Leal stepped out from the protection of the ramshackle home he shared first with his wife, then his family. He followed Akila. It wasn’t difficult, green grass sprouted up in the shape of petite footprints. He matched her steps, ignoring the grass his bare feet crushed under each stride. He was experiencing the touch of the blades of grass for the first time.
Akila stood staring down at the disturbed grave. The tree adorning the cliff was in full bloom. Akila had never spoken to him in his dreams. She was always a ghostly feeling more than someone he could interact with. Leal stared, in awe of his wife’s beauty. A flower was tucked behind her ear, brighter than he had ever seen a flower be. Her dress billowed as a breeze wafted in from the ocean. She turned and looked into his eyes.
Leal stopped mid stride, fear rose in his gut. I’m dreaming no longer, he thought as he beheld the beauty of his wife. She spoke and the words echoed on his psyche.
“I can hide no longer. I’ve revealed myself to Nichelle. Her destiny begins this day.”
Leal fell to his knees. Dust and grime puffed away at the impact. His vision blurred and tears created shiny gullies as they moved through the grime. He mustered his strength and cried out. “Beloved!”
“This world is dying. Men multiply and consume. Wickedness and hate abound. Toiling in the dirt is not my daughter’s fate.”
Leal crawled through the dirt and reached out to touch his wife’s feet. When his hands found them, he buried his face in them, wailing. “Don’t leave me again!”
Akila knelt by her husband. She reached down and caressed his neck. “I will be with you always. The life you and I created only fifteen years ago. She is a part of me as she is a part of you.”
Leal felt the sadness dissipate. He looked up and Akila continued.
“I must leave now. You and the children will be safe. Trust in Nichelle, for she will be your salvation. I love you.”
Through teary eyes, Leal squinted against the brilliant light. The aches in his bones were gone. Grass grew everywhere and everything was awash with Akila’s brilliance. Leal wept openly. At that moment he knew he’d never see his wife again. She tilted her head slightly and bit her fist before she turned and walked off the cliff. Her radiance grew and he covered his eyes with his hands. Despite the pain of the bright light, he watched as she became a pillar of pure white light. The brightness was overpowering and he was forced to look away. When he looked back, all he saw was the endless ocean.
You died fifteen years ago, but now you are truly gone.
Leal rose and brushed the grime from his nightshirt. He walked slowly back to the house he shared with his family. Nichelle and his adopted children stood just inside the door. They had seen the events unfold and marveled at the tree in full bloom. Jahia ventured out and touched the green grass with her bare foot. A squeal escaped her lips as she danced with an imaginary partner. Leal smiled and pondered the wooden construct that housed his family.
It’s the same structure that held grief for so long. Now, it holds hope for a better future.
* * *
Leal held his youngest children. Nichelle paced in the space in front of the ratty couch.
“I saw her.”
Nichelle held an old photo of Akila. The edges were worn from constant handling.
She held out the photo, inches from Leal’s nose. “I saw her! She spoke to me.”
“I know. She spoke to me as well.” Leal fought to hold back new tears.
“The tree is blooming. Grass is growing.”
“How can you just sit there?”
“I sit here because I must.” He drew the children on his lap into an embrace and squeezed.
Nichelle sat on the floor and looked up at her father. “She told me things.”
Leal raised his eyebrows.
“Things I don’t understand.”
“Tell me,” he replied.
“The world will be destroyed.” She got up and walked to a window facing towards the ocean. “She told me the ocean will consume all. No one will survive.” She stared at the tree. “I am to build a structure from this house and that tree.”
Nichelle strode to her father and knelt at his knee. “The structure is to be four stories high. Four stories! How can that tree supply enough wood for that?”
Leal leaned forward. “How can anyone explain what we witnessed last night?”
“A flood…” Nichelle stood again and walked to the window. “I’ve never seen rain.”
Leal stood and gently placed his children on the couch before walking up to his daughter. “I’ve heard stories of water falling from the sky.” He looked out the window and stared at the dirty brown clouds. “I never dreamed it could happen.”
They both stared as a drop of water clung to the window and slowly descended. Another drop appeared and followed the same path. The children on the couch ran up and stared with the rest of the family. The drops numbered five now and more fell from the sky. The water on the glass distorted their view of the tree and ocean. They watched as drops struck the ground and displaced dirt and grime.
Nichelle stepped back from the window and asked her father, “Should we do it?”
“We haven’t the skills to build something like this!”
Nichelle spread her arms wide. She opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Next: Ekon the Builder