Chapter Seventeen

The woman Folly is loud…she sits at the door of her house…calling to those who pass by…”Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”…But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol (hell.)  Proverbs 9: 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 ESV

“Listen to me! How long will you love ignorance? How long will you wallow in the grime of your sins, refusing freedom? If you follow me, I will pour out my spirit on you, and you will have blessings you never even dreamed were possible. Why won’t you listen? Why do you refuse my blessing? Heed my voice! Listen, and live!”

Wisdom heard a snicker behind her and whirled around.

“Well, hello there, big sister.”

Wisdom’s eyes shot to the roof of the nearest building. Folly leaned against a wall—a room built on the roof—with her arms crossed and one ankle looped over the other.

Wisdom’s mouth fell open. Seriously?

Folly dropped lightly to the ground and strutted forward, posing to show Wisdom all sides of her garish outfit.

Black leather corset, leg-hugging shiny black pants, boots that came past her knees and spiked into claw-like heels. How could Folly walk in those things? She certainly couldn’t fly.

“You like?”

Wisdom shook her head.

“No.”

Folly’s full lips turned down in a pout, and she shrugged, straining her overabundant cleavage.

Wisdom wanted to toss a shawl around her shoulders. A prayer shawl.

“It won’t be the fashion for a few more centuries—quite a few more centuries, actually—but I like it.” A wide grin replaced the pout. “I like it very much.”

Wisdom spun away from her, refusing to be drawn in. Folly had a reason for being here, and she had no intention of finding out what it was.

Wisdom spread her hands wide and lifted her voice.

“Listen to me, all of you! All of you who love life, heed my words and obey. You will never need to fear death or destruction if you follow all the Maker says!”

Movement on the palace windows—high above the city—caught her attention. Wisdom boldly lifted her face.

“How long will you worship in the high places? Profaning the name of the Lord, worshipping other gods in His place?”

Solomon leaned heavily against the broad rim edging his open window, his eyes never leaving her face.

“How long will you trample the precious gifts He has given you? How long?”

Wisdom broke eye contact and turned away. She kept calling, kept begging for the Master’s chosen ones to listen to her.

The creatures hurried past her. No one listened. No one slowed. All went about their busy lives, intent on going wherever it was they needed to go. Running toward death.

The King had promised judgment if they didn’t listen, but she would do all in her power to stop it. To turn their hearts back to Him before it was too late.

A man paused, tilting his head. Listening as Wisdom cried in the streets.

He raised his hands—much like Wisdom had—and started repeating everything she said.

“Crazy prophet,” someone muttered as they hurried by, stepping far away from him.

Wisdom grabbed her chest and paused, hope brimming out of her desperation.

“Thank you, Maker,” she whispered.

She took to the skies, off to the next town.

 

Folly glanced around, desperate for a way to capture Wisdom’s attention. Lucifer was keeping close tabs on this, their first meeting—the first clash of the powerful sisters.

Following her screeching sister down road after road, roof after roof, city after city, Folly finally saw what she had been waiting for.

“Oh, sister dearest, have you seen my house?” she called in a taunting, sing-song voice.

Wisdom glanced behind her, then jerked her head away. But she didn’t take another step.

Folly grinned.

Gottcha.

Folly’s eyes roved over the lavish building, trying to see it as Wisdom would.

It might not be as well-built as Wisdom’s house—Folly caught herself and gritted her teeth.

No, it’s better.

“Isn’t it fine? I couldn’t wait for it to be finished, and, well, it finally is! Marvelous, isn’t it?”

Wisdom turned her head, oh-so-very-slowly, her eyes settling on the large house on a busy street corner.

“You—you built a house?”

“I couldn’t let you have all the fun, now could I?”

Wisdom stared with her mouth ajar, her eyes settling on Folly’s face.

“What need do you possibly have for a house?”

Pride shining from her eyes, Folly shrugged and looked at the elaborate dwelling, the red cord hanging from the window—a beacon for all the men in the city to openly scoff at then return to later. In the dark. Alone.

“Whatever I want, Wisdom; something you know absolutely nothing about. ‘Follow the Maker. Do what the Maker wants. No plan is as good as the Maker’s.’ Well, after I saw what you did with your place…I thought I should have a place of learning as well.” She winked. “Lessons of a much different nature, of course.”

“But, but—“ Wisdom sputtered. “Your path doesn’t lead to life but to death! Your guests go straight to hell!”

Folly grinned at her.

“I know.”

Sauntering toward the house, Folly leaned against the doorframe, almost relieved that Wisdom still watched her.

A man passed by.

Folly prodded a woman with her booted heel. The woman straightened away from the wall she had been hunched against, and called out to him.

“You there, stranger, you look tired and thirsty. I have the finest wine money can buy, and luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets; only the best for you, sir.”

The man paused and looked back. She winked, her gaze boldly roving the man’s lithe frame.

He hesitated, his look of disgust turning to intrigue, to acceptance, to lust.

The bells tinkled around her feet and she pushed the door open, beckoning him forward, fake smile wide.

Only Wisdom saw the tormented souls chained to the floor, screaming for him to turn away. To refuse her. Only Wisdom saw the winding pathway leading straight to hell from the harlot’s home.

Wisdom saw it and Folly rejoiced. What could Wisdom do about it, if the master’s precious creatures chose to come here? Absolutely nothing. Folly grinned. It was their choice.

Folly glanced through the open door.

Lust lounged inside, lethargic and bored-looking. Her smile crumpled when she saw Folly behind the woman. Folly forced a bright smile. No need for Wisdom to know they barely tolerated each other.

Folly passed through the woman and knocked Lust’s feet off the table.

“Get up!” she hissed.

Lust lazily stretched her legs back out.

“Brought another one, I see? You’re getting good at this.”

Folly pushed the still-blonde angel. Lust caught herself before tumbling out of the chair and sat on the table. Lust crossed her arms and wouldn’t budge.

Folly clamped her teeth together.

“I’ve got it from here.”

“Um, no. You’re good, but not that good.”

Folly snarled and leaned close to her face.

“It’s my house.”

“I don’t care. It’s my profession.”

Lust glanced up and saw Wisdom. With a gasp, she jumped backward, cloaking herself in the shadows.

The woman still held the door open for the man, who glanced behind him fervently.

“I…have a…wife,” he said hesitantly.

She moved close and stroked his arm, rising on her tiptoes to whisper in his ear.

“‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’”

The man shivered as she nipped at his ear. She tugged him toward the door.

Folly snarled as Wisdom landed between him and the doorway.

“No! Don’t do it!” Wisdom cried.

He took a step forward.

Wisdom put her hand out. It passed through him.

“This pathway leads to hell!”

He took another step.

“The dead live here!”

Two more.

“Listen to me!”

He darted inside, the door closing with a resounding thud.

Folly floated through the door and smiled at her sister.

She pointed to the streets.

“You were saying something?”

Wisdom spun and stomped away, her fists clenched.

Folly smiled, slow and triumphant. She had gotten to her mighty sister. Big time.

But Folly almost regretted it a few days later.

Instead of crushing her, deterring her, or even knocking the pompous wind out of her, Wisdom’s fervor had grown ten-fold. She flew to every blasted city, town, and tent of the maker’s rebellious ones.

Folly yawned then stared at her sister with bleary eyes.

“You know, you can keep shouting all day, but no one’s gonna hear you.”

Wisdom raised her voice in the crowded streets.

“My people, hear me! Heed my words! How long will you regard iniquity in your hearts?”

Rolling her eyes, Folly huffed and hurried up behind Wisdom, matching her stride.

“How long will you be double-minded? Divided in your loyalties to your Creator?”

Folly drew close, staring into Wisdom’s face. Then she pointedly looked at those scurrying past Wisdom, not hearing a word.

“Well I gotta say, you’re not one for giving up, are you? Of course not. Even when the odds of someone listening are against you. What, there’s been one? Perhaps two?”

Ignoring her, Wisdom raised her hands high above her head.

“Repent now, while there’s still time! Before judgment!”

Folly’s boisterous laugh was meant to annoy her sister. She hoped it worked.

“Yes, it will be a shame once the nation is ripped apart, won’t it? Then the invaders…”

Wisdom’s back stayed to Folly as she gently grabbed each passerby by the elbow, whispering words of repentance into their hearts. One by one, they shook her off, and by doing so, the conviction blossoming in their chests.

Folly rolled her eyes, and—bored—looked around her.

A young boy caught Folly’s eye. He was dressed in rags, and was scrounging for twigs, a haphazard load in his scrawny arms. A cluster of well-dressed boys with prayer shawls draped over their shoulders and caps resting on their heads stood nearby, chattering amongst themselves. Folly glided over to the group of boys and crossed her arms. She studied each one carefully. A tall one, the leader from the way the other boys deferred to him, caught her eye. She smirked and moved next to him.

Leaning forward, she grasped the young boy’s jaw and kissed his cheek. Then she tugged his face in the direction of the dirty boy. Nothing happened. A frown marred her ash-gray skin. She whispered in his ear.

“Look over here.”

Levi glanced over his shoulder, not sure what drew his attention. His eyes riveted on a poor boy, and a sneer touched his lips.

“Hey, guys, watch this.”

Levi strode to the urchin, his friends following closely. Levi stopped in front of the boy and crossed his arms. He cleared his throat when the boy didn’t look at them.

Levi watched the boy freeze as his gaze shot to their faces. A hopeful smile touched the lad’s face as his scrutiny drifted over those who surrounded him. His smile slipped when no warmth was returned.

“What have you got there?” Levi demanded.

Folly could see the fear curl in the pit of Simeon’s stomach and overflow. She grinned. He remained silent.

With a swift jab, Levi knocked the load of sticks from his arms. Levi’s friends laughed, and Simeon ducked his head.

“Well? Aren’t you going to pick those up?”

Simeon trembled, but moved to obey. As he bent over the scattered twigs, a sandaled foot shoved him roughly from behind. The boys laughed along with Folly as Simeon sprawled face-first into the powdery dust. Tears sprang to his eyes but he swallowed hard, fighting them. His hand curled into fists and he jumped up, spinning to face his tormentors.

Levi stepped forward, shoving his face into the smaller boy’s.

“What? You want to fight?”

Levi shoved Simeon, and he fell into the dirt. The boys bent and picked up small stones. Levi pelted Simeon with the first one.

“Hey, half-breed! We don’t want you here!”

“Yeah, why don’t you gather sticks for your foreign mother somewhere else?”

A single tear slipped down Simeon’s face, streaking dirt, as another pebble found its mark.

“Oh, looky here gents, we’ve got a crybaby on our hands.”

“Crybaby! Crybaby! Crybaby!”

All the boys took up the chant as they hurled more stones.

Folly chuckled, enjoying the show immensely. She heard a loud gasp behind her and peeked over her shoulder.

“No!”

Wisdom darted toward the boys.

Reaching Levi, she grasped his hand as he lifted a heavy stone.

Levi frowned and glanced at his hand.

Wisdom held onto his clenched fist tightly, not allowing the stone to move.

“No,” she whispered.

Levi scowled at the stone in his hand. He could not make himself throw that stone. He couldn’t move his hand if he wanted to. Where had this sense of dread come from? He looked at the boy cowering in the dirt, then at his friends, still laughing and pelting the boy with small rocks. He looked back at the boy. Disgust curled in his belly. What had he done? He hefted the stone far from him, away from the boy.

“That’s enough!” he called sharply.

His friends paused in amazement, several mouths open and a few hands in the air, ready to throw.

Levi sneered.

“Let’s not waste our time with this dirty little…”

Wisdom clamped her hand over Levi’s mouth, holding him tightly.

The words stuck in Levi’s throat. Waves of shame washed over him. He shook himself from Wisdom’s grasp. Angrily, he shouted at his companions.

“Are you stupid? I said let’s go!”

Levi stormed through the center of them, shoving one boy who didn’t get out of his way fast enough.

One by one, the boys dropped their stones and slunk after their leader.

Simeon huddled into a ball and sobbed, wrapping his arms around his knees.

Folly stared at Wisdom in amazement.

“How did you do that?”

Wisdom stared after the boys, sadness creasing her face.

“His mother prays he will listen to me.”

Folly ground her teeth.

“Of course.”

 

A slight breeze ruffled Wisdom’s long hair. Wisdom looked behind her.

Folly was gone.

Wisdom took a deep breath and turned back to the main square of the city. Her quiet voice thundered through every crevice and echoed throughout the entire city.

“Because you have refused to listen to me, tragedy will overtake you. In the day that you stretch out your hand and plead for my help, I will stand back, because you did not obey when you had the chance. But any of you that heed my words and listen to my voice, you will dwell safely and have no fear of the evil that is coming.”

Wisdom shot into the sky, soaring far above the heavens and into the Throne Room, taking her report to the Maker.

 

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

Heart on Fire  by DaniaArts on deviantART.com  http://daniaarts.deviantart.com/art/Heart-On-Fire-348484727

Used with permission.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright © 2001 by Crossway.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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