The Watchers: Prologue pg. 2

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“Sariel, tell me, will we have a boy or a girl?” Bayla pulls his hand to the curve of her abdomen, a playful smile on her lips. Sariel is hit with a familiar pang of wonder as he gazes at her. He’d never thought he could find her more beautiful than he had that day in the forest. She has blossomed with pregnancy. Her gold skin is glowing and her black hair flows long and vibrant over her shoulders . Her dark eyes are bright with happiness. When he places his hand on her he can feel the life growing and each day the feeling grows stronger. For a few days now he has felt the presence of two separate lives. He smiles as his senses reach out to his daughter and for the first time their minds connect. She is just waking from a dream filled with bright colors and music. He laughs with joy as he realizes that she recognizes him and excitedly begins to describe her dream to him. He is amazed as he realizes what a wonder she will be. Suddenly, she flinches in pain and he can feel her fear as her brother harshly kicks her side. Sariel focuses his attention on the boy. Anger and jealously are projected into his mind. His son also recognizes who he is and all he senses from him is hatred. How can this be? Calmly, as to not alert Bayla, he pulls his mind away from his children and his eyes meet those of his wife. He refuses to worry her so he smiles and says, “We are having a son and a daughter my love.” The happiness that radiates from her in that moment is so brilliant that he can’t help but be swept along with it. He puts any concerns of his son to the side as he scoops Bayla into his arms and kisses her lips. His fingers trail through her hair and down her neck, the place he’d imagined kissing an eternity ago, and he has kissed hundreds of times since.

His mind is drawn to the day the choice had been made to fall. He’d followed Azazel to the meeting place, surrounded by his fellow Watchers, they’d listened as Semjaza spoke of the good they could do for humanity if they lived with and among them rather than avoiding direct interaction. “Look at their pitifully short lives, filled with struggle, as they scavenge and dig in the dirt.” As he pointed they’d all looked down on humanity and their struggle had seemed sad and pointless. “Think of what we could teach them! And look upon their daughters, imagine their beauty if we taught them all we know!” They all looked and saw the beauty of the women. Sariel had seen his own desire echoed in the faces of his comrades. And so it was on that day that two hundred Watchers left the heavens and appeared before the mortals. The awe with which they were beheld made them feel as if they themselves were gods. He remembered watching Azazel descend, gold armor shining brilliantly, and massive black wings outstretched. The ground shook with the impact of his feet. It had pained Sariel to see the mortals fall before him in worship and fear. Azazel stood over them, feet planted firmly apart, and they had cringed even closer to the dirt as his bellow reverberated above their heads, “behold mortals! For we come with new life to offer you.”

Sariel had slipped away from those crowds to seek out one human in particular. He’d found her in the forest where he’d spent so many months protecting and loving her. He shifted into a human form of himself before stepping into view, he hadn’t wanted to frighten her, but it had been Sariel who was startled by her reaction. “I wondered if I would ever meet you.” She had said as she studied him from head to toe. When their eyes had met and she saw the question there she said, “yes, I know you. I’ve felt your presence so often and I’ve seen you in my dreams.” He had been overcome by so many unfamiliar emotions at once that he nearly staggered. Instead, he held out his hand to her saying only, “Bayla.” With no sign of fear she had walked slowly toward him stopping only inches away to look up into his eyes. “I have never before seen anyone with eyes the color of the skies and your hair, it is like the sun.” As she said this she reached up and touched his hair and then his face. It took considerable effort to stand still and endure the new sensations. “Where are your wings?” He’d smiled into her eyes as he brought his wings back into view and stretched them out to their full length of eight feet across. She had sighed in wonder and walked around him trailing her fingers over individual gold and white feathers.

-LM Jones                                                     pg.1

The Watchers: Prologue pg. 1

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Prologue

The Watchers

“And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’ Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And these are the names of their leaders: Samlazaz, their leader, Araklba, Rameel, Kokablel, Tamlel, Ramlel, Danel, Ezeqeel, Baraqijal, Asael, Armaros, Batarel, Ananel, Zaqiel, Samsapeel, Satarel, Turel, Jomjael, Sariel. These are their chiefs of tens.”
-I Enoch Chapter 6

He watches the woman as she searches the bushes and adds to the pile of berries in her basket. As She bends forward to pick more, her dark hair falls forward over her face, exposing the column of her neck. He wonders what it would feel like to lay his hand upon it. Suddenly, she yanks a piece of hair from over her eyes and looks in his direction as if she senses his presence. Never has he so desired to make himself known or speak with one of these children of the Father. Sariel is sworn, gladly, to watch over them and to serve them, these mysterious creatures made in His image. “Bayla,” he murmurs to himself. Her name means “beautiful” in her language and to him she is more beautiful than all the wonders he has beheld since creation. She turns her attention back to the bush and pops a berry into her mouth. Tilting her head back she closes her eyes and hums as she chews, clearly enjoying her treasure. Longing rushes through him as he imagines kissing her exposed throat and tasting the fruit on her lips as he caresses her dark hair. What would he see if he could gaze into her black eyes?

Sariel jerks himself into a straighter stance and shakes his head while silently reprimanding himself.  “These thoughts need to stop,” he tells himself. He glances at the horizon then back at Bayla sending feelings of urgency toward her. She pushes up from her knees, brushing her hands over her coverings of rough skin and fur, and realizes that she has lingered here too long. She had felt triumph at the unexpected discovery of such a full bush at the end of the season and had lost track of time. He can feel her rising panic as she grabs her basket and rushes toward the path.

It’s dangerous to be away from the caves this late in the day. Predators emerge from their hiding places to hunt at night. Many of her kin have been lost to their fearsome claws. Her fear consumes him as he follows close behind her. He represses the urge to scoop her into his arms and fly over the trees to the safety of her home. This would only serve to frighten her even more and tread too closely to disobedience on his part. Just as she is about to break through the trees and run into the lighted open area that surrounds the caves, Sariel’s eyes dart to a shadow slinking through the under growth. This fanged monster moves with swift purpose. A vision of Bayla sprawled on the ground, blood marring her golden skin, brings forth a rage in him that is horrifying. In the blink of an eye he’s beside it gripping its throat. Sariel bares his teeth as he squeezes, the stench of its breath burning his eyes. It makes choking sounds, its eyes rolling back as it struggles. Finally, the creature goes still. He heaves it away from him, disgusted and looks up in time to see Bayla skip happily into the cave.

 

“She is lovely, is she not?” Sariel swings around to see Azazel gazing down at the beast. “The woman I mean,” he says, still looking at the broken animal. Sariel remains silent as he studies Azazel. This Watcher is an immense presence. He’s tall, even compared to most Watchers, and well muscled. He wears a breastplate of gold and gold bands at his wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. He carries a long spear in his right hand. All of this glistens in the light coming through the trees, as if it has been constantly polished with great care. His black hair falls to his shoulders in waves. Azazel’s dark features completely contrast Sariel’s pale blonde hair and translucent blue eyes. Even his plain choice of covering, a white linen tunic, sets them apart. Azazel’s golden eyes are piercing as he looks up and meets Sariel’s stare.

“Yes, Sariel, I’ve been watching you for a while now, and you seem to spend an unusual amount of time around this tribe in particular.” He steps toward Sariel extending his hand in a gesture of camaraderie and places it on his shoulder. He
turns Sariel to face him, his spear in the crook of his arm, as he places both hands on Sariel’s shoulders. “I do not judge my friend, for I recognize on your face the same expression that I myself have worn as well as many of our fellow Watchers.” Sariel begins to open his mouth to deny what Azazel is saying, but instead he looks away, his face puzzled, and eyes clouded.
“You love her!”
Sariel breaks free from Azazel’s hold and turns away. “What is your purpose here Azazel? Do you wish to further torment me! It does not matter what I feel for her, for she can never be mine!” Sariel leans his cheek against a tree, letting it hold him up. “She will live her life with a man. A man that will take pleasure in the secrets of love with her and share in her laughter! It will be a man who smiles into her eyes as he holds their newborn son in his arms.” Tears roll from his eyes and fall to the ground. He touches one in awe. He didn’t know they could cry. He’d never before had reason to feel anything less than joy. How horrible and wonderful life must be for them! To always feel such things!
“My friend,” Azazel whispers, “I tell you it is possible for YOU to be the man that shares in these things with her!”
Sariel turns back toward Azazel and searches his face. When he finds only honesty there, a serge of hope begins to fill his heart, and nothing in heaven and earth will ever be the same.
-LM Jones

A Storm

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“Coo,coo, coo”. I love the sound of these birds and their song calls me away from my dreaming. I’ve fallen asleep with the window open again, my pillow on the sill. My skin is sticky and warm, but I don’t mind. I stretch, flinging my arms out the window, in no hurry to get out of bed. I lay there, legs hanging over the side of my bed and head in the window, watching as the sun continues to rise. When I decide it’s time to get up I pull myself up onto the sill and jump to the ground. Heedless of bare feet and nightgown I head through the trees and down a trail. There is magic in the air, I can feel it tingling in my toes and fingertips. As I continue I come to a tree that towers over the path. I run to the tire swing hanging from one of it’s great limbs, flinging my body into it. My hair drags the ground picking up random debris as I twirl myself, around and around, until the rope can take no more. I lift my feet and let myself swing in circles until I’m dizzy. Then I jump from the swing and happily begin down the path once again.

When I get to the creek I step into it without hesitation. The delicious chill of the water is welcome on this summer morning. In the Deep South the summer air is a hot, moist weight on your body and in your lungs. The sweet smell of honeysuckle floats to me from the bushes all around. I pick a flower, careful not to break it, and slowly pull the end through until a single drop of nectar is gathered. It’s sweet taste fills my mouth as I continue to follow the water further into the woods. After a short walk the narrow creek opens onto a small pond. In the center of the pond is an island just large enough for a tree that dominates the entire space. As I continue, and the water deepens, I glide into it and back peddle forward. Stopping to float I gaze above and around me. Red and brown blurs flit back and forth overhead singing to each other as they go about their morning ritual. There is a little splash as a turtle, fleeing my presence I assume, hurries back into the water. I turn over and trudge through the red clay and onto the island. There’s just enough room to stretch my legs as I sit with my back against the tree trunk. It’s there that I enjoy my morning with eyes closed and mind wandering. “Leah!” My mother’s voice rings across the distance. I jump to my feet and splash through the waist deep water. Within minutes I’m on the trail my bare feet dodging familiar roots and stones. “Coming” I shout back to her. I arrive before her and she doesn’t even look twice at my dripping nightgown, wet hair, and muddy feet. My current state is nothing new. “I need you to watch your sisters while I go to the store.” “OK” I say as I head to my room.

Dry and somewhat cleaner I head back outside to the front yard. My little sisters are in the woods pretending to be fairies. I can hear their giggles as they pretend to fly and the dogs chase after them wanting to join in on the fun. I smile as I begin to balance on the rail ties that separate our yard from the neighbor’s. He’s sitting on his porch watching and waiting for the little blonde urchin’s toe to touch his sacred ground. Just then mom arrives back from the store. “Mom, can I go play with Jenny?” She nods and in a moment of pure mischievous glee I run across the neighbor’s yard toward the dirt road. “Hey! Git outta ma yard!” He yells at my back. I keep running through the neighborhood until I reach a trailer surrounded by a fence and guarded by the two of the scariest dogs. They bark at me angrily and I’m thankful for the fence that separates us. Glaring at them, I cup my hands around my mouth and shout “Jenny!”. They only begin to bark louder, the scorn is mutual, so I turn my back to them.  As I’m waiting I notice some junk out behind her house. One of the things reminds me of the piece of plastic that thread is wrapped around when you buy it. Maybe it’s called a spool, but this is huge so it must have been used to wrap industrial cables around. Finally, Jenny comes outside. “Hey, let’s go see what that stuff is,” I say as she closes the gate on the snarling little demon dogs. I barely repress the urge to stick my tongue out at them.

Upon inspection of the giant spool we discover that the center is hollow and that it would be perfect to roll in. So we roll our new toy to the center of her huge yard and I climb inside. I brace my hands and feet around the inside of the opening and Jenny gives it a push. The yard has just enough incline for it to pick up some speed as it rolls. When it comes to a stop I fall onto the ground and laugh uncontrollably. Jenny runs to me and announces that it’s her turn. It doesn’t take long for all the neighborhood kids to catch onto what we are doing and join us. We spend hours taking turns rolling each other in this formerly forgotten piece of debris. When we are bored of this Jenny and I go inside to watch a movie.

A few hours later after being suitably freaked out by “Silence of the Lambs”, I head over to visit a different friend. I knock at the door of his little trailer. He opens the door “Hi little Leah!” He always has a smile for me. Everyone calls him Tadpole. Tadpole is a wiry man in his 50’s with a long beard. He beckons me inside and I dodge piles of books and magazines as I wind my way to the living room. “So what will it be today? Moses, Krull, Spartacus or maybe My Fair Lady?” I consider for a moment as I search through his vast collection of movies, “I think maybe Anne of Green Gables.” He hands me the movie and we chat about nature and fishing for a while. “Well I guess I better get home, thanks for the movie Tadpole!” He waves as I run down the hill to the little tan trailer I call home. I cradle the movie in my arms as I dodge puddles and jump ditches in my rush to get there and watch it. Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite movies.

After a shower I’m laying on the floor of the living room watching the movie. I always cry at the part where, the orphan Anne, is talking to her reflection trying to pretend it’s another person who can console her. I know what it feels like to be that lonely and to feel as different and awkward as she does. Outside it begins to storm. The day couldn’t end any better for me, I love thunderstorms. I run outside into the rain jumping in puddles and doing cart wheels. It doesn’t matter to me that I’m now dirty again after a shower. Why should I care? “Time for bed. Come in and dry off Leah.” My mom calls from the doorway. Later, in bed I’m laying by the open window. My arm is outstretched to feel the rain. I love the sound of it on the roof. I can’t explain why there’s a little ball of excitement in my stomach at the flash of the lightning and the boom of the thunder. It sooths me, as if the violence of the storm is a release for the violence in my heart. With my hand open to the sky, welcoming the rain, I fall asleep.
-LMJ

One Day

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One day you will catch a scent in the air
And it will occur to you that it’s familiar
A memory, unbidden, will come
Not like lightning, but a flicker, on the edge of awareness
A flash of her honest stare, the fullness of her laugh

What did you see as she stood before you?
Did you find her lovely?
Or was she just a fool?
Unhindered, she gave her thoughts
Freely, she poured herself out to you

What did you feel when she offered to care?
Did you realize it wasn’t a choice for her?
She knows no other way to exist
She loves, she gives, she falls, she breaks
But the pieces, they come together, and she loves on

The memory comes on the wind
What will you remember?
What was she to you?
She was nothing!
And you won’t remember
No, not at all!

-LMJ

The Story of a Tree

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I know what you must think
When you see my barren limbs.
You see an old tree that looks dry and wasted.
It’s true that my leaves had fallen, seemingly, never to return
And the bloom of my youth is a fuzzy dream that
Floats on the edges of memory.

Aw, but you are wrong! I am far from dead!
And I’m not just any tree, I was chosen for a special purpose!
I know that somewhere out there I have not been forgotten.
So sit awhile with me and if you listen,
With more than ears, I will tell you a story.
I will tell you about my girl.

I remember it was a bright spring morning,
And my friends, the birds, were just stirring from my branches.
When, suddenly, they leapt to the air in a flurry of fright
As a man climbed onto one of my great arms.
He shimmied to the center just above an elbow
And began to fasten something there.

In that moment I wanted nothing more than to buck him to the ground!
The man jumped down when he had finished
And stood there admiring his handiwork with pride.
The new weight was strange and unbalanced.
In a furry I wondered why this man had tread upon me
And ruined my beauty with this thing!

The air around me filled with the most horrifying shrieks.
It was as if banshies flew around my head.
I felt a tug and my limb began to sway.
Oh, I could see them then, not banshies at all
But little girls with halos of golden hair.
My furry melted away to joy, as I realized, I had been chosen!

We don’t like the older ones so much.
For they come to tear and hack and take.
But, I had heard stories of the joy little ones bring
When they come to play.
As I watched the happiness on their tipped little faces
I stood straighter and more firm and felt tremendous pride.

Then, one morning I spotted the oldest of the girls.
She walked slowly down the path toward me.
She was focused on a treat in her hands,
But as she neared she licked the last of the ice-cream
From her fingers and smiled up at me.
I knew then that I was her’s and she was mine.

She would swing with her head back and eyes closed.
Her bare feet carelessly brushed the red southern ground,
And she hummed tunelessly along with the birds and cicadas.
I knew she was dreaming dreams. I could almost see them
Floating up and up into my highest branches.
I imagined I could catch them there for safe keeping.

Once, she ran to me, tears falling to trail behind her.
She sat on the swing with her face pressed to the rubber of the tire.
I couldn’t bear the loneliness that rolled from her in waves.
So, I called to my friends, the breeze and birds,
And we conspired to comfort her.
As I gently rocked her the birds sang and the breeze dried her tears.

As time passed her visits grew fewer and fewer.
Until one day she never came at all.
I seemed to drift then into a kind of slumber.
Without the ringing laughter and spontaneous joy of the girls
My focus became blurred and my mind began to wander.
No one came to visit me anymore.

Once, I returned from drifting with a shock as I felt a tug!
“My little ones have returned!” I thought with a thrill!
How wonderful it would be to hear their sweet voices as they swing.
Then, to my horror I realized it wasn’t them at all.
A man with a saw stood below me! I cringed as I thought that
This must be my time, but he began to cut at my rope instead.

I tried to tell him to stop, how sad my girl would be, but he didn’t hear and steadily he continued until he carried it away.
I think I cried then, not saltwater tears like my girl,
But my branches hung low and my leaves fell.
I remained bare then, for I had been forgotten.
Not even the birds or the breeze could lift me from my sorrow.

Sometime later, it could have been days or years,
I felt a light touch upon my trunk and I stirred.
It was a cheek pressed there and I heard a tuneless hum.
It was her! She looked up at me, tears in her eyes, and smiled.
That look I knew so well. She was older, and I could tell she’d
Overcome much.

In that moment I felt such pride. She’d grown strong,
Like the strength of a tree. She was sturdy and could weather
The storms. I could tell She had roots that had gone deep.
Suddenly, I wasn’t sad anymore. She hadn’t forgotten me.
I knew that wherever she went she would carry me in her heart.
I would always be her anchor, her dream weaver, her guide, and her comfort. I felt joy again, and began to bloom.
-LMJ
-picture by me. This is my tree.