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Friday fiblet: One Day On The Streets In The City Of God

One Day On The Streets Of The City Of God

Maria woke at dawn, when the blaze of God’s Countenance refracted from
the great diamonds atop the towers, that great light splitting out in
beams that lanced into the bejeweled walls below, where they redounded
from diverse jewels in their purer hues without diminishment,
invigorating viridian emeralds and joyful incarnadine rubies and restful
purple amethysts, and finally flooded with luminous abandon within the
little space where she and Angela had come to rest, the glorious light
sweetly resonant between the golden streets and the silver walls, and
seemed to soak into the smooth opalescence of the pearled platform on
which they lay. Love and awe welled in her heart and she gently shook
Angela, saying “Oh, child, wake and see it! See the day God has given us!”

Angela mumbled a sleepy protest, turning her head against Maria’s
breast, the wispy black silk of her hair falling as a curtain over her
eyes. Maria laughed and flipped the ebon tresses back. Her daughter was
as beautiful as the City of God itself, it seemed to her, but she
couldn’t show her that; the silver walls that gleamed everywhere
mirrored only the eternal, and would not reflect a human face. “But
see, little heart,” she crooned. “It is all so very, very lovely, better
than the inside of your eyelids!” She turned her daughter’s face out,
into the flood of bright colors.

Black lashes tightened, fluttered, and finally opened to the glorious
new day. Angela looked out at the display as God’s Countenance rose
higher. His Crown was fully visible, and part of His Forehead. “It’s
really pretty, Mama,” Angela acknowledged. “but I liked the inside of my
eyelids too. Do we have any breakfast?” Maria laughed again. She
rummaged in her wayfarer’s bag, but there was no bread there, only a
comb, a few napkins, and a single silver coin a Personage had pressed
upon her a few days ago for no apparent reason.

“We shall have to walk to a place of manna, dear one. Hup!” She swung
the little girl up over her body, setting her onto her feet beside the
platform, then followed suit herself. With a few practiced flips she
folded the quilt, keeping the soft fleece inside and the gold and silver
damask silk outside, and stuffed it into her bag. Sometimes she would
wrap it as a shawl about the two of them, but she could already feel the
warmth of God’s love building and knew it would be a fine morning.
Angela was shivering a little though, so Maria did not make her walk yet
but swung her up off the gold street, which looked warm but was still
actually rather chilly. The girl smiled her radiant smile – such perfect
teeth she had! – and put her arms around Maria’s shoulders. “I love you
Mama!”

“I love you, my heart,” Maria replied, and kissed her soft hair. It was
very little burden, after all, the child weighed nothing. “Let’s find
ourselves some food.” She moved out of the enclosed area into the main
thoroughfare. It was even brighter there, and she soon warmed, walking
through the growing radiance. It was still early, the lanterns of the
night only now snuffing their lambences before the greater Light, but
there was already a stream of bright jeweled chariots going about the
City’s arcane businesses, Personages were walking quickly in each
direction, with glowing robes and gems but also stern miens and rapid
strides, and Maria tried to keep out of their way while she made her way
to the place of manna, holding Angela up high on her hip, where the
little girl could see the marvelous beauty of it all. Mostly the girl
drank it in silently, but every once in a while she would whisper,
“Mama! Look!!” and point at a particularly shiny vehicle, or a Personage
with especially fine accouterments. The sound of her child’s delight
made Maria’s feet feel winged, and she strode with wide steps and a glad
heart.

So it was that they came to the place of manna just as the gates were
being opened, and were among the first wayfarers to enter therein. Maria
let Angela down and accepted a mother-of-pearl plate with slices of fine
white bread, toasted with a golden heap of eggs atop it, and a goblet of
rich broth, “Thank you,” she told the kindly Personage who gave it to
her, “God’s love and blessings upon you.” Angela echoed her word for
word, simultaneously, which made Maria even happier than the gift.
“You’re welcome, dear. God bless you, take a seat over there.” The
Personage turned to the next wayfarer, and Maria and Angela did as they
were bid and took their seats at a long table of gleaming mahogany. She
was quite hungry after her brisk walk, and was tempted to simply wolf
the meal down, but that would be an insult to the generosity of the
City, so she made herself take time to savour the meal. She paused every
few bites and sips to make Angela take some as well; the girl was
perfect in every way, of course, but Maria couldn’t help wishing she
were a little more substantial! She was an obedient child and didn’t
refuse to eat, exactly, but the child barely nibbled at the food and
would take only tiny sips of the broth.

“Mama, I’m just not hungry!” she finally said, sounding a little
irritable, and Maria shrugged in defeat and finished the rest herself.
If the child got hungry later on it would serve as a lesson to her, that
was all. The thought of lessons having come to mind, Maria pondered
where they should go for the day. The City provided many places of
education to its denizens, great marbled halls filled with strange
wonders… but one was always a favorite for both Angela and Maria
herself.

She grinned as she put it to the girl in the same way she did almost
every day: “Not even for… books?” Angela’s face lost its hint of
annoyance instantly. She smiled her radiant smile and shook her head no,
vigorously, causing her hair to form a dark cloud about her head. “Then
what are we waiting for? To the Library! That’s where the books are!”
Angela giggled.

“To the Library!” she repeated. “That’s where the books are!” She jumped
down off the bench and skipped toward the exit. Maria followed, bringing
the shining empty plate and goblet and depositing them in the alcove set
aside for that purpose. As she followed her excited daughter out into
the bright day, the glorious effulgence of God’s fully risen Countenance
redounding from the uncounted beauties of His City, His Bounty still
warm in her stomach, she felt she had never been happier, could never be
happier.

That was when the Angel appeared.

It had skin like burnished copper, flowing hair of purest silver, and
its four wings were as pearl. It had four eyes that blazed like stars, its
tongue flickered as lightning, and its voice was as sounding brass. It
said unto her in a voice that held no doubt, “You are Maria Delcanto,
formerly a congregant of Sangre Christo Mission,” It waited several
seconds. “It will speed this along if you acknowledge that fact. You are
Maria Delcanto, formerly a congregant of Sangre Christo Mission,” Maria
nodded shakily.

The Angel held aloft a scroll and declaimed, “Be it noted that Maria
Delcanto has acknowledge the correct addressing of this Notice.” It
inclined Its head toward Maria. “I regret to inform you that your
service contract with Synaptic Angel, Incorporated, is being terminated
due to failure to meet the terms of your contract. Your presence in
the City of God will end forthwith.”

Maria gasped in shock, feeling like she’d had ice water poured all over
her. “But – but – but I have been faithful! I have remained true in my
devotion to God and His works! This can’t be true!!”

The Angel sniffed, a sound like air dragged back through a brass
harmonica. “That is true, as far as it goes, but you are not being
terminated for apostasy as such. You have run up an absolutely enormous
debt, having availed yourself of our top-tier service for…” The Angel
looked over Its shoulder, where a bewildering construct of wheels within
wheels within wheels, all covered in eyes, briefly appeared then winked
away again. “Seven years with no payment whatever in that time. Your
contract stipulated a ten percent tithe of all income, whatever the
amount. Until recently you have had no income whatever, but for the past
week you have retained a dime in your purse. Had you remitted a single
penny you could remain, but as it is you are weighed in the balance, and
found wanting. You are hereby expelled from the City of God.” The Angel
flashed teeth of brass. “If you’ll pardon the expression… Good-bye.”

It disappeared, with a sound like a rushing of wind and rolling thunder,
and the entire world grew dark in its wake. Maria sank back onto her
calves – when had she fallen to her knees? – and gaped in shock. A dime?
Suddenly she remembered. She tore open her bag, scrabbled and found the
coin. She pulled it out and waved it in the air, screaming, “Here, take
it!!!” But above her, she saw, the Countenance of God no longer blazed,
only an undifferentiated ball of light in a pale sky… below that, the
great jewels were tawdry signs, the silver walls were become sheets of
glass, and she was kneeling on a dirty grey surface that shared only
hardness and chill with the gold that had been. Around her passed… not
Personages, merely people, mostly ignoring her save for the few whose
path she obstructed, who spared her the briefest of contemptuous sneers
as they stepped around her.

“Where…?” she sobbed. “Where, where am I? What is this place?” She
looked around in fear and confusion, and then it struck her, and she
began screaming in earnest. “ANGELA!!! ANGELA!!!”

Then she remembered, and she knew where she was, all right, knew it to
the depths of her soul, and she kept screaming until the awful dark Debt
Collectors, horns and claws glinting, dragged her away.

~ by BT Murtagh on January 24, 2014.

fiblet, fiction, Writing