The Night Was Breathy

April 17, 2008
By Alice Li, Westfield, NJ

The night was breathy, puffing wisps of chilly air that wrapped themselves around the People like an endearing snake. The moon was in its full stature, commanding the sun to lend its power to illuminate the tips of shivering trees. Most of the inhabitants were asleep, tucked away in their nests and dens. The nocturnal ones scuffled about, hiding amidst the shadows and the cacophony of hooting owls and screeching crickets.
Yet there was a spot, somewhere where the mountains joined with the fork of rivers, and where the moon shined with its full brilliance, that the People gathered. They were an old people, evolved and yet ancient, different as individuals yet a faceless conglomerate.
And the ancient Tree began to speak.

“All ye who have gathered, a story will be told. It is an old one, but one that shall always be told.

You mud men have come from the same Mother as I,
Formed by the very same dirt and ashes that I have taken root in
Mother blew once and she created Man- she blew twice and created the life you see around you
The Boy was an errant child, fluttering to and fro like butterflies in the wind
But Mother loved him, and he her, as he listened to the colors of the light
And felt the caress of a nightingale’s song
But the Boy’s heart had a seed of malignant nature
Dissatisfaction seems to plague mud men, and the Boy was no different
He shaved Mother clean and used her hair to build warty growths upon her
He carved Mother’s bones to make gravestones
He gouged out Mother’s flesh to collect her veins
And Mother was saddened
Her weeping sent a Great Flood
Yet the Boy would not listen
Her wailing sent The Kamikaze
Yet the Boy would not listen
Her blood boiled and erupted
Yet the Boy would not listen
So Mother finally let go
And watched the Boy grow up
And he became a Man
He continued shaving, carving, and gouging
And that seed continued to grow and bloom
It was a beautiful flower
The flower of passion, longing, and hope
Then the Man became old
And the flower began to wither
As its petals fell, the Man lost his passion, hope, and dreams
And when the flower finally atrophied into ash
The Old Man sighed and whispered “I’m sorry, Mother”
Buried deep within the heart of Mother
His grave his womb
And Mother finally smiled and the winds carried her murmurs
“You’ve finally returned to me, Child.”

And with the ending of the tale, the Tree creaked and rustled its leaves, groaning as it settled in to rest. And the last thing the People heard was the wind murmuring,

“You all shall return to me, Children.”

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