“Hello,” King David said as he stepped out from behind the drum kit. He was glowing bright white. Seven golden rings encircled his head. “My name is David Ben-Jesse.”
“I—uh—I’m—” Avi stuttered. Zariah giggled gently.
“Yes, my granddaughter has told me all about you, Avi,” David said. “You have made quite an impression on her.”
“Your—granddaughter, Sir?” Avi said. “Do you mean Adelaide?” Avi asked, cautiously stepping further into the room. He glanced at Zariah, who too waited for David's response.
“No,” David said. “Well, Adelaide is a descendant, but no, she's not who I'm talking about.” Avi's eyes bounced, trying to catch the meaning from Zariah. His eyes widened, and his mouth fell open.
“You mean—” Avi said, looking at Zariah. “You’re his granddaughter?” She pressed her lips together and shrugged.
“You’ve met my Son, Eliah,” David said.
“Eliah’s your dad?” Avi asked Zariah. Again she shrugged.
“What, she didn’t tell you all this?” David asked.
“We have our secrets,” Zariah said, but her stare didn’t break from Avi. Her voice was like silk, like the harmony he had heard from the courtyard. He slowly put the pieces together.
“Was that you guys singing a few minutes ago—” Avi said. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping, I just couldn’t help but—”
"I can speak from experience; eavesdropping can get you into trouble,” King David said. “But in this case, I'm glad you did.”
“I eavesdropped on your singing once,” Zariah said in Avi’s direction. She put down the instrument she was holding and moved toward him. He froze, not sure what the correct etiquette with the King’s granddaughter was. She wrapped her arms around him and whispered in his ear. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
He hugged her back, more mechanically than he meant to. He couldn’t help but feel King David’s eyes watching them both. “I’m glad too,” Avi said.
“I’m hoping you can help us with something, Avi,” David said when Zariah released him from her hug.
“Sure,” he said, now beginning to relax a little.
“We're working on some possible songs to sing for opening day of the festival,” David said.
“Possible songs?” Avi asked.
“Usually, we don't go by the sheet music, but I still like to make a plan.”
“I see,” Avi said.
“There's a part in this one that doesn't feel right,” Zariah said in Avi's direction. “I mean, it's good, but it feels like it's missing something.”
“Zariah tells me you have some skill in this area.”
“Not compared to you, my lord,” Avi said.
“Skills are not given to be compared; they are to complement each other's,” David said. He pointed to Zariah's instrument and said, “Here's the tune.”
Zariah plucked the highest string, and they both sang once more. The music swirled around the room. Avi felt like the melody was lifting him off the floor and was carrying him to a faraway place. Zariah and David sang a hauntingly, beautiful harmony that interwove in unexpected ways. After a moment, they suddenly stopped.
“That’s the part,” Zariah said. “It just feels like it’s missing something.”
Avi opened his eyes. It took him a moment to pull himself from the dewy melody as if it had stuck to him like honey.
“So, what do you think, Avi,” David said.
“Well, It's exquisite,” Avi said. He was not eager to give criticism to the King of Israel. Though he could feel the missing piece in the precise part they had mentioned. Once again, Avi closed his eyes and listened to the song, which was still playing in his mind.
“Come on, Avi, you’re among friends. Lay it on us,” David said.
“Ok. On this part,” Avi hummed the melody. “Your harmony is implying a minor third, but I think a full diminished seventh would make the major resolve feel more satisfying,” Avi said, looking at Zariah for approval.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, I’m just singing what Grandpa showed me,” Zariah said. They both looked to King David. He was staring at the floor, seemingly deep in thought.
“Yeah, you’re right,” David said. “We could stack a second minor third to get the diminished. But we can’t do an a Capella seventh with only two voices. We’d need to make it a trio.”
A silence followed just long enough for the crickets outside to be heard. It was a moment before Avi realized they were both staring at him. His eyes bounced between them.
“Oh, a trio, now wait a minute,” Avi said. “I—I’m not—I can’t.”
“It was your idea,” Zariah said.
“Yeah—but—I—” Avi stumbled.
“Avi,” David said. “I’m not going to command you to, but I get the feeling that it would very much disappoint my granddaughter if you don’t sing with us tomorrow. Would you consider it?”
Avi gulped loudly. His nerves were screaming, and his mind was racing. “Obviously, I'd love to but—"
“Wait,” David said. “Don’t answer right now. I’m sure it will work out. Who knows, maybe we’ll sing something else entirely.” He paused for a moment, cocking his head as if listening to a far off sound. “As for me, I have other arrangements to make.” King David stepped toward them both. He patted Avi’s shoulder. “It was great to meet you, Avi.”
He then leaned down and gave his granddaughter a kiss on the top of her head. She hugged him. He then walked toward the door. “Diminished seventh, good idea,” he mumbled to himself as he disappeared down the hall. They could hear him humming through the corridor.
Once King David was gone, Avi turned back to Zariah. His eyes were as wide as the sea. He put his hands on his head and whispered a mock scream, “Are you serious?” Zariah laughed and returned his amazement with a sheepish grin.
“Well, I have no more secrets now,” she said.
“I get it,” he said as he smiled. “Your secrets were way bigger than mine.”
“I'm so glad you're here,” she said. He traced the perfect lines of her face with his stare. He was more than glad to be there.
“Hey!” she said. “You want to see the temple from the tallest tower in Jerusalem? It’s amazing on a moonlit night.”
“Of course,” he said. Within seconds they were out the door, stealing away into the lunar illumination.