Isabella walked through the screen door to the kitchen table, sitting the laundry basket full of fresh sun-dried clothes. She needed to check on her pies and bread in the oven before starting the ironing and folding of this load of clothes. After testing to see if her cherry pie and sourdough loaves were done, she determined that they were and removed them from the oven. Looking up at the clock, she knew she had to put the roast in the oven or it wouldn’t be done in time when her father and the elders finished up their monthly meeting. She quickly placed the Dutch oven in the oven and continued her duty with the laundry. This was her life every day. She was Isabella Marie Swan, the oldest child of Charles Swan and his first wife Renee. Her father had three other wives, who had six children each. Her mother had compilations in delivering her, which caused her not to be able to have any more children. It was the responsibility of the women to take care of the house and to give their husband lots of children.
After she placed the roasts in the oven, she went back outside to collect the sheets that were drying on the line. God had blessed her with a warm sun and cool wind to dry the laundry.
The Prophet Aro was sent from Sun God, to populate the world with the children of the members of the Solar Temple. Aro himself had six wives, each have eight children. However, Aro’s “first” wife had disappeared and he was in “prayer” for someone to replace her. She would have to be pure of heart, mind, and body. He was walking across the compound, which was nestled against a mountain in Utah. He was heading to the Swan residence to see how the council meeting had gone. As he walked up the road, he saw a goddess hanging up laundry on the line. Her skin was creamy white and glistening in the sunlight. A puff of wind blew through and her bonnet was blown off her head, allowing her long, wavy chestnut brown locks to blow in the air. She was dressed in a standard dress and apron, which made Aro wonder if all her skin was a white a creamy. Fuck, he wanted her. She would be a perfect first wife and he couldn’t wait to have her in his bed. As he neared, he relieved the goddess was Isabella, Charlie Swan’s oldest daughter. How old was she? He hoped she was at least sixteen, that way the law wouldn’t give him to much grief. He knew that Charlie wouldn’t have a problem because he was a loyal servant to the Order. Walking up the sidewalk he continued around the house to the backyard, where young Isabella was. She had not put her bonnet back on and she looked like an Angel with her untamed hair blowing around her angelic face.
Isabella had just finished hanging up her sister’s gowns when she caught a glimpse of someone at the corner of the house. She looked at the figure and gasped that it was her leader and prophet Aro. Quickly, she gasped her long hair and placed it up, covering it with her bonnet. “Sir, I am so sorry.” She cried, knowing that having your head uncover was a sin.
“It is okay, Isabella. The wind is exceptionally strong today, things like this happen.” Aro said.
“Thank you. Are you here for the council meeting?” She asked.
“Yes. Would you please direct me to where they are?”
“Come with me. Would you like a glass of water or tea?”
“Thank would be lovely, but only if you join me.” Aro urged.
Isabella was shocked. This was the first time that her spiritual leader had talked to her this long. All their past interaction were just a simple greeting. She had been raised in the Order since birth and she knew nothing other than what the Prophet Aro had taught her about God’s will and plan for the Order. They walked into the kitchen, where Isabella pour each of them a glass of tea. She placed the glass in front of Aro and began to sit in the chair across the table from Aro. It was not acceptable to be alone in a room with a man and especially if you were caught sitting beside him.
“Isabella, how old are you?”
She blushed a bright shade of pink. “I will be eighteen in two weeks.”
“Really. Wow, the time has flown by. Are you spoken for by one of the young men in the community?”
“No Sir. My father has not found me anyone yet, however, I am certain he will soon.”
“I am sure of it, because you are a very beautiful young woman and a very hard worker. You were raised to follow God’s plan for our community and you will be the mother of children of the future of the Temple.”
Isabella didn’t know what to say. She had never been told these things and it was very embarrassing. She dreamed that one day she would be joined with a good man, but she secretly hoped it would be someone she would love.
Charlie Swan had come out of the council meeting and had heard voices coming from the kitchen, as he neared he heard what Aro had said to Isabella and it upset him. He may be a loyal servant to the Prophet Aro and his teachings, however, this was his daughter. Of course, it was not unheard of in the community for a much older man to marry a young girl, but again this was his daughter. “Aro, this is a surprise.”
“Charlie, I came to see how the council meeting was going, but I ran into your lovely daughter, who has been keeping me company. I didn’t realize she had gotten so grown up.” Aro purred, with a lustful look in his eyes.
“Isabella, have you finished your chores?” Charlie barked.
“No Father, but I will go right away. Goodbye Sir.” Isabella said, quickly leaving the room and out the door. Once she was outside, she quickly finished getting the clothes off the line, all the while thinking about how strange that conversation with Aro was.
Two days later, Aro called Charlie and asked him to come to church. When Charlie arrived Aro was standing on the stage behind the pulpit. “Charlie, thank you for coming.” Aro said. “I have gotten divine revelation from God. He wants to make sure that our community continues down its path for a place that he can praise and bless. To ensure that, my seed need to have a pure soul to fertilize and that child will be the next divine prophet of the Temple.”
“That is wonderful news.” Charlie said, wondering why Aro was telling him this.
“The woman will be revered and her name will be placed in the holy book for future generations to see and be told about.” Aro boosted, with his hands above his head and his face looking toward the ceiling. He finally dropped his arms and looked at Charlie. “Isabella is the chosen one.”
Charlie’s mouth fell open. He couldn’t believe it.
“Charlie, I know you are in shock, but you must have faith. We will be married on her eighteenth birthday, in front of the whole community.”
“Aro, this is just so sudden. She is so young.” Charlie cried.
“She is the chosen one and her being young is just a sign of her purity.” Aro said.
Charlie bowed his head. Was this really happening? Was his daughter the chosen one? He needed to pray and he needed God to give him the words to tell Isabella that in a few short weeks she was going to be married. “I must go home, Aro. I need to inform Isabella.”
“I can do that.” Aro smirked, thinking about her milky white skin.
“Actually, I think it would be better coming from me. I will make sure that she is ready for the wedding.” Charlie said.
“But I was hoping to spend some time with her until the wedding.”
“Her purity must remain intact.” Charlie insisted.
“Of course. I will be in contact soon with all the details. Please tell her that I am looking forward to our union.” Aro said.
Charlie left the church and slowly walked back to his home. With every step, he prayed that God would give him a sign that this was, in fact, his will. He just couldn’t believe that his daughter would be marrying a man who was three times her age. As he neared his house, he looked up and saw Isabella sitting on the bench. She didn’t look like she was going to be eighteen in a few weeks, she looked like the little girl who followed him around.
Then the thought of Aro taking his little girl to his bed turned his stomach and in that moment he knew that he had to get her as far away as possible.
That evening once all the children were in bed, Charlie slipped into Isabella’s room. He had gotten her birth certificate from the lockbox, along with some money, and had mapped out a plan for her. If he disappeared, that would raise all kinds of red flags and even though it was scary to think that she was being sent out alone, he knew that if he got her on the bus to Texas she would be okay, or at least he hoped. His cousin lived there and he felt sure that she would be happy to take in her. He had not talked to his cousin in years, but she had told him before that her door was always open to him and his family.
“Isabella.” He whispered.
“Father?” She answered.
“You have got to listen to what I have got to say. Aro is wanting to take you as his wife.”
She gasped, her heart beating wildly and her thoughts were all over the place. Aro? He was so old. Why would he want to marry her?
“I know you are confused, but to be trueful so am I. I have placed my faith in God many years ago and have followed Aro’s word, but I know in my heart that I cannot allow this to happen. I am sending you to my cousin in Texas. Don’t try to contact us and if I can I will try to contact you when it is safe.” Charlie explained, trying to keep his tears at bay.
“Father, I have never been outside the community.” She cried.
“I know, but you are very smart. Here are your birth certificate and some money. I have written out how to buy a ticket to Texas and the address of my cousin Maria.”
“I am so scared.”
“I know. But this is for the best. Now get up and I will sneak you out of the community and to the bus station.”
Isabella got up and quickly packed a bag. She didn’t know what to take, but she stuffed as much as she could in the bag. “Can I say goodbye to everyone?”
“No. I am sorry but it has to be this way.” Charlie explained.
They walked out to the car that was only driven when they needed to go to town for supplies. Driving down the street with his lights off and his prayers were answered that he didn’t see anyone. Once on the main road, he turned on the lights and drove directly to bus station. Even at this late hour, people were coming and going. Placing the car into park he turned to Isabella, who had been quiet the entire trip. The light from the street pole shined into the car and he could see that she was crying.
“Isabella, please. I may not have told you enough, but I am proud of you and I love you.”
“I love you too. It is just so scary.”
“I know. I promise that one day we will be back together.” Charlie declared.
“Promise.” She said.
“I promise. Now go, I have to get back.” Charlie said.
Isabella got out of the car and stood on the curb. Charlie placed the car in drive and pulled off, but he couldn’t help but look back and when he did he saw her waving goodbye. As tears flowed down his face, he hoped that he had done the right thing.