The colors of the sunrise were fading away now. Finn had gone into deep contemplation ten minutes prior and had not said one word to me. He stared at the Silverton’s backyard, not even blinking, his handsome brow creased in the concentration of the recollection of some memory made long ago.
Finally, he blinked, sighed, and turned to me. “Do you have an idea who the Seven are?”
I shook my head. Oh, how many times I had guessed who the Seven might be. “No. You spoke to me once about them. And…Rass did as well. I don’t know who they are, though”
Finn nodded. “I suppose you wouldn’t know. It happened so long ago that many of the angels made after the Seven know very few details about them, though those angels know the story well enough.”
“Do you know who the Seven are?”
Finn smiled. “Ah…Meredith…how refreshing it is to have someone like you. Who knows so little and doesn’t pretend that she knows more. But is willing to learn. I want to teach you, if you will allow me. I want to show you the things you need to be shown.”
I looked down at my hands and sighed a little. “I want to know more of that realm. Of…the angels. But…I think I could spend my life learning and still not know enough to satisfy.”
“It’s a good thing you’ll have eternity, then, isn’t it?”
I glanced up at him, studied his face. He sat with his legs spread apart, his hands face up on his knees.
He stared down at his hands, expression a weary kind of sadness.
“So…Finn…do you know who the Seven are?”
He glanced up, a wealth of grief, a gleam of hope in his eyes.
“Meredith…I am one of the Seven.”
My breath caught in my throat. I didn’t know what that meant yet. But the way he said it…the way his expression was…made me realize that the Seven were very, very important.
Too important to know nothing of like I did.
He folded his hands together. “One of the Seven. Most don’t even know that. If they did they would have to be the age of this world.”
I barely could process this. “Finn…d—does that mean that you’re—”
“My goodness gracious! Finn, when did you get here?”
Finn and I, both fully unprepared for this intrusion, jerked around.
I stared open-mouthed at Mrs. Silverton.
She stared open-mouthed at us.
Finn stood abruptly, bowed the slightest bit. “You’re right, Nellie. I shouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t want to tarnish Meredith’s reputation.”
“Now, hold on, Finn. Don’t go using that with me. I can see right through you, you know.”
He blinked. “I was admitting I was in the wrong, Nellie. How can I have an ulterior motive doing that?”
“You were trying to distract me from what was really happening. You’ve done that in the past but you’re not doing that today. Tell me now: What are you doing here?”
He smiled a slow, easy, smile that could melt the iciest of hearts.
My heart was more than melting though. I thought it might be evaporating!
I pressed my hand over the thrumming in my chest.
I glanced at Nellie and saw that even she was softening a little.
“Do you trust me, Nellie?”
She glared at him. “Don’t use the guilt tactic either, Finn. I just want to know why you were out here so early in the morning with Meredith—who happens to be a very pretty girl by the way—alone, in the dark, sitting so close together.
I was certain my face could rival the colors of the fading sunrise at that moment.
But Finn remained unmoved.
His smile faded a little. He shrugged slightly and walked toward the older woman. He bent and gently kissed her cheek. “If I told you everything, Nellie, you would never believe me.”
She shook her head and heaved a sigh then reached up and patted his cheek. She stared into his eyes, deep concern lining her features. “I don’t mind your never telling me, Aurelius Finn. But I’m afraid that you guard your secrets too closely.”
He leaned away slightly from her and said. “What if I do?”
She shook her head. “If you ever have a girl fall in love with you, Finn, and wanted to marry her—” He opened his mouth and she held up her hand. “You would have to tell her at least something of your past.”
He glanced over at me and gave such a small sigh that it hardly constituted as one. But it held such aching, indescribable emotion that I felt a tremor run up and down my spine.
He looked at Nellie. Smiled. It was bittersweet, that smile. “I determined long ago that I would do as such, Nellie. You have no need to worry about me on that account. Because I do know that you worry for me. And I am grateful for it.”
“Pshaw, Aurelius Finn! You have a silver tongue. It can always get you out of situations like this one.”
“Yes…well…it can help, anyway. Thank you for being understanding, Nellie.”
“Well…I will get the full story out of Meredith, you know, if I can’t get it out of you.”
His eyebrows rose. He looked at me and gave a rakish smile. “I hope not.” He said in a low, husky voice.
I folded my arms, refusing to blush, though I was tempted mightily. “I hold no obligations to you, Aurelius Finn.” I said loftily.
His smile widened slightly. “Even after the last few hours, Meredith?” He said in that same voice.
Nellie looked back and forth between us, clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Wait until Smith hears about this…” She muttered to herself. “Now, Finn,” She continued in a louder voice. “Stay for breakfast with us. I’m making scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast.”
Finn looked up at the sky. “I can’t. Need to get to work.”
“At least have some coffee before you leave.”
“You need caffeine if you haven’t slept all night doing who knows what out in my backyard with sweet, little Meredith.”
“I assure you I have the best of intentions toward Meredith.”
“Well, I know that. But does Meredith? Sometimes, Finn, I see you just glance at a girl and she thinks that you’re in love with her or some such nonsense. Like Rosetta—”
Nellie paused and stared at him for a moment. She seemed to think better of what she was going to say because she turned toward the door and said something about pouring him a cup of coffee before disappearing inside.
Finn and I stared at one another.
“I’ll come back later, Meredith. I’ll convince Smith to let me take you somewhere for a couple hours. We need to talk.”
I nodded in assent.
He turned around and opened the screen door. Mrs. Silverton handed him his coffee through the doorway.
“Finn.” I said.
He turned halfway around.
I swallowed and looked down at his feet. “Th—thank you.” I stuttered.
He studied me for a moment, I think. For he said nothing for a few seconds.
Then, in a gentle, warm, voice—a voice my father would sometimes use toward my mother—Finn said, “You…are welcome, Meredith.”
Then he turned around, stepped through the threshold, and closed the screen door behind him.
A moment later, I heard him start his car and drive away.
I crossed my arms and stared up into the sky, wondering when Finn would return, wondering who the Seven were, wondering how it was that Finn had so much power over the demons of the realm of darkness.
I had so many questions.
But I had a feeling that the answers would mean changing many things about what I thought, even what I believed.
I wasn’t sure if I was ready yet.
But I prayed with all my might that I would be.
Edison, Iana, and I had breakfast. Edison chattered on and on asking an occasional question to me that required either a yes or no. I usually said yes to whatever he asked, though I didn’t know what it was. At the moment, my mind refused to cooperate with me. I could think of nothing.
Nothing but Finn.
The man was such an enigma.
A riddle that none could solve. And I certainly knew that I could not. Unless he gave me some of the pieces, I was stuck where I was: knowing nothing about him, wondering and wondering some more.
Later that day, Edison asked me to take him to the park. Iana had gone with Mrs. Silverton to the church to help with the last minute details of setting up the bazaar. I barely noticed my surrounding I was so distracted by thoughts of Finn. Edison stopped abruptly. “You have that look.” He said.
I blinked and turned around, as I had walked a little ahead of him. “Look?” I questioned.
“The look people get when they’re thinking of Finn.” Edison said simply.
I smiled the slightest bit. “I suppose that all prodigies are precocious like you.”
He nodded. “Yeah. That’s what people call me. Those two words. Prodigy and precocious.” He shrugged. “Anyway, what were you thinking about him?”
I thought for a moment, my forehead wrinkling. “He’s so mysterious. I don’t understand him.”
Edison nodded sagely. “Most people don’t.”
I let out a breath of a laugh. “And you do?”
He met my eyes, his own usually merry green ones solemn and sincere. “I know him better than anybody.”
“And…why is that?”
“Well it’s…kind of a long story.”
“I have time.”
Edison nodded. “Let’s go sit down, then. This is going to take a while.”
Edison and I sat on the ground beneath a huge old oak tree. Edison picked a blade of grass and tore it in two. “This is kind of a complicated story, but I’ll try to tell it good.” He said, staring off into the distance. He frowned. “Where should I start first, do you think?”
He shrugged. “Okay. Well, I’ll have to go back a really far time to start there. Finn and Adam have known each other since before I was born. I think I heard Mom say they have been friends for fifteen years. Adam was working at the rich millionaire’s house for the summer, you know. And Finn was, too. And they met and became best friends. They went to the same college and worked their way through. When Adam got all that money from the rich millionaire, though, they decided to make their own business. That’s why Adam’s a CEO now and Finn…works there too. Like a CEO but not like a CEO.”
I sighed within myself. This was going to take a while. “Where do you come in, Edison?” I urged gently.
“Oh, right. I’m telling you why I know Finn so well, aren’t I? Well, when I was born my birth mother put me up for adoption. My mom—I mean my mom that adopted me—wanted a baby really bad. She said she prayed so hard that the gates of heaven surely nearly broke down with the weight of her prayers. That’s what she says, anyway. Well, she and Dad ended up with me. Finn was actually there when they came in to sign papers and get me and everything. Adam was in Japan then, on a conference or something, so he couldn’t come. But Finn was there. Mom says that night when we all went back home, Dad got called away to the hospital because a patient wanted to talk with him. While Mom was making dinner, she gave me to Finn. I was a really little baby then. Six or seven weeks, I think. Well, Finn sat down in the living room with me in his arms. Mom said he began to whisper to me and I began to—you know—baby talk back. She said that it was really cute. But, she said, the strange thing was…it was like he could really understand me and I could really understand him. That night, right before Finn left, he said to my parents ‘I think Edison’s going to be something even more special than you two planned on him being’.”
“But…how could he know that you would be a prodigy?” I whispered.
Edison shook his head, plucked another piece of grass, stared at it. “I don’t know. See, that’s the thing about Finn. You can’t really explain him. But you can love him a lot even though he isn’t explainable all the time. I know I love him. And Mom. And Dad.”
I nodded, processing what Edison had just told me. “So,” I said. “When did your parents find out that you were a prodigy?”
Edison stared up into the leaves of the old oak above our heads. “I was three years old. My mom and I were over at her friend’s house. Her friend had a daughter that was taking a piano lesson while my mom and her friend were visiting. The lady giving the piano lesson—Rachel was her name—went to our church and sometimes babysat me during service so I knew her really well. While my mom and her friend were talking, I walked in on the piano lesson. Rachel sat me in her lap as she was teaching the girl. I watched the whole thing. I think it was the girl’s first or second piano lesson. That night, on the piano in our house, I began playing the songs that Rachel had taught. My mom was amazed. She got out old music books out and asked me to play them. And I did. Every note I played perfectly. Soon she was buying me more advanced music books and I was playing things like Beethoven’s sonata and Bach.”
He stopped. Swallowed. A very adult grief swept across his little boy face.
“What’s the matter?” I whispered, reaching out to rub his back.
“I was four and a half when it happened.”
Edison turned tortured eyes to me. “Polanco.” He whispered.
“I heard that word once before. In…Central Park.”
He nodded slightly. “I almost never talk about it. I don’t like to think about it.”
“You don’t have to tell me.” I reassured him.
He looked at me, eyes solemn. I had never seen a child appear so serious.
A great rushing wind whooshed passed us and whipped up into the branches of the oak, rustling the leaves and moving the branches. Edison and I both turned in the direction of the wind and found dark clouds rolling from the horizon steadily toward us.
“I didn’t see those coming…” I murmured.
Edison breathed in a rain-scented breath. “I like rain.” He said, eyes brightening. “Can we stay here and get wet?”
I smiled. I should have known we wouldn’t get anywhere near the story I wanted to hear. “How about we go home and make hot chocolate and watch a movie?”
He smiled, his little boy spirit retaking its usual position on his sweet little face. The solemnity in him faded away.
“That sounds nice too, Meredith.”
We both stood and began to make our way toward the house.
As we were walking, Edison spontaneously broke out into a hymn. Singing at the top of his lungs There Is Power in the Blood he began to run ahead of me, then behind me, then in circles around me. I laughed at him heartily.
Without warning, I had the sudden feeling wash over me that somebody was staring at me.
My smile faded and Edison’s out-of-tune singing faded into the background as I turned to the right and located the person.
A girl, no more than twelve, stood staring at me.
She met my eyes and warmth shot through my blood.
The warmth of the glory of God.
She was an angel. But her eyes were not blue like most angels I had seen. They were a deep, glowing umber.
She did not lessen her focus on me, but continued to hold my gaze.
Then she began to walk towards me.
Edison ran ahead, oblivious and uncaring.
When the girl was but a foot from me she stopped and smiled a little.
“Hello, there,” She said. Her voice was light and free. She took a step to my left, as if she were going to circle me.
I took a step to her right and nodded.
“So you are the girl Finn has been waiting for.” She said. She broke my gaze, looked me from head to toe, and broke out in a smile. “I do believe he was right.”
“A—about what?” I said.
She met my gaze once more. The umber of her eyes was surely the color of joy. Deep, abiding joy.
“Well…” She started. “That you were worth waiting for. He’s waited so long, you see. He chose this life because he…wondered…more than most of us wonder…and also he is one of the Seven. So he actually has the choice. ”
Now I really wanted to know who the Seven were.
“You—you know Finn?” I asked.
She began to look distracted. She glanced around me, above me, beneath me.
She was looking for something, it seemed.
“Mm hm. Known him a long, long time.” She paused in her search and looked at me. “Have you seen him?”
“Wh—who?” I asked, startled.
“Well, since you can see, you know, angels and demons, I thought maybe you had seen him.”
She smiled. “No. Not Finn. Of course you can see him. I’m talking about Poke.”
“Oh.” I considered the annoying little demon that sometimes came around to try to find some small weakness of mine in order to exploit it.
“I haven’t seen him for quite some time now.”
“Hm.” She nodded. “Well…he’s around here somewhere. I can feel him. Keep a lookout for him, will you? I need to speak with him. Put him in his place. I’m not looking forward to it.”
Right then, an enormous clap of thunder shook the whole sky, the whole earth, and made my heart beat a little faster in my chest.
I gasped and jerked my head upward.
When I looked back to where the girl-angel had been, she was gone.
I glanced around before reluctantly heading after Edison.
While I was fixing hot cocoa, it occurred to me…
I hadn’t asked her name…