Wild Spirit

January 6, 2012
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She watched it approach… An ominous presence engulfing her world…

Zelda’s eyes expanded & her heart rate quickened, & behind her chest she could feel that faithful muscle rapping wildly upon her ribcage. A breath was lost from her lungs only for a moment, & regained in a sudden gasp through the space between her loosely parted lips. A persuasive thought slipped into her otherwise clouded mind: Escape…

Immediately, she bolted into a sprint, dashing swiftly between lofty, scantily clad trees, the layers of gold and cabernet leaves shuffling, swishing, and crunching beneath her feet. Much of the azure luminance that dwelt within the Dome of the Gods above was veiled by a thick, lumpy, enveloping blanket of a charcoal hue. A bitter gale gusted past her, causing the tree tops to sway & lifting random leaves from the forest floor. The surface of her fair skin was chilled by the minty autumn air, yet her core was a furnace. Strands of long, messy blonde hair whipped across her face as she ran.

She was like a doe escaping the arrows of the hunter. Yet, the gods were not mere hunters, like men. They cast not arrows of hewn wood & stone, but spears of lightning. Their thunderous voices could diminish the battle cry of even the fiercest warrior. The gods were difficult to please, their moods being ever fluctuant and scarcely predictable.

Young Zelda bore a Wild Spirit. Her extraneous ways were unsettling to her people and displeasing to the gods. Her restless heart pumped rebellion into her blood, sending it coursing through her veins like a drug. Wild-Spirits were considered outcasts by her people; the other villagers expressed meager tolerance for their foreign behavior. Defiance was an utter disgrace, for the laws and customs of the community were believed to have been bestowed by the gods to the founding leader of the people. This leader, originally a nomad, finally settled in the very spot where he had allegedly experienced this sacred encounter, and from his descendants, the village grew, passing the laws-- and a gripping sense of fear for the gods-- to each generation with stringent enforcement. Anyone who dared to break the ancient laws was then ruthlessly punished. But the Wild Spirits were judged more harshly. Their punishment was complete rejection; no longer would they be permitted into the village once the ancient laws were disrespected, for they were considered incapable of repentance.

Zelda, now a disgraced delinquent-- an alien-- lost in the expansive forest outside her village, had committed her unlawful deed several months earlier. And, as evidence of her crime became increasingly challenging to conceal, someone secretly informed the Counsel of their suspicion, & Zelda was accused & thus expelled from the village.

Now, she was left to encounter the wrath of the gods… alone…

The gods began to pour their tears from the heavens in torrents, & struck a distant tree with a jagged spear. Zelda espied the blinding flash of light in her peripheral vision & instinctively averted her focus to discover the incident. Loud cracking noises followed briefly afterward & ended with a powerful thud…

Suddenly, her foot tripped upon a rough bump in the ground, & she fell forward to the forest floor, landing with startling impact upon hands and knees. Paranoia crawled throughout her fatigued body & strangled hope as she remained still in her position, gasping for breath. The livid gods roared in their anger; frightened, Zelda subconsciously lifted a bruised hand and placed it upon her abdomen…

“Why do you torment me?” She screamed. “Does it not please you enough to see my own people disgusted by me? They treat me like an illness, & it’s all just to spare themselves from your violent fits of protest! It’s all to please you, yet you ruthless beasts are impossible to please!” She began to weep as flashes of light rippled throughout the course clouds, & the mighty voices of the gods rumbled…

“Zelda!” A familiar voice called to her from nearby. She lifted her head to peer about in an attempt to locate the source of the call, & discovered the blurry figure of a tall young man with curly auburn hair.

“Astor, be careful! The gods wish to punish us for our reckless decisions!” Zelda replied in warning.

“I know!” responded Astor, hastily approaching her, and raising his voice so she could hear & understand his words over the constant sound of raindrops plummeting to the Earth like tiny bullets: “The Counsel found me out & banned me from the village as well!” He paused, “I had to find you!” He extended a hand & lifted her to her feet.

“I’m sorry I got you into this,” she confessed, weeping. “You were better off without me; you don’t deserve to be alone like me!”

“Don't worry about it!” He replied. He pulled her in toward his chest as the gods’ voices thundered again, and he shouted, “I love you, Zelda!”

Zelda paused and inquired, “You won’t forget about me like the others have, will you, Astor?”

“Of course not!” He answered confidently.

She smothered her dripping face upon his chest & finally responded, “I love you, too!”

For a moment, she felt safe, securely enveloped in the arms of her protector. He was the one human with whom she felt not as a burden or a criminal, but wanted. Never was she entirely certain that what they shared was, indeed, love. But it was far better than whatever her family & the rest of the village gave her. No rules. No bitter condemnation. Just...

Suddenly, the gods cast a blinding spear into a colossal tree that stood dangerously close to the vulnerable couple. The monumental structure began its swift decent toward the ground in the direction of Zelda & Astor. Instinctively, Astor pulled Zelda away, yelling, “Come on!” They eluded the falling beast, provoking the gods yet more. The vengeance of the gods pursued them as lightening spears struck rampantly, & the obstinate celestial brutes continued their course of destruction about the couple as the humans attempted to flee from a crushing fate.

Debris fell randomly, unpredictably, as spears fell with violent impact, & the two of them endeavored to escape the wrath of the storm. Suddenly, Astor's foot became caught in a knotted shrub on the forest floor, causing him to lose his balance & collide with the ground, struggling to regroup. "Zelda!" She continued to run, her breath heavy, her ears inattentive. "Zelda, please!" Finally, the muffled sound of that familiar voice reached her ears, with its imploring cry. She paused & turned to find her companion lying at a far distance from her, on the ground, his face smeared with mud. He was hurt.

Afraid to move, she froze, espying the chaos about her, absorbing the noises that bombarded her ears, trying to see. Finally, she dashed forward in his direction, flinching at the thunderous shouts of the gods. Astor carefully pushed himself to uprightness, and cringed at the pressure on his left foot. Gradually, he began to limp in her direction. Branches broke & met the ground; the thick, charcoal blanket rolled aggressively across the Dome.

Astor screamed.
Another tree crashed.
Astor was silent.
Zelda was too late.

She screamed in exasperation, "You accursed monsters! How dare you? How dare you!" She glowered with her face turned directly up toward the Dome of the Gods. “At this point, I would gladly choose death as well if it wasn’t for this…” She placed her sore hands upon her slightly round belly & glanced down upon it. The rain slowly began to subside.

Impulsively, she began to pound her fist upon the mighty trunk of an oak tree, cursing in frustration. The gods grumbled as their smoky blanket began its gradual process of shifting away & dissolving across the enormous Dome.

Zelda seated herself upon a tree root, sighed, & peered down upon the spot where her hand rested, & averted her attention to the unborn child within, speaking with poignant softness: “I want to give you a chance; I just don’t want you to end up like me.” She felt the tiny creature kick where her hand lay moist with sweat & rain, & recalled the times when she had kicked & fought in frustration, times when she attempted to resist punishments she didn't understand. She wanted to be loved, not oppressed; accepted, not abused. And she was certain that her child-- of her flesh & blood-- desired these things no less, even in its prematurity.

She purposefully sat with her back turned toward the deceased Astor. To witness his lifeless form was overwhelmingly painful to her, so she naturally sought a way to distract herself from it. She felt the excruciating expansion of a void that hid deep within her heart, & a lonely sensation slipped in like a jeering snake. She gazed upward once again & silently observed the periwinkle Dome between the intertwined branches of the tree tops, as warm tears trickled tediously down her cheeks and nose.

The branches broke the sunlight into segments, which reminded Zelda of puzzle pieces. Life was a puzzle. But some of the pieces didn't fit correctly, & a few were missing. A puzzle, when complete, was supposed to form a pleasing picture. Zelda believed her picture was hideous-- just as hideous as she felt.

She longed hopelessly to, somehow, fill the gaping void that occupied her heart. She was empty, alone. She longed for worth, significance, security-- a reason to live. She longed for substance. She longed for love.

Yet the village had disowned her, and Astor was dead. Now what?

There she sat, pondering a seemingly unsolvable mystery. The sun continued its tedious natural path across the Dome. Within a few minutes, its welcoming light shone brilliantly down upon Zelda’s musing face through a pair of crossed branches…

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