Oh, hear my prayer tonight, I'm singing to the sky
|"Oh, hear my prayer tonight, I'm singing to the sky," Selah proclaimed, as she stood in the center of the community garden, looking up at the night sky. The stars twinkled joyfully, as if intoning their gratitude for the clear moonless night. Selah could feel someone watching her from behind the giant pine trees that boarded the garden. It did not matter whether it was day or night, someone always watched her when she came to the garden.
She had gotten used to people in Pine Junction watching. She had gotten used to them not trusting her because she was from the outside. At first it had been disconcerting, even troubling, but after a year she came to realize that their distrust revealed more about them than it did her. She had come to Pine Junction, because her Aunt Sarah allowed anyone in the family to live in her cottage rent free for as long as they wished. The only requirement was to keep the cottage in good repair, and the roses in the yard blooming.
Selah knew that eventually she would have to leave. Eventually she would have to go back to the real world, the outside world, and take up her duties in the family business. The family business was the problem. No one in the Demarco family discussed how they made their fortune with anyone--either inside or outside the family--who was not involved the direct management of The Business, as it was referred to. She knew only two things about The Business. One, it had caused her father's death, and, two, it had changed her mother when she had taken over her deceased husband's duties.
Selah sighed, knelt, and looked up at the stars. "I don't know who I'm praying to, or even if there is a God. If there is some sort of Divine Entity in this universe, please help me. The Business frightens me, but Uncle Franko insists it's my duty to take over my father's duties, as head of The Business. He said, 'Selah, you can chose to accept your destiny as Chief Operating Officer of The Business or death!' I need another choice." Standing up, she ambled to the front gate, opened it, and walked out of the garden.
Instead of walking back to the cottage, she sat down on a wooden bench, under one of the electric lights that lined the walk through the trees. "I wish," she said, staring into the garden. "I didn't have to leave you. I wish I could stay in Pine Junction forever."
"That's an unusual wish," came a male voice from behind her, "for someone who's been treated as an outcast since arriving here."
"Sharif Murphy," she said, recognizing the voice, "so you've been the one watching me for the past year."
"Not always, Miss Demarco," he sat down beside her. "Sometimes one of my part-time deputies has kept an eye on you."
"You'll be relieved to know I'll be leaving in a few weeks."
"Why," he said, smiling at her for the first time. "It's been real pleasant having you in Miss Sarah's cottage."
"Yes. You're the first Demarco, other than Miss Sarah, who's walked in the Pine Junction garden without stomping on the plants. You don't litter the streets, and you pick up any litter you find. Plus, not only have you kept the cottage repaired, and the roses blooming, but you've mowed Miss Sarah's yard."
"Sharif Murphy, I'd love to live in Pine Junction, but I don't have a job. I can't live off Aunt Sarah forever."
"I don't see that as a problem," he laughed. "You have a laptop, and you seem to be able to connect to the wireless internet without difficulty"
"I have an Associate Degree in Information Technology."
"That's all you need to get a job in the Sharif's office or the newspaper. If you like, I can officially introduce you to the Town Council on Wednesday afternoon."
"There is a God, after all."
"You don't believe in God?"
"I was an agnostic searching for proof of God. You're kind offer to introduce me to the Pine Junction Town Council, answered the prayer I said in the garden."
Word Count: 700