Posted by Ensign Lily Locksley ((A) Chief Medical Officer) in Lily in the Sky with Diamonds
Posted by Ensign Lily Locksley ((A) Chief Medical Officer) in Lily in the Sky with Diamonds
------------- One Week Laterrrr---------------------
Blinking at the light out the shuttle transports window, Duncan watched the ground pass them by as the shuttle flew low to the ground heading for the drop off where Duncan and Lily would begin their journey to Lily’s parent’s house. “So, you never told me they lived in an electromagnetic dead spot where all electronics fail to operate,” Duncan said to her, “meaning that we have to trek in with pack animals carrying our luggage, and the latest supplies for your parents ourselves.” He sat back against the seat and looked at Lily again, his ankle resting over his knee.
“I said they liked it rustic and tend to shun tech,” she adjusted the woven floppy hat on her head.
“When you said they tend to shun things like technology and electricity, you might have elaborated more,” he grinned and then leaned forward towards her. “I’m still not chickening out, So it’s a three day trek with camels. It’s lucky I bought this then, right?”
Digging into his bag, he pulled out the British Explorers hat that Lily had provided him when they had taken the children on Outpost 42 on an outing to Gamma Tiltium for a Frontier Folk badge. Putting it on his head, he pointed to three more badges that had been secretly added to the ones on it already. “I even did some more ‘expeditions’ and earned my badges, now tell me I’m not prepared, huh?” Winking at her, he grinned and took her hand in his.
Lt Rhodes, CSO
Lily busted out laughing. “My god you are a Frontier Folk,” she tugged at the brim of the hat pulling his face down to hers. “I hate to disappoint you but you might not get the bedouin nomadic experience you are so aptly dressed for,” she settled back into her seat propping up her manicured toes on the windows as if it was an open vehicle.
Small toe prints would be left on the window when she left to indicate where she was seated. “They gave up the beast of burden method of transport for supplies and such about fifty years ago. It was deemed cruel to the animals. Now we use biofuel made from cooking grease and solar to travel back and forth to town. It’s so much faster. The only drawback is we can’t really travel at night so you are literally stuck there until sun up. Don’t worry though,” she put a hand on his shoulder, “life is our adventure. Solar, biofuel or animal…as long as we get there it will be fun right?” Wiggling back in her sideways, Lily laid her head on his shoulder with her feet still propped up on the window.
“You mean no smelly camels to ride and have ignore you when you want to go somewhere? I’m in.” Duncan grinned in response. “Besides, it sounds like they could use a Science Officer to refine whatever process they are using to make the biofuel. See, I’m going to fit right in.” He leaned his head over and kissed her forehead as she lay her head on his shoulder.
An hour later, the vehicle came to a slow stop. The area had a natural park feel with rolling green hills, a crystal clear blue lake, and a beige-tan path heading off into a group of trees. Lily stretched her muscles and headed to the back of the vehicle where the driver was unloading their bags. “I’d take you further but any closer and my vehicle shuts off,” he looked sheepishly at the only two travelers departing.
“It’s okay. A brisk walk is good for us and if no one shows up it is only ten miles,” Lily said brightly.
Nodding the driver moved back to the vehicle and pulled away leaving Lily, Duncan, and all their bags by the side of the road. Bending down Lily rifled through several of the suitcases pulling out a backpack where she stuffed several items into it. Shouldering the bag she looked at Duncan. “Ready?” Lily no longer looked like a tourist but a a hiker. “Pull out a few things and stuff them in my bag. Someone from the commune can retrieve them tomorrow or the next day. We just need to hurry because we need to get to my parents before dark. Trust me you don’t want to take this stroll in the pitch dark.”
“Why not?” Duncan asked as Lilly stepped passed him towards the trail they were to walk on, and he leaned down to collect a number of items he would need in the short term. His bags were already suitable for walking, thanks to his military schooling which taught him to travel light and be prepared. Shouldering his own bag and picking up another that was light enough to carry, he looked up and made his way towards Lilly. “Why not?” He asked again, realising that she hadn’t answered and was looking over the terrain ahead of them.
“Well, it’s lucky I brought my hat then, isn’t it.” Duncan said, and walked in the direction that Lilly indicated, picking up a large stick to use as a walking stick / staff on the way. “Tell me that there are no giant man eating vines trying to eat me out here honey, please? I didn’t bring the ultra strength plant repellant with me this trip.”
Lt Rhodes, CSO
“No baby,” Lily laughed. “It just gets dark fast. People always want to talk about moonlight strolls but it is in someplace tame a block from their home. Being a scientist you know what it is like in the dark. The difference is your dark always has a camp with it. Here is it like the dawn of time dark. The commune uses solar power but even that doesn’t last all night and it’s dim compared to regular lights.” Moving along the path, Lily was not making it a leisurely stroll. Her pace was steady and fast as if she needed to be on time for something. Over the next mile, Lily talked about living in the commune as a kid and teen. The stories were mainly about camping, exploring, and a laid back lifestyle few could find even on the most remote colony world. It wasn’t that her stories were bad memories as she shared them; however, Duncan would have few ways to relate to family sing along, livestock raising, and farming.
Approaching a bend in the road Lily paused and looked up at Duncan smiling. “What time is it,” she asked biting her lip.
Making a show of looking at the stars and pursing his lips in thought, Duncan finally looked at his watch and raised his eyebrow to her. “It’s nearly 1830 hours, why?”
“Good we didn’t miss it. So I haven’t told you this because I wanted you to be surprised.” Enclosing her fingers around his, she pulled him along excitedly like a small child. Just before rounding the corner of the bend, Lily stopped standing in front of Duncan. “Now close your eyes and don’t peek until I tell you,” she took his other hand in hers ready to lead him.
“Surprised huh? Wasn’t the last time we did this with those words, I got eaten by a plant?” Duncan quipped, but he did exactly as he was told. He trusted her, completely, even though he knew that occasionally it would not be to his benefit. Rico had called him a sucker for punishment, then smacked him on the back and told him he was lucky that Lily was cute as hell.
Walking backward, Lily moved slowly checking over her shoulder as she moved Duncan into position. Letting go of hs hands she snuggled up to his body wrapping his arms around her waist. “Okay on the count of three, two, open your eyes.” Leaning back against his body, Lily relaxed into the hug staring at the rocky face of a cliff. The light dancing over it produced a shimmering effect like a million opals floating under a crystal clear layer of water. Blues, pink, and yellow pastel tones flickered in the setting sun. “We call this pépinière des étoiles because of the way the colors play off the granite during the day and the way it lights up at sunset. Watch.”
“Nursery of the Stars, eh?” Duncan replied softly as he watched the lights with her. “It fits, just a wee bit,” he smirked and squeezed her gently tighter into him. His eyes moved over the surface watching the colours shift and dance. His mind wanting to analyse it, but he shut that out. Sometimes overthinking would ruin something, and just enjoying the moment was far better.
Lily held her breath knowing what was coming at the light of sunset refracted off the rock at the right angle replacing the pastel hues with fiery tones of red, orange, yellow, and gold. The effect made the rock seem molten and dripping down the side of the peak slowly extinguishing the colors. “I never get tired of watching this. When we get to my parent’s home tonight, I will show you the last display on the rock face. My bedroom window faces it. As the sun completely dips the rock takes on a deep indigo navy with white pinpricks of light. See why we call it the nursery of the stars. It goes from the pastels of a nebula to the star being born, to finally the end stars we see at night.”
“It sounds amazing, I can’t wait to see it.” Duncan told her, and kissed her on the cheek as his eyes barely left the sight of the lights on the cliffs. What he also couldn’t wait to see, was something that kept Lily’s attention long enough for her to stay still and watch it for any real length of time.
Lily looked up at Duncan with a wry smile. There was something adorable about Duncan Rhodes. He was brilliant but at time also sweet and naive. He had no idea what she really meant about her bedroom window but he would. She doubted a trip to meet his family was going to be anything like him meeting hers but that was why she loved him. Duncan didn’t care where they were or what they were doing as long as they were together.
Giving her a final squeeze and taking her hand, Duncan turned in the direction they had been walking. “Come on Sunshine, lets go get to your parents so we can watch that sunset before it disappears on us.
Lt Rhodes, CSO
Less than thirty minutes later Duncan and Lily turned a corner and stood on a small hill overlooking what was Lily’s hometown. The town at first glance looked like some isolated inlet on Risa with large trees, ferns, and vegetation. A large bay of crystalline blue-bordered the west edge of the town. The beach however was not the pristine white sands associated with tropical shorelines but an inky black. The black sand was not a new concept in the universe but it was a specific concept to volcanos. The large mountain peak that rose slightly shadowing the north end of town suddenly wore a different coat. It was not the idyllic snow-capped peak where goats frolicked and chomped grass. It was a living and breathing volcano that hopefully was a dead mound of rock and not a sleeping giant. The east side of the town was blanketed in a thick forest. It did not have a tropic feel like the plants and vegetation next to the water but more a traditional forest filled with pines, oaks, and other such trees that became thinner and sparser as they trailed up the mountain. The south end of the town expanded into lush fields filled with crops and pasture land filled with herds of various animals. At a fast glance, the crops appeared to be ready for harvest with reds, yellows, and green lumps dangling from the branches as people moved between the rows.
While they walked, Duncan chatted lightly with Lily and looked at the scenery around them. He knew the area was wild, and without the benefits of a high level of tech it held a natural, untamed beauty. Just like Lily did. He smiled, understanding where she got it from in that moment.
All in all the town was a weird mix. While the buildings appeared to be modern prefabricated buildings, there was not a vehicle, ship, or other motorized forms of transport to be seen. The town inhabitants moving about appeared to be doing so on foot or on an animal.
“This is like that holo-novel we did that time,” Duncan spoke quietly, almost as if his voice might break the scene. “Except, without the zombies,” he grinned.
“Yes,” she took his arm snuggling it happily as they walked. The motion threw off their gate slightly but
“Welcome to Serendipity,” Lily gestured to the town below. “The town of chance events that end in a happy or beneficial way. That’s both the definition and town motto,” she joked. Putting her hands on her hips, Lily debated her next step. Did she take Duncan to her home and let him acclimate or throw him in with both feet praying for the best. Watching the town from this distance and height Lily felt a tug of nostalgia. Living here wasn’t bad. Life was calm and simple without the hurried and frantic problems the resided with Federation cities.
“I like the name, it matches you,” taking her hand he kissed her forehead gently, letting the scene below them play out.
“Well it was between Lily of the Valley and Flaming Katy kalanchoe. Both plants grow wild here. The Kalanchoe is all over the the forest. The Lilies line the path from the road to the village. The species here blooms at night which is why you didn’t see them but it is gorgeous. Anyway, when I was born my mom wanted to name me Katy after the flowers in the forest. She said the bright red flowers light up the room but my dad liked the lily of the Valley. See when the lilies are in bloom and there is a full moon it creates an effect like snow mixed with fireflies. The moonlight bounces off the petals and creates like a glow. My dad said that while letting your personality shine through is good, the ability to see your way in the darkness is far better. He always wanted me to know that I always had a way to come home and a path to get me there no matter how dark it was.” Lily took in a deep breath enjoying the fresh air. Exploring space was fun but not the only way to live life. While there was more to see and do in the galaxy than anyone could ever imagine, life on a planet held just as much wonder if you opened your eyes and looked for it. She mused about life here with Duncan and if he had been born and raised her would they have still found each other. Her gut told her yes but her idea of soul mates was a conversation for another day. Right now she wanted to live in the moment with the man next to her.
“I love how they named you after the Lily of the Valley,” Duncan said to her as he move behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and holding her tight to him. “Always having a way home is a beautiful thought. I think maybe you’re lucky they didn’t follow a tradition of naming you after the first thing they saw when they walked out after you were born, you wouldn’t suit Eagle Pooping on Rock. Let’s make sure that when our babies are born, we give them names as beautiful as yours.” He let his lips brush her cheek gently before looking back at the town below them again, letting her body rest against him and feeling the warmth of her against his skin.
Looking up at him, Lily felt her body getting warmer. Maybe because it was spring time here or maybe it was just because Duncan was that damn handsome, Lily found herself not wanting to share him with anyone right now. She needed at minimum an hour alone with him right now.
“Let’s go to my house and I can show you around the town later tomorrow,” Lily suggested taking his hand in hers. Lazily swinging it back and forth Lily started down the path.
As they moved through the town in some ways Duncan and Lily could not deny the bucolic nature of Serendipity. People stared as they walked and whispered as they passed but it was the quintessential small town. The people of the town did offer friendly waves and greetings which Lily returned as if she had not left. Turning a corner she let out a deep sigh.
“Ok I know that sigh, what we got coming up?” He asked her, his eyes now warily moving around like he had left something out where it wasn’t supposed to be. It was notable that only Duncans out of place items were a problem in their quarters, not hers. No matter where Lily’s items were, that was where they were supposed to be.
“Okay, we are about to pass by Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Beanie, and Mrs. Vently. They are sweet old ladies but whatever you say the will have around town faster than an attention seeker and get up a post about themselves on Spacetime.” Lily barely got her sentence out before the three women actively turned to greet the pair.
“Lily, honey it is so good to see you have come home,” Mrs. Miller embraced Lily in a warm hug. “And you have brought…a friend,” she added stepping back and giving Duncan a thorough once over with her gaze. It was obvious as to why the man was on Lily’s arm. He was utterly handsome with blue eyes that made her heart pound a bit faster even at her age yet there had to be more to the man. Their Lily was rather pretty and always happy which most men found appealing. If she was bringing this man home he had to be someone exceedingly special.
“Good evening ladies,” Duncan said in his best, most welcoming and charming English accent that he reserved for when Lily was angry at him, or Jessica his old XO was trying to admonish him for something he definitely did but wasn’t going to take the consequences for. His smile would of made flowers blossom in the moonlight.
The look they gave Duncan back was known to any man. Miller, Beanie and Vently might be forty years his senior but the look in their eyes was that of a woman in her prime spying a gorgeous man across the room. None of the women hid it but at least they were not vocal about what they were thinking…at least for right now.
Duncan kept smiling, but he blinked and held onto Lily’s hand slightly tighter. He felt like he was being hunted.
“Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Beanie, and Mrs. Vently this is Lt. Duncan Rhodes,” Lily smiled and ran a hand around Duncan’s waist. He was going to need all the support he could get in the coming moments. “My fiancé.”
“Fiancé,” Mrs. Miller repeated as if she had suddenly developed a hearing loss. “Lily my dear did you say fiancé?”
“I’m pleased to meet you all, Lily has told me so much about her home.” Returning the hand around Lily’s waist, he made sure that the gesture was comfortable, loving and intimate.
Instantly the mood shifted slightly. A slight gasp could be heard as the woman processed the statement. “You mean legally or in a spiritual sense,” Mrs. Miller asked immediately looking at Duncan.
“Spiritual?” Duncan asked quietly glancing sideways at Lily. “There some weird old time Mintaran thing going on here or something?”
“I’ll explain later,” she waved it off as if Duncan had just asked her if she wanted something cold to drink.
“Well, legally. We aren’t going to live here soooo it kinda needs to be official,” Lily stumbled slightly on her words tightening her grip on Duncan to show support.
Duncan blinked, lost for the moment. Instead he just tightened his grip on Lily’s waist and smiled his agreement.
“What is legal. You love her don’t you Mr. Rhodes. What will a piece of paper do to make that love any stronger,” Mrs. Miller asked the handsome man next to Lily.
“I love her with everything in my heart , and everything I have,” Duncan said in reply. “I want to be with her in every way I can be, so that nobody has any doubt that we are meant for each other and together. Everything I own and my home, will become hers.” Not that she hasn’t already laid claim to it His mind added, but thankfully his mouth didn’t add that part.
“Of course all that but you didn’t explain why you need the paper,” Mrs. Vently pressed the subject. “I mean what happens if say the ship goes down. What good is the paper then. It is not like as long as the paper exists you are married.”
“You know its not really like a piece of paper Mrs. Vently. It is stored in electronic form,” Lily pointed out.
“Fine fine than use an ion storm as a way to lose it due to the computer going down,” Mrs. Vently waved Lily away looking at Duncan.
“Again it is not exactly stored only on the Wolverine,” Lily added giving Duncan a side glance. People always said they wanted to come and see where Lily was from. This was precisely the reason why Lily had never brought anyone home.
“Now now Victoria,” Mrs. Miller patted Duncan’s arm. She paused long enough to squeeze his bicep several time obviously feeling the well toned muscles underneath. “Mmmhmm,” she murmured before letting go to address her friend. “He will have plenty of time to explain why there is a need for the archaic notion of having a paper.”
“Oh allow me to explain now ladies, if you will,” Duncan replied easily although his eyes moved over each one of them while his hand adjusted itself protectively around Lily.
“That paper as you call it, is a physical and spiritual commitment made by the both of us to each other. It is the material embodiment of our love and connection to each other made in a physical way that we and everyone who is special to us can see. It’s not about the paper, it’s about that moment that we sign it. It’s more than the abstract commitment that people make to each other to be together or love each other without ever actually making that formal. With abstract spiritual words you can go to work, turn off the computer or put down the PaDD at any time, and you are separated from the other person, nothing binds you. You might trust that person with your life, you might consider them a partner or de facto husband or wife, but it is still abstract. At any moment one can turn around and say they didn’t mean that, it was never explicitly stated or that the other person got the wrong impression. It’s abstract, airy fairy and fantasy. That paper, as you call it, brings that moment of spiritual togetherness and commitment together in a legal sense. After that, you can burn the paper or whatever you want to do with it, but the paper exists in your hearts. You made a commitment, you loved someone enough to make that commitment, and you loved that person enough to make the effort to be with them forever. That is far more powerful than abstract words promising togetherness.” Duncan finished his explanation with a smile, then looked at Lily. His eyes explained everything he felt for her.
“When Lily is my wife she won’t just be part of my life, she will be my life. We will be together, wherever we are, physically and spiritually.” His voice had a soft tone to it as he spoke. “In the immortal words of the old song, If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it. Ladies, I am putting a ring on Lily Locksley.”
“Well if you are not going to live here how can he support you? I know I know the Federation gives you food, clothes, and shelter but what happens when you leave them. It is not like you get your own ship to retire on. Mr. Rhodes what will you do when,” Mrs. Vently immediately began to pepper Duncan with questions before Mrs. Beanie jumped in.
Duncan had opened his mouth to respond, but Mrs Vently got there before him. Maybe it was better that these women didn’t know that he had his choice of any number of ships in the Rhodes fleet if he wanted one.
“Mrs. Vently leave the poor boy alone. He came to Serendipity for a reason. We all know what that reason is....to show everyone he loves our Lily past the trappings and distractions of the Federation. After we get to know him over the next few months I am sure Mr. Rhodes will prove he has the spiritual and mental fortitude for marriage. ” Leaning towards Dunan, Beanie whispered for effect because everyone heard what she spoke. ” The distractions are the easy part and Lily does make one easily distracted.”
“Uh, yes she does,” Duncan smiled at the unexpected support. “Wait, months?” he asked surprised.
If Lily had the option she would have rolled her eyes at the old lady tag team action that had just occurred. Instead of asking the simple and normal questions of how long have you two been together, when is the wedding, and what do you do for a living, the gaggling trio of gossip geese had primed up the old rumor mill to full throttle. Passersby heard the questions which sounded like they were follow up instead of initial questions. Already Lily could feel the mounting pressure to set the town straight by the morning. It was not that anyone would be against their impending nuptials but more curious about it. The town had minimal communication with the outside world preferring verbal face to face communication over a face on a console. This kept the town isolated which many if not all the adults preferred. The children, like Lily, came and went but most returned when it was time to settle down. Lily had no idea how they were going to take it when she told them they would only be visiting for the rest of her and Duncan’s life.
“Now if you ladies will excuse us, I believe we have somewhere to be without delay,” Duncan moved his arm to Lily’s hand, in a clear move to exit the discussion and keep moving to her house. “I’m so pleased to have met you, I’m sure I will see you again in the next few days. We should have tea.” Tipping his hat to them, he motioned to Lily to walk.
Lily followed Duncan without protest but did look around as warily as if they were walking in the red light district on Orion.
“I don’t care if we are going in the wrong direction,” Duncan mouthed to her as they walked quickly, “anywhere away from those honey badgers is the right direction love.”
Rounding the corner of a building, Duncan stopped.
“Um honey I am not sure we should loiter,” she suggested softly as people moved about their business around them. They were in a small alley off the street but it might not provide enough cover. Lily started to regret her idea to march Duncan into town during broad daylight. She just didn’t want him to feel weird sneaking in during the middle of the night however, that would have eliminated all these introductions. “I think we should run…not walk to my house.”
He turned Lily to face him, a smile on his face but a question in his eyes. “Legally or spiritually? Why not both? Who you making out with spiritually that isn’t me?” He kept the laugh inside, it was a teasing question but it would give them, mainly him, a moment to take stock of the encounter.
Lt Duncan Rhodes, CSO
Lily was having a hard time concentrating as his blue eyes looked down at her. They seemed to burn a hole in her soul flooding her with what religious folk called impure thoughts. It was also hard not to answer him. The teasing smile just edging his lips, the scent of his cologne in the breeze, and the fact she was standing with her back against the wall with him before her made Lily want to grab his shirt and pull his lips down to hers. While sex and intimacy were wildly open here in Serendipity, they also did not normally make out in broad daylight with wanton abandon.
“You know,” Duncan said, seeing the look in her eyes and moving closer to her, pinning her slightly against the wall and dropping his face closer to hers so his lips almost touched them, “I’m kind of partial to the more physical aspect of marriage myself, the spiritual stuff is great and all, but the physical side of things is like a sweet cherry on your lips.”
“Oh my god I can’t wait to explore that tonight,” Lily leaned her head forward until her lips touched his. The kiss was simple but the feeling behind it erotic. Lily always felt this way when she was kissing Duncan. She felt alive and
“Oh a marriage will not work if it is not spiritual,” Mrs. Miller piped up from behind Duncan.
“Oh my god,” Duncan whispered to her, frozen in place with his lips barely touching hers but his eyes wide open now. “They are like a trio of geriatric ninja’s.”
Lily sucked in a deep breath and jumped a foot in the air. “She needs to wear a bell,” Lily laughed resting her head on Duncan’s chest as she moved to the side to again speak to the three woman next to them.
“A spiritual marriage is one that joins the souls,” Mrs. Miller explained. “See one doesn’t just marry physically but for all eternity. In this life and the next and the next and the next,” she rolled her hand as if Duncan was a slow learner.
“You mean I’m gonna be stuck with her forever forever?” Duncan asked, pointing a finger in Lily’s direction. Lily would recognize Duncans teasing tone, but to most other people the lilt to his voice was just part of his accent.
“Making us sound a little like a cult now Mrs. Miller,” Lily joked taking Duncan’s hand and leading him out of the alley. “How about we see you at the HHA celebration tomorrow,” she waved her hand over her head letting out a deep breath she had not realized she had been holding. Weaving Duncan in and out of people on the street Lily led him to a road that was lined with houses. It was much quiet here than in the town center but still close enough so that the noises of the town center carried on the wind as muted whispers. “I can explain all of that back there,” she said softly with a big smile. “Just know that I am way more conservative than most in the town.”
“Really?” Duncan said, swinging her hand between the two of them ask they walked. He was in no hurry and was laughing at the encounters in his head. “Honey if you are conservative, then my family is a group of stone status built a thousand years ago. I like your home town so far, it’s interesting. You know how many places are just cut and paste small towns with the local patriarch sitting on his rocking chair and people eating potatoes replicated after watching the latest TV cooking show?”
“Oh you won’t find anything replicated here,” Lily laughed moving him towards one house on the street. “If we don’t grow it we don’t eat it. Kinda the rule but the good news,” Lily clasped her hands together and pointed her fingers at Duncan, “is nothing tastes the same twice. Lucky for you my mom is an excellent cook.” The smile o her face was not just the happy one she naturally wore. This smile felt deeper and more emotional. It lit up her face every time she turned it towards Duncan.
“What’s that smile for? You look happier than usual, and that’s saying something.” Her smile made him grin, and put his hands on her waist.
“You have no idea how happy I am that you are here,” Lily rose on her toes and gently kissed his lips.
“One thing you can explain to me though, is that spiritual thing and being bound for all eternity. Is it some kinda cult?” Duncan teased her, looking at her sideways. “Do we get to seal the deal with blood or the soul of our first born? Sacrifice a coyote under the full moon to Ramen the sun gods twin brother? Ohhh I know,” Duncan said with mock excitement, “When we are old and wrinkly and can’t do the deed anymore do we get to drink poison and reincarnate into new bodies and start afresh?”
Lt Rhodes, CSO
“Yes to the newborn, no to the coyote, and I would rather throw ourselves off a cliff before we are reincarnated but that is completely up to you,” she responded leaning against the gate in front of a house. “So we are here,” she gestured widely at the house behind her. “We are home.”
The building was not grand or even picturesque but what it was was homey. A large porch wrapped around the front with several rockers waiting for someone to while away an afternoon with ice tea and good company. The second story had what was once referred to as a Juliet balcony on all the bedrooms. A large garden filled with colorful flowers lined the house foundation and the path to the front door. “Now don’t be afraid. We got this right,” she held out her hand for Duncan to take as she opened the gate.
Taking her hand, his grin widened. “Why would I be afraid? Of course we got this, we always do.”
Lt Duncan Rhodes, CSO
The sound of activity in the room beyond the screen door erupted with the noise of someone coming forward. “Lily O’my valley,” a chipper voice called out from inside the room. It was followed by several other voices all replying things like Lily is home, our Lily is back, and Lily!.
“I am not sure we do. Have this I mean,” Lily looked at Duncan going slightly paler. Putting a hand on his chest, Lily tried to push Duncan backward yet the people approaching beat her in approaching compared to her plan for retreating.
Four men exited the house filling the porch forcing Duncan and Lily to back up slightly so everyone could fit. Lily could see the men gearing up for a song. The deep inhalation and rigid posture meant at any second song would be pouring from their lips. She had to warn Duncan. Later it would take far more explanations but at least being prepared helped. “Duncan,”’ she whispered out of the side of her mouth. “Remember when I said we were not a cult....just keep an open mind and know I can explain everything.”
As if her words were a small whistle getting everyone on key, the men began to sing in a harmonious quartet. The men hummed for a few seconds finding their key before song erupted as a greeting.
I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
Lily is the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in her alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
“Okay so remember when we were talking about spiritualism....we adopt all sorts of bits and pieces from everywhere. This sounds really religious,” she let her voice trail off knowing that when a song out right used the word Jesus it was hard to not make the connection to Christianity. Her family was not the church-going type but so far all Duncan had heard was afterlife this and now Jesus was thrown into the mix. She bit her lip looking at him for a reaction.
“Okay I will give you that and it is officially a Christian hymn but look at it more as…happy… and less leave your name on a card as you exit the church so we can recruit you,” Lily struggled to explain why four men were greeting her with a religious song on her parent’s doorstep.
Each of the men took turns looking over the couple as they serenaded them. The men smiled warmly at Lily as if they knew her for years. They looked at Duncan as if he was a welcomed extended member of the family like a beloved nephew or such. Their voices not only rang out clear and strong but they also had sweeping arm gestures as if they were performing a show.
In sorrow she’s my comfort, in trouble she’s my stay;
She tells me every care on us to roll.
She’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
She’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
“He used to sing this to me when I was little. Well, it was hummed actually,” she got a far off look thinking about the past. “He would hum this and it is a really pretty melody. Take away the Jesus and stuff and it is a catchy little song isn’t it,” Lily hummed a few bars with them as they sang.
He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation he’s my strong and mighty tow’r;
I’ve all for him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His pow’r.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.*
“Okay so this is completely religious,” she threw her hands up admitting defeat. She had hoped to hold off the crazy religion of the town until she had at least five kids and the thought of divorce was an impossibility. It was a pipe dream. At some point, Duncan was going to have wanted to meet her family. Lily bit her lip wondering if she should have however stuck with the story of her parents moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Yes it made her parents sound like rather grumpy people but grumpy was easier to explain than crazy. Grumpy was a way of life. Crazy was something that you could be born into. The last thing she wanted was for Duncan to assume exactly what he was thinking. She had been with him long enough to see the slightly widened eyes and tight liped posture. In about ten seconds Duncan was going to break out laughing or throw his hands up and say that he had nothing.
She’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
She’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
“But that doesn’t mean we embrace a religion. We…they embrace all of them. Jesus here, Buddha there, Prophet every once in a while. It’s quite a pouporri of spiritualism,” she wore a strange expression on her face as if Lily was counting off the number of deities the village claimed as the song swindled to an end. The silence that ensued at the song ended was almost as jolting as how it started. The four men waited as if they were looking for applause or just processing the look on Duncan’s face. Before words were spoken however one man stepped forward and embraced Duncan as if he were the one returning home instead of Lily.
“My boy, my boy, my boy welcome home,” Lily’s dad said patting Duncan on the back. “It is so good to have you home.”
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