The Lost Butterfly-a story of aliens, love and humans (1f)

Chapter 1f.

Winter was setting over the city step by step. The gloomy days of endless autumn rains were over. Day by day, frozen white stars showered from the skies, enveloping the surroundings in a blissful blanket of cold silver.

The shopping madness already erupted, the furious in and out sweeping through the city. Fuyuki’s works sold better than ever, raising his confidence and making his loved ones proud; yet the oncoming Christmas made the young man a little bit anxious. Like so many other things from everyday life, this particular event was a first for Fuyuki. Since Yoshiasu had a very crowded schedule at work he relied entirely on Angela. Luckily, she enjoyed doing things together with the young artist. She looked upon him like on a younger brother. So they bravely worked themselves through the necessary shopping and set all the details for their trip to the mountains. Fuyuki was more than happy to leave the city. The constant swarm of the town proved to be tiring. He needed a break and some personal time with Yoshiasu. And then, there was the problem of the Christmas presents; the small things for the others were already packed up. The butterfly necklace he had designed for Angela was almost ready. There was only one person left but it was the most important one for Fuyuki. He was at loss; he knew that Yoshiasu had everything money could buy, everything he needed. Well, Angela helped him pick a fine, warm pullover but it didn’t feel like a real gift. Fuyuki buried his worries deep inside, hoping that he would come up with something more personal until Christmas.

Days went by and the moment of the departure finally came. Everybody was excited. Yoshiasu was well aware that for him and Fuyuki this holiday could prove to be  a real challenge. It was their first public appearance as a couple. It was also about assuming their identity while among their friends there were  girls still holding some hope about  handsome Yoshiasu. It was a big step for Fuyuki to meet so many strangers in such a particular moment of the year; Yoshiasu was determined to keep him safe from any harm or malicious pressure. He was happy that Angela would accompany them, despite the fact that her fiancé, George was stuck abroad and couldn’t join them. They were about to meet at the New Year’s Eve Party. George was a fine guy, reliable and open minded, deeply in love with Angela. Yoshiasu hoped that he’ll accept Fuyuki easily.

Yoshiasu and Fuyuki arrived at the inn at the early hours of the 24-th of December. The landscape was spectacular and the snow was sparkling and pristine. The morning chill put some color in their cheeks. After the heavy snowfall the day before, the morning was clear and sunny. Reflecting on the ocean of snow, the light was overwhelming, blurring all the contours, seeping into every crack and corner, chasing away the bluish shadows. Amazed by the sighting, Fuyuki watched in awe the unfolding of this natural beauty. His unusual lilac eyes captured the light like two translucent pools reflecting the endless skies.

They settled in their room and went out for a walk. The rest of the group was due to come in the afternoon. Angela was arriving with the crowd; she wanted to stop for a visit to her parents who lived in a small city nearby.

As they crossed the lobby, Fuyuki noticed the Christmas tree centered in the main room. It was a two meters high, richly decorated fir tree. Fuyuki walked closer and gently ran his fingers over the branches. Sudden memories clouded his face; Yoshiasu stepped behind him, touching his shoulder.

-Do you remember anything, Fuyuki?- he asked in a reassuring voice.

-I…I remember the excitement of the expectation and that…it felt good. My memories are mostly feelings, not facts. I was very young at that time…

-Don’t get upset-said Yoshiasu and took him by the hand. Let’s go out and I’ll tell you about my ups and downs with Santa.

Fuyuki shook away the setting gloom and followed his friend. The snowy landscape had a definite appeal for both of them. They roamed all around, stumbling from time to time over a lighter heap of frozen stars.  They made snowballs and competed in throwing them faraway, they pushed each other down the small slopes and happily rolled over the fluffy sparkling blanket.  They fooled around until they tired; they finally stopped, lying down in the snow, panting from exhaustion and excitement.

From the corner of his eyes Yoshiasu watched Fuyuki smiling happily. He rose, bent over the younger man and kissed him. Fuyuki encircled his neck with his arms and kissed him back. Yoshiasu’s hand moved along Fuyuki’s body as their kissing deepened. They fell back breathless and stood there, gaze lost in the endless azure above. Moments later they heard the sound of the arriving cars; they stood up, shook the excess of snow clinging to their clothes and returned to the inn hand in hand.

Angela was just stepping out of the car when they got there. She affectionately kissed them both and asked them playfully:

-Have you already started the party?

They laughed, picked up her luggage and followed her in. Everybody got their room and after a while the lobby filled with young men and women eager to relax and start the party. The food was already on display and it proved to be delicious. They were all hungry and slaloming with a plate in hand eased the connecting between the 30 some people.

Angela chuckled and kicked Yoshiasu with the elbow from time to time, as she caught various people staring at Fuyuki. Holding his loved one by his shoulders, the computer analyst introduced him to each and every one of his friends and their companions. He did it easily and naturally, without ostentation and even the most jealous girls had to admit that Yoshiasu’s choice was…charming. As things settled, fun took over. The laughter and joy bubbled and the party turned out to be a real success. It was well past midnight when they finally returned to their rooms.

Yoshiasu showered and sat on the top of the bed with a small glass of wine, waiting for Fuyuki to shower. The room was pleasantly warm as deep cold settled outside the windows. The night sky was teaming with stars, the light above mirroring the endless glitter of the ocean of snow below. Fuyuki sat next to Yoshiasu and took the other glass. He took a small sip and looked into his friend’s eyes. The older man furrowed his brows questioningly:

-What’s wrong, Fuyuki?

The younger man sighed.

-It’s about your Christmas present…

-I’m not a child, Fuyuki. You don’t have to worry…Besides, as long as I have you, I need nothing else.

Fuyuki put his glass aside and sat face to face with Yoshiasu.

-It’s all I can give you…-he said and his voice broke.

Yoshiasu watched him intently; there was a warm light glittering in the amethyst mirrors and a slight tremble in the young man’s body. Yoshiasu  gently touched his face and the warmth of Fuyuki’s body seeped through his fingertips, making his heart run wild.

-Fuyuki, are you sure?-he asked in a restrained voice.

Fuyuki closed his eyes, letting the bathrobe slip off his shoulders. Yoshiasu laid him down and kissed him deeply. Fuyuki’s breath hitched as Yoshiasu moved down, kissing the soft curve of his neck. Senses and emotions flared up in their embrace and love moved forward, breaking down the barriers of painful memories. Fuyuki opened to Yoshiasu totally and unrestrained, seeking the magic of feelings he sought for so long. Their love making brought them high and when they reached the climax, it left them dizzy with elation.

Released from anxieties and overwhelmed by his feelings, Fuyuki was quietly sobbing, curled up in Yoshiasu’s arms. Yoshiasu squeezed him lovingly and caressed him until the tears dried and the younger man fell asleep, protected by his lover.

They woke up late, fulfilled and more in love than ever. They quickly showered and went downstairs where their friends were already opening the presents. As they were the last ones to descend, eyes turned towards them for a moment. Just like Angela, people noticed that there was a new light in Yoshiasu and Fuyuki’s eyes and a certain glow coming from inside. Even the most skeptical ones had to admit that the signs of LOVE were unmistakable in the appearance of the two young men.

So everyone returned to the unwrapping of packages and Angela greeted her two best friends.

-I have a feeling that you’ve already got your present-she chuckled.

-Do we have to admit on that?- asked Yoshiasu and they all laughed.

They sat on the floor together and started the unwrapping of the presents along with the others.

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The Invisibles-Chapter 9.

-We have to use this summer to train for the assault against Asterius. His guards are powerful and loyal to him and they have also ferdogs that can inflict lethal wounds during the fight-stated Satoru at the meeting of the community.

-I could train more Shadowcats till then!-offered Galen, a tall and lean Changer, with feline features. They are not afraid of the ferdogs.

-I will pick a team of helpers and we will teach the fight techniques to anyone willing to join-added a bulky man. My friend Ogren has already volunteered!

Satoru nodded approvingly.

-Great! I agree with these action plans but we must keep in mind that things might end up nasty t and the ones left here in the forest camp must be protected. For now, the training will be the first stage of the preparations. But we need to find a way to get inside the Citadel unnoticed. I need every person to come forward with its idea, no matter how improbable-sounding one and share it. There has to be a weak point in the protection of the city even after the measures ordered by Asterius!

~~~~~

Up in the Citadel, the High Commander of the White Guards was overjoyed by the success of his play put in action. It reached a shocking, bloody end, delivering a hard blow to both his enemies: those who were helping the Invisibles and the Silver Tree. It muffled even the discontent inside the Council of Elders where Asterius knew that he had some opponents. But no one knew that he was slowly damaging the Silver Tree to determine it to grow a seed, one that he would then plant and manipulate for his purposes. His loyal followers, the Guards under his command and his nephew, Rolf Asterianus, they all looked up at him as to the savior of the Citadel.

He smirked at the thought of his future power and poured himself a glass of heavy red wine.

-Cheers…to me!-he said to his reflection in the window glass. Beware, you crippling and you, monsters! Your days are soon to be cut short….

But while Asterius was celebrating his victory, Satoru and the outcasts were busy in creating the plan of the attack. Savian’s thorough knowledge of the Citadel was of great help and they were searching every inch of the white walls to find the weak points. The data gathered through the air mail brought by the pigeons was used to create the map of the White Guardians’ shifts. The pressure of time was almost tangible; the great damage suffered by the Silver Tree was raising the question of how much it will resist and how its demise might affect the land and every living thing. There was nothing similar described in their known history and people were fearing the worst. Cora was keeping in touch with the Silver Tree in her dreams, the only time when the Tree, being alone, was confident enough to communicate with her.

And even then, the dark shadow threatening its life was present somehow.

“It’s killing my Tree…”-cried the little, fluffy Spirit. It came today and poured some horrible thing in the water! He said: -You have no escape! This is killing you bit by bit but not before you finish your work! Then the seed will be mine!”

“But who is he?!” -exclaimed Cora.

“Oh, he’s a horrible, horrible person….My Tree is so afraid…You must hurry! I don’t know how much it can resist!”

“Tell the Tree we are almost ready but we need to find the way to get in!”

“ Hurry up…….Pleeease…..-veiled the Spirit, fading inside the red mist.

Cora woke up exhausted and thoughtful. So much to do, so little time for it!

~~~~

The Silver Tree took the message and decided to help with its last remaining strength. All it needed was to finish the silver shell for the Seed and then, dig deep into the ground, find the buried roots of the Moon-thorn bushes and revive them. After Avik’s escape, Asterius ordered people to set the bushes on fire and clear the space next to the walls. But these ancient vegetal monsters had roots far deeper than anyone expected and the Tree sent his last drops of life-giving energy to them. Waking up from their sleep, they responded to the appeal and began to dig their way upward. They grew and grew, extending their strong roots under the walls, until they formed a vegetal network under the Citadel’s protection. All they needed was a moonless night and the signal of the Silver Tree. This was the final message, Cora received in her dream and this was the breakthrough they were waiting for. Soon, it would be the long awaited night and the army of Invisibles and their allies was ready to face the enemy.

The night before the attack, Cora and Satoru found themselves teeming with things unsaid, emotions unshared and confessions delayed for too long. The air was dense around them as they sat on the steps outside the house, hands clutched on the cup of linden flowers tea. Finally, Satoru broke the silence.

-I don’t know how things will work out tomorrow….so I wanted to say something-he said, his voice stranded by emotion.

He stopped for a moment turning to Cora and gently ran his fingers through her hair.

-You are the most beautiful and amazing girl that I have ever seen. I look at you and I can’t believe I am not dreaming. I think I’m in love with you….So, if we manage to safely return tomorrow, would you stay with me…forever?

Overwhelmed, Cora swallowed hard before answering. She set aside the cup and put her arms around the young man’s neck.

-I cannot see myself otherwise but by your side….-she whispered.

He held her close, lovingly…. Up in the skies, night unfolded its wings of stars, shimmering in the magical rhythm of love.

THE PATHWAY

The pathway took off and boldly emerged from the morning mist. We were both a bit nervous as we have left the group and we were heading to an entirely different direction. I could feel the disapproving glances in my back and the murmur of reprobation was carried by the wind to my ears.

We live on a planet of pathways and roads. Each of us has a personally tailored one, a pathway both alive and active, just like the person generating it. The colorful landscapes are crisscrossed by the traces of recent or rediscovered roads; you can find anything from the narrow footpath to the large boulevards, depending on the number and the personality of the pathway-carriers that walked the surface of this special planet. I’ve spent most of my life leading my pathway side by side with others of the thousands of inhabitants of the megapolis,walking day by day between its soaring , fantastic buildings. We didn’t have too many options and we were not making much difference in the turmoil of the city. Still, living here was both safe and comfortable. Oh well, maybe a bit too comfortable for the well disguised rebels we were, me and my pathway. Few of the city dwellers had ever tried to venture outside the perimeter of the buildings. The ones that tried, usually reached the grassland and inevitably turned back in the arms of steel, concrete and glass of our town.

The grassland outside the city was stretching for miles, delving into the blurred horizon where the dark silhouette of a forest was trembling in the light. None of my friends or acquaintances had ever ventured that far. Telltales of dangerous dark depths and monstrous creatures were passed for generations from one another but I was skeptical about the truth of their content.

As I said, my Pathway was just as bored and boisterous as myself. This lukewarm anonymity was becoming tiresome for both of us, so we decided to run away without saying a word. The chosen morning proved to be a cooling early autumn one, with strands of mist crawling lazily in the streets. There were only a few people passing by, still some of them turned curiously after us. The street we had chosen was leading….nowhere, as much as they knew. But for us, it ended abruptly facing a nacreous wall of fog. We both stepped forward, brushing the high stemmed grass and shaking the dewdrops pending on their tips. The Pathway trembled in excitement under my feet and sprang ahead. We were outside the city and inside the unknown.

Moments later, the rising sun hopped higher in the sky, sipping the last scintillating drops of dew. The scenery cleared and filled with sizzling colors. Under the warm touch of the sunlight the silver-green of the grass blades was gradually turning into golden yellow, the grass-ears releasing their tiny grains to the ground while grasshoppers were caught in a frenzy of somersaults. Birds were singing in the skies and under the seemingly endless blue dome, we were running like two crazed spring-bucks. For awhile I wasn’t sure even that my feet were touching the ground as I was riding the speedy ribbon of my Pathway as he was heading towards the towering wall of the forest.

As the day was descending into afternoon, the heat of the sun tempered and the shadows of the trees were leaning more and more towards the field. It wasn’t just a shadow but a constant flow of cold breath emanating from the deep-green, almost black vegetal thick. The forest was growing taller and taller as we approached it, until its silhouette engulfed the last corner of blue sky. The spidery fingers of the trees were pushing the autumn azure away from our reach.

The Pathway stopped abruptly on the rim of the wood. It seemed impenetrable. I was baffled by the fact that I couldn’t find even a faint weed-covered trace of an old pathway passing by. Nothing. All I could see was a dense wall of huge trunks connected by the darkness between them. The canopy was sky high. Baffled and slightly uneasy, we both stopped, pondering if we should follow our way or try another way round. But the wall of vegetation seemed to stretch from left to right indefinitely; the only possible way was through the woods. And it was already getting too late to go back to the city; so we decided to trying our luck walking through the gap opened between two trees. The Pathway moved boldly forward , carrying me as we punctured the barrier of darkness.

Surprisingly there was a faint bluish light inside the forest and for a moment I felt I was under the water. What light could pass through the dense fabric of the canopy was falling in slow motion, dispersing and undulating around us. You would’ve expected a school of fish to emerge behind a tree or to catch a glimpse of a whale swimming gracefully above us.

Looking around, I realised that the forest was not shutting out only the light but it was muffling also the sounds of the outside world. Still, it wasn’t entirely silent. There was an almost imperceptible whisper, surging, receding, surging, receding like the breath of an enigmatic living creature. The more I listened to it, the more eerie it became, sending shivers down my spine. Even my Pathway was feeling nervous, its delicate senses connected to me. I took a deep breath, sending him some reassuring thoughts. Anyway, my curiosity was stronger than my fear.

We jumped over the fallen branches on the forest floor, over the moss covered trunks and the puddles of water soaked fallen leaves. I took a sip of air: it tasted bitter -sweet, like almonds. After awhile,the ground was sloping towards a shallow valley inside the woods. Here, the distance between the trees was becoming wider, lifting some of our anxiety caused by the confined space. We breathed out in relief. Confident, the Pathway sped up and soon, we made our exit into a clearing.

It was a perfect circle on the ground continued by a clear-cut hole made by invisible hands in the dome of sticks and leaves of the canopy. You could see the darkening sky filling with stars. Night was near so we decided to stop here and sleep till the next morning. The Pathway retreated and relaxed at my feet. Curled up on a heap of grass I fell asleep easily. The murmur of the forest was dimming into a lullaby and the air of the night was warm enough to rest comfortably. We were not concerned about wild beasts roaming the place; the forest was visibly devoid of any kind of animal life and you wouldn’t have expected trees to un-root themselves and move away while we sleep. I closed my eyes and drifted away with the waters of the dream….

I jumped from the ground, awakened by a sharp cry that soon turned into an ear-piercing veiling. Uncoiled from its rest, the Pathway was trembling at my feet. Above us, the Moon was turning gradually red; it was the night of the Eclipse and the installing of the Blood Moon was bringing the forest alive. In the thick, honey-like light the shadows of the trees were undulating, pushed from inside by an ancient, long forgotten rhythm, shaking their spidery fingers towards the orange glow above. Caught in the frenzy of tremor, the leaves were cascading on us menacingly. Carried by a sudden wind raised by the twist and turn of the entire forest, the torrents of leaves were pushing us aside, swirling, jumping in the air then falling again towards the forest floor in high speed, like furious vegetal dragons. As the eclipse was reaching its peak, the veiling turned into howling and the whole forest was crying out its pain and fury to the night skies, to the bloody eye of the Universe. So, my friends, if you were wondering where those mythical beasts did disappear from the forest, I tell you: they didn’t. In fact, the Beast was right here all the time, sleeping its thousand years dream. It was this particular night that brought him back to life, shaking off his moss-covered dreams, letting him once again weep over his solitude. The sorrow of the stranded alien, the Forest washed over me and I stumbled, stepping on the roots of a tree. It was slippery and I grabbed the trunk to stop my falling. The touch of bark felt like a lizard’s skin and in a split of à moment, the vegetal giant turned to me….

The Pathway saw it coming and took off , jumping ahead through trees and bushes like a bullet. I crouched and let him carry me, hoping to escape from our pursuer. We smashed into twigs, leaves, branches, thorns and shreds of moss but we kept speeding ahead. We’ve lost the count of minutes and we didn’t even realize that the night was over. The eclipse was long gone and the forest had fallen back under the thousand years enchantment. The shrubbery was thinning before us and light was reigning again beyond the rim of the woods. My faithful companion slowed down its run and we both checked each-other, trying to asses the damages. Surprisingly, we got off this harrowing adventure with only of few scratches and a slightly shaken confidence. But then, we were seeking adventures, weren’t we?

Stopping at the edge of the forest, we watched for a moment the wall of bright light outside. It was almost painful to look at it after so much time spent in the shadow. I’ve sent an encouraging smile to my Pathway and once again, he flew us ahead, puncturing the brightness. We landed on a grassy slope and rolled down chuckling. The veil of warm air was undulating in the valley below but the shimmering contours on the horizon were holding promises of new adventures. We both laughed and stretched our limbs in expectation.

The Pathway jumped forward, carrying me into the light.

THE LAND INSIDE

INTRO:    I have always dreamed of leaving the city behind. I was born and raised in the city but somehow this yearning for losing myself in the open arms of Nature was like a seedling of light that has taken roots inside me from the very early moments of my life. I love and admire the results of human endeavor, the city is comfortable and beautiful and humanity has reached the stars…So why am I so desperate to run and follow the wind on the hills? Why do I miss so badly to walk in the morning dew, in the sea of slowly waving grass, under the dim light of early suns? Why do I need the silent breath of the exhaling land to hide me in the cooling autumn days? What is this creature inside me that feels so caged and who’s rattling the irons of the limiting body? Somebody is sharing with me this fragile shell, somebody’s heart is beating inside mine…Like a butterfly, grown out of its chrysalises, I am struggling to free my wild self and let it fly. So yes, I am closing the door of clear cut lines and precisely set boundaries and I am opening the gates to the unknown. I see nothing before me…but I can feel the call of open spaces and of the high skies above. I’m not a pointless wanderer; there is something, someone in that distant horizon calling out, signaling and the Universe reverberates that call, hoping for an answer…

 

In a world of touchable realities, you need sometimes a protective disguise. An inner world of wildly galloping fantasies is not exactly something to put on display. A person defying well rehearsed and widely accepted role-sets would need a deceptive appearance until it would find the sought freedom.  So, dressed up as a young man, with a backpack loaded with all I might need, I travelled to the remote mountain area where a small cabin was waiting for me. It was situated near the land of Natives and I hoped to get in touch with them and learn their way of harmonious relation with Nature.

Summer is crisp in the mountains and the steep pathway slippery. I climbed for hours through the dense forest, following the narrow road made mostly for deer and mountain goats. Occasionally, I slipped over the lax terrain covered by crawling herbs, the rock slide rumbling down the slope into the abyss I’ve left. My heart was pounding in my chest, I was gasping for breath, silently cursing my need for adventure…Oh, well, city girl on the track…But the place had an undeniable charm with the light filtering through the green canopy in playful dots…There were singing birds orchestrating the symphony of dawn and buzzing, colorful insects warming up in their dance in the light. I laughed off my annoyance and took the road with renewed energy. It paid; soon, the forest thinned and I reached the plateau.  The rock expanded in a generous balcony reaching above the valley bellow. The sound of the rushing river was faintly echoing to this height. The horizon stretched abruptly into a panoramic vision of the entire place. The sun was steadily climbing the ladder of skies, soaking up the thin strands of vapor floating above the land below. I turned to see the cabin; it was there, guarded by the last piece of soaring cliff and the forest that was following me closely. Mission accomplished.

I was waiting for the night. Living in a city deprives you of the real magic of the night skies. The lights we have created are robbing the mysterious beauty of the galactic display. City dwellers seldom look at the skies, even during the day. As I reached adolescence, the feeling of being caged became tangible and so was the need to leave the cocoon. My first encounter with the night skies happened in a remote country side. It was true awe….All the stars came to this first encounter and ever since then, we kept connected. So, here I was…ready to renew the magic.

As the sun was plunging in the thin layer of mist outlining the horizon, the shadows of the night begun their steady crawl to the heights, pushing aside the latest glimpses of light. From cracks and crevices, underneath rocks and boulders, long, spidery shapes of darkness emerged, climbing higher and higher until they conquered the plateau. The bright azure deepened into ink-blue then the darkness wiped out the color of the skies and the night begun. One by one, the Universe lit up its diamond candles and the invisible hand of magic filled the arching infinity with bright patches, blazing swirls and crisscrossing constellations. The cool breath of the land was rising from the dormant valley, carrying the scent of heated grass, wildflowers and spicy resins. Silence blanketed the surroundings and for a moment I had the feeling that I could hear the distant sound of buzzing galaxies. It was there…a faint thud, a mysterious rhythm, like a heartbeat echoing through the star-dust filled corridors of Space…Tadam…tadam…tadam…The whole wide Universe was like a living organism, with light rushing through its veins.

-It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

The voice asking me was deep and pleasant. I almost jumped off the cliff; I quickly turned to see who was speaking but my eyes met only the darkness.

-I’m sorry-the voice was slightly apologetic. I didn’t mean to startle you…

I breathed out heavily and regained my voice.

-Where are you?

-You cannot see me-came the swift answer. At least not yet. But I am sitting next to you.

-Oh..k…-I said and sat back on my spot.

-So-the voice asked again. How do you like it?

I thought for a moment, searching for the words…The opening perspective was shimmering in the light, mist was breathing, moving, waving over the land sleeping bellow. I felt lighter and for a fraction of a moment, I lost the physical contact with the plateau…I shook my head in disbelief.

-It’s…even more beautiful than I expected.

We sat a few moments in silence; I was wondering who was the one speaking under the cloak of invisibility.

-The Moon is about to rise-said again the voice.  Let me show you something before I leave. Look here.

There was a faint rustle in the grassy spot between the two of us and a small ball of glow emerged from the tangled vegetal strands. It hovered for a moment above the place, then spread into a sheen of light while the ground below it rose into a miniature replica of the surrounding mountain range and the forest covering it. I was stunned by the details of the image, the texture of the canopy, the glitter of the river that was rushing deep inside the steep valley.

-Now-said my companion with a tint of amusement in the voice. I have followed your journey to the plateau…

-You did?!-Suddenly I felt a bit embarrassed, remembering my occasional clumsiness.

-Oh, I surely did. I was afraid at one moment that you would bring down the whole slope, so I thought to highlight the safer paths to the local communities for you. Watch this!

I felt a slight movement above the magic map and dots of light appeared, marking the roads and the areas inhabited by the Native clans. I followed their pattern attentively, trying to memorize all.

-I’ll help you remember these. You have to let me touch you…don’t jump up again, please.

I froze and instinctively closed my eyes; there was a light touch of a hand on my forehead. It was…humanly warm. The image of the map transferred in my mind while the warmth of those invisible fingertips ran through my veins, spreading in my body. I relaxed and opened my eyes. At that moment, a bright flash crossed the skies.

-Wow! A shooting star!-I exclaimed.

-Make a wish-said the voice.

The answer just stumbled out my mouth.

-I wish this night would never end…

-Granted, stranger-came the reply. See you tomorrow night!

Whoever it was, it disappeared in an instant. I knew it…the place next to me felt suddenly very empty. Though the presence of this elusive, magic entity had been almost imperceptible, once gone, the void it left behind became disturbingly tangible. The thin, silver crescent of the Moon hopped above the horizon and the display of stars begun to fade. Ruler of the night skies, Master of magic and dreams, the celestial traveler took his place on the black velvet and sparkled. I bowed before him and went to sleep.

 

The lighthouse was slowly decaying on the empty shore. Its entrance door was rusting under the corrosive bite of Time and the sea that once soothed the heart of the lonely tower was gone beyond the dark-grey horizon. The sky was ashen and the clouds were hanging like old veils torn by the claws of an ancient sea-monster. This was a place forgotten and un-loved, a space that was barren and, by now, seemingly pointless. I stood there, facing the display of hopelessness, listening to the veiling of the old metal door shaken by the erratic gush of wind.

-This lighthouse needs a heart-whispered the already familiar voice.

A heart? I felt a surge of deep sadness inside me and I woke up in bed.

 

The sun was already high in the translucent ocean of azure when I took the path through the forest. I was heading towards the Hogan of an elderly wise man, hoping to find some answers and to learn about the herbs and animals of this area. The map imprinted in my mind the previous evening was guiding my steps, each bush or dense of trees becoming familiar and soon, I found myself at the entrance of a beautiful tunnel of vegetation. The entwined row arching above my head was leading to the clearing. Through its luminous greenery, the warm light was falling in a delicate gold dust. I ran down through this magic pathway and stopped to hold my breath in the wide opening.

Old Joseph Grey Wolf was sitting on a log, sorting dried herbs for teas and treatments. He knew I was there, before I could open my mouth.

-Come closer, young lady-he said. Have a seat.

I blushed and swallowed down my embarrassment. I sat next to him and we faced each other with undisguised curiosity. He had an interesting face, wrinkled and burned by the sun of many summers. Yet the eyes were ageless: bright, piercing, challenging. Dark brown. Like mine. He studied me swiftly, with a small smile in the corner of his inquisitive eyes.

-How did you know? –I asked.

-A bird told me that we have a light-footed guest coming this way…

I laughed; he was right. Suddenly, I felt liberated from all my fears and my disguise became obsolete and…stupid.

-Grandfather, I have some questions bothering me. I came hoping that you can help me sort them out…

The old man stood up, brought out two cups from his house and poured some tea. He handed out one to me and sat down.

-If you want to ask me about your visitor, all I can tell you for now is that you have to be patient. In time you will learn enough about this spirit to answer your own question. Is there anything else bothering you?

I sighed; the dream was still fresh in my memory.

-I had this strange dream about a lonely shore and a deserted lighthouse…It felt so sad…Does this dream have any meaning?

Grey Wolf shook his head thoughtfully.

-Everything has a meaning if you know how to read the signs. That empty shore is the land of sacrificed dreams; it’s that sad because each time we give up on our dreams, we die a bit from inside…until there is nothing left but the bitterness of a wasted, dull life. There are so many such shores in this world…

-Is that shore my life?

The old man smiled at me.

-That is for you to find out. Remember, the land inside is a reflection of the world outside. You have to give life to that land and you have to find the light that will shine upon it. Listen, see and learn. The answers are both inside and around you. Now go home, Blue Flower. The night is waiting at your door.

We shook hands and I thanked him for his words. Somewhere, deep inside I was feeling a grain of light moving. Though the way home was uphill, I took the steep path easily. I reached the house, fixed something to eat and boiled some water for a tea. Grey Wolf has packed me up with fragrant wild-flower mixes. I prepared the tea and waited for the night to set in. Would my invisible friend show up?-I wondered…

The night unfurled its flag of shadows and darkness while the dome of the skies lit up in blaze. I was sitting under the stars when I heard the voice I was waiting for.

-You’re early I see. Good evening, stranger.

I laughed sensing the relaxed amusement of the voice.

-Would you like a tea?-I asked.

-Yes, why not.

I took my courage to push the conversation further. I poured the tea and placed the cups between us. This time, the voice chuckled and I already knew what was behind that laughter.

-I’ve never had tea with a ghost so I wasn’t quite sure if you drink-I said with a smile.

-I’m not more of a ghost than you-the voice replied. I am a person.

-Then why can’t I see you?

There was a brief moment of silence before I got the answer.

-Because you have to learn to see. Looking at something with your eyes doesn’t mean that you really see it. You have to go beyond that.

-Hmmm… you might be right. Old Grey Wolf told me the same: listen, see and learn. And he knew about your visit to.

-Grey Wolf is a dear friend of mine. He knows a lot about me….

The cup of tea rose in the air and my invisible companion took a sip.

-Uhm, good. Wild Thyme and pepper mint…He gave you my favorite mix.

I blushed and I silently thanked the old man. Somehow, I wanted to make my elusive guest feel good. I had come here in the middle of nowhere to escape from the pressure and noise of the city and human crowd. Yet, the moment this spirit left me alone I realized that all beauty seemed pointless if you couldn’t share that elation with someone…close to you. And to make things even more unusual, I was having this feeling of mutual connection with this… person after only one encounter. The warmth of that touch from the previous night had unchained my soul…

-So, why are you here? –I tempted a question.

-It’s my favorite spot to watch the Stars. And you…Why are YOU here?

Though I was prepared to hear this question, I was unsure what to answer.

-Huh…Let’s see. I felt caged and restless living in the city. I came here hoping to find my way, the real one. I have lived too long according to others’ expectations. I was choking inside my cocoon. And…someone told me that I have to give a heart to a lighthouse. It was you, isn’t it?

The voice laughed softly.

-This is your journey. I cannot give you the answers but I can walk beside you, if you wish…

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes before answering.

-Please do. This is so new for me. I feel the gates opening before me and opening inside me as well. It’s…wonderful and scaring. I’m not sure whom am I going to meet in this inner journey. Stay with me, please. I don’t have to see you; your presence is comforting….

The silence that followed my outpouring of the soul was meaningful, speaking volumes. We shared another tea and we counted all the shooting stars that night. The counting ended up in lot of laughter. We sat there like two islands connected by a magic bridge, while the River of fate was leading its mighty waters around us.

 

Days followed days and nights followed nights and I have battered the pathway to Grey Wolf’s Hogan. He gathered all his patience and introduced me to the secrets of wild flowers and herbs, while teaching me the secret language of animals to. From the subtle rustle of the leaves, from the pattern of tiny, broken branches to the different tones of the cry of the eagles, from the shades of the clouds at dusk to the scent carried by the winds, the great Syllabus of Nature opened its files to my astonished eyes and mind. The nights were filled by the charting of constellations and listening to the thud and buzz of the interstellar space. My invisible friend and me, we must’ve drunk an ocean of herbal tea while the talking kept flowing with more and more ease between the two of us. I’m not sure what I’ve learned about the hidden identity or personal history of my visitor but I have opened my inner gates and walked together on paths I never knew it existed. My inner world started to unfold and each new path was walking above unexpected rivers, leading us through arches only to end up on unexpected sites.

My night dreams changed to and suddenly, I was missing the lonely shore and the sad little lighthouse. I kept wondering what has happened but they just seemed to vanish from my dreams.  Unhappy with this outcome, I decided to ask….

-Do you happen to know why I can’t find the lighthouse anymore?-I said abruptly in the middle of an evening talk.

My guest stood silent for a while, seemingly lost in thoughts.

-Actually, I do-came the answer. But tell me: why are you looking for it?

-Because I left it so lost and lonely and if I remember well, a voice told me that the lighthouse needs a heart. I have decided to give mine to it.

A smile filled the space between us.

-Brave decision. Let me think about it and we’ll see…

I went to sleep with a faint hope and soon, I was sailing on the waters of the land of Nod. I was walking in darkness, guided only by the glowing step-stones under my feet. It was an eerie feeling and I was unable to discern the features of the space around. My walk ended in front of a high door decorated with strange signs and symbols. I couldn’t find a door knob so I pushed a bit the two wings. They opened into a misty space filled with light. Puzzled, I stopped there.

-Step inside, don’t be afraid-said the voice I was already expecting to hear.

-But I can’t see anything….

-Free your mind and listen to your heart…

I took a step forward and felt solid ground under my feet. I walked for a while through the glowing mist until it cleared before me at a certain distance and I could see…bellow. And there was the lonely lighthouse and its deserted sandy shores. It looked almost the same than the first time I saw it in my dreams…Almost the same. The grim veil of shredded, grey clouds was gone and at a distance I could detect the shimmering of the light dancing on the surface of a remote sea. The sea was slowly returning to its lonely friend.

-I wish I could go there-I said loudly.

-You can fly…-came the answer.

-I can’t-I blurted out almost instinctively. I don’t have wings…

-Don’t start with what you can’t-my companion said-trust yourself a bit more and give it a try. Just let yourself flow with the currents…Reach inside; your wings are sprouting….

I sighed and closed my eyes….and space opened under my feet. Before I could cry out I was already flying. I opened my eyes and I saw the wide expanse of sand closing at high speed. For a fraction of a moment I’ve lost confidence and I felt like falling. An invisible hand grabbed mine, keeping me up. It was warm and reassuring; we kept flying until we both landed safely next to the light house. Breathless but elated, I stood there shivering a bit…

-Thank you-I whispered.

-It’s ok-echoed the invisible whisper. You need some practice in trusting your own abilities.

I raised my head to see the lighthouse. It looked less disheveled; colors were returning and the rust that once stained the door has disappeared. I turned to my elusive friend-I could feel the presence quite strong by now- and called:

-Come, let’s see the tower from inside. I want to know how far the sea is.

When we reached the top of the tower I was almost breathless from climbing and excitement. The sea was scintillating, its blue-green mass rocking gently, pushing the frothing waves forward and slowly conquering the sands ahead. From the top of the lighthouse the advancing of the sea was clearly visible. The salty water was seeping into the blond sands, the small, curving hills dissolving under the touch of fingers of water. With a bit of effort, you could hear the rhythm of the through and fro of the mighty, translucent body and the occasional cry of the seagulls in the skies. The great dome of light was holding its dormant source of signaling light inside the thick walls of glass. I touched the smooth surface and suddenly something moved inside me and inside the core of the lighthouse. We connected almost instantly and I could feel strange energies bursting from inner depths, rushing through my veins, seeping through my fingertips, sizzling in a grid of light up and down, up and down the slender body of the lighthouse, until behind the glass wall a faint glow was born. The seed of light grew stronger and stronger until it began to swirl in a cosmic rhythm…Blinded by the power of shining, I closed my eyes and stumbled a few step backwards, losing touch with the light core. The effluvium of light died out almost completely, leaving behind a dim seed of light nested inside the huge bell of glass of the top.

-What was….this?

-Humanity is a galaxy of lighthouses, signaling and echoing….lighthouses and shores, lively or deserted ones…like the soul of each individual.

-And what is on the other side of the sea?-I asked.

-The twinkling stars of the human galaxy….

-I never knew about this…I never knew what would live inside me…I feel so…different now that I have found it…

At this point my dream has become so intense that it was hard to separate it from reality; the presence of my invisible companion made it even more…tangible. Was I in or outside of my inner world? Before I could even realize, I have found myself outside the magic door.

-Are you here?-I asked.

-I am…-came the answer. It seems that we have built a connection that moves us both to the same destination. Sleep now, Flower. We have a long journey ahead…

I felt the soft touch of light fingers running through my hair and I fell in the depths of a quiet sleep.

I woke up in the morning with the memory of that touch….haunting me. It was like a moment of truth; suddenly, every corner of my soul echoed it…It was everywhere, imprinted in the fabric of my inner lands…I dressed up in a hurry and decided to visit Old Grey Wolf and speak with him…

He was smoking calmly when I stormed in.

-Good morning, Grand Father!-I said, trying to catch my breath.

He chuckled and answered with a nod of approval.

-Something bothering you, Blue Flower? You’re quite early…

-Grand Father…Please, help me! I’m…I don’t know what to do! I’m…in love….-I sighed; it was out….

The old man was looking at me intently.

-I see…And how can I help you with this? I can hardly remember the times when I suffered the same.

-Please!-I said. It happened so quickly and so many things happened to me since I arrived here…I feel like caught in a whirlwind, losing control….and maybe losing what I want to keep the most…

I paused for a moment.

-I’m listening-said Grey Wolf.

-So….I want to know who is this invisible spirit visiting my nights and my dreams….I’m afraid that if I complete my journey, I would fade away…I don’t want that! Please…

The old man took a sip from his pipe and then exhaled slowly, raising a thin veil of smoke between us. His voice sounded deeper and raspy as he answered my pleas.

-Your visitor is not an ordinary person; she’s a Two-Spirit and she walks with ease in both the inner and the outer world. If she decides to reveal herself to you, it will happen tonight: it’ll be full Moon. Go home in peace, Blue Flower and don’t lose faith. Lit up your lighthouse and watch the other shore…If there is to be an answer to your heart’s desire, the light would bring its echo.

On the way home, I kept thinking about what Grey Wolf told me. The night ahead was holding a real challenge and I went over and over again through all I wanted to say, trying to find the best way to express my thoughts and my feelings. I have never waited for the nightfall so impatiently; but the more anxious I became, the slower the minutes and hours passed. Time seemed to crawl and the grains of sand of the hourglass got stuck in the narrow passageway…Finally, Time took pity of my painful fretting and picking up speed, brought the night to my doorsteps.

The curtain of darkness fell over the world, muffling sounds and stirring mysterious echoes in the depths. A boisterous wind ruffled the long-stemmed alpine grass and swirled around me, making me shiver under its touch. I stood on the ground, near the rim of the plateau, my senses sharp and alert, waiting for a sign or a sound….On the celestial display, the stars were modestly twinkling, knowing that the rising Moon would rein tonight the dark waters of the skies. In the distance, the horizon was already glowing, while the planet was gracefully turning its face towards the silver light.

-Good evening, Flower. I’ve heard that you were asking about me…

The voice of my companion sounded a bit strained.

-Good evening, my Star-I said. I was looking for answers and Grey Wolf’s wisdom always helped me out. I hope I didn’t upset you…

An invisible smile crossed the space between us and we both relaxed.

-You did well, Flower. He’s my dear friend and he’s a reliable guide in difficult moments. I had my own tribulations to…This journey is your personal quest; I wouldn’t want to deter you from it…

It was my turn to smile.

-You shouldn’t worry about that. Yes, I came here, in this sanctuary of Nature to free myself from the restrains built inside me by the demands of the life in the city. As my dream has revealed, I was slowly dying from inside and the sea of my dreams receded into nothingness, leaving behind barren shores and my sad and lonely lighthouse. But each night I have spent here, talking with you and counting stars eased my return to the land inside.

Your gentle guidance opened gates and I stepped inside a world I never knew it existed. I grew wings and dared to fly over my inner territories, we climbed the helix of stairs to the top of the lighthouse and you shared with me the story of the Human Galaxy; we roamed the pathways of my secret garden, leaving memories all over. Your footprints are imprinted in the shores of my sea…

But above all, my Star, I’ve seen my inner world through your eyes and I found it magically beautiful. During the day, I walked those corners on my own, learning and building them on; yet, they seemed to have lost that special glow…My garden was holding beauty but that beauty was becoming somehow…pointless. What my heart already knew, my soul was proving beyond any doubt. If beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, then through your eyes I feel more beautiful than ever. I am a flower that opens into beauty under the touch of love. I cannot open and shine otherwise; but when I feel your loving light and the joy glittering in your eyes, I can open in blaze and unfurl my rainbow wings…

A deep silence followed my words. The Moon rose above the horizon and a silver net of rays arched above the two of us. In the softly spraying light, a shape emerged next to me. She was sitting in the grass, looking to me with a serious expression on her face until the magic revealing was completed. We connected instantly; our history was beyond words. She was beautiful, a Blue Star of the skies, a deep soul holding shores of light and oceans of emotions. We stood up, holding hands and under her touch, on the top of my lighthouse the diamond burst into a fountain of rays. Tangible reality washed away and boundaries became pointless. The row of translucent stairs under our feet were leading to the top of a lighthouse that was both of me and her, walls intimately entwined, my light woven into her light…High above us, one star was shining, a beacon of a Universe opening before us, waiting to  be explored…

Sitting in the moonlight, Grey Wolf nodded approvingly.

-Good…-he murmured and took another sip from his pipe.

 

That night, the Moonlight rose in a high tide, washing away the limits of reality. The mountain opened before us, unraveling the pathway to the once lonely shore. The night was following us inside, bringing in the giant circle of silver and perching it above, in the center point of the infinite skies. The air was warm and scented of sea salt and orchids; the sea was calm and dreamy, sending soft waves to splash around our feet as we walked hand in hand along the shore. The water has already reached the base of the lighthouse, building around a small hill of nacreous shells, spidery star-fish and soft seaweeds. Round moonstones were glowing in the sand, outlining the narrow pathway that lead to the steps of the slender tower. A few steps further, invisible hands had lit up a bonfire and placed small candles in a circle. There was a small tray with passion fruits and pomegranates and a bottle filled with amber colored liquor, along with two delicate glasses.

We sat inside the circle and shared the treat until the last ruby colored seed sealed our eternal connection of love. The honey colored wine was spicy and heavy, like the nectar of ancient gods, warming us up from inside, bringing down the last remnants of any barrier between us…In the heat of the summer night, on the shores of an inner sea, under the skies of a new Universe, Woyi, the Phoenix spread wings of flames in and out of the entities of light entwined. Rivers of blaze ran from one side to the other, circling inside the fragile shells and the hearts of glass, rhythm followed rhythm, veins connected intimately until the light was flowing evenly from one another…The Moon above raised a tent of light encompassing the two of us and under his touch, our light combined into a seed of life and light that nested in a warm corner inside me. But we were oblivious of this happening. As the rushing rivers slowly quieted into whispers, we slept in the magic tent until the circle of stars delved beyond the horizon and the sun reclaimed the sky.

A pencil of soft rays playfully tickled her eyelashes and Blue Star woke up smiling.

-Come, Flower, the sun is high up and we are in the middle of the meadow. One more glass of summer wine and we would’ve waked up on another planet!

We laughed, stood up and walked back to the cabin. Beginning with that day, it became our home. But each night, we skipped through the secret passageway of the mountain into new worlds. Visiting Grey wolf has become also a habit that we both loved. He kept supplying us with teas and forest treats and it was his keen sense that detected first what was about to come into our lives.

-A new Two Spirit is about to enrich our clan, Blue Star. Flower has a young blossom waiting for Spring to join us…

We looked at each other stunned yet thrilled; the news was deeply moving and it was close to a miracle. Grey Wolf coughed to capture our attention.

-You don’t have to worry, ladies. The Mothers of the Clan will help you through this…In the world of Two Spirits miracles happen more often.

He chuckled; we were speechless and blushing like two schoolgirls caught red handed. Time sped up and in April, our Two Spirit child cried out for the first time under the stars. A beautiful star-child, with ocean deep eyes and spiky, raven black hair. Our lighthouse has added a shiny, new twinkle to its magic glow.

I came to this corner of pristine life and ageless wisdom to find myself and to release the captive spirit inhabiting me. I have been rewarded with more than I could ever dream. I have found my light and the voice of my heart through the loving eyes and magic soul of my beloved Blue Star. Our Star-Child is growing happily protected by our love and the acquiring Clan. New skies are opening and the waves of the inner sea keep carrying sails full of mysteries…

Above us, one star. Our star.