and ten pies. She was exhausted but glowing with excitement for the honors of her daughter. The light from the sun dimmed with the sunset and the community began to gather on the trail.
It was obviously a special occasion, the village as a whole almost never congregated. The people began to congregate and have meaningless conversations near their huts. The music of the pan flutist started soft, but gained intensity as people began to compete with it for their conversation volume.
Ash had gathered wood and stacked it for a bonfire in the center of the trail. As the sun dipped down past the horizon he brought out a torch and lit the bonfire in honor of his sister, Patricka.
The gleam from the fire shone on the people of the village making their grey skin almost shine. It was something they rarely noticed as nearly every person on the planet was a grey skin, but when they congregated in special light it came to prominence.
The pan flute rose in volume and a group of girls came out of one of the huts and began to dance. It was the dance of the Calling, a dance that all girls learned as soon as they could walk.
Patricka absorbed the honor as she realized that everything was put together in regard to her becoming a woman. She let the movement of the girls overtake their physical presence. In her view there was nothing more than motion.
When the dance had finished Moshe approached one of the hogs for the carving. He bowed his head and said a prayer, “Dear Lord, we thank you dearly from our humble village for allowing us the blessings we have gladly taken from you. We thank you for giving us the White King who allows us to hear your voice through his own. And we thank you for the honor you have bestowed upon Patricka who takes her steps now to becoming the woman you mean her to be.” He stepped aside and motioned for Patricka to speak.
Patricka walked towards the smoking hog attempting to be graceful, but still looking like a child playing dress up. “Thank you. This is wonderful. I am scared, but happy. Today is my last day as a child and tomorrow I start my life as an information bearer.” She giggled, and then cried.
Moshe reached for the knife letting his pride for his daughter shine through. He raised it ceremoniously to stab the hog when he noticed movement out in the darkness. His pause grasped the attention of the town. They all turned to the expanse past the fires where they could see three men approaching.
The shine of their armor told Moshe that it was the king’s men coming for Patricka. “Welcome! We appreciate you arriving so swiftly to fetch your newest information bearer, but we are still celebrating Patricka’s accomplishment. If you don’t mind us finishing our ceremony.” His voice echoed out into the nothingness as the clinking of the men’s armor came into the area.
“Ho!” Said one of the men as the fire began to illuminate their pale skin. “We will happily let you finish your celebration, but you may want to make it for two.”
The words rung deep sorrows into the community while the thick scent of the pork sting everyone’s nostrils.
“We come for two. Patricka and we have a calling for Ash.” No matter how unthreatening the man’s face was, it would be the face of Moshe’s nightmares until he would see his children reunited with him again.
Ash pushed his way through the small crowd to meet the men and receive his calling. He showed no disdain for his calling coming during a celebration for his sister, he instead appeared to be a boy stealing a spotlight.
A whisper leaked from his mouth, “King’s personal guard.”
The crowd erupted and Patricka came over to hug her brother. Both of them were moving on with their lives together. As a guard and an information bearer they would be in the same city, the same city as the king, the city of Sodorrah.
Moshe handed the knife to his son acknowledging his transition into manhood and went to be next to his wife. Wyndsoria was crying as he approached her. She looked into his eyes with a pained smile and buried her face in his chest. Not because she loved him, not because it was her duty as his wife, but because she had no one else left. He patted the back of her head as he watched his two children gleefully accept the end of their childhood.
He watched them dance, eat, sing, talk, but eventually it faded from his sight as he reminisced about the life he experienced with them. He chuckled as he relived their days out of their pre-family houses.
Ash was such an athletic little six year old that they always said they knew who the birth parents were. Since it was assumed that most kids were physically born in their towns there were few people who could have given their genetics to such a strong little boy.
There was always more mystery with Patricka. Over the four years she was his daughter she never showed signs that she was birthed by anyone they knew. It might have been why she seemed so special to them. She was the most individual person Moshe had ever met.
As his eyes refocused on the celebration it became very clear that he was done with them. There were no more lessons, no more talks, no more hard times, everything was over and it was just him and his wife.
The night seemed to last for years, but they always did. The men from the king stayed and got to know Ash and Patricka as they were all headed to live in the same city. It was an odd coincidence that two people from one family were going to the same place, but it was a part of God’s plan. Not even the king would have dared defy God’s command.
Eventually, everyone went home and the night was over. Patricka and Ash spent their last night in their bed while Moshe and Wyndsoria spent it in their kitchen, awake and dreading the children’s departure.
As the sun arose the next day it was a scene that had two sides. The children were moving onto the important work of their lives while the parents watched the greatest joy of theirs walk away forever. Wyndsoria retreated to her bed after she gave her final hugs and kisses, but Moshe went to work. The work of God did not stop for his own pain.