To Cia't'yon, the New Beginning

January 12, 2008
It seems that all his life, he’s been waiting for this chance. He has a picture of her from when he was four that he carries in plastic in his pocket and he takes it out now. Black and gold hair and sun bronzed skin, dark eyes and a faraway smile. Her name is written in copper script on the back. The desert and mountains of Talyet seem to fade as he looks at her and he can’t believe he is actually going to see her again: T’m’Yan, his mother.

‘Carlan, you’ll stay with me. Carlan?’

‘Yeh, yeh,’ he answers distractedly.

The old man in front of him smiles and leads him into a house. ‘Welcome to Talyet, our home.’

He looks around in awe at the towering adobe structure, barely remembering to nod his head, ‘Yeh, thanks.’

‘She’ll be here in a few trillions. She’s so thrilled to meet you.’

‘The same, the same.’ He sits on a wooden bench against the wall, holding his possessions bag tightly to his chest.

‘You look just like her, you know. In the face. You’ve got your daddy’s green hair.’ The old man nods his approval.

A black robed woman enters the room, her dark eyes wild. ‘Carlan?!’ She runs toward him, pulls him into a tight embrace. He laughs with relief. She doesn’t hate him. ‘Oh, Carlan, it’s been so long! I’m so glad to see you! You’re so beautiful, my son.’ As he dares to accept his mother as reality, Carlan grins. There is someone in the galaxy that truly cares about him, and she hasn’t seen him for more than twenty jollns. It is hard to believe that this is actually happening, that his lifetime of exile may finally be over!
Without warning, slicing through the happiness and calm like a kakmil switchblade comes the alarm.

‘Oh!’ T’m’Yan pulls away, suddenly nearly in tears. ‘Oh, Carlan, I have to go, I’m so sorry! G’heyt’yama…You’ll come to KhamiYar, won’t you? Can you bring him, Dad?’ She gives each of them a quick hug and darts away. ‘I’ll see you soon!’ A flurry of gold and black takes her away.

‘Where’s she going?’ Carlan asks in shock, dismayed by her departure.

‘She’s a fire runner,’ the old man says, almost bitterly, ‘ and the runners always go to KhamiYar before coming home. She wants us to meet her there.’

Carlan nods dumbly.

‘The shuttle leave in a few tixtles, we’ll have to hurry.’

‘Uh, yeh…’

‘She’s a lovely girl…well, woman…you know? You’ll love her.’

‘Yeh.’ Carlan pulls his knees to his chest. The woven mats at the KhamiYar temple make his bare feet slide and he feels uncomfortable.

‘She wrote a poem for you, too. ‘My Son and his Father’ she called it. Most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. Made me cry, and that’s saying a lot.’ The man studies Carlan. ‘You like her, what you’ve seen?’

‘Oh…she’s everything I’ve dreamed she is! She makes me feel…just back then…that I was somebody…special, you know? Somebody worth caring about.’ The words come out in a rush, slurred and breathless and when Carlan sees the old man’s smile he blushes. ‘Well…you know?’

‘She is really special, son. I’m pleased you appreciate that.’

They sit in comfortable silence for a while before a four-eyed man passing by kneels and says stoically, ‘The fires at G’heyt’yama are out of control. They are bringing the runners in with sixteen fatalities.’

The old man’s eyes widen in shock. ‘They only took twenty-seven runners!’

‘I am sorry to inform you that T’m’Yan belongs now to the world of Cia’t’yon.”

The world drops away from Carlan; the people around him, the slick mats; everything except the words vanishes. ‘T’m’Yan belongs now to the world of Cia’t’yon’… Carlan’s feelings of importance, of being cared for and loved are falling away like sand in an hourglass. Replacing them at a terrible velocity is an emptiness, a yawning void that makes him stop breathing, seeing, hearing, feeling, living.

‘Carlan, stop, Carlan!’ The words are hoarse and anguished but they have no effect.
The dark liquor burns and makes him shudder, fending off the realization of reality with an artificial numbness. A collection of bottles and containers lies on the table before him, mostly empty.
‘Carlan, put it down. Stop, stop, stop.’ The old man’s green eyes are glittering with tears. ‘You can’t bring her back, Carlan. She’s gone.’
‘No.’ That can’t be his voice, but it is. It has been stripped of emotion, compassion, softness, and filled with a cold dark rage and a hatred that is frightening to him.
‘Carlan, she’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone. Oh, Carlan, Carlan…’
Finally, when he can’t deny it any longer, he leans forward on the table and weeps.

‘I never knew any of these people, but I went into the lines and took film imprints of some of them. I saw bravery and trust that I’d never seen before. I saw death on a scale I’d never seen before. Many of the runners are not natives, rather people who have left their families for the opportunity to study at the schools. For those who have died, the Talyet memorial is a name scratched in stone in a temple ten million kilometers away. I know that sometimes it’s nice, as a survivor, to have a little more than that.’ When he has finished, the classroom is silent. The young people are staring at him, analyzing his every move. He twists his hands together and says, ‘Well, I guess that’s it unless anyone has any questions.’

A shy black haired girl raises her hand. ‘Wh-Which is y-your favorite?’

Carlan turns slowly to the matte pictures on the wall behind him. In one, a black man with his face barely concealed by the headgear of the fire runners is leaping through a purple flame. In another, three masked people are holding burned animals. A photographic imprint depicts a woman in green running through a thick plume of smoke for a trapped villager.
In the painting that has taken him the most time to render, a blue-suited person with a hidden face is kneeling on the ground, fires encroaching from behind. In the man’s soot-stained arms rests one of his fallen comrades. Flames have eaten away part of her uniform and her protective headgear has been lost. The strange shadows cast by the flicker of fire part to reveal lightly bronzed skin, touched with ash in the shape of a handprint. The woman’s black and gold hair, which is falling out of a knot at the back of her head, reflects a beautiful silver light that will guide her into the world of Cia’t’yon, the world of the new beginning. In her dark eyes is the faintest hint of a faraway smile.

In a soft voice full of tenderness and warmth Carlan finally whispers, ‘She was.’

To Lym, the world of Ending

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