Eye Hath Not Seen

Eye Hath Not Seen
By Angie Lofthouse

oliness. She was close now.
Matia hurried through the trees, clinging to the knitted satchel that held her paint pots and bark canvas. The forest sparkled with color—delicate yellows and pinks and creams. Brilliant blues and greens and rich browns. Shades Matia didn’t have names for since it seemed she was the only one who could see them.
Her pulse quickened as she reached the ruins. Not much of the ancient structure remained. It never did. Just a narrow section of ivy and moss-covered wall extending well over the top of her head. She brushed aside the ivy and rested her hand against the rough stone. The wall warmed her hand, radiating serenity, peace, sacredness, even centuries after the builders had vanished. A thrill shuddered through her. Matia sank to her knees with a sigh. This place had been calling to her, pulling her for weeks.
She slipped the satchel off her shoulder and spread her paint pots on the ground around her. Carefully, she unstopped each one. Materials for paints were hard to come by, and she didn’t want to spill a single drop. The canvas came out next, a smooth rectangle of bark, dried and painted the purest white she could concoct. Matia had perfected her paints and canvases over twenty years, ever since she was a young woman, and the irresistible tug of the sacred ruins had come upon her.
When all was ready, Matia closed her eyes for a moment and breathed in the clean, pungent scents of the forest. Her fingers quivered. It was time. She plunged her finger into the first pot and brushed a streak of deep blue across the blank canvas. Then that strange and beautiful power came over her once again, and her fingers flew across the canvas of their own accord, driven by the divine fire that filled her.
Colors blossomed in her vision, swirling into each other and bursting apart in a vibrant ecstasy of creation. Time stopped and the forest around her ceased to exist. There was only the paint and the canvas and the untamed vision that drove her on.
Untold hours later, Matia came to herself, resting with her back against the ruined wall. A rainbow of dried paints colored her fingers. The finished painting rested on the ground beside her. It depicted a night scene with bright stars and a big pink and yellow-orange moon. In the center stood the ancient temple, for what else could such a holy structure be, glowing with its own light? Creamy-colored walls flecked with pale blues and periwinkles rose heavenward in tiers, culminating in a shining spire with a golden figure perched on top.
Matia rubbed her paint-smudged hands on her pants. She lifted the painting, and her heart constricted with longing for the place ages ago crumbled into dust. “Where did you go?” she whispered. “Why can’t I find you?”
Tears streaked coldly down her face. She dabbed them away with her sleeve. She held her fist against her chest—as if that could ease the pain. This need, this hunger ran deeper than anything she’d felt. Deeper even than her desire to have children that she had carried these many years. But no children had come to her, and no amount of wishing would grant her entry into the sacred temple now in ruins.
No. No more tears. She smoothed back her thick, dark hair. She had a wonderful life, full of beauty and full of love. She tucked her unfulfilled yearning away and packed up her paint pots. Already dusk stained the sky with indigo and amber. Hector would worry about her if she wasn’t back by dark. He had no need to fear, of course. Matia felt Hector’s love pulling her as strongly as any of the sacred ruins. She’d never be lost as long as she had him.
She carefully tucked her painting into her bag and set off through the trees. As the last bit of light drained from the sky, leaving behind the multi-colored jewels of the stars, Matia arrived back at the tent she and Hector called home.
Hector had a fire crackling. The woodsy smoke smell mingled with the aroma of cooking meat. No doubt some creature he’d caught that day. The flames lit up Hector’s silhouette as he crouched by the fire cooking the meat on a roasting stick. Their packhorse, Jetta, stood tethered to a tree nearby. She tossed her head when she caught sight of Matia.
Matia’s stomach gurgled at the smell of roasting meat. She hadn’t eaten since the night before. Hector stood when she stepped into the variegated firelight. He rested the roasting stick on a rock and pulled her into his arms. She leaned against his chest, grateful for his strength and solidity.
“You found it, then?” Hector asked.
“Yes.” Matia closed her eyes and relaxed in her husband’s embrace. Exhaustion swept over her, as always happened after finding an ancient ruin. Despite her hunger and the delicious smell of dinner, she could no longer keep her eyes open. Hector helped her into the tent, and she collapsed onto the thick sleeping rug without another thought.
* * *
atia awoke to the muted shades of an overcast dawn. Raindrops plinked against the thick fabric of the tent. The air carried the scent of the cleansing shower. The dim light cast the walls of the tent in an entirely new palette.
Hector slept close beside her warming her inside and out. She rolled over to kiss him awake. “It’s raining.” She smiled. “No hunting. No traveling today.”
Hector slipped his arms around her. “Good. I missed you yesterday.” He nuzzled her neck. His beard tickled.
Matia laughed. Rainy days were her favorites. “I missed you too, love.”
By the time they both got up, Matia was ravenous. She ate her fill of cold rabbit from the night before, along with apples, cheese, and bread—real bread!—they had traded for in the little village nearby. One of her paintings usually fetched enough in supplies to feed them for months. Good thing, since it was often that long or longer before they’d encounter another settlement.
While she ate, Hector examined her rendition of the ruined temple. Those paintings she would never trade.
“It’s beautiful,” he said. “You’ve never painted one at night before. Do you suppose it really glowed like that?”
“Maybe.” They’d both heard the legends of the wonders of the vanished ones. They sounded like outlandish nonsense. Glowing buildings? And yet she had always believed her paintings represented a reality she had never seen.
“Truly magnificent,” Hector said.
Matia smiled and finished her breakfast. Hector put her painting with the others. She had dozens from sacred sites she’d found in their many years of wandering together. He came and sat beside her. “My darling, I’ve been thinking.”
“About what?”
Hector put his arm around her. “About us. About this place.” He stopped. Matia moved closer and laid her head on his shoulder. Outside, the rain continued to patter on the tent walls.
“Go on,” Matia said.
“Matia—what if we stayed here? Permanently? It’s beautiful. And there are good people here.”
“Oh, Hector—” She sat up. It was true the villagers had been helpful and kind. She and Hector had encountered far worse types over the years. But she couldn’t just stay. Not when she knew in her heart there were more ruins to find. Many more. They called to her. And maybe someday she’d find what she most desired. A temple whole and intact. One she could see and touch and enter. She ached for such an experience. She couldn’t rest until she found it.
“I could build us a home. A real one down near town. They have plenty of land. The men have already offered to help. We could plant a garden to feed us and keep animals. Just think of it.”
She shook her head. Tears blocked her throat, but Hector’s eyes were alight with excitement.
“It would be a good life. I promise.” He cupped her chin in his hand. “Don’t you think it’s time we stopped wandering and settled down?”
She wanted to protest, to refuse. But she couldn’t. Not seeing the look on Hector’s face. The pleading in his eyes. The shades of pink and red dappling his beige skin. He wanted this every bit as much as she wanted her sacred places.
Ever since they were married, he’d followed her wherever she wanted to go. Wherever she felt the holiness pull her. She had thought he was content with their life. But the look in his eyes told a different story.
“Winter is coming. We’ll have to settle for a while anyway. I could have us home before the cold sets in. I'll make you your very own room to paint in. What do you say, Matia? Can we stay?”
How could she say yes? It tore her heart in two. No more ruins. No more being filled with something so much larger than herself that she couldn’t contain it. No more paintings flowing from that place she couldn’t see, but wanted so desperately to touch. A part of her would die.
But how could she say no? Hector had never asked anything of her. He cared for her and followed her wherever she wanted to go. He had for more than half their lives. Besides, if he was beside her, she’d never be truly unhappy.
She rested her hand on his cheek. “I didn’t know this was so important to you.” Her chin quivered, but her voice remained steady. “Of course we can stay.”
Hector pulled her to her feet and held her tight against him. “We’ll be happy here. I know we will.”
“I’ll be happy wherever you are.” A tear slipped onto her cheek. She pressed her face into his shoulder, hoping he wouldn’t notice. Somehow she’d find a way to ignore the new pain.
* * *
s Hector had predicted, the villagers were friendly and welcoming and thrilled to have a new family join them. A sturdy little house of wood and stone went up far sooner than Matia would have imagined. It held three rooms—a kitchen, a bedroom, and Matia’s painting room. The wooden walls were a rich brown shot through with orange and red and even a hint of blue. Matia found it soothing, and thought she could be happy here despite the hollowness that sat deep in her chest.
Hector built them a real bed with a thick mattress stuffed with feathers collected from their new neighbor’s flocks of chickens, geese, and ducks. He showed quite a flair for carpentry. Matia traded more of her paintings for fabric to sew bedding. It would not be unpleasant to sleep on something so soft for a change.
The men helped Hector erect a fence around their little plot of land, with room for a garden and a pasture where Jetta could roam. Hector put the dear old horse to the plow to prepare the ground for planting in the spring. Jetta didn’t seem to mind at all.
Matia had to admit that she liked the thought of the small, stone fireplace keeping them warm through the cold nights to come.
She hung up her special paintings all over the house, most especially in her painting room, where they covered most of the walls. The sight of them brought some peace to her heart, and some longing too, but both felt right and had their place.
One of the young wives, a sweet girl named Ellie with brilliant, golden-red curls and a belly round with her first child, took a liking to Matia and adopted her as a kind of surrogate mother. Ellie came over almost every day and chattered away like a little bird.
Matia learned Ellie had left her family less than a year before to marry her husband Jeb. The distance between them was a journey of several weeks, so Ellie hadn’t seen them since, but she hoped when news of her baby reached her mother, she’d come and see her.
“Do you think she’ll come?” Ellie asked Matia over tea.
“I’m sure she will if she can,” Matia said, although in fact she didn’t know. She hadn’t seen her own mother since she and Hector left shortly after her marriage. Didn’t even know if her mother was still alive. She had traveled so far since then.
“I’m so nervous about the baby coming.” Ellie ran her hands over her belly.
“I wish I had some advice for you,” Matia said, trying not to sound sad. She didn’t begrudge Ellie her child, but her own regret never quite died. “But I will help you any way I can.”
“Thanks, Matia.” Ellie pushed her chair back and moved around the small house examining Matia’s temple paintings. “These are so beautiful. Do you think that’s what those buildings really looked like?”
Matia came to stand beside her. “Yes, I do.”
“So, you see it in your mind while you paint?” Ellie cocked her head and wrinkled her freckled nose.
“No. I don’t know what it will look like until I’ve finished.” It wasn’t easy to describe the process to someone else. Besides, it was too holy and personal an experience to share.
“That’s amazing.” Ellie reached up and touched the painting softly with her fingertips. “I feel like I could jump right inside,” she whispered.
“You don’t know how many times I have wished I could do so,” Matia said. She rested her hand on the girl’s shoulder. The longing washed through her so powerfully she had to hold her breath. She let it come, let the pain fill her, and then she let it pass. Maybe it would be better to take the paintings down after all.
Ellie didn’t seem to have noticed Matia’s sudden silence. She still had her hand on the painting, tracing the outline of the ancient temple. Matia drew in her breath. “Here.” She took the painting down. “I want you to have it.”
Ellie gasped. “Oh, I couldn’t. I know how much you’ve traded the others for.”
“I don’t trade these,” Matia said. “Take it. You’re the first friend I’ve had in a very long time. Please enjoy it. It would make me so happy.”
Ellie turned pink. “That’s so kind of you. I’ll treasure it.”
“I know you will.”
Ellie left with the painting. Matia stood for a while contemplating the empty spot on the wall. She couldn’t help but feel she had lost a little piece of her soul.
* * *
he left the paintings up. The pain of their absence was far worse than the pain of their presence. The weather turned cold, and the first winter snow covered the landscape in dreamy, soothing white shot through with pastels. Hector and Matia stayed warm in front of the tiny, stone fireplace. They ate well on the canned fruits they’d traded for, and the meats Hector had killed and cured.
They got eggs from three little chickens in a snug coop, and milk from their own cow. They got to know the rest of the villagers and learned their customs and traditions. Hector and Jeb built a cradle for Ellie’s soon-to-arrive baby. Matia taught Ellie how to sew a quilt for her little one, and in return, Ellie taught Matia how to bake bread.
Hector went to bed each night humming in contentment, and Matia painted a memory of summer and spring and fall. They were good months. She let the peace settle into her bones and drive away her longing.
But when the air grew warmer and the snow melted, when the birds returned and buds peeked out in a wanton bacchanal of colors, Matia felt the pull again. Another sacred site calling to her, how far away she didn’t know. The urge to go and find it came and went like a nagging toothache.
Hector plowed and planted and sang in the sunshine. He would never leave, and Matia knew it. Every time the pull of something holy overwhelmed her senses, she went to Hector and wrapped her arms around him and listened to his heart beating and reminded herself why she was here. They’d spent twenty years chasing her ghosts. She would be fine here. Just fine.
Some days she almost believed it.
The weather turned warmer, and Matia took her paint pots and bark canvases outside where she could experience firsthand the exuberant return of the colors that had been muted by winter light.
Her paintings took on a surreal quality—fantastical landscapes, bright with unexpected hues. Hector admired them as usual, but his forehead creased ever so slightly as he looked at them, leaving Matia to wonder what he really thought of them. She wasn’t sure of what she thought, either. Something stirred in her heart, begging for release.
Late in the spring, when summer’s warmth first kissed the air, a man on a horse rode up to Matia where she sat painting on the chair Hector had made for her. The horse caught her eye first—strong and tall and the purest white she had ever seen. Whiter than she’d ever imagined. No other color mingled with the perfection of its supple coat. It almost seemed to glow in the bright sun.
Then her gaze traveled to the rider. Like his horse, he seemed to shine, but not with whiteness. No. An aura of brilliant colors surrounded him, dancing in and out of her vision. Shades even she had never seen radiated out from the man so that she could hardly look at him.
She came up off her chair and dropped to her knees, upsetting her paint pots. The holiness emanating from him was more powerful than the colors. He embodied the call that led her to the temple ruins. She trembled and kept her eyes on the ground.
“Arise,” the man said.
Matia did, barely breathing.
“Matia, the Lord has heard the prayers of your heart.”
She glanced up at him. How did he know her name? The light surrounding him was almost painful to look at. “Who-who is the Lord?”
“You know Him. In your heart. He is God, the creator of heaven and earth. Your father and mine.”
Matia worked up the courage to look into his face—his kind, smiling face. “Who are you?”
“You may call me Elias. I am a servant of the Lord. He sent me to you.”
“Because He knows the desires of your heart and because He loves you. I am sent to take you where you most long to go. To the temple of God, the House of the Lord.”
Matia’s hand rose to her chest to still the thumping of her heart. “The sacred temples?” she whispered. “They are real? They exist?” It was all she had ever hoped for.
“One remains. It is hidden from the world. But I am sent to find the honest in heart. The pure who are ready to receive God’s word. Will you come with me?”
“Oh, yes.” A rush of joy flooded her being. At last she could find what she’d sought for so long.
“We must depart,” Elias said.
“Now?” She looked down at her paint-daubed clothes. “I’ll need to pack my things.”
Elias nodded. “Prepare, but do not delay.”
“I won’t.” Packing fast and light came second nature. She spun around and saw her scattered paint pots. With a cluck of dismay, she bent to gather them. Another thought occurred to her. “And Hector? My husband? He can come too, can’t he?” Oh, he must come. She couldn’t possibly go without him.
“If he wishes.” Elias folded his arms.
“Right. Let me get him.” Matia abandoned the paint pots to find Hector. He was out back tending to his garden. “Hector, come and see.” She dragged him around to the front where Elias waited.
Hector raised his eyebrows when he saw the man. “Hello.” He stepped toward Elias, his hand extended, his voice polite. Matia wondered how Hector dared to approach such a glorious being when she almost couldn’t look upon him.
Elias clasped Hector’s hand. “Hello friend.”
“Good morning. Where do you come from?”
“Hector!” Matia slipped her arm through her husband’s. “He comes from God.” Wasn’t that obvious? Only then did she realize that Hector couldn’t see the man as she did, surrounded with glory. Couldn’t see the perfection of his horse. She tried to look past the brilliance surrounding him to the man Hector saw. Tall, strong, just like his horse. Fair-haired. His face stern but kind, neither old nor young. Nothing extraordinary about him.
“My love,” she softened her voice. “He is holy. I can see it. He’s come to take me—us—he’s come to take us to a sacred ruin. But not a ruin. To a holy temple.” She kissed his cheek “Isn’t it wonderful?”
Hector smiled at her, but confusion touched his eyes. “What are you talking about?”
“A temple. Like in my paintings. A real one. He can take us there.”
Hector’s brow creased. “That’s not possible.”
“But it is. I know it is.”
Hector stepped back, out of Matia’s grasp. “You want to leave with this man? Just because he says what you want to hear?”
“No. Yes.” Hector’s face had grown stormy. “I mean, I want us both to go.”
“I thought we agreed to settle here.”
“Yes. But this is what I’ve been waiting for and dreaming of.” Tears clouded her vision. She took Hector’s hands in hers. “I want you to share it with you. Please. And then we can come back here.” She glanced at Elias. “Can’t we?”
“The journey is long, and you will not be the same at the end.”
Matia felt she couldn’t breathe for deep and poignant emotions rising in her chest.
“I don’t know who you are or what you’re playing at,” Hector grumbled at Elias. “But I think you’d better leave now.”
“No.” Matia stepped close to Hector, rested her hands on his arms. “He’s telling the truth. I know you can’t see it, but I can. Trust me. He is different. Holy. Can’t you at least feel it?”
 “I don’t feel anything. You said you’d stay here. With me. Put all of this—wandering—behind you.”
Is that what she had told him? Maybe so, but… “Don’t you understand? This is what I’ve always wanted. What I’ve been searching for my whole life. What I sought every time I found a ruin. He can take me where I wanted to go with every painting I made. Those places are real. I long for them.”
Hector shrugged off her hands. “Your paintings are a dream of a past that no longer exists.” His eyes flashed. Angry splotches of yellow and green mottled his usually calm face. “It’s time to stop chasing daydreams.”
Daydreams? Matia stepped back. He couldn’t have hurt her more if he had physically struck her. Did her really think so little of her and her paintings. The wishes of her heart? “I must go,” she whispered. “If I don’t, I will regret it forever.”
“Go, then. But don’t come back here.” He turned his back to her.
How could he say that? After all they’d been through? “I want you there beside me.”
“I’m not leaving. Choose him or me.” In two long strides, he was back in the house, slamming the door so hard the shutters rattled.
Matia wrapped her arms around herself. The overturned paint pots leaked their contents into the dirt. If she moved, she might shatter. The presence of the holy man burned like the sun against her back. She forced hot, stinging tears to stay behind her eyes.
“The time has come,” Elias said.
Matia clenched her teeth. If she stayed, if she missed this chance, her heart would never heal. But if she lost Hector, would she be any better off? Either way, she’d lose a part of herself she couldn’t bear to lose.
She closed her eyes and drew in a long, slow breath. Memories rose and burst in effervescent bubbles in her mind, her fingers moving on their own, creating images of beauty and sacredness. Dreams of the past. Hector was right about that. But her heart insisted these dreams were truer and more important than any reality she had or would experience. More important even than her love for her husband.
Her insides went numb. “Let me get my things,” she said over her shoulder.
Trying not to think, she salvaged what she could of her paint pots and tucked them into her satchel with her unused canvases. She went inside, shaking, to gather her traveling clothes and the sleeping rug and blankets. Hector wasn’t there, nor did she find him out back when she went to fetch Jetta from the pasture. Maybe he had gone into the woods to cool off. Maybe he believed he’d find her here when he returned.
She secured her bedroll and bags on Jetta’s back and led the horse around to the front.
“You’re ready?” Elias asked, and she knew he meant more than merely packed for a journey. She looked at her little house once more, then at the easel and canvas she had been working on.
“Just a moment.” Matia crouched and dipped her finger in a puddle of paint and wrote across the canvas. I must go. I’m sorry. I will come back. I love you.
The words stood out like a wound against the gentle image she’d been creating. She rubbed the excess paint from her finger on the hem of her shirt. “Goodbye, Hector,” she whispered.
* * *
pring brightened into summer. Elias filled the days with stories—tales of people and places Matia never dreamed existed. Tales more wonderful than the legends of the vanished, and yet more true. Tales like multi-colored jewels strung along a single, golden thread. Tales that spoke truth to her heart.
She had food whenever she was hungry—thick bread, sharp cheese, and dried fruits. She had water to satisfy her thirst. Elias carried no bags. Matia had no idea where the food came from, but it was always there when she hungered.
But each night, she wept into her bedroll and wished for the warmth and security of Hector’s arms around her. A battle churned inside her. Hector pulling her in one direction and the holy temple in the other. If only he had come with her, this would have been the most pleasant journey of her life.
Yet, despite the pain, the closer they came to their destination, the stronger the peace that enveloped her. The pine-scented breeze whispered in her ears. All will be well. The sunlight sparkled the same message through the leaves, bathing the trees in a shimmering rainbow. All will be well. All will be well. It was the message in Elias’ tales too. Matia didn’t know if that meant with or without her Hector, but she clung to the hope all the same.
On a bright midsummer morning, Elias roused her from a melancholy dream. “Today is the day. Are you ready?” In the sunshine, his aura grew to fill the space around both of them, as bright as the first time she had seen him. It drove everything else from her mind.
“I’m ready.”
Elias took her by the hand and helped her up. “We will walk from here.”
“How far is it?” Unbroken forest surrounded them. Not even a trace of a path suggested anything nearby. Yet even without Elias telling her, she could feel it was near.
Holiness. She was close now. Her chest ached for it.
“Come.” Elias beckoned her forward. Matia picked up her satchel and followed. They wound through the trees. Diamond patches of sunlight fell through the rich, summer leaves. The pattern of light and shadow mesmerized Matia until the forest itself had dissolved into a play of colors flirting with darkness, now intertwining, now breaking apart.
Then the curtain of shade lifted away, and Matia found herself on a wide expanse of soft grass, wet and fragrant with the morning dew. They sky arched above her in blues and purples and pinks too magnificent to behold. And there in front of her—oh! Matia dropped to her knees.
The temple rose in splendid majesty, the most enormous building she had ever seen. White as pure as Elias’ horse and glowing even in the full sun. Clusters of spires rose in six graceful columns, piercing the sky, and in the center one delicate spike soared upward with the golden angel resting on top. Along the wall, tall windows of colored glass caught the light, accentuating the unblemished whiteness of the structure.
It stole her breath away. With shaking hands, she took off her satchel and removed a blank canvas and paint pots. She had only enough time to get them open before the passion overwhelmed her and she began to paint.
Oh, how she needed this. How she had feared she would never have it again. Her fingers danced across the canvas recklessly, joyously, until at last the divine fire left her and she could see what her fingers had brought to life.
It wasn’t a painting of the temple before her as she expected. No, she had painted a strange and beautiful scene unlike any she had seen or imagined, full of golden fire. Two figures sat on brightly burning thrones, a mighty king and his queen. Many other figures occupied the scene, all in the attitude of praising and worship. Some stood near the thrones and were nearly as glorious as the royal couple, others more earthy and dull. But all of them bent toward the thrones in postures that spoke of love, devotion, and awe. Around it all shone a holy fire, like the fire that filled her as she painted. For a long time she stared in silence, letting the scene soak into her heart.
Then Elias stood beside her. “You are ready,” he said. “Let me take you inside.”
* * *
ight had fallen when Matia rode Jetta up to the door of her house. The chill of autumn nipped the air, and she could smell the sweet wood smoke rising from the chimney. Elias had been right about the length of the journey. And Matia was not the person she had been when she’d left.
Her hand hovered over the door latch. Would Hector want her back? Was he alone, or had he replaced her already? Fear set her shivering. She took a deep breath and offered a silent prayer to the heavens. Whatever she found inside she could face. She was full and whole and nothing could change that.
The house was dark except for the orange-yellow glow of the fire dying down to embers. Matia found a candlestick on the kitchen table and lit the candle in the fading fire.
By the circle of light, she could see her paintings still adorned the walls. She touched an image and smiled. The light inside of her warmed her and gave her courage. She squared her shoulders and moved toward the bedroom.
Hector was asleep. Alone. She let out her breath. His gentle snores were as familiar as her own heartbeat. She set the candle on a wooden chair next to the bed—her painting chair. “Hector,” she whispered, touching his shoulder.
He rolled over, his snoring cut short, and opened his eyes. “Matia?” He sat up and pulled her into his arms. “You came back. Oh, Matia. Matia. I am so sorry.”
She breathed in the warm scent of his skin, nestled her head in that spot where she fit just right. She was home. “I missed you so much.”
Hector pulled back to look her in the face. “Please don’t ever leave me again. It is miserable here without you.”
Matia laid her hand against his cheek. “I was very lonely for you. I dreamed of you every night.”
“So did I, my love. I might be dreaming right now.”
“You’re not.” She smiled. “I’m really here.”
“You found what you were looking for?”
“I did.” The memory sent goose bumps prickling down her arms. She let go of Hector and retrieved the painting from her satchel.
Hector picked up the candle stick to study the image. “My goodness.” His voice dropped. “What is it?”
Matia rested her head on his shoulder. “There is so much to tell you, and so much I can’t even put into words.”
“Like your colors?”
“Yes. Except this you can experience for yourself.” She sat up. “If you let me take you there.”
Hector set the painting down and took her hands.
Matia went on, words spilling over each other. “Elias—my guide—says this is my calling now. To find the seekers, the dreamers, the believers. The honest and pure.” She thought of Ellie and her little family, the other villages, her own parents so far away. “I am to find them and bring them home. But I have to start with you. I can’t do it without you. Won’t you let me show you what I’ve seen? Teach you what I know? And we’ll never be apart again. We’ll be together for all eternity.”
“Eternity?” Hector squeezed her hands. The candle cast yellow light across his face, tinged with gold and silver. Everything she loved about him flooded into her heart. “You mean forever?”
Matia nodded.
Hector reached up and wound a strand of her hair around his finger. The back of his hand caressed her face. “That sounds perfect. Tell me more.”


 Copyright 2014 Angella Lofthouse
All Rights Reserved