A trio of rapid-fire thumps rattled the glass of the curio cabinet, and its door swung open. Like flashes of silvery white lightening, two frail arms shot through the dark, catching a small crystal figurine before it could shatter into pieces on the hallway floor.
“That was so close,” whispered a tiny voice.
“Shush!” chastened another voice, as the crystal what-not was placed tenderly back on its shelf. The curio door clicked closed. “Let’s go to my room.”
The three figures clumsily arose from the raggedy rug. They tiptoed through the last door in the long hallway, gingerly closing it after the last pair of tiny bare feet was safely inside.
The day was dawning, and light spilled into the room, accentuating the masterful depiction of the Eifel Tower on the window pane.
This was Dovie’s room.
Three bewildered, pale faces, with chestnut hair and wide, chocolate eyes, stared at each other.
“What are you two doing up so early? Why are you running around in the dark? Someone could have been really hurt,” scolded Dovie. She rubbed her elbow. “You know the rules.”
“I WAS hurt! See, I have a knot on my head. What are YOU doing up so early, and didn’t you even hear it?” asked Laurel, placing her hands on barely-there hips.
“I heard it! It was loud!” said Jasper, as he handed Laurel a plushy, purple velvet pillow.
“Thank you, Bub. I was so scared. I didn’t know I dropped it!”
“Oh, I wasn’t scared,” he said, puffing his tiny chest out. “I thought he sounded friendly, but he was loud! Did you notice that?”
“Wait a minute. Hold up. What are you all talking about? What ‘he’ are you talking about?” asked Dovie. She picked Jasper up and sat him on the bed beside her. Laurel climbed up on his other side.
“The voice!” they both chimed at once.
Excitement flickered in Dovie’s eyes, but it was quickly replaced by stern disapproval. “What voice? Tell me the truth, right now.”
“I was dreaming the best dream ever! I don’t remember it, though. But I remember what he said that woke me up,” said Jasper. “He asked me if I was ready!”
Laurel dramatically jumped down from the bed, turning to face her siblings. “He asked me, too! I had my best dream, too, and I remember it! The trees had pictures painted on them, and the water looked like diamonds, and” – she rubbed her eyes – “but I can’t remember who was talking.”
Dovie dropped her eyes to the wood floor, as if an explanation could be found in the swirled patterns of dust. “This is weird. You two are telling me that we all three had the same dream, and heard the same voice asking us if we were ready for something?”
“You had it, too?” asked Jasper.
“Yes, Bub. I don’t remember the dream, either, but I’ll never forget that voice.”
“Oh, me, either,” Jasper replied, matter-of-factly. “It was loud.”
“But it was soft, too. Billowy. Smooth and soft,” said Dovie, brushing away the beginnings of a tear.
Laurel hugged her pillow close, and pressed her face deeply into it. As she raised her head again, a ray of golden sunlight touched the smile on her face. “It was like my pillow! His voice sounded like my pillow!”
“You’re right, Sis. He sounded velvety, didn’t he?” Hope beamed from Dovie’s eyes. The corners of her mouth twitched, and a delightful grin found its way to the surface.
In that moment, the sun rose above the hazy buildings beyond the windowpane. Brilliant, multicolored light flooded the tiny bedroom, transforming years of despair into bright anticipation for something unknown, yet vaguely familiar.
Together, as one, they spoke. “The Velvet Voice!”
Light exploded like laughter, into a million tiny rainbow sparks. The words had accomplished hope in the children’s hearts. The voice had been given a name.
Oh, yes, they were ready! They were ready, and the time had come!