Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: Backstage: Heaven
By Kenn Allan
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Since before the dawn of time, Arlo had served as heaven's stage manager. He was highly proficient in his job, seldom allowing the smallest detail to escape his keen attention. He was familiar with all aspects of every production, and nothing happened in his theater he didn't know about.
Until now, that is...
Arlo scratched his halo again. "What in heaven's name could it be?" he mused, drawing a deep and very frustrated breath.
That's when he noticed the fragrance. It was a teasingly familiar aroma, similar to the joyful tang of Thankfulness, or perhaps the lilting bouquet of Blessed Hope. He closed his eyes and sniffed, this time more deeply. He wasn't absolutely sure, but he thought he could also smell the bitter pungency of a few million tears.
Arlo racked his brain for a possible source of this strange fragrance. Oh, no! Could the cover on one of the bowls have worked itself loose? He hurried down the long backstage corridor and pushed through the seventh door on the right. He paused briefly to inspect the seven enormous golden trumpets lined up against the far wall to insure each one was still shiny and secure. Once satisfied, he hurried to a small door half-hidden in the shadow of the seventh trumpet. After uttering a brief prayer for protection, he cracked open the door and peered inside.
Barely visible in the dim light, the seven golden bowls scattered around the room hissed and seethed. From time to time something from within one of the bowls would thrust upward against the linen covering as if to test its restraint, then settle back down with a pithy sigh. All the golden binding appeared to be secure, and the only detectible odor was the acrid fuming of divine judgment.
Relieved, Arlo swung the door shut with resounding thud. But the original question still remained - where was that strange fragrance coming from? He began sniffing at the air like a heavenly hound, determined to track the mysterious scent to its source even if it took until the end of the age.
His nose eventually led him back to the floor of the main stage. The fragrance grew noticeably stronger as he approached the heavy purple drapes which separated future performances from their eventual audiences. With anxious fingers, he found the nearly invisible seam where the curtains joined and parted them just enough for him to peek through.
Set against a black velvet backdrop sprinkled with stars, the Earth rotated majestically. From all seven continents, the prayers of its inhabitants swirled like a thin mist before joining together to ascend towards heaven like smoke from a furnace. This was the fragrance Arlo had failed to recognize, and for good reason. In all of human history, never had so many souls sincerely prayed for the curtain to rise.
A smile played across Arlo’s lips as he let the curtains fall back into place. They wouldn't have to wait long. After all, the show must go on.
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