A clearing inside a southern bayou. Solid ground deep brown with soggy mud water in the distance. Fuzzy moss traveling down from the tops of the weeping trees. Draped heavily with vines but light enough to sway with the humid breeze. Golden afternoon sunshine pierces the foliage catching the dancing dust in its rays. The smell is that of earth in its most pure form. Not quite soil, not quite sea. If sticky were a smell that would be the word to describe it. Silence is immediate in the clearing... but with patience the land opens itself to reveal the symphony that's playing right below attention level. The slow croaking of sleepy frogs, cicadas chirping every fifth minute or so. An occasional splash off in the distance, a birds chirp when switching positions.
The whole atmosphere is slow. Not frustratingly so. The kind of slow that makes you yawn with the intention of taking a nap. The kind of slow that has probably existed in this very spot since it was formed. This dreamy state that will stay until it exists no more.
There is a break in the greenery, like a curtain being pulled back on stage. A small family, mother, father and daughter, step through. All of their skin is the color of shiny copper pennies. It's obvious that they are made of this land. That they belong here.
A look of concern but not quite worry cross between the parents as they turn back towards the opening. A pair of worn, bright, white hands are reaching to follow. The father squarely tall, and solid, reaches for the hands and pulls their owner into the clearing too.
He appears to be a man of never ending time. No age to speak of, since he hasn't kept track. Although his body is contorted like a banyan tree, his back hunched high above his leathery neck, and twisted down into his hips that sit catywompous atop his legs. It is apparent that he is ancient. With a slight limp and a cane it is hard to tell if he is going to suddenly straighten out, as his body seems to be trying to do with each step... or if he is going to trip and fall, proving his fragility. Perhaps he will collapse into a pile of dust and bones.
His face is lined in every direction. So much so, that it's true he must've owned every kind of smile and frown ever created. His mouth is slightly indented. His lips never becoming totally smooth. And even though he appears to still have some sort of teeth, the accent that carries his words, convinces the listener of a lisp at least. His expression is unreadable. Partly because, all the ugly in his decaying flesh first imposes fear, then perplexity. He knows this of course and does not take offense to the doe eyed looks of children, the quick breath-sucking gasps of sudden fright or even the occasional moan that forfeits its owners attempt to conceal their repulsion.
Yes, he is a solitary species that has had more mystery raised in his honour than truths told. But if you happen to cross paths with this tenured soul... stop! Pause to look in his face for the identity within. You will recognize the life in his eyes to be that of a soul unbound. You will see through him and into him. Like flashes of memories that have never existed.
He moves efficiently well, for a body so old and worn. And he limp, steps, limps his way across the clearing, now sparkling with dust diamonds, and onto a tree stump. It seats him standing up so that it's not necessary to bend at all.
The man and woman stop a few feet shy of him and sit down in the dirt. Pulling the little girl onto her lap the mother and father adjust themselves like children at story time. Legs crossed and eyes looking eagerly upwards. They wait for him to settle. Plugging into the universe, this old man is a messenger of destiny.
The mother is young. Not too young to be a wife and mother, but it's obvious that she is still growing into the woman that she bound to become. Her hair is long and black, returning the sun's kisses with flashes of red and magenta. She has never learned to smile freely and prides herself on the lack of emotion she shows. It is this that has kept her so perfect in the face. Beautiful is a word used to describe her but it's somewhat of an illusion. Because although she carries no age in her complexion she also lacks character for the same reasons.
Her self-doubt is only apparent in the sag of her shoulders. She stoops forward ever so slightly and no matter how many times she tries to straighten herself... this is where her emotion is stored, and so it wraps itself around her neck and back pulling her forward, causing her to forever lean. Her body is well proportioned and similar to that of her husbands. Somewhat taller than other women, and built for having children, she is satisfied with her physical being. And sitting here now on this patch of dirt, she knows that she is where she belongs. The smell of her child mixed with the earth, is heavenly. She is content to live in this moment.
She looks left at her husband with big brown eyes that speak to him this day, the same as they did when they first met. And he is sure that he catches a glimpse of their future. She actually smiles involuntarily before burying her face into the pure aroma of her daughters scalp. This makes his heart leap at the recognition of their love. They speak the same language that does not require speech. Actions and intuition have been the catalysts in their life together. When he met her he already knew her. And when he took her heart, he replaced it with his own. They were instant.
He looks up from his wife to glance at the man who had just been white, the color of paste, with highways of thickened blue-red blood traveling just beneath the surface. But as his eyes begin to adjust to the bayou light that is shifting somehow... he begins to absorb the morphing that he's suddenly become witness to.
The old wizards skin has become many shades darker, and the hunch of his back not so severe. Enough so that the man has to scoot back a litttle more to see him clearly. He is preparing.
The father is a spitting image of his daughter. And even though she was made from him, it is the girl that gave him life. Straightening his long torso, he bends forward to look into his daughters face. His own dark eyes look back at him, smiling under the high arched eyebrows. Her top lip fuller than the bottom, his smile. Her big round ears, also his, are listening.
There is a buzzing like electricity in the air. A frequency that they have all tuned into. The world, has come to a halt. A glitch in the energy of the universe somehow. An overload perhaps, or just a subtle pause that only they will witness. They are ready. It is time.
All three sets of eyes look to the source of this vortex. And they feel the colors lift from this man before they see them. It feels like magnets inside of their hearts, lifting them towards the sky, into the sunlight. And it feels transparent. Suspended above their earthly bodies, while elements of life float all around them.
It's then that they see him. This time warp artist in his true form. He is magnificent. Colors of every depth. Blue and purple, green and yellow, orange and red all seem to wave out from him. Making him not old or crippled at all. Not worn. Not broken.
To look at him is to see the history of all life. The beginning and the end. The horrors, and crimes. The unjust. The unloved. And the pain is palpable from all sides. It is an agony that they will never forget. To know the hurt and sorrow of everything that has lived and died. To accept the heartache and loneliness that is still to come. The sadness is overwhelming and all consuming. Only death can bring peace now. And just as the family cannot take one more second, it is gone.
The other end of the spectrum comes pouring down on them like warm rain. Happiness and laughter, joy and love. Visions of life being created, in all forms. From the depths of the ocean to the clouds in the sky. A frenzied dance of molecules and atoms. A blissful growing energy, the force that propels us all through time. It feels like only what they would know as heaven.
The humming in the air now is visible. It has matter. And the waves of warmth surround the little family. Surging them into one being. One whole part of the equation. Rivers of life bleed through them. They can feel the magma turning deep inside the earth, all the way to the infinite realms of the universe. They are everything and everything is them. They are just specks of dust, with the importance of just being. Life will never cease. They will always be a part of the equation. They will always have importance.
The universe has provided them with the meaning of life.
When this thought becomes clear, the wind suddenly picks up and swirls around them. Around and around the wind hugs their skin. Touching every part of them. Blowing into their clothes and hair, eyes and nose. Reminding them that they are still earthbound. Carrying the message they have been witness to, up and away. The wind circles itself around their oracle. Lifting up like a tornado with a destination, and taking with it the old man, who will travel to the next student. Be it in the future or past, others too have been selected to know these secrets, that to him, seems all too obvious.
The little copper family is left sitting in the dirt, in the middle of the bayou, with the meaning of life. They have no words to speak to each other. All that could ever be said has been heard. The truth has made them sleepy. Now a peacefulness approaches and it consumes them like fog. Misting them with faith, and serenity.
They will take a nap all cuddled together. And when they wake... they will make their way past the curtain of moss vines. Taking with them the weight of the world but not any of the questions, because they now have the answers. And they will live their lives fully. Contributing their own positives and negatives. These things that are the axis on which our universe spins. And all will be as it should be. Because.