Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)
By Ashley Nicole
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It was in this direction that Micah looked, his perspiring forehead knotting where his brows met. His brown, watery eyes sought out the distance, as though an answer lay far off.
Behind him a worker yelled, and Micah was brought back by the musical dance of gems dropping on the glass floor. A few rolled past him. He held the open V of his tan blouse—his worker clothes like those of a martial artist—and knelt to gather gems that were solid like stone, yet translucent, bright bulbs of purple, red, and gold when struck by the sun.
Micah turned around, then, and walked up the wide stairs holding the final touches to the temple arch in his hand.
“Hand me those, Mike,” Clarissa said, leaning over from inside a bucket that lifted her up again.
Micah followed her up with his eyes, the grandeur of the Temple a mere shadow of what lay on the other side. New Zealand was indeed a wonderful place, a world, really, but for there to be a 'New' Zealand, there had to be an old. Micah wanted to know what that place looked like.
Even as the aroma of roast beef and potatoes wafted from the Temple, Micah headed down the stairs as other workers went up. He approached the city gates, the gold wire swirling up into clasps that held turning diamonds. Two Guardians drew back a narrow, seamless opening. Gray filled the space and cast a shadow.
“You’re giving passage?” Micah asked.
The guardian with long, white hair and bushy eyebrows folded his hands in front of him. His mouth turned upward. “Yes, and it comes from 2 Corinthians—”
“No, am I free to go?” Micah rolled a shoulder back, regretting his snappish reply. But the guardian nodded graciously.
Micah looked at him. “Do you know which way to Zealand?”
The wise man frowned. “The way is in your memory.”
“What?” Micah barked, then rubbed a hand across his eyes in dismay.
“Walk through the gate,” the other guardian spoke, her voice wispy. “Pass the stone guardians, go around the pond and then down the hill. You’ll come to a cliff and will see Zealand below.”
“Thank you.” It was the closest he’d get to real directions, anyway.
Micah squinted and went through. He paused before the stone guardians—two horses that faced each other, their red heads lifted like proud beasts. Micah reached out and touched the cool stone, his fingers tingling, 'Grace' sounding in his mind.
He eyed them as he past, until it became too dark. His eyes adjusting, he saw the hill slope beyond the pond. Ignoring the rocks stabbing his feet as he walked, he knelt beside the pond to cool his forehead, the water black and still. Suddenly he remembered:
How he’d talked her into having an abortion; how afterwards, when her eyes had turned dark and still, that he’d left her to grieve alone, his feelings for her dead.
Micah stood up, the shame sticking on him like algae. In a blur, he made it to the slope and half tumbled until he hit a fallen log and dove forward. His face splashed in a puddle, the smell and taste sour, like the milk he’d dumped all over the kitchen, angry that while he busted his brains to afford a nice home, Jacky couldn’t even stock the frig.
Micah felt heat rush to his face. He got heavily to his feet and felt as though he shuffled in shackles to the edge of the cliff. Afraid of what he’d see, he backed away, dark fog encroaching.
Jesus! he cried.
Micah turned and two horses reared, their red coats gleaming. One lowered until Micah got on; the other neighed with ferocity.
Micah fell asleep until his fists relaxed and he felt a safe, falling sensation. He landed awake on his feet, the horses now hard as stone. He ran to the gates.
“Give me passage!”
The slit opened, light bursting forth. Micah laughed. “No! Give me passage!” He heard a chuckle.
“2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
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