A Dance for the Fallen

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Yarih the luminary of the heavens sent a message
to Harhab king of summer:

'Give Nikkal!
Yarih would pay the bride-price for Ib;
let her enter his household!
I shall give her dowry to her father,
a thousand (shekels) of silver
and ten thousand of gold!
I shall send gems of lapis lazuli!
I shall turn her steppelands into vineyards,
the steppeland of her love into orchards!′

But Harhab king of summer replied,
’O most gracious of the gods,
become son-in-law to Baal;
wed Pidray his daughter.
I shall introduce you to her father Baal.
Athtar will intercede.
He will betroth you Yabradmay,
His father’s daughter Lion will arouse!′

But Yarih the luminary of the heavens replied,
‘With Nikkal shall be my wedding!’

--The Wedding of Nikkal and Ib

I am his only. His wife, his love. He tends to the fields while I care for our children; we’ve inherited land, but no servants. That suits us well.

In this life, we are called Nikkal and Yarikh. He is more serious than he used to be, but I can coax a smile from him when it matters. Yarikh is of lighter complexion than I, his hair smooth while mine curls, yet we find each other as attractive as we always have.

Our bodies more human this time, only a touch of divinity in our veins from incarnation, we can bear children as we please. We have three already, two boys and a girl, as a fourth swells my womb. They are young still, not yet old enough to help him with the grain, so they amuse me as they run about the house. Abel sits on the table while I stitch clothes for his baby sister, Caine sweeping the floor to prove his helpfulness. I see a glint of Ohya in Caine’s eyes, which brings me relief. I am glad his soul has found a home with us.

When Yarikh returns from planting, he endures his sons’ pestering while he holds our littlest. Aclima is only three, but already she has the eyes of a beauty, begging with every pout and whimper.

“Tell the story,” she murmurs, pulling on his ear.

Her favorite story is mine as well. I listen while I tend the fire, cooking while he sits our children down and says, in his solemn voice, almost what happened:

“There was once a fearsome beast who saw a beautiful woman, who could not know how much he wanted her. So he brought her a rose, so perfect she kept it for many days and nights, and the strength of his unspoken love kept it from wilting. As the flower bloomed, she fell more in love with him, until she could no longer see he was a beast.

“But there was a man who owned the beast, who also loved the woman. When he realized it was the beast she loved, and not himself, he was so consumed by jealousy that he killed the beast before her eyes. So heartbroken was she that she embraced the fallen beast and wept, and so moving was her sorrow that Heaven took pity on them both. The beast was transformed into a handsome king, who fell to his knees and asked her to be his.

“She accepted him. The two were married, and their love was so powerful that when they died they were reborn together again, and each time they die they are reborn together, never to be apart.”

“Like you and Mother?” Abel asks.

“Yes,” he says. “Just like me and Mother.”

As night falls, he puts the children down while I wash plates. He takes me to bed, caressing every part of me with rough hands and soft lips. When he falls asleep, his palm against my growing middle, I feel something else enter our chambers. The piece of him he thinks he has slyly left in Heaven often comes to visit, shapeless and curious.

Checking on me? I whisper to it, my thoughts entwined with his.

Always. I am furiously jealous of him, after all.

You’ll get to have me, next time, I promise.

And the world will get to have a grouchy Angel of Death.

He hovers over me, just out of reach. I can feel the faint pressure of his touch against my skin, his longing for me stronger than the veil can hold. Sometimes, he manages to invade my dreams, where he whispers silliness until Yarikh stirs me with dawn.

How strange it is to love them both--so different, yet equally consuming. They are the fire that warms my heart, the rain that soothes my soul. I no longer think of Michael, or the Fallen, or the flood. There is only Yarikh, and Samael, and the beat of life within me.

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