The Watcher

I, like all my brothers and sisters, was born twice—once as a small grain of life, and the second time as a life-giver. I remember the first moments of my second birth clearly. I was high above the ground, moving with the breeze like a lazy bird. I could feel that I was ready to let go of the supports that kept me up here and away from harm. I wanted it, anticipated it. When the right breeze came rushing through, I knew that was the moment. As easily as sighing, I let go, and fluttered to the ground gently. The ground, I remember, was soft, dry. I looked up at the thin supports that had held me in a delicate state of suspension. Now, I was free of them.

I knew right away what to do: find sunlight. I picked up a tiny breeze and propelled myself around, just above the soil. When I found a patch of earth where the warm sun shone, I nestled down and waited.

It rained a few hours later; it was exactly what I was looking for. I laughed and stretched toward the sky when the rain came beating down. I was hit by several drops and the soil was thrown around. Finally, a huge drop hit the ground, splitting the soil and sending clumps of it right on top of me. I relaxed, contented. I was safe. For now.

The next few years passed by in a flash. After a week under the soil, I decided I was old enough to come above ground. And there I stayed. I grew and grew. I grew many arms and long fingers. My legs grew strong beneath me. I finally grew a head, but right after I did, I started growing thick, dark hair that curled around my face. I found the ground looking more and more distant every year.

It was wonderful. I wasn't as tall as my parents or my older brothers and sisters, but they whispered to me, "You'll grow if you wait. Wait a long time."

I was tiny compared to them, but it didn't matter. I had arms to stretch above my head and I could look down and see the world around me. The world looked very different here—it didn't look like it had when I was first born, nor like when I was born again. I could see a long stretch of black, shiny stuff in either direction. Hot, smelly, running things tore by on the black surface. They made all sorts of terrible noises and occasionally didn't look where they were going and ran into each other. And apparently, there were littler creatures inside the fast, running ones. They could somehow step out of the loud, fast creatures on a whim. Hundreds of these little creatures passed by me everyday. Some of them would come close to me or walk by me. Some creatures would sit beneath my brothers and sisters; others would touch them and move on. Others just seemed to be moving around for no particular reason.

I liked these little creatures. They were gentle, despite the fast, terrible things they moved around in. They could move, which I envied sometimes. I'd tried my legs once after seeing a little creature running about. They didn't move at first. My legs were far below the ground, twisted and knotted. I concentrated on my legs, willing them to move. I would practice at night oftentimes. One night, I successfully moved my legs. They snaked out from the ground and twisted together to form two sturdy bases. I could move them at will, I discovered to my delight.

So every night I would pull my legs out of the ground and walk around. I would look up at my sleeping brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents and wonder if they knew how to move as well. Then, I would wander off to see what I could see. I didn't go near the black thing; it still has those fast moving things on it. Instead, I explored my home. I explored the many tiny-creature things that littered the ground. A tiny cylindrical thing made of a shiny material. A tiny fast-bad thing that made noises when I touched it. And then one night, I discovered something terrible.

It was a tiny box-like structure. I'd seen many little-creatures sit on these. I picked one up one night and felt it. To my surprise, it felt like me. It was hard and smooth, but not cool like the other little-creature devices. This thing felt wrong. I set it down and went back to my spot.

I spent a long time wondering about the little-creature sit thing. It perplexed and worried me. Where did it come from? How was it made? Was it alive, like me? I wondered about these things for a long time, and then, my answer came one day. I was sitting in place, watching two fuzzy-tailed things fight over a grain. They were amusing and chatty little things—I wondered what they were saying. Suddenly, I heard this noise. It sounded like death and something awful and I looked to see what it was.

Two tiny-creatures were holding stick-like things with sharp ends. I looked closer. The first tiny-creature picked up its stick and swung it at one of my sisters. Whack! I drew back at the sound. Whack, went the second creature's stick. After a time, they made a hole in my sister, and after a short time more, they pushed on her and she fell to the ground with a might crash.

More creatures came and took my sister away. I watch in horror.

The next day, more of these creatures came and took away another of my sisters. I was furious. I couldn't hold myself still. My legs burst from the earth and I followed the creatures as they ran away in one of their devices. I kept my distance. I'd never shown myself to a tiny-creature. I didn't know what to expect. I followed the creatures back to a towering block where they could move in and out. Surrounding the block was devices that looked like teeth and claws. And all around me was the most terrible thing I could imagine.

There were hundreds of members of my family, stripped, neat, and dead. I understood where the little-creatures made things to sit on now. My arms tightened. This was so wrong and cruel. Evil. I ran towards the towering box and smashed into it with all my might. Inside, there were thousands of little-creatures. Many looked up at me, dumbfounded and afraid. Others grabbed weapons. I didn't care anymore.

I lunged for the killing devices and wrecked them with my hand. Each blow took out another and another. I felt like I was making progress, but I realized how many devices I was surrounded by. I kept plowing through them. I became aware, in time, of the little-creatures that sawed at my legs. Their cuts grew deeper and larger. I slowed down, but kept moving. Finally, one leg was cut from under me, and I fell to the ground. I reached out my arms and kept destroying everything in sight. My other leg went. Soon enough, I felt them tearing at my middle. I could barely move. Swish, went one arm. Slap. I knocked over something else with my head. Slice, went the little-creature's device into my body. In the next second, I was cut into two.

I looked up at the sky with my last bit of energy and smiled. I could see the arms of my brothers and sisters far above. Their fingers were extended, like they were calling out for me, praising me. "It's over," they seemed to be saying. "You've won, and we are safe. For now."