Head in the clouds. Feet on the ground. Heart in the story. Christa Kinde is a cheerful homebody whose imagination takes her new places with every passing day. Making her home between misty mornings and brimming bookshelves in Southern California, she’s been writing for more than a decade, but the Threshold Series is her first foray into fiction. Learn about Christa’s books, Bible studies, short stories, weekdaily serials, and more at ChristaKinde.com.
Part Fifteen: Songwriter
“I washed earlier, you know,” said Marcus. “Mom insists on daily showers.”
“Even so, I would like you to join your Flightmates,” said Jedrick.
Marcus followed his mentor through the glade Amidst slender trees, deep pools of water gleamed. Lit from within. Drifting with steam. Scented with spice. Marcus was only familiar with these angelic bathing areas because Aleff maintained a private one. But the basics were the same, and the company was welcome.
Tamaes lifted a hand from his seat beside the largest pool. Clad in loose raiment, he wafted freshly-washed wings while working oil into the long straps of his boots.
“Yo.” Marcus flopped on the grass beside the Guardian and began loosening his own bootstraps. “Is it only us?”
Jedrick said, “Abner is bringing Levi.”
“Sounds good.” Ridding himself of his footgear, Marcus switched to armor fastenings. “Hope Abner has time to even out my hair. It’s cold season, and mom keeps pushing the Vitamin C. It’s like eating oranges times a hundred.”
Tamaes casually messed up Marcus’s hair. “You could simply grow it out.”
Marcus rolled his eyes from under his overlong fringe. He pulled on the first bathing shift he found, but even though he hiked it all the way up to his armpits, it dragged past his knees. “Uhh, Jedrick? A little help here?”
His mentor chuckled. “Try the stacks allotted to malakim or adahim.”
“Or newfoundlings,” Tamaes added, barely hiding his smile.
Levi joined Marcus in rummaging for shifts that weren’t warrior-sized. The Worshiper had dropped his human guise. Like a scattering of hydrangea petals, his furled wings spread across his back and shoulders in a range of blues from periwinkle to navy. A pleasant counterpart to the deep indigo that was Levi’s natural hair color.
Marcus asked, “You gonna unfurl?”
“That’s the usual order of things. Then dip, drip, and dry! Did Jedrick rope you into grooming duty?”
“Can I?” Eagerness caused his voice to break, and he rubbed at his throat. Adolescence had some pretty strange kick-back.
Jedrick smiled faintly. “I thought you might enjoy lending a hand.”
“Yeah.” Marcus quickly knotted his shift. “But you’ll have to explain what to do.”
“Do?” Abner stood slightly apart, twiddling his fingers at the excitable yahavim who swirled around his head. “What do any of us ever do in the presence of one of heaven’s decorations?”
Marcus wasn’t sure if the question was rhetorical. “Sing?”
“Deal,” said Levi, who folded his hands over his heart and bowed his head. Light bloomed through the pattern of blossoms and lifted away from his skin, arching up and out. Marcus held his breath as music shivered through them like a thousand delicate chimes.
Abner launched into lecture mode. “In the heavenlies, newfound zamarim are brought to the bevies, where songs never cease. Normally, they help each other with grooming since their wings are… well! Like this.”
Levi’s varicolored wings were like feathers of glass strung upon gleaming threads. Lit from within by heaven’s light, each pane scattered prismatic splotches all around them.
Marcus murmured, “How do you keep your balance?”
Jedrick offered his hand to steady Levi into the water.
“Thank you, Captain.” The normally bouncy angel moved with gliding grace, easing into the pool until the steaming waters stilled the tinkle of music.
Marcus moved to follow, but Abner collared him. “What has become of your hair? It hasn’t been this unruly since … hmm.”
“Since he and Ransom split an entire lemon meringue pie?” suggested Levi.
Tamaes said, “There was a fruit salad incident involving your sister.”
“Yeah. Flopsy went through a lime phase.” Marcus sat cross-legged at the water’s edge while Abner’s fingers worked through his hair, adjusting its length without scissors. Yahavim buzzed by, and several fed him manna.
Marcus murmured, “Y’know what, Levi? My neighbor would love you.”
The Worshiper’s eyebrows shot up. “Sheldon already does. We go way back.” “His landlord makes stained glass stuff in the garage.” Marcus gruffly said, “Bet he’d find you inspiring.”
“I’m not here to inspire lamps,” said Levi. “But you’re really getting into the whole craftsmanship thing. Ordinary kid by day, apprentice warrior by night, artisan on the side!”
“Hardly. But I do like the colors.”
Abner finished and gave Marcus a gentle push. “Enough admiring from afar. You take the near wing; I’ll take the other.”
Levi flicked water in Marcus’s face as he waded over. “You’re an artist, hoobae. Can’t hide it from another artist!”
“I know!” Lifting his wings, the Worshiper showed him how his order groomed. “Now sing with me.”
Marcus followed Levi’s lead into a round of worship that saturated his soul. Worries washed away, fears and sorrows lost their hold, leaving Marcus sure of his place if not God’s purposes.
Winter dragged on with the usual smattering of snow days and sick days. On a Friday evening in February, Ransom tagged along home with Marcus. “Feeling extra brave today?” asked Marcus as they walked up his driveway.
“Hey, I’d rather risk Flopsy’s cooking than go back to an empty apartment.”
“Your dad’s working late?”
Marcus stopped in his tracks. “You’re alone?”
“Just until Sunday night.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
Ransom shrugged. “I’m a big boy.”
“You want to stay here?” Marcus nodded at his house. “Ask your dad if you can spend the weekend with me.”
“Yeah,” Ransom said quietly. “Thanks.”
Catching a whiff of smoke, Marcus scanned the vicinity and noticed the extra car parked behind Sheldon’s van. A baby blue VW bug. Then he spotted smoke pouring out of a window on the second floor next door. “Something’s burning!”
He vaulted the fence and yanked open the side door that led up to Russ’s second story rental and hollered, “You okay, Sheldon?”
The young man appeared at the top of the stairs, waving a yellow oven mitt. “Hey, Marcus! Nothing to worry about. My friend’s just burning pizzas in my oven. Do you and your friend like pizza by any chance?”
Marcus glanced at Ransom. “Pizza?”
“Even if it’s extra crispy, it’s gotta be better than Flopsy’s cooking.”
“We’re in,” Marcus answered.
“Then come on up. Dinner’s on me … and Levi.” Sheldon waved the boys inside, then waved at the haze filling his apartment. “Sorry about the eye-watering ambiance. I’ll open more windows.”
Grabbing a dish towel from the counter, Marcus flapped at the smoke. “This is my friend Ransom.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Sheldon. You remember Levi?”
Marcus nodded to his Flightmate. “Yep. Moving day was memorable.”
From his spot at the paper-scattered table dominating the living area, Levi waved with a piece of black-bottomed pizza. “Grab a seat. Grab a slice.”
Ransom was scoping the place out, especially the lineup of guitars hanging on the far wall. “You’re a musician?”
“Guilty as charged,” said Sheldon. “Levi and I are members of a band. We’re having a little songwriting session.”
“Been at it all day,” said Levi. “Hence the famishment.”
Marcus pulled a stool up to the table and noticed that most of the papers were barred for music. There were also pencils, eraser crumbs, headphones, a mini keyboard. “Are you working on lyrics or melodies?”
“Both!” Levi ran through a series of chords on the keyboard. “I do the la-la-las, and Sheldon’s the poet.”
“Today’s song is more of a remix.” Sheldon brought another stool to the table and invited Ransom to sit. Tapping an open book, he said, “We tweaked some ancient lyrics and put them to music.”
“Ever heard of the psalms?” Levi asked lightly.
But Sheldon smoothly changed the subject. Bringing over a second pizza, he asked, “Do you play an instrument, Ransom?”
Levi asked, “So what do you do for fun?”
Ransom shrugged. “I guess I mostly read and run. But not at the same time.”
Turning to Marcus, Levi asked, “And you?”
“Not a whole lot. I usually hang out with Ransom. Or Russ.”
“My landlord,” Sheldon filled in.
Levi winked at Marcus.
“Eat up. Next pizza will be out in ten minutes.” Sheldon joined them and jostled Levi’s arm. “Do we have anything suitable for entertaining youth-ish type boys?”
“Food isn't enough?”
Sheldon gravely said, “Lack with a side of luster. We can definitely do better.”
Levi chewed thoughtfully. “Guess we could put up the net.”
Ransom caught on first. “No way!”
“Way,” said Levi. “Sheldon’s cooler than he looks.”
Pushing aside a sheaf of music, the boys uncovered white lines on the young man’s large, green table. So as soon as they finished off the pizza, they spent the rest of the night playing ping-pong.
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part 16: “Rule Breaker”