Time to Meet the Town
The next morning was a Sunday. Jed, Warrick, and I got up and put on our Church clothes like we did every Sunday. When we walked out to the Living Room we saw Lakiya, sitting in the same outfit Warrick had given her a few days before. Jed stared at her for a minute and slapped his head as he stated, “We forgot about our guest. What are we going to do?”
Warrick declared, “We can’t leave her here. Not only is everyone looking forward to meeting her, but it would be dangerous for us to separate right now.”
“It won’t be good to bring her dressed like that.” I pointed out.
Lakiya studied us as we talked and asked, “Where are you going, and why does it matter how I’m dressed?”
Jed replied, “We are going to Church, and we includes you.”
“You’re supposed to get dressed up for Church, to look your best for God.” I added.
Lakiya inquired, “Who is God, and why do we have to look our best for him?”
Warrick chuckled in a weird soft and almost soothing way as he walked over to Lakiya and sat next to her. Then he said, “I’m sorry sometimes we forget that you don’t know things that are common place to us. God is the one who created the Heavens and the Earth, he made every living creature in the sea, on land and in the sky. Then he created man from the dirt to rule over them all, and named him Adam. Adam was lonely so God put him to sleep and took a rib from him to make a woman named Eve. They were in this paradise called the Garden of Eden.”
Jed interrupted and asked, “Do you really think we have time for this? We still haven’t figured out what she should wear, or made breakfast.”
I cleared my throat nervously before saying, “There is one option we have that we haven’t considered.”
Jed and Warrick looked at me. I was staring at the hall closet. They followed my gaze and stared as well, contemplating the previously unthinkable. We all knew what was in there, but most of the time we pretended it didn’t exist.
Warrick was the first to speak. “She doesn’t have anything else, and our clothes would be considered inappropriate.”
“We already gave away the rest to the poor families’ girls at Christmas time. Even if we wanted to, borrowing something at this late hour would be rude. I don’t see where we have a choice.”Jed conceded.
I nodded my head, went to the closet, dug to the back, and pulled out the box wrapped in pink and blue wrapping paper, with a white bow still placed on the top, a little mushed from it’s long stay in the closet. I slowly walked it to Warrick, who took it from me as gently as I’d brought it to him.
He paused for a moment, staring at it one last time before carefully removing the wrapping paper. Lakiya asked in an almost hushed whisper, “What’s in the box?”
“We bought our Mom a dress for her upcoming birthday last year, but she and Dad died before her big day came.” Jed explained, “We haven’t been able to bring ourselves to open the box again, and it has been sitting in the closet ever since.”
Lakiya’s eyes got big and Warrick pulled a brown dress with elegant blue and green roses that had intertwining stems flowing between them, out of the box. She shook her head and claimed, “I couldn’t.”
Warrick grabbed her hand, looked in her eyes, and told her, “If my Mom was here she would want you to borrow this. It is as much you as it was her, although for different reasons, but we would feel honored if you would take this as a present from her and wear it proudly.”
“I’ll get breakfast.” Jed announced, “Warrick can have the job of helping her get into her first dress, but Lakiya should probably use her fur trick while changing clothes. Riley, you can help me.”
I nodded my head and followed Jed into the kitchen. Just as we got the eggs, sausage, and toast onto the table they came in. The simple green dress shoes, bought for matching the roses, barely fit Lakiya’s feet. Warrick mentioned, “It’s a good thing Mom didn’t like heels, or we would have a new problem.”
Jed and I silently stared and nodded our heads. She looked as if she belonged in a fairy tale, if princesses were known for having short hair. Words were beyond us.
Warrick snapped his fingers at us and asked, “Are we going to eat or stand around all day looking at her?”
Jed shook his head to bring him out of the daze, and then nudged me as he replied, “Eat, and quickly, we are already behind schedule.”
Between bites of food, and as we walked to the Church gathering held here in the town square, since it was a beautiful summer like spring morning, Jed, Warrick, and I managed to fill Lakiya in on the highlights of the Christian faith, and explain that not everyone believes in God, and his son, or the Devil. She listened intently, and nodded her head numerous times as she absorbed everything we told her.
The streets were practically barren with the vast majority of the town already gathered, waiting for the service to start. When we arrived everyone else turned their attention to us. The various bits of chatter that had been going on moments ago stopped as if the Pastor had started the service. Jed smiled his warm friendly smile as he announced, “Everyone, I’d like you to meet our distant cousin Lakiya, Annabel’s older sister. She will be happy to greet each of you after Church, or at the full moon dance tonight. I know everyone has been anxiously waiting, but let’s not overwhelm the poor girl.”
One of the few remaining places to sit was near the woman Lakiya had spotted at the High Moon Dinner the previous month, because people tended to give her space ever since her mind snapped. Her Mother, a plump woman with curly gray hair and a cheerful smile, stood and invited us to join them. Lakiya nodded her head and led the way, so that she could sit directly next to the woman with the broken mind.
Warrick sat next to Lakiya, I sat next to Warrick, and Jed took the last seat next to me. Just before the service started the Sheriff showed up, apologizing for his late arrival. Then he took a seat a few rows behind us. I watched as shivers went up Lakiya’s spine, and Warrick’s teeth clenched. Even I could feel the intensity of the atmosphere change all around us. Jed most certainly could, as he kept almost giving in to the urge to turn and stare back at the Sheriff, until the lady behind him asked if he needed a more comfortable seat.
Jed shook his head and told her he was sorry for being restless.
Lakiya listened to the Pastor talk, and happily sang along with the songs. Sometimes you could swear that she had forgotten about the Sheriff a few rows back.
When Pastor gave the invitation Lakiya jumped up from her seat. "You mean I can have the son of God in my heart, leading me through life?"
Pastor smiled warmly. "If you ask him to, with a sincere heart, of course he will."
Lakiya turned to Warrick and stated, "You didn't explain that part of being a Christian very well."
Jed grinned nervously and said, "We only had so much time to teach you about a very complex belief."
"Who wouldn't want God to lead them?" Lakiya asked, and then added, "Who better to lead your life than the creator of the world?"
Pastor approached our row, I had never seen a smile that big on him. He reached an arm out to her and declared, "This is the kind of child like faith God calls us to have. If only welcoming Jesus into our hearts, and rejecting the life of sin were that easy for everyone. Welcome child, come here and let me pray with you."
She went to him, and they prayed the Lord's prayer together. Then the pastor announced, "I will have to have more talks with our new friend before I can add her to the baptism list next month, but I have no doubt the spirit is alive in this one."
Lakiya blushed, and was happy to return to her seat. Pastor returned to the front and the choir lead everyone in more joyful songs.
At the end of the service, for the closing prayer the Preacher did as he always does and asked everyone to join hands as a symbol of our unity in heart mind and souls, as we prepare to separate our bodies from each others company. Lakiya snapped Warrick’s hand and the broken woman’s hand in each of hers without a moment’s thought.
The woman squeezed Lakiya’s hand back, as did Warrick. When the prayer was over and Warrick let go the woman pulled on Lakiya’s other hand, causing Lakiya to turn her direction. The woman then embraced her in a long hug before informing her, “My name’s Narine, I’m glad to meet you.”
Her mother, Marie, quickly introduced herself as well, before informing Lakiya, “This is the most Narine has interacted with anyone in a while. You must be a very blessed young woman.”
Lakiya shrugged her shoulders as she stared at the two of them. Warrick pulled Lakiya closer to him as Jed said, “We feel very blessed to have her in our home, that’s for sure.”
After that the crowd began introducing themselves, usually in groups of families. Lakiya said hi to each and shook their hands. When the last of the town had met her and gone on their way the Sheriff was still sitting a short distance away. He approached us as Lakiya was asking, “How am I supposed to remember everyone’s names?”
“It takes time. It is a lot easier for all of us to remember one new name, than it is for you to remember a whole town of names.” Sheriff Bruce answered, “People will understand if you don’t remember their name, and will be happy to tell it to you again.”
Jed assured her, “The sheriff is right, so don’t waste time worrying about it, memorize them as you can and ask if you need to.”
Bruce reached his hand out, grabbed Lakiya’s hand and told her, “You look even more stunning than yesterday.”
“Thanks.” she whispered nervously in response.
After a long moment he let go of her hand and turned his attention to Warrick, as he sniffed the air once again. “You have done some changing since the last full moon celebration you attended. Will you be able to handle going to the dance tonight?”
Warrick replied, “I’ll be by Lakiya’s side the entire night.”
Sheriff Bruce grinned mischievously as he said, “If she is as active as Annabel was during the dances she attended you should be quite tired by morning from all accounts of last month’s dances.”
“Speaking of being tired,” Jed announced, “We need to get home, have lunch and get some rest so we don’t start the night tired.”
Bruce nodded his head, stepped back and admitted, “I have rounds to make and things to do to keep this town as safe as ever.”
I told him, “Have a great day, we’ll see you tomorrow for the High Moon Dinner.”
With that we went home. Once inside Lakiya asked, “Did you guys notice his eyes?”
Jed inquired, “What about them?”
Warrick answered, “Yesterday they were a dark brown, today they had flecks of yellow in them, and when he challenged my changes they turned mostly yellow. Between that and his increased stench I think it’s safe to say we were right about him being a Were-Wolf.”