Her eyes searched the mist over-looking the chasm. Sometimes the heart is blind to fear, and hers beat only to the destination. Rocks piled like stone sentinels watched, beckoning her footsteps. “Welcome home,” they whispered. Below three rings shivered in wait.
The pulse grew stronger, urgent, the closer she got to edge. “Come to us,” they whispered. She didn’t care that she might never return. Lost to her was the voice of logic as she hurried onward. The green earth held strange holes that could swallow her whole in one misstep, but she hadn’t thought about the possibility of falling. No, she figured instead that she would finally learn to fly. Again.
She knew she had been here before in some time long lost to the memories held in books. She could see the stars collapsing the veil. She knew her feet walked their pathway to a home that promised so much more than the one she cared little, at this moment, if she left.
At one time, when the fires burned with the dance, the veil did not exist. There had been no separation from what she now sought to what was always there. That is why she nearly wept when the voices of reasons called through the mist. “The time is not right. We must turn back.”
To what, she wondered? More of the same. Yearning for the place just beyond. Now she had only the dreams. The hush of night to part the veil so she could walk the path home before she woke again to frustration.
No, she thought, I will not rest until you call me back.
The giant had been there a long time. As long, they say, as the serpents themselves. His body nestled into the cliff face hidden except for his stone face. Brows furrowed with concentration and lined with age warned even the bold to keep their distance. Not many were brave enough to mess with a giant, even one who looked like he hadn’t moved in ages.
Most failed to notice what he guarded, or wrongly assumed he was guarding them from falling of the precipice. Fools! If they fell it was no fault for him to own. Let them do what they will. Humans were often such careless creatures, believing their bodies would somehow defy death. Yet they had long forgotten how to fly.
The serpents watched, unnoticed. Their twinned noses pushed into the wind while their bodies pulsed Earth’s veins. Few witnessed the power of their alchemy, because they had learned to fear lightning. But what a gift it was to watch! Fire called from the clouds as it sought the womb of water. To witness creation from their mouths…what a pity, the guardian often thought, that their minds had gone numb.
It was a strange morning, but that is not too unusual. There was a deal with the garden fairies before sleep and then a dream of a curious beetle before waking. The dream so vivid and Alice and Wonderland-like I knew it could not be ignored. I told myself, as I made breakfast, that if Sue posted a photo that somehow related to the dream, it would be another sign I needed to write its story. The room was indeed painted red and so was the beetle…
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lenora who lived inside a house with many rooms. Lenora was very spoiled. In her bedroom, Lenora had not one bed, but two, both doubled in size. One for her and one for whomever she chose to be her best friend, which changed often for Lenora was fickle.
Lenora’s bedroom was very large, and its walls were covered in wood like a cabin. It made Lenora feel cozy and secure. Attached to her bedroom, was Lenora’s own private bathroom so that she need not walk far to wash her beautiful hair and paint her nails and eyelids her favorite color of the day.
Inside Lenora’s room there was a staircase, but Lenora had long ago grown tired of climbing it to explore the magical room of her loft. Instead, she gave it over to her younger sister, Sarabell. Sarabell loved the Lenora’s loft where she spent many happy hours playing with all of its wondrous treasures in the companionship of her magical friends. Most of the time, Lenora didn’t even know she was there.
Lenora, you see, was too busy with growing up. She loved telling her maids what to cook her for lunch and what clothes to set out for her days. She loved pretending that she was a grand lady that everyone must obey. No demand was ever too large for Lenora. If she wanted something, she must have it.
One late summer morning, Lenora awoke in her big fluffy bed feeling horrible. Her body didn’t feel ill, but Lenora’s mind was filled with grumpy thoughts. To make it worse, Lenora couldn’t figure out why she was so unhappy. She searched back through her memories and found nothing that could have brought on her sudden gloom, so Lenora rolled herself out of bed and shouted at her maids to leave her be.
Lenora went into her bathroom, and pushed around her lovely powders and brushes, but their lifeless forms on her counter just annoyed her.
“I’ll go for a walk!” Lenora declared as she bounded out of her room.
Still in her nightgown, with feet bare like the day she was born, Lenora walked down the many stairs of her house and out the back door and into the woods.
Lenora walked and walked. As she walked, Lenora didn’t think about where she was going, or notice that her tender feet were stumbling over rocks and tree roots, stubbing her pink toes and chipping the purple polish off her manicured nails. Deeper and deeper into the forest walked Lenora as morning turned to afternoon and dusk began to take over the light of day.
Lenora stopped. She shook her head clear of thoughts. She looked around her, searching for the source of the voice that had ceased her footsteps. Her breath caught in her throat until it gasped for release. Surrounding her was a scene more beautiful than any painting that hung inside of her room. But there was something wrong with the painting, something horribly wrong. It was as though someone had taken a knife and stabbed the very center of it. At least that’s what it felt like to Lenora, who stood holding her hands against her heart as she began to sob.
At her feet, stretching like a bridge across the forest, was the trunk of a tree. Its width held the secrets of its long life, cut to a sudden end by the blade of a saw. Lenora could see, far far down the tree’s length, the full spread of its green leaves newly woven into the forest’s tapestry. Her feet stood at its base above roots that spread deep into the ground where Lenora’s eyes could not see.
Upon its stump was a beetle as red as blood. It was the size of perhaps two quarters, stacked side by side, not small, and longer than it was wide. The back of the beetle glistened in the sunlight, and as Lenora peered at its magnificence she saw that its armor-like back was not simply red, but inside the red were all colors, shimmering in the sun’s light. Never before had Lenora seen a creature more beautiful. And, as looked at it, the beetle seemed to stare back at her.
“You have lost your home, haven’t you,” Lenora sighed as her tears darkened the rings of the stump upon which it rested. “I will make you a new home.”
Once again, Lenora looked around her. She began to study the ground in a way she had never studied her books for school. She surveyed the trees that still stood and the one now fallen. Nearby, she noticed the brown husk of a seed pod, broken open into halves. Beside it, a seedling had rooted into the soil, its etiolated leaflets just beginning to open into a pale green.
Lenora took the beetle into her hands and cradled it in her palms as a mother would a newborn child. The heat of life spread its river through her veins and once again Lenora’s breath caught momentarily inside of her throat.
She didn’t know how she knew the way back, but as Lenora walked, cradling the red beetle in the open husk of the seedpod in one hand, and the tenderly released seedling in the other, Lenore began to find her way home. When she arrived at the door to her house, Lenora smiled at the maid that opened it, brushing aside her puzzled look as she made her way up the stairs and into her room.
“How long have I been gone?” Lenora exclaimed as she peered through the doorway into a room vastly different from the one she had left. The wooden walls suntanned yellow were now a deep crimson. She stepped inside and felt her feet sink into moss instead of carpet. Her double beds still stood, side-by-side, waiting for slumbering occupants, but their covers had faded into the tones of earth.
“It’s perfect, isn’t it?” Lenora sighed with joy as she lowered the beetle inside of its brown boat onto the moss. Digging into the pliable floor, Lenora planted the seedling beside the beetle and sat down beside it.
“I’ll never leave you,” Lenora whispered to the beetle as it turned on its back and crossed two of its legs over its abdomen and two behind its head. Beside it, the seedling grew and grew and Lenora closed her eyes in contentment.
They came to dance with the stones. Drums found the unheard rhythm of the mother beat, opening the sacred veins. Above, ravens circled the moon, full behind a mist that would soon part. Even the children were unafraid. Perhaps even more so than their elders, for they were closer to the thinning veil. The air, stirring the tide into spring, was cool, but the fires burned with heat.
They arranged themselves by order of birth. Those closest to the womb found the center and those nearest death, the edges, but the dance wove them together. Feet weaving the grid of the hidden lines, as the energy rose into the opening. And with it rose their song and the mist, which parted upon the sigh of the wind. One last breath and all was silent as night unveiled the path to the stars.
Time collapsed into dimension and space revealed no separation as one tiny hand reached through the veil to welcome them all home.
In the land filled with shadows hope slipped behind the clouds as the light receded. The great womb of the sea felt the hollow, pulsing the dull ache of emptiness. “What have we done?” the lonely souls called into the wind. Long ago they had given up a reply, but something was different about today. The breeze felt softer on their skin, like a mother’s caress, urging. It brought the scent of honey to their lips. “How can it be?” they wondered.
Resigned necks lifted tired heads, and eyes sought answers from the sky. How long had it been since they had looked beyond the horizon? Above, gray clouds morphed into shapes deformed and grotesque. Yet still the eyes gazed above, transfixed, for the eyes were seeing themselves. “Do not look away,” the voice whispered through their minds, “you must see who you are and who you can become.”
And so they looked, following one scene of horror as it passed into another. And as they watched, the earth below began to shift. Above, the gray of hatred gave way to pain. Bruised and battered, the clouds turned violet-blue until sadness released the heaviness and tears began to drop upon the lifted faces. They trickled down naked arms and fell, one drop upon another, into the womb below. Heavy with need, Her water’s broke in release and the causeway lifted their bodies to be reborn.
Together, they shuttered and sighed as their lungs released the effort of holding back. And the sky above continued to change. Pink bloomed around the edges of violet as their hearts softened into harmony. One hand reached for another, and then another, until fingers laced a pattern of unity. The wind blew away the final wisp of gray and the mirror broke into blue and gold. A warmth that felt like wonder filled the land as joy slid from the golden rays of a sun long forgotten. Cells felt the memory of truth and began to dance the feet back to life.
For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt challenge #causeway.
The fairies began to spread the blue bells soon after the last footstep had departed. In the center of their forest, they heaved the torn limbs of an ash into a pyramid. Gaia sighed relief as they gathered around the remains of the fallen and began to dance, calling in the salamanders to light the pyre.
Orange flames sang through the night as the salamanders caressed the broken branches. Sparks of light rose to taste the darkness, only to be caught on the tongues of the sylphs as they wove the invisible threads into a star.
Water arrived to collapse the flames, pouring down from the clouds to hydrate the hungry land. Undines rode the raindrops to the pyre, collapsing the flames. Out of the shadows, the columns of light appeared to take their places.
The lines of the hexagram glowed golden as the elements joined through dimensions, uniting the above to the below, and the ground began to rumble with life. The dragon was awake.