Becca awoke with a stirring of the wind. A howl that slipped through her dreams, dragging her to the surface of wakefulness.
Eyes opening, she blinked back the sleep and yawned wide while stretching her arms.
Upon quick consideration, she found the room she shared with her mother pitch dark. Still night then. Next to her the other side of the bed remained cold. Mother had not yet returned from her janitorial rounds.
If Mother had yet to return, dawn waited hours away along with school.
Becca yawn again and placed a hand over her mouth. She then took that hand and ran her palm over the cold linens next to her.
The yowling had to have been a dream. All was quiet otherwise.
She was about to return to sleep when she heard it again…
No. Becca shook her head. This was not a wolf’s call or dogs in the alleys below. This was a considering hum. Thoughtful. Yet loud. Her little girl’s imagination thought about the sound. Was it from a giant considering a confounding problem?Like how to spell kat?
There it came again! Still a humming. Except this time Becca recognized the sound as a pondering of some question that had no answer.
Could it be one of them?
Becca kicked off the blankets and linen and hopped out of the shared bed. The floorboards were cold to her bare toes. She curled her toes but padded quickly across the apartment that was more a showbox than living quarters. If not for the lack of brooms and buckets the space might be a janitor’s closet. But those cleaning instruments were with Becca’s mother. Not here.
The Dunbar Plaza was so opulent even the janitor’s store room had a window with a view.
Becca threw open that sole window.
Wind wooshed across the Plaza’s side, shouting into the room like the window were an open mouth. Trailing behind was the humming. Happy. Nearly close to an opinion.
Becca peered outside the propped window where a ledge waited.
The girl of eleven squeezed herself out the window and dropped the short way to the ledge easily traversed by her slight child’s form.
Knowing the way well, Becca walked the ledge to the apartment next door’s balcony. She vaulted down off the four foot stone ledge.
The balcony was larger than four of the shoe boxes Becca and her mother shared. She rose to her feet and immediately pressed herself against the railing, leaned forward, and looked out over the city with its busy streets below–
The night suddenly lit up. Stars seemed to gather together, twinkling, shining brightly in a great bundle that reminded Becca of a flower bud.
Becca marveled at the warm light drifting along through the cramped spaces between the buildings, a stem of light dragging through the thin cloud cover the chilly night had draped over the city and leaving a river pricked with light seeds. From the flowery constellation Becca heard the murmur. A sleepy tremble. A gentle snore.
Then the bud of light blossomed into a giant golden woman made from that same gathering of stars.
Long, delicate fingers pried open the pedals. Slender arms pushed fourth, pulling a towering but feminine body from the scrunched confines of the flower. Shoulders slumped, head bowed, the golden woman stretched and burst from her flowery cocoon like breaking the surface of a dark night lake. The flower’s stars scattered with a kick, falling, bouncing off building walls, cascading down windows, flowing from gargoyle mouths on ledges like rain water. The cascading star shower formed in to a flowing gown of light. Becca noted with glee the woman’s war helm, which contrasted the glamorous light gown. The plumage at the helm’s top feathered and mixed into the gossamer gown. Becca found that sturdy helm of the woman’s far more impressive than the stupid dress!
Freed from her flower, the golden woman rolled her shoulders. Reached for the heavens. Yawned. Just like I did when I woke, Becca mused with delight. All the while the woman continued the hum. But now the hum was a song. Crashing through the night. Terrible and beautiful, like the woman.
Becca knew the being striding through the sky on a midnight stroll. Knew straight away by the helm.
The woman made of stars was Herenna. Goddess of the sky. Protector of women warriors. A saint from the church raised to godhood for her prowess on the battlefield thousands of years ago in history, still revered for her mercy on that battlefield.
Herenna slipped through the sky, passing close to Becca.
The goddess caught a glimpse of the girl stolen from bed and reached out a hand toward Becca.
Finger extended–a digit as big as the girl was small–she touched Becca on the chin. The goddess’ finger gently pushed Becca back from the railing and onto the flats of her feet.
She winked at Becca, smiled gently with the warmth and light of the sun, and swam forward.
Becca clasped her hands together and squealed.
Had her Mother seen the goddess? Was she cleaning a room with windows on this side of the building?
Mother would be furious at her if she knew she’d snuck out.
Smiling to herself, watching Herenna pass by the next building on the block, Becca thought to herself, Worth it!