A Place in the Forest, Part 10

Mava had returned to their place in the forest every day, for many days, but Ivan had not appeared.  That was alright.  There was so much to do in this place.  So many other creatures, from the most minute ant, clay-red and soft as a smudge, to the most gigantic moose, imperial and somber-eyed, passed through here.  And each of them glowed and flourished beneath the light of Mava’s focus.  That Ivan would return was a certainty to Mava–it was visible in every vein of every leaf, every wrinkle of the ground gripped by roots, every drop misting in rainbow sheen from the waterfall.  

And one day he did.

He had grown, as humans always did, especially at the beginning; that was when they grew the most.  He was bigger, and his light was different somehow.  Mava noticed that immediately, but was unable to ascertain exactly how the quality had changed.  Perhaps it was clearer, steadier, and smaller–as if the same number of particles of light had been gathered closer to him, concentrated, tuned.  Mava considered this with customary curiosity, savoring the beauty of it, all in the split second before Ivan had fully entered the clearing and realized he was not alone.

When he saw Mava, Ivan became guarded, even angry.  This would have been clear even without perceiving the light emanating from him, which shifted into a deep, muted red; his stance widened, his fingers tightened on his bow, his face creased with a mistrustful frown.  He did not come nearer.  Mava was reminded of their first encounter, when her hand had found her knife, prepared for the violence that was a hallmark of humankind.  It hadn’t come, then; Ivan had been cautious, gentle.  Besides, this body was more equipped to confront an aggressive human.  Mava decided a knife would not be necessary this time.   

“Who are you?” Ivan demanded.

“Ivan,” Mava said, offering a smile. “It’s me, Mava.”

“Do you think I’m stupid?” Ivan spat back, scowling. “You’re nothing like her.”

Mava looked down at himself.  He contemplated the way the dappled sunlight played across his bare chest and long arms.  He lifted his hands, turning them over to examine the broad palms, the strong fingers.  With his third eye he watched Ivan, who watched him.  He noticed that already Ivan’s light was shifting to a purple hue, curiosity dissolving the hard shapes of his anger.  “You’re right,” Mava conceded thoughtfully after a few long moments. “I look very different, and that is how humans identify between strangers and friends.”

“I want to see her,” Ivan said suddenly. “I came here to see her, I–” he stopped, a swirl of pink light that he was not aware of spiraling out of his chest.  It broke like a soft wave over Mava’s nodes, bringing tears to his twin eyes, sending the third eye rolling upward. “Ivan,” he said, and irresistibly took a step forward.  Ivan’s eyes widened and fear rolled foggily over him.  The pink swirl retreated, vanished.  

“You’re not her,” Ivan said desperately.

“Ivan,” Mava repeated. “Let me try to explain it.  Please.  We’ve never…we don’t know how to…” Mava paused, squeezing all three eyes shut, grappling with the limitations of the human language they were speaking.  He had never felt this kind of strain before, this desire to communicate to another, so strong it was almost a need.  “We’ve never tried to explain this before.  Please just wait.  I–I need to connect.”

Without waiting for Ivan’s response, Mava sat, almost fell, on the moss.  It was dizzying, this confusion, this otherness.  He called the earth to him, breathing in and summoning the energy of each grain of soil, each stolid tiny pebble, each squirming worm and buzzing fly, each burrowing and growing plant, each blossom of lichen growing in gorgeous abandon over the stones, each tiny flower in the moss.  All this and so much more, Mava called to himself, breathed it into himself, breathed it out through himself, forming the channel, the passageway, the connection–all of it, to all of it, through all of him.  He let this breathing become, until there was nothing and everything else, and then in one last breath he allowed it all to explode, expand, depart, return.

Mava opened his eyes.  The clearing was sparkling with light, vivid and alive.  Every shift of the wind contained the agonizing beauty of unknowable design, the movements of the branches intelligent and intentional, a breathtaking breathing, choreography.  Mava felt the intelligent beauty of his own breathing, his own body, moving in tandem with everything else.  Perfectly synchronized.  Ivan had fallen to his knees and was weeping. “I don’t understand,” he gasped, his face in his hands.  Pink light was raining down from his bowed body into the ground, which absorbed it gratefully.  The river purred.  Mava crawled to Ivan and placed a tender hand on his shoulder.  He didn’t flinch.  Slowly, gently, Mava pushed Ivan back until he was kneeling upright and they were facing one another.  With the same careful ease, Mava took Ivan’s hands away from his face and held them.  They looked at each other.  The light bounced between them in a riot of color.  The tears on Ivan’s cheeks glittered like stars.  “It’s not possible,” he said softly. 

“Ivan,” Mava replied gently, “It is.”

With movements so gradual they were almost imperceptible, the two of them drew closer together until they were chest to chest, and then their arms came around each other and each of them lay their head on the other’s shoulder. “It is,” Mava repeated, and then Ivan echoed it.  They said it together several times, and neither one could discern whose voice was whose.

By queenofelves

Writer, artist, and magic-user. Lover of fantasy and romantic poetry. Always exploring!


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