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Refuge

November 14, 2018

My eyes slowly drifted open and struggled to focus. Had I been dreaming?  Where was I? I looked up and saw a ceiling that appeared to be thatched with large feathers.

Wait—a ceiling of feathers? I blinked and the room swam a little before my vision began to clear. Why was I so groggy? Were those really feathers? My eyes scanned the ceiling and moved to the wall. Those still looked like feathers. Very large ones.

I tried to push myself up on an elbow for a better look and was instantly overwhelmed with pain. I gasped sharply before an involuntary groan escaped my lips and I collapsed onto my back once again.

Immediately a face appeared over me. “Shh. Just be still. It will hurt less if you remain quiet.”  The face belonged to a young man I’d never seen before. I saw him glance toward the wall. I turned my head slightly to see what he was looking at. Another young man dressed in similar clothing was peering through a very slight separation between the two largest feathers I’d ever seen, intently watching something outside. Even though I’d barely moved, the motion made my head pound.

A large hand gently covered my forehead. “Really,” the young man said sternly, “you must be very still.” I glanced back at him. He had kind eyes. He also looked very fierce, like someone you really didn’t want to make angry.

I suddenly became aware of a terrible noise outside. It seemed to be getting louder and coming closer. My heart began to pound; I wanted to get far away as fast as I could. I began to squirm, panic overtaking pain. The hand on my forehead increased in pressure.

“Shh. You are safe. They cannot get to you in here.” He locked eyes with me as the sounds grew louder and took the form of words whizzing through the atmosphere like spears. Tears welled up in my eyes. “Focus here,” he said. “It’s all outside. You’re safe in here. And we’re not going to leave you.”

The sound began fading a bit. The other young man let out a low whistle as he threw a glance at me.

“Wow, you really got them riled up. Good job!”

I blinked. What was he talking about? “I did that?” I croaked out, my voice raspy and dry. “How did I do that? I didn’t mean to do anything!”

The young man turned toward me with a chuckle. “Oh, I can guarantee you most certainly meant to do that. Just as you will do it again, once you get rested and healed.”

Why did I need to rest and heal? Why was I in so much pain? It felt like every cell in my body was broken and bruised. And it wasn’t just my body. Somehow the pain went deeper than that, as if every fiber of my being was shrink-wrapped and squeezed by a membrane of agony.  Suddenly I began to have flashes of memories that quickly became full pictures. Violent sights and sounds, the subterfuge of hand-to-mind combat, the intensity of the onslaught that seemed to go on forever. But how did I get in here?

The young man beside me answered my question as if I’d asked it out loud. “We were watching you. We saw you holding your position, but reinforcements were coming in against you and you didn’t have enough backup or rest for what was being launched. We let you hold out as long as we could, but when you were showing signs of exhaustion and taking too many hits we had to bring you in. That was our assignment, to let you fight but to protect you if things got out of hand.”

“Thank you,” I whispered hoarsely. And then in spite of the screaming of every cell in my body, I pushed over onto my side away from the young man and curled up as the hot tears began to flow. I fought a wave of nausea from the pain.  The young man beside me started to chide me again for moving, but the one near the wall cleared his throat, and nothing more was said.

I had failed. My tears were bitter with disappointment and grief. I had failed and I had disqualified myself and I had to be pulled from the field. I knew my dad wouldn’t be angry, but I was sad that I had just demonstrated to him and everyone else that I could not be trusted. I had failed the true test of my training: actual battle. I was supposed to handle this better. I was supposed to overcome. I was supposed to—

“Victoria…”

The young man beside me sat down and wedged himself up against my back to support me as I laid there.  My own name mocked me as he spoke it again.

“Victoria, you are very tired and you are not seeing this rightly. It is time to be still and rest. What you have just experienced is significant, and you did a phenomenal job. You were pulled according to your father’s rules of engagement, not your performance. You will rest now, and our friends will take care of that noise outside. Everything will be clearer when you wake up, and we will talk more then, I promise. Will you trust me?”

I sniffled. I had no idea how I was going to rest with this much pain running roughshod over me. But the kindness and the fierceness of the one who had my back as I laid there somehow drew me. “Yes,” I whispered.

I felt his hand on my head once again, and he began to gently stroke my hair. Every pass of his hand felt like it was pulling something out of my mind, like briars, or maybe more like tugging on knots. As my eyes began to close, I noticed smoke beginning to rise from a low bowl on the floor a few feet in front of me. Incense. As the fragrance reached me, someone began to sing, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to see who it was.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2018 8:48 am

    Two things: one, an ad to get rid of stomach flab appeared above and below your post 😂; two, I couldn’t help but think of your Brazil post yesterday and a connection with this. You are a dearly loved victorious servant!

    • November 15, 2018 8:54 am

      Ugh. Those ads! And I can’t see them, which is so unfair…there’s just a blank box that says that readrs

      • November 15, 2018 8:54 am

        …readers may or may not see an ad. 🙄

  2. November 15, 2018 5:57 pm

    Beautiful! I can see the feathers. I can feel the love and protection and healing place! Can’t. Stop. Thinking about this one!

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