Marching on. The next challenge is the difficult title up there.
All she knew was that she had to catch it. The wind was whispering softly and carrying it on its belly, one of those spherical flowers, the kind where the seeds came off it if you blew gently and yet the strength of the wind, which she could feel in the slight shiver of her skin didn’t damage it.
It reminded her of her little brother. He had been so soft, so small, even his head where the skull was felt like it could crumple like a piece of paper. The joints between his hand and arm had been soft enough for even her to crush, and she wasn’t even that strong. She didn’t need to be told that this was something delicate her parents were caring for. It was clear that like the flower the slightest jolt could have scattered him into a million little pieces. Yet for a while the world had carried him just like that flower. Gently. With direction. He had learned to hold her hand, he had learned to smile, he had learned little baby noises. It had seemed like there was somewhere he was going until there wasn’t anymore. There was no him and nobody could explain it, not really.
In heaven they said. And at night her mother cried tears so persistent she had learned to sleep through them and to know by their sound in the morning that she really was home.
“What’s a will?” she had asked one of her teachers. They took her more seriously now she had noticed.
“It’s a piece of paper that people write while they are alive to say what should happen to their property once they die.”
“So, you mean God is dead?”
“and that when he was alive what he wanted was for my brother to die?”
“I think I may have answered the wrong question. Uhm…. Why do you ask what a will is?”
“Everyone is always telling my mother it was the will of God. Then she nods and tries to be stronger.”
“Oh… sorry. Will is also just what somebody wants. The will of God is… you know our father’s prayer right?”
She did but more as a litany, a string of words, not something that held separate meaning, a sing-song she had…
“may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Her teacher interrupted her.
“Oh. Ok. So what does God want?”
“I should give you a better answer than this, but the truth is we’re all trying to figure it out. Maybe that’s why we’re all here to figure it out.”
“Do you think that’s why he died?”
“Yes, maybe he already knew and so he didn’t need to be here anymore.”
“That could be true, yes.”
And yet she could see the look that came over grown-up’s eyes when they decided you were too young to hear something. She also knew that when that happened there was no going back. For a few minutes there she had felt like her teacher was talking to her, actually talking to her but now, now it would be emptiness. She could always see the emptiness in their eyes, when they talked and looked off like they were thinking of something else, hiding something they didn’t want her to know, never understanding just how much she did know.
She had finally caught the flower. She sat down and began blowing on it, seeing the little flags borne on the wind, flying upwards and away. She wondered for a moment where they were going and then in a sudden fit tried to bring them back. She ran after them and tried to wave them into her hands. They slipped though on their onward journey, unwilling to listen to her as hard as she tried.
Her mother had tried too she remembered. She could remember how her mother had tried on that night, doing everything possible and failing. She hadn’t imagined that could happen before, her mother could do anything until right that moment when she saw that it wasn’t true. And she looked for the seeds that had gone and saw nothing there and knew that even her mother couldn’t have stopped them. That they would have gone on going wherever the wind wanted, wherever God willed. It wasn’t true what her teacher said, that we didn’t know what God wanted. God wanted those flowers to fly away, you only had to look around you to know, to realise that everything we thought and wanted were dreams and that only the will of God turned into reality. That’s how you could know what he wanted just look at what happened.
Her mother’s voice was calling her and she turned to the sound. Worried about her. Worried that she shouldn’t be running off when her mother was so weak. Worried that her knowing her mother was weak only made her weaker. All the times she had heard that believing something makes it real played in her head.
“Look mama, look.” The sun had been setting later and later, hanging in its setting as if waiting for something or someone to look up and see it. It wasn’t there now but it lit up the undersides of the cloud so that they glowed gold and light. The sky’s colour had passed through just blue heading to the border with green in some places, feather like touches of cloud passed in front of them and a flock of birds cawing and cackling as they went off on their secret missions.
She snuck a quick look at her mother to see if she was looking. And she actually was, staring at the sunset with the same intensity as she used to before. A small tear was making its way down the lines in her face, and then it hang there like the sun. and in itself it caught the whole world, she had to stop breathing to see clearly. Right in that tear she could see the sun and the birds and herself and her mother.
This was reality too, this tear and all the things it captured, all the things it contained. There was something of God in that tear, in that moment, something of him peeking out.
“Mama have you ever seen God?”
Smiling down at her in the old way, and looking at her like she had never seen her before her mother simply said,