Drawing on paper in color pencils, acrylic and ink gel pen. It’s another illustration made for the “Shooting Star” story. It looks like this time drawing works easier than writing ;). Enjoy!
Drawing on paper in color pencils, acrylic and ink gel pen. It’s another illustration made for the “Shooting Star” story. It looks like this time drawing works easier than writing ;). Enjoy!
Minutes, seconds, days,hours, years and millenia were falling scattered with the sound of a thousand wind-chimes. The last tick of the clock tore the fabric of the Universe, dismantling Time.
Ground vanished under his feet and he fell backwards. Slowly. He was falling for an eternity when he finally reached the surface of the primeval ocean. He splashed into the deep blue surface, breaking the thin layers of water. Gloub, gloub….The Ocean opened its mouth, swallowing him. He continued to fall, sinking deeper and deeper inside a history larger than life.
It was an endless, dense blue of nameless particles, the incipient plasma of atoms and eons. The silence surrounded him like a cocoon and his limbs slowly relaxed, as he kept floating into the blue abyss.
Was he still existing? He couldn’t say for sure and right now, the answer itself seemed senseless and futile. His mind reached out to his extremities, somewhere far, far away and he called them back, curling up into fetal position.He closed his eyes.
The child was peacefully sleeping in the warm, calm waters of the womb, suckling his thumb. It was all quiet and peaceful in the point of singularity.
The Universe was not born yet.
(Photo credit: via Poullo Occone, artist/FB)
They all laughed while above them the silver sails of the Moon were catching the wind of hours and the newly dressed companion of the planet was following its path in full glow, dimming the light of stars. The Two-Faced Goddess was leading her vessel while the black velvet eye and the silver one were scrutinizing horizons hidden in the mist of times to come….
When the Moon disappeared beyond the horizon, leaving the Sun to glaze the skies in flames of pink and orange, Selurys descended among her peers and received all the praises for her work with a graceful bow.
-Impressive work, sister!-said Arauss and gave her a friendly push. I have to go now; it’s my turn to shine!
-You left us speechless, Selurys!-said Adanes, shaking hands with the young goddess. The Moon has become a beautiful addition to the planet.
-And it has driven my mermaids wild! –added Eneys with a playful twinkling in her eyes. They have spent all night catching the silver seeds to make jewelries for themselves.
– I hope I haven’t caused havoc in your kingdom…-sais Selurys with a soft voice.
Eneys laughed pleasantly.
-No, no! They had fun and I enjoyed very much watching them. Come, you must be tired and hungry. Adanes and me, we thought that you might love to have some treat at the end of your glorious journey.
-I’m sorry to interrupt you, ladies but I have to leave the two of you!- cut in Adanes’ powerful voice. Faunes and Floriesse are waiting for me. We have a few barren spots to fix! Eneys, my love, I’ll be back in a day or two!
He kissed her lovingly, smiled encouragingly to Selurys and left. The two young women looked at each other. Suddenly, Selurys felt a pang of nervousness; the excitement of the night was gradually dissipating and the fatigue was setting in. There was a surge of panic inside her.
-Eneys, you don’t have to…-she stuttered. But Eneys stopped her gently and affectionately took her arm.
-I have my dolphin carriage waiting for us. I’ll hide you in my Secret garden and you can rest there and sleep while I watch over you. The treats are already packed up!
-You have to drive carefully, Eneys-chuckled Selurys. I am so tired that I might fall off your carriage…
Eneys shook her head.
-That won’t happen. I will hold you tight!
Selurys laughed softly; she was much taller than the green-eyed goddess. But Eneys was speaking with such a passion that everything she said seemed possible.
-Let’s go then! –agreed Selurys. Tonight I’ll take you to the Moon!
But they had to postpone the visit; an unexpected fight broke out between two hot headed Wind Gods and they chased each-other around the planet, breaking havoc on land and ocean. Eneys left in a hurry, afraid that the turbulent waters might damage Adanes’ kingdom.
The following days weren’t better so after a while Selurys just smiled a bit sad and said:-It looks like the odds are against us, Eneys….
The Ocean Goddess was upset to but at least she was spending good hours with her friend inside the Secret Garden. She had changed the spell, allowing Selurys to come and go at will,without being noticed or disturbed in this personal area. And the time spent together in that place helped the young Tellurian Goddess to slowly open before Eneys, to unveil the core of her vulnerable soul.
The two young women shared hours and days of laughter and whispers and shared memories of the lands they’ve visited before. Selurys talked about the dark ravines of the Cosmos where hot clouds of dust were forging new stars, Eneys talked about young planets coming alive under her loving touch.
And while stories and memories were unfolding, Selurys was opening more and more before her friend. There were moments when Eneys, watching her sleeping, was thinking of having catched a glimpse of the real face of the Moon Goddess under the two-faced mask. The role the Tellurian princess was playing in public, the mask she was wearing like it was her true skin, all these elements were slowly fading in the comfort of the Secret Garden. What the Ocean Goddess came to realize was the immense need of trust and love filling the heart of Selurys. Strong willed and skillful, charming and courteous, the Moon Goddess was the beholder of a blazing core, fueled by an unquenched thirst for love.
-She was left by her mother at such a young age…-murmured Eneys, watching her peacefully sleeping friend. How hard was for her to understand that…
Eneys’ mind wandered back to her sunny and carefree childhood on planet Aqua where she was born. Her parents had loved and shielded her, along with her brothers and sisters. She had grown up free and confident, praised for her talent and for her warm, acquiring heart. The Ocean Goddess smiled at the happy memories and turned again to the sleeping Selurys. She bent over her and touched her face gently. For a fraction of the moment, the black and white of the skin vanished, being replaced by a natural color. The face she was looking at it was of a very young woman with ambiguous traits, mixing boyish and feminine features as well.
-So fragile….-murmured Eneys and her eyes filled with tears.
Selurys sighed in sleep and Eneys retracted her hand quickly. The magic connection broke and the black and silver mask returned to the Moon Goddess’ face.
From the height of the day’s blue skies, Arauss was watching the unfolding of this friendship with mixed feelings. The bad memories prevented him from fully trusting his awkward half-sister. Or was it simply a brotherly envy for all the attention Selurys was getting from his best friends? Huh…Arauss shook his head. He couldn’t complain and nothing seemed to sustain his hidden worries. Eneys was the usual shining, loving self, showering everyone with her radiating warmth. Understandably, even Selurys was blossoming beside her. Arauss dismissed the bad feelings…at least for the moment. He turned his attention back to his daily chores. After all, he was the one responsible for the blooming of life on the planet.
Selurys, on the other hand, was troubled by her recent discovery: she was falling in love. With Eneys. The Moon Goddess came to realize that each night she was sailing her silver vessel, scrutinizing the Ocean bellow to catch a glimpse of her green-eyed love. Deep inside, Selurys was crushed.
-Of all the women in this whole Universe why did I fall in love with the one whose heart is already taken?!-she cried out. This…This is cruelty, you hear me?!!
She turned her face(s) to the sky, wishing she could grab and shake the Fate that has tricked her so badly. But there was no one to blame and there was no hope in the future for her love. The Moon Goddess bit her lips to muffle the cry of rage and despair..
The Night Wind, sensing her turmoil, drew a curtain of clouds in front of the Moon, hiding it from the watchful eyes of the other gods.
-Thank you, my friend….-whispered Selurys.
With a deep sigh, she resumed her lead of the silver sail and moved forward on the starry waters of the night.
Down on the planet, Eneys was oblivious of her friend’s torment…until the desperate Moon Goddess decided to skip their usual meeting on the Secret Shore. Selurys retreated for her needed rest to the dark side of the Moon, inside the heart-shaped shell of her starship that was hidden in the middle of the field of black lilies.
So at first, Eneys was slightly surprised, then she became a bit worried as the days went on without even a sign from Selurys. But as the number of those days grew, the Ocean Goddess finally realized how much she actually missed Selurys and how deep the imprint of the Moon Goddess was in her soul. Confronted with her own unexpected surge of emotions, Eneys panicked. This was not a simple friendship anymore….Unwillingly, Eneys and Selurys had built up an inner connection that was both strong and intimate.
It was something difficult to define; was it….love?! She couldn’t tell. She didn’t want to define it. Her love for Adanes was deep and unchanged, her commitment to him unhinged. Yet, the feelings she was harboring for Selurys were very close to that…It was like Fate suddenly unveiled another possible love, planting that painfully beautiful emotion into her heart. How could anyone survive to such a challenging situation?
How could a fragile, vulnerable heart, even one of a goddess hold two blazing flames at the same time, without falling to pieces? What was the reason of this torment, of this guilt and hopeless yearning?! How could anyone carry them without losing its mind?!
What triggered this? Where did it come from? Was it that mixes of boyish charm, of vulnerability, the suppressed femininity, the hungry heart or the lost child beneath the two-faced mask? It was hard to find a simple explanation. But one thing was clear: part of Eneys’ heart was falling in love with Selurys. The sensitive, giving Goddess of the Ocean was devastated. Her face buried in the sands of the Secret Shore, she cried bitterly until the skies of her inner Ocean turned ashen.
But none of these personal torments were visible to the outer world. Everyone around was busy with the handful of problems the maintaining of the planet was holding for them. More of it, the gods were preparing to create a new life form. One that would rule the planet. Each dusk brought new, hot debates about how the new creature might look and how much power should be given to it. Even its birthplace was under controversy so nobody took notice about the absence of Selurys. Not that anyone missed her. For most of the gods, she was still an oddity, not a member of the team. For a while, Eneys kept her mind occupied with the new project, hoping that the passing of time will ease her sense of loss. But it was an illusion.
Every night she while was rolling her waves to the shores around the planet, she kept her attention on the slow motion of the Moon above, the sighting of her seemingly estranged secret love becoming increasingly painful.
-Oh, I’m such a fool!-she murmured. I don’t even know why she’s keeping the distance! I keep imagining things, without knowing the truth. Get to your senses, Eneys! You’re making a fool of yourself!
Then one night she decided to make her move. Riding a powerful wave towards the far horizon, she came right under the floating vessel of the Moon and she stopped there. She then gathered the silent waters into a sky-high, liquid mountain. Atop of it, the graceful silhouette of Eneys was standing motionlessly, facing the Two-faced Goddess above.
-How long are you going to avoid me, Selurys?-she asked in a clear voice.
The Moon Goddess halted the sailing of her vessel and looked to Eneys. Their eyes met. With a small sign, Selurys sent a silver ladder to her. Eneys stepped on it, climbing to the skies. As she came closer to the Moon, the silver glow enveloped her and for a moment, she lost sight of the steps…Selurys’ arms lifted her up to the safety of the Moon.
The mesmerizing beauty of that place rendered Eneys speechless. Landed in the middle of that iridescent field, surrounded by the swirl of silver-lace butterflies, she felt her entire being dissolving in light. The magic of the entire place was seeping inside her and she felt light, like a feather. A faint breeze lifted her in the air and she reached instinctively for Selurys’s hands. They were both floating in the overwhelming light…Right here, right now it was only the two of them. Space and Time were becoming obsolete. In this ephemeral cocoon of magic, an emerald heart and a black and silver one were becoming one…With a gesture, Selurys lead her love to her own Secret Shore…of the Ocean of Black Lilies while the vessel of the Moon kept moving forward on its usual path.
Leaning against each other, sitting atop of the highest lunar mountain, they were watching the Universe unfolding its magic at their feet.
Glowing, sparkling mighty rivers of stars were boldly opening new ways in the dark flesh of Space, crisscrossing the vast, empty plains, cascading into mind-blowing abysses. Huge incandescent clouds of stardust were pulsing in the skies, cradling newborn stars inside their fiery bosom. Some of these newborns were just tiny sparks, living for a moment, then fading away only to make place to other hopeful new stars. Far, faraway monstrous black vortexes were bringing thousands of stars in a crazy dance around them, while spewing blinding geysers of light into the distances.
Somewhere in the proximity, two galaxies were merging into a deadly embrace, their filaments of stars drifting slowly away in a dance of love and death.
-How beautiful yet how cruel and painful their connection is!-sighed the Ocean Goddess with a tremor in her voice.
-Love can be both at the same time, Eneys….-whispered Selurys. Just like this hopeless love that is tearing up your heart and mine….
The Moon Goddess swallowed hard. She was about to take the most difficult decision of her life….and time was not on their side. The night was quickly coming to an end and the Gates of Dawn were about to open.
-I have to return to the planet; it’s almost dawn-said Eneys with a pleading voice. But I’ll come to meet you again in the night!
Selurys took her to the silver ladder and helped her to descend.
-Go, my beloved Eneys! I’ll wait for you.
The huge emerald wave rose high to welcome the green-eyes goddess and take her home. The silver sail of the Moon came to a halt, while Goddess Aurora opened the rosy gates of a new day. Selurys took her two faced mask and put it back. Only under the loving touch of Eneys did that mask come off. Now, that she had to face again the world she’d never trusted, Selurys was again hiding away her vulnerable self.
She was about to leave the skies when she bumped into her brother. From the look on his face, she could tell that he was angry. He crossed her way, grabbed her shoulders and shook her violently.
-Have you told her that you’re gonna leave? That you have left a trail of broken hearts throughout the Universe behind you? What was in your mind when you took hold of her heart?
Selurys pushed him away with a pained expression on her face.
-I didn’t mean it! We were supposed to be friends, nothing more…She was the friend I never had before!!!
-I don’t believe you! You were a liar and a cheater ever since I know you, Sis’! If she was supposed to be just a friend, then why is she crying herself to sleep each night? I’m sure it’s not because of Adanes.
Selurys was shocked.
-How…how do you know?-she muttered.
-I feel her tears in the water as I rise each morning. I can sense her sadness even if she’s always smiling at me. We know each other long before the two of you met so I can read her more easily.
-Does Adanes know to?-asked Selurys, her voice grave and restrained.
-No. Eneys loves him and he makes her so happy that when she’s with him, nothing can spoil that. Not even the shadow of your presence.
-You say that I am a cheater and a fraud but that’s not true. I’ve been roaming the Universe, hoping that one day I’d find a heart that would match mine. So many times I had hoped to have found my final shore and the one to love and to be loved….But it was an illusion, over and over again, so I kept searching until I’ve found it. Unfortunately for me, it was already taken. You’re right, Arauss: Eneys’ heart belongs to Adanes. This much I have understood soon enough and accepted it. But the time we’ve spent together has forged a deep connection between us and we have reached an inner harmony that eludes our comprehension. What we share is neither love, not friendship; it’s a compound, something new and unexpected by us both, making us incredibly happy and deeply miserable at the same time.
So I’ve decided to leave this place and disappear in order to give back Eneys’ peace of mind. And I will leave right now because I don’t want to put her through a painful goodbye. I’m not sure that I can survive that either. Goodbye, brother! Don’t judge me too hard….
Before Arauss could reply, Selurys disappeared inside her heart-shaped starship. When the first rays of the Sun reached the planet, the graceful silver vessel took its flight towards the magic filled paths of the Universe. Down bellow, the mighty wave was slowly receding towards the sandy shores, carrying the silent and thoughtful Ocean Goddess. As the frothing waters reached firm land, she stepped off and hurried to the house she and Adanes were sharing. She needed his strong, loving and reliable presence, he always brought smile on her face and joy to her heart. He was her stronghold and his calming presence always chased away the shadows. Eneys shut down the throbbing corner of her mind and rushed into the arms of her true love. Up in the skies, Arauss sighed.
“I hope nothing will disturb their happiness from now on….”-he thought as he drove his flaming carriage in the endless azure. He still dreaded the following night. How will Eneys react to the disappearance of Selurys? It was difficult to tell but Arauss was hoping that she will be able to balance everything in her usual wise way….
As the light of the day dimmed into shades of ink-blue and purple, Eneys walked to the edge of her kingdom. Something has changed around her, she could feel it. Star after star were lighting up the chandeliers of the night but the Moon was nowhere to see. The darkness embraced the land and the velvety black of the skies deepened, revealing a faint crescent of light, right in the center of the airy dome. It was the Moon….or at least what has remained of its usual light.
-What happened? –this question reverberated around the planet, in the voice and mind of every god and goddess.
-What’s wrong with your friend, Eneys? –asked Adanes worriedly. Has she lost her grip on the Moon? I’ve never seen such a strange feature before!
Eneys’ heart sank.
-I don’t know, Adanes but I’m going to find out.
She hurriedly summoned the rover of the Oceans and the wave diligently rolled out, carrying the little goddess to the swirling silver pool of light under the thin Moon. The companion of the planet was hanging in the skies, silent and dark. All its light has turned into a faint glow outlining one of the cheeks of the Moon. From that remnant of brightness, a thread of silver silk was descending into the swirl of the waters. The Ocean Goddess halted her carrier and the liquid mass flattened under her feet, allowing her to stop at the rim of that eerie pool. Hidden under the surface, something hung on that magic thread, creating the swirl.
Eneys bent and lifted the thread, revealing the item; it was a pendant, a black and silver one. She took it and placed it in the cradle of her palm. The silver filigree pendant represented the two faces of the Moon…entwined with the two faces of its Goddess. Tears build up in the eyes of the Ocean Goddess. She Covered the pendant with her other hand….and the pendant opened, revealing its interior. Eneys opened her palms and looked into the pendant; deeply carved into the sooth black surface, the tiny silver letter were speaking to her.
“ My dear Eneys!
I had to leave this place. My presence was jeopardizing your true happiness and the peace of your heart. Anyway, my ship was rusting of too much staying in one place and the Universe is still holding secrets waiting to be unraveled…I leave this planet with the hope that if there’s a fate for the gods to, then our tangled threads of life will bring us together maybe in another Time and Space, to fulfill the love that was denied now to you and me.
My beloved! I leave you my flowers, my butterflies, my lights and my shadows…I’ve built this world inspired by your love and trust and I leave now everything in your gentle hands.
Goodbye, my sweet Eneys! You have opened the cage of my soul, setting me free. I step on the path of stars with the memory of your loving, soft touch…
The graceful Goddess of the Ocean swallowed her pain and buried her feelings deep inside her heart. She took the precious pendant to her Secret Shore and hung it up in the skies.
During that night, under the protection of the shadow, the black lilies invaded the field of light dandelions, creating on the surface of the Moon the contours of a sad face. That face is still there, looking down at the planet every night, searching for its lost love.
Eons have passed since then and the gods and goddesses faded into myths and magic tales. From the embrace of the Ocean and the Land, a new creature emerged and conquered the planet. Its children had passed from generation to generation the story of love between Selurys and Eneys.
. The planet is calmly rolling around its blazing Sun while the blue-eyed Ocean lies in the strong arms of the Land. She joyfully rolls her white-tipped waves from shore to shore, from island to island, carrying ships and sails. But like clockwork, she also follows the pull of the Moon, running wildly towards the horizon, mesmerized by the invisible power calling her. Torn between her two loves, she laughs and cries; she cries and laughs with tears of pearls….
Spreading into the infinity, the Universe is spinning relentlessly around its axis and Time is weaving new horizons for the loves and stories to come.
Wild Woman, Wild Woman
Let me chase you under the Moon,
Under the light of star-chandeliers!
Your breath, like ghosts in flight,
Fading into depths of night…
Wild Woman, Wild Woman
Beast of beauty,
Rolling laughter of the thundering spirit,
As my shadow follows you with hungry heart!
Wild Woman, Wild Woman
The hills and forests have frozen
In the silence of your absence,
Emptiness filled with sorrow
My Secret Garden,
While the gates have rusted
In crimson pain.
Wild Woman, La Loba
Come back and run with me!
Let’s stir the wind that sleeps in the grass,
Let’s splash the pool of shining stars,
Let’s catch the Phoenix, bold and bright
Before it takes flight into the light!
Wild Woman, Wild Woman
Kin of my soul,
Echo of my untamed inner beast,
Wake up! Wake up!
Dark waters of oblivion are surrounding you…
Remember me, Wild Woman
Never let me go…..
The cougar stood atop the cliff, her eyes gazing in the distance, puncturing the shadow-filled night. She was tense and unhappy, growling low in a pain that only she knew. The chill that was slowly emerging from the depths made her skin crawl. The night was cruelly empty and pointless from her point of view. The one she was waiting for was missing.
A shooting star crossed the heavens and the graceful cat breathed out a wish…then shook her head and turned. It was just another foolish hope; the one she was waiting for on countless nights wasn’t going to return. Like the mist of early mornings, it has faded along with the first rays of the rising sun.
The row of cliffs was ending in a field of swaying grass and the cougar jumped in the embrace of the vegetal wave. The settling dew cooled her body and dimmed the ache of her soul. She swam through the ocean of long, silky stems and rolled in the grass until she became dizzy of the changing perspective upon the star-speckled skies. She then stood motionlessly for a while, while the yearning of her heart turned from roaring tempest to silent winds. She stood up, gracefully stretching her limbs and started to run towards the forest. The night was ending soon and the aurora of a new day was ready to light up the skies.
Reaching the entrance of the forest, the cat stood on her rear legs and shuddered as she turned into the woman she used to be in daylight. She stepped through the green portal and disappeared under the arches of the trees. She soon reached the habited area and stopped in front of her garden, pushing open the gates. The first rays of the sun were already seeping through the thin layer of rosy clouds and the soft breeze was rustling through the leaves of the small orchard. Stranded behind the fences, the neighbor’s dog was barking frantically. His keen senses were strung high by the lingering scent of a wild beast roaming the area.
“You know it, little one, don’t you? “- smiled inwardly the woman as the last tiny hairs of the sand-colored fur were sinking deep inside her skin. She chuckled and entered the house. Outside, the sun ripped off the clouds and the day broke in full blaze.
The water boiled up in the kettle and she poured some of it into the mug, stirring it with a spoon. Her mind was wandering and while she hopped on the window sill with the steaming cup in her hands, a haunting shadow emerged from the mist of the memories….
It’s been a restless night, with boisterous winds knocking at her bedroom window. After a few futile attempts to sleep she woke up and opened the window to give room to the night wind. The rush of air brought with it a strange yet familiar scent that seeped hurriedly through her nostrils, invading her whole body, leaving her nervous and confused. Curiosity aroused, she dressed up and left the house in the middle of the night, following the call encrypted in the scents of carried by the air. She crossed the patch of forest and the grassy meadow; she descended the steep slope until she reached the proximity of an old, dry riverbed. It was full Moon that night and the clear, white light was outlining every shape with an eerie contour.
The old woman was kneeling in the dust, scrambling through the dirt with her spidery fingers. She was digging out old bones, wild animal bones and she was placing them before her, arranging them in a pattern only she knew. From time to time, she searched through her bag, finding the missing bone, placing the missing link on the ground while she was humming some kind of an ancient incantation. Hidden in the bushes, the younger woman was following the whole ceremony with eyes wide open in awe. The old, shabby lady she knew from the village has turned into an embodiment of a seemingly long forgotten force of Nature. Above them, the Moon reached zenith and its light was covering the world with a dome of silver glow.
Old Spirit Woman rose to her feet and made a few magic signs in the air; she started to sing a song of Life and Death, a song that chilled even the bones of the one who was secretly following her. At the sound of this ancient veiling, the bones on the floor connected one by one: the elongated skull to the first vertebrae of the long but powerful neck, then to the flexible spinal cord, attaching the strong, slender limbs and the large rib-cage. Skin and flesh emerged in the rhythm of the song; thick black fur grew all over the graceful body. The crescendo of the incantation reached its final height and the animal jumped to its paws. It was a majestic wolf, with dark fur and silver and gold speckled mane. The beast shook and stretched its body, bowed before the Spirit Woman and sped out of the dry riverbed. Running nearby the hiding young woman, the wolf turned to her and grinned. She froze under the look of those mesmerizing eyes and she felt the hair rising on the back of her neck. As their eyes met, a deep connection was resurrected, one that they were both oblivious of. A flood of images invaded the mind of the young woman, while the shadow wolf disappeared towards the forest. The last image caught on the retina was of a tall and slender woman running and laughing heartily before she faded in the darkness.
-I gave you life the same way….-said the old Spirit. You can come out, my child. My work is done here.
The young woman stepped into the light.
-You knew I was here?-she asked incredulously.
The elderly woman laughed shortly.
-Heh, child. Your scent was brought to me by the wind long before you have reached this spot. But I wanted you to witness this rebirth. The one you saw tonight will move one day to your village….Now go home, my Wandering Daughter and sleep. There’s no more wind to knock on your window tonight.
-Good night, Wise Mother-said the young woman and bowed shortly towards her.
Then she turned sharply and headed to the patch of trees in the distance. Old Spirit Woman shook her head and a faint smile smoothed for a moment the intricate web of wrinkles on her face. She raised her hand in the air and the sign made by the spidery fingers turned into an effluvium following the Wandering Daughter. Like the wave of an invisible ocean it embraced her, touching with a gentle finger the excited mind. The veil of memory wavered under that touch and the happenings of that night slipped into the abyss of forgetfulness….
But the connection revived in that split of a moment of wild eyes meeting wild eyes was running deep. Countless generations of mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters, all of the long line of Wise and Wild Women had kept that intimate connection alive. Like a thread of magic, it had run through their veins in the rush of the red, fiery blood, it had sparkled dreams and desires inside their fast-beating hearts, it had turned the young fresh minds into bearers of eternal wisdom. But beyond that kinship running through their every cell, Wandering Daughter and La Loba were sharing a more personal history, one that was sang by the winds of the meadows, whispered by the rustle of leaves and carved inside the soft walls of two passionate souls….
The wheel of stars was turning slowly in the skies while the young woman was sleeping peacefully in her bed. The waters of her mind were calm and still, mirroring her quiet inner skies. As hours passed, the Moon kissed good-bye the Night and delved into the withering horizon. A swift shadow crossed the forest and La Loba stopped on the top of a hill. The village was sleeping in the arms of the morning mist.
The She-Wolf uttered a low growl of content and a strange light shone through her eyes. She breathed in the fresh, crispy air, reading carefully the hidden messages carried by the mix of scents. She smiled inwardly as she caught the familiar one…
The voice that called was deep and velvety, like the purring of a big cat.
-Would you like to share a coffee with me?
Kay turned and faced the stranger with amused curiosity. But she was not expecting to encounter such a disturbingly powerful presence. As she raised her face towards the one towering above her, she felt a kind of electricity running through her entire body, raising instantly the small hairs on her neck. She tried to assess what she was seeing: a strong bone structure, tanned skin and a pair of black sun-glasses, full, pink lips stretched in a pleasantly confident smile, revealing two rows of white teeth, all these features were composing the elusive face of a young woman with a strong aura of masculinity. Her gold and silver striped jet-black hair was cut short above the ears and there was a rebellious strand falling in her face from time to time. She was wearing a black jacket, jeans and boots but that was just adding to her ambivalent charm. For Kay it was instant hit; before her mind could find a proper response, her heart simply said:
-Why not? –and her eyes filled with sparks.
The shared coffee turned into a sizzling conversation and the bond was almost instant on both sides. The more they talked, the deeper they connected, opening secret inner pathways in the soul of each other. Suddenly, the world around them faded in the background and space filled with ancient magic. Beyond the words, there was a back and forth flowing of energies woven into a protective net around the two women. Echoes of passed eons were surging from the depth of Time, carrying bits and pieces of stories lived and re-lived again and again in a never-ending story of soulful kinship. But Kay and her companion were oblivious of the Cosmic moves and shifts; they were joyfully chatting and laughing, sharing thoughts and dreams in a frenzy. How wonderful this encounter was! Unexpected and meaningful, strange yet familiar….
-Where do you stay?-asked Kay finally. Do you have any relatives in the village?
Sage shook her head and laughed shortly.
-No, I am a total stranger here. I just arrived today and decided to sit here with a coffee and delve into the local atmosphere. It was then that you came into my vision….So I think I’ll rent a room here if it’s not too expensive.
Kay thought for a moment then she took a bold decision:
-I have a spare room and I live alone here. You can stay with me if that would be suitable for you…
-You mean it?-asked Sage incredulously.
It was Kay’s turn to laugh watching her new friend’s amazement.
-Why would I say it, if I don’t mean it? Come, let me show you my place and then you can decide if you stay or not.
Of course Sage liked the house and the quiet, comfortable room that lead to the courtyard behind the house. She quickly unpacked while Kay kept herself busy in the kitchen. Moments later Sage joined her, lending a helping hand to fix something to eat.
Watching her graceful little host moving around the tiny kitchen, smiling and energetic, Sage thought about how strange was the unfolding of the latest events. She remembered the tingling sensation that filled her body as she caught a glimpse of the first colorful roofs of the village emerging from the embrace of the coiling mist. Suddenly she felt home, though she was 100 percent sure that she has never been here before.
But she trusted her instinct so she walked down the slope and shortly after that she had reached the location. A few questions and people shown her the way to the Bed and Breakfast and she stood in the corner, sipping her coffee and trying to assess the area. It was a lively community inhabiting a rich natural space. Sage relaxed, smiled inwardly sensing the curiosity in the glances the villagers were throwing in her direction. Yes, she was quite an appearance, taller than many of the men around and with that confident, carefree manner. The lady at the counter brought her the breakfast and Sage ate it slowly, enjoying the spicy taste of homemade food. She was fighting with the last piece of ham and eggs when she sensed a subtle change in the air. It was like someone with a significant aura has entered the room. Sage looked up from her plate instinctively, trying to discern the source of that personal energy. It was hard to miss her.
She was there, talking and smiling to everyone and people were filling up with her radiation. She was moving swiftly through the crowd in the room, reaching the counter and talking with the owner. Sage stood up instantly and before she could even think what she was doing, she heard herself inviting the girl to a coffee….She sighed. There was a promise in their encounter and she wanted to know what it was about. Summer was still lingering in the valley, the sun was showering with warmth the hills and the forest was dense with cooling shadows. Life seemed good and Sage decided to put aside her hidden worries and simply enjoy the magic of the moment.
The Cosmos moves in subtle ways inside and outside us. The Universe is our cradle, our playground but it is also woven into us in intricate patterns, connecting soul to soul. It’s like an invisible net of high complexity, one that has successfully eluded measurements and explanations, at least till now. Most of us, we are oblivious about its existence and we focus through our lives mainly on the daily struggles and personal goals, on the relentless quest for happiness. But then, there are moments when something unexpected breaks the dull line of our lives and we are subjected to strange encounters, we get caught up in accidental connections that turn us upside-down so that we finally end up questioning all about our vision upon our existence. These are moments of shocking awakenings, of wonderings filled with both awe and anxiety. What is this? How did it happen? Why? Why now? …..Why me?
This row of haunting questions in various, personalized forms are buzzing in our mind while our inner Ocean is slowly waking up, its restless waves stirring the soft shores of the soul.
For Kay, her encounter with Sage came at a moment when her entire life had been set in balance and she was comforted by the thought that she had already seen all….As the Universe has an odd sense of humor, nothing can be more deceitful than such a confidently optimistic state of mind. For the enigmatic and complicated spirit of Sage, the outpouring light of Kay was an instant hit. On the other side, the challenge of unraveling the light-filled or shadow-hidden territories of Sage’s inner world acted like a magnet on the vivacious spirit of Kay. Before they both realized what was going on between them, the universe has already set in motion the connecting. The two kin-spirits had recognized each –other long before their bearers became aware of all that they were sharing.
With a small gesture, Janet Collins set straight the colorful tablecloth on the small table near the window. It was still very early and her guests were sound asleep. The morning sun was twinkling on the golden rim of the china tea cups only to melt inside the lovely bouquet of yellow flowers carefully placed on every table.
Mrs. Collins smiled with satisfaction. Everything was ready for a new day and the arrival of her customers. The small but homely Bread-and-breakfast was a favorite of both tourists and local people. You could also purchase tea and coffee for home so Kay was a regular customer here. More than a week has passed since she came to get her box of Earl Grey tea and then she went home with that stranger. Janet sighed; she felt almost relieved when Kay took away that particular person…..No, there was nothing wrong with that young woman; on the contrary, she was very friendly and extremely polite…But her overwhelming presence made Mrs. Collins uneasy. Now, after so many days, curiosity replaced anxiety. What were those two girls doing?
Luckily she didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Kay just stepped in and Janet couldn’t stop thinking that she looked radiant.
-Good morning, Mrs. Collins. I came to fill up my reserve of teas. Do you happen to have some other choices on your shelves?-asked the young woman cheerfully.
-Good morning, Kay. What happened? Has your tea supply dried out all of a sudden? –asked Janet.
Kay chuckled and shook her head.
-No, not at all. But I thought to offer my guest a wider choice. So I would love to buy some green tea and a can of hot chocolate. She loves hot chocolate and Old Jeremy is providing us with fresh milk.
-Well, well…I see that you are pampering her. It’s amazing how the two of you became good friends in such a short time. How long will she stay here?
-I don’t know-said Kay with a smile. I didn’t ask, she didn’t say….She can stay as long as she wants. It’s only the two of us in that house and she doesn’t keep me away from anything.
-Well, Kay I’d rather see you pampering a young man, if I may say that. There are plenty of them around and your clock is ticking….-commented Janet, fumbling with the colorful cans and boxes. Here’s your tea and the hot chocolate.
Kay took them, paid and she winked at Mrs. Collins.
-Something tells me that my Prince Charming wasn’t born yet. Thank you for the concern…Have a nice day, Mrs. Collins and don’t worry about me. If I’ll find my soul-mate you’ll be the first to know about it.
As the young woman left, customers started to pour in, leaving no time to Janet Collins to worry about Kay’s future. Yet she couldn’t escape to the strange sensation that something was about to happen….But what? She sighed and dismissed the feeling. Right now she had a business to run.
Kay opened the gate and stopped for a moment to watch Sage doing her daily routine of physical exercises. The well trained, supple muscles were moving gracefully under the tanned skin. Sheen of sweat was glistening on the agile body that moved with confident ease. Kay watched her with an admiring smile. Moments later, Sage became aware of being watched and turned to her, the dark eyes flickering playfully.
“ A young wolf….” Thought Kay, taken aback by the image that popped up in her mind.
-Hi! I’ve purchased some goodies for breakfast!-she said cheerfully. I’ll fix something to eat till you get ready.
She winked and slipped inside the house. Soon they were sitting at the table together.
-Ey….Thanks!-Sage acknowledged the hot chocolate prepared for her. I love it!
She grabbed the steaming mug and completed it with a generous fill of cream. Kay chuckled; she found Sage’s sweet-tooth irresistible. It added a touch of child-like innocence to the strong and complex personality of her friend.
-What?!-asked Sage, raising an eyebrow.
-I was wondering if I shouldn’t have chosen a larger cup for you….
They both laughed. The door cracked and a wrinkled, funny face poked in.
-Good morning, my lovely ladies!-said the old man, raising his ragged hat. Here’s your fresh milk!
Kay jumped from her chair and invited Old Jeremy in. She took the bottle of milk and invited the old man to sit down at the table. She quickly poured a cup of fresh coffee and placed in front of him, along with some small cookies.
-Here’s your coffee, Mr. Branigan. It was waiting for you!
Old Jeremy took a sip cautiously from the steaming cup then look at the two young women with a mischievous smile.
-Heheh, such fine ladies you are both…Were I young like these foolish ladies in the village, I would sleep under your window to be the first to great you every day! They should be here, pending on the fences, eyes glued on your window and not wasting their time in the pub…
Sage shook her head and laughed shortly.
-I might be the reason of their absence. I seem somehow intimidating to many of them.
The old man nodded approvingly.
-Eh, you might be right, my dear. I can hardly think of any lad matching you…except maybe for Georgie Ham and Frank, his cousin. They are a bit dummies but they are good hearted. How about you, little one?-asked Old Jeremy, turning to Kay.
-Yes, tell us Kay-smirked Sage. Don’t leave me heartbroken over the misfortune I brought upon you by scaring away the potential Prince Charming.
Kay grinned and filled the cups with coffee for everyone.
-I’ve just came to think that there must be some new spots on the Sun because Mrs. Collins was questioning me about the same thing this morning. So I’ll give you the same response: you’ll be the firsts to know when I’ll find my Prince Charming.
Later as Kay was cleaning the table, Sage heard her commenting in a low voice: “Who said I want a Prince? What if I am looking for a Princess ?” Sage turned towards her with a new light sparkling through her eyes. Kay raised her head and stared into Sage’s dark eyes. The flow of energy connecting them broke the final seal on the Gates of Memory and remembrance spread from the depths of Time like a wildfire. Feelings…feelings summoned from the thousands of forgotten moments of love and hurt were gathering into a crazed river that menaced to flood two fragile, human hearts. Kay’s eyes filled with tears and she ran out, gasping for air.
Sage sighed and followed her moments later. It was happening again. They were lost for a while, now they were reconnecting. It didn’t come as a huge surprise because Sage’s instincts were relating more to her wild side. Every inch of her body and soul were carrying the duality of man and woman and that of the human and wild. She has been waiting for Kay’s awakening…and it happened now. She found her standing in the backyard, sitting under the old tree, leaning against the rugged trunk with her face buried in her palms. Sage quietly sat next to her. For a moment, the silence grew so heavy that you could hear the splinters of Reality falling and hitting the grass.
-Sage….-came the tiny whisper. I’m sorry…
-Ssshhttt….-echoed the other whisper. Come, let me show you something!
They stood up and left by the hind gates. They walked hand in hand towards the dark shape of the forest. Sitting on a heap of grass on the top of the hill, the old woman was watching the two girls crossing the meadow. They seemed to be absorbed by the conversation they had. The tall one was leading. Her entire being was radiating a powerful aura and her smaller companion was basking in that flow of light. She looked genuinely happy. In fact, they both looked that way. The intimacy of their harmony was unmistakable. The Old Woman gave a nod of approval and then her contour slowly faded out in the morning light.
As they crossed the forest they came out into a place never seen before. They stepped over that sizzling, thin blue line of demarcation between two worlds and entered in a space where Time was no longer the Master and Reality was bending and extending under the touch of the energy of their souls combined. The large, grassy slope opened under their feet, leading into the meadow that was bordering a quick running rivulet. Tens of colorful wild flowers were swaying under the breeze that was bouncing on the top of the high-stemmed grass. Sage and Kay looked at each other with a smile and then rolled down the hill giggling and laughing like two school-girls. As they reached flat land, they rested on their back, arms wide open, catching their breath…Kay turned on her belly and crawled next to Sage, watching her. There was a rebellious strand of hair falling on her face and Kay gently pushed it aside. She ran her fingers over the straight line of eyebrows and followed the high cheekbones and the strong line of the jaws. Sage’s skin was soft and warm…
-Gods, I missed you so much….-she whispered.
Sage’s eyes sparkled and she brought Kay closer.
-I was waiting for you to remember….I was powerless till then. I’ve missed you badly, girl but now that we are back together, nothing will set us apart. Nothing.
The kiss tasted like summer light and their embrace encompassed the whole passion of a starburst. Heart connected to heart, hand touched hand and fingers entwined hungrily, and one body cradled the other while breath added to breath, running together to catch up with the wind in the meadow. The late afternoon weaved happy stories from silky memory threads and the scenery shifted, opening into arching cathedrals of forest, hillsides covered by raspberry shrubs, with pending braches covered with sweet, ruby fruits, bubbling sources of fresh water dancing on the rocky beds and oceans of acquiring, scented grass where crickets were singing under the lapis-lazuli skies. Love turned into summer wine, hearts became chalices of glass while the souls got drunk of happiness….
-We have to go back, girl….-whispered the low, velvety voice. It’s getting late at home.
-Ah, you’re right…-said Kay, shaking her head to remove the a few grass blades that got tangled in her hair. But we are far from the entrance. It will take us some time…
-Not if we change shape. You don’t have to worry if you don’t remember how to do it, I’ll show you. Just relax and let yourself go….Come, Kay. Take my hand!
And they ran….gathering speed with each new step. Sage laughed and the sunlight was dancing on the row of white teeth. Kay gasped and sensed her body stretching and changing. She separated from Sage as her soul-mate was changing to. The spiky, raven black hair turned in the gold and silver tinted thick mane of a She-Wolf that was leading the way with elegantly high jumps. A magical blue fire was burning in her eyes and she was turning encouragingly from time to time towards the small cougar following her closely. They took the steep slope and jumped the demarcation line, landing inside the familiar forest. It was past midnight when they reached the exit and finally stopped. The Moon was playing hide and seek with a few clouds floating in the skies. The village was sound asleep.
The She-Wolf and the Cougar were cuddling in the grass, the rush of their hearts slowly turning into the calm rhythm of human hearts. Sage placed her arm around Kay’s shoulder while Kay put a hand around her waist and then they walked quietly home. The neighbor’s dog whimpered in sleep, troubled by the mix of strange scent invading his nostrils. Sage grinned and closed the door behind.
The following days and weeks were dedicated to happily roaming the ever-changing paths of the lost Paradise. The forests and meadows turned into golden sands of sea shores, into emerald islands and lush tropical sceneries. Sometimes the land disappeared and the Cosmos opened its arms of blazing stars to the wandering girls. Planets hidden behind dark clouds of stardust were unraveling their secrets; strange creatures welcomed them in their homes.
And when they were not spending the days in the land behind the blue line, Sage and Kay were running wildly together under the Moon. So it’s not surprising that the wind in the hills rolled sometimes strange petals, bits of stardust or small, nacreous shells, like fairy-nails. The old riverbed was holding the memory of alien-like foot prints and the dogs were barking more often in the moonlight…
Love was blossoming inside and outside the boundaries of Space and Time. Soft, silk-like filaments of emotion were weaving the invisible but seemingly unbreakable cloak, embracing and protecting the revived connection of two flamboyant hearts. The planet was rolling in the embrace of summer but the season was ready to write the final chapter. Perched on the top of a hill, the forest was lost in summer dreams and the green of the canopy was still young at heart. As the heat of the day gradually diminished and the nights were cooling down, the meadow was breathing more easily, while the scent of wild-flowers was flowing with undiminished grace. Only the slow turning of colors towards a palette of deep burgundy, blue-lavender, pale yellow and creamy white was speaking about the season to come. Finally, August opened its gates and harvest has begun in celebration. The festival of Lammas was a moment of joyful gathering and each year tourists were pouring in for the event.
Considering the success of previous years, Janet Collins was expecting a serious flow of guests and she was wondering who would help her out this year. Not that she was low on options but the previous year proved to be a real success due to Kay’s support. But this year…Mrs. Collins shook her head: this year, Kay’s presence seemed uncertain. She was more than busy spending time with her friend, Sage.
“ I wonder what are they doing all day long?-muttered Mrs. Collins with a grimace. Gracie Mills says that they leave the house early in the morning and that she has never caught them coming back. Where can they go? There’s nothing interesting beyond the forest…Such a strange woman that Sage is! She’s got this silly girl under her spell!”
Janet’s grumbling came to a halt when the door opened and she faced the odd couple she was thinking about.
-Good morning, Mrs. Collins!-shouted Sage with large smile. Don’t you need a helping hand for the festival?! Kay told me how enjoyable it was the last time.
Janet’s face lit up instantly.
-Why yes, of course! Come in, girls! Sit here for a moment. I’ll pour some coffee and I have fresh lemon cake for you. Then, we can talk about the preparations.
And she wasn’t disappointed. Sage proved to be a pleasant surprise and a truly helpful person. With Kay by her side, she decorated and changed the premises with the ease of a magician. During the work, Janet Collins’ perception upon the “odd couple” switched from suspicious to enthusiastic and by the time the Mayor opened the festival, the owner of the inn has become their strongest supporter.
The village filled with excited outsiders and they delved in the magic of celebrating the power of the summer sun, the ripening of seeds and fruits and the replenishing of life. Laughter, music, chatter, humorous incantations and playful shouts were mixing in the air and the wind got drunk with the flow of scents: meadowsweet and sage, fresh-baked new bread and cakes, traditional food bubbling in huge pots, fresh apple cider….The once sleepy village was now teaming with life.
Kay and Sage were busy to help the guests fully enjoy everything. Janet Collins was more than pleased.
-Ey, you got yourself the best helpers, Janet!-said Old Jeremy. Our Kay was a sweetie last year to, but since this boyish lady arrived, she seems to have caught wings….-he finished with a wink.
-Oh, hush, you old crow….That lady worked here like a man and she had kept us on track until we finished. I cannot stop admire her strength and energy. And you know what? She has such a contagious cheerfulness!
-Ey, ey, you’re right, Jannie. I like these girlies to, they are always nice to me. Nah, I hope they’d come to see the bonfire and dance around it with the rest of the youth. I wish I could still dance with them but, heheh, these bones are too old by now. Nah, see you around, Jannie!
Mrs. Collins chuckled.
-See you later, uncle! We’ll see then if our girls will find tonight their pair to jump over the bonfire!
Old Woman pushed open the gates and hurriedly crossed the backyard of Kay’s house. The girls were still in the village so she walked to the front door. She opened her ragged bag and fumbled inside it until she found what she was looking for. With an enigmatic smile on her face, she took out the corn dollie and hung it up above the entrance. It was a beautiful sweet-heart shaped dollie, braided with bright red threads. Old Woman murmured something, she spread a handful of mixed meadowsweet flowers and sage leaves on the doormat and she vanished in the amber light of late afternoon.
Kay and Sage returned home to catch their breath and change clothes before the evening celebration and the bonfire. They were both tired but satisfied: the day proved to be a success and everyone seemed happy. Deep inside, Kay was convinced that Sage had boosted with her presence the whole atmosphere; she was simply radiating energy and the air was sizzling around her. With her tall and graceful frame she definitely dominated the crowd and without noticing, the world moved under her touch like under the spell of a magician. All this time, Kay just followed her discreetly, breathing in the joy spread by Sage. But now they were ready for the last magical sequence of the festival.
Sage pushed open the front gates, let Kay in and they both stopped, looking at the corn dollie that was hanging above their door. Who had been there? Who brought that and why? Did someone know….? These questions were ringing in their mind. Finally, it was Sage who broke the silence.
-So what? Let them know, I don’t care! Are you Ok, girl?-she asked, turning to her loved one.
Kay shook her head, laughing.
-I’ve never been better! This is a lovely gift. I thank whoever left it for us.
She put an arm around Sage’s waist and they went inside. Old Woman watched them from the shadows. She was pleased.
People were gathering in large numbers in the open where the bonfire was ready to be lit. Couples were walking hand in hand, talking, smiling, children were running up and down, shouting, giggling, the elders were sitting on benches, remembering moments of far away festivals while the youth, boys and girls, locals and tourists were forming groups. The Celtic music filling the air, the excitement of bursting, hungry hearts under the star-crowned night, the mystery of ancient times, symbolized by the fire that was about to consume all that had been bad, the hope of love and beauty rising on wings of flames from the ashes….all of them were building into an invisible dome of protective magic above the people bellow. The Mayor lit up the big stack of woods and everyone cheered as the fire erupted victoriously towards the heights. From their spot half hidden the shadow, Sage and Kay were watching the blazing play, holding each other.
Sparkle by sparkle, drop by drop, note by note the magic of the night is seeping inside the young hearts, carried by the flow of excitement that envelops each of the joyfully swirling, dancing boys and girls.
Tam-tadam, tam-tadam, the music chants, followed by the rhythm of the wildly dancing flames…Tam-tadam, tam-tadam, the music chants as boys and girls, hand in hand are now gathering in a long chain of dancers…Tam-tadam, tam-tadam, the heart of the Universe is beating along with every loving, longing heart and the chain of dancers is circling faster and faster around the bonfire….tam-tadam, tam-tadam, tam-tadam, tam-tadam….The flames are now fire-birds soaring into the night sky, hungry hands reaching for the stars above, red and gold, red and gold….Blazing crimson rivers are rushing through the veins and bursting from the frantic hearts, souls are opening, flooded by the heightened emotions….Tam-tadam, tam-tadam, the world is under spell…
Kay and Sage are caught in the enchantment. They have joined the chain of dancers, swirled with the others and they’ve been separated in the frenzy. In the magic circle drew by the light of the bonfire it’s hard to catch more than a glimpse of someone…Light, music and dance are streaming and there’s almost no chance to swim against their strong current. Kay feels lost and though she can feel Sage’s powerful presence inside the flow, losing touch with her is unsettling. The strength of the bonfire is slowly subsiding and people are preparing to try a lucky jump over the flames. Outside the circle of light, parents and elders are making guesses about the forming couples. Playful bets are made and memories are shared about how the fate of some of these pairs developed in the past.
Suddenly the chain of dance is breaking and the first pair jumps over the smoldering ashes in the cheer of everyone….then another pair and another….over and over again. Caught in the erratic movement of the crowd, Sage is trying to focus to find Kay. There she is! She looks like she’s desperately trying to get rid of a young man following her. With a firm hand, Sage pushes aside the people in her way, closing on the quarreling duo.
-Come on, Kay, don’t be so fussy!- says the young man. Why don’t you want to take the jump with me?
-Because she already promised it to someone else!
Sage’s voice is a low growl and as she firmly steps next to Kay, the hair on the back of her neck is raising in irritation. A greenish light is flickering in the depth of the dark eyes and the young man wisely decides to step back. He mumbles something about crazy women and disappears in the crowd, to try his luck with someone else. Kay and Sage are looking at each other with a smile.
-Shall we? –asks Sage, tilting her head.
Kay slips her hand into Sage’s palm.
A gush of wind stirs the ashes of the bonfire and in the burst of sparkles the shadow of La Loba and the Cougar is taking flight through it. They land gracefully and before anyone can realize what they’ve just witnessed, the two young women are fading inside the night. There are still many couples waiting at the jumping line….
-What have I told you, Jannie? –chuckles the old man sitting next to Mrs. Collins.
-I have to admit that you were right, uncle. I’ve lost the bet so be my guest in the morning for a coffee and cheese cake!
At the first light of dawn, the merry gathering of celebrating people split and scattered; everyone needed a good sleep. The cool breath of the land was coiling trough the grass, leaving beads of dew at the point of each delicate blade. The sun hopped above the horizon and the trees and bushes imperceptibly stretched their twigs and branches in the warmth of its touch. Somewhere in the distance, in a place where silence was still lying lazily, Kay and Sage were sitting atop of a hill, leaning against each-other.
-We have jumped over the fire so many times, yet our journey ended in losing touch every time…-mused Kay.
-Maybe this time it’s the lucky one…-whispered Sage. I’m tired of waking up alone over and over again, unable to recall what happened.
-I don’t remember either; I’m left only with the void inside…
Kay sighed and shook her head. She turned to watch Sage’s face; it was tense and preoccupied. Kay’s heart sunk so she gently touched the lovely features, trying to scatter the clouds of thoughts.
-Hey…Let’s enjoy what we have for now. Come, put your head in my lap and I’ll tell you a story about a clumsy alien who fell off the skies…
Sage quickly changed her position and looked into Kay’s eyes with a grin.
-Was it a little green man from Mars?
-No, not exactly. I’m afraid it was rather human like and that he wasn’t quite happy about his landing!
The gates of the day opened wide and the sun soaked up every drop of dew. The flowers in the meadow turned towards the light, displaying their colorful outfits. Bees and butterflies filled the air and the early morning wind curled at the feet of the two girls, listening to the unfolding story.
Old Woman scattered a handful of soft, silky pebbles on the ground and her small, dark eyes carefully followed their pattern in the dust. She took out a pair of feathers and sprinkled some water on the rocks. A larger, round pebble that has fallen in the center of an approximate circle turned red while tiny columns of dark dust were rising around it, like ghosts….
-The Blood Moon!-murmured Old Woman. So soon….
With a short gesture she shattered the pattern and stood up. She scrutinized the horizon; maybe there was some time left before the wings of Darkness would spread upon the world. The old Spirit was ready to confront them but most of all, she had two hearts to protect. She hurried to the meadow to pick some wild herbs for the ritual.
Inside the bubble of protective calm, the two young women were savoring their moment of peaceful intimacy. The story of the fallen alien was over and the wind has taken flight to chase butterflies. Kay’s fingers got tangled in Sage’s hair while the latter stole a late-summer kiss from her lips. The boisterous wind returned, scattering cherry-red poppy petals over them, ruffling the surface of the sea of grass, releasing the fresh scent of wildflowers into the heated air.
August was reigning everywhere and love was ripening under its touch. The intense light pouring from above was thickening in sugar and honey in the fruits of the land. Grass kernels were trembling under the touch of the breeze, grapes were dreaming of the vines they’d become…As the stream of love was confidently flowing under the bridge that was connecting their hearts, Kay and Sage were lying in each other’s arms, hoping that the magic of this moment will never end.
That Kay and Sage have chosen to jump over the bonfire as a pair didn’t come as such great surprise for most of the villagers, aside maybe some of the usual gossipers, Gracie-the-neighbor included. People around here were mild and friendly; they were living in a picturesque area and visitors were a daily presence. So the villagers adopted a wise attitude of live and let live and they were not willing to change that. For them, Kay was a good girl and Sage had proved herself equally lovable during the festival so they welcomed their love with ease and grace. Janet Collins didn’t mention Prince Charming anymore and all was good under the sun.
The Summer Harvest festival proved to be a huge success, making the owner of the Bed-and-breakfast immensely happy. And now, there was some news in the papers that could generate another flow of tourists to their village: a total lunar eclipse. They were situated in the shadow-zone that allowed the best perspective upon this cosmic event. Mrs. Collins was musing on these things when Kay entered the door.
-Good morning, Mrs. Collins! Why are you so preoccupied today?
-Ah! Good morning, Kay! I’m glad you came. Look! What do you think about it?
She handed the newspaper to the girl and then she disappeared inside the shop to bring the usual provisions to her early customer. Moments later, Mrs. Collins returned with a bag full of cans and goodies.
-Here!-she said, handing the groceries to Kay. So, what do you think of this new event?
-I think it’ll keep us busy again, Mrs. Collins. I’ve never seen a total lunar eclipse before! Well, if you need some helping hand, Sage and I would come with pleasure.
She paid the groceries and turned to the door.
-I go to share the news with Sage! I bet she’d be thrilled! Have a nice day, Mrs. Collins!
-A nice day to you both, Kay!-said Janet with a content smile. See you later!
Sage was thrilled to witness the celestial event and to lend a helping hand to their friend at the inn.
-We have a chance to witness a cosmic event together, girl…-she said with a happy smile. Let’s see that hot chocolate and then, we can sit down planning the following days.
She bent and placed a kiss on Kay’s forehead then helped her unpack the groceries.
Light and Darkness are two faces of the same principle and the Shadow is their child. It holds the same duality of harboring creation and destruction, so you can never be certain who finds shelter under its wings. Old Woman was fully aware that once the power of the Moonlight would decrease with the Lunar eclipse, not only the fairies will come out to play. She had been watching over her children from the beginning of Time and she knew well some of the nasty crawlers hidden in the shadows.
She was also familiar with the fragility of Sage’s core, the challenges she had met throughout her numerous existences and the secret of her longtime sufferance. She could recall at any moment those tragic events that have had shattered the inner balance of this beautiful child…They were twice as hard to bear since the wrong had been done by the one who was supposed to love and protect her the most….Old Woman sighed and dismissed the memory. At least, there was one luminous presence in Sage’s life, Kay; and now, the Mother of all Daughters was drawing her magic circles around the house to keep them safe from the creatures of the Shadow.
The cosmic clock was diligently ticking as the planets and moons were rolling on their tracks. The dark beast hiding under the cloak of the Shadow was angry. For days it has tried to get in the house of the two young women living at the end of the lane, but the circles of magic around their house were over-riding its power. The beast was hungry and it was growing impatient. It could sense the fine cracks on the surface of one the souls living there and it craved to delve into it. But that person was protected during the day by her connection to her soul-mate so the beast had to wait for another opportunity. It finally came during the nights, when spirits were wandering in the Realms of the Dream and could easily get lost in its tricky labyrinths.
Like a spider weaving its net, the shadowy beast followed Sage’s spirit in her nightly wanderings and learned about the dark memories haunting her. And as the cosmic event was coming closer and closer, the dreams of the young woman filled with unsettling bits of memories. The constant pressure of nightmares was taking tole on Sage, despite her bravery. She was withering like a flower under the heat of a merciless sun. Though the love she shared with Kay was her most powerful support, she kept sensing that her grip on reality is loosening. And to make things ever worse, she could not remember anything tangible from what was tormenting her during the night.
-I wake up every day with the same empty memory and I feel so tired….It’s like something dark is suckling away all my strength….-she confessed to her worried love. I’m sorry, girl. I don’t want to upset you.
-Sshhht…Hush, my love! Don’t say silly things…-whispered Kay, embracing her and burying the face on Sage’s rebellious strands of black hair. We’ll get over this together.
But she could see that things were getting only worse for now. In a desperate attempt to protect her beloved, she took the corn-dollie from outside and placed it above their bed. Maybe, just maybe this would bring some peace to Sage…
Even Janet Collins had noticed the slight change in the mood of the usually cheerful and energetic young woman. She seemed more like a fading photograph.
-What’s wrong with Sage?-she asked from Kay while they were in the kitchen, fixing some food for the helpers. She seems …distracted and preoccupied, not her usual energy-bomb.
-She wasn’t feeling well lately…-responded Kay with a sigh. She has problems sleeping and I don’t know how to help her.
-You should ask Miss Maggie…you know, the old herb collector, that lady living in the cottage next to Jeremy Brannigan’s. I’m sure she can make a concoction of herbs that would help you out.
-Oh, you’re right! I have forgotten about her! In fact, I haven’t seen her for ages…-said Kay.
-I’m sure you haven’t but that’s understandable. You and Sage don’t have eyes but for each-other. Miss Maggie is fine; she’s still my regular customer and you know, she was asking about you a few days ago. So, you can pay her a visit and ask for help. Bring her some sweets; she loves them….
That afternoon, Kay baked some chocolate-chips cookies (Sage loved them to) and skipped the house while Sage was dozing after the work at the inn. She found the cottage easily and knocked at the door. The door cracked and she saw the wrinkled but friendly face of the old herb collecting lady.
-Good afternoon, Miss Maggie. I hope I’m not disturbing you….I have a problem.
-Come in, come in my child. I was expecting you-said the old woman with an accomplice smile.
-You do? -Kay was astonished. Did Mrs. Collins tell you…?
Old Woman laughed and sat her down.
-It wasn’t Janet who told me. I can read the signs in the air. Something wicked is lurching around the village and the lunar eclipse is enhancing its power. I made a mix of plants for Sage with lavender, hard-hay and linden-tree flowers. They will calm her but I cannot promise you that she won’t have nightmares anymore. The world of dreams is out of my reach. One more thing: don’t go out in the night of the eclipse! It’s not good for Sage. Now hurry up, don’t leave your sweetheart alone!
The following days went on uneventfully…or at least, it looked like the nightmares were gone. The two girls were breathing more easily and color returned in Sage’s cheeks. In the village, all the lodgings filled up with amateur astronomers and romantic city-dwellers, eager to spend the night of the eclipse out in the open. Though the nights were slowly cooling down with each late-summer day, it was still warm enough and enjoyable.
Kay found an excuse for her and Sage to stay home that evening. Reluctantly, Sage agreed to skip the event; she didn’t want to upset Kay. She has had enough worries the previous week, so they dined at home and went to bed early. Maybe if they would sleep this night, things would return to their normal, happy state…
But the beast of darkness had his own plans. As the shadow was slowly covering the face of Moon, the beast was emerging in the dream of its victim. It was gathering the increasing powers and taking the shape of someone the young woman feared the most. Moments before the total eclipse, the dark silhouette emerged before the mind’s eyes of the sleeping Sage, pointing an accusing finger to her. The voice calling was cold as ice and it cut deeply into the soft, fragile core. Sage screamed…
She woke up breathless and in cold sweat. She was sitting on the edge of the bed with a confused expression on her face. Where was she? How did she end up here? Who was that young woman looking at her and why was she so sad? What happened?
-Sage….-the unknown woman’s voice was trembling as she called her name.
-I’m sorry but I don’t know who you are! Please….I cannot stay here!
The girl’s eyes filled with tears as she was shouting her name. Sage felt cornered by the pain she was witnessing; it wasn’t her fault! She knew nothing of the cause of this pain! She stood up and retreated into a corner, far from the young woman. Sage felt the urge to run pushing from inside.
-Sage, please! It’s me, Kay! Don’t you remember me?!
Pushed from her inner resort, Sage sprinted towards the door, avoiding to be touched by the pleading girl.
-No!-she shouted. No!! I’m sorry, I’m sorry….I have to go!! I have to go!!!
She rushed out the door and run to the forest. As her body stretched and re-shaped into the slender form of the La Loba, Reality itself wobbled and opened into a new one, outlined by the usual sizzling blue light. La Loba stopped in the middle of a plain, inside the circle of yellow light thrown by the Blood Moon, waiting. A strong gush of wind cleaned the circle and raised a wall of thin dust around it. The glow of the Moon intensified and the She-wolf shuddered under its touch. She rose to her hind legs and started to swirl and dance in the pouring light. While she was dancing, the dust thickened on the rim of the circle and ghostly shapes of wolves emerged, following the moves of the La Loba. Suddenly, the circle of light extended, engulfing them all and the whole pack was now dancing and howling in frenzy!
The sound of this eerie choir spread around in waves and inside the magic Reality, these waves were glittering and glowing with a golden light. Halted at the rim of this bubble of the Space-Time fabric, the Cougar was following the unfolding of the events with a sense of hopelessness. She couldn’t step in, she couldn’t follow and she couldn’t reclaim the one she loved. Only the knowledge of their eternal connection was offering a faint comfort to her broken heart.
Up in the skies, the Blood Moon was dimming and the power of the Shadow was diminishing with each moment. But by the time the Light reclaim its place, La Loba and the Shadow Wolves were a pack once again and they were running ahead, towards an intangible horizon. But before she was completely engulfed by the distance, La Loba turned towards the Cougar. For a split of a moment, she was again Sage, standing there, remembering… Her eyes locked into Kay’s eyes…
“Remember me, girl! Remember me! Don’t let me fade away!”
The magic of the moment broke up and Wild Woman laughed loudly, then she ran away with her Wolves. The bubble of Reality closed behind them, leaving the Wandering Daughter to cry her chagrin in the arms of the night.
Old Woman was sitting in the moonlight, waiting for Kay to calm down. The skies cleared, the shadows were gone and the beast had won this round….again. The girl sighed painfully and she lifted her face to the elderly woman.
-I don’t understand what is happening to me-she started and her voice cracked….I don’t know if this was a dream or it was only the end of a nightmare. I don’t know why do I have to be in such pain and why my heart feels so empty, if this was just a product of my imagination…But I don’t care if this was a lie or it was just temporary madness, as long as it had such an imprint of beauty inside me, filling my soul with warmth and light.
Right now, all I know is that no matter how hard it is to admit that it’s over, that from now on I will have to roam these paths alone, I will not kill the fire that is burning inside my heart. I don’t want to forget! I don’t want to pretend that it has never happened!! I will not burry my feelings, my dreams, OUR dreams!!! I will always remember the joy and the freedom of running together under the Moon…. Oh, Mother! I wish I could cry until my heart would break and I would fall to pieces!
– You know this wasn’t her fault…..-whispered the old woman pensively.
-I never said that!-exclaimed the young one, her voice filled with pain and frustration.
-Listen to me, Child. The voice of the elderly woman was now grave and seemed to come from far away, from the depths of mysterious Universe.-Let me tell you something: Sage’s Spirit was caught by some strong currents that keep pushing her and carrying her away from time to time. Then, for longer or shorter periods of time her inner light reaches the surface and your connection comes alive again. For a while, you are able to travel together as One and enjoy it, just as it was at the beginnings of Time, when the two of you first met.
But she kept drifting away when those dark and powerful flows were shadowing her soul and you have cried out your pain over and over again thousands of times by now. And each time when the wheel of stars turned, I have revived both of you, hoping that maybe this time she’d stay afloat and that you would reunite for good. I see your pain and I know it. I see her pain and I know that to. This is why I will keep reviving and reuniting you until your fate would clear and your light will shine in harmony, unbreakable.
You’ll see: you will forget her and everything that happened now. But you will remember her when time will come.
The young woman shook her head violently.
-No, no! I won’t let you do it this time! YOU cannot take it away from me! It’s my love, my pain, my decision!
She buried her face in her palms and she sobbed until her pain turned into something else. It was revolt, defiance and anger, then pain and love again and again, in a swirling surge of emotions. Old Spirit Woman watched in silence her Wandering Daughter. She knew her well; there was an ocean raging inside her and she has been one reluctant, single-minded girl ever since she first stepped in this world. Only under the protective canopy of the Magic Night could Kay open the gates of her soul and let the hidden waters wash everything away…. Right now, those waters were menacing to flood the world…
-I will let everything out-she shouted- every inch of pain cutting me like a dagger! I wish I could shake this world off its axis and make the stars fall off their places! If I am going to die in the agony of loss and missing, then I will take down the Universe with me! Oh! I curse the gods for playing this cruel game with me! Why did they give me a heart if it hurts so badly?!
She jumped to her feet and sprinted towards the top of the cliff. The night wind blew into her face and her eyes filled with tears and she cried, she cried until her tears were gathering into a small thread of limpid water under her feet. She kept running, splashing her own drops of soul and her body begun to change, shifting and shaping into the supple, muscular body of her inner beast. The cougar reached the peak and stopped abruptly. She took a deep breath and uttered a painful growl that echoed in the depths bellow.
Old Spirit Woman sighed and gathered her tools. She drew a few magic signs in the sandy bottom of the riverbed and then she rose to her feet.
-Goodbye, my Child….-she murmured in the soft wind. See you in another circle, under new stars, when La Loba will rise to run again!
The contours of her shape were slowly fading under the shimmering stars and soon, all that was left there were the two feathers placed inside the circle of white pebbles… The Universe was opening new, invisible doors and the ethereal flows of timeless energies drew un-walked paths inside the fabric of Space and Time. Somewhere, in the star-blazed core of Eternity, the gold and silver manned She-Wolf was running freely, her eyes like diamonds, her laughter wild and carefree…But the strings of her heart were connected forever to the heart of the graceful cougar who was sitting atop the high hill, patiently waiting for their next encounter.
In the embrace of the Sun, the pale blue dot was awakening to another day.
Remember me, Wild Woman….
My Twin Spirit:
I am you,
You are me.
F o r e v e r w e s h a l l r u n f r e e !
The long rows of lavender fields stretched up to the rim of the high hill, where a lone tree was watching over the scented valley. The summer was at full height, the warmth of the sun diluting the spicy aroma of lavender blue into waves of wandering breeze. The sky was flooded by light, its azure dimming under the power of glow. Nothing warned about the tempest concocting inside the atmosphere. Before I could even realize what was happening around me, the ocean of air thickened in silk-grey and then turned into violent, dark grey streaked with steel blue sizzles and phosphorescent turbulence.
The clouds gathered into tidal waves, the wind erupted from the tip of the storm and the world was shaken from its “dolce-far-niente” of a summer afternoon. Taken by surprise, all I could do was to run uphill and hide under the arms of the tree. I couldn’t care about the lightning…What was unfolding above was scarier than any threat. This tempest was not an ordinary one. Under the rush of the horses of winds the scent of the lavender fields was intoxicating. Suddenly, the skies cracked with a thunderous noise…that continued above my head, in the branches of the tree. I heard a sharp cry and something heavy was coming down, hitting and breaking sticks and leaves. I stepped back instinctively and that something landed with a thud on the heap of grass under. Whatever it was, it wasn’t happy of this speedy landing. But what was it and where did it come from?
The young woman bent over the dark shape that has landed so unexpectedly beside her and spoke softly, trying not to scare the new comer and hiding her own nervousness about the strange happening. While this cautious ballet was unfolding under the tree, the storm quieted in the skies and the sun returned to its vantage point on the top of it.
-Hey….Are you ok?-the girl asked timidly.
The shape at her feet was humanlike so she hoped that they could communicate somehow. A painful grumbling came from the curled up body and the creature turned towards her. A pair of light-green eyes was gazing at her and the answer came in a strange, alien language. And the face…well, it was definitely human.
Hearing the row of unintelligible words left me speechless for a moment but after all, what was I expecting from someone who crash-landed from the skies? So I swallowed to calm down, smiled a bit and slowly held out a hand to help…it up. From the messy hair, full of sticks and shreds of leaves, the pained and puzzled expression of the youthful face, the unisex silver-grey overall and black boots, it looked like a man. But there was something behind that first impression, a touch of soft sadness, a thin streak of fragility, elusive shadows that faintly shone through the appearance of the whole.
-Come…let me help you-I said, hoping that my gesture was at least universal among sentient beings. You have brought down half of the treetop in your hair-I added with a chuckle.
There was a short flash of light inside those luminous eyes and a strong hand grabbed mine. The stranger stood up and shook his head with a grin. He coughed, spitting out some dirt that got in his mouth and we both laughed. It was a sign of normality inside an awkward situation. I helped him brush off all the dirt and we could finally face each other and assess the situation. It was only then, that I realized that the storm has vanished just as sudden as it started. The landscape around was untouched and even the treetop seemed whole. Here we were, in the middle of an ocean of blooming lavender, two strangers brought together by some sort of currents of Space, Time or Fate. And what would’ve you done with an alien that has landed at your feet? Hmmm…I wonder. Oh, well….I know what I did: I took him home.
The cheerful row of colorful, tidy houses was crisscrossing along the large, violet-blue field of scented flowers. There was a cherry-red house at the end of the lane with a delicate flower garden in the front yard and one of fresh vegetables behind the house. It wasn’t easy to get closer unnoticed through the mostly open terrain but the two young people managed somehow to escape from one bush to another, one tree to another, hiding, waiting until there was no one to sight them stealing in. They took the way to the hind door and soon as the girl unlocked it, she grabbed her companion by the hand and pushed him inside hurriedly. He was safe for now.
I have moved to this cozy little village almost a year ago. As a free-lancer writer, I needed both a job that would provide me with an income and a place out of time where my wildest dream could come alive through my writings. I have searched for the craziest opportunities, dismissed most of them until I’ve stumbled upon a photo and a story, some kind of an add connected to the place in the picture. It talked about an abandoned lighthouse that waited for a bold and dedicated person to open it for the public. It was supposed to house a small post office for the equally small villages scattered in the area around. A few hours a day would’ve provided me to a decent income and I could’ve lived in a house rented by the company. It took me one second to decide; for me, it was dream come true. My family and friends were not surprised at all; by now, they were used to my peculiarities and my stubbornness. So, I left everything behind and moved in the little red house. The villagers were fine and friendly people, willing to help me and becoming my steady customers. My little Buggy loved the country roads and served me well as I commuted day by day between the edge of the lavender fields and the sandy shores of the blue-eyed sea.
Of course very soon I had elderly ladies and gentlemen worrying for me, trying to get me into relationship with the youth around, hoping to make me marry one of them and settle for good in their neighborhood. I mixed easily with people so I didn’t mind; I knew they were just…loving and caring. My sense of humor helped me through awkward moments and nobody got hurt during that. But now….I was inside the house, breathless from running, hiding under the line of visibility, dragging a stranger from above behind me. And I was hungry. So, I expected the same was…him. But what do you give to an alien to eat? I let…him look around my place and opened the fridge: hmmm, milk, eggs, butter, cheese. Some leftovers from lunch. Lucklily, there were some strawberries in a casserole and some early summer apples in the fruit-box below. Oh, and a salad for the evening. Ok….I turned abruptly and found myself face to face with my guest.
He was right behind me, peeking inside my refrigerator with questioning eyes. I gazed inside those unusually clear eyes; the translucent green waters were shifting and escaping to any attempt to catch them, even for the fraction of a moment. The soft, black pupils were shying away for a moment, just to return my gaze with innocent curiosity moments later. A familiar yet strange scent of mixed sea breeze and…star-dust was coming from him. He blinked, I chuckled and took him by the hand.
-Come-I said, hoping that he would guess my intentions. Let’s eat something before we both collapse of hunger.
I sat him down to the table and he smiled. It seems that tables are a familiar piece of furniture all over the Universe. I placed all the available food in the middle, took out some sliced, homemade bread, two plates, forks and fruit knives. And so it began the first interstellar dinner in the history of mankind. And since sharing food had always provided a good communication ground, the stranger and me, we went through the traditional “You Tarzan, me Jane”, just this time he learned that I was Iris, while what I could comprehend of his name was something close to “ Stellar”.
Ok, before any of you is freaking out about my mindless courage to share my private space with a total stranger, let me tell you that while he was bravely going through the challenge of Earth-food, Pixie, my red cat descended from the attic, gave us a short look and hopped in….his lap, purring noisily. A wide smile, almost childlike appeared on the face of my companion, then he gently ran his fingers along the silky back of the animal, saying something in his melodious language. So, after being certified as ” friend” by my trustworthy cat, I had no problem in getting him to sleep in the small bedroom upstairs. There was an additional bathroom next to it, so my guest was safe up there from any incidental visitor from the village. I’ve chosen to sleep downstairs on the sofa, with Pixie curled up under the blanket at my feet. It was a piece of furniture comfortable enough.
After the load of excitement of the day, I fell asleep almost instantly and the night felt short for my needs. I woke up with the first rays of the rising sun. I set up and for a moment, I was wondering if yesterday’s events really happened. But the sighting of the two tea cups on the table was a tangible proof; I never had tea with my imaginary friends….So I hooped down of the sofa and got into the daily routine. I put a kettle on the stove for a tea and made scrambled eggs for two. I packed a small sandwich for work and dressed up. A new, shiny summer day was emerging outside, scattering fluffy clouds all over the sleepy azure of the morning sky. Refreshed and ready to go, I sprinted upstairs and knocked at the bedroom door. No answer. I carefully cracked the door and saw that my guest was still sleeping. I approached and touched him lightly.
-Hmmmm….-the mumbling was, oh, so familiar and human.
He was sleeping on his belly, sprawled on the bed. His silver-grey overall was laid on the back of the chair while his black boots were tossed under. I sat down on the edge of the bed, taking a look at him. The black, spiky hair was cut short above the ears but left longer, down the neck. It was thick and strong, slightly curled, with changing, silver streaks, depending on the play of lights. The skin of the youthful face was soft and tanned, with an amber tint. Long, curled black eyelashes were bordering the now sleeping elusive eyes. On the whole, the face was just as hard to capture as the play of lights inside the green pool of the strangely captivating eyes. It all depended on what you wanted to see. It was equally the face of a young man with boisterous expression or the face of a young woman, a tomboy with soft, pink lips and a delicate smile that was still lingering over them even in the deepest sleep. The strength of the man was in the bone structure and the firm grip but the fingers were long and expressive and the skin had a velvety touch. As I was watching him, Stellar moved in his sleep and I saw a small tattoo on the back of his neck. Five small stars in an unfamiliar pattern were printed deep in the skin. I touched them…instinctively and he sighed and then opened his eyes. I retracted my hand before he could realize that I touched him and I blushed. What the hell was I doing?
-Come-I said with a reassuring smile. Let’s eat; I have to go to work.
I don’t know how much sense my words made to him but in less than 10 minutes he was descending to breakfast. He looked refreshed and relaxed. He was wearing something like a T-shirt and stretch-pants, both deep blue and….he was barefoot. I think he just had enough of his boots. He caught my gaze at his feet and chuckled. I laughed and brought him a pair of slippers. We sat at the table and suddenly, I felt like we had done this a hundred times before.
I drove to work with a worried, small heart; I had to lock Stellar in and I didn’t like the feeling at all. It’s hard to leave behind a puppy, locked and lonely, but he was not a puppy. He was an intelligent being, fallen from his world into one alien to him. Were I in his place, how would I react? Losing family, friends, familiar faces, familiar places….ending up in a place you know nothing about, uncertain that you’d be ever able to return home. My heart sank with the flood of thoughts running wild in my head. I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.
“ Put yourself together, girl. Focus. You cannot help him if you panic.”
I reached the lighthouse, parked the car and opened the office. It was mail collecting day and that kept me busy in the next few hours. Some of my friends from the villages around came in, bringing mail collected from the elderly neighbors or their own sends. Some of them came by sea and completed my provisions with fresh fish. We shared a laugh, a joke and a few friendly words and they left. Soon, the Post Van arrived and the mail was loaded beside other sacks, Freddie Barnes, the chauffeur filled me with the latest gossips collected on the road, then off he went. I left the office a few minutes and sat on the steps. The day was clear, the air translucent and warm, the breeze bringing soft noises and spicy, salty scents. It was such a peaceful place, loaded with romance and mystery…The lighthouse offered enough space upstairs for at least two additional rooms and the top of it was unused, though the diamond-shaped light bulb was still functional and so was the whole flashing system. But by now, there were no ships needing its blazing services. Oh, well…Perhaps one day the lighthouse will come to life. The sharp sound of my cell phone brought me back abruptly into reality. It was my landlady calling with an alarmed voice:
-Iris dear! Mrs. Pickett called me a few minutes ago and she said that there is somebody in your house! We thought about calling the constable….what if it’s a dangerous burglar inside?!
My brain froze for a second; a policeman to rush into the house and take Stellar by surprise was the last thing I needed. I had no idea how did Mrs. Pickett know someone was in my house but she was my closest neighbor with a propensity for …spying on people. She also loved my tea-rose bushes and frequently came to see them. I calmed down and answered to the anxious lady waiting at the other end of the line:
-Mrs. Green, calm down please. You don’t have to call the constable, there’s no burglar in my house. My cousin arrived late last night and I left him sleeping. Probably Mrs. Pickett saw him while she was inspecting my roses.
I’ve heard a deep sigh and Mrs. Green chuckled.
-Iris dear! I’m so relieved. Oh, I’ve told Mary (-that was Mrs. Pickett’s name) not to peek inside people’s house ‘cause she might misunderstand what she would see. Well, dearie, thank God we didn’t do anything stupid. I’m sorry if I made you worry. Good bye, dearie!
-Good bye, Mrs. Green and thank you for calling.
I’ve put down my cell phone and shuddered; oh, my goodness…Then as I raised my eyes above, I smiled. I had an idea: moving with Stellar into the lighthouse.
The next days and weeks went on with bonding and bridging the interstellar relationship inside the house. Stellar was an avoid learner and soon, he was able to speak at least a few short sentences in English while I gathered some knowledge about his native tongue. It was a melodious language, a bit like singing but slowly my ears became accustomed to its modulations. The first thing I tried to find out was the cause of his crash landing on this planet or in this reality. Stellar made a very unhappy face and shook his head; he couldn’t remember. Even his home planet was only a faint memory and if he had left loved ones behind, he couldn’t tell. All he knew was the pain in his heart, the longing for something untouchable and a rush of panic sometimes, one that he tried to hide and keep under control. So for now, our best shot was to teach him about Earth and move out to the lighthouse, far from the curious eyes of the villagers.
Needless to say that Mrs. Pickett was at my door soon as I got home that first day. She was eager to see my….cousin.
-Oh, Iris-she said as she slipped inside the house-I was so worried, my dear girl. You are alone here, with this wilderness behind the house so I was so frightened to see a shadow moving behind the shadings. I heard that it was your cousin….I’m sorry for making all that fuss, but you do understand my concerns, don’t you?
I smirked and sat her down, poured her a tea and satisfied her curiosity.
-Mrs. Pickett, I appreciate your care and concern for me but please, next time you call me first.
She smiles sheepishly and asked between two sips of tea.
-And when did your cousin arrive? I haven’t seen a car the whole day passing by….
-He arrived late this night so I assume you were sleeping by then-I replied.
“ Nosy old biddy…”- added my mind.
-And he still needs to adjust to our time zone. He’s from abroad and he’s not speaking our language very well. You’ll excuse us?-I said with the sweetest smile, as I lead her to the door.
I could clearly see that she wanted to stay more, hoping to get a glimpse of my so called relative but she gave up finally and I closed the door firmly behind her. As I turned, Stellar was sitting on the sofa with a grin on his face and I laughed to. Humans are all the same, regardless of the planet they come from. Curious neighbors are everywhere, much to the annoyance and the amusement of those becoming the subject of their curiosity. But there was a silver lining to all of this; Mrs. Pickett spread the news about my visiting cousin around the village so I could purchase him a few new shirts and trousers without any more explanations or raised eyebrows.
Curiosity killed the cat and Mrs. Pickett couldn’t help but kept spying on my house to get a glimpse of my elusive cousin. Stellar was staying indoor while I was at work and even after my return, we used to stay in the garden behind the house only late at night. Stellar seemed to slowly regain his memory though it was far from whole. He was curious about the lighthouse and the prospective of moving there. But the day before moving, the meeting of third degree took place between Stellar and Mrs. Pickett. She was lurking around the house early in the morning, pretending to check on the rose bushes. Well, it looked like most of the roses were in trouble around the windows; strange, isn’t it?
The curious, mousy lady leaned close to the window and shaded her eyes with a cupped hand; she forced her vision to discern what was inside the living and….She jumped off with a sharp cry, stumbled, quickly turned and ran away. The young man looking at her from inside shrugged then returned to the sofa where he was leafing through a book. I don’t know what she was expecting to see inside but I can assure you that there was nothing frightening in Stellar’s appearance. Maybe his flickering, mesmerizing green eyes were otherworldly…Anyway, Mrs. Pickett has never in her life ran so fast home. She unlocked her door with trembling hands, locked it from inside and put the chain to, then collapsed in the armchair.
“ Aliens!-she mumbled. The aliens are invading us!”
That evening my Mom called.
-Hello, Iris. I just got a call from your neighbor, Mrs. Pickett. She sounded worried and frantic. She asked me about your cousin from abroad….
-Oh, Mom….you know that lonely, elderly ladies tend to be unhealthily curious about others. I have a friend here and I didn’t want the whole village to worry about my status…-I chuckled.
-I know and though you always had the strangest choices and ideas, I know for sure that you’re not a fool. So, I’ve told that the young man is my step-sister’s son and that he has been raised in a faraway country. She calmed down a bit but I think she still kept some doubts about him. Anyway, I just wanted to warn you…not everyone shares you open mind and heart. Take care, my dear and call me sometimes, ok?
-Yes, Mom and thank you. Don’t worry, he’s not a green-skinned alien and he won’t eat me. I’m quite hard to swallow.
-Interesting that you say this; she kept repeating that she was thinking he’s an alien from space, an invader…Greeting to your interstellar friend and keep me posted, will you?
-Good night, Mom. I love you to!
So after this conversation I called Stellar, we packed up quickly and left by the car. The night was arching above us, the Milky Way in full diamond blaze. Stellar was silent and lost in thoughts. Despite the scarcity of communication in words, we seemed to be already connected on a deeper level and we could anticipate what the other one intended. The country road crisscrossed like a dark serpent, hidden in the lavender field then opened a bit to end finally at the lighthouse. The sea was whispering not too far, gently washing the shore. We stepped out of the car and Stellar raised his eyes to the top of the tower. Even in the dim light I could read the amazement and awe on his face. This soaring, slender building seemed to resonate deep inside him. He took a deep breath and exhaled, trembling of the mix of emotions building up inside him. He whispered something in his language, repeating it over and over again.
I touched him gently on the shoulder.
-Come-I said, taking him by the hand. Let me show you something.
He followed me like in a trance. We climbed to stairs till we reached the exit on the top. I’ve opened wide the door and we stepped out on the circular balcony. The sea was rocking slowly bellow, the stars were sparkling above us. Diamond lights were glittering on the tips of the waves, the galaxy of stars above mirrored by the galaxy rolling in and out of the shore.
-Watch this-I said and I connected the lighthouse circuits. The light bulb came to life in full blaze and started to rotate in its own rhythm: Light-dark-light-light-dark, light-dark-light-light-dark, light-dark-light-light-dark…Magic filled the air and my companion was overwhelmed by its touch. He was gasping for air and tears were running down his face.
“Home…”-the words stumbled out of his mouth in pain. His home was in the light and he had fallen out of it through the darkness. We stood there for hours, tracing the trail of stars in the dark ocean of air…He was holding my hand, squeezing hard in those moments when the remembrance of his lost home washed over him. At the end of these hours, he finally regained his composure, the flow of the emotions returned to the riverbed and he was able to talk without falling apart.
“ My home is different from what you’d think….yet we are just like you, humans. Same dreams and hopes, same failures. We inhabit the light and our home is in and out of your reality. There are passageways leading to the tangible, material worlds and you can reach us as well….in time.”
Stellar’s voice was softening while he was speaking about his world. He seemed lost in an untouchable distance, drifting on the currents of the Space, through the depths and heights of the Universe. He shook his head and turned to me.
-I love this tower of light. I’d love to stay here; I’m sorry if I scared off that little lady. Am I so different? I don’t seem to realize…Tell me, please Iris. Is there anything wrong with me?
-You look pretty much human to me-I said with a reassuring smile. You also have beautiful eyes but it’s probably their flickering that freaked out Mrs. Pickett.
Stellar’s face turned serious and concerned.
-I did not realize that. My eyes are extremely sensitive and they see beyond what humans see, so they have a specific movement. Oh, poor old lady…She was running fast for her age….
I couldn’t help but laugh, imagining her speeding up….then I felt sorry and also worried. Fear bears monsters and none of us needed complications right now. We resumed our talk and left the light on the top to send its messages towards the sails of the sea and to those of the blinking stars. The first night spent in the lighthouse was filled with strange dreams…What had caused the fall of the very special person Stellar was? Who or whose fault was this exile into the material world? My mind was turning, trying to figure out what might have happened…and then, I fell into the bottomless abyss of dreams.
“ My birth was foretold by many strange signs. Light creatures as may be, we have our share of bodily existence so we have our home planets and a life that is basically the same as in every human community. So, days before I came into this world, long, thick streaks of mist filled the valley where we lived, dimming the sunlight during the day and turning into strangely phosphorescent ones in the night. My parents grew anxious, fearing something bad that could happen to both mother and child. A local Wise Woman came to our house and drew some protective patterns, just like your colorful Mandalas. But Nature refused to comply and by late evening my mother was transported to the local House of Birth in Light. “
Stellar stopped for a moment and his voice trailed a bit…
“ I am not sure if I was born to be a blessing or a curse for them….” The sadness of the sentence cut inside me as I was sitting next to him on the top of the lighthouse, listening to the history of my interstellar kin.
-Oh, shhht, Stellar….No child is born for the misfortune of his parents. It’s what we turn it into for obscure, awful reasons. Children are pure light of love embodied, a gift that should be treasured and protected until it grows and opens in full beauty.
“If you say so…”
A shooting star crossed the canvas of the night sky, sizzling in electric blue before it faded into the shadows.
“ So, moments before midnight, as the line separating light and dark passed above us, the sky cleared and let the light shine….bringing me into it. They said that just like the awkward moment of my birth, I was caught between the realms of life and nothingness, stubbornly clinging to the thin thread of life. Days and weeks passed before people around became certain of my victory above oblivion. It was only then that they named me. I have been…nonexistent during my battle; a tiny entity with no name, no identity.”
There was another break in Stellar’s story and I suddenly felt strongly attached to his fate. The unveiling of his previous history exerted a strong pull upon the intimate strings of my heart. The feeling that this encounter was holding more substance than it appeared at first was becoming stronger with each memory shared. I looked at him and saw his jaw tightening. You could tell from his expression that he was becoming aware for the first time of the reality he was talking about. Gloom was setting upon us and I was decided to fight it. I grinned and placed a hand on his shoulder.
-You won the fight for life against all odds! Maybe you’re more resourceful than you know…Come, let’s cook something before hunger will kill us both. The past might have long shadows but we could easily succumb to the dangers of the present if we’re not fit to face them.
I never thought that I could have smooth tongue. First time in the morning, Constable Patrick Calahan was knocking on the door of the lighthouse.
The young red-headed Constable was both annoyed and slightly ashamed. He loved his job as guardian of the citizens of his small and sleepy village. He was born here and has grown climbing each and every tree and jumping the neighbors’ fences. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He could remember a younger Mrs. Pickett, not so crazed by loneliness and way more understanding towards others. Alas, that was the past! Now, Mrs. Pickett kept nagging him, calling day by day to tell him that an Alien invasion was taking place right under his nose and that Iris Grey from the Lighthouse Post was in cahoots with them. He has tried to calm her down, to ignore her, to argue with her but nothing seemed to work this time. So when the elderly lady threatened to call his superiors in the city, he took his motorcycle and drove to the Lighthouse. Iris had recently moved there for the summer. Patrick liked her because she was funny, open minded and she was helping him with his love letters. The lady of his heart was teaching at the kindergarten and seemed to appreciate the Constable’s romantic writings…well adjusted by the skillful Iris. The young man was desperately trying to keep things under control and minimize the damages.
The sun was stretching its first rays above the faint mist of the early morning when Patrick knocked on the door, wondering what on Earth he could say to her….Luckily, Iris already guessed and chuckled:
-Early visitor, Patrick? Mrs. Pickett couldn’t sleep and sent you on wild goose chase?
The policeman reddened and coughed to hide his embarrassment.
-Eh, you know her well, Iris….She keeps nagging me so I came to talk.
-Get in and have a seat, Constable Calahan. I have a tea for you.
She poured tea for her and Patrick and sat on the couch, facing him.
– I’d like to talk with your cousin, Iris. Hey, don’t laugh; I’m serious. I have to do this properly or Mrs. Pickett will keep up with her story about the Alien Invasion. Does your cousin have a passport or some ID ?
Iris raised her eyebrows questioningly.
-Seriously? You want my cousin to prove you he’s not an alien or what?
There was a clear tint of irony in her voice and Patrick almost choked on the sip of tea he was taking. He coughed and shook his head in denial. He felt stupid.
-Good morning! I hope I’m not intruding…
The voice was pleasant and calm, situated between a deep baritone and a velvety alto. The young Constable turned and faced the newcomer. It was a tall and well built young man, with spiky, black hair, tanned complexion and…sunglasses. Which was very odd, considering that they were inside the lighthouse.
-I’m Stellar, Iris’ cousin. I understood you wanted to see me-said the stranger and smiled.
To Patrick the young man looked harmless; he was just another slightly punkish city-dweller, probably an artist considering the haircut and the sunglasses. He stood up and they shook hands. The grip was firm and manly and nothing in the appearance of the cousin made him think of an alien…not that the Constable would admit such nonsense anyway. Iris poured a tea for her cousin and now they were enjoying it in a trio.
-So, how long do you intend to stay in our village, Stellar?
The question stumbled out of his mouth in a very “police” manner and for a moment Patrick cursed his lack of subtlety. But the other one didn’t seem troubled by that; he took a sip of the tea and took off his sunglasses, before answering the question.
-You have a lovely village and this lighthouse is a fascinating place to live-he said, looking at the Constable sidewise. But I am a kind of a wanderer, in search for new horizons so you can tell that nice old lady that I won’t disturb her premises for long.
Patrick grinned and put down his empty cup.
-Thank you, Iris. I’m sorry for disturbing you so early. Have a nice vacation, Stellar and no problem. I’ll calm down Mrs. Pickett somehow.
He left with a sense of relief. This guy was pretty normal and Iris didn’t get mad either for intruding. Patrick sighed; at least he can come back later with another draft of his love-letter…Oh, and he’d pay a visit to Mrs. Pickett and charm her until things settle peacefully.
The moment Patrick closed the door behind him, I slammed my cup to the table.
-Oh! Right now I wish I was an alien and eat Mrs. Picket piece by piece!
I’ve heard Stellar chuckling and turned to him.
-I hope you were joking about leaving this place so soon-I said.
He shook his head smiling a bit sadly.
-I still don’t know what brought me here and if I left my planet as an exiled or an escapee. So, you’ll have to “endure” my presence for a while….I said that only to calm down the Constable and take him off your back.
We both laughed and then I descended to the office. A new day was opening its wings.
The Universe is a strange place, full of breathtaking beauty and chilling dangers. Life is one of the mysteries yet to be unraveled; it’s so bold and creative, conquering the hardest spots of a planet. But life is also fragile and easily shattered, wiped out, erased, crushed and sent into oblivion. Then, when it comes about intelligent, sentient, self-aware creatures, things get even more complicated. Emerging from inside a reign that is ruled by the harsh and objective laws of nature, of the survival of the fittest, boldest and most creative in solving the quests of life, humans, just like any other ones similar to them are carrying this spirit, while building a society of their own, based on principles that on many aspects collide with these natural instincts.
Thirst for power, greed, ruthless actions deemed to gain advantage before anyone, at any costs….these attitudes, though come from the basic instinct and competitiveness of the species, are rejected and repudiated, conflicting with the moral principles that allowed humanity to continuously rise above itself. But principles are one thing, individuals are something else. And these insidious flaws rise sometimes where you expect the less.
The child that has fought so hard to gain his right to love and light grew oblivious of the long row of challenges waiting ahead. As any other child, he was a chalice of emotions and had beautiful eyes wide open towards the miracles of the world around him. And just like the moment of his birth, he was charming and joyful, yet hard to bend; he was a real personality, a miniature one, but undeniable. A handful. A twinkling little star. The Universe spread its wings of blazing galaxies and took him under its protective magic. This resulted in an even more powerful personal aura, spreading around the child, then teenager and young adult. And the more he was shining, the more attention and love he attracted, the more envy and animosity it generated in some of those meant to love and protect him. We are born into this world and we learn to face its challenges….unless they come from our loved ones. By the time the Child of One Star became a full grown adult, his pure, translucent core was a diamond that has been battered, crushed, shattered, cracked by the darkest forces lurking in the Universe….and it was still shining through all the scarred facets like a true star. Nothing and no one could ever take away his gift of love and light. Connected through an invisible thread to the fountain of light, he was rising above hurt and pain, reborn like the flaming Phoenix. So, one day his enemy…(or enemies? ) pushed him into a ravine of darkness opened into the flesh of Space, hoping to get rid of him. And he fell….in a tree in the middle of a lavender field.
You might wonder how come that Stellar and me, we got to speak so easily; after all, he didn’t speak my language at first. Well, he was a fast learner, that’s for sure. From what I could see and understand, once connected to me, his mind was reading and adjusting to my mind as words and thoughts were forming and emerging. The complexity of the mind surpasses the complexity of the visible Universe. It has patterns and leaps that are yet to be discovered and understood. For now, it works on the thin border between science and magic….’cause each mystery encompasses magic. The perfect shape of a translucent rain drop falling from the ethereal skies is magic, though science can trace its birth and describe its logic. Magic and beauty are children of the same fountain of dreams of light.
So, the beautiful mind of Stellar kept reading and echoing my lines of light until we came to understand each other beyond words and also learned to speak the same language. After Patrick’s visit, days of peacefulness came and we both breathed more easily. I kept working downstairs, making my little office useful in connecting people, while upstairs Stellar was reading, learning and gradually recovering pieces of his memory. He shared these fragile moments of the puzzle as we walked along the shore, in the soft summer nights. What I have learned firsthand was that despite moments of deep despair or burning pain, his willingness of giving and caring remained unbroken. And that resonated deeply inside me and made him so precious to my heart.
-When I said that the Lighthouse is an amazing place, I meant it-he said one night, as we walked barefoot through the bubbling waves washing the shore. We have something similar to them at home, though at another scale. Something tells me that this particular one is placed in a meeting point of light that will reveal itself at the necessary moment.
-If that is true then maybe Mrs. Pickett’s concerns were more real than she knew-I said with a grin.
-Huh…I never thought about it that way…- replied Stellar and turned serious. I wouldn’t want my people to mess up your planet.
-Let’s hope they won’t and that I might scare them as well to go back at high speed. I could become pretty nasty if it’s needed, you know!
He looked at me for a moment then laughed.
-I’m not sure I would like to see that…but let’s say that I believe you.
We followed our walk in good mood. What was lurking in the depths of Space, we weren’t aware. Not yet.
In my dream I was walking in a forest, through a strange, narrow tunnel bordered by tall, strong trees, with branches entwined above like the fingers of wooden hands. Under my feet, the thick, old roots were also holding each other in an awkward pattern that resembled closely that of the canopy. After a while, the feeling that I was stepping on warm, living fingers became stronger and the fact that the tunnel was slowly closing on me just added to my anxiety. My only hope was in the light I was following, a bluish twinkling that kept calling me from the depth of the corridor. The rhythm of the sap rising and descending the row of tree columns sounded like a magic drum…or was it just my heartbeat? I couldn’t discern and separate them, my heart was beating wildly in my chest…but it was beating inside each tree as well. I closed my eyes for a moment and…the pounding became clearer and I heard Stellar calling me.
-Iris! Iris! Wake up!
Suddenly I was awake and back to reality. I jumped from the bed and ran to the door. It became clear that the sounds from my dream were in fact the knocks on my door. I quickly opened the door and faced Stellar. He was deeply troubled by something. He took me by the hand and we ran upstairs, until we reached the top of the lighthouse. It was past midnight, the Moon was nowhere to see and even the star light was dimmed by the sheen of vapor all over the sky. It was warm and the air felt sticky; I found difficult to breathe…Something was terribly wrong. But what?!
Stellar was scrutinizing the skies, murmuring.
-It’s here somewhere, it’s here, I can sense it…Oh! Why can’t I remember?!!!
The moment he cried out, the sky cracked with a deafening thunder and Space opened for a moment before us. I froze for a moment and I was unable to make some sense of the swirl of light and darkness inside that crack. But for Stellar that was a familiar appearance and not a pleasant one it seemed.
-Oh, no, you won’t!-he shouted and leaped forward. He turned for a moment-“I’ll be back!”-and then disappeared, while the crack closed without trace. I leaned against the wall, trembling. Tears were streaming from my eyes but I didn’t dare even to blink. I was afraid that I might lose Stellar’s image and that I would wake up from this unbelievable dream to a reality where he doesn’t even exist….
So you think that this was a dream and that living in a Lighthouse, far from the rush and rumble of social life makes me imagine things? Huh, no, my friends! And this wasn’t the result of an extra glass of wine, one too much….Not. The moment I descended the top and walked pass the second bedroom I painfully realized that whatever happened during all these days and weeks, it has been real. The moment of loss became even clearer and the pain sharp and persistent. Why? You ask me why? That I knew almost nothing about him and why the pain?
Oh, but the logic of the heart is widely different of the logic that makes our mind tick. I think I was hooked, if not when he fell through the tree, then when he stood up, confused, covered in leaves and sticks, yet holding all that charm that was coming from a depth only the heart can reach and read. Then, there was something else. You haven’t seen the dramatic change in his composure and whole appearance the moment he faced the display of light and darkness inside that opening. That Stellar was holding a duality it has became visible in many scattered moments spent together. This time, the change was poignant: the face of a Goddess in rage was facing the other world and shouting her rightful protest! Stellar-Stella, a unity of harmonious two-spirits, looking back at me with the unsure promise of returning….I wiped off my tears and blinked only when I became sure that the image captured on my retina was truthfully engraved in the memory of my mind and soul. I went into Stella(r)’s room and sat on the bed; there was an open book there with white, empty pages. Why would anyone have an unwritten book, I wondered, and where did it come from? It was hard-covered and the cover was empty as well. But the moment I touched it, it came to life…and then, I understood: it was a personal diary, one that held the history of the slow recovering of Stella(r)’s memory. So I started to read it carefully…
The world of the Creatures of Light was an old and powerful one, with a rich history that resembled in many ways to the one of Humanity. It had planets and a life-giving star; it had this intelligent species that adapted, evolved then reshaped its environment according to its more and more refined taste and needs. And with the success came the feeling that they were some unique and perfect creatures, way above anything around them, compared only to the purity of the light they came to worship and join. And when they decided that the world they imagined was surpassing any other reality in perfection, they created a system to support, sustain and enforce this particular reality on the imperfection that still lingered around….in the real world.
The law of purity and perfection applied to each of them as members of the People of Light; any variation within it became unthinkable. But reality doesn’t give a damn’ of what any cocky population of intelligent but delusional creatures thinks. So, Reality gives birth to the uncommon, to the rebellious, to the misfit, to the anarchist, to the necessary diversity inside unity. Unity in diversity is the norm of life, no matter where it sprouts or emerges or springs into the world. This peculiar world of perfectionists faced its challenges on a regular basis; but the Guardians of Purity fought back, using anything at hand to battle any…abomination. That’s what they called it: abomination. At first, they kept them hidden, but that became too dangerous. So the High Council decided to strip these unfortunate members of the society from their usual body shape and transferred the essence of their light into the trees that were planted on a neighboring planet. In time, the forest conquered more and more of the surface of that planet, its roots and branches entwining like strong fingers of hundreds of hands. By the time Stella(r) was born, exiling the different ones was already a custom.
The child that was born that strange night was oblivious of the dark shadows and the ugliness of the world around. They eyes of children are set to see the magic and beauty; Stella(r) was a gifted and sensitive child, joyful and energetic like a butterfly emerged from the cocoon. That he was not fitting in his world became evident as he was growing. His step-father was a highly regarded member of their society, powerful and influent. But he was also a fervent supporter of the Law of Exile. When it became clear that his boisterous step-son was a candidate for exile, he was furious. The confrontation turned ugly and the young man fled the house before his father could call the guards to take him into custody.
But hiding from the People of Light was something near impossible; they were easily detecting the light-signature of each person and changing to their shining form of rays, travelled fast on the tracks. In Stella(r)’s case, Reality stepped in and opened a crack in the fabric of Time-Space; the young fugitive escaped….falling from the skies. Whatever they has seen inside that window opened by the lightning the previous night, it was serious enough for Stella(r) to risk their safety and their life. I shut the journal with the hope that they would be safe. My innermost feeling was that my goodwill and protective thoughts would travel along that invisible thread connecting us and shield Stella(r) from harm. Outside the sky was turning pink; the sun was ready to hop above the thin line of the horizon and start anew day. I set my cell phone to wake me up in time and I curled up in bed to catch a bit of sleep. “What is happening there?”-was my last thought before the dark waters of sleep engulfed me.
The planet of exile was almost entirely covered by this strange, living forest. Tree connected to tree and one captive soul entwined with the other captive one, like fingers of many hands and like crossroads of a highly complex, neuronal network. The strong roots dived into the depths of the planet, extracting the dissolved essence of life, turning forest and planet into a powerful entity, with a mindset of its own. And I can tell you, it wasn’t a happy one. Though the age of constituents was diverse, on the whole, the mind of the planetary forest was one of a young adult, barely out of its teenage turbulence. With all the heated passion and rebellion of a youth, the pain of the rejected and abandoned child and lacking the equilibrium of a reality check, the new entity sought revenge upon those who turned their children, those considered ”imperfect” into exiles locked up in the motionless vegetal bodies. And it started by developing a powerful aura, learning to use it and to point it towards the home planet, disrupting the comfortable lives of the “perfect” ones. The Entity interfered with the light-communications, altering messages or even shutting them down. Its effects on the life of its kin became annoying to the point that sanctions were demanded by many of the citizens. Yes, there were voices against the retaliation because, after all, the Entity was encompassing the unfortunate children of many families. Still, these voices were faint and unconvincing ( …or unconvinced ?), so after a series of heated debates, the High Council decided to blast off the planet of the Entity. They worked in total secrecy, shadowing their thoughts and plans from the reach of the enemy. They were about to launch an undetectable army of robotic ships to detonate high powered bombs that would make the planet implode when the Space split, connecting Stella(r) to the gathering of the High Council.
How did he read the intention of those people eludes my comprehension. Maybe there is some Universal Justice or it was his passionate core that resonated through the distance and made him sense the danger. Inside the young man I knew a Goddess of flaming Power of Justice was living and she was ready to face her fellows and stop them. Were we there, we would’ve seen only the unleashing of high columns of blazing, blinding lights. The confrontation of the People of Light resembled in many aspects to the dynamic of the Sun
-Oh no, you won’t!
The shout of the young Goddess cut sharply through the humming of the discussions at the table of the High Council. Counselor Enegar raised his eyes to see the intruder. Facing the familiar features, he turned white and swallowed; he was hoping to never see him/her again. The counselor stood up slowly, confronting the intruder while all the eyes turned to them.
-What are you doing here?-he growled. Why did you come back?!
The Goddess stopped at the table, slamming her fist on the smooth surface. Her eyes were sparkling with anger.
-I came to stop you from murdering your children for the second time! What is wrong with you, People of Light?! Have you turned into a nation of coldhearted criminals?! Is that what you really want to do?! Wipe out an entire planet and kill all your unfortunate, rejected children? Why?! Wasn’t enough that you denied us, chased us down, stripped us from our identity and exiled us?! Who gave you this right?!
Enegar leaned forward, spewing out his hatred.
-You are abominations! Your existence is an offense to the Purity of the Light!
Stella(r) shook her head.
-Is it ?!-she cried out bitterly. How do you know that? Has the Light spoken to you personally, pointing out me or the others as failures, or it’s just your fear and your greed talking in Its name? You!…You have trashed me and crushed me hoping to break my will, my heart, my soul! I was a child! You were supposed to protect me! All of you! You have betrayed your own children! They were trusting you! What light is that you’re claiming to hold, if it comes so easy for you to dispose of your own flesh and blood?!!!
Having to listen to Stella (r)’s speech, the counselors were shifting uneasily in their seats. Some of them protested or rallied to Enegar’s accusations.
-What are you talking about, Stellar? You’re a Shifter, an Impure! How can you understand our high standars? Go away! Those like you have brought shame to our families! And they are still causing disruption to this decent world! Look what they’ve done!
-Foolish youth!-sneered Enegar. You’ll end up with them! I’m glad you came back so I can finish with you for good!
-I don’t think so!-said Stella(r). I am not a child anymore. You cannot bully me and I won’t let you hurt anyone anymore!
Enegar’s fury rose high and he turned into a column of fire, launching towards Stella(r). She jumped aside and changed shape almost instantly, her sizzling-blue fire clashing with the flames of rage that were his/her step-father. People in the room fled the scene, hiding from the heat of the battle. The columns of flames turned into fire birds and the Red and the Blue Phoenix were chasing each other at high speed, clashing in fountains of fiery sparks, pushing each other back and forth, swirling, biting and screeching. The Crimson bird was strong, cunning and aggressive, while the Electric-Blue one was bold, determined and mobile. The balance of powers and skills was almost even so it was hard to determine who would win the fight.
-Bastard!-growled Enegar, slashing the blue wing that has just hit him in the face.
The Blue Phoenix dived instantly, retreating only to change direction and emerge behind his sworn enemy.
-Murderer!-she hissed. Monster! Your greed is insatiable!
And while inside the chambers of the High Council the fight continued, shaking the whole building, in the cold embrace of the Space the Entity woke up in alert. The sense of danger was tangible, yet it was impossible to detect the source. The Entity spread its sensors throughout the space surrounding the planet but it seemed that there was nothing to detect. Have you ever had the feeling that something or someone is hiding behind you and you know it’s there but you cannot see it because it is positioned in your blind spot? Well, it was exactly how the Entity felt at that moment. Aside of being annoying, it was a frightening sensation and fear is not easy to handle. It’s one of the most destructive feelings, one that could easily bring anyone close to paranoia. And right in that moment, an intelligent but immature planetary entity was getting bit by bit paranoid. That was a recipe for disaster, for sure. But the threat wasn’t coming from where everybody expected. Randomness is a law of the Universe and things just happen. A Cosmic tidal wave of scorching energies was heading towards this particular place, threatening to wipe out any form of life, even the People of Light living in that special niche of their own. The emotionally highly strung Entity was the first to sense it, but Its mindset was directed towards the home-planet, so It kept scrutinizing that area, getting gradually nervous, then angry and finally, mad. Hell broke loose when powerful beam of energy hit the home-planet while its rulers were ducking from the responsibility of having caused that indirectly. It was a dangerous moment and Stella(r)’s double-set mind captured it at the limit. She gathered all her strength, charged from behind and slammed the Crimson Phoenix to the ground with a power that left Enegar unconscious. She then returned to her usual shape and stormed out the door, speed along the corridor and reaching the door of the Operation Room, banged the door to the wall, shouting:
-Don’t launch them!!!! Let me talk to It! Please….
The Commander of the Fleet looked questioningly to the eldest Counselor; the man raised a hand, stopping the operation then turned to Stella(r).
-Give it a try, young man. I hope you succeed. We have made enough mistakes.
-Thank you, Counselor Shiro.
She sat down on the floor, eyes closed and holding out both palms wide open, like touching an invisible wall. She dived inside her/his mind, both sides connecting and reaching out to the complex mind of the Entity.
Engulfed by Its fury, the Entity was sending flashes of energy towards the home that has been denied to It, determined to disrupt the society of cold, heartless Perfection and maybe even destroy those who deeming their “different” children as worthless, treated them as objects and dumped them. In the heat of the action it was hard to listen to the faint call addressed to the collective mind but after a while, Stella(r)’s voice reached the cognitive core.
-Stop! Stop doing that! Listen to me, please!
A small, very young voice replied in Stella(r)’s mind.
-Who are you?
-I am one of yours-came the answer in a calm tone. Please, listen to me. We have to talk.
-Are you on…Home?
-Yes. I was a fugitive but I came back to stop this madness. You don’t have to fear Home; they agreed not to reply to your attack.
-But I feel danger! It’s closing on me and I cannot see it! This must be them! It’s nobody else close to me except for them! I have to stop them! They hurt us! They hurt us all! I have to stop it!
-No! Listen to me! Let me connect closer and help you search for the source of danger. I seem to have a gift for that. I am a Shifter!
There was a short moment of silence.
-I will open the connection for you, Shifter. People like you are very rare and talented. How may I call you?
-I’m Stella(r). I have the connection; let me reach out in Space. Let’s see what’s wrong.
The High Tide was rolling through the cosmos at the speed of light, rising up the fiery star-dust, rippling through the fabric of Space and Time, breaking havoc in star-clusters and solar systems. There were no inhabited areas there, so the damage, though of cosmic proportion didn’t affect life. But it was heading towards Home and the Entity and time was running short. The discovering of the threat came as a shock to everyone. Suddenly, all their fights and confrontations became obsolete…Were these moments the last ones to live? Was their civilization going to disappear without a trace? Why did they waste the lives of so many youth in the name of some Chimaeras, instead of holding them close and loving them for who and how they were? Painful questions, ones that should be addressed by each intelligent, sentient being before it becomes too late. Humanity has this inherent tendency of forgetting the true values of love, care, empathy and mutual respect. There are so many things to reconsider in our current history…
But on the planet of the People of Light there was no time to philosophize over these problems. They were in urgent need of a solution. And that came from where they were not expecting. The Entity. It called Stella(r).
-Hey, my friend. I thought of something.
The members of the High Council gathered in the Operation Room and Stella(r) was invited to represent the Entity. At Its suggestion, they developed a multi-layered protective field with a radius that encompassed the Entity to.
-Our Protective Field will be a composite one, since each member of the Entity has a different kind of Light and a personalized energy-signature. That would enable us to break down the Wave into smaller ripples and absorb most of its impact on our level-transmitted Stella(r).
-Then we take over what it’s left in the space between us and reflect-deflect it until it would lose its destructive power. If we work in harmony, we might escape with the minimum of damages. Let’s start building this up. Time is desperately short!
They stood up to leave when Enegar entered the room. He looked disheveled and angry. The moment he saw his step-son, he rushed towards him with the intention of hitting the young man.
-What is he doing here?!-shouted the Counselor. Guards! Guards! Take him!
-Calm down, my friend-said Counselor Shiro, grabbing the angry man by the shoulders and pushing him gently away from the young man. Your son is helping us; he’s our connection to the Entity.
-But…but…he’s a Shifter, an abomination…a…
-Things have drastically changed while you were passed out, Counselor. I suggest that you go home and get a good sleep. There’s no time for explanations. I have some tactics to work out with your son, so if you’ll excuse us…
The elder of the Council turned his back on the shocked man, took the young man and left the room. Counselor Enegar left also….he left history on the back door. The Cosmic Tide arrived and broke down on the series of power-field breaker set by the People of the Light and the Entity, united. Days after peace returned in the area, the High Council retracted the law discriminating the Different Ones, acknowledging the value of their uniqueness and wowing to find a technical solution to give back the bodily identity of those who decided to leave the entity and return home. They even offered a seat in the High Council to Stella(r), now that his step-father resigned.
-I am honored by your offer but I am not a politician. I feel more like a wanderer. And I still have a promise to fulfill. There is someone waiting for me…
A few weeks passed in the adjusting and repairing on both planets, in connecting the Entity to the communication system of Home, in telling people the whole truth, in fighting the arguments and winning them. Stella(r) was busy as a bee but always keeping alert, waiting for a special storm to come.
The days and weeks I’ve spent alone in the lighthouse melted into a slow flow, making me feel like I was stuck in the middle of a river of honey, unable to get out or at least to convince this Time-jelly to move a bit faster. Oh well, if you cannot change it, you put up a smiling face and keep yourself busy (while your inner eye is set on catching the faintest signal from above). Though my cheerful mood and happy face worked well for most of the people, Patrick wasn’t so easy to fool. He kept visiting me, bringing his latest letters and poetry for checking and he used to give me that incredulous look.
-Iris, you don’t fool me.
-What are you talking about?-I said, leafing through his writings.
-I say that you have put up this brave attitude for the public eye, but ever since your…cousin left, there is a shadow in your eyes.
I looked at him, grinned and shook my head.
-You don’t expect me to confess, do you?
-No. I was just checking. But I have a long history of heartache, so I know when I see it in others.
-Well, I praise you sharp intuition but I would suggest you ask your sweetheart to marry you before you write a whole Saga, while somebody else might be more practical and marry her.
He reddened and then we both laughed.
-You’re right, Iris. I’ll do it soon. I hope your cousin will return soon. I liked that chap.
We parted in good mood. The day was warm, maybe a touch too warm for this time of the year. The office was empty so I left and walked down to the shore. The sea was lazily rocking under the sun, the white sparks dancing on the rippling waves like little fire elves. Splashing and rolling around my bare feet, the warm, translucent fingers of the sea were leaving behind colorful sea-shells and small, smooth pebbles. I picked some and rolled them absentmindedly in my palms…Where was my wandering alien? Something in the air was telling me that he/she cannot be far from here. But was this true or it was just my wishful thinking? The air was becoming gradually heavy with overheated vapors and a storm was building up inside the far horizon. I returned to the Post Office with the feeling that something was brewing inside my Reality.
By evening the sky turned dark and restless, the convoluted patches of clouds moving hectically. The unrest spread also over the sea and her voice became louder and louder. As the wind rose from the distance, rushing in blows above the liquid fields, the waves surged to the skies with hungry fingers and then rolled on towards the shores in rows of heavy walls. As I lit up the lighthouse, the skies cracked and the lightning net spread across the whole dark canvas, followed by the loud voice of the thunder. The beam of the tower reached deep into the core of the storm and at that point, Space split, pushed from inside by a phosphorescent bullet of energy.
It was heading at high speed towards the shore, guiding itself by the signals of the lighthouse. It wasn’t just a speck of light. It zigzagged above the turmoil of the waters, avoiding most of the splashing waves and it jumped aside each time the lightning hit, like in a game of cat and mouse. I couldn’t take my eyes of it; my heart was beating wildly. As the dot of light got closer, its shape became clearer and I had no more doubts. Just this time, “cousin” Stella(r) wasn’t landing through a tree. I ran down the stairs, banged the door open and rushed to shore just in time to witness the power-field capsule splashing into the water a few steps from the shore. Stella(r) emerged inside the outburst of light, wet and shaking his head but safe.
-I have a feeling that you have developed a taste for dramatic entering-I said with a smile.
-Uhm-he mumbled with a grimace, then spit. Agh-he said, half laughing, the sand doesn’t taste better than the leaves! Well, I am back at least!
A large wave hit the shore and splashed us wet. We stood there, facing each other and laughed.
-Come-I said, let’s dry up with a tea. Welcome home, stranger.
The morning caught us sitting on the top of the lighthouse, wrapped in a blanket and talking, talking, talking…My cell phone rang; it was Patrick.
-Good morning, Iris. Has your cousin arrived?
Oh…I was stunned. How could he know that? I took a deep breath before answering.
-What makes you think that, Patrick?
-There were some reports from a few fishermen caught in the storm. They’ve said that there was a strange ball of light crash-landing in the lighthouse area. Of course, Mrs. Pickett called to warn me again about the danger of alien invasion and your suspicious behavior. Anyway, I just called to invite both of you to my wedding next month. Have a nice day, Iris. Say hello from me to your cousin, will you?
-You bet-I said. Congratulations, Patrick! You can count us in.
He hung up and we stood there in comfortable silence, watching the first rays of the sun perching the soft mist floating above the sea. It was an intimate moment of unspoken sharing and cosmic equilibrium. No words were needed as we were already connected on a more subtle way, core deep. From inside the Lighthouse, Pixie emerged and purred himself in Stella(r)’s lap, placing a paw on my arm to. Heavenly peace and happiness. Who would want anything else?
Down in the village, a perky old lady was sitting on the porch with a cup of tea in her hands. She looked at the little red house in her neighborhood; it was silent and…lonely. Even the rose bushes seemed less enthusiastic in blossoming since the girl living in the house moved out to the shore. Mrs. Pickett sighed. She stood up and went inside. She took up the phone and dialed.
-Iris? Good morning, dear. I need a few stamps for a letter; do you think you could bring me some in the afternoon? And take that cousin of yours with you. I’ve made some chocolate-chip cookies….
So, this is it…for now. Who knows what would the future bring?
C H I L D R E N O F P Y G M A L I O N
“Every person that you meet is a potential healer of something that still hurts within your heart. You perfectly attract each person as if by magnet. Allow each relationship, even those that are brief, to help you to further understand your true feelings and bring you new realizations. In this way, you can learn from and then release old negative patterns. May all of your relationships be bathed in the sunlight of gentleness, mutual respect, and kindness.” (Anonymous)
The tiny, silver-spotted blue bead was spinning diligently around its yellow sun, lost in the star-spotted arm of the mighty galaxy. Time has flown and shaped the planet during hundreds and thousands of years, while life has constantly flourished on its welcoming or sometimes harsh shores. But the most brilliant of her children had left the premises as soon as they opened eyes on the marvels of distant spaces.
Like the seeds of a planetary dandelion-flower they fled the warmth of the nest and riding the powerful currents of Space, they spread along the pathways of light and dust. Only a few remnants of Humanity still inhabited the Earth. They were mainly maintenance technicians, watching over the vital systems of the few active cities and supervising the weather balance around the world.
There were also people so deeply connected to this fragile speck of star-dust that they had no heart to leave her behind and move to one of the external colonies. After long decades of being an overcrowded planet, the cradle of human race was now more like a museum. People were coming and going but this wasn’t considered a place to stay anymore.
And, of course, here there were those hopeless dreamers, artists, bohemians, cloud-walking daydreamers like us, two girls and a guy who had not decided yet what to do with their crazy lives.
The same inquisitive mind and unquenched curiosity brought us together and word by word, a new idea emerged in our restless minds: let’s find a planet for us only and shape it at will. Foolish and unrealizable as it might have sounded, this idea wasn’t totally hopeless. And we were just the perfect team to explore an unmapped planet: one artful yet practical girl with a mindset of fantasy,
Athena, one half spirit-half human creature, shy, elusive and secretive, me, Kiera and of course the one and only male that connected us, a daredevil, the passionate and creative Ulysses, poet and magician. An explosive concoction of characters, crazy enough to leave all worry behind and jump into unknown head first.
After we decided upon our quest, we spent a few months on looking for a medium sized star-ship that would allow us to go far enough and find a suitable place to plant and grow the seeds of imagination. We relied on Ulysses to pilot the ship while we supplied the crew. Two huge solar flares that rocked our home-planet sped up the preparations. We had no one to say good-bye, except maybe to the unique world that had given birth to our restless species. After depart the first space-jump proved to be the hardest; we went through it with tearful eyes, choking with the emotion of parting…forever.
And then….Space opened before us, displaying its treasures to our eyes and hungry souls, leaving us speechless and filled with amazement. We dealt with the ups and downs of the successive space-jumps according to our peculiar personalities. Days in a row Athena kept roaming the corridors like a sleep-walker, her mind feverishly working. She was walking and waving fantastic dreams about the planet we might reach. It wasn’t a futile activity as you might think; her high-strung mind accorded to the subtle flow of cosmic energy was subtly curving our trajectory towards a place that would fit our collective dream. Slightly unbalanced by the loss of firm ground under my feet, I delved in my half- spirit entity and tuned into the force-fields of space, tracing the same destination from another perspective. At the end of each day, Athena and I, we were confronting our findings with the star-maps, getting sometimes on the nerves of our enlighten leader and commander. Ulysses listened to us, half amused, half exasperated, noted down our pieces of information and then sent us off smirking.
-Go, go now, ladies….Fix something to eat until I’ll decipher your stories, will you?
In his own moments of meditation, our adventurous poet was dreaming big and magical. He was constantly shaping the image of the planetary paradise he sought with undiminished passion. There were eventless days when he amazed us with his sensitive and catchy lines of poetry. These were the moments when we doted on him and he was our beloved source of warmth and inner light.
All this time our boisterous star-ship bounced over rocky depths of hollow darkness and scorching flows of solar-bursts, it spun around star geysers, electric-blue, hot star-twins…We joined gigantic boulders rolling through the shadows of deep space, we rode comets victoriously unfolding their sparkling tails, we twisted our imagination to rename the infinite variety of galactic masses and star-bearing nebulas.
Then one day, as the milky sheen of stardust cleaned before us, the young star that was to become our sun showered us with the first, welcoming rays. We stood there on the main deck, holding hands, eyes glued to the holographic image of a planet hidden under a protective layer of opalescent clouds. It was a soft ball of rock, gently rolling on its invisible trail around his life-giving star. Two tiny moons were chasing each-other around our home-to-be, making us wonder about how that night sky adorned with two celestial bodies might look.
We joined our spiritual energies into one coherent beam that fingered the surface below and read as much as it could about the features of the planet. The readings were encouragingly familiar: the planet had oceans and lands, mountains and valleys, rivers and fields and meadows. And there was something else, something that made this hidden planet special and precious. It had…hopes and expectations, a surprising feature that resonated in the smallest element or atom encompassed in its wholeness.
The planet knew we were coming and it also knew that we had plans and dreams about it. So the moment we closed on it, a window opened into the dense layer of clouds and we safely landed on a dry spot situated in the middle of the large continent. The air was fresh and breathable so we stepped out of the starship, scrutinizing the surroundings in awe and deep curiosity. As we already knew from the previous measurements, the planet had one major continent with an almost circular shape and there were several islands scattered in the immensity of the globe-round ocean.
Since the contours of the land were blurred by a constantly shifting curtain of mist we could rely only on the readings of the beam of inner light tapping out the shapes and surfaces. We decided to divide the continent into three equal sized territories and use them as personal creating grounds. The invisible lines of division merged into a center point that later became our meeting ground free of magic and where we were just three bold and dreaming humans in a common quest. Restless Ulysses took the Land of Dawn, the one situated on North and East. I received the Land of Sunset, from North to West and the largely opened of the South became the kingdom of Athena.
Before we immersed into the creative contest we had one last late-night talk over dinner under the stars. The two moons, Alpha and Omega were under the horizon so the sky above us was splashed with twinkling diamond sparks, coiling constellations, dark clouds of dust clearly cut out over the blaze of the heights.
Ulysses set the stage by handing us a dozen of his scented candles and we diligently placed them in a large circle around our dinner table. He lit them with a quick move of his hand, scattering a fistful of sizzling sparks over the protective circle surrounding us. The table was already set with some of the bold concoctions Athena and I made in our space-kitchen so our leading poet and commander filled the glasses from a bottle of golden wine brought from the home planet. The memory of translucent grapes ripening under the shower of warmth swirled inside the glass, smoothly curving around the delicate walls, then rose and joined the harmony of scents released by the shimmering candles. We sipped the amber like liquor in silence, recalling the light-bathed hills, the joy and laughter echoing in time of harvest, the blaze of the last days of the Indian summer…Melancholy spread her wings, hovering in circles above us…
-Let me show you something, ladies…
Ulysses’ soft, purring voice pulled us back to reality. He smiled and his deep, ocean-green eyes filled with playful lights. He took out a notebook and placed it on the table. He flipped it open and moved a hand over the pages; a dim glow gathered in a tiny cluster above. A quick rotation of the wrist lifted the bright maze, turning it into fiery letters floating in the air before our eyes. Lines of poetry written by Ulysses formed and they talked about the beauty of the garden, of the roses and the birds inhabiting it. Then, one by one the letters turned into leaves, sticks and branches, petals and rivering rows of flowers, while their scent enveloped us, shutting out the reality beyond. Shiny hummingbirds like gems were flying in frenzy up and down this corner of Eden….We stood there mesmerized. Then, after a while the flowers faded into…words, hummingbirds returned to the letters of their own name, the lines of poetry dissipated in a graceful dance and the light died out between the covers of the notebook.
Ulysses chuckled at the sighting of our faces: Athena’s cheeks were burning red, her eyes shining with excitement, while I was so overwhelmed by emotions that I couldn’t stop tears streaming down my face. I shook my head in embarrassment ad took a deep breath to regain my balance.
-That was beautiful…the words slipped from my mouth instinctively.
We burst in laughter and relaxed. In the meantime, the larger moon, Alpha reached the top of the sky, blurring the stars. Its sharp silver light enhanced the glow of the silky mist swaying above the land. We were back to reality.
-So, ladies…On whose kingdom are we going to start the creative work tomorrow?
We looked at each other…and the decision came almost instantly.
-Well, Athena you’re the first to move in. After all you’re the one who wants something brand new and never seen before.
Happiness washed over the lively face and you could see she was beaming.
-You’ll see!-she exclaimed. I promise that you won’t be disappointed…
The moon plunged into the sea of mist so we resumed our dinner and went to sleep. While Athena stormed to her room, I touched Ulysses and he turned towards me questioningly.
-What’s wrong?-I asked. You seem tensed…
He was surprised.
-How did you know? I thought it’s unnoticeable…
-I can feel it, you know that.
-Oh, yes. I forgot. Your spirit side…
I smiled to put him at ease.
-Right; my inner connection. Now, won’t you tell me what is bothering you?
We stopped in front of a port-hole. It was pit-black outside but we knew that the planet was there, cloaked in fog and shadows, waiting for a resurrection.
-I wonder…-said Ulysses pensively. We might encounter some unexpected difficulties. You saw my magic this evening; it doesn’t last. It lacks consistence…We might have to connect the planet if we want to reshape her and there is only one person who can do that…
Suddenly, I felt a lump in my throat; Ulysses’ voice was a distance whisper, echoing worry.
-Kiera, will you do it, if needed? I know what that implies for you…but…
For a brief moment the world spun around me and I shut my eyes, fighting back nausea. Oh, three hot-headed dreamers…we just jumped ahead, without even knowing what our limits were…whatever…it was too late for laments. This was by now our home and failure was not an option. I didn’t want to let Ulysses needlessly worry over me.
I opened my eyes, straightened my back and put up my bravest smile.
-I can handle it, don’t worry. We didn’t come this way long to give up. Sleep well, my poet. Good night.
He raised an eyebrow and watched me carefully, trying to see beyond my composure. It was a moment of fun and finally we both laughed. I quickly kissed him and fled to my cabin.
-Women…-he grumbled and turned to his headquarters.
Night took over the planet.
A new day dawned upon the pristine land. As the yellow sun soaked up the fog, vast expanse of flat land opened in front of us, stretching towards the bluish horizon. We took the small, emergency shuttle and flew over the Southern land.
Short, frosty-green grass covered the soil, rippling under the touch of the warm morning breeze. We landed in a place that was approximately in the center of that chosen area. Athena rushed out in boisterous excitement to feel and touch the place that would be the kingdom of her imagination. Ulysses and I, we followed her in silence, thoughts running through our minds, chasing doubts and the shadowing fears of unsuccessful attempt. I could read his concerns in the darkening of his eyes and the subtle twitch of the jaw. I touched his arm.
-Let’s try first. I am here…
He acknowledged my support with a faint smile and stepped forward, his tall and lean silhouette capturing the sunlight into an eerie halo around him. Ulysses pointed out a wide circle and stood there with stern, thoughtful face until we placed the candles one by one all around. He lit them with one quick move of his hand and raised the protective wall of spell to keep us undisturbed.
We took place in the three main points dividing the circle in equal parts and held hands to combine the resources of our souls. Eyes shut, we disconnected from the outside world and joined into gathering all the light and magic energies residing beyond conscientious grasp. Warm currents of spirit emerged, surging to the surface of our minds, seeping through the palms and fingertips to unite into a single orb of sizzling, blazing bundle of light.
Ulysses’ soft whisper rippled in the silence encompassing us.
-Try something simple at first…
As the echoes of the words died out, a bubbling source of crystal clear water erupted under our feet, right in the center of the magic circle. The source grew with every burst and spread over the grass, running ahead, conquering the plain beyond the wall of spells. Emerald islands of tall, swaying grass emerged in the arms of the crisscrossing arteries of water, while the life-giving source followed its victorious run towards the ocean lost in the blur of the southern horizon.
The cooling freshness of the constantly surging source brushed over our skins, the promises of life overtaking our senses. It was a moment of bliss…that soon ended. The source vanished under our feet and the miracle outside the circle faded under the sun. Athena’s disappointment washed over me along with the deep concern coming from our protective leader in this quest.
-Just as I thought…-he murmured, avoiding my gaze.
But the anguish oozing from Athena has already broken down my reluctance. I turned and grabbed her firmly by the shoulders and told her:
-Don’t be afraid, I’ll fix it. Please, step aside, both of you.
Ulysses took away our airy friend and held her close in his comforting embrace. I lay face-down on the grass and closed my eyes, shutting everything out. My spirit-half took the lead and subtly reached out towards the planet below. As I dived deeper and deeper, the feeling of the surface under my body changed, softened until it felt warm and smooth like the skin of a living entity. From the sensitive body behind it, a tingling sensation seeped inside me, flowing through the pathways of my mind and soul. Light fingers of strange, alien energy tapped the layers of heartfelt memories of a planet that I was carrying hidden deep inside me. But with each reading, the images once encapsulated faded out and the planet connected intimately with my mind, filling the hollows, step by step.
It was a bitter-sweet victory. While this personal connection between me and the new planet ensured the success and the stability of our dream-creations, the loss of the memory of the earth was cutting deep inside me, my heart crying out with every withering image, every muffled sound or fading scent. Spirit as I was, from the three of us I was the least prepared to leave behind the Earth. Though I knew that our home was doomed, my foolishly romantic heart still ached for those realms. So I wept like a child for the loss of the cherished images of softly curved, grassy hills, soaring, snow-glazed mountains, mirroring lakes and spraying waterfalls. Familiar shapes of glittering constellations, the majestic ribbon of the Milky Way arching over the plains, the silver-showering companion of the Earth, the poetically elusive Moon…I’ve lost them all, giving space to a new beginning. When the last piece of memory got filled up and the connection completed, I felt awkwardly empty and fulfilled at the same time. My rivering pain that smashed through the pathways of my heart cleared the way and slowly calmed down, opening the gate for the conjunction with the cosmic entity that had acquired us.
New, wild, untamed energies surged from the planet, bold and wishful, waiting for a sign to get into action. Once again I reached consciousness and connected to reality. I didn’t realize that I was shaking until Ulysses helped me up. I staggered but he caught me and held me firmly until I regained my balance. Athena’s lilac eyes were watching me full of hope and expectations. I smiled reassuringly.
-Connection completed. Go, girl! It’s time to dream big!
Smoky-silver light showers from above as Alpha is slowly climbing the skies. The wondering face of the main moon looks down in astonishment to the new territory stretching below.
In the translucent ocean of vapor and thin air an intricate castle woven of silk thread and rays of light floats gracefully, as the three bold dreamers watch in equal amazement the Southern kingdom unfolding.
A vast net of crystal clear waters, lacing the plain, small, gleaming arteries of streams running joyfully towards the sandy shores of the ocean, thousands of emerald-green islands nested between the life giving arms….tiny bridges arching over the crisscrossing channels, connecting the patches of land…long-stemmed flowers swaying under the breeze, while fern-like trees were twinkling in the all encompassing glow…Sweet, floral scents permeate the air…elegant, airy creatures like huge mantis-rays are swimming through the ocean of the atmosphere…Popping out from mushroom-like umbrellas, spores of iridescent bubbles float elegantly on the currents of air, moon-rays swirling across their delicate shell in shimmering rainbows…It’s a new world, a dream born inside the artful mind.
Athena points out every feature of her kingdom with enthusiastic awe to her two friends joining this magic ride on the hovering castle. The planet breathes peacefully, dreaming ahead about marvels yet unborn inside her mist covered remaining two-thirds…
Somewhere around midnight we left Athena and returned to the base, happy but exhausted. Our joined creative work has had its grand opening but there was still a lot to do. The grid of magic running around the planet ensured the success of our following creations so we were ready to go on with it first time in the morning. I knew that the dream-world of Ulysses was lying dormant between the covers of his poetry-book. Magic surprises were sleeping for now, carved out in blazing words. Of the three of us, he was the most enigmatic, spiritual being, insightful, connected intimately to the soft whispers of a hidden reality that was beyond our grasp. He was the vessel of an inner light that kept us floating and captured the hearts, an elusive light, alluring and irresistible…
I was about to say “good night” when he stopped me; he could sense my tribulations and he wanted to ease my inner turmoil.
-Kiera…don’t be afraid, it’ll be fine. I know it. Anyway, if you feel lost, I’m always around.
He gave me the sweetest smile and all of a sudden, everything brightened up and I went to sleep with a lighter heart.
The planet moved under the touch of dreams; it opened towards me and listened, following the light traveling through our inner connection. The land rose, turned and twisted, shaping new forms. Yellow-green triangles of trembling leaves danced on the tips of delicate branches and tiny sticks as the white silhouettes of birch groves took over the soft line of the hills. Tall, solemn-grey beech woods walked higher, mixing with majestic old oaks as the land grew into foothills then turned into soaring dragons of glistening rock.
Dark, steel-green columns of fir and pine trees built into organs of vegetation on the steep slopes, then dwarfed into crawling bushes of junipers and crimson mountain roses. Pointed peaks, like razor-sharp shark teeth bit into the chilling, high atmosphere, the sunrays gliding over facets of amethyst and smoky quartz.
Wild streams bubbled, jumping, splashing, grumbling over the obstacles of rocks and boulders, gathering in clear-blue pools only to restart their rush into the hollows of cracks, straights and ravines. Dense rivers of mist clouded, floated, waved above the mountains, rivering down the deep valleys. The rocky spine of the mountain leaned towards the Eastern kingdom, and the stern woods of conifers smoothed into light-woven forests, filtering the sun. The air of the morning was fresh and crisp, the low humming of insects entwining with the high-pitched chirping of the boisterous singing birds.
I stepped at the edge of the forest, gazing into the golden glow ahead. I had leaded my forests towards Ulysses to help him set the stage for the birth of his dream-land. I stood there, half hidden in the shadow, waiting and silently watching his tall, slender shape surrounded by light. Unlike Athena who is an artful creature, a chip of a Greek goddess, comfortable with herself, I am an odd mix of conflicting features. Joyful and energetic on the outside, haunted by romantic bursts of melancholy on the inside, I’m an untamed child of Nature born into the body of a woman. Sometimes I feel like I am too much for myself and I shy away from my own feelings…
Ulysses flipped open his book and whispered a spell over the intricate rows of words inhabiting the pages. Just like at that late-night dinner show, the words rose in the air, then, as they embodied their content, spread around, adorning the Eastern kingdom with magic features.
Streams born inside the cooling belly of the mountain were cascading in spraying waterfalls…The light, penetrating through the tiny droplets burst out in shining beads of rainbow…The ever-moving rows of sizzling water-gems washed down over the deep-green curtains of moss and grass clinging to the rocky stairs, spread in vaporous, delicate veils from the dizzying heights in a harmonious, soul soothing move and sound. The streams gathered into rivers and the rivers plunged into deep holes carefully hidden under the greenery.
Caves opened inside the land under the thin crust of solid ground and the rivers coiled around columns of bright turquoise, wine-red rubies, fire opals and clear-blue sapphires. As the boiling waters left the underworld, the land slowly slid towards the awaiting ocean, taming into wide shores. Foam-crested waves kissed the white sands, leaving behind gifts of nacreous shells. A row of beautiful islands faced the horizon where the miracle of a new day kept rising on and on, under the touch of the sun. Large fans of undulating palm-trees flipped in the salty ocean breeze, graceful white birds cried over the rolling waters, spicy scents erupted in the warmth of the night from the velvet core of the exotic flowers…
Cozy, comfortable lodgings were scattered around this land in places of calm and serenity. Whenever Ulysses was at home in any of them, the shimmering, scented candles indicated his presence. The Eastern kingdom was Paradise reborn under new stars.
The work has been done.
Kiera sighed as Ulysses closed his book of poetry with an inward smile.
-We did it-he said, turning to the girl waiting for him. And I was right about you, wasn’t I?
-The planet has kept my memories and helped me reinstate them. It was an unexpected gift…
-It was an act of fairness to wards you. Now let’s go back and celebrate. I think we deserve a special treat and some fireworks…
The planet stretched imperceptibly and then relaxed. It was pleased with the result. It rocked herself into sleep as the shadows of the night conquered the land and small Omega rolled into the star-spotted stage of the skies.
There is no surge in Nature without a recess, so after months of arduous work in refining the features, balancing our kingdoms and the excitement of roaming new, unexpected sightings, we came to realize that no matter how wonderful things might have looked, we were only three humans in this whole, huge magic land. We had fled the restless, noisy and boisterous company of our fellow humans just to start missing them by now…
This was the moment when we decided to populate our lands with inhabitants that would fit the whole scenery. The only problem was how to create such high complexity creatures. Whatever the planet could do, it has been already done. It has helped us setting the scenery but sentient beings were connected to a more subtle flow of cosmic energies.
Athena and I, we were relying on Ulysses to gain access to those levels of reality. It was an area where he moved swiftly and he was at home. So we, the girls kept ourselves busy with the general features of each group of future inhabitants. Athena wanted nymphs and semi-gods from the myths of her ancestors; the world of Ulysses belonged to mermaids and mermen and I was an arduous admirer of elves, fairies and dwarfs.
To complete his work, Ulysses needed a peaceful spot to meditate and roam the hidden layers of reality; so one day he grace fully bowed towards us and disappeared inside his kingdom without any additional explanation. We acknowledged and delved into the work that was at hand for us.
Our graceful companion reappeared all of a sudden after more than a week, with an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile and some playful sparks in his eyes.
-Ladies. Nice to see you. We have things to do.
He smiled and continued.
-Athena. I need you to fly over the entire continent and map the spots where the two moons shed the brightest light. Kiera and I, we have to go up the mountain and find a window of high energy.
Athena smirked, gazing at us playfully:
-Do I have to? It looks boring. Are you sure you’re not shutting me out while the two of you have all the fun?
I reddened while Ulysses burst into laughter.
-Don’t be silly, Athena. Tracing those spots is half of the work to be done. We need that map to be ready the moment we would be back. Nothing can be achieved without it so I rely on your swiftness.
He lifted her from the ground and swirled her until she was breathless. He put her down with a smile.
-You’re an artist, Athena and you have a keen eye. I’m sure this will be a piece of cake for you. Think about your semi-gods and speed up. It has to be done till the end of this week. Alpha and Omega will be in conjunction.
We split in good spirit and headed to sleep.
The sun was fighting the morning fog as we took the road towards the mountain. Ulysses and I, we left the small shuttle on a pasture near the edge of the forest and took a narrow pathway leading to the highs. Ulysses knew the way; we had been there several times before, watching sunsets and counting shooting stars… when we had been on Earth.
The high arch that opened on the vastness of the sky was a replica of a place we often visited at home. According to Ulysses, this one was a place that connected high–level energies, a place that he found out through his inner compass. I followed him whole heartedly, despite the fact that I had no idea what was about to happen up there. All I knew was that he needed my connection to the planet and since I trusted him, all I worried about were my own abilities.
It took us two days to reach the peak. We slept under the stars, drank water from icy cold sources, picked forest fruits and laughed a lot. But I knew that Ulysses’ mind was constantly working on the task ahead, shaping and reshaping the way to complete it. These were days when I could see him from a different perspective and I fully enjoyed the opportunity.
Ulysses has always been an eye catcher, but his good looks were only a thin layer of appearance over a personality of incredible depths and labyrinth-like complexity. Beyond the courteous smile and good manners there was a strong and independent character, a brilliant mind and a thirst for opening of new horizons. Like the stars in the skies that he so easily and naturally connected, his core was made of blazing light that could ignite a universe…
But for now, he was our friend, our protector, poet and master magician with whom we kept building a world that never existed before. It was shortly after nightfall that we reached the peak. In the warm evening there was a strange chill in the air that brazed our skin and I shuddered.
Ulysses set up the circle of protective spell, leaving me time to rest and gather strength. As the night deepened, the shape of the two moons was becoming increasingly bright. The moment of conjunction was near. We stepped inside the circle of candles and their light softly trembled at our closeness.
Ulysses took my hands; his touch was warm, soft and soothing. Calmness settled inside me and I shut my eyes.
-It’s time-he whispered and I plunged inside my inner world, following the trail of Spirit and Earth connections that webbed inside me ever since I mapped and connected with the planet.
On his side, Ulysses reached out to the stars and for a moment, the Universe halted, listening to his call.
-Open your eyes. NOW!
The word of command echoed inside me, its powerful wave shaking me back to reality. I gasped and woke up looking straight at him. A warm, golden light waved inside the green pools of his eyes. I gazed into their translucent waters and suddenly, the light erupted from the depths, washing over me.
Torrents of blaze ran down my veins, spreading inside me in a warm, rapidly pulsing net, until they filled up even the tiniest capillaries. Stardust rolled and swirled inside that stream, celestial harmony turned into rhythms that overtook my heart, tuning its beating to the faraway thumping of star-birth.
The planet responded to the challenge of the Universe and her cooling energies surged through my body in streams of blue sizzling, coiling around the flaming rush inside me, raising an arch of bright azure over our entwining entities. The blue halo enveloped both me and Ulysses and inside this creating turmoil of energies, the physical limits separating us disappeared. For a magic moment, we were one. The tides of Time halted as our merging completed.
Heart melted into heart, arteries and veins connected, eyes opened towards the same miracle and the seeds of life took shape, one by one. In the limited infinity between us there was a point of burning light that cradled those brilliant specks, those promises of life. They kept emerging and clustering until we had enough to fill our acquiring home. The cluster of light solidified into a faintly glowing fruit, floating in between the two of us.
Land and sky separated as the rush of energies calmed down and the rivers of blaze faded into their originating nests. We slowly returned behind our personal boundaries, elated and exhausted. I stepped back, leaving Ulysses to take hold of the precious result of joined creation.
Alpha and Omega split in the skies; the short moment of conjunction has ended. The river of Time was flowing again over us. We looked at each-other silently; we needed no words. We had succeeded. The first step of populating the planet has been completed.
Two days later we reached the base; Athena was waiting for us, eager to start the work. We took a quick shower, changed clothes and gathered in the Commanding Room.
She unfolded the map, spreading it over the large desk. A web of blue and white dots covered the continent, always in pairs. It looked like the two moons had worked together despite the fact that, except for the conjunction, they seemed to rarely visit the skies at the same time. The energy spots were scattered along rivers, on islands, channels, ocean shores, high peaks or deep forests. Planting the seeds in all those places meant that we would have to work together at high speed.
Ulysses took out the protective box that nested the precious fruit. He lifted the lid and gently pushed the box towards Athena. The fruit-of-life was pulsing calmly as he moved his palm above it. I could feel the faint current of energy coming from the box, reaching towards each of us. The soft touch reverberated inside me; Athena closed her eyes and took a deep breath, captured by the new, unusual feeling.
During our moment of awe Ulysses assessed the data from the map and the readings about the two moon’s movements in the skies; he raised an eyebrow and tilted his head:
-Ladies, I hate to interrupt your daydreaming but we have no spare time. The window of opportunity we have to plant the seeds is less than two days. We have to hurry up.
So the data was loaded into the memory of the emergency shuttle and we left for Athena’s land. We worked day and night to plant the seeds. We slept in shifts and we, the girls were the gardeners most of the time. We needed Ulysses to fly the shuttle and to keep the fruit-of-life energized. He was the only one powerful enough to protect and keep alive that magical collection of seeds of light.
Athena and I, we dug up the soil and molded the small nests, placed the seeds inside and covered them carefully with the thin layer of soil. We held hands over the nest and summoned the magic of Earth and Skies through the portals of our souls, raising a protective spell over the cradle of the future children of dreams. When the last nest was finally secured under the slender palm-tree undulating on the ocean shore, we embraced each other, happy but exhausted. Ulysses lead us to one of his favorite lodgings and that night we all slept like new-born babies, deeply, comfortably and free from concerns.
Alpha and Omega rose from the frothy waves of the ocean, slowly approaching each other, their light showering over the land, faint blue and frosty silver entwining over the secret places that held the pulsing seeds. Like pulled by an unseen power, the two moons closed on each other in what looked like a strange dance in the skies.
Sizzling halo of light gathered above each spot, thin pencils of rays fingered the surface and the planet shuddered under the touch. The crust of soil cracked with a sift noise, the belly of the earth opened and widened. As the midnight meridian moved over the spots, a clear, high-pitched sound of an invisible bell announced that the magical birth has begun. Showered by moonlight, slender shapes emerged from the underworld, one by one. They filled the land, danced and laughed under the spray of light coming from above.
Graceful nymphs and handsome semi-gods took over the land of the Southern kingdom, quickly settling on the tiny islands, weaving nests of silk, dew and light or houses of magic-grass that were hanging in colorful rows from the fern-like trees. Some of them captured handfuls of iridescent bubbles and flew, riding the warm currents of air, reaching the hovering castle. They roamed the corridors and the crisscrossing, artful hallways then sat in some of the numerous rooms of that fantastic building.
On the Eastern kingdom, mermaids and mermen splashed and swam in happy gatherings, teasing the dolphins and the schools of rainbow fish. Horses of bubbling foam ran wildly over the breaking waves and pearly birds followed their rush, circling above.
The hills, meadows and valleys of the Western kingdom opened its arms of greenery and clear waters to acquire the boisterous elves, airy and wise fairies and diligent dwarfs. A majestic dragon of mist floated peacefully above them, watching over the elegant yet energetic creatures.
As the night faded into the pink Aurora, the birth of the three nations completed. The bold dreamers of the far Earth woke up to a world of new responsibilities.
It might be true that the old gods of humanity took a nap or a well-deserved rest after completing their creation but that was definitely not our case. I might even say that in our case, it was the contrary…As the rays of the sun hit the tip of the waves rolling in the ocean, the children of our creation woke up and scattered noisily, trying to set foot on each vantage point. The three of us, we split and took the reins of each kingdom and soon, we were more than busy and feeling very much at home. Behind pointed ears, fins and tails, wings and whatever made the external differences, the new born nations were adorably and annoyingly human. So, we put our humor and imagination at work, squeezed the last drop of patience we’ve got and slowly but steadily set the necessary rules inside the originating chaos.
Months later, as we finally reached harmony, we’ve met again to share the story of each up and down, along with a glass of wine and Ulysses’ poetic recollection about our collective journey. After a relaxing chat, Athena was the first to speak about her achievements. She looked satisfied and slightly amused, lights twinkling in her eyes.
-I am content, my friends, really content. These young gods and nymphs are highly creative and eager to help me in fulfilling my wildest dreams and projects. I envision even some plays or musicals like, let’s say, “The Phantom of the Opera”…
She looked straight towards Ulysses, waiting for a reaction. After all, she was speaking about his favorite musical…The young man returned the look and winked.
-I might send you some of my mermaids. I have a feeling that some of them are seeking a career as singers. Give it a try, Madam Director of Celestial Opera House.
-Don’t worry, Ulysses; just send them to me. In the meantime I’d like some helping hands from the elves to. I know that they are artful craftsmen. How do you manage, Kiera?
How was I doing? Oh, well…it depends how you look at it. My elves and my fairies had a strong Irish ancestry so they were boisterous and hotheaded…both sides. Moments of peace and harmony rapidly turned into heated arguments…just to dissolve, moments later in hugs and laughter. So…they were a handful…and I loved them.
-I’m fine, Athena. It’s a “give and get”, day by day and the more they learn from me, the more I learn from them. So, yes, I’ll send you some of them to help you with this art-project.
-Now, ladies. Since you set things in order, let’s have some fun tonight. Alpha is almost at its peak and my Sea Horses are restless by now. It would be my greatest pleasure to take you both on a wave riding. What’d’you say?
I looked at Athena; she grinned and gave me a playful kick.
-Come, girl, don’t be shy. What can go wrong? If we fall off the horse, we take a splash; that’s all!
We laughed and joined Ulysses. The night wasn’t over yet.
Alpha took its vantage position above us all and unfurled its wings of light, dimming the stars. The Ocean became restless under the touch of the moon and her waves rolled towards the shore in thicker rows of frothing waves. Mermaids and mermen, closely followed by dolphin-like creatures enjoyed the growing swell. There was a feeling of expectation in the air, easily capturing us as well. We walked down to the soft, dimly glowing sand and stood behind Ulysses, watching him summoning the Horses of the Sea.
Eyes closed in concentration, he held out both hands and gracefully signaled the waters to rise. The foamy tip of the approaching waves bubbled up and took shape; three horses of iridescent lace emerged and galloped to the shore. Airy and harmonious creatures, bathed in silver light, they were holding all the energetic and passionate temperament of their Earth-born siblings. In the increasing salty, night-breeze their long mane looked like a flaming halo. The horses gathered around Ulysses, gently poking him for a caress. He laughed softly, touching and petting them, one by one…then turned towards us.
-Ladies, come. Come closer…These are my magic companions in my midnight roaming: Athor, Aras and Aelin. Athor is my friend and I hope his brothers would become your close companions in the future.
Athena and I, we were mesmerized. There was a flow of energy radiating from those marvelous creatures, soothing, calming and connecting to us almost instantly. Somehow, they were taming us just by their natural beauty and harmony. Ulysses helped us on their back and then, he took his faithful Athor. Although at first we couldn’t discern any difference between the three horses, I saw that Athor was more robust and confident. He had a star-shaped spot on its forehead. Aras was the next in line, a steady stallion, fitting Athena’s firm and determined personality. The younger ones, me and Aelin, we were an instant bond. My new friend was more delicate and nervous on the outside, but teaming with passionate inner energies…just like me. Though I never rode a horse, I trusted him. I embraced his gracefully arching neck and, before anybody notice, I quickly kissed him.
-Don’t let me make a fool of myself-I whispered in his ear, hoping that the horse will understand me.
But there was no time for worries. Lead by Ulysses, we turned to the ocean and our wave-ride begun in splash! The other magic inhabitants of the depths excitedly followed us, diving and jumping, spreading sparkling droplets of water in the air. Galloping into the glowing horizon, the horses were barely touching the tip of the foaming rovers. Athena was laughing, Ulysses was smiling and I just closed my eyes, breathing in the light. Magic was flowing through us, finely tuning our cores to the heart-beat of the enchanted planet…
Days added up in weeks and weeks became months as we kept being busy with our kingdoms and young nations. The Celestial Theater and Opera House dreamed by Athena was taking shape with the help of enthusiasts of all sides. Summer was gradually fading into an early autumn, shades of yellow diluting the strong green of meadows and forests. My own boisterous kingdom was settling to; last time I have called a meeting on their ground, I’ve told them to work out a respectful way of life…without involving me. They were shocked. We gathered in a larger clearing and sat under the arching canopy of a row of architectural oak trees. Each group of my fantastic “children” had sent its boldest and most representative individuals. As I looked around to connect with them, my heart warmed up and a small lump was rising in my throat. I took a deep breath and swallowed. This was not the moment to fall apart and cry. I have foreseen this moment and I knew that it was unavoidable. But they still needed a bit to realize the same. For now, all they could do was to protest loudly.
-But Little Goddess, we can’t do that without your lead, your wisdom! You have created us! We want you to be our Queen!
-Please, please listen to me!
I had to raise my voice to make myself heard over the noise of shouts.
-I have watched over you ever since the night this planet gave birth to you. We worked side by side in order to make this kingdom a home for all. I am thankful for the efforts involved in reaching this complicated but hopeful goal. I am pleased with the results but now, time has come for me to step aside and let you work out your own future. I put my trust in you all, so there’s no need to be afraid.
There…I was able to say it without staggering. I closed my eyes, waiting to the message to sink in their mind. There was an awkward moment of silence but then, the miracle happened. My wise and diligent dwarfs, my graceful fairies and my playful elves…they all surrounded me and we hugged each other…and I left lightheartedly. They stood there and talked for hours. Their childhood came to an end and a new chapter was opening. Dwarfs, Elves and Fairies were now fully able to rule their land.
So I moved closer to Ulysses, in a quiet spot near the border of our kingdoms. Ever since that magic night of wave-riding, we’ve been too busy to meet. All I knew about him was that lately he became very interested in the Crystal Caves and that he was after something; but I had no idea what that could be.
The shrinking day-light, the chilling bite of some of the early mornings, the sudden-blue of the autumn skies, the melancholy in the song of the slim, swirling winds, all these piling signs of the new season were altering my personal harmony, rewiring me. My mood shifted towards a more dreaming state of mind, while sensitivity soared, sharpening my perception, adding new lights and shadows to the reality surrounding me. The planet was happily bouncing on its ellipse, fulfilled by its acquired sense of beauty. Universal peace seemed to become all encompassing…
It was a night of full Alpha when I finally took the decision to visit Ulysses. Somehow I couldn’t find the necessary courage to do that. I couldn’t explain why I was constantly finding something else to do…after I moved near him. Exasperated by my conflicting state of mind, I travelled mostly to Athena, helping her with arts and crafts. I tried to hide my turmoil behind my usual cheerfulness but my wise friend was seeing through me easily. She accepted my help, patiently listening to my ramblings until she decided it was enough.
-Girl-she said, looking at me with that “no-nonsense” expression on her face. Thank you for your help but go! Go and see what is he doing. It’s what you want. Now, don’t try to deny it. It’s written all over your face, silly girl.
She laughed and I laughed and then I left. When the wings of darkness spread above the land, I called my dragon and flew towards the cabin next to the caves. There was a warm, shimmering light in the windows so I hoped that Ulysses would be home.
The young man was sitting before the fireplace in deep thoughts. Lately, he has spent most of his days inside the magic world of the Crystal Caves. It was both a magic and scaring place to be. The anomaly detected at the entrance was growing stronger as he travelled deeper and deeper inside the caves. The chain of high chambers decorated by slim pillars, daring arches and intricate laces of colorful crystals was opening into a final cave of epic proportion. An underground river was cascading from the ceiling-line hidden behind the mist generated by the spraying waters. The rushing body of bubbling liquid splashed in a seemingly bottomless pool, only to resurface and head on through the string of caves ahead.
A narrow and dangerously slippery path was leading to the unexpected curtain of water. But the closer you got to the relentlessly falling mass, the more aware you were becoming of its overpowering push on everything around. It was like a giant palm closing over you, shutting out the air you were trying to breathe in, compressing you lungs while your heart was running wild of anxiety. At the same time, the place was exerting an almost hypnotic attraction and Ulysses found hard to resist it every day. The place was deeply intriguing and it encompassed a menace he wasn’t able to point out yet. The young man decided to keep silent about his discovery. He didn’t want to worry his lady-companions unless it was necessary. For now, all he could do was to study the phenomenon and tune himself into the awkward energy-flows filling the caverns.
A log cracked in the fireplace, bringing him back to the immediate reality. Somebody was coming; his high-strung perception kept him alert most of the time. Luckily, this time it was a pleasant interruption. He stood up briskly and leapt to the door, opening it before Kiera could knock. Taken by surprise, she blushed; Ulysses smiled inwardly.
-Come, my lady. I’m glad you remembered this place….
If for the split of a moment I wish I could die and disappear, the moment Ulysses greeted me, I was already hoping this night would never end. Somehow, we both needed this encounter, we both needed to talk and talk and talk….I told him about my decision to leave the Land of Sunset in the hands of the people inhabiting it and he told me about the research he was conducting in the Crystal Caves. There was a hidden tension in his voice and in his composure while he went through the story of that special place of his kingdom. From what he shared with me, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong so I’ve decided to ask him directly. As much I knew him, Ulysses always protected Athena and me from the dangers ahead.
He turned to me.
-Tell me what’s wrong-I said. You know that I can sense your inner tension…
-Damn, Kiera, a man cannot have a secret with you around…Ok, you’re right. Something is bothering me about this cave. There is a strong anomaly inside, one that indicates a presence from an outer space. I don’t know how that …something reached this particular planet but I have a feeling that it has to do with our landing here.
I took a deep breath and let the piece of information sink in. It was both disturbing and challenging news. Humanity had faced numerous encounters with intelligent creatures throughout its history. Not all of these ended up peacefully but on a long term, our Space-Age proved to be a success. Our colonies had spread around like dandelion-seeds carried by the Currents of Space. The immediate question was: what are the intentions of the one reaching out to us?
I must’ve looked lost and distressed ‘cause I’ve heard Ulysses saying:
-Hey…Kiera…Let’s ride some waves. We’ve worried enough for today.
He smiled encouragingly and we left the cabin. I summoned the dragon and he flew us to the shore. The night was still warm enough and Alpha was in full blaze. Athor and Aelin surfaced at once and the ride begun! We chased the moon-light dancing on the tips of the waves, outran the playful night-breeze and splashed each-other, laughing until Alpha set in the drizzle of the horizon and the sun tinted the fields of the ocean with lavender and pink. Touched by the early rays of the sun, the horses delved into the green depths, leaving us to rest on the sands, side by side, in meaningful silence. Our hands touched…and then entwined…and no words were needed to express the hope that, whatever the future was holding, it would not separate us.
The following week made it impossible for us to meet again. As Athena’s project was getting close to be finalized, she needed some extra help so I moved with her in the High Castle and made myself useful. During the preparations, Athena had put out some calls to some of her old friends who were living in the colonies. She invited them to the Grand Opening and they happily agreed, spreading the word around their own friends. So, it looked like this would be an opening for our planet itself. Between moments of frantic work, Athena asked about Ulysses and his doings. I’ve carefully censored the amount of information; after all, there was no foreseeable danger, so there was no need to worry her.
I could see her sighing with relief and sense her guilt for not being in touch with him. Athena was a great friend and support and though her dream was keeping her in constant excitement, her mind and her heart were at their proper place. Her enthusiasm was contagious and it kept me in line but the nights were becoming more and more difficult for me. Despite being deadly tired, I couldn’t sleep for hours. When the world quieted down and the rasp of the waves was a faint sound of the background, an eerie sensation enveloped me, stirring my inner waters, pushing me into the realms of elusive nightmares. I was worried; I’ve tried to talk with Ulysses several times but I seldom succeeded. Even when we talked, he sounded preoccupied and tired, though he kept reassuring me that all was fine there. He knew I won’t buy it, but he also knew I couldn’t leave Athena without raising unnecessary questions. I kept nagging him until he promised that he would come and supervise our finished work at the end of the week.
But he didn’t show up. That morning, the Sun rose crisp and red from the turquoise waters, its long path of light spread across the ocean like a trail of blood. I called Ulysses at the cabin but he didn’t take my call. My heart sank and I couldn’t stay anymore.
-I have to go, Athena-I said. I’m sorry…
She was visibly worried.
-Go, go! Call me when you get there. Don’t let me simmer in my own stew…
She hugged me and helped me on the dragon’s back. She stood there, watching me until we lost sight of each other.
The silence around of the cabin was crushing; even the usual wind blowing through the nearby forest was missing as I arrived. The entrance door was unlocked and the fireplace still had some half-dormant charred logs. I searched around a bit, just to get an idea where Ulysses has gone. That he was missing, that was all very clear for me. But the most disturbing fact was that I couldn’t …sense him. I stood there for long moments, reached down to the planet and searched for any sign of his presence. Nothing. To the best of my knowledge, Ulysses was not on this planet anymore.
“Think. Think. Breathe, don’t panic. Look around and see what is missing. Now move!”
I pushed myself into action; all it was missing was his backpack and some of his instruments. I found a map of the caves, a torch-lamp and I improvised a back pack for me to. With a bottle of fresh water and an apple picked from the table I hurried towards the Crystal Caves. Ulysses couldn’t be anywhere else. On my way I called Athena to let her know what was going on .She was quick to answer.
-Hi, Athena. He’s not here and I couldn’t find him yet. I’m on my way to the caves. He was doing some research there lately. I hope he’s fine…
Athena’s voice was calm; too calm to be true.
-Don’t do anything stupid, girl. Take care, ok?
-Uh, ok. Listen, Athena; if neither of us would show up, I left you some notes on the table in his cabin. The door is open. I’ll be careful but that’s the only thing I can promise you…
-I know. Watch your steps and bring back our dreaming knight. This place tastes foul without him. Keep going! I’m going back to my chores; the show must go!
The connection broke; becoming emotional was not an option. In less than an hour I reached the entrance and, to my biggest surprise there was light inside and I could follow the pathway with less difficulty. Weren’t I desperate to find out about Ulysses, I would’ve enjoyed the splendor of the place. Guided by the rich fantasy of our poetic leader, the Planet had surpassed all imagination. This could’ve become a Paradise for crystal lovers and researchers. But for now, it was only the place of unseen dangers, so I sharpened my senses and followed the trail.
The closer I got to the waterfall described by Ulysses, the stronger the pull of that place became. Facing the glowing wall of waters was overwhelming. The amount of energy radiating from it was huge. Like the hungry arms of a giant squid, the invisible waves were surrounding me, pressing from all sides in an attempt to overcome my inner control.
It was a scaring sensation but the more they pressed, the more I resisted. Despite my mild temperament, I deeply disliked to be pushed around. And the fact that…something was keeping my mind occupied, preventing me from searching for any sign of Ulysses was infuriating. To get back my control over my mind, I started to hum a mantra….and it worked! The pressure on my skull eased and the tentacles of energy retracted behind the curtain of water. My vision cleared and I caught a glimpse of a piece of paper on the proximity of the waterfall. I hurried there and picked it up; I recognized Ulysses’ handwriting. A fragment of poetry…the words were dancing before my eyes…Space, Void, Pain, Light…I closed my fist upon it and tried to connect with Ulysses. No response…nothing. The water kept falling, radiating light, pulsing in the space around me. The pathway was disappearing inside it. He must have gone further…so I stepped forward.
As the scintillating droplets washed over me, their luminous content seeping inside every bit of my spirit-side, the light exploded inside me with the power of a supernova. My boundaries stretched instantly, reaching out to the Universe. My core was signaling and listening, frantically searching for the faintest echo that would help me find him. I delved to the limits of the reality, down into the threads of almost nothingness that create the fabric of Space and Time. I listened with every bit of my wide spread energies and then, something moved. It was a response at the limit of deadly silence but its delicate waves reached my inner shores. I have found him….not in the hollows of interstellar space, not in the deep ravines of star-cradles…No; he was much closer…so close that I almost screamed! Shadowed by my constant denial, he was where he has always been: in my heart. All I had to do was to search for him inside me, in the fire that was giving my inner light. He was there, memorized to the tiniest detail, cherished to the faintest smile…In a split of a moment I retracted inside my own Universe, pushing the gates open, rushing down the steps and the coiling pathways of my inner lands. The imprints of his touch upon my soul were faintly glowing, forever carved in the soft walls; the warmth of his voice and the softness of his laughter echoed in the feverish thud of my heart. I sped around, collecting the bits and pieces of every personal memory of him and carried them into the blazing light. The fabric of Space and Time trembled as the portal opened inside it. It was a deep, black vortex, a mesmerizing, convoluted tempest of dark matter. I closed my eyes, I held tight the image of light born in my heart and jumped into the unknown. There was nothing of worth in this world left behind if Ulysses wasn’t part of it.
Despite the strange familiarity of the place, I couldn’t point out where I was. I’ve just stumbled out of a waterfall roughly the size of that of the Crystal Caves and I was on open ground. I made a quick mental check and searched for the presence of the one I came for. Oh, I was in the right place; his presence was clear and he seemed to be somewhere around. Looking around, I tried to assess the features of the surroundings. It was an alien planet, a peculiar one.
It felt home, yet the design of the whole place was somehow…sketchy, like a blueprint, not a three dimensional reality. The rocky wall behind me, the almost barren plateau ahead, the scarce grass blades, the faint-blue sky…all of them reminded me of the drawing made by a child. There were some spiky bushes and a patch of skeletal trees on my right so I decided to take a few steps on their direction. If Ulysses was somewhere around, he should’ve been there.
There was a faint sizzle and the space around him wavered for a moment; somebody else was coming. Ulysses stood up and turned to the source of the sound. He was tense…then relaxed and chuckled. At least something good happened in this messy situation. He waited until the familiar silhouette emerged behind the tangled vegetation.
-Clever girl-he said loudly. I’m glad you found me…
For a short moment, she was unable to speak. Relief, aftershock and desperate attempt to regain composure, he could read all of them on her face. Finally, she smiled and replied:
-You have no idea how glad I am. I hate to think where I could’ve ended falling through this wormhole…
They both laughed and Ulysses could feel her tension subside as he held her close.
-What is this place?-she asked, as they walked towards the shaded place where he had set his tent. It feels familiar but I’m sure that I’ve never been here before…
-This, my lady it’s the twin-sister of our planet, Pygmalion. They keep connected through the wormhole; the two waterfalls are just clever disguises.
Kiera was puzzled.
-What do you mean by “twin-sister”?
-Come-said Ulysses, taking her by the hand. Let me show you something.
They walked to the cluster of trees and stopped near one of them. It was a medium high tree, with dull-grey, rugged bark and dust-colored leaves. Inconspicuous small, round fruits hung from the branches and on the whole, the poor tree looked disappointing. Ulysses placed the palm of his left hand on the tree-trunk, while with his right hand he made a few magic signs. In a few moments, the color of the bark under his palm started to change into warm brown, spreading quickly, up and down to the last stick. After that, the magic touched the leaves, turning them into vivid-green while the color of the fruits changed into pink with yellow spikes. Ulysses picked some and offered them to his companion. Kiera looked at him questioningly.
-They are edible-chuckled the young man. It’s my alternative for litchi. You should try them. Our food supplies are scarce.
The fruit was soft on the inside, with a sour-sweet aroma…like an ice-cream. It was both nourishing and refreshing. They picked some more for later and returned to the tent.
-Now you see?-asked Ulysses.
-Yes, I see…This planet has the same living core as Pygmalion. She’s able to cooperate in creating with us. But I see some features that are implying a connection with people like us. Yet, all seems so sketchy, so clumsily done….It looks like a bad copy of Pygmalion.
-Exactly! You’ve nailed it.
-I’m proud of you, Little Goddess. As much as I could detect and learn about Amalthea (I gave this planet a name), she has closely followed the changes we made on Pygmalion and she tried to make the replicas. What you see is what she succeeded, which is satisfactory for now.
Kiera was impressed. To find a planet like Pygmalion was magic; but to find two of a kind was close to a miracle. Yet there was the question of those strange energy flows inside the waterfall of the Crystal Caves. There were so many layers in that message coming from this new planet. Kiera decided to ask more.
-So-she asked, gently touching the young man. While we engaged our creative energies to mould Pygmalion’s appearance, Amalthea was watching and learning. Then, why is her calling so full of pain?
A shadow crossed Ulysses’ face.
-I don’t really know-he said in a low voice. I was hoping to find out here.
-Kiera-he said, looking straight in her eyes. I’m glad that you’re here with me; I only dread the fact that we might face some unexpected dangers here. I’ll share with you my readings of the anomaly detected and maybe we could decrypt them more easily together.
The two youth worked themselves through the large amount of data previously collected. After long hours of comparison, one pattern was clearly emerging: a deep fear echoed inside all the messages. It was a disturbing discovery; fear was a familiar emotion to both of them. But what could possibly frighten a planet?
A stern night, with strange stars scattered all over the black canopy, the eerie silence of an almost barren planet and a nagging question about a faceless fear were the coordinates of the moment when Ulysses and Kiera slept in the tent, holding each other. The planet itself was resting, comforted by the presence of those who were seemingly able to read her mind.
Somewhere far, inside the dark belly of the Universe a menacing shadow was taking flight from the scorched surface of a former vivid planet. A bird of prey with eyes of blood and fire and sharp teeth of hungry predator, a bird made by a ruthless, intelligent species in full expansion in this section of the ocean of stars. They were sending armies of indestructible robots ahead, to detect and to sow the seeds of life into the proper planets. These were extremely rare and thus, of high importance to the species. In order to grow their numbers, they needed the vital energy of such a planet. Despite their advanced technology, Nature refused to comply after countless generations had altered the basics of this species. Their all possessed an inborn energetic temperament and an urge to reach their goals on the shortest term possible. They were efficient and disciplined, meticulous and merciless. The planets they used were considered just tools and nothing more. Now, they have just set in motion, heading towards a planet that could read their intentions and who was living in constant fear…
Ulysses and Kiera woke up almost simultaneously, gasping for air and shivering. The waters of dream had carried them both towards murky depths inhabited by monsters. Horrible creatures had been chasing them, ready to suck their blood and vital energies. The named of those dreadful creatures was still ringing in their ears: The Harvesters.
-Oh, my goodness…What was this?!
Ulysses’ jaws tightened.
-This is what scares a Planet to death…
So now, fear had a name. The thought of draining a soul until it dies was sickening. We were members of a species that has proven so many times foolish, sometimes we followed horrible leaders and tainted our history with shameful moments; yet on the whole, Humanity was represented mostly by decent individuals and, by the time we have reached the stars, our evolution towards becoming respectful and respected citizens of the Universe was undeniable. Empathy is a trait shared by all the civilizations we are currently collaborating and our colonies are active members of a widespread net of thriving communities. These Harvesters put a threat on the lives of millions.
Ulysses was troubled by the discovery we made. He was feeling responsible for both the planet and our world left behind. His mind was feverishly working in search of a solution. I was tip-toeing around him, making myself useful discreetly. Making some additional adjustment to the neighboring trees diversified our meal and supplied the necessary amount of energy. I’ve turned my attention towards the connection with the planet. This way, I’ve learned that the worm-hole of the waterfalls was the result of a happy accident, allowing two very similar entities to connect and preserve communication. Unseen at first, the corridor became accessible the moment our presence proved to be benevolent and creative. Amalthea was dreaming of beauty and I was able to sense her short moments of joy with each colorful addition we made on her surface. But she was defenseless in face of the approaching danger and I wasn’t able to suggest her anything reassuring.
The nervous pacing of Ulysses up and down the place, the twitch of the muscles of his face, the bluish shadow underlining his eyes and the shadows troubling their green waters were distressing. I wished I could lift the pain that was engulfing us all and send those Harvesters back into the dark pit of the Space from where they emerged. Alas! It wasn’t that easy. But after several days of torment and sleepless nights, Ulysses came up with a solution.
-Little Goddess- he said, with an apologetic smile. I’m afraid that the next task will sit heavily on your shoulders.
-It’s fine with me-I said. Just tell me what I should do.
-Hmmm, let’s take a walk and I’ll explain you.
We left the tent and walked slowly to the rim of the plateau. The sun was setting on the distance and, in the dim light the contours were dissolving in the reddish afterglow. We stopped and Ulysses took my hands.
-We are dreamers and creators, Kiera. Our only hope resides in the power of creation we carry inside us. Do you remember the Seeds of Life?
-We have to help Amalthea to build up a protective wall around this Space; but for that, we have to start changing her the way we did with Pygmalion.
It was an ambitious plan but we were running out of time. I’ve expressed my worries to Ulysses.
-Do you think we can achieve that in such a short time? It’s only the two of us….
-Don’t worry; this time, we need only one seed. Luckily, we still have one left unused.
-We do? Where is it?
He cupped my face with both hands and gazed into my eyes.
The big night found us standing on the plateau, in the center of a magic circle drew by Ulysses. A constellation of five blazing stars was hanging above us, like a celestial chandelier. We set our connections to the planet and to the Universe. Hands in hands and eyes to eyes, we delved inside the subtle currents of light, gathering as much as we could in order to spark the life on Amalthea. Our connection set in rapidly and the flow of light went smoothly from one another. Hearts melted into one, beating at the rhythm of Universe, my mind following closely the intricate pattern of Ulysses’ thoughts. With no physical boundaries between us, we opened an Ocean of Light, with waves running freely between the shores we became. Ulysses reached out to me and the Seed of Life resonated to his touch. Hidden behind a corner of me heart, now our heart, it moved, rolling slowly into the acquiring ocean. As it reached the center, the waters of energy surrounded it, creating a huge vortex pointing into the opened core of the planet. With a deep breath, we released the epic flow inside Amalthea and she embraced the gift with all her might.
While we were regaining our individuality, Life was erupting under our feet. The surface of the planet exploded in a harmony of shapes and colors, the changing running from pole to pole at the speed of light. As beauty encompassed her, the planet found her hidden source of courage: she finally had something precious to protect and fight for. Four powerful dragons were reigning over the land, as guardians of the four principles: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. The worm-hole connecting the two planets strengthened and by now, we could travel back and fro safely.
We stood on the rim of the plateau, exhausted but fulfilled. The sun was rising above a world teaming with life. The sense of elation was in the air; the planet was content and grateful.
-Let’s go home, Little Goddess-said Ulysses. There’s still plenty of work to be done.
-Yeah, you’re right. If we survive to Athena’s anger. After all, we left her with a whole planet to lead, along with the opening of the Opera…
-She’ll chew off our heads, I’m sure…but after that, hopefully she’ll forgive us.
We laughed, gathered our belongings and headed towards the waterfall. Its rainbow flow was scintillating in the morning.
Athena was sitting on the porch of the cabin with a coffee mug in her hands. She jumped to her feet as she saw us, shaking her head and visibly fighting her emotions.
-Bastards!-she grumbled while we were squeezing in a collective hug.
We ended up laughing and crying, while Ulysses was holding the two of us murmuring:
-Come on, ladies. It wasn’t the end of the world…After all, we are still here, alive and kicking…
Finally, Athena regained her composure and declared:
-I’m not sure you’ll escape in one piece if you don’t tell me what happened! Come, there’s coffee for you and something to eat. After that, no more excuses! I die to hear what crazy things you have done…
Sharing the unfolding of the events on both sides of the wormhole revealed some happy developments. We gave life to a new planet, while Athena opened the gates of Pygmalion to our amazed human fellows. We became famous around many of the colonies after the grandiose opening of the Celestial Theater and Opera. Ulysses and me, we joyfully congratulated Athena; after all, this was her “dream come true” and she had put her whole heart in it.
But the pending danger didn’t leave us too much time for wonder. We were totally unprepared for a vicious attack from an unfriendly civilization. This new situation put everything in a different perspective.
-We could ask for support from the colonies-said Athena. Now that they discovered us, they might want to take us under their protection.
Ulysses shook his head incredulously.
-My graceful lady, I seriously doubt that. I still remember how bureaucracy works in our society. I’m glad they liked our creation but they were here as guests. The moment we become a source of problems, they might consider us…out of reach.
-Yes, I’m afraid you’re right. Even if I could find a few good people, there’s no hope for a protective star-fleet.
-And we know almost nothing of the menace-I added. Imagine yourself explaining to our fellow humans that we had a chat with a planet…They need time to accept what they have seen here.
Ulysses seemed to reach a conclusion. I saw a twinkling in his eyes…
-We are no military; we are artists and we create life, not destroy it. Our only chance is to put to work our assets and outsmart the Harvesters. Athena! Would you organize our people into a local resistance?
-Give them to me and I’ll show those monsters who we are!
We laughed and the tension subsided.
-Kiera, you should use your connection with the planets to gather some information about these guys. I think I will go back to the Crystal Caverns to work out some large-scale magic.
We shared a glass of wine and then split. Ulysses led us to the door; I turned to him and he winked.
-Don’t worry, Little Goddess, we will succeed.
I rose on my toes, gave him a quick kiss and fled to my dragon.
-Here they come-said Ulysses, pointing to the triangle of shimmering dots on the screen. They are confident, aren’t they? Hmmm…let’s shake them a little.
Space wavered outside and the planet disappeared from the screen of the Mothership…or at least, that was what the Commander and his officers saw. A small havoc erupted on the bridge of the Harvesters, while the other crew members watched in bewilderment the strange behavior of their superiors.
From the data gathered about this species, their social structure largely resembled to those of ants or other social insects and the respect for hierarchy was the basic trait connecting all members. So trust in the rulers was essential and there was a certain amount of competition between leaders. For the first time in their roaming through the stars, a celestial body vanished before their eyes.
-It’s not there! The instruments are reading it but…there’s nothing there. Where is it?!
The Commander felt a sharp pain in his skull and for a moment, green sparks were dancing before his golden eyes. His officers were going through similar pain…their faces contorted and some of them were vigorously shaking their head. The pain subsided and the planet reappeared before their eyes. In the next few hours, the vanishing planet added other disturbing elements to its behavior; it danced or doubled or even tripled before the puzzled leaders, while for the majority of the crew, the image on the crew has not changed a bit. The robots that were monitoring the exterior of the huge ship could not detect anything. After all, they were only machines set for limited tasks; interpretation, adjustment and decision belonged to their creators.
-I can detect a seed of mistrust in the collective mind-said Athena with a smirk. She turned and winked to a tall, handsome man sitting at some distance from her. –Raif, you’re a gem.
Raif Sig joined us shortly after Athena put out a call for help to some of her friends from the colonies. An engineer in communications, he was an old-time friend of her and a secret admirer. He was more than happy to join this battle; he had a healthy sense of humor and some Viking ancestry. The gadgets he brought, allowed us to use magic far beyond the vicinity of the two planets. It also enhanced our ability to read the reactions aboard the Mothership of the Harvesters. We had an ace in this game; we knew about them while they were oblivious that we existed. We were conducting the whole operation through the wormhole and the Children of Pygmalion were all connected in a planet-wide net of magic and illusion. Ulysses has turned the pillars of crystal inside the caves into powerful lasers, while Athena “wrote” the scenario of deception for the invaders.
Aboard the Harvesters’ ship, the tension was slowly rising. Finding the planet they sought was an emergency; deep in the belly of the huge machinery, hundreds of tiny translucent capsules were waiting to be connected to the vital energies that would allow them to develop and hatch. The new generation needed a cradle and the species needed its youth. We have decided to let them descend on planet; simply leading them away would have meant to transfer the danger to unsuspecting others. That was not an option; we all agreed on this, Pygmalion and Amalthea included.
So, after some tribulation over the fact that what they were reading on their instruments was a real planet or not, the Harvesters embarked on their smaller ships, loaded the precious capsules aboard and left the Mothership in the hands of the commanding team. The planet bellow was covered by a thick layer of clouds and the instruments were reading with difficulty the features of the land. The Dragon of Air had gathered clouds, mist and dust to build that protective blanket all around. As the cluster of ships closed to the surface of the ocean of vapors, small, round windows opened inside it, showing scattered pieces of the surface, proper for landing. Running out of options, the Harvesters scattered…and landed. There were areas previously chosen, with a minimum of vegetation. The ships opened and we could see the invaders for the first time.
Strange creatures, born out of the marriage between living things and machines, they still held some sort of gracefulness in their long, thin limbs and the oval of their face. For the untrained eyes, all of them looked almost the same. They were dressed in overalls, the color of their equipment and the sequences of the actions separating leaders from crew members. For their delicate appearance, they were able to carry some pretty heavy crates; but we already knew that they were increasing their natural abilities by artificial replacements done throughout their lives. Their voices were light, a bit high pitched and the language was sequential and modulated by inflexions of the voice. Their closeness to human shape was deeply disturbing; I felt a knot in my stomach and I had to take a deep breath before I could speak.
-Oh my goodness…They are so much like us…
I looked around and read the same on the faces of my friends. Our enemy has just won a point without knowing it. We all stood in silence, thoughts running wild in the mind of each of us, while the Harvesters were still unloading their precious luggage…Ulysses was the first to get back his balance and control over the unfolding of the events.
-It’s time for Phase Two. Sylvain!-he said, addressing to the leader of the Elves. Please, greet our visitors.
He set the Lasers in action and suddenly, the world around the Harvesters became lively and…scary. Caught up in the unloading of the capsules, they didn’t notice the subtle shift in the mist surrounding them. Tall, strong creatures with stern faces and pointed ears were approaching them, like a moving, green wall. After the first moment of shock, the aliens started to line up, protecting their dormant offspring and opened fire towards to menacing features. But the green-dressed shapes faded away from their shots, just to regroup and face them over and over again. Strange sounds filled the air, shrieks and thundering…
-We are under attack!
Coming simultaneously from all the landing sites, the message of alert flooded the Commanding Deck of the Mothership. The leaders above were frantically searching for the source of the alleged attacks but their instruments were not reading any presence. They shouted back, trying to encourage those on the planet. But after several attempts to convince their superiors that they were in danger, the Harvesters on the ground lost their patience. Something was wrong with this place and something was also wrong with their leaders. After all, just recently they have acted very, very strange…While they were pondering on how to handle the situation, the Dragon of Water joined the game and helped by his airy brother, unleashed some powerful rains over the disoriented gathering. The whirlwinds raised choking walls of water mixed with dust and washed over the aliens. The soil became slippery in an instant and Amalthea decided to spice the events by shaking her surface. Though she kept her powers strictly harnessed, what the invaders were witnessing it was a raging planet opening under their feet. They pushed aside their leaders and rushed towards the ships, leaving everything behind. The smoky skies filled with hurrying shuttles; behind them, an enraged Dragon of Fire was spitting blazing balls of flames…
By the time they’ve reached the Mothership, the seeds of revolt had been planted. The loss of an entire generation was a heavy blow for the species. Though what they were facing could hardly be called “pain” in its human acceptance, the Harvesters were no fools. Fighting an invisible enemy proved to be a futile attempt and they acknowledged it by now. In the light of the events, the changing of the leadership was foreseeable and it happened quickly. But what the harvesters didn’t realize was that by the time they’ve returned to their ship, they had already changed. The newly elected leaders of the ship were determined to make some deeper changes in the future, as much as they still had.
We watched them leaving the proximity of the planet, setting course back to the world where they were once born. The skies cleared above Amalthea and we all breathed freely…
-Well done, everyone!-said Ulysses, happily stretching his limbs.
Relaxed and content, he turned to us.
-I’ve told you to give them to me!-chuckled Athena.
She gave him a friendly push, winked at me and turned to Raif, embracing him affectionately. Elves, fairies, dwarfs, nymphs, semi-gods and the whole nation of Ocean People were celebrating!
I felt immensely relieved and yet, I couldn’t help not to be a bit saddened by the fate of the Harvesters. After all, they were intelligent creatures just like us and they have lost a battle, without truly understanding what caused their defeat. A soft tingling in my mind brought me back to reality; Amalthea was calling. I turned my attention to her and…oh, heavens!
I saw him talking on-line with Sirtis, the beautiful and determined Queen of the Mermaids and Mermen. They had been most helpful by covering, along with the dolphins the vast expanse of the Planetary Ocean, and thus sustaining the grid of spiritual energies necessary to set in motion the whole defense. I didn’t want to intrude in their conversation so I briefly greeted her and stood aside, watching on a surveillance camera the surface of Amalthea. Peace returned to the land and the light was pouring undisturbed over the colorful mosaic of life. In the landing spots, the abandoned crates were heating up in the sun; there was no one around to protect them…I couldn’t watch this! I almost jumped from my seat when Ulysses bent over me and asked in a soft voice:
-Hey…what’s wrong, Little Goddess?
-Oh, Ulysses! What are we going to do with the children?!
I desperately pointed to the image on the screen. He quickly understood my torment and his face shadowed.
-You’re perfectly right, Kiera. We forgot about them. Come!
He turned on the communication and asked for attention.
-People! We have won a battle today and we can be proud of it. But our victory left us with a responsibility. It’s hard to teach new tricks to an old dog; so we couldn’t expect to convince the Harvesters to change. But these babies have a chance for a new beginning. Amalthea, would you accept them on your land?
The response flashed on the screen: YES! Deep inside my mind, I could swear that I’ve heard the planet giggling with excitement. Before we set anything in motion, the Air Dragon pushed the sheen of clouds above every pile of abandoned crates, the cooling shadow rebalancing their temperature. Some of the elves and fairies moved to these spots to keep an eye on the hatching. With the help of both planets and our special knowledge, we worked out a new way of feeding and growing the little creatures, without draining their acquiring Mother, Amalthea. The Space was teaming with energies accessible to us; Ulysses turned the Crystal Pillars into enhancers of these energies and created a nourishing dome above each hatching spot. The birth of a redeemed species was unfolding step by step, under the love and protection of the Children of Pygmalion.