In Which A Story Unfolds: Chapter Fourteen*
Ink on paper
*Before you read the end, begin at the beginning:
The sun rose as a breeze blew, as the pond rippled, as the birds sang.
She awoke to all this, with a question in lodged her heart, “who am I?” she wondered.
All day she sat on the banks of the pond, thinking. Nature and its life swept around her as she waited for the answer to reveal itself.
She waited, and waited.
After a time, amidst the silence and solitude of the night, her thoughts led her to an idea.
As the sun rose once again, she climbed the air, nestling herself among the clouds.
Perhaps, up there, she might see the life she was trying to comprehend unfold.
But her life, even at that height, was still too familiar to understand.
And all at once, she knew what she needed to do.
To find the answer to her question she needed to explore the patterns and unknowns that life spread across the world. And to do this, she knew she must move.
Whispering goodbye to the space and history beneath her, she turned to the air.
“Wind,” she said. “Will you carry me?”
It laced its fingers about her and the journey began.
Between the cracks of the wind’s fingers, she watched the world.
Creatures grew small and blended into the way of things. In all their strangeness and difference the creatures all belonged to life, one way or another.
She began to know that her life belonged in all the world’s vastness, just like the lives of all the creatures below.
Yet after days and weeks and many passes around the world, the answer to her question had not shown itself.
One day the wind spoke to her, “soon I must grow still. Perhaps you can travel with another.”
The wind lowered her towards the earth. It spoke again, “water will take you further, water will show you the unseen.”
“Thank you wind,” she said. As she fell into the water she wondered what she might find beneath.
“Welcome,” water said as it guided her into its currents. And she journeyed though the cold and dark and deep, searching for the unseen.
The water pulled her while she watched, watched as life gave way to endings as endings gave way to newness.
After a while the water spoke, “we have all been on a journey like yours.”
“You have observed the world,” the water continued, “but have you explored what can be found within?”
And so she did.
She closed her senses as the stillness surrounded her.
The water guided her though her own darkness.
And, as the currents led her toward the far off shore, she found a kind of comfort she thought she had lost long ago.
She emerged from the dark and quiet place and the water spoke, “you’ve reached the shore.”
The water receded across sand made of the shells of long dead creatures, leaving her on land that spilled out before her.
As she turned to say goodbye to the water, she saw a murky shape that stretched up to meet her.
The shape moved as she moved until a gust of wind pulled clouds across the sky and the shape disappeared.
She turned away from the water and continued the journey on her own.
She walked from one end of the land to the other. As her steps accumulated, clouds collected around her.
The wind blew harsh and loud, beating at her body. The water rose and rain fell thickening the air and blinding her. And she was afraid.
She pushed through the wind and water and the elements pushed back with growing force, until they did not.
She found herself in a space where the winds did not blow and water did not rise or fall.
From this place, from within her fear, she watched as the storm destroyed the island.
She could do nothing as the storm decimated the land and plants and creatures. And when the storm did end, it left only muteness.
Creatures’ bodies were flung about, bloated and limp. The sand churned up its own skeletons. The snapped trees and crushed plants folded in upon themselves.
She did not move as the island clung to its own desolation. She did not move until, days later, a creature cried out, the voice pushing through the air to meet her.
And she collected the desolation in her arms, and she stayed.
In time, bits of life broke through the surface of the island.
Hundreds of years passed as plants sent out shoots and seeds, as the shoots and seeds grew and the pattern repeated. Creatures mated and fought and birthed and died and the young grew old.
The strangeness, difference, and unknowns she observed while traveling with the wind and water, now unfolded around her.
She could feel as endings nourished beginnings and life existed in the space in-between.
And many lifetimes later, only she could remember the storm.
The sun cast her shadow beside her, the birds sang, the creatures rested as the wind blew. In this moment of peace, thinking about her unfolding life,she still wondered who she was.
Reflecting, she turned to her shadow,“I think it’s time for me to go home.”
The wind changed and grew. Dark clouds made themselves known with loudness she remembered. As her shadow left she faltered and doubted, time had passed and she lived long enough to see time repeat.
And then, the island spoke to her for the first time, “do not doubt. I was here long before you and will be here long after you are gone. Trust that you have done enough for many lifetimes.”
She stared down the storm and faced her life.
And so she went about the island, saying goodbye to the birds and animals and plants, packing away memories and nostalgia.
And when she was ready, the island lifted the earth around her until she was in the thick of the storm, until the air electrified, until she remembered her fear.
“Grab hold of the storm, it will propel you.” The island said. “Follow the sun, it will lead you home. Listen to your shadow, for it knows more than you do.”
“I will miss you island.” She said as as she leapt into the storm.
The sun rose, a breeze blew, the pond rippled, and the birds sang. She awoke to all this, with a question in lodged her heart, “who am I?”
“Welcome home,” the pond said.
She looked into the pond’s surface, and in that moment, she found herself there in her reflection.
324 days done, 41 days to go.