The moon was full, and the ocean looked like mercury in reflection, as if held in the palm of the Earthmother herself. The Child lay quietly on the Whale’s back, listening to a song and the story it was telling. The stars had stepped back to the edge of the horizons, kneeling in honor to the Lady Knight in White Satin. The Child found it amusing to play with words in her head – all these new Human words that she was hearing in this strange world. Words were curious things – molding themselves, like mercury, to the container that held and spoke them, but even more so – they took on the color, texture, taste, and intent behind their expression. Sometimes they felt good; sometimes they felt very bad. Sometimes they healed; sometimes they hurt… curious things, indeed.
Whale: Child, answer me.
Child: What? What question?
Whale: I’ve been calling you for quite a while.
Child: I didn’t hear.
Whale: Where do you want me to drop you off?
Child: Drop me off? Off the edge of the World?
Whale: It may seem like that, but – no – I mean, do you want to go to the Beach?
Child: No. Why do I have to go anywhere?
Whale: You cannot stay here.
Child: But I want to.
Whale: But you cannot. You must choose.
Child: Choose what?
Whale: Choose going back to the Great Light or going someplace like the Beach.
Child: Can’t I stay with you?
Child: I don’t want to go back to the Great Light – at least, not yet. I just want to stay here with you.
Whale: You cannot.
The Child pouted, and Whale suppressed her thought to laugh, or spray spout water on her. For a long time, the Child considered. The moon danced her way gracefully across the midnight sky’s ballroom. And then, a deep sigh fell from the Child – a very reluctant sigh – heavy with resistance and resignation.
Child: The Beach is ok.
And Whale quietly moved in that direction. As they neared the outcropping leading to the shore, the Child hugged Whale as deeply as she could, and then got off. Carefully, she maneuvered herself among the basaltic boulders until she was in the dim circle of firelight. When she turned back to the ocean, she couldn’t see Whale. She rubbed her eyes, believing the fire had somehow affected her vision. She looked again, and then she knew – knew to the depths of her heart that Whale had vanished. Not gone out to sea. Vanished. Existed no more.
“NOOOOO!” the Child cried – drawing out the Word until it filled the ocean and the sky and out to the far reaches of galaxies yet to be born – echoing loudly in the profound depths of a heart so empty now, it existed only because it had no where else to go. The Child felt the Veil between Here and There torn from her grip.
She stood for the longest time, looking out across the ocean. Then she sat, never once letting her eyes leave the empty sea; not wanting to believe Whale was Gone.
At some point in the endless night, she curled up in the sand, facing the ocean, with the fire at her back, silently crying herself to sleep.
Quietly, you laid a blanket over her, keeping watch back by the Forever-flame, pondering. The Child had spoken. A Word. A Human word. Out loud.