posted on Sep, 19 2009 @ 12:50 AM
The light on her face woke her up again. Just as it always did. She looked over and her father was still sleeping. She always woke before he did. They
slept in the grass. Grass taller than she could see. They had always lived there, in the spot where they were now.
The quakes during the last darkness were especially extreme. She thought to herself about how her father was always extra tired the morning after the
quakes. although he would never admit it, he still felt fear when beset by the awesome power of the earth. As usual, she rose from her crude bed,
checked on her father and left to go find the meat and the juice for the days meal.
If nothing else, the quakes were fairly predictable. The light would come and go two times, and and during the darkness, the earth would shake. She'd
almost gotten so used to the quakes that she could sleep while they were going on. Almost. They usually lasted about fifty long breaths. Every time,
She held tight to the grass, focused on her breathing and counted how many it took. She always slept better when they had already stopped. It was hard
to drift off into the faith of sleep when the second light was leaving.
She walked her usual route, along the line in the ground until she could just barely see the clearing. She reached into the ground and scooped up a
handful of the white earth. It wanted to clump in her hand, but she forced it to spread as she let it fall down. When she got so far from home, she
got nervous. By watching the earth fall from her hands, nudged gently by the wind she couldn't feel, she could always tell which direction was home.
Her father would awaken soon and he would be hungry. She was grateful that he was with her, especially since the others had gone. She had vague
memories of the others, but she hadn't seen anyone but her father in many, many lights. The last time was the flood. She always thought of the others
when she saw the clearing. Her father had told her to never venture too close to it. She knew better than disobey. She didn't have time to linger, so
she started her pattern. She took great pride in the manner in which she found the wild meat.
She could always tell when the animals were close. The tall grass made it difficult to see, but she had the heightened senses of a seasoned hunter and
also those of a frightened child. She moved more deftly through the thick growth now that she had been hunting for so long; nothing like the cautious
steps she took those first few lights that she headed out alone to provide for her small family. Her ears caught the sound of a meal and she softened
her steps as she approached the source of the noise. On a huge blade of grass was the fat-bodied beast that she had learned so long ago was the source
of life for her and her father. It was half as big as she was, but they never put up a fight. As she pulled the creature from the grass, the earth
quivered. It was a sign from God that he approved of her catch. The beasts had many legs and though they weren't dangerous, their limbs flailing
about interfered with her senses, so she did as she had seen her father do and pressed the back of her prize into her stomach with its legs facing
outward. Glancing over her shoulder at the clearing in the distance, she paused and thought briefly again of the others and headed back home. It would
be a journey that took many breaths.
She felt as though she could explode when she saw her father watching her carry the beast. She would pretend to not be interested in his praise and
try to make the face she had remembered him making when he used to provide for the family. For generations, the fathers and sons had hunted for the
food and she was secretly very happy that it came so easily for her. Her father pretended to know nothing of her efforts and when she brought her
catch home, he gave her a nod and a grunt. Then he would fidget about, still lying down and would impatiently wait for the meal to be prepared, making
exaggerated noises and pretending to be starving. She knew it was just an old habit and that he hadn't missed a meal in many lights.
She had seen her mother prepare the beast so many times that it was second nature to her. She squeezed the translucent body and filled their two bowls
with the juice from it's pointed end. She hated the next part and it always made her stomach turn, but she fought the feeling, so that she and her
father could live. She held the beast with it's legs away and forced the fingertips of both of her hands into the soft stomach. As she sunk her hands
in deeper and pulled them outward, the prey cracked at the back and a brief wind of sweet air passed her face. This sound always got a smile from her
father and occasionally, a chuckle. It was never mentioned, but the pain of failure was always in his eyes when he watched her doing his work.
They sat together as they had for many, many lights and ate the creatures that their father's fathers had raised armies on. When nothing was left but
the hard legs and shell of the animal, they were carried for two handfuls of breaths from where the father and daughter slept and thrown in a pile.
Some times, the quakes would disturb the pile in the darkness and other times, the shells would seem to disappear altogether. The father would say the
Gods were keeping the earth clean but she knew the piles were really just being scattered.
The old man was full of stories and superstition. He would sit and spin yarns; fantastic tales of adventures, monsters and gods and she listened
intently, more to humor him than anything else. She loved her father and he her, but he was older now and his hunting days were over, so she made sure
he saw her pay close attention when the sparkle appeared in his eyes. He was all she had left of the others. Their history, by way of myth and parable
was given to her from her father. He often told the same stories more than once, to be sure she would remember. His urgency grew with each light. He
knew that his task must be completed, and was painfully aware that his lights, soon, would come no more.
He cleared his throat and she knew what that meant. It was time to sit, and listen. His voice was much softer than she remembered from her childhood
and he struggled much more now to make words that she could hear.
"The grass here grows in the shape of the earth." After pausing and glancing to make sure he had her attention, he continued.
"My father and his father and his father...all of us have lived here. This place was chosen by God to be a place of safety and peace for us."
as many times as she had heard this story, the pride and love that her father expressed with his words erased everything from her mind but that
instant and she hung on his next words.
"Before you were born, my child, our numbers were as the grass. In peace and love we lived and gave thanks to God. He provided for us the beasts and
soft earth that we might lie down our bodies and rest."
His breath was much more labored now and she placed her hand on his, to comfort him and without words, told him to go slower.
"We forgot my child. We forgot to treat our brothers with love. We forgot to treat the earth with love. Without love, nothing can live and so the
flood was sent to remind us that we are small and God is not.' She remembers this part, but not through her father's eyes. She still looks at these
memories when she is upset or when she thinks she has forgotten love.
"The wastefulness and greed made our kind spread to the edge of the clearing, bearing many children, much too many for their fathers to feed. When so
many need to eat, the beasts come no more and the children go hungry."
She hadn't been hungry in a long time, but she remembered the cries that went unanswered and the dying that were left where they had fallen.
"When our kind had suffered for many lights and through many quakes they became angry and screamed out at God. Many of the young fathers said they
would cross the clearing to a land where many beasts still waited. When God saw that we would destroy the other side of the Earth, he sent the
flood." She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes as he retold the horrors of that light.
"A wave of our kind as far as I could see marched toward the clearing. They kicked the Earth and shook the tall grass as they screamed at God. They
cried out that they would TAKE what they wanted from the Earth and that God was no more."
He felt the pain of the loss of his brothers and it made him pause. She gripped his hand a little tighter.
"As they grew closer to the clearing, the hand of God came down upon them and many of them were swept away." She was a very small child then, but
remembered the agonizing screams and the carnage of that supernatural event.
"many of our family that were not swept away were pressed into the Earth and crushed under the weight of God's vengeance. Those that remained were
powerless against the flood. The water came from heaven and fell in lakes upon our family. In less than five breaths, the water had moved across the
Earth and my brothers and their children were taken from here. I held you to me and myself to the grass."
She never could remember exactly how they managed to escape the flood, and she accepted his story as truth. She dreaded the part of the story that
always came next.