30/04/2013 | Categories: Contemplation, Darkness, Death, Decay, Dreams, Emotions, Fantasy, Life, love, Magical, Nature, Nothing, Poetry, quotes, Reality, Science, Space, Uncategorized | Tags: anitya, Art, Black Flag, Death, Doubt, Dreams, entropy, Fantasy, images, impermanence, indie writing, Journeys, love, Magical, Nature, Poems, poetry, reality, Science, writers, writing | Leave a comment
I’ve managed to put the shelves up so I can stack the Jars of Poetry. Be careful reaching up for the top shelf though. You may need a ladder.
08/04/2013 | Categories: Contemplation, Dreams, Fantasy, Journeys, Life, love, Poetry, Sea | Tags: Dreams, Fantasy, images, indie writing, Journeys, love, Poems, poetry, Railways, writers, writing | Leave a comment
I woke this morning and couldn’t get this out of my head. Something that happened years ago but has stayed with me as a shining memory. As the day has unfolded it has become like a patience puzzle, endlessly opening its lotus leaves to reveal more complexities and hidden things.
This story started as something simple; an idea to make a walk more interesting one day. It became dreamlike in the afternoon sun, distanced over time and memory until it returned fuzzy, browning at the edges and hinting only at peripheral feelings of the days we spent together in the sunshine.
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02/04/2013 | Categories: Books, Children's, Fantasy, Journeys, Life, Magical, Nature, Shorts | Tags: Children's, Fantasy, images, indie writing, Journeys, Magical, Nature, renewal, Seasons, Short Stories, writers, writing | Leave a comment
This malady went on for many months. The word spread around the kingdom that the King was sad. People were disheartened and uncertainty of the future grew. The Royal grain stores were infested with beetles causing a bigger blow. Rumours of enemies gathering on the border spread and people became wary of strangers. All was not well in the kingdom and it fell to the Grand Vizier to resolve the issue. He sent for Doctors and Alchemists, Philosophers and Oracles, Priests and Magicians from the far corners of the world. None of them could improve the mood of the King who had taken to sitting in his room by the fire, complaining of his aging joints. All he could think of was how he had failed his people.
The grand Vizier met with the King’s staff, his footmen, his waiter, his servants, his cooks and even the stable boy. The footmen told of how the King had loved to hear the singing of the men in the fields during harvest. The waiter named the king’s favourite book, the servants spoke of the flowers by the side of his bed and the cooks told of his favourite meal. All were tried and none of them helped with anything but to remind the King of how far he had fallen. He sank deeper into his lament. The stable boy not having much contact with the King had no ideas about what would improve his mood. He did however know of someone who might.
“In the village where I was born is a path that leads up the side of the mountain. At the top of the path is a cave where it is rumoured lives the wisest mouse in the world. For a small token he will answer even the most difficult of questions. My Grandmother told me how one winter when the crops had failed and the village was starving, the mouse showed us where we could find food that saved us.” The stable boy looked down at his feet as the servants whispered to each other and some giggled quietly. The Grand Vizier however banged his staff of duty against the tiles of the palace floor sending everyone to attention.
“Young man, Do you know how to find this mouse?”
“I could be there and return within the day my Lord.”
“Then take your token and entreat this mouse to tell us how the King can be happy again.”
The stable boy bowed. He prepared a horse and, stopping by the Royal kitchens, he set off to find the cave of the wise mouse. Riding as fast as he could, he arrived in the early afternoon and made his way into the cave. It was dark in the cave and the boy lit a torch to see the way. Cobwebs hung from the cave roof and here and there he heard to timeless dripping of water. After a while, he reached the back of the cave many small holes ran in and out of the back wall. In the centre of the dusty floor was a small flat rock where the Stable boy bent and placed his offering, a small piece of strong cheese. Backing away, he sat down to wait.
After half an hour, the strong smell of the cheese finally reached the nose of one of the many mice that lived in the caves. It made its way out into the cave from its tiny hole in the wall. Wary of the torch the stable boy held, it edged towards the rock where the cheese sat. The boy gave a start. The mouse backed up a little; aware that it was not alone. The boy sat perfectly still and watched the mouse as it explored this new object with its nose. The boy leaned in and whispered, “Wise mouse of the cave, many years ago you saved my village from famine. I have come to ask your advice again. Our King is taken by a sadness and we cannot make him happy again. How can the King be happy again? Please help us wise mouse.”
The mouse looked at the boy for a second. It sat motionless looking into his eyes. Then as quick as it could, it grabbed the cheese in its teeth and ran back across the cave to find its hole. As it climbed to enter the hole, it dislodged a small rock which fell down the wall of the cave and rolled to land at the boy’s feet. He picked it up and examined it, confused by what had just happened. There was nothing remarkable about the rock. It was smooth and hard like all of the other rocks in the cave. The stable boy thought that perhaps there was some message the mouse was trying to tell him but, as he was only a stable boy, it did not reveal itself to him. He decided to ask the elders of the village if they could explain the meaning of the rock.
None in the village had ever known that beyond the back of the caves were the cellars of the monastery in the valley beyond. Mice had lived inside the cellar for many years and over time extended their territory into the caves. When the first villagers had visited the caves many years ago, they had marvelled at what could sustain a mouse in such a damp and dark cave. The tradition of providing food for it started soon after. Stories started about the wisdom of the mouse, how its solitary life had been filled with contemplation and meditation. The elders would disappear into the caves and emerge with advice to help the village in times of hardship. The truth was that there were many mice in the caves quite happily feeding off the food cellars of the monks in the valley beyond and most of the time, the elders already knew what would help the village.
When the stable boy presented the rock to the them, they looked at the rock, they rolled the rock across the ground, they shook the rock, they smelled it and tasted it. Eventually after looking at each other and nodding, the Eldest of the elders rose and approached him. “We all agree that the wise mouse of the cave is sending a message to your King. It is saying that the rock is like the Kingdom strong and hard, solid and firm. Like this rock the King is strong and can carry this kingdom easily in his pocket.” The Elder placed the rock in the stable boy’s hand and sat down again. The stable boy thought about this. He wondered at the wisdom of the mouse to say so much with such a simple gesture. He vowed that he would return to the cave one more time to ask for more of the wisdom before returning to consult with the Grand Vizier. That way he would be sure that he could help to save his King from sadness.
He climbed the path to the cave, entered again, lighting his torch and proceeded to find the wall of holes. Again he left his offering of cheese on the rock and moved back to wait for his wisdom. Another mouse soon caught the smell of the cheese. It had been gnawing its way through a sack of rice when it caught a hint of something delicious. Having tired of eating the monks’ rice, it attempted to remove itself from the sack, but became ensnared in a section of hessian. Frantically it squeaked and pulled, trying to remove its hind leg from the small square of sack cloth it had acquired. The cloth came free of the sack but stayed with the mouse as it made its way through the honey comb of holes towards the smell of the strong cheese.
This time the Stable boy did not jump when the mouse appeared. He sat quietly and waited for the mouse to move towards him. As it approached, He whispered, “Great and wise mouse. Thank you for your wisdom, it will help greatly to improve my master’s health and bring him out of his malaise. I ask one more time, in the hope of serving my King to the best of my abilities, how else can I help to make my King happy.”
The mouse stopped at the sound of the boy’s voice. It turned to gnaw at the sack cloth caught on its hind leg and managed to remove it. Quickly, it leaped at the cheese, grabbed it and scampered back to the holes in the wall. The boy reached down and gathered the sack cloth. It was rough and uneven, frayed at the edges and had a smell of dampness. Again he took it to the elders of the village who once more examined it in great detail. Finally, the second eldest of the Elders stood up and approached him. “We all agree that the wise mouse of the cave is sending a second message to your King. It is showing him how his Kingdom is woven together as strongly as this piece of sack cloth. Each strand of the Kingdom is woven with the others. Even the King is woven into his Kingdom and as he unravels, so does everything else. The King must see that when he is happy, his people are happy.”
He thanked the Elders for their translation. He wrapped the sack cloth around the rock and placed it into his pocket. Again the wisdom of the mouse astounded him. It was so profound and succinct, beyond the likes of which he the simple stable boy could reach. Glancing at the low sun dipping between the mountains at the entrance to the valley he now stood in, he resolved one last time to visit the mouse and ask for its final wisdom before setting off on the long journey back to the palace. Quickly he climbed the path to the cave and lighting the torch, he went inside. Again he offered more of the strong smelling cheese upon the small rock and waited for the mouse to appear.
While he waited, he did not notice that the cave had been visited since he had left by other mice. Here and there were tiny paw prints in the dust of the cave floor. Several other mice had also been attracted to the smell of the cheese he had brought before and realising they were too late had returned, all except one who sat in the corner of the cave now gnawing on a piece of string it had brought from the cellars of the monks. It was very excited when it saw the boy return and place more of the incredibly good smelling cheese on the rock where it had smelt the other food. Forgetting the piece of string in its teeth, it ran forwards towards the cheese. Suddenly aware of the boy sitting quite close still, it squeaked, dropped the string, grabbed the cheese and ran away.
The boy was astounded. He took this as a sign that the patience of the wise mouse had reached its limits and he vowed that, as he took the last message of string, he would not return again to speak with it. He bowed and shouted his thanks into the darkness of the cave before leaving to consult the elders. On the other side of the walls, a lone monk, inspecting the wine barrels in the cellar, could have sworn he heard a ghostly voice thanking him for his wisdom. He returned to his chores that day loading the barrels to go to the palace and feeling a sense of accomplishment and happiness. It spread throughout the monastery that day.
Meanwhile the boy, taking the string to the elders, waited for their interpretation. They examined the string; it wasn’t very long and was chewed at one end. Finally, after much discussion, the third eldest of the elders stood and approached the stable boy as the sun began to set. “This string represents the time we have. It doesn’t matter how long it is, just that we have it. We should not look to measure our lives but to accept that they have a length and enjoy them for being there. Our lives are as long as a piece of string.” The boy thanked the elders again for their translation, expressing what a service they had done for the kingdom. Tying the string around the sack cloth which held the rock, he placed it in his pocket, climbed onto his horse and rode back towards the Palace of the King.
He rode through the evening and arrived back at the palace late after darkness had fallen. The Grand Vizier greeted him and gave him food as the boy related to him everything he had experienced that day. When he was rested he was ushered quickly to the Kings chambers. He was very tired and a little nervous but he knew that he had to present his findings for the good of the Kingdom. The King was in his great chair by the fire when the Vizier announced the arrival of the boy. He was drinking a wine that had arrived from a monastery at the edge of the kingdom that morning. It had a wonderful taste and went particularly well with the strong cheese from the Royal kitchens. It had made the King sleepy in the evening. Now he dozed by the fireside and was amused when the Vizier explained what the boy had done.
The stable boy entered the Kings chambers, he was tired and afraid. How could he a stable boy possibly help a King? He dropped to his knees in front of the King and, looking nervously at the Grand Vizier, announced, “Your Majesty, I have consulted with the great wise mouse that lives in the caves by my Village to find a solution to your malady. It has given me three things to pass to you each with a wisdom for you to hear.” The boy presented the parcel containing the rock to the King and explained the meaning of each object. The King listened carefully to his words; indeed this was a truly wise mouse to understand the thoughts of a King. If it was the wine or the words, no one ever knew to be sure but all will agree that the thing that changed the mood of the King that day was the arrival in the room of a small visitor.
As the Vizier, the stable boy and the King discussed the parcel and the wisdom of mice, a mouse which had stowed away in a crate of wine on a cart from a monastery had found its way up to the Kings quarters. It was warm in the room and the mouse was happy. It could smell a very strong cheese, something it had smelled earlier that day. Climbing up the leg of a table it could not believe its luck when it came across a huge plate full of the delicious smelling cheese. While the men talked, the mouse ate the cheese until the King happened to reach across to take another piece from the plate. The mouse saw the king’s hand and panicked; it squeaked a shrill warning to itself and jumped off the table. As it hurried away it sent a small piece of cheese flying through the air to land in the Kings shocked and open mouth.
The Vizier and the stable boy jumped up immediately and tried to find the mouse while the King now chewing on a piece of unexpected cheese sat in his chair with a curious expression on his face. In the moments before the mouse had left, he had seen it eating the cheese. He thought about the mouse in the cave, content to live only on what others brought for it to eat. And yet this mouse had travelled many miles to see the King himself and offer him a taste of its own happiness. The King could only smile at this. How could a mouse be happy and a King be sad. He thought about its other gifts; the strength of his Kingdom, the connection with his people, the importance of today and all the other days together. He saw the foolishness of his ways. He began to chuckle. The Vizier and the stable boy both stopped what they were doing.
“The King is laughing!” went the cry in the palace. The King feeling very relaxed and ready for bed went to sleep that night with a smile on his face. The stable boy was given a guest chamber in the palace and he too slept with a smile on his face. The Vizier carried himself as a only a Vizier does, but on occasion was noticed to close his eyes and smile before he too retired to sleep. The news filled the Kingdom. It spread around like fire in a dry gale until, by morning, every household in the Kingdom knew that the King was laughing. And when the King awoke that morning; when he flung back the curtains to greet the day with a smile in his heart, he found his whole Kingdom standing and smiling back at him.
25/03/2013 | Categories: Animals, Children's, Contemplation, Fantasy, Journeys, Magical, Nature, Political, Shorts, Uncategorized | Tags: Animals, Children's, indie writing, Magical, Nature, old age, Political, Short Stories, writers, writing | Leave a comment
At the end of the story you will find the Signal Panels that were developed as the inspiration for the story.
The Signal of the Second Spring.
Anitya sat on the bridge, watching carp play with the seeds she dropped with her tiny hands. At four years old, she had the grace of a dancer seen all too long ago, perhaps imagined. The seeds left her hands in graceful loops that traced patterns across the air between bridge and water. She sat, as always, with her hair draped across her left shoulder. When she saw Mother enter the garden, she quickly adjusted it, placing it neatly above her head. She rose and smiled at Mother then giggled slightly as something fell and tickled her nose.
There were signs that autumn was coming. Maple leaves had begun to drift down and float upon the water. It sent a shiver down Mothers’ spine to watch and feel the cooling air. To think of winter was a terrible thought but a certainty they knew must come at one time; a winter without end; a winter with no spring. Somewhere out on the slopes of the mountain, a flock of birds were startled by something moving on the lower slopes. Mother guessed it was another bear. They were daring to come nearer now the food was becoming scarcer. She didn’t understand this. Surely there were nuts and autumn fruits. Colours were changing on the mountains, golden and warm. The garden reflected it back paying the landscape its respect and compliments.
She shuddered in the cool air. The signal was late again, each time reducing, each time causing Mother to feel anxiety she had promised to ignore. Each cycle became longer and the questions needed to be invoked. Anitya didn’t mind it though. The questions for her were anticipation and excitement. The process of renewal in the garden was a tremendous thing to watch. She didn’t understand the long hard winter and had not experienced it yet; cold beyond cold beyond cold; nothing and darkness. Father worked patiently to remotely adjust the relays but there wasn’t enough power to fix them all at once. As each fell off more rapidly he spent more time away from the garden.
Anitya rose and ran towards Mother, running her small fingers along the bamboo that shaded the path. Mother dragged herself from the worry and sat down in front of the sand garden. The girl had excitement in her eyes and would want to speak. She smiled and gestured to the seat beside her where Anitya bounced over and knelt down. She had her own questions.
“Mother did you see the birds? Did you see them? There must have been at least fifty flying out of the trees. What should we think caused them to fly that way?” She bounced on her knees to mark and exaggerate the speech, making Mother smile and hold her still. Those eyes of wonder were always a safe refuge against the troubles of the world.
“It was probably another big bear chasing a squirrel, but you must not wonder about such things. You know we must never leave the garden. To leave would be to never return. This place is made for us. A thing the birds and the bears do not have.” Anitya looked dissapointed. She was always peeking out beyond the stone garden, waiting for something to happen on the mountain while Mother constantly steered her back to her contemplations. They sat in silence for a long time. Watching more leaves fall from the maples. Anitya wriggled next to her, unable to contain her anticipation of what would happen next. Everything was changing.
A cool wind dragged its fingers through the Wisteria, spraying flowers onto the sand garden. Mother pulled her cardigan to cover them both as they sat. The light was beginning to fade and Father suddenly arrived in the garden. He brought a flame from the stove and lit the lanterns. Without speaking, he came and sat beside them. He was tired but something in his eyes had changed; had lightened. He looked into Anityas eyes and kissed her forehead brushing her hair back down across her left shoulder. She giggled looking guiltily at Mother who remained waiting for Father to speak. He knows something, she thought. I just know he does. He wouldn’t have lit the lanterns otherwise.
Finally he turned to face Mother, “There is another cluster approaching, enough for many years more and then I cannot say. It means more time but we will have to wait and watch the first snows before it can give enough to fix all of the relays.” He was running his fingers through Anityas hair and she bounced off the seat to dart playfully away from his reach.
Mother closed her eyes and smiled inside. All the worry of the last few days began to fade. She rose and walked back inside announcing loudly, “Then we shall need to keep warm.” As she walked away she heard him begin the questions of remembrance once more. He always did that, starting before she was ready for her part. Perhaps his intention was to teach her words to Anitya. She hurried inside and gathered several thick blankets and a hat for Anitya. By the time she returned he had finished the introduction and was moving to the first questions.
“What is a King worth?”
Anitya bubbled and glowed with happiness. She knew this one well and always enjoyed telling it. Standing importantly to mimic the weight of the story she would tell she raised her chin and imitated her Father’s serious expression. She began the answer.
“Even a King must die,
and come to realise that although his banner flies,
all his worth is bound
in how his body nourishes the ground.
A king is worth the fruit of trees.”
The garden grew lighter for a moment and then faded quickly to dusk. More leaves were falling and the maple leaves were now all a deep red and falling fast. A fox barked not far from the garden and Anitya jumped up and down. Father paid no heed. He turned to Mother to ask the second question.
She made her face a stern one and shouted out, “How powerful is an army?” This time Father answered. Standing tall in front of them, he spoke loudly and with force sending an echo out into the valley.
“Even armies fall.
Leaving nothing but metal shards and bones and clothes,
for sure a short memorial to those,
that come to pass
but trampled underfoot to feed the grass.”
Darkness fell quicker than any of them expected but the stone lanterns did not go out in the wind. The trees were bare now and birds rustled around at the foot of the bamboos to find a warm place. Father sat down and Anitya stood to ask the next question. She paused for a moment until Mother drew the figure of a roof with fingers out of sight of Father’s eyes.
Anitya barked at them, “How great is a city?” Mother stood and answered now pulling her blanket tighter around her neck.
“Even cities crumble.
For as much as they show mastery of nature,
concrete is attacked by tiny creatures.
Buildings shrink to rocks and holes,
That once again small insects hold.”
The wind calmed and the air was still. In the light of the lanterns, Anitya could see her breath for the first time. She was puzzled and pulled her blanket tight moving back to Father for warmth. Father saw her worry but moved on to the next question. He stood, surprising her and shouted the question loudly sending birds flying from the garden.
“How long does a book last?” Anitya did not have time to sit down. She dropped her blanket, standing a little shocked and barked the answer without thinking.
“Even books decay.
Pages filled with knowledge turned to dust and blown away.
On high winds they play,
Feeding grass on mountains steep,
pages grown for goats to eat.”
Mother gathered the blanket Anitya had dropped. Father smiled and took his daughter’s hand. She looked as if she might cry for a moment, not understanding how this game was affecting the world. Never had the garden looked so cold and uninviting and now white flakes of snow were beginning to fall, settling on the frozen surface of the stream. They went inside where the fire was already lit and warming the house. Father stood in the centre of the room and gazed out at the snow. He smiled, nervously, as Mother came to join him. “It will get worse before it gets better,” he whispered in her ear. She smiled at him and whispered back, “Its so good to see the snow again. I have missed this even though it makes me shake with fear.”
Father’s smile faded and indicated that it was her turn to speak. Mother stood again to attention snapping Anitya out of her trance as she watched the snow.
“How does an idea endure?” This time Father answered, not shouting as loud as he had in the open.
“Even ideas fade.
Cared for and nurtured, purity is diluted and washed.
Rolling out to oceans of humanity,
Tainted and polluted with every twist of the sea.
Challenged and dissolving clearly.”
A blizzard started to whistle around the rafters, making the house creak a little. Anitya moved closer to the fire, she had never seen anything this powerful before. Snow billowed around the windows and now covered the red carpet of maple leaves. She had forgotten her place and a sharp clearing of the throat from Father brought her back to stand in the centre. Mother could see that she was shaking now and yearned to tell her that everything would be alright. She knew the rules of the questions of remembrance, how important it was for the small girl to remember them. Her eyes were watering, but she stood still and shouted the question.
“What value is the earth?” Mother did not pause but rushed straight in with her answer, desperate to hold her child.
“Even the earth dries.
Turned to stone and desert where once farmers tried.
Changed by hunger, drought and heat.
Fields wither forests retreat.
Mountains leveled in defeat.”
Over the roof the wind howled suddenly causing a loud thump. A stone from the chimney stack dropped and fell to the fire sending sparks into the room and Anitya ran squealing behind the hall posts to hide. Father retrieved the stone and cleaned the ashes from the hearth. Mother ran to her and held her, lifting her back to the centre of the room. Both Mother and Father knew the last three questions had to be answered by Anitya.
When he thought that she was calm enough, Father asked, “How eternal is the air?” Even though she was shaken Anitya stood tall and seemed to recover. As if in recognition, the wind outside began to calm.
“Even the air thins.
Burned and poisoned as the cosmos rains in.
All will die save hardy small things.
Blown away on stellar wind,
to melting ice on planets twinned.”
The sky outside was becoming brighter and the snow had turned to rain, melting the ice as it filled the small stream in the garden. Mother watched as the warmth began to return and the first birds were singing again. The landscape outside was no longer a tundra of drifting snow and ice. She turned to smile at Father, who was nodding and smiling back. Anitya looked confused. She looked from one to the other but they did not share there private conversation.
Mother asked, standing tall “Is not the Sun eternal?” Anitya smiled. She remembered this better than the others because it had never made sense to her. Didn’t the sun always rise eventually? She went out in the mornings and it was always there.
“Even the sun will burst.
Wash out its fire across the worlds it held so dearly.
Every atom smashed and glowing clearly,
mingling with other ice and dust,
one day to find another star it must.”
Leaves were emerging from the Maples now; large buds unfolding. Mother had seen the stream return to its normal level. In the warm morning sunshine, the carp broke the surface chasing the first of the year’s insects. She opened the doors to let in the fresh air as Father put out the last of the embers in the fire. When he was finished, he turned and faced Anitya, their daughter whom they had created outside of the rules they had been set. She was Anitya, the impermanent one. One day she would be grown and ready to take care of the world they lived in, but for now she was the final piece in the snapshot. Without her they would not continue in this darkening universe. Father walked forwards and whispered in her ear, “Does not the universe last forever?” Anitya smiled. She went to sleep at night with this one in her head.
“Even the universe will die.
Rules and bonds frayed and every element will retire.
No more the stellar fire.
All will change, spread out and reduce.
All Kings and cities, stars and sun turned to cooling soup.”
In the Kitchen Mother was preparing a hot soup for dinner. Anitya sat on the bridge under the blossoms that overhung the stream. With graceful and growing hands, she spread the seeds across the stream for the fish to chase. Outside of the garden, the mountainside was filled with life and beyond it, the world carried on its turning as before. Outside the world, the stars shone and the universe was complete. Outside the Universe, the small, dark, egg shaped mass that contained, it drifted onwards. Its atoms and circuits were shielded from the inevitable decay around. It drifted through the warm brown soup of what remained of the real universe. Lazily it moved further into a large, dense cluster of particles, channeling every ounce of energy it could. Father smiled adjusting and repairing the relays as they moved in and out of alignment. Not yet, he thought.
20/02/2013 | Categories: Contemplation, Dreams, Fantasy, Magical, Nature, Poetry, Reality, Science, Shorts | Tags: anitya, bhuddism, Dreams, entropy, Fantasy, impermanence, indie writing, Magical, mujo, Nature, Poems, poetry, reality, renewal, Science, Short Stories, writers, writing | 1 Comment
Already there are missing parts. I share the knowledge of the First Transition which the sands pour into my mind every day. It becomes clearer, the connection between us all. Now I have only a few images of them. I see my mother sweeping all of the sand out of the house to stop us all from drifting; my Father in his protective clothing guiding it out of the sea and onto the drying pans; my brother waving goodbye to us when he drifted towards the First Transition. I still see them, hollow eyed; mother crying into fathers shoulder, she was expecting again which allowed them to remain unchanged. It was the way of Portside. I see it clearly even now. Only the houses with children remained untaken by the sand.
Yesterday as I slept between two giant black granite boulders, I dreamt that my left hand had turned into a spider, fingers walking on the ground next to me. My right hand was a huge claw decorated in fine precious metals and stones. I saw countless worlds, jungles, seas, mountains. I swam in the growing deserts and chased the animals from their homes. I felt the hunger. When I woke, the fingers on my left hand were fused together and I had to bite the thin webbed skin between the fingers on the right. Every step of the change makes my heart race with fear. Only immersion in the sand will calm me now. I have vowed only to sleep in its embrace as it continues to take me further away from home.
I had been struggling to recall my name every morning for the last week. Nothing seems important when you are carried in the white dust of oblivion. First Transition had inspected me, its single eye scanning my changing eye colours. I felt none of the fear my father had instilled in me. I brought it fish from the drying pans and it sang to me of certainty. Over the days that followed I knew that I would be alone. No others approached. I was to travel north along the new flow. There were forests beyond the mountains and the sand hungered for them. It promised my doubts would ease as my body became new. All of this was certain; it had happened before and would happen again.
This morning with horror I found I no longer knew my name. I swam around in circles for a time, searching for it but not really aware of what I should be searching for. The sand could not help me; it had removed something and discarded it like the bones of the fish my mother tossed into the flow. All I can picture of her is a hand running through the hair that used to grow on my head. My nose smells the pine forests and pushes me forwards. The sand senses a need for me and makes me sleep. I cannot resist this change. I will become the hunter. Too much is gone. Father had whispered to resist, staying me and when I reached the solid ground to run and keep running and warn others. Father was wrong. The only hope is sand. The only truth is sand. It turns chaos to order. My duty is to hunt and end the chaos.
I am the sand swimmer of the north. I am the first and when the hunting is done, I will become Second Transition. That is all the truth I need.
As the star glowed red and warm it looked down upon the girl their eyes met. It saw wonder and youth, questions and curiosities, a whole lifetime of adventures to be taken. With it’s final breathe it shrank down and died, scattering it’s dust across the universe, covering the girls lips and her cheeks with beauty, filling her heart with life and her eyes with light, filling her lungs with music and her mind with thoughts.
The next day she sat with her father in his workshop and watched him make his hats. He made hats for ladies, hats for men, caps for children. She sat down beside him, and taking up needles and wool she started to knit. With nothing but wool she played and weaved until she had finished a beautiful hat simple and elegant, noble and humble all at the same same. She stood and presented the hat to her father.
The hat maker admired his daughter’s work. Never before had she entered his workshop. All she found interesting were the games that other children played in the streets outside. He turned the hat in his hands wondering at where she could have learned to make something so skillfully. Carefully he raised the hat to his head and found himself marvelling at the comfort of the lining. Indeed if he had know better he would have said that the hat had simply vanished as he placed it upon his head, so comfortable was the fit.
As he stood looking down into the eyes of his daughter, his thoughts raced. He saw a whole shop filled with the finest hats all lined with this new method that his daughter had perfected in the space of an afternoon. He saw visions of machines, inventions new chemical processes all improving, refining and enhancing the experience the hat wearer would recieve. His mind was racing. He couldn’t stop it. His hands began to shake and slowly he was able to raise them to his head and with a gasp remove the wonderful hat.
Excitedly, nervously he started to babble. Wide eyed he took his daughter’s shoulders, drew her towards him and hugged her. Tomorrow they would order all the things they needed. They were going into business. From that day on, they would be famous! They ate an evening meal together, and sat down around the fire to tell stories. The hat maker told the story of her mother and the little girl told the story of her dream.
“Last night, I dreamt I was drifting through the universe. It was peaceful and quiet. There were many stars and they were singing. They were sad because an old wise star had died but they were singing how the old start would make new stars.” The Hat maker reached out to stroke his daughter’s hair to find that she was very warm.
They went to bed and in the morning he woke to find her weak and tired with a fever. He tried everything he could think of to bring her temperature down but by lunch time he had called the doctor. The doctor, a family friend was concerned. There was nothing he could do and after several hours of powders and remedies, he finally gave up and told the hat maker to keep her cool and give her lots of fluids. The look in his eyes told the hat maker that he should fear the worst. There was nothing more that could be done.
When the evening finally came, The girl was close to death. Her skin was pale but with every passing minute, her eyes burned brighter and brighter. As her father sat by her bed, she reached up to touch his cheek and smiled. Although her touch burned as the poker from the fire he did not brush it aside instead smiling back into her eyes; hoping that perhaps whatever illness possessed her was finally lessening it’s grip. She pointed to the window and her father, thinking it would be cooler there lifted her in his arms and carried her to the open ledge. Now she was as light as a feather and steam was rising from her nightgown in the cool air.
Reaching up the girl kissed her father on the other cheek which burnt hotter than charcoal, his tears cooled the spot and he held his daughter tightly but she whispered, “Please. Father you must let go.” As he started to release his grip, he was shocked to find that his daughter no longer seemed to weigh anything in his arms. Shocked he stepped back to see her floating in front of him now her eyes burned with the light of the midday sun.
“Father do not cry, for this is not my end but my beginning.” With these words she rose through the open window becoming brighter and brighter. She rose into the sky shining brighter and brighter until finally she stopped in place, a tiny point amongst the other bright needle tips.
The hat maker could not sleep. He sat at the open window though the dark night, staring into space, searching for the star that was his daughter. The next morning, when the doctor came to visit, he could not explain what had happened to his daughter. He could only look up at the window and touch the marks upon his cheeks. As the doctor treated his marks, he wondered how his friend had disposed of his daughter’s body. He wondered if there was a risk that the disease she had suffered would appear again in others. While he worked, he looked down and saw by the fire the amazing and wonderful hat that the girl had made the day before…