Storm and Stone

 
Waiting for the Storm
I wake early today, before first sun, and walk onto the deck.
The ocean calms me, and I forget myself as I watch the waves far below.

Another clear day.
Unusual weather for this time of year, the season of violent lightstorms.

I find myself strangely disappointed with the clear weather.
A storm would fit better with the way I feel inside.
Shazira and I sleep in the same room, but most of the time, I still avoid her.

I’m a ghost, caught between worlds, haunted by the dead and the living.
My old life and Yagrin’s life both call to me.
I don’t fit in either one, and I haven’t found a new life to take their place.

Sometimes I let go of my thoughts, and I enjoy being with her.
Shazira is kind and caring with me, trying to break me out of my confusion.
I sense her feelings, real and strong.
She wants me to be happy, and stay with her.
She is far more patient than I could be.

“Don’t try to force yourself to change, Yagrin,” she says.
“Just accept whatever happens, and discover who you are, and who you can become.”

“What if you don’t like who I am?” I respond, roughly, “or who I become?”

“You think too much,” she says, touching my hand.
“You’re exactly where you need to be.”
“Tomorrow will come, soon enough.”

“What about Tzina?” I ask.
“She’s miserable around me.”
“My presence reminds her she’s lost her father to a ghost.”

“You’re still her father, Yagrin.”
“I’ve told her you’re not like other travelers.”
“She trusts me, but she’s still confused.”

“Tzina knows I’m not him, Shazira.”
“It’s that simple.”

“You’re wrong, Yagrin.”
“She’s drawn to you, and not only because the body is the same.”
“She senses your spirit, and finds the one she loves.”
“Still, she’s confused, and thinks she’s betraying her father with that love.”

“You’re just like her,” says Shazira.
“I can feel the love fighting within you to reach the surface.”
“You’re ready to love both of us, but you think you don’t deserve it.”

Unable to face her, I walk away.

 
Chosen
I leave my sandals behind, leap over the railing, and fall into the wind.
Then I touch the web, and let it carry me.

It’s so easy to trust the embrace of the energy web.
Everything else seems uncertain.

I glide down to the beach, and look for the edge of the water.
The ocean is at low tide, and far away from the beach.

I walk out on the moist sand.
The sand moves a few feet ahead of me.
Something sparkles, and I pick it up.

It’s a dark blue stone.
Like the stones Tzina used for the sculptures.

“You’ve found one,” says Tzina, excited.
Then she notices that it’s me, and turns to leave.

“Wait, Tzina,” I call.
“Tell me about the stone.”

“It’s just a stone,” she says, trying to end the conversation.

“No,” I answer.
“I saw your sculptures that change their shape.”
“They’re wonderful.”

There’s a hint of a smile.

I describe the one that’s my favorite.
It brightens and expands and thins.
When it’s about to disappear, it twists in on itself, and reshapes itself into a sparkling blue flower of stone.

She listens carefully as I describe the movements.
“That one’s also my favorite,” she says.
“I won a competition with it, about a year ago.”

“Oodah was so proud of me.”
“You were too busy to come.”
“Besides, you were never interested in my art.”

“Sorry,” she adds.
“Not you, it was my father.”

A silence spins between us, and we look at each other.
I have an overwhelming desire to hold her, but I push it away.
“I’m sorry I came here here, Tzina, and took your father’s place.”

She looks like she’s about to cry.
“Are you my father?” she asks.

“Your mother thinks so,” I answer.

“How you can be someone else, and also be my father?”

“It sounds crazy,” I agree.

“Why did you come?” she asks, as the tears flow.

“I don’t know.”
“I followed a strange path in a dream, and found myself here.”

“You can’t go back?”

“No.”

“Do you miss your family?”

“Sometimes I can’t bear it,” I admit.

“How many children do you have?

“I had seven, four boys and three girls.”

“Seven?!”
“I’m an only child.”
“I had a brother once, but he died.”

She stands straighter, and wipes away the tears.
“Are you really my father?” she asks again.

“I don’t know, Tzina, but sometimes I feel like you’re my daughter.”

She looks at me quietly for a few seconds.
“I’m tired of avoiding you,” she says, at last.
“Come help me look for stones.”
“If you like my sculptures, you can’t be all bad.”

We walk farther from the shore.
“The ancients called them mindstones,” she says.
“Healers once used them to heal troubled minds, but the art has been lost.”

“The stones are hard to find,” she adds.
“They grow in the ocean, not far from the shore.”
“At low tide, sometimes the sand moves aside and reveals the stones.”

“The waves push the sand away?”

“No,” she answers.
“The stones reveal themselves when they are ready to be found, and they choose who will find them.”

“Are they intelligent?”

She looks surprised.
“No one knows for sure,” she answers.
“Most people think I’m a fool for believing the stones have some intelligence.”

“Anything is possible,” I tell her.

She looks thoughtful for a moment.
“Yes,” she agrees.

“How do you make the sculpture change?”

“I show the stone a series of transformations.”
“If the movements resonate with the stone, it remembers them, and repeats them.”

“What about the images of the alien landscapes?”
“How do you put those in the stones?”

She looks troubled.

“What images?” she asks.

“When I focus on one of your sculptures,” I tell her, “I find myself standing on an alien world.”

No one but me has ever seen the images,” she says.

I describe one of the landscapes I saw.

“Yes!” she says.
“That’s it.”

“Where do the images come from, Tzina?”

“My mind is full of these landscapes,” she says.
“They bothered me until I started making the sculptures.”
“I find a stone which suits the image, and the stone absorbs it.”
“After that, I only see the landscape when I focus on the stone.”

She takes my hand.
“I thought I was going crazy.”
“You’re the first one to see and feel what I do.”

 
Voice
The sand moves by my feet, and reveals one of the stones.
“The stone has chosen you,” she says.

“I want you to have it,” I tell her, as I pick it up.
“Use it to capture one of your landscapes.”

She reaches for it, and holds it in her hand.
“It’s not for me,” she says.
“When I find a stone, I can tell which image belongs to it.”
“With your stone I feel nothing.”

I take back the stone, and an image enters my mind.
At first, I think this is one of Tzina’s landscapes, but then I realize the images are mine.
A small storm cloud hovers over the sand.
“Your guilt,” says a distant voice.

Black stones circle around the cloud.
Some are born from my anguish at driving the old Yagrin from his life.
Others come from my sorrow at leaving my family behind on Earth.

The stone glows, and the images are sucked into the stone.
My mind is suddenly quiet.
The stone in my hand seems heavy, as though it’s no longer mine.
I put it down gently, and the sand moves aside, forming a deep hole that swallows the stone.

“What did you do?” asks Tzina, agitated.
“It’s bad luck to return a stone to the sea!”

“The stone absorbed my worst feelings, Tzina.”
“I don’t want anyone else to experience them.”

“You can’t just give it back or throw it away!”
“The stone is bound to you.”
“In the old times, when a stone was used up, it was transformed into air, never put back in the sea.”

“Why not?”

“Putting back the stone wakes an ancient creature called a Wikza.”

“Is it true?” I ask her, “or just a legend?”

“I don’t know,” she says, “but I’m scared.”
“Let’s go.”

We start walking toward shore.

“How often do you hunt for the stones, Tzina?”

“When a new image haunts me, I know it’s time to find another stone.”
“A new landscape came to me about a week ago, and last night I had trouble sleeping.”
She cries.
“I’ve never gone looking for a stone without finding one.”
“I can’t be normal without it.”

“Let me help you look for a stone, and then we’ll go.”

She looks around, expecting a monster to rise from the sea.
“Ok,” she agrees reluctantly, when she sees that the world is unchanged.
We walk along the wet sand, parallel to the water.

“Did the stone help you?” she asks, hesitantly.
“You look different, calmer.”

“Yes.”
“I was miserable before I found the stone, desperate to find a way out of this world, even though I know it’s impossible.”
“I couldn’t bear what I’ve done to your family and your father.”

“You didn’t plan to take his place.”

“No, I didn’t, but I was looking for something.”
“Your mother told you about my dream?”

“Yes.”

“I was awake in the dream, and I saw your father’s face, before I stepped through the blue cracked wall.”
“Part of me knew it wasn’t just a dream, and I felt compelled to step through.”

“What did the stone do to you?”

“I still miss my family, but I can live with it now.”
“My memories of my old home are still with me, and I know another Yagrin lived in this world.”
“I feel sorrow, but the crushing guilt is gone, and I’m sure that I’ve come here for a reason.”

We search for another thirty minutes, without finding a stone.
“I don’t think a stone will show itself along this path,” she says.
“Let’s go closer to the waves.”

We move a few feet closer, and the ground begins to shake.

“We have to go now!” she says frantically.
The sand by her feet moves aside, and uncovers the surface of another mindstone.
She tries to dig it up and lift it.

“It’s too big for me.”
“Can you help?”

I glide the stone out of the sand and into the air.
It’s seven feet tall, and leaves a huge hole behind in the sand.

“They shouldn’t be this big,” she says.
“Leave it.”

I ignore her request.
She needs the stone to calm her mind.
As we walk toward the beach, I glide the stone through the air behind us.

“It makes me nervous,” she says.
“Let it go.”

The mindstone vibrates and emits a strange, low tone.
Then it drops to the sand.

The tone gets much louder, and a wall of sand rises around us forming a circle ten feet across.
I try to move the sand, or pick up the stone, but I can’t connect with the web.

“I can’t transform, ina!” she says.
“Fly us out of here.”

“I can’t touch the web’s power,” I tell her.

The stone changes shape into something that looks alive, and it moves toward us.

“Help me,” cries Tzina, holding onto me.

I push her behind me and stand facing the creature.
She buries her face in my back, puts her arms around me from behind, and holds me tightly.

In my mind I imagine a great circular wave of energy, spreading outward like an explosion, shaking the earth, and shattering the sand and the stone.
Then a great sound rises out of my mouth, and forms a thin pillar of light that brightens the sand and the sky.
The ground shakes, and the pillar explodes, pushing a huge wave of energy in all directions.

The energy wave leaves Tzina and me untouched, but the wall of sand is gone.
The stone shatters, and all but one piece are absorbed into the sand.
From the one remaining piece, a spinning blue wind rises into the sky and disappears.

“Take me home, ina,” cries Tzina.

I put the stone in her pouch.
Then I hold her tightly and take us home.

Tzina won’t let go of me when we get back to the Watchtower, and she can’t stop crying.
I take her to Shazira.

“What did you do?” accuses Shazira, her heart full of shock and anger.

“Ina saved me, oodah,” says Tzina.
“He saved me.”

Shazira tries to take her from me, but she won’t let go.
I carry Tzina into the DreamRoom and Shazira follows.

I put her down in the middle of the bed, and Shazira and I lie next to her on each side.
I sing to Tzina.
The words are an ancient poem, but the tune is new, born in the moment.

“Do you know what you’re singing, Yagrin?” asks Shazira.

“Not really, but I know it’s a poem about children that Yagrin once saw.”

“It’s a blessing,” says Shazira, “that fathers would recite over their young children when the fathers were called away to war.”

I sing again, and we stay like that until Tzina calms, and falls asleep.


Traveling Home -- 1: WatchtowerPrevious StoryNext Story
  1. Prologue
  2. Island and Tower
  3. Healing Room
  4. Watchtower Floorplan
  5. Tzina’s Laugh
  6. Dream Room
  7. Storm and Stone
  8. Sweet Music
  9. Memories and Breakfast
  10. History and Change
  11. Dreaming and Weaving
  12. Hungry for Lightning

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