Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bedrock and Air

She clung to the overhang, her chalk bag swinging in the slight breeze. Somehow her fingers found each tiny aperture, each tiny vacant cranny. Concentration beaded her forehead and dripped down the MP3 wire, which ran down her back. The music honed her intensity, severed her ties with the mundane, leaving her swept clean of any thought but the climb.  

Below her, thousands of feet of empty air--layers of halcyon days and ribbons of bird flight. She was a creature of the air. No thought of betraying her native element in a fall. There was only up. 

Down was for another world. And for him. He had no such niche as she had, in the wind. His feet belonged in the loamy soil, growing roots down into the aquifer, down into the under-skin of the world. Seeing her up there, he felt panic, as if his roots, torn free to flutter, ragged flags in the breeze, were already aching for the lush dark detritus.

Against his nature, he followed in her wake, the panic rising up through his roots to choke him into near-catatonia. Would she not at least slow down so he could find a place to rest? He squinted up into the scouring sun, over-bright and malignantly allying itself with the stolid rock to keep him in his place. "Go back," it seemed to tell him. "She's not even of your world. Look how she flies up through the fissures, like ice in reverse, moving up out of the cracks to the roof of the world. How can you hope?"

He gritted his teeth and pulled from the bedrock of his soul, digging a toe into the crack. And the next, and a stretch to the next. At the extremity of his sun-gleaned energy, he found the top. She had already dined on wind and beauty, lying back, now, surfeited.

She grinned, a queen perched on her well-earned throne. She deigned to allow him access to her footstool with a slightly mocking smile. "Finally!" she said, unwilling to let him up before the requisite adulation. How could she know how desperately he needed, not the footstool, but the key to the kingdom he felt he'd earned. He had earned. So this is how it feels. I don't wonder that she climbs up here into her majority. I should have known. He relinquished the scepter, no longer in need. There is no letting. She shines.

He leaned over, tipping slightly into the wind, a tenuous bridge to the unknown. At first she considered letting him fall over, a rocky monument to misunderstanding and missed chances. He's so ordinary, so earthbound. But then she saw a roiling spark in his eyes, and knew it wasn't the green earth which claimed him, but molten. Raw power surged latent, but no less for its cool surface.

He claimed her lips as a conqueror's laurels, once more sure of his place, again on the solid ground which nourished him. At first seeking, gentle, sun-touched, the kiss deepened into tribute exchanged, and then launched into exquisite vertigo. He leaped into the azure vault of space--this time casting away his roots like ratlines from a ship--gladly abandoning the known for the maelstrom.

And she--she with all her queenly power, tossed her crown into the hurricane with reckless abandon. Her world tipped and she was no longer the soul owner of a used throne. Volcanic brilliance exploded, bubbling up towards the troposphere, carrying her with it. Seconds melted into streams of laughing memory, which dripped into a pool, deeply midnight, inside her soul.

She smiled and knew she was growing tiny root hairs, and that eventually they would tie her deep into the same verdant soil, which once she so disdained. She didn't care. There would be time for the air some other when, a time in the distant future, after the titanic entangling of roots had fallen away, leaving only light and air. For now it was enough. "Yes."

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