Rianna's Voyage - 1 of 7

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The vista, while not terribly impressive, still managed to reveal much of the campus despite the heavy fog. Some newer buildings that poked out of the mist seemed out of place when compared to the older parts of the campus that sprawled all over the hill. The older buildings were almost fanciful in their size; like so many quaint model railroad houses. And from above, many of the trees seemed to resemble lichen in that their foliage was thick and very, very green.

“This is where…”

She looked out to glimpse Howard Bay; soft clouds obscured most of her view. The song, fitting it seemed for the moment, bounced around her head; her resolve sharp and focused, as if to push her along. She stepped forward and expelled a frustrated breath. She looked at the gun in her hand and shook her head; not to deny, but to lament what she was about to do. She raised the weapon to her head and pulled the trigger....

Part One — Hinba

Klamath Falls, Oregon...

“Holy shit.” The man said as he came up next to the woman who knelt by the young man before her.

“Jerry, shut up and help me get him onto the gurney.” Rianna snapped at him, but her anger wasn’t focused on her partner but on the blood needlessly spilled on the ground.

“It’s a graze? I never knew ….1…2…3…Lift… I never knew this much blood could come from a flesh wound,” Jerry said. Rianna peered at her partner. Jerry had seen a lot in his day, but never anything so sad and frustrating as a self-inflicted wound. She looked down at the young man.

“You’re going to be okay…” The words of comfort might have seemed robot-like coming from anyone else. Rianna prayed silently and spoke softly to him; almost a spiritual version of walking and chewing gum at the same time.

‘No….” the voice was soft; a gentle tone more appropriate for the daughter of the president of the school instead of the son who lay before her. A moment later they were in the ambulance on the way. On the way... She sighed deeply, almost a harmony to his moans.


Rianna would have stroked his hair but for the mass of clotted blood. She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. She did that whenever possible; even the deceased would be thusly blessed if she didn't arrive ‘in time.’ Mostly, though, she would do what she could and hold a hand or touch a cheek when they did arrive time. The young man looked up and into the bright cabin light of the ambulance; the glare from over Rianna's shoulder was almost blinding, but appeared almost-halo like to the young man. It might have seemed to anyone that an angel was ministering comfort to him, he felt otherwise.

'Don’t they come as angels of light,' he thought. Wouldn't an angel bear him up to heaven?

“No….please…” He would have added ‘let me go’ but for the growing realization that he had failed. He slumped back and gave into the moment; turning his head to the side he began to weep softly. The woman half-frowned, wondering just what would motivate a life with so much promise to give up hope. She touched his cheek and spoke softly.

“It will be alright.”

Rianna’s eyes filled with tears over the utter waste of life; even though he lived, the young man felt pain so hopeless that death must feel more certain and more rewarding and safer than living. She sighed, wishing she could pick him up and hold him close. At thirty-seven with her diminishing circle of friends, she never believed or dared to hope for herself as opportunities for love waned more and more each day.

She felt her face grow hot in embarrassment as she gazed upon his face. She shook her head 'no;' not to his life but ashamed of hers. She had all but given up hope as well. But in that moment things changed for Rianna Pentangelo and Christopher MacIlroy; an union of sorts that would both define and empower each of them to be exactly as God planned for them.

“N…” He barely got out the thought when his grief interrupted him and he gave into hopeless sobs. Rianna felt a hand on her back and took the gesture as an encouragement from Jerry. She spoke once again; this time a bit louder as the sirens and the traffic noise threatened to drown out her voice.

“I promise. This is going to be okay… Things are going to work out.” She paused as if to search for another word. Lyrics off an old CD came to her and she sang, if a bit too soft and wee bit off key.

Here you came to make your fast
Prayed for mercy 'til at last
You heard the word, you waited for

She could barely sing the words when she felt the hand move up her back to knead the very tight bundle of muscles from her neck to her shoulder. It felt good, and as a result, she felt almost ashamed; why she felt that way would be the key to how to help the young man, and his life would come to be the instrument of her peace, in a manner of speaking. The siren droned on, so nobody else in the ambulance would hear her cry. The young man seemed to be resting though his glances moved from place to place but in an almost ordered and restful fashion.

“Thanks,” Rianna said, reaching up and across with her left hand to pat Jerry’s hand. The soft but even pressure remained on her shoulder, but she felt no hand as she reached out. Turning slowly, she spoke.

“Not a word, Jerry. Okay?” Her habit of 'blessing' was certainly off base by anyone's standards, but especially when she ministered to someone like the young man. As she turned, he moaned and she pivoted back to him. The distraction of his voice came at just the wrong time, but actually, it might have really been just the right time. Rianna leaned closer and sang again,

This is where you prayed
And Heaven's light shone down
This is where you sang the angel song
Rising higher, rising higher to beyond

At the word ‘beyond’ his eyes grew much less dim, in a way, as he focused on the sight just over Rianna’s shoulder. The moment gained a measure of peace as he smiled before turning his head toward her. She remained focused on him noticing how...handsome wasn't the word. He seemed almost pretty. She was so intent in her stare that she didn’t feel the hand leave her shoulder. Had she turned she would have noticed nothing, which would have given her a start or maybe even a shock; as painful as that might sound, she would know that her prayers were answered. And she would have seen that Jerry was up front with Raheem; riding shotgun.

Had she the eyes of a desperate child like the young man before her, though, she would have beheld a miracle of sorts as a very tall, strong looking woman stooped behind her; wings outspread enough to disappear from view through the sides and the back door of the ambulance....

Pushing against the eastern wind
Salt that bleeds into the skin
Looking over your shoulder to Hinba

This is where you prayed
And Heaven's light shone down
This is where you sang the angel song
Rising higher, rising higher to beyond

Next: River Flows

from the album, Open Sky
written and performed
by Iona

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This story is 1300 words long.