|Of Unseen Things
Author: Dianaartemis PM
Though I'd never seen it, I liked to believe there was a Sun. It wouldn't judge nor lord over anything, but its mere presence would inspire the masses; creating a people of light, of the Sun.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy/Supernatural - Words: 5,260 - Published: 03-15-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2647576
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Of Unseen Things
"Though I have never seen it, I like to believe there is a Sun." I say and turn to Her as She settles Herself between two rocks. Her flowing silver hair streams down Her thin shoulders. Sometimes I wish I could touch it, to see if it really feels like water. I look back to the glo'em in my hands. "I don't know why, but it seems comforting to me; a large massive ball of burning fire in the mythical sky. It would watch me, I should think, and everyone around me. And it would watch the future beyond me. It wouldn't judge nor lord over anything, but its mere presence would inspire the masses; creating a people of light, of the Sun." I touch the smooth rock in my hands, entranced by the soft light.
I hear Her move towards me, a movement so soft that only habit has made me hear it. I look up as She reaches to my glo'em, but doesn't touch it. Instead I see her hand move in a gentle, but purposeful way. Her language was not words, but gestures. Sometimes, when there is little light to see, She will reach out and trace Her words on my face. It has always made me shiver, like cold water down my cheeks.
Why do you like Sun?
I smile. "My mother used to tell me stories of the Sun. I would always get so frightened sometimes, especially when she would travel and I had to stay home. So she would tell me about the Sun and I guess I've always really liked it. Then when she ran out of stories, she would ask people she met on her travels. So she could bring home more stories." I lean forward, excited. "Did you know that the Sun is supposed to be so bright that it will burn you."
What is burn?
I shrug. "I don't know. My mother said that she was once burned as a child," Her eyes are staring at the glo'em and they seem to glow themselves. "They used to have fire when she was a child, when they were closer to the Surface, but she can barely remember. She said it felt very hot, unbearably hot." The hand is moving again and I slowly read Her words.
What is fire?
I look up at Her and She is staring back at me. I've never understood her. She was never touched by light, in body or spirit. The endless darkness that Her silken hands felt relentlessly and that Her eyes searched hopelessly, seems to have bleached Her skin and hair a pearly white. She was never felt the caress of time either and I know that She existed long before me and would continue to roam after I die.
"Fire is what burns."
There is a sound and we both freeze to hear it better. It's the crashing of rocks falling against each other. I've never liked the sound, even if it's rare, but it makes Her shake. She quivers and flinches with every noise. I reach out and touch Her hand. It helps her slightly, to be reminded that another is there.
The crashing stops and we sit in silence, waiting to hear any more. There is nothing, but the silence has already sunken in and I can't even speak. Even after so many years, I still fear the silence. It helps with Her here, though.
There is always the fear. As a child, one doesn't quite feel the heaviness of the rocks or the way darkness can suffocate. Children don't have the fear. I was five when I first wandered too far and became lost. I was just exploring when suddenly the rocks felt rough and the tunnels too narrow. I shined my glo'em around, but there was nothing familiar. I tried to find my way out, but the maze of the world is endless.
I thought I was going to die. My mother warned me many times about children who went astray. Sometimes they're found, but more often they're never seen again. I curled up in a nook and cried. But it was only a matter of time before tears ran out and my voice grew hoarse.
It's the silence that kills a lost child, I think. A silence so thick that even if you scream, you cannot penetrate it. I could barely breathe. It felt like nothing in the world existed besides for myself. I was alone and it was silent.
She found me. I didn't hear Her, but She was suddenly in front of me. She spoke to me, but I didn't understand. But She took my hand and led me back to more familiar paths. I was entranced by Her and the way She moved through the caves, as if she is a part of them. When I knew where to go, She turned to me and Her hands ran across my face. It felt strange and I didn't understand at the time that She was speaking to me. Just as silently, She disappeared back into the darkness. And though I was left alone, I didn't feel afraid anymore.
"I should head back," I murmur. A cave-in is always dangerous, but the rocks are usually stable. It has only been recently that they have been shifting and falling. I look to Her fearful face. She tugs lightly at Her hair as Her wide eyes scan the rocks around us. Her hands shake, but I still manage to read them.
The earth is moaning.
I hear it too, but She can hear it better than I can. The rock around groans as weight is shifted. I'm not sure what is happening, but it is usually a sign another cave-in will occur. "Do you know why?" I always ask Her questions about the world of rock and stone and darkness, but very rarely does She give me a complete answer. Most of the time She says I wouldn't understand.
Things are changing. Things have already changed. Things are returning to unchanged.
She slips backwards into the darkness and I don't bother to follow Her. Her answer doesn't make sense, as usual, but I figure I can ask my mother if she knows anything. I begin the long journey back home, following familiar routes. My feet go to sturdy landings and my hands to holds. Everything is automatic about this route now, as I come through it so often to visit Her.
I make it to one of the large caverns and I stretch after being in a crouched position for so long. My mother said that as a child there used to be many people wandering this series of large caverns. The path has been smoothed out by many feet as it was one of the main highways that people traveled. This cave system goes on for miles. I have wandered up and down them all my life, but I have never seen another person. My mother and I don't know where everyone went. If they moved on or just died away. The caves separates people and we've forgotten what it means to have neighbors. There are some people my mother knows, very far away, but not many.
My home is located just off of one of the branches of the cave system. It's made up of three hollows; my room, my mothers, and the main entry. I knock my feet against the wall so my mother won't be surprised by my arrival.
I step through the dried-herb entrance into the sweet smelling inside. My mother must be preparing some sweet moss and mushrooms. With both soaked in water, they make any room smell pleasant. It's warm from the glo'ems my mother placed in all the small indents. Glo'ems don't give off much heat by themselves, but together in the enclosed space they can. My mother walks from her room and kisses my face. She can read my face and knows why I came back so early. "The cave-in was nearby, but no one was there."
Though she is old, my mother is very swift in navigating the caves. Often she will take trips to far off regions to meet with other people. I don't go with her, as the journey would exhaust me too much. But she always brings back information. Just recently, she came back from a fifty mile journey. We haven't spoken, since she was recovering, but now I have to ask. "Do you know why it's happening?"
Her eyes shy away from mine and she sits against the wall. Her hand trails absently on the floor beside her by habit. She always sits in the same pace, and so the rock is perfectly smooth there. "There are...theories. Problems with the Surface, mostly. But we don't know enough."
My mother hardly mentions the Surface and I sit before her, eager to hear more. "What kind of problems? What is wrong with the Surface? Can it really affect us?"
She sighs. "Of course it can. We are below the Surface, such whatever falls will eventually come to us. There has been talk of rain."
It's not very often that I've heard of rain. Some caves will receive more water, and so when they fill, I know has rained on the Surface. But hardly does rain make the rocks fall, and never in so many places. "It must be a lot of rain," I murmur.
My mother nods. "Some say it must be raining continuously on the Surface. And now it's finally making its way here. She puts a hand on my head, running her fingers through my hair, like I am a child. I'm too old for such an action, but I let her do it. "Day, my dear, do you know what this means?"
"We will have to move?" The words sound hollow to me.
She smiles. The kind of smile that makes it look like she is crying. "There is no-where to go. These larger caverns will fill first, then the smaller caves. We could run, but the rain is coming from everywhere. We could go deeper, but it will simply follow us."
I take her hand from my head and hold it close to my cheek. "What if we went to the Surface?" I whisper the words, because it feels wrong to say them.
Her expression doesn't change. "No one remembers the Surface. I was only a child when my grandmother died and she was the last to ever speak of Sun or Sky." Her hand is shaking. "No one has been there in over a hundred years."
"Why? What's wrong with the Surface?"
My mother takes her hand away from me and places it on the rock beside her. She smoothes away the edges, as she always does. "Things needed to change. We cannot go back, that's what my parent's said. That's what my grandparents told us." She says simply. It's the same reason that she has always given.
I've never understood why my mother fears the Surface. According to her, it's how others feel about it too. I wish I could talk to other people, and really see what they are like. But they are so far, and I'm too weak. "But if we went to the Surface, even just until the rain stops. It would be better than staying."
She frowns. "You know that can't happen. Besides, the Surface is ten or fifteen miles away. You have never been able to go more than a couple miles before needing rest. And the climb would be much harsher, Day."
I want to argue, but I don't know what to say.
I was named Day because I almost died as a baby. My mother said it's tradition to name a sickly child after something impossible; like Sun, Sky, or Night. The sickness that I had as a baby was the same that killed most of the people who used to live in the caves. Young, old, and even the most healthy died, but I survived. I cannot travel the caves without frequent rest. To go long distance is impossible for me to comprehend. And sometimes I just feel like sleeping forever. For so long, that my mother could leave on a 20 mile journey and I would not wake until she came back.
"Maybe I'll talk to Her about it."
My mother looks at me quickly. She has always been jumpy when talking about Her. They have never met, yet my mother still seems to know Her. "She wouldn't help you."
"How do you know?" She has always been helpful to me. She has always led me through the cave, taught me how to climb when my clumsy fingers fumbled. She would let me rest or even carry me when I grew too tired. I trust Her with everything and ask Her things I do not ask my mother.
"She would not understand. She was born from these rocks and sees in darkness. The Surface is unreal to Her and impossible." My mother stands, running a hand through her wiry hair. "I know She is your friend, but She has been here before our ancestors even thought to come into the caves. She doesn't know what it's to be human, She just knows how to pretend."
"If She is not human, then what is She?" My voice is more angry than curious. I stand as well.
My mother doesn't look at me. "She is what we tried to become. But we couldn't and that's why we are alone."
We are both very silent then, only our breathing filling the space between us.
"I want to go to the Surface," I whisper.
She closes her eyes, turning from me. "I will not go with you. I'd rather run and wait for the water to find me than go to the place my grandparents talked about with total fear."
I want to reach out and grab her arm. I want to force her. But the way she stands so delicately, the way her shoulders hunch, and the way her head is bowed, makes me hesitate. I fear to touch her, because she might break. I fear not to, because she looks already broken. "Does that mean you will just...just-?" I can't say it.
"Day, all life must end eventually." She silently walks away from me.
"Do you know?" I ask while She waits for me. She is helping me up a tall chute and it takes most of my energy to speak. I've been wanting to talk to Her for awhile now. But only as my hands shake and the back of my neck sweats, can I bring it up. "It's raining on the Surface. That's why the caves keep collapsing, the water loosens them."
I make it to Her sitting on the landing and take a moment to rest. She curls Her legs under Herself and stares intently at the rock facing us. I try to look at Her, but my glo'em is in my pocket so I could climb better. There's enough light for me to see cracks and foot holds, but not enough to read her expression. I know she says something, but I don't understand. I take out my glo'em, holding it carefully so it won't fall down the chute.
"My mother...she was really worried." I run my fingers around the glo'em, wondering if the smooth stone feels like the rock where my mother sits. "I think she was trying to say goodbye to me. But I'm not sure..." I look up at Her. Her eyes stare unblinking at me. "Do you think that we will die?"
Her hands reach out, but instead of speaking, they cup my cheeks gently. Her fingers are icy and feel rough enough to scratch me. Her eyes close and I know, even without her words, that she knows it as well.
I feel like a lost child again and hot tears press on my cheeks. I hold my glo'em close to me as the darkness presses around. "Why is no one doing anything?" I cry into my knees, feeling small. "What's wrong with the Surface? If we are all going to die, why not go?" I want to know what the Sun feels like. I want to see what a Sky is. I want to make fire and burn myself. I want to run with my arms out-stretched and my back straight until I can breathe anymore.
I want to live.
She waits silently until I gradually stop crying. Gently She takes my hands away from my chest so I can see Her in the light of the glo'em. Her hands move in a comforting way.
You will go. You will live, Day
I shiver as She says my name. The hand gesture is always followed with a soft whisper. Like a breeze coming from deep within the earth, it makes me tremble. "What will happen to you?" My mother would never come, I know that much from our conversation. She has given up.
I will die.
I suddenly take her hand with both of mine, not caring that my glo'em slips dangerous close to the chute edge. "No! You can't..." I can't convince my mother to go with me. But maybe I could convince Her. "Please, come with me. I need someone there. I'm too weak to go on the journey alone." Ever since She found me lost in the caves, I've counted on Her to be a source of strength. She must have realized it at some point. Since after awhile, I would not have to search as long to find Her. She would place Herself in my path and guide me around. I cannot imagine going anywhere new without Her graceful hands.
Her cold fingers make my palms go numb and Her eyes are wide and frightened. She doesn't speak and I realize that I am strangling Her. I let go and She slowly speaks to me.
I will go.
Mother had left when I got back. She must have known what I was going to do. The glo'ems were still arranged around the main room, as if she could appear from her bedroom any moment. There was food laid out, fish jerky and preserved sweet moss, more than enough for the both of us. I know she left it for my journey. I knew I wasn't going to see her again. I went to sleep and when I woke up, I left.
I met Her in the main cavern near my home. She stayed low to the ground, even though the ceiling is high enough she doesn't need to crouch. She doesn't look at me, but follows as I lead the way through the cavern. The large tunnels eventually spiral upwards. I have seen the points where this occurs, but I've never gotten far enough to even get close to the Surface.
She lags behind and I look at Her. "Is something wrong?" She is still on Her knees, feeling over the rock with tender hands. Similar to the way my mother runs her hands through my hair.
I'm saying goodbye.
"You don't need to. We'll come back once the rain stops, then it will be safe," I look quickly away from her. I don't want to think about coming back. I don't know what I would come back to. Empty, flooded caves form in my head and I close my eyes, hoping they will go away. I stride forward quickly, knowing I will wear myself out faster. I'll just let Her take the lead when that happens.
Travel turns tedious and the climbing tires me. My hands shake from the effort, but I continue to press forward. Maybe it's the situation, maybe it's something else, but I have more energy than usual. She lags behind, but never enough that I have to wait. She is taking Her time. I wish I could have said something to my mother. But perhaps it would have been too hard.
I look back at Her. "Did you ever have a mother?" I've never asked Her a question like that before. She has always seemed too mystical to me. She takes a long time to answer.
I lean against the rock wall, taking a small break. I'm glad that the large caves go on for so long. I feel more relaxed when I can stand and walk. She kneels and my feet, looking up at me. "Oh? Where is she?" She, again, takes some time to answer. As if She is trying to remember something.
I never met my mother.
I feel bad, but She doesn't look upset. Her eyes are narrowed and She continues to speak.
Like...like a seed she planted me here and let me grow into rock and cave.
She looks up to me, suddenly smiling. As if all Her memories are all coming back and She is very pleased.
My mother is from the Surface.
She moves forward, as if with some renewed energy. I follow Her as we begin to go into more narrow caves. I have to crawl again, but it doesn't stop me from speaking. "So, will we meet your mother?"
Her hands move fast, but I can't tell if She is excited, or eager to stop speaking. I continue anyway. "I wonder what she's like."
She is beautiful. Day, you already love her.
I wonder if I misread Her words, since I could not love Her mother without having met her. But She is moving Her hands so quickly. "Do you love her?" I don't know why I ask it. But suddenly She's in front of me, Her hands tracing words on my cheeks. I shiver, barely registering the words.
When I meet her, I will fall into her arms and be but a breath on the wind.
She moves from me so quickly, that it takes me a moment to collect my thoughts. But She has already gone on ahead of me and I know I shouldn't speak of this anymore. Her mother might be like my mother, or like any mother I could imagine. For She is like nothing imaginable.
We travel for miles, but I'm not as tired as usual. We take breaks and sometimes I sleep, but we constantly move up. The farther we get, the more She looks worn. Though She directs me through some complicated systems, more often I am lifting Her up ledges and carrying Her through chutes. It tires me out, but not as much as expected. But Her worn face still worries me.
"Are you alright?" I ask as we take a break. My legs don't ache, but my breathes come in heavier. My head hurts from changing pressures. I've never been this high before and I didn't realize it could get so painful. She doesn't answer, but is holding Her head. Probably in the same pain as me.
I touch the wet stones around us, the rain has reached here. Already we've had to divert the our path because of a flooded tunnel or more cave-ins. Sometimes the pools are shallow enough to wade, but She refuses to touch them. We turn around and find another way.
It's only as I sit, do I realize that the air has changed as well. The overused, dank smell of both our homes is replaced by the fresh musk and decay. I don't mind it, but I notice Her labored breaths as She crouches. I reach out and touch Her shoulder, She flinches, but looks up.
"We should continue." I help Her stand and we move on. It's impossible to avoid water now and She stays very close to me. She's still breathing heavily. "Is the air making you nauseous? It does smell strange." I turn my head so I can read her reply.
This air has touched light.
That nearly makes me stumble. Light? We are that close? It doesn't feel like it's been so many miles. I still have most of my food and I've hardly had to rest. I think briefly of my mother, wondering what she is doing. There's water everywhere up here, if the rains continue, then she won't have any hope of escaping.
I look to Her. "Do you think there is a way to stop the rain? I mean, there is a lot of water here, but not enough to completely drown the lower caverns. If it stops soon...then maybe everyone will be able to survive."
Her eyes are tired, but they stare at me unblinking. She begins to speak, but She is cut off as we both stumble in a pool. With my hand on the wall, I catch my balance. When I take my hand away, pieces of the rock come with it. I stare at my hand in horror and fascination.
I quickly turn to Her, to finding her standing, covered in the substance from Her fall. It's dirt, I've heard of it before. My mother has said she's seen it, but we are too deep to find much of it. My mother said that they used to grow plants in it. The few plants that grow in my home are usually fungi or mosses that stuck on the solid rock or leached off of other plants. I reach out eagerly and dig at the rock as wall and more of the dirt fall to my open palm. It's wet and grainy and it feels so strange to run it between my forefinger and thumb.
She doesn't take it so well and hurriedly rubs the dirt from Her skin. I help Her as much as I can, but without clean water, there is little to do. I help Her out of the pool, but She trembles violently. I notice that Her hair has gone stringy and her skin no longer look luminescent. She looks sick. Her hands shake in mine.
Day, Day, we are so close. So close.
I nod to Her, trying to make her calm down. Her soft whisper doesn't accompany my name and that worries me most of all. "Are you going to be alright?" She looks so brittle, I'm afraid to touch Her. "Maybe we should head back..." The water seems to upset Her, perhaps if he go back down to dryer places until She recovers.
Her hands do not shake as she speaks.
No, we must go on. We must.
I don't understand why She is so persistent, when She looks so fragile. But I've never argued with Her before, so I don't now. I hold out my arms. "Then let me carry you." She nods and I turn around to let Her mount my shoulders. She is terrifyingly weightless.
I set out, feeling my legs grow quicker as the miles are crossed. It doesn't feel tiring to carrying Her up inclines, or to even climb with Her. Her pale arms hang over my shoulders, limp and lifeless. Eventually we come to a large chute that I cannot see the top of. I begin climbing, even as water drips down from the top.
My hands slide on the wet rock and more than once I feel like I am going to fall. Once we reach a ledge, I take Her from my shoulders so I can try to dry my hands. She stares up at the top, unblinking, and I wonder if She can see something.
Can you feel it? The beating?
She's breathing heavily and She looks ready to faint. As She tries to compose herself, I attempt to imagine what She is talking about. I can feel nothing in the rocks or the steady drips of soft water running down the walls. But the air, the air seems to be almost throbbing, like a festering wound. I don't know what it means, but it feels like something amazing is about to happen.
I pull Her arms over my shoulders again. The only way I know She is there, is by Her soft breathes on the back of my neck. I try to concentrate on climbing. Everything is slippery, but my hands and feet are strong. When I look up again, I don't understand what I am seeing.
Just over the next ledge there seems to be a huge mass of glo'ems, but they don't glow deep green as they usually do. They seem to glow every color. I've hardly seen other colors besides for the glo'ems, and never so vibrant. I lift myself up to see the strange occurrence clearly, but instead I find the world.
Walking from the rocks, I step onto soft dirt. But it's more than just dirt, there are plants everywhere. I barely breathe as I see the millions of miles of infinite bright green stalks. My mind barely registers that my mother once described it as grass or even that She has slipped from my shoulders. There is so much endless around me. Endless grass and sky. My eyes look up and are transfixed to the otherworldly spectrum that was above me. A constant swirl of deep gray with black, more vibrant than anything I've ever seen. It almost hurts to look at it, but I heard a voice below me.
"Bring out the Sun. Call it from its hidden place. You need to, Day. You need to."
I blink and look down at the drenched figure of Her. She looked so utterly broken and nearly translucent against the dynamic grass. I never thought that she could speak and though her voice is soft, it's purposeful.
My eyes immediately search the sky again, never taking in enough to be satisfied. The swirl of dark colors began to change and slowly separate. I find my hands reaching up, vainly trying to grip away the hostile curtain. I don't feel the rain ceasing. I don't hear Her shuddering sigh. But I feel a great wave overcome me as I behold the gentle rays peaking out from the dying tumult.
It is the Sun.
Beautiful, resolute, and brighter than I could ever imagine. The white light holds every color imaginable and unimaginable. It fills my human eyes and burns my very soul. I cannot speak or think; it is simply beyond me. In my euphoric state I can hardly feel Her soft hands touching my face.
"Day, you're home."
I think I'm crying, but the blazing heat around me dries my tears as quickly as they existed. In that moment, when all I can see is color, when all I can think is light, I know She isn't going to speak to me anymore, that Her silver hair will never drape perfectly over Her shoulder, Her complex hands will never feel the sharp, cool texture of the rocks, and Her body would never snake through the very womb She was born from. She is a breeze now, a breath on the wind. And my body burns.
I wonder to myself if my mother is safe now. If all the people I never met will live. I'm on fire, I'm blind, and I feel more powerful than a thousand falling rocks or rain that washes away people who should not be underground. They are trapped, lost, and forgotten. But I will bring them here, where the Sun is and make them a people of the Sun.
Yet now, in the end, all I can think of is Her and how She saved me.