This one is for Kristine, who's always there when I need her.
Thanks for being there in all my ups and downs and keeping me going.
The Two Mothers
I shake the salty teardrop pearls off my hair. My fingers fluff my long, black hair with multicolored streaks, immediately drying. A low chuckle escapes from my throat, a job well done.
Bits of homes and rubbish are scattered in all directions. Concrete, steel, rods, cars, are strewn on the beach. Trees have been torn from their roots. Fish called from the deep settle on their sides, lifeless eyes staring at the sun above. My feet sink into the damp soil. The distinct scent of brine permeates it, the sea suddenly everywhere.
Tsunamis are such fun.
Waves forty feet tall. Fierce roars. Hissing wind. Screams. Danger. Unpredictability.
I grin and tell the land, my hand waving, "Well then, take care. Don't relax just yet; you never know when I'll be back."
I dive into the water, immediately swallowed by the sea. I glance around, satisfied with the ocean's quick recovery. That's what I love about it so much, you can harass it all you want; any damage is generally quickly fixed.
Glancing up at the sky, I decide it's time to retire. After all, I can have more fun tomorrow; I'm not limited by much. Closing my eyes, I will myself home.
Bright green walls greet my return as my eyes flutter open. I stride over to the overly long purple couch and lie down. The feeling of resting on grass on a bright sunny day fills my back and sides. My water-logged limbs sink into its soft comfort and my eyes slide shut.
"Sister! What were you thinking? A tsunami? Are you out of your mind?"
I sigh, "I felt like it, Gaia, deal with it."
"Do you have any idea how many of my creatures were killed?"
I groan internally; here we go again.
"Creating creatures is your business, not mine."
"You could at least-"
"Yeah, yeah. I respect them all right. Either way, those humans deserved it."
Gaia roars, "You're impossible!"
I simply lay there, quietly fuming. My sister watches me for several moments, her anger giving off heat. Her glare penetrates my body and sizzles the sofa. However, I'm used to that sort of pain. It's what I get for living with my sister for billons of years.
The floor trembles with elephant footfalls, wood bending away from the terrible feet above. Air runs away from the beast. The living room fills with chill air, slowly warming, a breath held too long. The thunder stops, and air rushes out, filling the oxygen-less house once again, returning after the storm.
My mind's eye already sees my sister at work. Hands fling fungus spores onto drenched wood, fuzzy mold emerges from its hiding place, bacteria are lead to feasts of dead animals.
My teeth click together with a troublesome yawn. One of my eyes slides shut, warning me of impending sleep. With a quiet chuckle, I remain on the couch, and my other eye takes away the light, leaving me in peaceful darkness.
I lazily roll my head from side to side, my mind awake, yet my eyelids refuse to unveil themselves. My messy hair spreads out upon the couch, forming a black halo. My eyes go from lead to leaves as they flutter open. My eyes blankly stare the blue ceiling: "What am I going to do today?"
Another Natural disaster? Maybe some mutations? Maybe teach some behavior? How about limiting some populations? Or, I could do nothing at all, just sitting and waiting for a moment to interfere.
A small bundle of grey hair glows softly, suggesting my agenda for today. This is the grey of a proud animal, whose cousins have been domesticated by humans or centuries. This proud animal has strange creatures entering its territory, but can do nothing about it. It's time for me to meddle and push things along.
Fur sprouts from my skin, turning my entire body black with multicolored tufts. My nose and mouth stretch outward, forming a long snout with hazardous teeth. A tail springs from my spine, flag-like. Fingers shorten, eyes grow further apart. A bridged nose becomes black and wet, able to detect the faintest smells. My ears migrate toward the top of my head, long and pointed, able to detect the smallest sound. My arms make contact with the ground, now the same length as my legs. Once I am stable on the ground, I take a step forward.
Four padded paws touch down in a forest. My long snout detects the light smell of wet earth, a gentle mixture of dead leaves and organisms united in death. Another aroma fills my wet nostrils, that of life, the crisp breathing pines and ferns, the musky deer and rodents. One paw leaps forward, followed by the next. All four limbs work together, in the harsh rhythm of a running organism. Front and back paws spring off the spongy ground, the bounce propelling me faster through the forest. The large sentinels, built after my meddling, with my great tools of mutation and natural selection, guard the forest with their needle knives, daring intruders to enter their sanctuary. Wind rustles my unnaturally multicolored fur, the greens, reds, purples, oranges flaring intently against their black background. Paws thud to a graceful stop, limbs cease movement.
Standing before me, five individuals nervously watch my movements, knowing that I may mean life or death. They stand proud, regardless, pointed snouts and keen eyes, soft paws kissing the forest floor. Fur stands on end as sharp predatory eyes watch me, muscles become rock as they freeze into position, ears crane towards me, listening for a movement that will tell them which direction I shall lead them to. Sharp teeth prepare themselves to fight for one extra second of life.
A low chuckle escapes my throat as a rumbling growl, and without moving my lips, I send a mental message to the organisms before me: "Do not worry, my dear wolves, I am not here to do you harm."
A warm grey body approaches, scars hidden below the fur gives the individual a matted appearance. A high flying tail indicates his rank amongst his kin. Golden eyes stare into my own, guarded, yet demanding answers. The deep voice of the alpha male politely inquires, "How shall the good mother be aiding us?"
"Your kind must learn to hunt."
His fur bristles while his ears begin to slide downward. Wounded pride shines in the wolf's eyes as he calmly says, "We know how to hunt."
"Not this beast, come."
Leaves crinkle as paws overlap, and I turn away from the pack. Once again, limbs stretch themselves, beating the ground in a ceaseless rhythm. Soil clings to paws, only to be shaken off and replaced by other pieces of soil. Flicking ears detect the quiet thunder behind me, the other wolves blindly following my lead. Leaves fly behind us as they rise from the moist floor, the kicking paws allowing the leaves to remember what it was like to be airborne, where they emerged from, to remember their suspended life, before they hit the decomposing floor once again.
My limbs still once more, elbows sink to the forest floor, shoulders raise, haunches squeeze themselves as close as they can to the soil, waiting for the perfect moment.
The alpha lies down beside me, golden eyes glowing with fear: "This is not our prey!"
"Now, it shall be."
"It does not belong here!"
Without emotion, I firmly say, "Now it does. Learn to hunt it, or die."
Perked ears squeeze themselves to a proud skull, a tail that waves in the air showing his authority hides between his legs, chose one way, his pack dies, chose another, they live. The proud wolf's head lowers: "Show us how to hunt, good mother."
One side of my face lifts in a wolfish smirk, tightened muscles release, feet thunder on the ground. Hind legs propel me through the air and my front paws hit something alive with blood coursing through its system. Four white teeth clamp a lithe kicking body, hooves pounding the ground, not caring should someone hear its frantic movements. The world dips and hops, iron fills my mouth and nose with its flavor, two senses occupied by one scent. The heartbeat of the creature resonates against my teeth, two heartbeats against each other, going at different rates. One is the heart of a hunter, beating with a craving for food, the other is the heart of prey, beating with fear, craving life. The creature continues its wild dance in the forest, body convulsing as its life drains into my mouth. A high-pitched moan escapes as the rest of the pack bound in, white teeth cutting into the creature's flesh, allowing death to come sooner, allowing for empty stomachs to be filled.
Thu-thump. Thu-thump. Thuu…thump. Thuu…thump. Thuuuu…thump. Silence. Locked jaws unlatch from the creature, the temperature of the body already dipping once the life begins sliding away. Paws lightly dance away from the corpse, my job fulfilled. I do not partake in the meal of the hungry beasts, my wet tongue slips over my mouth, blood removing itself from my white snout. My tail rises high in my final salute to the wolves as I trot away from the corpse, trees leading me home.
Paws become hands and feet as I return home. An angry goddess stands before me, mottled hair whisks in magical wind, eyes black with fury. Her normally beautiful face becomes contorted and ugly with the red emotion. My skin tingles and my wild hair fluffs with static electricity.
A snake hiss says, "It's you! It's your fault that the wolves must prey on something that they should not!"
The back of my knees hit the couch, and I slowly sit down. I lean back, the soft cloth barely touching my back. One sharp knee crosses the other, two arms do the same.
"Dear sister, how am I to blame?"
Her body fluffs up like a cat, every hair brimming with anger. The faint smell of burning hair wafts up my nose. Two normally gentle hands clench into tight fists, the knuckles shining white. Her eyes blink away angry tears as she says, "You are Mother Nature! You shouldn't have made that invasive specie so adaptable! You could have ensured that the invasive species died before it took over the landscape!"
"I did not introduce the invasive species."
"You're the one that decides who survives and who doesn't! The world was balanced! At an equilibrium! You had to disrupt it by not doing your part! By eating strange foods, my children are suffering because of you!"
One of my hands slips away from the crook of my elbow, my head bows down, and my fingers stretch themselves over my forehead. Shoulders shake ferociously, air rushing in and out of my mouth rapidly. My lungs expand for another laugh as I say, "The world? Balanced? What is this balance you speak of? The world has never been balanced! There's always competition, always predator and prey! And those humans! Those humans! They're part of the whole problem! How is it my fault that they expanded all over the globe? You're the one that promotes breeding and growth! I did my part. I have always done my part. I cause evolution! I cause natural disasters! I teach behavior! If you want to get close to your precious equilibrium again, those humans will have to go!"
"How can you be so cold?"
"I'm not cold, I'm practical. You are the hot one."
Gaia's hand cuts the air, her voice crackles as she chokes, "How can I not be angry? They're all my children! Unlike someone I know, I take care of them!"
"You're willing to keep one species at the price of many? The others will suffer, the others will die. You seem to be the cold one."
Gaia's green eyes harden, plants become stone. Muscles pop from beneath her skin, it's taking all of her will to not lunge at me, throttle me, destroy me because of that insult. My loose muscles tighten as knees straighten, and I rise from the couch. My feet begin walking away, until I hear Gaia's voice say, "You are the one wanting to destroy humans as the way to fix everything!"
My black hair flies into the air, the green streak of the rainforest shining, reminding me of a promise. Heels slide against the floor as they spin to face my sister. The green in my hair flares as I gently whisper, "Let's have this debate in a place where our arguments are applicable."
"And where would that be?"
"The most diverse land biome, the rainforest, where else?"
Gaia's eyes melt back to the living green of the forest. My dark eyes blink, my home replaced by a world teeming with life. This ecosystem acts as a single living and breathing entity, each organism a part of the greater whole. Moisture blankets the air, there is no lack of warmth, yet the sun is unseen. All different shades of green coat the sky's blue. Bird calls musically enhance the wildness of the environment, while bugs buzz around every living thing. Rustling branches, alarmed movements, chattering monkeys, and cooing frogs add excitement to the music of the forest.
A bird decorated in bright plumage sails past me. I call, "Hey, bird of paridise, do me a favor!"
The bird lands upon a branch, small head craning down to meet my eyes. It chirps, "Of course, Mother Nature, what may I do?"
Grinning, I say, "Tell the forest that we are here, debating. We will be on the move, so that all can hear us. Should anyone wish to listen or have something to say, all are welcome."
With that, the bird takes off, the branch bouncing up and down from the bird's lift. I turn to Gaia and ask, "You were saying?"
"You think that the disappearance of humans will solve everything!"
My fingertips gently brush a mossy trunk, my eyes close as my nose breathes the clean scent of wood. I gently whisper, "This forest is disappearing because of humans. Like everything else, I must control their reproduction, their survival."
Gaia plants herself on the ground, toes growing into roots, her voice yells, "No! If you limit humans, you'll have to limit everything else!"
"I already limit all the species that live on this planet! Disease, famine, predators, mutations, all organisms are affected! Why else do organisms flee from me, sister? Why else do they tremble at my step? They know that I bring life or death! Humans used to fall under those factors, but no longer due to their technology! The reality is, humans have expanded their influence, and are harming the world, sister! By protecting humans, the rest of your creatures will die!"
Gaia's spine stretches to its fullest, fingers curl next to each other, burning eyes ask: "And how do you know?"
"That by protecting humans, the rest my babies will die!"
My hand slips away from the trunk of the smooth tree, its body is not circular; it has a wild feel, like the rest of the rainforest. My hand reaches for Gaia's, my lips form the words in a still voice: "Come with me."
Her hand rises to touch mine, retreats, and then slowly takes it. Her gentle warmth soaks into my cold and calloused hand. Gripping Gaia tightly, I march through the forest, carefully aiming at my destination. The warm brown land seems to never end, with the wicked and narrow trees, haughty and old, dominate the sky. However, even their kingdom has rough patches where the carcasses of the fallen kings lay. The brown trunks and dancing green leaves disappear, however the brown of dead leaves becomes a dusty red, a soil that holds no nourishment. Dropping her hand, I enter the dead zone and throw my arms into the air. Feet dance on the dead ground as I spin in a circle, my black hair twirling, I laugh: "This! This is how I know! This soil is dead, nothing can grow here! Trees that housed animals can no longer do so! Look here, sister! This is how I know that your children will die, and their worlds will disappear under the axe of mankind!"
Gaia bristles. "Life can always return!"
Tiny voices call, "Mother Earth, Earth, Earth, Mother Earth, thank you! Thank you for encouraging the growth of humans, we have more things to eat! It is easier for us to live! Thank you, thank you!"
The words echo as thousands of little voices join the chorus of thanks. Gaia's body relaxes, teeth flashing as she says triumphantly, "That bacteria are happy."
The little bacteria whisper, "Of course we are! We can eat and grow forever and ever! We can expand forever and ever, and occupy the world forever and ever! Let us grow without limitations! We are the oldest of all organisms, we cannot die, there is no need for limitations! We must expand forever and ever!"
I sigh. "My dear sister, bacteria have been around since we were born, they are simplistic and will always survive in one form or another."
Two darts shoot from Gaia's eyes. "So? They're still my children, and my children do not wish to be limited. They do not want disease, famine, natural selection, or death. Not one of my organisms does!"
"What would you have me do? Let the world explode with organisms? What would they eat? They need to eat something, you know!"
"Plants never ate anything!"
"They used nutrients, available space. How can they reproduce when there is no room left for their offspring to grow?"
Gaia, ignoring my question, turns to the little critters crawling on the ground, "The termites are happy too!"
Big headed insects with their six legs saw into the wood with their big mandibles, the dead wood has lost its fragrance, the severed stump now only useful for counting the age of the once living tree. With a small cracking sound, the termites snap into the wood, and march back to their mound, made of dirt and spittle from thousands of insects. As they march, they chant, "No limitation, more food, no limitation, more food! Dead trees are food. Humans bring us food by cutting down trees! Hooray!"
Gaia smirks, "See? The cutting down of trees is a good thing, it provides food for the termites, and they love wood so! I see nothing wrong with this at all! If I encourage tree growth, the tree and termite populations can balance each other out! There is no need for your tight controls!"
The voices of the bacteria and termites chant, "No controls, no controls, no limitations, we like Mother Earth!"
I hiss, "There is always control! Why else am I here? If I wasn't needed, I wouldn't exist, Gaia! Or am I just here to create more species? I'm the one that keeps your so-called equilibrium balanced! Even if I disappear now, humans would control your children!"
I feel the presence of a flying organism, and my arm stretches outward. A large bird, dressed in festive reds, blues, greens, and yellows descends upon my waiting arm, the long tail brushing against my back.
"Isn't that right, my dear scarlet macaw?"
The macaw climbs up to my shoulder, sharp claws digging into my skin like needles. Other parrots hide their heads in the trees; smaller Amazon parrots, green like the leaves that hide them, peek their black beaks from behind the leaves. Snakes inch up the trees and brown monkeys hang on the branches with one furred arm.
The scarlet macaw on my shoulder with bobs its head, agitated and uncomfortable. It squawks, "Those humans took away my family... They caught them in our nests. Humans taped my kin's beaks shut… I worry about my parents… my mother was particularly weak…"
The Macaw slips one of its black limbs behind his wing, four toes gently massaging its head. Grey eyelids cover its golden eyes, its chest expands as it takes deep breath, trying to calm down, it continues, "I…followed them through the forest. The humans loaded my kin into a truck…I flew after it…after several weeks we arrived at the market…T-they where kept in cages… and taken away by humans to be pets. I saw my father…my father…taken away in a cage…he was flapping inside… trying to escape...He was screeching! If…if humans were controlled, this would not have happened! The humans keep coming back, no matter how many of us they take! If this keeps up, my kin will no longer live in this forest! We'll all be enslaved to humans or…dead."
My sister's body softens she reaches her hand out to the macaw, and he eagerly tips his head down for a neck rub. Gaia's voice matches the softness of the feathers as she gently says, "With humans you can have a happy life, with endless food, water, and playmates. Don't you want that?"
The weight of the macaw shifts back to my shoulder, jerking away from Mother Earth's touch. The iridescent gold of the feathers flash briefly as wings flick open in anger. Golden pupils shrink to a pinpoint, claws pinch the skin of my abused shoulder. One of my eyes closes in pain, teeth gritting against the anger of a large parrot. His furious squawking causes the once clear words to be slurred: "I dun wanna life like tha'! Trapped all de time wit only de company of a 'uman! I dun get to fly! What kind o' life is tha'? Trapped in a cage, witout freedom? Mama Earth, I dun think ye made us ter be trapped in a cage our 'ole lives. I dun care if we be limited more, I want da 'umans ter stop takin' us away!"
My hand reaches up to the bird, fingers lightly touching the feathers. A small vibration runs through it, the equivalent of a sob. The proud scarlet head turns away from the world, hiding its face in my wild hair. My voice low, I say, "Come on, take it proudly, do not show weakness."
As its head reappears from the forest of my hair, Gaia, using her injured animal voice coos, "Return to your flock. Go, and I bless you with many offspring."
My arm stretches itself out. Before scooting down my arm, the parrot affectionately nips my ear and squawks, "You go get them, rack!"
With a flash of golden feathers, the macaw lifts off, disappearing into the dense foliage. The black beaks of the hiding birds vanish, their calls fading into the crescendo of the rainforest. A black panther, darker than night, slinks behind a tree, noble head resting on paws, golden eyes watching the proceedings.
The sides of Gaia's mouth lifts as she says, "Sister, how can you advocate for so much control, when the world is so beautiful when it's full of all sorts of life! Why weed out the weak and only keep the strong, when the weak can fill this world with their beauty? Make the entire world a rainforest, make the entire world teeming with the same amount of life as there exists here!"
Irritably, I respond, "The basis of this planet is limitation! A rainforest cannot grow in a desert!"
"Why not make a desert as diverse as a rainforest?"
Throwing my hands into the air, I easily answer her question: "Organisms don't like dry climates, sister, that's why. I have few organisms to work with from the moment the desert was occupied."
"Ktttttttthhhhhhh. Kttttthhhhhh. Thank you, Mother earttthhh, for the expanssssion of my kind into Nortttthhh Americaa. Maybe we'll exttthhpand to more norttthhern regionsss."
Gaia calls, "Who speaks?"
"Besssiiiddeee you. Yesssss."
Gaia turns to a tree wrapped in the coils of a giant anaconda. The brown face, larger than my hand, smugly stares at us with cold serpentine eyes. The green body, spotted with dark brown reaches out toward Gaia, pink tongue flickering between two jaws capable of swallowing a crocodile. The sides of its mouth seem to smile; the strong muscles inch the large snake up the tree, allowing for it to hang its head downward. The head swings from side to side, pink tongue slipping between its lips, stretching and recoiling. It hisses, "Yess, thanksss to humansss my kind hass ssspread, yesss. Ttthankss for encouraging our growttthhh, Mother Earttth. Alttthhough I'm here now, I usssed to be on the ottthher ssside. It wasss very different there, yesss. Humansss found me and returned me here, sssadddlly. Before I leffffftttt, I had many children tttthhhhere, yesssss."
Gaia's eyes shine proudly; her head tilts with pride as she says, "See? I've encouraged the growth of these pythons! We need more of my equilibrium, not yours!"
My teeth sink into my lip, the taste of my own blood wrapping around my tongue. My body remains relaxed, however. I feel my dark eyes deepen, red hiding in its pits. I mutter, "I was yelled at earlier because of an invasive species. You are alright when pythons enter a territory they were not supposed to?"
Smugly, Gaia laughs, "You're the one that made them large, able to eat anything! You see, if you weren't so keen on limiting things, they would not have spread! They would have remained small, unable to consume everything in their path!"
Air whispers out of my lungs, irritation consumes me, my lungs burning as I yell, "What's the difference between pythons and the new prey of the wolves? They are both invasive, they are both destructive! Why are you glad for the pythons?"
"Because pythons are predators! It shows your precious control gone wrong! See the flaw in your reasoning? Even if the humans didn't introduce them, they may have eventually traveled up to where they are now!"
"Sister, since when could pythons cross a large expanse of water?"
"You never know, they could go around!"
My eyes widen, wondering if my sister really understands the limits of organisms. I lean onto a tree, two hands clasping the trunk as my lungs belt out a long laugh. Eyes close and tears moisten the tips of my eyelashes, my voice turning into a chortle as I say, "Go around, hahaha! Going around means deserts and hahaha, mountains and hahahahaha! No, sister, no, that is not possible. Hahahahaha!"
The forest echoes with my laugh. The parrots' heads bounce as they mimic my loud laugh that must have reverberated through the forest. I slide down the trunk, hands clutching my sides, lungs gasping for air with each laugh.
"How is it not possible, Celu?"
"They're not adapted for that kind of a migration! Only humans could have transported them there! Just like those parrots that live in a human city! That's human meddling!"
"Humans are part of this planet too! All animals meddle with each other! Isn't the predator and prey relationship considered meddling, Celu?"
"No animal has transported other animals to places they don't belong! No animal has moved organisms to this degree! Humans are doing my job! They're moving organisms, taming them, and selectively breeding them to fit their own purposes. I'm the one that's supposed to do that!"
My sister hisses, "That's enough! We've disrupted this rainforest far too much! Let's go home!"
"Remember sister, this is not the end of these debates. Until we are able to agree upon the correct form of action, we must continue."
"Yes, I know. Now get out of my sight!"
I sadly shake my head, close my eyes, and return home. Dizzy from the argument, and exhausted from the strange fluctuations between laugher and anger, my head falls down to a soft pillow, and sleepy darkness consumes my consciousness.
Eyes snap open, legs slide to the side of the couch, I am up and running toward the direction of the scream before my brain understands the meaning of it.
Blood and darkness.
A black reaper holding a scythe, white skull grinning as death flows from him, killing everything it touches. The unstoppable reaper that should not exist. The reaper that meddles where it shouldn't, destroys what should not be, and kills.
I find Gaia crouching in her room, head bowed down. Her long brightly mottled hair covers her body like a shroud. Tightly shut eyes protect her from seeing. Cold hands protect her ears from hearing.
A quiet voice, barely audible, overflowing with sorrow and loss asks me, "Celu…is there…anything…you can do to save them?"
"I know. There's…nothing I can do. I've done all I can."
I sink down to my sister and wrap my arms around her cold body. Cold droplets splatter onto my arm, a quiet farewell. Gaia's lungs expand with a shuddering inhale, and collapse with what seems like a final exhale. The reaper has come.
Whiteness creeps from the roots of Gaia's hair, poison slowly spreading where it shouldn't. Vibrant reds, oranges, greens and purples fade into a pale deathly white. A world of life disappearing, a graveyard of coral and fish bones, rears its ugly head. A blue sunlit world, dancing with energetic hues fades away.
All of those species are gone, bearing no descendants. All those years of fighting for survival, wasted. All those years of evolution, lead to nothing. The beautiful tree of life just lost several branches that can never be recovered.
Lives that still should still be living, severed. Lives that still had years of evolution to go, years to die, years of reproduction.
There is no further evolution for this ecosystem.
A hoarse whisper chokes, "This is worse than when you cause the extinction…"
Yes, usually I cause the mass extinctions. They are natural extinctions, cased by moving tectonic plates or natural disasters. I cause them in the name or boredom, to lead evolution on a different path, to tinker with genetics and create other creatures. I create death, later leading to life.
However, this reaper does not create life in return. It just kills, kills, forever killing without returning life. This is not just species dying. This is an ecosystem. The tangled webs of predator and prey, friend and foe, mates and rivals, destroyed.
I slowly rise, leaving Gaia to her grief, while I deal with it my own way. I stagger out to our green hall, my shoulder gently resting against the solid wall. Dark eyes close, my left hand rolls into a fist and smacks the wall.
All of my years of hard work gone because of those stupid humans, who have decided to reap the planet of my creations. They've taken out species here and there, no problem. However, this is an entire ecosystem. I open my eyes, rise into the air, and splash back down into the blue-green waters of the gigantic gulf I created 65.5 million years ago.
I slip beneath the slightly chill water, zooplankton swarm by me, little voices asking questions on how to survive, what to do, when. I have no answers. I take a slow, even breath underwater, bubbles dance by my nose as I exhale, my shut eyes unveiling themselves to a graveyard.
My fingers brush the rough surface of the coral, small holes indicating where life used to be. The once red coral shines ghostly white, yearning for the life it used to have. I lie down on the mass grave, stretching for miles in all directions. No stirring of life. Nothing but skeletons of coral notice my existence. These corals could have been alive today.
A sad smile flitters on my lips, quietly recreating this forest of life in my mind. The pads of my fingers stroke the indents where the polyps used to live, feasting and breeding.
This is my final goodbye.
I close my eyes and remember the last time there was death here. However, that time, it was caused by me. I had gently lead a gigantic asteroid right to this spot. A rock engulfed in flames of red, orange, yellow, blue, and white. Pocked marked holes appeared while it came closer and closer to the surface of the earth, metal melting, reforming, breaking, burning. It never wasted time in arriving to earth. Unlike a leaf, that never knows where it will land, the asteroid hurled itself downward, never stopping, never slowing, while I danced upon it, giggling with excitement. My normally black hair with multi colored streaks burned with the fire of extinction, evolution, and natural selection, for all three happened that day. Blue water approached, green land vibrated with life, never sensing the danger that hurled its way. Clouds ran away from us, knowing and fearing the wild Mother Nature riding on her chariot of rock and flame.
The world shook, water flew into the air, dust clinged to the ground jumped up in buoyant happiness. I danced on the landscape, directing some creatures to the direction of life, others to death. I decided the fate of the creatures that Gaia and I had produced. Dinosaurs can only rule the earth for so long; we both agreed that it was time for a new order to rise. After I returned home with my hands stained with the blood of creatures that would not make it, Gaia slapped me across the face, her salty tears raining upon me as she turned away. My face stung with the imprint of a delicate hand. Her voice hissed with bottled emotion, "This better be worth it."
She returned, several days later, hands dirtied with work, gently coaxing organisms to breed. She turned to me and told me that it was my turn, to play with genetics and lead those that could survive to victory. Even if there is nothing left of it now, I believe that I carried out that duty well.
My quiet salty tears intermingle with the water. I stand on to the reef , my bare feet the last things to touch the coral reef, before I shoot to the surface, the water slowly releasing its grip upon me, yet reluctant to let me go completely. A bubble forms before my head breaks the surface, a stream of bubbles following my wake. Again, the pleading voices of zooplankton , begging for a chance for life, asking to live. I shake away their requests, there is nothing I can do.
As my body rises in the air, my hand skims the water's surface, my way of wishing the vital critters luck in their quest for survival, which I know shall not be an easy one. The rising of pH will make the water too acidic for them to live. The depletion of the security blanket of ozone will no longer protect the earth from ultraviolet rays, causing cancer.
I dive down once again, returning to my home. Gaia's sobs reverberate through the house, salt water drips from the soaked walls. The air is steamy, water quickly evaporating in a strangely depressed house. Liquid soaks into my skin, the salt crusting itself on my knees. Sloosh, slosh. I drag my two feet through the heavy water which is strangely solid with sadness. Each step takes an enormous amount of effort, as if it was trying to drag me away from the misery of its origin.
Splash, splash. Splashsplashsplash. Irritated, I gallop through the lake-forming tears. Feet enter and exit quickly, the water not getting a chance to hold on and drag me back.
A crouched figure hugs the corner, the body drenched, her hair hanging limply. The hair has returned to its normal color, but even so, the sadness makes the hair seem more grey and blue than red and yellow.
Fingers curl into a fist, bare feet dig into the ground, not letting the strong current carry me away. My spine raises itself to its full length, bones stretching away from each other. Upper eyelids veil half of my eyes. As loud as I can, I yell, "Oh, stop your crying! Get up! Get to work!"
"The coral are gone! Let's stop crying for the past, move to the future."
A whisper, "Why…are they gone?"
"Humans caused their death. What ever else? I told you that we need to limit them!"
"No! We can't! I can't!"
I stalk towards the slumped figure, my standing body towering over hers, I feel my eyes burn with angry heat. Two words jump through my throat, solidly, commanding: "Get up."
The slumped figure does not move. It vibrates gently, shoulders shaking, a body exhausted from endless tears. She is blue and grey, an entire body built upon those colors. My eyebrows knit together, a frown etches into my face, my heart burns and my eyes harden.
"I said, GET UP."
Knees sink down into the water, fingers grasp the figure's dress, knees straighten themselves, my body bangs the figure against the wall. One hand holds Gaia in the air, the other clenching itself, nails digging into skin to prevent the hand from slapping itself across Gaia's face. My muscles tighten themselves as I coolly say, "My job is to limit creatures and ensure their survival. Yours is to help them breed and help them recover from disasters. Go!"
"My reefs died because of you!"
That single line makes me lose my self control. Nails loosen their grip upon my skin, my hand hits her face, leaving a lobster red behind.
"When are you going to understand that it's not my fault? If you want to save your precious organisms, we'll have to limit humans, Gaia. They may have started with the reefs, but it's not going to end there. They'll get your forests, your tundras, your grasslands."
"What…do you mean?"
"The rainforest has shrunk due to humans, I need to limit them!"
My fingers drop the stubborn body to the floor. Gaia slides down the wall, limp feet refusing to keep her up.
I hiss, "Get up. You're Mother Earth. Your duty is to ensure that life breeds life. It's your job to fill in the empty spaces, to return life to the places where it was lost. "
Gaia does not respond; she remains slumped on the floor, drenched in an ocean of her making. Coldly I say, "Fine, I won't do anything for now. Tell me when you need me to do my part, sister."
I lay down on the couch, my back filled out with the feeling of laying down upon a sandy beach, the sun gently warming my skin, the roar of the waves a lullaby. The lighter smell of a tropical beach, not as loaded with algae. Wetness rolls down my cheek and darkness rules.
"Hey, wake up! I SAID WAKE UP!"
Lead eyelids flutter open, mind not conscious, but my ears understanding. An earthquake occurs on my body, violent shaking, nonstop.
"Celu… WAKE UP!"
Those last two words are the most painful my ear has ever encountered. My eardrum throbs, and the pain forces my sleep-riddled brain to switch to high alert. Gray eyes snap to attention, flicking in all directions, to be sure no one other than Gaia is in the room. They finally rest on her face. Bitter anger from awakening early and the remembrance of yesterday's cry fest rumbles in my chest, that anger transforms into two piercing arrows. Those arrows, to my irritation, do nothing. A grunt in my voice spits, "And what would you want this early in the morning, darling sister?"
"I need an eruption!"
"The forest is overgrown! There's a plant of your creation, mind you, that needs a volcanic eruption to release their seeds!"
My voice drawls, "Iiiii jussst woke uuup. I dun pull volcanoooes out o' mah eears."
"You're Mother Nature, of course you do. Come on, up we go!"
"What do I get out of it?"
"You get to set off a volcanic eruption, isn't that enough?"
"Of course not."
"Fine, what do you want?"
"I want to go all the way."
"Allow me to flow as far as I want, destroying what I want. I'm here to control and help life through control. This includes humans, of course."
Gaia's body tenses, water hardening to ice. Eyes burn like a forest fire, wild, crazed. Fingers jerkily clench, knuckles glowing white. Teeth grit against each other, my sister braces herself as she responds with a, "Very well."
A smile creeps up my face, eyes shining with excitement: "Lets do it!"
Gaia nods her head sadly, already preparing for the large funeral that is to come. With a glace from me, the ceiling disappears, leaving empty sky. With a small jump, I'm in the air, floating in a sea of blue, birds the fish, insects the zooplankton. I join these fish of the sky, a Kraken in an open sea.
My body twists in the air, a playful snake, as the atmosphere lifts me to the volcano in question. The brown cone, dressed in greens calls to me, urging me faster, it time has come. Gravity pulls me into the gaping mouth; a cushion of heat engulfs my body. Greedy burning orange hands wrap themselves around me, covering me completely. It is a comforting warmth, that of a down blanket on a cold winter day, heated by your own body.
A low rumble bubbles from my throat, the sound echoes off the walls as the mountain vibrates energetically. The rumble dies away, disappearing as if it hadn't existed. Rrrrrrrrrr. A louder, more ferocious roar, a warning to those that can feel and hear me. A warning that I am here, that all life should flee, if they can.
My head breaks away from the blanket and my eyes slide shut. Lungs expand for one final roar, instead of fire, ash and smoke spew from my lips and wisps through the mouth of the volcano. The lava beneath me rises, causing my eyes to snap open. My hand, caked in liquid fire, reaches for freedom.
I slide out from the volcano, a lurking, hunting snake. The fire at my fingertips eats everything. Cold trees burn at my touch, becoming warm and excited. Fleet-footed deer, their horns prodding the sky, run from the impending fire, hooves pounding the ground. Those that cannot escape die in my warm embrace. Blue sky darkens to the black of night, the forest glowing like a city. My back hardens, vibrant red fading to black. Fingers reach out to the last objects to burn, before I am rendered helpless. The free-flowing lava dies, but not without notice. Burning trees continue to light the sky, celebrating the quick life and death of molten earth. The heat of my blanket fades away, leaving a lingering warmth that rapidly chills. With a final rumble, my eyes slide shut, deep asleep, along with the now-quiet volcano.
Eyes slowly open, the black of closed eyelids meets the black of being incased by stone. My outstretched arms shift underneath me, hardened igneous rock cracks, letting me free. The rock, now small pebbles, unwillingly let me go, not wishing to be left by the one that freed the molten rock from its prison. They squeeze my ankles, not wishing to let me go, begging me to stay. I gently brush them aside, once free, I face the crumbled molten lava, my voice gains a loving, soothing tone as I say, "Don't worry, my dears. You will meet me again in the future. This earth is always changing, and you will always be here, unlike the organisms that live on this planet."
I hear a quiet gasp, and I know that my sister heard that final phrase, her mind suddenly understanding what I had been pushing for and why.
The pads of my fingers brush over the stones, sealing a promise to see them again. Knees click as I rise and I stretch my body to its full height. I spot Gaia kneeling, gently teasing the seeds into starting their growth. Time to start my work. My vision turns the seeds into two colors, red or green. Gaia scoops a seed into her small hands. I dart to her, the rocks below do not bother gripping onto me. The rocks know that I must get to my sister before she allows that seed to germinate. She leans forward, about to place the seed back on the ground. My two fingers tap her shoulder, quiet communication passing between us. A salty tear rolls down her cheek, fingers close around the seed tightly, squeezing the life out of it. Gaia, her voice hardly audible, with the quiet treble of a breaking heart, whispers, "I'm so sorry. Next time, I promise you life."
I search for all the other genetic defects, the red seeds guiding my way. Some defects I keep, others I destroy. Some, I will allow them to live for a time, until the defects kill the tree off. Nevertheless, some trees will die from lack of sunlight, starving slowly, until all the food is gone. Others will grow tall, flourish, reproduce. Such is life. I hate mankind for fiddling with our gentle balance of life and death, they have become the reapers of life. However, as mere forces of nature, we cannot control their actions. We just decide who lives and who dies, but that is decided by an outside factor, disease or defects, we don't just blindly kill. However, we can encourage death with the tools of famine, disease, and mutations.
Gaia plants the last seed, and rises. Her body caked in dirt and ashes. She smiles, happy and content. Her head turns to me, mottled hair dancing in the wind.
"Thank you, sister. We might be opposite, yet similar forces, but we still need each other."
A phantom smile flitters over my lips: "Especially if we want life to continue here and not be dominated by a single species."
Gaia pauses, the gears in her head quietly spinning, the wheels stop. Her face lights up like lighting shooting across the sky. She says, "I understand what you were trying to tell me all these days. Help me protect the life on this planet, Mother Nature."
To which I reply, "Help me encourage life on this planet, Mother Earth."
We link hands and return home, preparing for our day, which is to be a combination of both life and death, until the end of life.