Happy New Year, everyone! Here's the first half of a chapter that's getting long. :)
The First Creations
Grace Wilson didn't really consider herself a stupid person. She made good marks in school, knew how to fix a bike properly, and her uncle was going to teach her how to drive a Model T. That's why she thought she could safely assume that something mighty strange was up at the Alexander's because every time she went over there to visit Virgil, he was always off in the backyard. And nobody's backyard was that interesting.
That's why today, she had a plan. She had gotten up on at five in the morning on a Saturday (a Saturday! She usually slept in until eight) in order to wake Virgil up and demand to know what was going on with him and why he kept hanging out in the backyard when: "There's a COUNTRY TO SAVE!"
She laughed to herself at the memory of her younger brother announcing this at the top of the staircase when Roosevelt was elected. She remembered how her ma had laughed, too. She was so solemn these days… since Pa left. Grace sighed. "He is all I need… over every other need…" Virgil's Song, she called it, even though it annoyed him like no other. "He sees me when I go down… He'll turn my life… around…" She thought Pastor Harrison would like the little hymn, but Virgil never showed it to him. Well, he let her see it. "He is all I need…"
The Alexanders had such a nice little house. It looked like it was made of bricks, but then part of it was very clearly wood- or that's what Grace thought. Then there were all the evergreen trees that had been growing there for ages. They were beautiful and a little bit of a miracle. When the winters came, all the other trees shed their leaves and withered, but not these. They lived. Kinda inspirational in a botanical sort of way.
The problem was, now that she was here at six in the morning and there was no indication that anyone in the house was- "Hey." Grace heard the sound of whistling coming from the backyard, and doggone it if that whistle didn't belong to the boy she was looking for. She ran around the back of the house and sure enough, there he was with his oversized Navy coat and the grey cabby hat that had been around longer than even Nat. She started running towards him but slowed down as she got nearer. He was trying to ignore her and frankly, it hurt her feelings. "Virgil, what in the Sam Hill is wrong with you now?"
Virgil had to respond to that. He turned to face her and repeated, "'What in the Sam Hill?' Are you really using that expression now, Grace?"
Grace smiled a little and crossed her arms. "Good. You haven't forgot my name."
"Uh… 'course I haven't. We're friends; I ain't gonna forget your name." Virgil got the feeling that he had somehow annoyed Grace.
"Well, just making sure. You been gone so often that I thought you mighta." Grace flipped her short hair out of her eyes. "Now seriously, Virgil. What's going on with you the past few days? I thought we were gonna do devotions together."
Virgil seemed rather shifty eyed as he answered, "Uh... nothing. It's really nothing. I just need to get something and then do some work out by these trees."
Grace had to remind herself that patience was a virtue. "Really?"
"Really." Virgil seemed tense for some reason.
"Then maybe I could help you. I mean, I worked on a farm before and can handle trees pretty nice. Is it that little ring of evergreens?" She was as good as in. He now either had to confess or make up an imaginary condition for the trees to have. No liar was that good.
"Oh no, I can manage. But thank you, Grace. I'll tell Ma and Pa that you stopped by." Virgil smiled politely and Grace got the distinct feeling that he was mentally telling her to get the heck off of his property. Rude little...
Grace's jaw stiffened. "Fine. I just wanted to know if you wanted to do devotions with me later on, but since you're so busy taking care of the trees, I think I'll do them by myself. Thank you very much, Virgil, now I'll be off."
As Grace left, Virgil couldn't help but feel badly about the way he had treated her. He was obviously lying- he couldn't help it; sometimes they just slipped out because they were easier to say than the truth- but he didn't mean to offend her. He would have to make it up to her somehow. Maybe make her something nice. Maybe he could write her a little poem or something with her name in it. God knows she loved his hymn.
"Back to business, Virg." He'd been sent back here for a reason, and that reason was to find a post. Apparently Iolyn's family wasn't using the land for the same reasons Virgil's family had intended, but he was sure that he could find a skinny piece of wood they could use as a post. He walked up to the shed and dug in his pocket for the key, digging out the little rusted thing and jamming it in the lock. He swore as soon as this Depression was over, he was buying this damn shed a new lock because this one was a right pain in the- "Here we go," he muttered to himself as the door opened, and he picked up a nearby post that stood a little above his hip. It was old and had cobwebs, but it would do.
It was one of the most exciting days in the little world halfway into the second week. Iolyn had started creating small forms of life- mainly spiders and worms- and letting them loose. Niamh adored them.
"Do we name them? Are they sient- no, wait- sentient beings?" she asked with every new organism that appeared, and every time she asked, it made the boys grin.
"I'll let you know when I'm ready to start making them," Iolyn reassured her. He had started to feel a little apprehensive about creating the more complex Creations because... well, he started thinking about it. There was the respiratory system and the nervous system and the brain and everything else that he had to worry about. Would they all be the same in internal structure or should they be different? He was thinking of the glow-y Creations and their future healing powers as well. He wanted them to not only be able to heal themselves, but others. Otherwise, what was the point of being able to heal? He was just concerned that they wouldn't be able to do that if they all had different systems. Maybe that was a little insulting. But- it was all too much to think about right now.
"It'll be OK." Niamh stood over him serenely, watching him draw. She exhaled as she closed her eyes, sitting next to him with her hands folded in her lap. Her long billowing sleeves made it look like she had no arms at all. "Believe it and it will be. That's how things work here. You know that."
Iolyn stopped drawing the butterfly for a moment and looked at Niamh. "That was creepy."
Niamh looked a little hurt. "I'm sorry, Iolyn. I didn't mean to be."
"No- I know. I was just saying that because I was just worrying about how more complex forms of life would be created. Then you said the right thing." He smiled.
Niamh half-smiled. "Guess I'm just good at saying what you need to hear." She closed her eyes and leaned against Iolyn's shoulder. Her head and hair were both extremely warm.
Iolyn had accepted her rising temperature as normal for Niamh, figuring that it was some kind of side effect of being light incarnate. Instead of questioning it, he continued drawing silently.
"Hey, Iolyn? Something I've been meaning to ask you for a while now."
"Yeah?" The left wing on this butterfly insisted on being misshapen. It was so frustrating.
"What's it called when you close your eyes and then you open them, and it's been a really long time but it feels like only a second?"
Iolyn and Virgil had gotten used to Niamh's colloquialisms. "You mean sleeping."
"Right... sleeping. I keep forgetting the word for it." Niamh released a little yawn, which made Iolyn yawn. "And what's that called?"
"Right... why do people do that? It seems a little annoying." She understood when Iolyn didn't answer her question right away. He had been drawing and now he was probably creating whatever the new organism was. She could wait for the answer.
Iolyn whispered, "Niamh, open your eyes."
Niamh did so and saw sitting on a blade of grass a large dark blue butterfly with orange markings. "It's so spectacular," she said. "What's it called?"
"A butterfly. They can fly." Iolyn smiled when Niamh looked at the little butterfly like it was a miracle. Well, it pretty much WAS a miracle, but since the reaction was because the butterfly had the ability to fly, it was amusing.
"Got it! Oh." Virgil felt very much like he didn't belong when he saw Iolyn and Niamh sitting under a tree with Niamh's head on Iolyn's shoulder. There was even a butterfly- God he disliked butterflies now. "I take it things are going well," he said as he walked up to them, waving the post from side to side.
As Iolyn gave Virgil a thumb's up, Niamh said excitedly, "Iolyn created a butterfly! Isn't it marvelous, Virgil?" She beamed.
"Oh, it's wonderful," muttered Virgil. He tapped the post into the ground and played with it some more. "Here's your post, Niamh. Now you'll be able to mark which one is your cave." He found it very peculiar that a girl like her lived in a cave, but she didn't really have a lot of options.
"I think I want to move closer to the door," said Niamh. "Maybe in a tree. But thank you, Virgil! It'll help a lot." She stood up and walked up to him, giving him a side hug. It made him feel a little better. But just a little.
"Hey, I've been meaning to ask you, Virgil." Iolyn stood up and closed his sketchpad, which was rapidly filling. "Do you have any older brothers?"
Virgil was surprised. "Uh- yeah. Nat. He's going into the Navy." He left out the part that he thought Nat was a spoiled little golden child and they barely got along. "Why? Wait, no. We agreed that you wouldn't tell me what's coming in the future!"
You're probably wondering what Virgil is talking about. Shortly after the two boys figured out that they were from different time periods- and believe me, they had a huge fight about which one of them was losing their mind about that, too- Iolyn told Virgil that the Depression wouldn't last for much longer, thinking that he would appreciate it. Virgil did not appreciate it at all, being of the strict belief that the future did not deserve to be spoiled for the past. He put this phrasing much less maturely, but what can you do? Anyways, this led to an agreement that Virgil would try to be kinder to Iolyn and Iolyn wouldn't tell Virgil what was going to happen.
"And I won't tell you a thing... but can you do me a big favor please?" Iolyn clasped his hands together and smiled in a way that he hoped looked innocent. "Could you please write some new laws?"
"What?! I already gave you all that weird supernatural stuff for the Creations- what more could you want?" yelled Virgil.
"Just some reassurance that nobody will, y'know, implode or anything." Iolyn felt a little awkward asking Virgil this because he had already made so many laws and the three of them could only take so much of that weird warm feeling before it got moderately irritating.
Virgil gave Iolyn a pointed look as he picked up the sketchpad, flipped the pages to the Laws, and said as he wrote, "More complex Creations will be fine once they are created with the assumed systems necessary to live in place and fully functional." He added a period rather violently and exhaled as the Law took effect. "I should sign into law that you can't ask me for any more stupid laws!" Honestly, he got along with Iolyn a good portion of the time, but sometimes the kid could be so dense.
Iolyn grinned broadly. "Thank you, Virgil."
"Yeah, yeah." The boy walked away, waving his hand lazily.
Niamh watched Virgil walk away towards the ocean and couldn't help but get the feeling that he was feeling a little down. "I'm going to go see if he's all right," she told Iolyn as she started walking after her other friend. "That's a really beautiful butterfly!" She waved and then ran off to catch up with Virgil.
He was getting better at ignoring the feeling that this was all kinds of wrong. It wasn't so easy at night when he started wondering where he got the audacity to play God. But during the day, he could keep himself preoccupied and his conscience's voice would be background noise.
Soon there would be new Creations who had thoughts and feelings of their own and they would need laws. Not laws of nature, space, and time, but real laws. Laws that kept governments from collapsing and people from panicking and he would need to do that.
He should run for president someday. He would be a good president. He would be honest and use common sense. He would pay attention to the country, even though it would be hard with forty-eight states and millions of people who needed him.
Maybe he should stick to writing.
"Hello Virgil." Niamh seemed to just appear next to him, even though Virgil knew she didn't have the ability to do that. "Are you all right?"
Virgil nodded. "Yeah, I'm doing just swell. Why?" He was on a lying streak today. The only difference was that Niamh wasn't quite so talented at telling when he was doing it.
"You just seem more serious than usual. I thought something might be wrong."
"No. There's nothing."
But Virgil felt a lot guiltier about lying to a girl who was only three weeks old. At least Grace had sixteen years under her belt. Er, maybe that was odd phrasing. It didn't matter. "I had to lie to one of my oldest friends today."
"I'm sorry." He appreciated Niamh's sincerity.
"No, don't apologize. It's not really a big deal." Virgil shrugged. "Just people being suspicious." They were quiet for a while after that, just watching the ocean. It was peaceful, listening to something that was bigger than they were. Virgil had to remind himself that strictly speaking, Niamh was a bigger force than he was. She's light, not a human, remember? That's why she can understand what the ocean is "saying" and what the mountain is "grumbling" and all that other nonsense. She's one of their kind. A force of nature.
"The ocean calls it Mïravenne," said Niamh faintly. She looked at Virgil and smiled. "It means Something Beautiful. Can we call name this world that?" Her eyes went wide again. They always did whenever she was filled with emotion or wanted something very badly, Virgil noted.
"Well… I like it," he said. He couldn't help but think, Eden was beautiful, too. It was the cynic in him. "We'll have to tell Iolyn. I think he'll like it." Because whatever Niamh likes, Iolyn likes; and whatever Iolyn likes, Niamh likes, he thought rather bitterly. They were practically two peas in a pod.
Niamh glowed a little brighter. "OK. I think he'll like it, too." She sighed contentedly and sat down on the sand. "Let's go in the water, Virgil," she said after a moment of relaxing. Albeit, it wasn't a very long moment, and so her proposition surprised Virgil, and he was increasingly alarmed when she started to take off her dress.
But to his relief, she was wearing something that looked like a blouse and short pants underneath. "I got the idea when Iolyn took me out in the water for the first time," she chimed happily. She seized Virgil by the wrist and led him out towards the water. Then she stopped and let go of him. "Oh. Wait. You probably don't want to get all wet."
Virgil was very visibly flustered by that point. "Um, yes, I think I had better just find Iolyn and see what he's doing." As he quickly walked away, he couldn't help but wonder what kind of world Iolyn was living in and what he was teaching an innocent girl like Niamh.
Haven't updated in so long, thought I should before the new year and new decade came in. :) This chapter is... really long.
Have some sparkling grape juice and a variety of hors d'oeuvres. Happy New Year!