Story: Part II
My craft rattles along the guiderails, then clamps into place. The doors unlock, and I exit, shedding the metal hull as if it is my old skin.
I take my first step into a new space, a new reality. I’m no longer bleeding; my bones are no longer broken; my body no longer aches. There is no pain, not here.
And there is no dark. No true dark, at least. The worlds of the temporal creation have found residence here. Air, Fire, Water, and Earth—they light the path I follow toward the entrance of the mansion.
I notice I’m not alone. I see other crafts guided in by white lines and docking on the black cityscape, with people exiting and walking the same path I follow. Some seem to know each other; they run and embrace like brothers and sisters. A few giggle and scream in excitement.
A calmness sweeps through me. I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. As I watch the many Chosen, I can’t help but smile. Every person I see is someone who has fought to be here. After all, admission is not free. They were torn and bloodied, bruised and broken. Some even resisted to the point of shedding blood in their striving against the Deceiver and their own rebellion.
But, even so, it was not their pain that paid the way. The true cost was a ransom offered long ago. It allowed us passage here.
So, we enter like a procession: slow but sure, purposed and eager. Babbling displays of water and fluttering works of flame mark the front entryway. The four standards of our previous life and worlds shift gently to the breeze. The fiery lion of my crest roars in silent challenge. A bird of white cloud on a black field marks those from Air. Terra—Earth, as I prefer to call it—is represented by the standard bearing a tree of multiple branches, each branch a different color. A dragon sheared from ice grins for those of Water.
We pass the threshold of the mansion and enter the gala, not just into a new space and reality, but into a new world. Bubbles of air float like giant diamonds, refracting white light. Wisps of glowing clouds stir quietly around me as I walk. The simple regality of it awes me.
The doors to the grand hall open as we approach. Might, boldness, promise—another world is thrown wide to me, one more grandiose than the last. The Tree of Life reaches down from the dark sky, roots rippling with strength, burrowed into the moonscape above. My mind reels. Like a colossus, the Tree is an entity unto itself, demanding its own gravity. Planets circle slowly in the distance, orbiting it.
The inverted landscape reminds me of the fabled Elysian Fields of old. Alight and alive, the scape sheds a glow upon the people beneath. On us. On me.
A hand grabs my shoulder. Startled, I turn.
I see her. My throat closes. My mind goes suddenly silent, like the quiet stillness following a thunderclap.
Hair a dark velvet, eyes a lustrous green, face a steady olive—she holds my gaze. She seems to have been melted into being, like a precious metal refined and then cooled into a shape as smooth and strong as a river stone. Such are His daughters: beautiful yet strong.
But she has more of me than just this moment. She has my memories, my pains, my struggles. I have the same of her. I remember the ruddy pink of her nose, the rawness of life that flowed through her, the cracks and fears that made her the person I grew to cherish. The imperfection drew me toward her then.
Standing before me now, I see perfection. She fought. I fought. Together, we have risen. The imperfect has been perfected. And that perfection draws me toward her now.
My heart shudders. I glance away, gazing around the gala, looking for something to say. Hundreds mill already, with more arriving by the minute. They come with a wholesome decadence of colors: reds and oranges of Fire, blues and teals of Water, greys and whites of Air, and greens and browns of Earth. They come with a uniqueness matured, a knowledge wizened, and a life overflowing.
Through the beautiful chaos of sights and sounds, I hear an ordered rhythm. I hear song. Finally, I understand. Finally, I find what to say.
I turn back to her, eyes meeting. I manage a nervous smile. “May I?” I ask as I stretch out my arm.
She flashes an approving grin and takes my hand.
Tonight, we dance.