Chapter Thirteen

Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars;  Proverbs 9:1 NKJV

Wisdom ran the plane down the length of the wood, her fingers trailing the smooth surface as another shaving curled to the ground. Hefting the finished pillar in her hands, she carefully dropped it into its hole. The weight of it sank deep and held fast. She stepped back and gazed at it.

“It’s beautiful.”

Wisdom yelped and spun around. Wrapping her sister in a stranglehold, she jumped up and down.

“Discretion! What are you doing here? I thought you said once was enough!”

“I missed you.” Discretion smiled, then a greenish hue overtook her face. “I may stay for a while, though.”

Wisdom laughed joyously.

“Of course, stay as long as you like! What do you think? Want to help me finish the roof?”

Discretion paled.

“No, thank you. I’ll stay right here with my feet firmly planted on planet Terra.” She gazed over the house Wisdom was building. “It is lovely. Where ever did you get the idea?”

Wisdom grinned.

“Inspired by the Maker, of course. The seven pillars represent the seven spirits who worship at His throne day and night. The pearled doors resemble the gates of heaven, and the many chambers are for those who wish to come and learn here, just like the many chambers the Lord had me craft in Heaven. Just a small taste of what awaits them. I’m so excited the Master is letting me do this; I can hardly wait!”

Discretion smiled bemusedly.

“Yes, dear, I can see that. Do you think anyone will come?”

“Well…” Wisdom busied herself with stacking shingles. She was amazed at how much the truthful words stung. She had been trying not to think them for days. She sighed and looked at her masterpiece. “I certainly hope so.”

“Me too, dear. Me too.”

They gazed in silence a few moments longer, then a worried frown creased Discretion’s forehead.

“Where on earth is your water?”

Wisdom groaned and pointed.

“I should have known that was coming. Out back.”

Wisdom grabbed her sister’s arm as she moved away.

“It stays out back. In case my guests want to refresh themselves or rest under the trees.”

“Nonsense, love. Not all of it. Your new house will need a reflecting pool or two, and you know how soothing the Lord’s creatures find the sound of tinkling waterfalls. Don’t worry. I’ll only put in a few.”

Wisdom groaned as Discretion moved away.

“Why don’t I just build your room in the middle of the lake!” she called after her sister.

A surprised grin lit Discretion’s face as she glanced back at Wisdom.

“You would do that?”

“Yes. Yes, I would. Just…please…go easy on the amount of water in my home.”

“Deal.”

Discretion hurried away, off to investigate the most important part of Wisdom’s newest dwelling. To her, anyway.

Wisdom shook her head and began shaping the next pillar.

Man, but it was good to see her sister again.

 

“Goodbye, Hakeem. Safe journeys, and may God speed you on your way.”

Hakeem nodded and, tugging on his Arabian’s bridle, led the horse away.

Wisdom watched him mount at the bottom of the hill, soon disappearing down the trail curving out of sight.

She sighed and propped her hands on her hips. Almost a thousand years, and still only a handful of creatures had come to learn from her. She watched Hakeem through the thick forest. He would make a cunning and conscientious wise man. She prayed he would follow the Creator in his homeland—she prayed he would pass down what he learned to future generations.

“Another student passes your testing.”

Wisdom offered Discretion a wobbly smile.

“Yes,” she sighed. “I will miss him.”

“You miss each of your creatures when they leave you. Tell me; do you like this better? Them coming to you, I mean.”

Wisdom shrugged, telling herself to snap out of it—she could see Hakeem anytime. Even if he couldn’t see her outside of this magical place, she could still check on him.

“Out there”—she nodded past the thick wood—“I can whisper into their hearts, and they can choose whether to listen or not. Here…” She gazed around her beloved home before meeting Discretion’s eyes. “Here I can fellowship with them, and they want to learn from me. They don’t simply dismiss my words because it doesn’t follow what they want to do. They listen, learn—become truly wise, filled with understanding. These wise men and women take their knowledge back to their kingdoms, become advisors, ladies-in-waiting, wives to powerful men; they influence the world.”

Wisdom yearned to make Discretion understand. Discretion hadn’t seen much fruit from Wisdom’s endeavors, and was ever skeptical.

“What of the kings and princes? I haven’t seen many of those.”

Wisdom shook her head, her shoulders drooping.

“No. Not many wish to learn from the Lord.”

“And the Hebrews?”

Wisdom bit back a laugh. Discretion just never gave up, did she?

“Someday. For now, I will keep going to them. The Lord’s chosen people. I wish they listened to me, especially.”

“David listens to you.”

Wisdom shrugged, but smiled as she thought of the zealous king with enough passion to rival her own. If only all creatures sought the Maker as David did!

“Mostly. I am glad for that.”

“What about him? Have you had one of your servants ask him to come here?”

“Of course. But he is busy. Always too busy, even when he was hiding from Saul.”

“Seems like the perfect time to have joined you,” Discretion intoned drily.

Wisdom nodded but continued.

“Most kings and princes are too busy with their earthly kingdoms to learn from me here, even if they should…”

Wisdom speared her sister with a desperate stare.

“Why won’t they listen to me, Discretion? Why do they choose their own way, instead of the Maker’s best for them? It goes so much better for them when they follow Him. Do what He says. What am I doing wrong? Why aren’t my halls filled to bursting? Why aren’t my libraries overflowing with seekers of truth? Why, Discretion? Why?”

Discretion wrapped her in a gentle hug.

“Because they are fallen, dearest. We must show mercy and lead them to Him, whether they listen or not. And don’t forget those who do listen; they are making a difference. Keep calling to them, keep guiding them, keep doing what you are doing, sister. The Maker sees and hears. He knows of your desperate love for His creation. Your efforts will not be in vain, I promise.”

Wisdom chuckled, loving her sister’s clarity when everything seemed so very clouded.

“Want to teach my next class, Discretion?”

“No, thanks. I can think of nothing less appealing than hours pouring over a subject that the creatures can only grasp the most rudimentary concepts. It makes me want to tear my hair out to hear you agonizing over the most basic teachings.”

Wisdom shook her head.

“Worse than flying, you mean?”

Discretion’s face paled.

“Nothing is worse than that. On second thought, maybe I’ll teach that class.”

Wisdom laughed. Movement caught her attention.

“Oh, look. You’ve got your wish. Your very first student, sister.”

Discretion blanched even further.

“I, uh, I’ll just see about fixing that stream that runs through the property. It needs to be moved a bit to the west for the, uh, fish.”

Discretion bustled away as Wisdom laughed.

Wisdom watched her sister fly down the heavily wooded path, away from Wisdom’s new guests.

Discretion’s stay had lasted much longer than Wisdom thought it would, and she was grateful. Having her sister at her home made everything seem—lighter. Easier. Her burden didn’t feel so heavy.

Being the angel who led the creatures away from destruction, tugging them toward life, weighed heavy on her. If they didn’t listen to her, they didn’t live well. Or very long.

She turned her gaze to the threesome picking their way toward her through the foliage.

One of her maidens—an angel disguised as a young woman who sought students for her—led a woman and a small boy to her house.

Wisdom waited to speak until they paused not far from the house. The woman and boy stared at it past her, while Wisdom’s maiden waited for them to be able to see Wisdom.

Wisdom dismissed her servant with a nod. The angel glided past her, a satchel in each hand.

“Welcome.”

The woman tore her gaze away and glanced around the clearing. She bowed once she caught sight of Wisdom’s face.

The woman was beautiful. Exceedingly so. Honey brown hair curled out of the head covering. The subdued clothing did not hide her tall, womanly frame. Light brown-hued eyes and a lightly tanned face turned upward to meet Wisdom’s gaze.

“I have brought my son to enroll in your school. Are you—?”

The woman tilted her head and paused.

“Wisdom.”

“Yes. Wisdom. Are you accepting students?”

Wisdom wanted to laugh, an empty, hollow sound, but did not.

“I am.”

“Good.”

The woman looked around her uncertainly. She held out a small bundle. Wisdom gently took it from her, careful their hands didn’t touch.

“All right then. I should be back to get him—I’m not sure when…” She bit her lip, her eyes flitting away quickly.

“Be at peace, your majesty.”

She stared at Wisdom, eyes wide.

“How did you know?” she managed in a strangled whisper.

“Do not fear, Bathsheba. The Maker reveals to me what I need to know, nothing more. Your son will be safe here, and you will be able to return for him in a year’s time. I will teach him well.”

The air whooshed out of Bathsheba’s willowy frame.

“Praise Jehovah.”

Crouching down, she turned her son to face her.

“Solomon, I have to go away for a little while, but I will come back for you. I promise. Be good for Wisdom, and I want to hear all about your time here when I return, understand?”

The boy nodded solemnly.

She tugged him close and whispered in his ear.

“I love you more than the stars in the heavens.”

She turned and fled down the hillside.

Solomon watched her, his face hidden from Wisdom. But she could feel his emotions course over her.

Fear. Abandonment. Confusion. Deep, deep sadness.

He turned and looked at her, long after his mother had disappeared from sight.

His large, mournful eyes—the same shade as his mother’s—stared at her without flinching.

A crusted gash ran from his temple to his jaw. His eye was purpled and swollen.

Wisdom reached out and tousled his hair. The dark brown strands curled around her fingers and sprang back into place.

His expression didn’t change.

She ran her finger down the length of the wound. The skin smoothed and evened out. The purple faded, and the swelling dimmed to nothing.

He didn’t flinch.

She held out her hand.

“Come, dearest one. I’ll show you where you will be staying. Tomorrow, lessons begin.”

He didn’t acknowledge he had heard her, just followed her. Walking tall. Standing straight. Emotionless face. The tight pressure of his hand the only outward sign of his inner struggle.

She led him down the corridor, pausing outside an ornate, wooden door.

“Wait here, please.”

She gently closed the door behind her. Her servant gave her a swift smile as she fluffed the mattress and curled sheets and blankets around it. Wisdom nodded at her. Lifting her fingers, the room shifted. It now resembled the room he shared with his mother in the palace’s harem.

Enough to help him feel at home, but not too much. Too much and he would feel even more lost.

She stood back and the door swung open soundlessly. The maiden vanished.

Solomon stood without, no change in expression. He hadn’t moved.

She waited, an encouraging smile beckoning him forward.

He entered, head tall. Yet she could feel him drooping inside.

Wisdom waved her hand and clouds darkened the streaming sunlight.

“Rest, dearest. You will feel better in the morning.”

He crawled into the bed without complaint.

She tucked him in, resting her fingers on his forehead. His eyes drifted shut. A slight breeze lifted the gauzy curtains, and Wisdom briefly checked to make sure the temperature was to his liking. The room fell by a few more degrees.

He had to be—what? Four, five years old?

And already growing up before his time.

She stepped into the shadow by the door and glanced behind her.

The little eyes were wide open and staring at the ceiling.

She quickly cloaked herself from sight.

He peeked to make sure she was gone.

Sobs heaved out of the little body, and he fisted his hands over his eyes. He struggled to keep his sobs quiet.

On silent feet, Wisdom moved back to his side. She curled up on the bed next to him, and he snuggled into her without knowing she held him. She sang to him and stroked his wild curls while he cried himself to sleep.

 

“What happened?”

Wisdom tossed the basket of bread and cheese and wine too roughly on the wrap-around counter in the middle of her kitchen. It tipped and an apple rolled onto the floor.

Discretion wordlessly uprighted the skin of wine, pulled out a jar of goat’s milk, and rummaged through several pieces of fruit. She glanced at Wisdom.

“Our orchards aren’t good enough all of a sudden?”

Wisdom waved her hand dismissively.

“I got him a few of his favorite foods while I was at the palace. I thought it might make him feel better.”

Discretion grinned at her.

“Taken with the little guy, are we? All right, spill it. I can see you don’t want to tell me. Best to get it all out in the open.”

Wisdom sighed and rubbed her face.

“David is away at battle and will be for some time. His other wives are, of course, jealous over David’s new favorite wife.”

Discretion nodded.

Wisdom slammed her fist against the table.

“I mean, what was he thinking? The Lord clearly instructs Israel’s kings to only take one wife, to not amass horses, to rely on the Lord for their riches, not tax the people out of everything they own. How can he expect not to have trouble when he disregards everything the Master says?”

“Careful, sister. You are speaking against the Creator’s beloved. He loves David fiercely. Besides, you said yourself he does listen to you.”

Wisdom dropped her head, red staining her cheeks.

“Forgive me, sister. I spoke out of turn.”

“You spoke truth. Now, why is Solomon here instead of there, without his father’s knowledge?”

Wisdom bowed her head, beseeching the Maker for forgiveness for her angry words.

Forgiveness came swiftly. Wisdom felt a brief hug. The feeling faded as fast as it came. It had been too long since she had basked in His presence, doing nothing else. She would remedy that. A prolonged visit to the Maker was just what she needed. Right after she helped Solomon.

Wisdom took a shaky breath, determined to speak words of life, not frustration.

“David is away at battle, and one of the older sons took it upon himself to kill David’s favorite son. Bathsheba has hidden him away until David can return and offer the boy his protection.”

Wisdom shivered, rubbing at her arms. The creature’s cruelty to one another amazed her. Did they care nothing for the lifeblood from the Maker flowing through their veins?

“Will the boy be safe, even after his father’s return? He doesn’t spend much time at the harem. His protection would be minimal.” Discretion frowned.

“I will see to it the boy is protected!”

Wisdom’s fierce voice rose and fell away; it’s echo a promise.

“I don’t doubt it. Until then, you will teach him? You don’t think he’s too young to remember?”

“The younger the better, Discretion. Then it is hidden in their hearts and will direct their paths. He may not remember me or what I taught him, but he will always remember my concepts. Deep down. He will make the right choices. He will.”

Discretion glanced out the window. Planting a tender kiss on her sister’s forehead, she slipped out of the room.

Wisdom stared at the wall, fists clenched, heart furious that such evil was in the world.

“Folly,” Wisdom growled.

“Oh, you heard me?”

Folly slipped inside from the shadows without. She slinked against the farthest wall, eyes darting around the room. Her posture spoke of unease and flippancy at once. She grinned at Wisdom.

Wisdom grimaced. Folly’s sneer was lopsided, pulled tight against one side of her mouth, and cruel to the very core.

“Imagine my surprise when the house I couldn’t get within a hundred yards of suddenly opened to me before my very eyes. Quite an…interesting…place you’ve built, sister.”

Folly’s gaze traveled the room again, her smirk holding derision. Behind her smirk, behind her mockery, Wisdom detected something else. What was it? What was her sister hiding?

“And it will be closed to you the instant we are through here.”

Folly raised a warped brow against too-pale skin, her flint-gray eyes empty of life.

“Not afraid to let me near your precious student?”

“You cannot harm him here, nor can he see you or feel your presence.”

Folly shrugged and picked at her bleeding fingertips, looking bored.

Wisdom’s voice shattered the prolonged silence.

“Why?”

Folly’s eyes snagged on Wisdom and held.

“Why, what?”

“Why would you try to kill a child? How could you?”

Folly smirked, crossing her arms and leaning against the wall.

“Wasn’t me. Was that boy—what’s-his-name. Jealous as all of David’s wives put together.”

Wisdom shook with anger.

“You stay away from him, you hear me? He is under my protection now. Try anything like that again and I will personally see to it the Maker never lets you out of that hell-hole again, do you understand me?”

Folly blanched.

“You wouldn’t. I mean, you couldn’t.”

“Try me.”

The sisters stared at each other, neither one breaking away from the other’s gaze.

“Fine. I won’t harm him again.” Folly raised her chin defiantly.

“Get out.”

“With pleasure.”

Folly’s eyes pinged around the room once more before she vanished, reappearing far away. Wisdom instantly raised the veiled protection around the cove of learning.

Folly’s last glance hit Wisdom like a blow.

Wisdom sat back, amazed.

“She misses it,” she whispered.

“Do you think she’ll listen?”

Wisdom glanced at Discretion, wondering how long she had listened.

“I’ve never seen such fear on our sister’s face. She’ll listen.”

“Do you think the Maker would really confine her?”

Wisdom’s jaw clenched.

“I would see to it that He did.”

 

Folly closed her eyes and listened to the sound of the sea lapping against the stony shore.

She took several deep breaths to still the tremors that shook her.

The nerve of Wisdom to tell her what she could and couldn’t do! That she would be confined to that rotting prison, never to breath the maker-laden air!

Jumping to her feet, Folly paced the rim of the cliff jutting out to nothing, water far below.

She clenched her fists, trying to still their quaking, trying to draw the anger—her ever-present companion—from deep within her. It wouldn’t come.

She plopped back on the rock, dejected.

I miss her so much!

Folly blinked away tears, refusing to cry.

Her mind replayed her visit, over and over.

Wisdom looked well. Older—perhaps wiser, if that were even possible. Gravity clung to her where gaiety and eagerness had been before. There was a desperation and fierce protection in her eyes she spoke of the boy.

Folly cocked her head.

Wisdom’s self-imposed perfection, her desperate need to make sure everything she did for the master was flawless, was her greatest strength.

I wonder how I can use that against her?

A niggling idea formed in Folly’s mind even as despair crashed over her. She couldn’t even plot against her sister with this blasted longing inside of her! She pushed thoughts of ensnaring Wisdom away. She would think about that later. After she had taken care of Solomon.

One thing was certain, her sister had grown more beautiful with the slow march of time. More beautiful than even Folly remembered.

Folly stared down at her scarred arms.

What had Wisdom seen when she looked at her?

She leaned far over the edge, trying to catch a glimpse of herself in the turbulent waters. The waves crashed and churned, refusing her one, simple request to see what her sister saw.

“Fine,” she snarled. “Keep your mirror to yourself. I didn’t really want to see anyway.”

The sea lunged high with a roar, but even the tiny droplets of spray refused to touch her.

The water had been as tortured to touch her during the deluge as she had been to drown in it.

Folly’s head snapped up.

She dropped back down to the rock, heart plunging.

Oh, no. Anything but that. Anything.

The praise to the maker still whispered from each nearby stone, but Folly didn’t hear.

She might not be able to touch the boy, Solomon, but she knew someone who could.

 

Wisdom and Folly: Sisters by Michele Israel Harper, Chapter Thirteen © 2014

Forever Me and Forever You by intano on deviantART.com  http://intano.deviantart.com/art/Forever-me-and-Forever-you-106951961

Used with permission.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.  Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: