She rushed out the door, not sure about what would be outside. After all, it wasn’t her in command in this dream. Or was she?
“ Use your imagination…:” was ringing in her head and she thought of a large, open meadow of poppies, gently sloping towards a patch of forest in the distance. In her mind, she opted for daylight, hoping that she would more easily trace Tyler running wild. Tyler was the one who embodied mindless fear and she was determined to slow him down and try to talk some sense with him.
Her feet delved into the carpet of grass and the blazing red flowers swayed aside gently, leaving her to run freely. The girl was following the hidden trail of footsteps left by the bulky man. Her mind’s eyes were constantly detecting the imprint of angry touch in the ground. Soon , she saw his dark frame with its glowing outline moving forward in short, heavy jumps. He noticed her presence after a while and stopped, turning back.
-What?!-he shouted at her. What do you want?! Why are you following me?!! You said you don’t want to remember me! Go back then and leave me alone! Aarrrgh!!!
His feral growl sent a shiver through Kai’s spine. Tyler raised his hands in despair and flames erupted from the tip of his fingers. He smashed his fist on the ground, setting the summer grass on fire, then he resumed his run. A wall of flames and choking smoke rose in the air, startling the girl. The wave of scorching heat pushed her back and she staggered and fell on her back. She summoned a rain cloud and the pouring rain extinguished the fire. Kai stood up, assessing the situation: a large , black, smoldering trail cut in the colorful meadow showed the way of Tyler. Swallowing her tears, the girl rushed to catch him from behind.
“No, I don’t remember you…The one who echoes inside me has a light that I feel so close to me…But if Joren speaks the truth, I must embrace you too, Tyler because you are part of the whole of the same person!”
I was running breathless, my heart threatening to break out of my chest and my own anger was gone. Tyler’s frightening violence wasn’t scaring anymore. I knew that I have to win his trust, no matter how crazy that might sound. That boiling rage was in fact his vulnerability. I could see him a few steps ahead, banging and smashing trees and bushes, bringing havoc in this imaginary world. He knew I was there, close to him. If only I could read his mind….
-Tyler!-I’ve heard myself calling. Please, stop and talk to me! Help me to remember….-I pleaded, hoping to reach him.
He turned abruptly, ready to fight me but I wouldn’t budge. I stared silently at him , holding his gaze. As the fire of madness was slowly subsiding, I recognized the dark brown eyes I knew already well. Tyler tilted his head incredulously.
-You want to remember….me?-he asked in a husky voice. His eyes narrowed in distrust. -Why would you do that?-he continued, watching me closely.
I breathed out with a sigh. “ Don’t screw it, girl!” I thought. “ Listen to your heart!” I did.
-Because one cannot love the whole until it learns about the parts. It would be a lie and That would only lead to more pain and deception. Please, let’s stop for a moment and talk. I want to understand. I want to remember you.
He scrutinized me for a while, fighting with his long worn mistrust, shadows running wild over his face. But his eyes were gradually clearing and his gaze was softening, pushing back the flaming madness. His whole body was convulsing, torn apart by his inner conflict, his fist clenching, his chest heavily rising….then subsiding with painful sighs. Locked inside the fragile human frame, a wild ocean was rising with thundering noise, pummeling the shores of the tormented soul. It was an epic battle I was witnessing and all I could do was to embrace him in my mind, holding him close with all my might, hoping to make that tempest subside. It did, eventually. Tyler slumped on a heap of grass, muttering:
-The constant fights brought the marriage to an end and fragilized Jordan’s inner balance.Heshe was very much attached to her father but she was left with her mom. Over the years, the crack between child and mother deepened, growing into a dizzying depth. On the tip of that accusing finger, still haunting our host’s day and night, there’s evil determination for control, triggering each time the deep seated conflict between the two of them. I was born out of that: I am Jordan’s shield and revenge-he concluded, his voice now only faint whisper.
Kai watched as Tyler’s contours were fading with each word. In the end, as the echoes of the man’s voice were fading into the wind, all that was left on the heap of grass was a small, peacefully sleeping child. The girl picked him up gently and carefully moving through the sea of poppies spotted grass, she returned into the house. Joren was waiting for her in the door. She led Kai in the hind room and they both tucked the little boy in bed. Kai placed à kiss on his forehead before leaving.
-Sleep well, Jordie….-she murmured. You’re safe.
Early in the morning, she pensively ran her fingers through the strand of hair with burned tips.Ignited by Tyler’s anger, the flames have left a clear mark, reminding Kai that Jordan’s dream and her reality were merging into a new one.
She wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when she looked in the mirror that morning. “Oh, nothing unusual!” -she thought. “Same old me, same sleepy eyes and messy hair…” she sighed with à tad of disappointment. She grimaced at herself and laughed off the twinge of regret.
“What were you expecting anyway? A pair of horns?”
She splashed a generous amount of icy water on her face to get back to reality. She had too many things to do that day; there was no place of aimless dreaming and fantasies. She scrubbed her face with the towel and combed her hair, leafing in mind through her daily chores. One final trust of the comb and she was ready. She checked again her image in the mirror and froze.
-Hello, stranger!-she said. Though not so obvious for others, the changes were there. After all, she had already lost two layers of her daily armor. There was a new light in her eyes, a playful easiness in her expression and her hair was wearing the loving touch of an invisible hand. She tilted her head, assessing the changes. Tam-tadam….something…someone was beating inside her chest. The echo of a mysterious heart.
– Hush, hush, my heart! Not now!-she whispered and hurried to dress up. Reality was claiming her for now.
I landed at dawn, exhausted from the lengthy flight. All I could see from above was a green patch of grass. The space around was filled with a gold tinted, pink mist. The sun was greeting à new day.
-You must be tired and hungry-said the pleasant mezzo-soprano voice and a tall woman emerged before me. And you need a pair of shoes too-she added with a smile, looking at my bare feet. Come, let’s go inside!
Inside? I followed her through the door, the one that was opening in the wall of haze. It was leading to a cozy room and I slumped in a comfy chair. Moments later, my host returned ,carrying à small tray with what looked like breakfast.
-Hot chocolate and brownies for you! And these- she said, handing me à pair of shoes-I think they belong to you. Our mutual friend, the Magician left them yesterday- she added with a smile.
-By the way-she continued, I am Joren. You’re Kai, isn’t it?
-Yes…-I mumbled. Are you….like the Magician?
My question sounded utterly stupid but couldn’t find a better way to put it. Was she another “piece” of that core he was telling me in the forest? She felt so different! She was à tall and majestic woman, with long, raven-black hair combed into an elaborate coiffure. Her skin was tanned and her high cheekbones were hinting about Native descent. She had the same dark-brown eyes as the Magician but her gaze was somehow different. Joren’s appearance was that of à protective goddess and in her eyes I was reading benevolence and wisdom.
-I am the Guardian of the core-she said simply. You can always call me when you need. Now, take your time ! I’ll be back.
For a moment I felt like à schoolgirl and hid my embarrassment in the cup of hot drink. She left and I must have dozed off because when I woke up, the light was turning amber and I had a blanket on my knees. Then à sharp cry tore the silence, making me jump from my seat.
The girl stormed out of the room, looking for the source of the angry, loud shouts. Who was shouting and where was Joren? She ended up in a narrow corridor. The noise was coming behind the door of the room at the end of it.
-No!!!I am not listening anymore! Leave me alone!! This is me! This is who I am! I am not you! I am not what you want me to be!! I am who I say that I am and I had enough of you smothering me!!!
The owner of the powerful voice was clearly upset. Joren’s calming, soft spoken words followed the shouts.
-She’s not here, my dear. You can relax. See? It was just a bad dream.
-No, no, no!!! I saw her! She was pointing her finger at me ! She was trying to bring me to my knees as she always does! But I won’t wait till she’s catching me!
The final sentence was shouted in thunderous voice and the door opened with à loud bang. À fiery creature rushed in the corridor, stopping before the stunned Kai. The bulky man was almost ceiling high and with his glowing, weavering contours he was the embodiment of anger. An all consuming fire was burning inside his dark-brown eyes; he looked at the girl and smirked. The flow of pain mixed with rage coming from him was overwhelming and Kai felt the hair rising on the back of her neck.
Oh! The pain, the burning pain oozing from each crack of the shattered soul! The bitterness thickening into bile, rushing through his veins, pushing aside the warmth of the blood….She stood there, in the eye of the emotional storm emanating from him, trying to find strength and support inside herself, in that deep hidden sunny smile…He bent over her, sneering:
-So…You don’t remember me, ha?!
À wave of dark madness rose from behind him, like à shadow, ushering away the light. Kai gazed in the eyes of the raging man, her hand pressing upon her heart. For à moment, she felt like crying, screaming and running wild but she swallowed down everything.
-If I remember someone, it’s not you!-she said .
He growled and pushed her aside, leaving the place. Kai turned to Joren who was quietly closing the door behind her.
-What ….Who was this?
-He was the embodiment of the inner demons. He is emerging each time nightmare visits the core. He’s its reaction of defense but we must bring him back before he hurts our host! I need your help, Kai! I must stay here, trying to keep the core asleep until you bring back its fears. But be careful! He is dangerous!
She embraced me, whispering in my ears:
“ Use your imagination and let your heart guide you!”
She slipped back into the room and closed the door.
“I will-I thought. My heart is my only compass.” I felt my armor crack, leaving another layer of my insecurities behind. I hurried to the entrance door. I had an emergency to solve.
We live in a fast changing world, one that doesn’t seem to allow us to stop for a moment and breathe. There’s almost no time for that. I can vouch for it, because I was born and raised in a former communist country and in 1989 only à very few in our country had a PC1 or 2. Then Revolution came and we opened the gates to the new world. And we changed. A lot. And so did our language to.
By the time my children grew up, the official Dictionary of Romanian Language was full of novelties, may of them coming from English language via computers. Of course, not all the additions are making everybody happy. There seem to be some sort of carelessness nowadays in using language. A kind of laziness in creating nice, well built sentences. We read less, we write less but we talk a lot. Language changes accordingly to the necessities of communication. I am not desperate about it. I know that despite the growing tendency for practical attitude, the need for artful beauty never dies. It’s in our fabric as species.
One of the domains where groundbreaking changes have started is that of gender diversity. Though we are only at the beginning of unraveling the secrets of our own gender identity as species, it’s certain that this is a normal and natural feature, just like the color of the eyes or the shape of the ear. It comes with the territory and it’s there with us right from our birth. Then when it comes to define ourselves, a right each of one needs and deserves, current language seem to lack the necessary pieces. So something has to be done, words needs to be created, to be adapted to give everyone a chance to express its own uniqueness. Of course, as usual not everyone is happy with the outcome. It’s almost funny to see people who can express themselves without difficulties, arguing over the right of those for whom there’s no such existing tool of expression and communication.
I am not amused. I am sad. Language is for all of us and ignorance and prejudice are not qualities. This is why I have decided to write this post.
Here is the link to the article in the title : https://niume.com/post/333386/Unpopular Opinion:They Pronouns. It belongs to a lovely young writer who expressed, with genuine sincerity and good will, her own mixed feelings about these changes.
Here is my answer to her : “… Language is a living tool that belongs to all of us and it serves each and everyone for the necessary communication with others. As a living tool, it is shaped by the users, it is enriched by creators of language or by the necessities of diversifying activities. You can imagine Shakespeare’s shock if he would suddenly wake up to our times. Maybe he would think that we have ruined the language he loved and mastered. So, though the plural you “hate” might sound odd for now, it is a first try to adapt the existing tools to a reality that is finally getting its deserved, rightful spotlight. I am Romanian and our language, like all the Latin ones, is gendered so it’s even more difficult to adapt our language to the necessity of gender diversity. But I am working on it, along with others who know that everyone deserves a proper pronoun. And while you are annoyed by the “odd plural that is a singular”, languages like my native one have their own problems adapting words coming from….English, for instance. But we do it because this is the way language works: bridging people…”
Well, the beautiful, rich and versatile English language offers alternatives for this problem. I first encountered such a solution in reading the English translation of a wonderful, mind opening book : “The Cage of Zeus” by Sayuri Ueda. It was reading the book that I had the chance to acomodate my mind with the Spivak gender neutral pronouns. It was….strange at first, then while becoming captured by the world of the novel, I became familiar with this new way of expression. I have seen both the practical and the beautiful side of gender neutral pronouns.
You can read more here on Spivak gender neutral pronouns: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OuKRxkhWQcXnQmehj7Yd9L34AEkjXY8f6DRmvmClbWQ/edit
So, all I can say is that we all should work on easing the way to a proper, clear and true communication. We should work on building bridges between each other. Give language the chance to become such a bridge. Don’t hate! Create!
Once upon a time there was a young man who was living in a small village, up in the high hills. He was a gentle, pleasant young man, with a loving heart. And since he came to the world in a golden autumn morning, they called him Sanjiv.
Sanjiv grew to be a dreamer. With his heart filled with love, his easily flying spirit and keen eyes for beauty, he soon started to turn his dreams into words, then he turned those words into verses. Each day when he finished his daily chores around the house, he would go to sit under the old fig tree in the yard and write another poem on a smooth leaf or on a silky petal of a flower. He then would read these poems to his friends, his family, the people passing by, or simply to the singing birds sitting in the tree above him.
People were listening to him, the return to their work or to their home, shaking their head and smiling.
-Hear, hear!-the y exclaimed. What a poem has our Sanjiv written again! This boy is such a poet!
But the young man with sparkling eyes and hazelnut hair didn’t mind them laughing at him. He kept weaving his poems of morning dew and warming sunshine, of seas of grass and boisterous winds in the hills. Birds and butterflies followed him in the meadows and stars were springing from his footsteps in the night.
One day, love knocked on the door of his heart. On his way to the river that was flowing outside the village, he saw a beautiful girl sitting on the riverbank, braiding flowers in her long, night- black hair. She was so delicate and graceful that for a moment the young man was left breathless. If he was to describe her, all the words coming to his mind would’ve sounded hollow and senseless. He stepped back, not to frighten her and returned home with an aching heart.
This encounter took place many times in the following days, and slowly, the two of them started to talk like good friends. Amrita enjoyed Sanjiv’s poems and she smiled a lot, listening to them. After awhile it became obvious to everyone that they have fallen in love with each other. But when the young man was asking the girl where did she live, she just smiled, pointing somewhere up the highest hill. Oh, the young poet didn’t care much about that! All he needed was to see her day by day. He could barely sleep at night, waiting for the dawn to lit up the skies. He finished his house chores at high speed and filling his pocket with a handful of poetry written on rose petals, he hurried to the river to meet Amrita.
Then once, when he overslept a bit after a hard work’s day, he arrived at their usual meeting place and didn’t find her. He desperately looked around, then up in the sky and he saw a dark cloud carrying away his beloved. She called his name and he ran over hills and meadows and ravines, calling her name but the cloud was faster and disappeared in the skies, leaving Sanjiv alone and heartbroken.
-How can I live without her?-he cried out desperately. I see no beauty anymore and my poems have dried out. I must find her! I must find her!
With the blessing and wishes of good luck from his family, friends and neighbors, Sanjiv began his quest for Amrita. He walked a long way ahead, up and down the hills, the mountains and valleys, he passed through villages and cities, day and night, asking everyone about her. But no one could help him because they didn’t know where she was taken. That dark cloud has seemingly vanished into nothingness. Many days had passed this way, perhaps even a year, when he arrived at the entrance of a dark forest that encircled the feet of the highest mountain ever seen.
Sarat boldly took the narrow pathway leading through the massive columns of the trees and by evening he reached a small clearing with à tidy little house in its center. There was light inside, so he knocked on the door. The door opened and an elderly woman stood before him, looking at him questioningly.
-Good evening, venerable mother-said the young man with a bow. Could you please help me? I need some guidance in this place.
She smiled at him and she opened wide the door of the house, gesturing to let him in.
-Good evening, my son. Come inside and have some rest. Your clothes carry the dust of many long roads and your shoes are worn out. It’s been awhile since I had company, so while we eat dinner, you can tell me your story. Then we’ll see what can be done.
The dinner was delicious and Sanjiv told his host all about his quest for Amrita. The elderly lady listened carefully, then she said.
-I know your beloved, my son and you are in the right place. But first of all, you need à good sleep. Then in the morning, I’ll give you the necessary advice to find her.
Sanjiv thanked her and for the first time after so much time, he went to sleep with new hope in his heart. The next morning, after a generous breakfast, he was drinking à tea with his venerable host when she took out à pair of new shoes and gave him, saying:
-Take these shoes, Sanjiv. They are magical and they will carry you further much easier. In the evening, you will reach the house of my younger sister. I wrote her a letter and she will help you on. Walk in peace, my son and don’t give up on your dream!
The young man thanked her and took again the narrow path. Just as he’s been told, another little house was standing before him and the lady inhabiting it was kind and generous too. She listened to his story, shaking her head thoughtfully and in the morning, she gave him a walking stick and a ball of silver thread.
-You will need this stick to climb the mountain. Take care of that ball of thread because you might need it once you arrive atop. Walk in peace and give my regards to our younger sister! She will be your host tonight.
Sanjiv walked with renewed hope in his heart and as the night was spreading its velvet wings upon the land, he was standing before the third sister. She was the youngest of all and she had some playful sparks in her dark brown eyes. She treated him well and she asked him to recite her some of his poems.
-You have embarked on a very difficult mission, young man. The girl you love is the daughter of the Spirit of the Mountain. She’s been engaged since her childhood to the King of the Clouds but she rebelled against the will of his father and ran away. The dark cloud was sent by her fiance to find her and it brought her back here. But she was adamant in refusing him. Now, her father locked Amrita in a floating tower up high, where no one can reach her. Knowing the Spirit of the Mountain, I would say that your attempt is futile. But listening to your poems, I see some hope. Now get some sleep and we’ll talk again in the morning.
When the morning broke, Sanjiv jumped to his feet, eager to get close to his lost love. After breakfast, the youngest sister gave him à rose and a pomegranate.
-Here, take these -she said. This rose has 100 petals and each of it can carry à poem without withering. The pomegranate will feed you all along your final quest. Good luck, young poet! Follow your heart!
Sanjiv thanked her, bowing respectfully and then took the pathway till he left the forest and found himself at the feet of the mountain. It was a sky high mountain of glass, steep and slippery, impossible to climb without the special shoes and the walking stick he got from the sisters. It took him 3 days and 3 night to reach the top but in the morning of the fourth day , he found himself standing on a large and empty plateau, covered by grass. He raised his head, looking for the tower. It was there, up high. The golden building reminded him of a golden cage built to hold captive a precious singing bird, a beautiful but sad place and a cruel endeavour.
Sanjiv sighed. How would he get up there? Suddenly, the ball of silver thread fell off his pocket. The young man took it and threw it up, towards the sky. The ball flew, unfolding its thread, until it reached the tower and fell inside an open window, sticking to the floor. A young girl peeked out that window, looking down where Sanjiv was standing.
-Who are you and what do you want? -she asked.
-I am Sanjiv, the poet and I am looking for my beloved Amrita. I came for her from faraway. Is she there with you, my lady?
-Hush, there, young man!-said the girl. If her father finds out about you, we will be all in grave danger. He has erased her memories, hoping that she will submit to his will but he did not succeed. I don’t think she knows who you are anymore. I’m sorry that you came so far, but…
-Stop! Listen to me! I’ll send you up a poem through this silver thread. Please, leave it next to Amrita’s bed.
Sanjiv took of a petal of the rose and wrote a poem upon it, the put it on the silver thread. The girl took up the petal and released the thread. She placed the red petal next to her mistress, without saying a word. When Amrita woke up, she found the petal and the poem written on it. She read it carefully and she smiled for the first time after so many days. The poem was beautiful and it was warming up her saddened heart. She placed the petal in a crystal jar, hiding it carefully.
Down on the plateau, Sanjiv took a seed of pomegranate and went to sleep, thinking about Amrita. He followed this ritual 99 days, sending up 99 red petals of poetry and love, recounting the story of love he and Amrita had shared at the river. Each day, the memories of the beautiful girl cleared and returned bit by bit. She could hardly believed her ears when her maiden told her about Sanjiv. On the hundredth day, she opened the window and looked down to the plateau. She saw Sarat tying up the last petal of the rose.
-Sanjiv! My beloved Sanjiv! I’m here!-she exclaimed.
-Amrita!-shouted the young man from below. I finally found you!
But the Spirit of the Mountain heard them talking and came in a hurry, angered by the daring young man and his rebellious daughter.
-Who are you?!-boomed his voice-And how dare you trespass my land?! What do you want from my daughter, you Earthling?
But Sanjiv wasn’t easily scared. He bowed curtly and confronted the Spirit.
-Sire, I came here from far away because I love Amrita and I know that she loves me to. I might not be a prince or a king, but my heart is pure and my love sincere. So I ask you to let us fulfil our love and release your daughter from her prison!
-Hmmmm-growled the Spirit. You’re quite bold for an Earthling. If you want to free your beloved, so be it! But you have to build a ladder for her to come down! If you can’t do it, she’ll remain à prisoner and I will crush you like a vermin!
Hearing the sentence of her father, Amrita burst into tears. She feared for Sanjiv’s life. She pleaded with him to leave her and save his own life. But love is a powerful magic and in an instant, the young man found the solution.
-Amrita!-he shouted. Bring the rose petal poems and let them fly!
She rushed to her room, took the crystal jar and went to the window. She released the blazing red petals to the earth. Sanjiv tied the last petal to the silver thread and then, one after the other, the 99 petals stick together in a ladder connecting earth and sky. Each poem, each word connected in a strong rope and the young man stepped forward, holding it in place.
-Come, my love!-he shouted. You can descend now! I’m waiting for you!
The moment Amrita put her feet on the first step, the love connecting their hearts ran through the ladder of poems, making it even stronger. The girl descended safely, right in the arms of her loving poet.
It was the turn of the Spirit of the Mountain to recognize his defeat and to respect his promise. He gave his blessing to the love that has proved itself so powerful and from that day, Sanjiv and Amrita lived happily together in the little, peaceful village up in the hills. Their love is remembered till these days. The legend says that all the poets will find one day the love that will stay with them forever.
Writing Fantasy started with drawing and dreaming in my case. This is one of my few drawings where all has begun. In time, my pencil decided to write instead of drawing…
Lost in a world that lies inside, somewhere where dreams are born and fade away on the shore of bubbling light and inside the cracks where Reality seeps in, calling for me…
My characters constantly carry a certain melancholy , the yearning for faraway spaces, a feeling of lingering autumn mist.
Before I can verbalize my thoughts I have moods and feelings of something trying to get my attention. A moment of weirdness, definitely….