A breeze danced across the garden, bending the tall grasses and tickling the hibiscus bushes. The shores of a teal sea sparkled on the horizon.
The Lady fell into one of her hammocks near the garden wall. The wall itself was covered in honeysuckle vines, the hammock strung between two palm trees. She sunk into the thick, silk sling, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply. Golden eyeshadow flecked with emerald green glitter danced off her mahogany eyelids. The breath sent one side of her kimono sliding over her collarbone, exposing a bit of her shoulder to the sun.
Concentrate on the vision, she chided herself. There'll be time later to play with the sun. She allowed herself a smile to thank the sunbeam for its warmth, breathed again. Focused.
The voices came...whispered pleas, shrieks of pleasure or pain, tearful prayers. The strongest of these caused visions.
Lately, there were too many assaults and rapes to count. Some she could stop or alleviate, others—for more complex reasons—she could only shed a tear for. She paid attention, though, to which pleasurable and painful couplings would produce children. Some she would call back home before their mamas even knew they were there. Others would be blissfully born, no matter the circumstances surrounding their conception.
For fun and to lift her spirits, The Lady granted whispered wishes between her more difficult duties. Some way would be made to buy a new dress or car. An old lover would return for a night or two, or a new one discovered. Broken hearts were easily healed by those also wise enough to pray for strength.
She laughed at phony, flighty love spells and reveled in prayers chanted in ancient tongues, slowed time for lovers reciting poetry in bed and sped it up for lovers eager to make it home. She greeted her priests and priestesses—those fully initiated and those yet to approach her temple—with gentle breezes and sweet smells, kissing their foreheads to impart solutions to seekers' problems. She loved them best, for they kept her from having to handle everything on her own.
The Lady spent a few moments doing this, mindful that she was easily spanning days and weeks in Earthtime. There were entire months when she did nothing but solve human problems; to her, it was no more than five or ten minutes.
When she opened her eyes, the voices and visions faded a bit. Even when she wasn't looking, she saw everything; heard when she wasn't listening. It wasn't always clear if she was hearing a prayer from two hours or two weeks ago, but attention was surely paid.
There was work to do, but the Lady wasn't ready to rise from the hammock. She gave her eyes time to adjust to the sunlight, now firmly settled in the center of the sky. Looking down, she noticed that her clothes had changed.
In the midst of a particularly strong devotion or prominent festival occurring in her name, she would often emerge draped in cloth offerings. Pleased, she would intuit the cloth's origin and not only bless the shrine builders and seamstresses, but the cloth-makers, weavers, cotton plants, silkworms—whatever and whoever had a hand in its making.
This morning, her satin kimono had morphed into a luminous sari: pure golden silk embroidered with threads of gold and scarlet in an impossibly intricate paisley. Dotted throughout the gold background were small garnets that twinkled when she poked her toes out of the skirt and twisted her calf for a better look. The Lady grinned, throughly pleased. This had come from an Indian bride, part of a family devoted to Lakshmi. She would have to look in on that union and bless it, certainly.
Often, she was not the initiator of a relationship, for what would anyone have to strive towards or work for if all was filled with constant love and grace? The fundamental source of her power was love, but it was even more essential to understand that that love could always effect change. Thus, if the husband turned out to be unworthy, she would offer this stunning bride a way out. Her family's women clearly understood the benediction inherent in a beautiful wedding.
No matter what The Lady wore, and as long as she was on the island, her basic appearance never changed: deeply brown skin with red earth undertones, a graceful, tall frame boasting fully rounded breasts, hips and bottom. Her stomach curved outward slightly, a soft resting place. Strong thighs and calves ended in beautifully arched feet that were nearly always bare, but she wore satin slippers and stilettos with equal ease.
Her face was a sculpture: chiseled cheekbones beneath wide, oval eyes with deep brown centers. Her nose was clearly African, wide and full. Her top lip bowed over a slightly pouting bottom one, forming an expressive mouth that begged for kisses and to be kissed, even when she stood silent.
Her hands were heavy with rings of brass and gold. Each wrist carried ten bangles each—five gold and five brass—all thin enough to slide against each other and jangle as she moved. Each ankle gleamed with two circlets, one of each metal. Each second toe was adorned with a double-banded ring—half gold, half brass. Her third eye was a marble-sized piece of rose quartz which she concealed at will.
Like her clothes, her hair changed on a whim, but her preferred style was a massive afro full of soft, tight curls that danced around her head like a russet flame. She was also known to travel completely bald, with waist-length dreadlocks, straight black or blonde hair, and anything in between.
The Lady's natural form would allow her to blend in on streets all around the world—Detroit, Senegal, London. Was she a Black woman from Philadelphia with memories of Native American ancestors resting on her face, or had she just been dancing with a smile in a Congolese village? There was no way to know.
This brownness was her essence, her created state, and the only form she'd needed for eons.
But that was all before the Change...