Mea culpa. My bad. I couldn't decide last night what to post today, and so I ended up not scheduling anything. So today I decided that since I haven't posted anything snippety lately, that I would put up a snippet of something old that may become something new. Here it is.
My lips curve and the smile is only a little sad with memory as she climbs into my lap, sharp elbows and knees as she maneuvers her way to comfort.
I smooth an unruly spill of dark chocolate curls beneath my chin as I rest my cheek on the top of her head and slide my spine more comfortably against the cool wall.
Arms and legs and boneless bodies pillow and cocoon and I remember chocolate as I bring my knees up to cradle my daughter as the others press close, claiming their spots.
I know this is how it goes, how it has always gone. Frightened children find each other’s warmth as they banish demons and monsters with stories shared in the dark.
Large, liquid eyes glow in the semi-light of the small fire in this cavern that has become this site of ritual, this place of sharing.
Cycles ago, I stopped wondering how this came to be.
“What do you want to hear?”
I never thought I had much imagination and while it took me a long, long time, I understand now that children grow into their stories. I think maybe I grew out of mine.
Or maybe I never had them, but I’d read them on Earth.
I can’t quite remember.
But long ago someone had shared them with me, fairy tales and myths, pointing to pictures and teaching me words, sharing simple, fundamental ones I could learn.
I’d never known whether it was because she knew I was pregnant or because she was just being kind.
“Tell us how we came to be.”
I’ve never had her way with words and I still wonder how this has fallen to me. I am not a story teller and I’ve never thought I was very good.
I don’t believe in monsters or bears or witches or children in forests or any of the other things I’d read about the last time I’d been on Earth.
“Once upon a time…”
“Why do stories always start that way?”
“Because that’s the proper way for a story to begin.”
Someone had explained that to me another lifetime ago. I’ve never had any reason to disagree.
“A long time ago, a very brave but very frightened…”
“How can someone be brave but frightened?”
I can create my own story now, my own fairy tale, even if it isn’t pretty or well done; even if I can’t tell how it will end.
Because I know now that even the end is never really the end.
“Courage isn’t the lack of fear. It’s how you handle the fear that makes you brave.”
I’ve always seen the end. It’s always terrified me.
“I’m not afraid.”
But I’ve long since decided that I’ll write my own ending.
I lift my eyes, watch wisps of smoke from the small fire in the center of the chamber curl up the chimney, seeking the freedom of the night sky, the pinprick of stars that have always seemed just out of reach.
I know it’s nothing more than the cave breathing, the movement into and out of this chamber due to changes in atmospheric pressure or temperature on the surface.
These are things I understand.
If I close my eyes though, it could be the soft sound of night cycle on board Kai; the gentle thrum of the great ship’s life around me, the re-circulating air that was the sound of soft breathing.
The flickering shadows could be the gold of her warm, welcoming walls.
I’d taken them for granted.
My chest is tight as I wrap my arms around my daughter and push quiet words that have risen from the ashes into the stillness.
“That’s because there’s nothing to fear here.”