© Severine Pineaux – Found at khabar-news.net
The twelve beautiful nude virgins danced joyously around the only tree in the field that was bearing leaves and blossoms. They had been appearing at the base of the tree for the past thirty days each dawn to dance, and then vanished each evening with the last rays of the sun.
The valley where the tree has always grown was forbidden to everyone in the land during this time, and yet young boys and men were known to slyly hide in the low peaks at the valley’s edge to watch, at first with crude telescopes and more recently with binoculars, gazing with lust at the alluring maidens.
Their only attire were the wreathes of wildflowers they wore in their hair, fresh every morning. They were seen neither to eat nor drink and never paused to rest for even a moment, but constantly maintained their dance as if it were their passion and religion.
“What do you think it means, Hadad?”
Image found at beliefnet.com
“I’m sorry Norman, but as long as you continue to sin, you are not welcome in this church.”
Norman Walker had been attending First Church of the Baptism for over a year now. At first Pastor William “Billy” Hubbard was excited that someone in his twenties wanted to attend. Over half the current membership was over fifty and they needed to be able to reach out to the next generation. Most of the younger people who worshiped on Sundays were the children or grandchildren of the aging parishioners. They just weren’t bringing in very many young converts.
“I love her, Billy. We’re going to get married.”
“It’s not only a matter of getting married to Chrissie. You have to repent of your sin with her. In fact, you should probably either move out or have her live elsewhere until after the wedding.”
“I can’t do that to her. She’d be heartbroken.”
Art work: © bonsallesart.wordpress.com (Used with Permission)
“Don’t touch me.”
“I like you Clarissa. Can’t we just hold hands?”
“I…I don’t know, Brad. I don’t know if I feel…”
Clarissa isn’t afraid of what she doesn’t feel but what she will if she lets Brad touch her.
It didn’t happen all at once and it didn’t happen at all when she was little.
When Clarissa was a little girl, she loved hugging her Mommy and Daddy, her Uncle Bill, and her Aunt Sarah. She held hands with her best friend Emily when they were five. Touch meant love and security. She sat on her Grandpa’s lap when he read to her until she was six and then sat next to him cuddled up against his side after that.
It started happening after she got her first period. Clarissa didn’t know what it was at first. When she hugged her Daddy, she didn’t always feel warmth and caring. Sometimes she felt worry, frustration, and anger.
Created by Warwick Goble (1862-1943)
“I will not marry you, Prince Abo. Go away.”
“You cannot stay in your tree forever, Princess Yasuko. You are of age now and our parents betrothed us to each other in our seventh year.”
“I don’t care. You are a pig. I will stay in the Empress Tree until I die if you don’t go away.”
“Oh my dear Yasuko. I have called the wood-cutter. Look, he approaches.”
It was true. Tradition required that once they were bonded by the arrangement of both their parents, Yasuko must marry Abo upon reaching her eighteenth year. She had been dreading this day since her Mother the Queen gave her the news eleven years ago.
She had grown up with Abo and knew him all too well. He was pampered and spoiled, demanded that his every whim be catered to immediately. Worse, he was cruel to animals, catching birds only to deprive them of their feathers and then freeing them in the courtyard as helpless prey for the cats.