Conn Warwicker

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The World From The Birthing Sea

Raindrops fell from the tempestuous sky as another shallow breath escaped my lungs, seeping into the bitter air of early evening. The tree - beside which I found myself rested - offered but the merest whisper of pity to my frozen solitude and simply stood above me, towering proud and erect, casting but the occasional haughty glance in my direction. It believes itself superior and though in younger times its vainglorious sense of self-importance would have riled me – bringing forth the keen desire to strike it down in an act of pure animalistic brutality – this night my weary soul could offer not a drop of energy toward such endeavours.

 

As night dawned beyond the walls of brown and mottled stone which held such memories of precious years gone by, so did the moon appear overhead – a silver orb of florescent glory, shyly retreating betwixt the clouds should one happen to gaze upon it a second too long. Bashfully it came again, shedding its opalescent veil, revealing itself unto the world. Behold my beauty, it announced and so did the birds still their song and the insects their hum, as they beheld in silent obedience and awe.

 

A chill wind dared break the silence, conducting a concerto of leaves above my tired head, and so my eyes did shut for just a moment as the cold tears of a sorrowful sky fell upon my cheeks.

 

And then he came for me. Not as I expected, nor as I had dared hope or dream. Not through a burst of sunlight did he descend, nor through a rising mist did he appear. Simply through the ever encroaching trees he did walk, as a man, should he have the urge of an evening to stroll across my simple garden. He approached with no fan-fair or splendour, wiping the stray drops of rain from his face. But even in that act did I see wonder and humble sovereignty. He reached for my hand and – trembling – I took it. Take me away, I say unto him. I am ready. But he merely smiles. Not yet, he tells me.

 

Slowly we rose, high above the trees and the fields as the breath stole itself away from my chest, terrified, escaping into the night-air in a fit of quiet panic. Expecting at any moment for my ancient bones to give way or my withered heart to splutter in indignation and cease its rhythmic beat, so did I steel myself against such impending doom. Yet none announced itself unto me. Warily, my fingers began to flex and my neck to turn, taking in the landscapes soaring past beneath me. Like silk, like buttery flowing milk my joints did move. Cast aside were the years of rust and cobwebs as a youthful surge rushed through my veins.

 

Delighted, delirious, I shouted. Spinning freely in the air, kicking my legs and throwing my head back to howl at the bashful moon above – hanging as a lantern in the darkening night.

 

And so we flew. Over houses and fields, over cities and towns, over rivers and lakes, until the earth beneath us gave way to sea. A welcome sight, beckoning us onward from the distant horizon where the dark cerulean sky met the glistening black ocean, kissing gently, holding each other close lest the other slip away, lost forever to the night.

 

On we went. Above, the stars twinkled and shone like handfuls of glitter cast lovingly across a vast canvas of darkest black. I watched as the stars twitched and flickered, wondering what immense bursts of energy and fire in some distant time had led to each tiny flicker in our night sky.

 

Beneath there was nothing but air between my fragile body and the murky, unforgiving depths. As time's hand began to turn night gave way to day and the harsh blackness that had sought to envelop the world was once more chased back by the rising sun in the West. It burst forth from the ocean, setting the night ablaze in a maelstrom of colour and light. The waters churned beneath us, gradually lightening from black to a clear, translucent azure, shining like a sea of flowing glass in the bright light of newest day. Waves undulated and fought battles with one another as we soared high above it all, looking down with a lofty sense of detachment.

 

Presently did we arrive at a perfectly calm and smooth expanse of water, serene and blissful in its simple beauty. The Birthing Sea, he told me and ne'er did a name so aptly capture the spirit of a place. Watching with child-like fascination I beheld a series of gigantic, transparent bubbles rising from beneath the surface of the placid sea. Hundreds of them rose, thousands, perhaps more, rising high above the sparkling ocean skin and into the air. Within each I saw a world, each unique in its complexity. One contained a world of swirling rainbow lights and nothing more; another was shelter to a world of flowing red grass and trees, through which ran all number of beasts and creatures, merry in their ignorance of what lay beyond their tiny world; another still held a series of floating islands, sitting high above their own sea, hovering, casting their shadows across land and sea alike. All these worlds and endlessly more floated before me. Yet then they were gone – bubbles burst, worlds ripped asunder, disappearing beneath the silent water, only for more to arise a moment later and take their place. This proceeded for a spell as we watched, like omnipotent overloads, looking down on our creations with no more than a passing interest. Worlds were born and worlds died in the blink of an eye, thousands, perhaps millions of them above that glistening blue sea, reflecting the sunlight back toward us like little waves of liquid gold holding their own against the might of the ocean.

 

And then we moved. Not onward over The Birthing Sea, nor back across the vast expanse already travelled. Straight ahead toward one of thousands of worlds slowly rising from the depths, salty water cascading down its surface like a waterfall. Tearing through the outer membrane of its reality we dove into the new world, rushing faster downward as a foreign wind battered my skin, leaving it raw and tender to the merest caress of sunlight – for this world was home to three suns, each more vast and demanding than the last and they burned down upon my wizened, wrinkled form with such furious intensity that only malevolence could surely have fuelled.

 

As it was we came to rest on the outskirts of a great city, shining brilliantly white in the barbaric gaze of the three suns. From even a distance I could see the towering columns and temples which rose from the depths of the city, piercing the sky and finding peace amongst the rolling clouds above. We stepped along a narrow wooden bridge – I more cautiously than my guide – and headed for the city, following a winding path which took us at times deep into forests and jungles and across wide, fast flowing rivers home to schools of excited orange fish which swam around my ankles as I waded.

 

Soon though we reached the city gates – huge wooden things of deep mahogany, carven exquisitely into abstract patterns of interwoven shapes and forms the likes of which my most affected dreams would not dare to conjure. They flung apart to bid us enter and I duly obliged, stepping across the threshold, trepidation and anticipation beating in my heart.

 

Huge castles of ancient stone stood either side of us, towering above houses and markets where busy characters in long robes played out their parts – buying and selling, speaking such wise words in a language unbeknownst to me that I could but guess at their meaning. Flags flew from the highest towers, thrashing and flailing in the wind, as if agitated by my presence in their world. And beyond them, immense temples of white marble, rising high into the pale sky.

 

Marble archways led the way through the streets, lined with hanging roses and tulips clutching desperately to the stone, growing up toward the sun. I stepped through the nearest archway and ascended the many steps to the temple. The grandeur and dignified beauty of the place was breathtaking. From the hand-woven tapestries hanging about me, to the perfectly carved inlets in the walls which admitted the morning sun – sparkling as it poured in through a hundred tiny openings, bathing the floor with a hundred fluttering shafts of warm, golden light.

 

In the centre of the temple stood a fountain, carved from pure white stone into the shape of two snakes intertwined together – perhaps in love or perhaps in war – each spewing forth clear bubbling water into the pool below.

 

With fascination did I watch as the ripples of water shifted and transformed my reflection into strange shapes and features, until upon me I felt a hand, gripping my shirt, pulling me down beneath the bubbling surface. With barely a moment to draw a final breath I found myself plunging, down through the impossible depths into what unknown I scarcely dared imagine. And though the water was clear and clean, my eyes did protest fiercely and refuse upon their lives to part, so descend I did through darkness with no hint of a thought to where I may be headed.

 

Pressure pushed in from all sides as we moved deeper, my lungs an inferno, screaming for the sweet taste of air. Then, just as my consciousness threatened to desert me, my head did burst forth through the new surface and I gasped for breath, choking as mouthfuls of sour water slipped down my throat against my will.

 

I say to you now that despite the wonder and the awe of The Birthing Sea, despite the grandiose magnificence of the marble city with its golden topped palaces and columns and ancient temples, the place I opened my eyes unto now was the most beautiful and harrowing sight I ever did behold. Though simple in its form, the cavern had about it a mysticism that seemed to envelop me, seeping into every pore of my body. The ceiling was high and rough in its natural shape, covered in a sea of unusually shapen stalactites hovering ominously above my head. Beyond the dark water in which I found myself adrift, stood a garden of sorts. An assortment of the wildest, strangest flowers and plants one could hope to see. Colours more varied and vivid than anything I had ever dreamt possible, all swaying gently in some invisible breeze, dancing to some silent melody that only they could hear. Huge petals gleamed like beacons and waves of rolling grass glowed as if fireflies perched atop each individual strand as the flora grew thicker toward the distance and condensed into darkness. All around the cavern tiny shimmering clouds of turquoise light lit the way, though no identifiable source could I see. And there. There she was. Beauty and grace incarnate. Her long, lustrous auburn hair flowing down across her shoulders. Milky white skin, dripping and glistening with water, each drop running the length of her body before plunging into the soft dirt beneath her feet, sprouting tiny flowers of gold and purple betwixt her gentle toes.

 

Overcome with desire and need, I swam toward her, all the while she merely smiled, her thin ruby lips contorting in such a simple way that boiled the blood in my veins, arising within me a madness born of lust and longing which threatened to overwhelm the very sensibilities to which I clung dear. And though a small part of my conscious mind remained, it was drowned to nothing more than a whisper in the roaring shadow of my desire.

 

As I approached, her body quivered in anticipation of the chase but as yet she did not move, staring me down with a daring smile, twitching at the sides of her mouth. I stared back at her, paralysis grafting me unto the soil. Her body was like fire, like ice, like ecstasy and death and everything in between. She winked at me as a droplet of water slipped between her breasts and slid slowly toward her navel, glistening like the sun on her pale skin. Then the chase began. She ran through the flowers and trees, kicking up soft dirt and thrusting aside branches and overhanging flowers which reached out longing to touch her. Giggling as she ran, I followed close behind, driven on by the thundering rush of blood and lust tearing its way through my soul.

 

But follow I did, past the hanging vines and apples trees, through patches of soft pink lilies and wild daisies, on farther through fields of astonishing yellow flowers which swayed and fainted as she passed, caressing them into submission with her mere presence. And with each step did I feel reborn again, rejuvenated, and as I looked down upon my hands I saw age no more. My skin was smooth and fresh, and instinctively my hands did rise to my face only to find it too was fresh and new – the lines and marks of a long life cast aside in favour of youth. I kicked on faster, sure of myself now that with my new-found energy and life I would soon be upon her.

 

Closer now, she was nearly within reach. I could smell the sweet scent of rich spices and rosemary that clung to her skin as it set my senses ablaze. Ahead she burst through a tightly bound copse of silver trees and blindly I followed, casting aside the branches, barely noticing as they cut deep into my arms, drawing blood with their sharp claws.

 

Aching returned to my bones swiftly as the branches parted, and my breath grew shallow once more, rattling heavily through my tired lungs. Stopping a moment to rest I eased myself onto the ground struggling against the candid opposition of my grumbling joints, resting my head softly against the cool, hard bark.

 

Behind me the sun was rising once again, casting far and wide its net of shining light, driving the night back from whence it came. The light bounced playfully off the windows of my home and for a moment I thought I saw a figure standing in one, watching me, but when I looked again they were gone.

 

Moon subsided, fading away gently as the morning overlapped, darkness gave way reluctantly to light and I sighed and closed my eyes as the raindrops began once more to fall upon my cheek.

 



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