From where she stood she could see nothing but wasteland. Not even a glimpse of the city on the horizon. She cocked her head to one side and listened again to the wind, but heard nothing. Gareth had told her that when she drew near to the city, the melody would play on the wind. She had laughed then, but now she listened, desperate to hear the faintest note that might lead her in the right direction.
What was it Gareth had said – sometimes you can’t see the city until you open your heart to the Father’s song. She nodded decisively, she may have been running out of water but she wasn’t giving up now. She wanted to see the city for herself, no matter what the cost and most of all she wanted to see Father face to face.
She thought of Gareth – an oversized, burly man with a slightly deformed face who was all but shunned by her people for his strange ways. She never could understand why they couldn’t see past his unusual appearance because underneath he was the gentlest and wisest man she had ever met. And he had contact with Father. He kept the letters in a pewter casket at the back of his cave. They were well worn from having been read so much but were still in tact. The letters held so much promise and encouragement and spoke boldly of the great city on the other side of the wilderness. Gareth had been there once, very briefly and said it was beyond anything he could have dreamed. A place where for the first time in his life he felt he had belonged. She had often asked why he hadn’t stayed and he had smiled wistfully, saying that Father had asked him to come and tell others about the city so that one day all of them could go and live there.
Most of Melinda’s people thought the idea of some great city a ludicrous lie, a fabrication created by a delusional mind, but Melinda saw something in the way Gareth spoke of it that made her feel it was true. She believed the source of the letters when others said that Father had died far too many years before – she knew he was there, in the city, waiting for people like her to go there.
She pulled her felt hat further over her head in a futile attempt to keep the sun off her face. The heat was strong now and sapping the last of her energy, still she moved on, one weary step at a time, knowing that this was only a temporary toil that would yield a great reward. She squinted through the heat at the horizon again, hoping that the city would appear to her but saw nothing. She reached her hand into her pouch and fingered the letter that Gareth had given her – it was a treasure he had parted with to encourage her on her way, the letter where Father described the city. She did not have to take it out to read because she knew every word by heart and as she dragged her feet through the wilderness she let the words roll around her mind in an endless circle, pushing her forward with hope.
It was the faintest of sounds at first but it made her stop short in her tracks. She cocked her head again, barely breathing so that she could listen. There on the wind, as it whispered passed her ears, was a dim melody that made her heart race. Some part of her recognised it immediately, as if it had been sung to her while she was in her mother’s womb and she was only remembering it now. As she looked back at the horizon a shimmer began to appear.
At first Melinda thought it to be a mirage but the melody grew stronger with every step she took and the vision before her became clearer.
Even from the distance she could see it glimmering in the sun, a jewel in the wilderness and despite her weakness she jumped up and shouted for joy.
“I’m coming Father!” she cried and hastened her walking.
As she drew nearer to the city another sound layered the melody – voices! Thousands of voices that sang so that her heart swelled with the beauty of it.
They sang the father’s song over her, urging her forward, calling her home.
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