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Christian Historical Fiction

Candlelight gleams on the wooden rafters overhead as the chanting of The Exsultet fills the darkened church. Then the voices of the choir swell in multiple responsorial Psalms, and readings are intoned as flames flicker atop the white wax tapers the congregation hold in their hands.Β 


A quiet thrill goes through me as I listen to the first chapter of the book of Genesis - β€œAnd the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.” 

Though I can hardly see it in the sepulchral shadows, I glance to my right, at the stained-glass window depicting The Descent of the Holy Ghost:

Fire pours like water from the haloed and cloud-encircled dove in the top left corner, while individual red flames dance above the heads of Mary and the Apostles.Β 

Looking at the yellow flame dancing above the candle I hold, my eyes are dazzled. I think of the light that must have been seen in the dark before dawn, over 2,000 years ago, in the garden belonging to Joseph of Arimathea . . .Β 



Spreading my wings, I drop from the branch I am standing on, and fly. Taking leave of the tree where I have slept through the day, I sweep over the ground, head tilting this way and that, listening for small creatures moving in the grass and shrubs.Β 

Something rustles, and I pounce; the vole barely has time to look up between my talons puncturing its sides and my beak severing its spinal column. The last thing it sees in this world are the two black eyes staring out of my white face.Β 


As I carry the now-dead vole to a more sheltered place, my worries are somewhat reassured. Prey was difficult to find yestreen, though I was not much inclined to hunt for it. And the evening before that, nothing moved. The very Sun despaired.Β 


Perching close to the tree’s trunk, the surrounding foliage gives me some privacy. Wings flared, I hunch over my meal, swallowing it whole and head first. Then I take to the air again, searching for the next unwary morsel.


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Even now, in search of a quiet place in which to eat my third vole of the night, I am haunted by the memory of what happened the evening before last.Β 

Even now, my heart is darkened.Β 

Even now, I eat, not because I desire to prolong my life, but because I have been given a Command: to abide, and to multiply, as all living things have been Commanded.Β 

Even now, I wonder why I continue to breathe and hunt, when the One who breathed Life no longer walks this earth or draws breath.


Again I perch, hunch, swallow.Β 

Before I can take off, the ground shudders, swaying the tree in which I stand. Shouts reach my ears. Men in the garden, at this hour? Curious, hunger satiated, I drop from my place in search of the din.Β 


Soaring over the garden, I realize my night’s hunting has brought me to the massive rock, one in which Men have hewn cavities. Circling it, I once more tip my head this way and that, listening.

Many small creatures are scurrying about on the ground, disturbed by the earth tremor, but they no longer interest me; I am searching for the unseen Men.Β 


Finally, on the Eastern side of the rock, I find them. Three Men, standing outside the largest of the cavities, which has been covered with a large, round stone. The light from their lanterns causes my widened pupils to contract.Β 

They do not hear my passing; my flight is silent. The night-breeze stirs more than I.Β 

They do not notice me as I float up into a nearby tree, feathers stretched to capture the air.

They do not see me as I fold my wide wings against my body, hiding the white undersides, and settle in to watch them.Β 


Soon, four more Men arrive, carrying something with them, one of many things of Men which I do not understand. I waste no thought trying to decipher it.

The Men speak excitedly to each other for a bit - all but one. He stands alone, brow furrowed, deep in thought.Β 

Eventually, the other six quiet, and take it in turns to sleep, three by three. Morningtide approaches, the night gloom giving way to the first blush of dawn. During the cold damp before sunrise, I ruffle my feathers, trapping pockets of warmth as I begin to doze. In the half-light, spiderwebs materialize, beaded with dew. The grass, the trees, the stone, everything appears a pale gray color, gaining more and more clarity as the light grows.Β 

The first dazzling rays of the Sun stream over the horizon and strike the rock face.


A n d

t h e

e a r t h

c o n v u l s e s.Β 


The tree rocks beneath me.Β 

Birds sing exultantly.

Steam rises in the wash of warmth.

Flowers release their perfumes lavishly, sweet scents infusing the air.

Dewdrops become scintillating jewels.Β Β 

But none of this compares to the coruscating radiance blazing from the rock cavity, as the stone which has been covering it is lifted and placed aside.Β 

The metal door within the cavity is open.Β Β Β 

A Minister of fiery flame perches atop the round stone.

Is this what the Men are here for?


If so, they are missing it. The six have fallen to the ground, becoming as dead Men.Β 

The one who held himself apart hesitantly advances toward the cavity, enters, and coming out, closes the metal door. Looking about, he seems to be searching for someone, but seeing nothing, he goes off in the direction of the city.


A woman arrives, her veil askew, revealing disheveled hair. Drawing back a moment upon seeing the six, she enters the cavity, and, emerging distraught, hurriedly pursues the same course to the city.


A man appears, robed in white, standing under a palm tree, a large hat on his head and a spade in his hand. I feel drawn to him. Sidling to the end of the branch, so as to see him better, my heart begins to drum. Could it be?


He looks at me. Laughs. Beckons.Β 

It is. It is Him.


Diving from my perch, I hurtle towards Him, shreeing with joy. He lifts His arm, and I alight, the Sun illuminating my tawny plumage bespeckled with black. He lifts His other arm, and with hardly a stir in the air, another Barn Owl, an exquisite female, settles on it. A mate for me.Β 


All things are made new.



After the Mass ends, I stand in the vestibule with my Father, waiting for my Mother and siblings to come down from the choir loft. People converse in hushed tones about how beautiful the Vigil was by candlelight. Some laugh, remembering the moment during The Exsultet when the cantor stopped chanting. No one was sure what had happened, until the Deacon's mic caught his whispered exclamation of β€œIt’s dead!” Then everyone knew the cantor had not suffered a heart attack. The battery in his flashlight had died.Β 

As I ponder the evening's events, a hope for quiet begins to push other thoughts aside.

It can be challenging to write in a house overflowing with family noise.



To write this story, I used imagery from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Anne Catherine Emmerich, which director Mel Gibson used to make his acclaimed movie The Passion of the Christ.

April 23, 2022 03:10

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36 comments

00:39 May 16, 2022

Critiques! Lol Hey!! "Disturbed by the earth tremor, but they no longer interest me; "unneeded comma "A woman arrives, her veil askew, revealing disheveled hair." unneeded comma "No one was sure what had happened," unneeded comma shreeing" not sure what you're trying to say but, incorrect spelling "waiting for my Mother" "Mother" is not a proper noun so lowercase form is the correct form in this situation. "The night-breeze" Correct form: (The night breeze) "disturbed by the earth tremor," ...

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Thank you for the critique! This story already locked, so unfortunately I cannot edit. You have gotten me thinking about the use of commas. I am happy to be writing here!

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04:12 May 16, 2022

ahahaha the commas are like your only issue! XDXD Better to be safe than sorry LOL

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Beautiful! Great descriptions too.

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Pippin Took
01:15 Apr 29, 2022

Hello Guadalupe!!! I really loved the imagery that you used in this. I especially liked the line "They do not hear my passing; my flight is silent. The night-breeze stirs more than I." I imagined soft blues and bronzey golds with the scent of summer. I would give you constructive criticism, however I find that I am laughably bad at it. Keep it up! I would love to read more like this πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

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Thank you for your comment! I just wrote another story, actually. DCRL#3: Nomenclature

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Pippin Took
01:13 May 08, 2022

I will read it right this instant!

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23:57 Apr 26, 2022

These descriptions are GORGEOUS! I was drawn in immediately! Such a clever rendition of this prompt! Well done, my friend πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

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Alex Sultan
11:38 Apr 24, 2022

Hi Guadalupe - I hope you're well. I think this is such a unique story. I thought having the central POV being based around the owl was very clever, and I like a lot of the stylistic choices you made. Since it may be too late for line-by-line feedback, I'll give you a more general critique for future stories! I hope that is okay! For the opening, I'd recommend against starting with imagery. I'm not saying it doesn't always work, but it doesn't give the reader anything to really wonder about. A very easy rule to follow is to start with mot...

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Thank you so much for your critique. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I really like realistic animal fiction, and have been waiting for a good prompt under which to write one. Owls are one of my favorite animals, so the central character also made this a fun story to write. Writing stories presenting the more basic elements of Christianity is a very good idea. πŸ€” As far as not getting some of the imagery, I suggest watching the movies The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, and Risen, directed by Kevin Reynolds and starring Joseph Fienn...

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Dhwani Jain
17:32 Apr 23, 2022

Ok, Guadalupe. I think that this story is good, although to be honest, I didn't really understand the events that took place (maybe because I am not a Christian). But, if I just had to rate it on the description and the language that you used, I would give it a 9/10 (+1 for those who understood the story). So yeah. Please don't take my comment seriously, I just wrote what I thought, some other people might understand it better, and give it a better review.

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I'm so happy you got back to me so quickly, thank you so much! I sincerely appreciate the comment. It really encourages me.

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Dhwani Jain
17:41 Apr 23, 2022

You're always welcome!! I'd love some critique on my work as well...

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Sure thing! I'll read cheers and tears ASAP. I already read "That day I . . . ", so I'll make sure to comment on that one, too.

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Dhwani Jain
04:43 Apr 24, 2022

Thanks

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wow. that was cool. I like that the main story was from the perspective of a Barn Owl; that was very very creative! I really love that perspective. The part at the end (when it's back to real-time) didn't make a lot of sense to me, and it seemed a little unnecessary (but I get that you needed to fill in the word space). Overall, this is super amazing! I loved how it told of His resurrection and all creation is being made new. It really changed everything, what He did back then. Amazing work!

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No problem! Doing okay. How are you?

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I am doing well! I had a blast writing the story about Sekk. Even though I didn't finish it in one week, it really encouraged me. Now I feel that I CAN write it and turn it into a novel.

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Yup! I very much believe it was God's Will that I wrote it, but did not finish in time for the prompt. Do you want to read some of it? A sneak peek . . . cause it won't be a finished novel for quite a while.

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Nice! I’ll try to check it out next weekend :)

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