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In the earth crystal
“Are you going to hold it up or not?” he scoffed. It might be scarier with the flashlight, she thought. This light is the color and beam of some cruel creature‘s intent.
“We don’t even need it. It’s a lot brighter than I thought it was.” The moonlight berthed in patches of pale blue, mysterious hulls of leaves and danger and eons of cold, wetly blowy nights.
“Let me have it.” Buddy took the flashlight from her, and streamed its insignificant dot on the murky black pathway. Her boots slipped on the tongues of leaves as she walked behind him, struggling to stay in the light.
At the dock, the mirror of the lake looked huge, like the maw of a great river opening into endless trees, close enough to lie against the belly of the sky.
“I thought Oma destroyed the fire pit,” she said, standing on the dock.
“She did! I rebuilt it today. I had to use more grass than mud this time.” There was silence then, fine silence.
“If someone--anyone, a real person, they didn’t have to be human--gave you a choice, to explore the entire universe, have great adventures and learn about anything you could ever imagine but you can never see earth or your family again, would you go? Or would you stay here on Earth forever?”
“Here. Always here, absolutely here. Especially in America, because we have wide open spaces and country,” His grease-blackened hands worked steadily on the tinder he’d stashed beneath the stone table, and a few torn pages of notepad. A glow painted his face. Done with his work, he leaned his neck back a little and tipped his chin to the strangely milky sky.
“Me…I don’t know. I--I want to know everything.” She surprised herself by speaking huskily and choking inwardly, but he didn’t pick up on it.
“Why would you want that? What would be fun anymore?” Sometimes she didn’t know if he said things he really thought, or just said whatever he thought completely clashed with whatever she just said.
“That would be fun! Not seeking knowledge, but relating and understanding. Think of everything there is to know, Buddy! It’s daunting to me because I want it all!”
“I think you’re missing the point.”
“I think I’m missing a lot of things.” There was more silence again, a cool, jeweled silence, everything around them was shining and the air was a swooping caress. The girl was suddenly scared by a square of light on the opposite bank of the pond, and an anonymous movement. She looked out into the inky waters, remembering an image paired with a fear. A stirring of water. When she was little, she believed a creature inhabited the pond in secrecy, and against all reason she was adamant that it existed; it being a sea-monster called “the Popus”. The girl was careful now that her steps were silent so as not to startle it from dormancy.
The dew outlined the decaying stone table and benches where the girl sat opposite her brother, arching back to press her face against the night. Her soul blew upwards as a scrawny streak of brilliance trickled across the sky, then another! Two shooting stars, two wishes.
“Buddy! I just saw a shooting star. And another one! “
“Here--” She pointed, “And here.” But I cant think of anything to wish for! True love--No--inspiration. Great inspiration. For the next one, real, true lo- “People say you never see them but you do, every night that you look up! That was two, right there.” Now I forgot what I was going to wish for. Was it love? I think I’m too late to wish now, nice going. Anyways, I wish for love, like I always do. Still, she felt ecstasy, twisted in the rapture of the stars. She felt almost agony.
“Have you ever heard of the Ptolemaic theory of the earth?” He snorted.
“Oh yes, in my third year at Cambridge Oxford Yale University of your ass! Mariel, no, I have no idea.” His sister laughed, she knew he probably didn’t and he didn’t care.
“It’s weird what humans think. People thought this was true longer than we think what we have now is true.”
“So, there was a Greek named Ptolemy, maybe 2000 B.C. He thought that earth was the center of the universe, and outside of it were crystal sphere encasings, like those Russian nesting dolls.” Staring up into the stars, she tried to discern crystal.
“First, there was earth. Us, humans, the center of it all, the only realm God gifted with true matter--dirt, earth, rocks under our feet. We had substance. Outside of the Earth sphere were translucent crystal spheres each notched with a planet---I think they only knew about three of the planets, so that was it--then one huge sphere with all the stars scrawled across.” Buddy was silent and looking away but she knew he was listening, hoped he was. “And outside of this, almost outside of god’s creation, is the outer lands, the spirit world. The after-spaces of beyond.
“Could you see that? Looking up right now, could you see crystal upon crystal, made out of pure luminescence?” He didn’t respond. “I just think its nice, that’s all.”
“Oh.” The anemic scraps of flame that had been curling a minute before had faltered by now to a breathy undulation of the air. A few moments passed before he said “It’s getting cold, lets go back to the house.” The girl didn’t peel her back from the bench or her eyes from the sky.
“You’re right, it is. I can go back.” They left the dock and the black water then, feet stumbling over peat-wet logs and sheets of flooded vegetation. The moonlight spilled squares of pallor, while the girl struggled to stay in the light.