Keeping Watch

 But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.  Micah 7:7

**2 Years Later**

The smell of food permeated the home tickling my nostrils. I couldn’t help but smile imagining the bacon and eggs sizzling on the skillet. Cracking one reluctant eye open, I could see the rays of sunlight filtering through my window. With a stifled groan, I threw off the covers and jumped down from the bed. Stretching the kinks out of my neck, I walked around my room to open the shutters of my window.

“Melody! Breakfast!”

“Coming!” I yelled before making my way through the short hallway to the kitchen. Out of habit, I grabbed an apron from the peg over the wall and tied it around my waist. Narcissa looked over her shoulder and smiled at me, “Good morning sleepy head.”

“Sorry Narcissa, I stayed up last night thinking, and I slept in late.” Grabbing an oven mitt, I walked over to open the oven door to take out a tray of golden biscuits. Having an indoor brick oven was still so novel, but I don’t know how we would function without it now. Of course, if Narcissa heard me say something like that, she would probably tell me something like, “As long as we have our Father, we have everything.” It was a miracle if Narcissa went a week without mentioning the tired idiom.

Grabbing a pail, I walked outside the confines of the quaint cottage and to the small stable housing a goat, a cow, and a few chickens. Going through the motions, I sat on the three-pegged stool and began to milk the cow. The sound of pressurized liquid hitting the metal bucket met my ears as I recalled what happened over two years ago…

Once I had learned the truth about my mother and how heavily Mercy and Grace had been present in my life, Father led me away from the Broken Stream. As we walked side by side, time felt frozen until we broke through the forest line. That was when I first laid eyes on the cottage. Harper had lied to me when she had said that everything past the bridge would be dangerous. I was shocked to learn that Narcissa was still alive and still inhabiting the same cottage where my mother bore me. I’ll never forget what He told me that day.

“Melody, I want you to stay with Narcissa to be her disciple just as she was once a disciple many years ago.”

“Sure,” I said with uncertainty. “How long will I have to stay here?” As nice as Narcissa was to my mother, I did not enjoy the idea of living with some old lady I didn’t even know. Elyon assured me that Narcissa was expecting me and that she knew what to do for my training. Still, He never answered my question.

“I must go now,” He said resolutely. “I have preparations to make.”

I tried to pretend as if I was fine with the situation, but that was not the case. “Why can’t I just come with you?” I asked.

Father looked at me and replied, “When you have completed your course in this world, then I will take you home with me.”

With that promise, the King left, and I have been waiting ever since. When I am outdoors such as this instant, I can’t help but look to the horizon expectantly waiting for my Father’s return. Against my better judgment I kept watch but to no avail. He wasn’t coming today. I was seriously wondering if He would ever come back. Finished with getting enough milk for the day, I returned to the cozy home.

Breakfast was absolutely delicious and filling, but I was still preoccupied with different thoughts. Narcissa caught on quickly. “Why don’t you take a stroll into town to see if we have any mail?” I knew what Narcissa was trying to do, so I went along with the older woman. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I said, “I’ll be back shortly.”

Narcissa was hoping I received a new letter from Father to boost my spirit. Since I last saw Him, I had only received three letters. I wasn’t optimistic about the whole situation. Narcissa tried to explain that I shouldn’t always rely on getting such clear messages from Father especially since my training began. After passing the half mile marker, I spied our local postmaster riding horseback and quickened my pace to catch up to him.

As soon as he noticed me, he shook his head no before I could ask if there was anything. Hmm, I guess no packages from Grace either. Even though it had been years since I last saw Father, Grace still came every so often. Sometimes she would just send me some kind of trinket or something unexpected like a brick oven. Mercy, on the other hand, rarely came to visit. At least she still made the effort.

By the time I returned home, the kitchen was made spotless. I shook my head at the sight. Narcissa was well into her seventies, but she had the strength and energy of a teenager sometimes. Initially, I assumed that I was meant to take care of Narcissa, but that was not the case. She was the caretaker that I never imagined I could ever have.

She was something else. Narcissa had red curls with abundant silver streaks piled atop her head with stray ringlets that refused to obey her bobby pins. She was the boldest woman I had ever met who stood up for others and didn’t shy away from sharing about the Forgotten King and His kingdom. She was certainly a spit-fire!

I couldn’t find her anywhere inside, so I made my way to the back of the house where I finally found the dear woman. She was tending to her garden as was her usual custom around this time of day. Without looking up from her spot, Narcissa asked, “Any letter?”

“No,” I replied.

Narcissa nodded her head before she stood to her feet using the help of her staff. Well, according to her, the staff actually belonged to the Shepherd. “Well, no use wasting time, let’s get to your training,” commanded Narcissa. I nodded at her and concentrated on activating my armor. Thanks to Narcissa, I was able to be conscious of my “invisible” armor. I unsheathed my constantly present sword to face Narcissa, my opponent.

We bowed at each other once, and we began our battle. Narcissa was able to wield her staff easily against my sword. Every time I lunged, she was able to block my strikes and return with some of her own. My sword glowed as the fighting continued. Narcissi eyed the glowing sword and switched to stare at me. “Tell me the words of the Comforter.”

As I continued to jab and block, I recited the words from memory, “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.”

Saying each word gave me hope and strength. Even though I feel like I have been waiting for so long, I know that Father has my best interest at heart. Comforter is still residing with me, and once I am fully trained I will be prepared for whatever the world throws at me.

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