……….It’s a swirl of fire and ice running over the plain, setting the pathway in flames, charring the land, turning the swinging, long-stemmed grass into soft, silver ash….it’s a pain so deep as high is the exhilarating lift of blazing feelings rushing through the same veins, the same heart, ravaging the same soul….it’s a wild blast of wind, shattering mirror after mirror, spreading bright shards of glass all over the place…..it’s dark yet flaming…..deep, deep…cutting, digging, seeping through every crack of the finely broken surface of the soul….unstoppable, bitter-sweet destruction….a point of no return…a mirror in the abyss….a labyrinth that hides a deadly secret………………………
Fuyuki woke up late that day. The sun was already high in the sky when he emerged from the dark waters of dreams. He felt dizzy; his head was heavy and he had a foul taste in his mouth. The worst of it was, that despite all efforts, he couldn’t remember anything of the previous evening.
He decided to chill and to take things slowly so the first thing was to carefully descend from bed. Oddly enough, his whole body was aching. For a moment, he almost fell to his knees. He felt feverish on the inside and the strong daylight pained his senses. He stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, then made his way to the shower.
The steady flow of water eased his pains and helped him regain control over his body. He made some disturbing discoveries in the shower; there was a pink, sore spot on his left upper arm and a purplish larger spot on his neck, right under his earlobe. Yet, his memory was blocked, like somebody has hit the “delete” button.
Yoshiasu was due to come home only Friday and today was/ probably/ Wednesday. Fuyuki left the shower and dressed up. He went to the kitchen and took some salad from the refrigerator, made some toast and a strong, hot coffee to clear his mind. He wasn’t at ease at all; he felt sick and he was alone. He pushed the button on the TV set and let the noise fill the surroundings. He took his cell phone and left a message for Yoshiasu. He was missing him.
Fuyuki eat a little although the food tasted like cardboard in his mouth; he took the mug of coffee and sat on the top of a high chair hoping to clear his mind. Nothing useful came to him so he decided to look into his clothes from the previous day. He found his organizer and remembered that till half past eight he had been at the exhibition hall along with the other four artists. He also found his car keys but he couldn’t remember driving home. As he was trying to fill in the missing moments the doorbell rang and a male voice announced that he had a delivery. Fuyuki opened the door and let the young man in. He was close to his age and was carrying a middle sized box wrapped up in expensive paper.
The name of the sender was unfamiliar but he took the parcel anyway; he didn’t want to create problems for the young guy. He signed for it and gave a generous tip. On a spur of a moment Fuyuki asked the guy if he would like to have a coffee until he looks into the package. Fuyuki felt the need of a living soul next to him; probably the delivery guy sensed something or it was just the shade of fatigue showing in Fuyuki’s violet-blue eyes, but he decided to take the offer. They both sat around the table and Fuyuki unwrapped the parcel: it contained a bottle of very expensive champagne, an equally expensive box of chocolate and an unmarked envelope. Fuyuki took out the envelope and his heart sank; he had a bad feeling about its content.
Giving a small smile to his guest, he stood up and went to the window to look to the content; there were only two items inside- a photo and a white card with only a few words in handwriting: “ You are even more beautiful at a closer look. Thank you.”
Fuyuki felt sick; he didn’t have to look at the photo; he knew exactly what it was. He stood up pale like a sheet of paper and shaking from inside. He took a deep breath and handed the box to the young man.
-Take it, please; it’s yours- he said in a coarse voice.
The delivery guy looked up in surprise.
-But Mr. Tanaka…I can’t…this is very expensive.
-Please…-whispered Fuyuki. Do me this favor. Thank you.
He let the man out; the guy turned to him and asked in a worried voice:
-Are you OK? Do you want me to call a doctor? You’re very pale…
-No, thanks; I can manage-said Fuyuki.
As the puzzled man left with the expensive gift, Fuyuki sat on the bed. He took out his phone and left another message to Yoshiasu. This time it was an urging one: “Come home, please!”
They both landed on the sands of a large shore washed by the waves of an ocean hidden in mist. They could hear her breathing in and out slowly, her voice mixing with the rasping sound of the breeze rolling the bits of sand along the shore. Moonstone tiles lay scattered around, like remnants of a pathway long lost.
Holding hands, Jordan and Kai ran ahead, laughing happily. The salty mist curtain opened before them…then closed silently after, hiding the two silhouettes from the view of any unexpected pursuer. As they reached the swaying expanse of turquoise waters, Kai closed her eyes for à moment, breathing in the scent of the Ocean.
-I knew you would like it-murmured Jordan. I’ve read it inside you. You and I, we seem to share so many secret dreams and wishes… Maybe this was the reason why I stumbled upon you and the door of my world opened to your touch…
Sensing the warmth of hisher hands seeping through my palms, I felt the same deep connection. My own thoughts were echoing in hisher words. In that elusive, mysterious space where dreams are born, our two worlds have met and got entangled. By now, it was difficult to say where one of us was ending and where the other one was beginning. We seemed to have merged like two galaxies full of stars and we were about to build new starscapes.
–Open your eyes, girl-said Jordan. Look! What do you see?-she asked.
Kai’s eyes popped open and she stared into the space before her. The Ocean had come closer, its refreshing waves embracing, caressing the girls’ feet, while in the distance, the waters have turned into translucent mist. From that glowing haze, mermaids and mermen came splashing joyfully, surrounding them for a moment and vanishing seconds later.
-Wow!….-that was all Kai could say. Jordan grabbed her hand and they walked through the oceanic vapors, till they reached an even stranger place. The chirpy chat and frenzied splash of the inhabitants of the Ocean was long lost in the distance and was replaced by the hollowness of the new space where they stopped.
Like a world locked in a crystal ball, this was a real dream sighting. Huge, elongated blue trees were soaring above, rooted in an untouchable depth. Older or younger, all the trees were swaying to the rhythm of a music only they could hear. The thin, silky leaves growing on the tips if the branches were filled with lines of various inscriptions. They were pieces of poetry, captured on each leaf. Rain drops were falling from the infinite sky, splashing the leaves, scattering the letters and words, carrying them to the equally infinite, translucent depth.
Jordan stepped forward and touched the surface of that space, sending a shock-wave of emotions through the blue forest. The trees leaned towards her, trying to touch hisher palms, eager to receive a droplet of hisher feelings and turn it into new pieces of poetry leaves.
-These are my poems, my heartfelt teardrops that never reach the bottom of that inner land. My dreams, my pains, my hopes and fears, my moments of light, my loves and disillusions, my nightmares and rages, all the echoes of the numerous, fragmented myselves. I brought you here, girl because I need you to remember them…for the time when I could not.
–How would I remember them all ?!-I asked, concerned by the unexpected task. They are part of you and I don’t want to lose even à line…
-Don’t worry! Just relax and let me guide you.
Heshe took my hand and we jumped into that eerie space, flying through the lively blue forest of poetry. Like swimming through à powerful torrent, I was caught, pushed forward, sucked in and permeated by dazzling , conflicting, elating or shattering emotions. Words, hundred of words clung to my skin, my heart, my mind, rushing to find à place in the corridors of my memory. They carried me through Jordan’s life and under their touch I witnessed the birth and rise of all hisher embodiments. We flew through this blizzard till each and every letter or word fell into position, leaving behind an emptied space, with those strange blue trees finally at peace with themselves.
As we left that space bubble, I fell off my feet, exhausted. We were standing now on a hilltop, under the green dome of a lime tree. Jordan helped me up and as I leaned my back against the trunk, heshe asked worriedly:
-Are you ok, girl?
I gazed in those dark brown eyes, wonderingly….Why did heshe want me to remember ? What was happening? Before I could answer the question,space shifted position and we found ourselves one atop the other. Lying on my back, I held himher closer and we kissed…long…passionately…desperately….breathlessly. That eternity of a kiss tasted like summer wine, exploding in my mouth in taste of love and fragility. In the embrace following the kiss, we’ve lost boundaries and we fell slowly, swirling in circles of light into the abyss of stars opening acquiring below us….
Kai woke up in front of the mirror, her forehead touching the cold, smooth surface.
When his duties as leader of the community allowed, Satoru spent the evenings, listening to the stories with the children. The little ones loved to crawl in his lap or to sit on the back of Gondwana and the young man mellowed offering them the love he had so much missed as a child. Cora’s warm voice, her deeply emotional or sometimes very funny twists of the stories were balm for his soul. She has grown to his heart in a way no one ever had, reaching the softest depths of his soul.
“Is this love?”-he wondered sometimes. He sighed inwardly. What were the chances that she would feel the same and that she would remain by his side? She had a homeland of hers and a duty to fulfill towards her own people….Satoru dismissed the thoughts and let his mind relax for the moments in the sound of the magic carrying voice.
Cora loved the evenings when Satoru joined them. His presence was always comforting and reassuring and in was in these evenings when his warm and loving inner side was emerging without restraint, generating an emotional flow that enveloped her in magic.
“ Is this love? “-she wondered sometimes. She has never known love before. The years of education as a would-be Queenie prevented her from having a close relationship with young men of her age. Was Satoru feeling the same about her? She couldn’t tell…He had so many responsibilities and he was always considerate towards others. “Oh…whatever.”-thought Cora. We’ll see. I’m glad he’s here and that Avik loves him so much. Maybe the child knows something we still wonder about”…
So while love was slowly but steadily developing between Cora and Satoru, up in the Citadel Asterius was sending out orders.
-Tomorrow I want to speak in the Central Square. Rolf, send the Guardians with the message around the city and gather as many people as possible. See that those who are our strong supporters to be in the first rows, next to the stairs. I will deliver my speech from the promontory of the Sanctuary.
The young man looked at him questioningly.
-Are you reopening the Rebirth Celebrations?
-No, not at all! Those lustful parades are no longer part of our customs. But we need to strengthen our fight against the monsters lurking among us and my speech will serve as a reminder. See that everything would be in place! Dismissed!
Rolf Asterianus left the room with a bow. Time was short and the Leader was short tempered. He hurried down the stairs, shouting orders to his men. Standing at the window, Asterianus was smirking at the thought of his plans. A strange green light was flickering in his eyes as he muttered:” Tomorrow….I’ll show you tomorrow!”
When the sun of a new day reached its peak in the skies above the Citadel, the center of the city was teeming with people waiting for their leader to come. It’s been awhile since they’ve heard him speaking and they were full of expectation. Those fearing what might come were ducking in the hind rows, hoping that their lack of enthusiasm would go unnoticed. Finally, the place fell silent as Asterius made his appearance on the top of the stairs leading to the Sanctuary. He looked stern and preoccupied and he had visibly aged lately. Though he was still good looking, the expression wrinkles of his face had deepened, his hair had turned silver-white and his eyes were bearing a strange, disturbing light. He stood there motionlessly,his eyes scrutinizing the gathering like a bird of prey.
-My fellow Citadelians!-boomed his voice. I have asked you to come today because I need your support . For years I have tirelessly protected this city and you, my people from the monstrosities that were undermining our society. As I look around I can see that you are thriving and I feel joy and gratitude. But lately, the number of concerning happenings had increased and I have found out that some of our citizens had decided to give help to the enemy, jeopardizing the lives of everyone. The health of our beloved Silver Tree is at stake and along with it, our as well.
-Who are those traitors, Asterius?!- shouted someone from the crowd. Bring them before us!!
-Yes! Yes! Bring them here! Let us see them!!!
The number of angry voices from the crowd was slowly mounting.Asterius raised à hand.
-Very well, I will bring here the most recent example. Let’s see what she has to say in her defense!
He made a quick sign to the White Guards and soon, a woman was dragged in and presented to the people. It was Leanna, Avik’s mother. She looked frail after the time spent in jail but she has kept her dignified posture. She faced Asterius without fear. The man grabbed her arm and turned her to the crowd.
-Look at this woman! She was hiding a Changer and she even helped him escape through a hole in the wall. We caught her in the last minute thanks to the vigilance of the White Guards and the keen sense of our ferdogs. But the Changer escaped and became another threat lurking outside our walls!
-I was protecting my child and I am glad that he escaped!-shouted Leanna defiant.
-Then look at the consequences!!!-shouted Asterius, opening with a sudden move the gates of the Sanctuary.
Living for so many years in the dim light seeping through the ceiling of the Sanctuary, the Silver Tree was shocked by the intensity of the full sunlight. To the fragile entity, this invasion of glow was like a dagger in its heart. The Tree shrieked in pain and its trunk split in half, part of it falling to the ground with thundering noise. The intense pain reverberated through space and it reached Cora, leaving her breathless. Overwhelmed by pain, she fainted and fell to the ground before anyone could catch her.
Hell broke out inside the Citadel as the maddened crowd seized the woman they thought to have caused the incredible damage. Asterius stepped aside and left the square unnoticed. Up in the sky, the sun was hiding its face, unable to face the wickedness below. Somewhere, in the attic of a house, a deeply shaken man was sending a desperate message outside the walls. The small letter was carried by a bird that knew exactly where to land. Later that night,the White Guardians shut the gates of the Sanctuary, leaving the Silver Tree frightened and broken.
She opened her eyes and saw Satoru sitting by her side, head buried in his hands: the image of deep concern.
-What happened?-she asked in a husky voice. Her head was still throbbing with a dull pain.
-Hi!-Satoru was clearly relieved hearing her voice. You’ve scared us all when you fainted. How do you feel now?
-Uhm…a bit dizzy and I seem to have difficulties in remembering the events….Wait! Wait….It was a sharp pain….a scream in my mind…..the Tree….Oh! The Silver Tree! It was its pain! I remember now! Something , someone hurt the Tree and it was crying for help!
-It makes sense…-whispered Satoru. Listen, Cora, something horrible happened in the Citadel. We’ve got message from a friend; Avik’s mother is dead. The masterplan imagined and set in motion by Asterius delivered a hard blow to the Changers, to their allies and irreversibly damaged the Silver Tree.
-What?!! Oh….poor Avik….
For the first time, Cora burst into tears and cried bitterly. She cried of shock, she cried of anger.When she finally regained her composure, all it was left inside her was a strong determination.
-I’m sorry…-she said. I’m fine now and I’m ready for whatever you decide. You can count me in.
-You are part of the team, you know it, Cora. I’ve sent already a call around the forest; the others will soon be here and we can work out a plan. This madman has to be stopped!
The Silver Tree was shivering in the darkness of the Sanctuary. It was broken and fragile while the future of the Citadel looked grim under Asterius. The Tree was sensing its strength slowly diminishing, fading in the darkness of the loneliness and confinement. There was only one hope: to grow a seed that would preserve the living spirit of the people entwined with that of the Tree. It was a delicate process that needed time and care. The Silver Tree knew that Asterius would do anything to lay his hand on the seed. The only hope was in that girl with flaming hair coming from another land; she has brought with her the connection with another Tree, a mighty, powerful one and the Silver Tree was gathering the necessary strength from it, in order to give birth to the Seed.
With this comforting thought,the Silver Tree reached below, inside the intricate web of roots and started to build another layer of silver shell around the tiny cocoon nested inside….There was no time for delay.
This time the scenery was one of a solid family house, with flowerbeds in the front yard and a playground guarded by a magnificent cherry tree in the back. In deep contrast with the serenity of the place, the noises coming from inside were disturbing. The high pitched voice of the woman and the low baritone of the man were fighting furiously over something. After a few steps made in the direction of the house, the girl could see them well, standing in the room, facing each other. A silent and frightened child was standing between them, covering his ears with his hands.
-She’s my daughter, I want her to wear this ribbon in her hair! -shouted the mother. I want her to look pretty!
She dragged the child closer to her and she was about the tie the ribbon around the soft, hazelnut strands when the father intervened.
-She’s not more of a girl than he is a boy! Leave him alone! Come, Jordie, let’s go out. Here, I have a nice beret for you! I know these are your favorite colors!
He took the child by the hand and put the blue and green striped beret on his head. The mother watched him, shaking her head in disbelief.
-She’s my daughter….
-And he is my son- said dryly the father.
The child said nothing. He stood there, frozen in the wind of parental ambition, in the clash of wishes and wants, alone and scared. His tears were falling inwardly, in a world where he was safe and where he used to hide each time the tempest erupted around him. In that world, sounds were soft and people were friendly and no one pushed or dragged him, no one shouted at him for reasons he couldn’t comprehend. And while his parents continued to sneer and hiss at each-other, the child grew into the rebellious, wild teenager that was taking harder and harder the fights around him.
In the incessant rumble of angry voices, the scenery changed like a fragment of an old movie on celluloid melting under the hot touch of passing Time. The room was that of a teenager, with posters, music, a guitar…other things scattered in a very personal chaotic order. The inhabitant of the room was standing in front of a tall mirror, dark brown eyes fixing their dark brown reflection in a mix of anger and despair.
As much as I could see by now, it became clear that whoever that person in the mirror was, it wasn’t an average one. The changes in the outside, with their everyday challenges were matched by the complexity and elusiveness of its inner world. And the conflicts inside the house were just getting worse. The Jordie I’ve met was almost imperceptible inside the young person grabbing the frame of the mirror and with him, gone were the carefree laughters and joys of the age of innocence. A sense of loss engulfed me as I was standing outside the room and I wished I could find a soothing word for the troubled young before me.
A wave of angry shouts surged from somewhere and I saw the one in the mirror cringing in pain.
-Stop!! Stop it!!-shouted to the quarreling adults. Stop arguing over me! Leave me out of this! I am who I say that I am!!!
With an angry movement of the fist it hit its own the reflection, shattering the mirror. The powerful blow brought Time to a halt, resulting in an awkward, slow motion dance of the glittering shards of glass…To my deep astonishment, each splinter of mirror was carrying à different face. There were faces of men, women, children of various ages and features, dancing in the light, reflecting bits and pieces of a soul that has been broken gradually in time….These were the faces of the ones inhabiting that hidden inner world and now, they were released into the daylight and scattered into a world that wasn’t their home.
Just as quick, the motion reversed and the surface of the mirror wobbled, then quieted down, unharmed. The youth staggered, holding its pained fist. The mirror was intact. But it was empty. The pieces of the shattered child were gone. Heshe turned to me and I could read the question in the deep brown eyes:
-Do you remember me?
I woke up crying.
She slowly sways from shore to shore under the touch of his silver rays; fingers of foam reach out, rolling the shimmering sparks over the tip of each wave. From the heights of the deep velvet sky he showers her with elusive laces of moonlight. She’s captured and enchanted; he has a power she cannot resist. Invisible threads connect them through the hollow space, subtle energies flow back and forth as he pulls her up then releases her….He’s always there; even when the rising sun washes away the thoughtful image of his face, shunning the shades of night, repainting the canopy of air in bright azure, she cannot leave his magic circle, she cannot forget the intensity of his touch.
She splashes out in sparkles of rainbow over the white sands just to recede into a distance within herself, lifted by the same gentle power that moves her constantly. She swirls and twists, she runs around the tiny globe, chasing ribbons of white froth, she soars against the tempests, and then calms down softly whispering while the sun dies in crimson and gold in her outstretched arms of horizons.
Invisible to the eyes but eternally engraved in her translucent soul, he reaches through the ever moving layers of water until he touches the core that echoes his name. She opens the gates of her world and fills up her pathways with his light. She’ll keep it to glow and blaze during the nights when he fades out and leaves the skies.
Those are hollow and lonely moments when everything seem to crumble inside…She washes the ragged coastal lines, the silky sands, she rolls and whispers and cries out in the anguish of loss…She calms in the arms of the solid land embracing her, the one that is her longtime stronghold and protector. She closes her eyes of turquoise waters, dreaming of the silver god, the Moon, eternal traveler of the waters of Earth and Sky, key holder of her magic driven soul…