Silvergirl Moon by
In the end we read the motorcycle diaries on a moonlit drive to a strange wild girl. A remarkable ride, intertwined with her flickering images, a tantalizing glimpse that persuaded us to eat several pages of her book.
If we could find her she'd take us in, I knew she'd have to.
We were far, somewhere beyond the horse latitudes. There were no stars, only a shadow, drawing us toward her with sweet thirst and curiosity.
I knew about her smile and we traveled, dipped into the s l i p s t r e a m and caught hold of the songline, touched it, knew it for a brief moment before it shivered and knocked us away. It was an unconscious flick and didn't mean to hurt us. I'm not even sure if it had any sense of what we were.
We heard the music later, as we huddled over the fire on the beach, Gatt with his belly full from bottom fish he'd gathered as the tide came in. The sound began as a buzzing, and grew into a tune as old as time, something about teardrops and fire. The song was awesome and heavy and I almost believed we'd witness that story, here by the water, if we stayed until the sun rose.
But it was not to be. She pulled us on, and we left inwards in the middle of the night. It was a strange path through the trees, fading in and out of starlight, almost unreal. "My eyes have seen you, my eyes have seen you," someone chanted. It might have been me, I don't know. We kept moving, ducking under the chatter of the night, strangely euphoric and without a need for sleep. "Her hair is dark!" Llan shouted once, and I echoed him, and added, "I'm sure of it."
I caught a flash of eye, again. Too fast to guess the color.
Our journey took us to a hole in the ground, a darkness that fell deep into the earth. It seemed the only way. We were called and had to enter.
There was a rainbow whirl of flux, like when you dip your finger in water. A membrane, a tension, but not meant to bar us. We passed it, went inwards, and discovered that Gatt's skin, all the blue markings of his tattoos, were aglow and apparently meant to light our way. We went far into many passageways, following the line of the earth, the points where it breathed.
Light opened ahead, grew brighter, and we broke into a sky of three suns.
We stood on a ledge thousands of feet above the land below and more rock rose over us.
Vultures peeled away, screaming, startled by our search for handholds or stairs to the ground. At first annoyed with our intrusion in their life, they grew curious and darted around our heads. They wouldn't let us be, and Llan, irritated, fired an arrow at them. It missed.
I signaled a return to the cave.
Solid granite blocked the opening, so perfectly fit in place we could not discern where the original tunnel was.
I rubbed my jaw.
A cracking noise. The edge of the rock shelf dropped slightly. I looked outward, at the sky. Maybe?
A flash. The suns wavered. I saw the soft of her cheek. Fleeting. She beckoned, we leapt and the vultures laughed. We were too heavy and plummeted.
The air whistled and mocked us but we kept our voices quiet, accepting the inevitable.
We were swallowed.
The earth opened and sucked us in, choked us down through dirt and sand, and finally spit us out again in a field of corn. The stalks rose higher than our heads, enough to filter the sun in a hazy scattering of light as we dusted ourselves off. Gatt was the tallest and he spied a great oak, somewhere in the middle of the corn. We pushed ourselves in that direction, the corn leaves tickling and teasing. They were friendly, but even so, I was eager for rest beneath the tree.
The last stalk before the tree slapped me in the face after Gatt strode by it. I stared at it insolently for a moment and the oak laughed and asked us a riddle.
"What is the corn that grows all around you?"
I saw the nearer corn stalks, as tall as we, bending in the wind. Something in them whispered. Llan meant to speak but I hushed him and thought for a bit. Then I knew.
"Corn is the true gold, the living kind, the one that does not tie or bind."
The tree shook its leaves, amused.
I decided to tell it what we were after. "We seek the lonely one, the dark-haired girl outside of time. She pulls us to her and we cannot stop it."
"You would not want to," said the oak.
I looked at my comrades. Both shrugged. The tree was right.
"How do we find her?"
The oak paused.
"You said she was lonely, did you not? She likes the sun, though it makes her cry."
"Why?" Llan asked.
The oak leaned closer. "Not all golden tears become corn, you know. Those not alive rip down the great houses of men."
I nodded. We'd all seen it.
"Keep going, you are almost there." The oak gave each of us a silver leaf, beautifully crafted. "Take this with you as a token for the girl. She knows how to breathe life into such things."
I dug in my pack and pulled out the gold coins I had, and set them at the foot of the tree. Llan and Gatt did the same.
I stared at the bark of the tree for a moment, hoping it understood our offering.
Then we tramped off.
The rows of corn seemed unbounded, and we walked and walked until fatigue finally took hold. In the haze of morning she, the strange girl, was there again, a soft silver madness.
I almost knew the color of her mouth. So fast, though, so fast. Not enough to be sure.
We traveled, a slow gathering of strength, and found passage through the endless grasslands beyond the corn.
We felt something watching us, an unidentifiable maliciousness. It made us edgy, and we kept guard through the nights.
One afternoon they came out of the grass, swarthy creatures, men perhaps, clad in animal skins. They were many so we didn't fight. Our packs were taken and the insides ripped out, the contents scattered over the ground.
The tallest, reeking of old meat, stepped before me.
"Where is your gold!"
I smiled. "We gave it away."
He spat at my feet.
My grin faded.
"I do not."
He saw something in me, and backed away.
"Fools," he growled.
I exhaled, and then he hit me. I fell to my knees. Coughing, I waved at Gatt and Llan, telling them to keep still.
"You are not even worthy to kill."
The man shook his head, and raised his hand into a fist. His tribe gathered and followed him away, loud with uttered curses and raucous laughter.
We collected what we could of our belongings, and began to walk again.
The grass faded, sand and rock thrusting up in its place. We did not have a vision of her for days, and we began to despair.
Perhaps we were unworthy.
The rock disappeared, and soon there was only sand. A desert, but not a hot one. Just dry and vast.
We were constantly aware of how little water was left in our flasks.
Late afternoon, the second day of dry dust, we saw smoke. We headed toward it, saw it curling into the air by a pool of dark water.
A fire was built, surrounded by rocks. Two wooden figurines lay on the ground near the fire. Away from the flames and by the pool was another.
There was nothing else but the water and the endless sand.
I skipped a stone across the black liquid. It hopped and tumbled seven times before sinking beneath the surface. I knew we must enter the pool.
"I don't think we should all go this time."
Gatt hesitated, then added, "It seems only one of us is called."
He pointed to the lone figurine at the water's edge. "Maybe just you."
I stared at Gatt. "It could be any of us!"
"You saw her first, in the book." He held out the diary, the pages bent and much read. I didn't take it from him. The cover was faded with brown and blue, a hint of a figure somewhere in its shadings.
Gatt was right.
Llan thought they should toss me so I would get far enough out.
They picked me up, swung my body between them and then launched me into the dark of the abyss, the black water.
The surface was like ink and I dropped a long time, waiting for her pale hands to reach into the world and catch me, hold me in a dizzy swing above some fathomless void.
I couldn't see anymore, just felt many hands grasping me. They couldn't all be hers. They pulled me along, close, let me drop farther onto a cushioned landing. Breasts, hundreds of them, all alive and breathing and full. I grew disoriented, and felt them toss me about like a toy, nipples both soft and hard poking my flesh.
I rolled and stumbled into light and forest, found another pool.
And I saw her. Dark hair, glistening, watching, knowing, alert. Her hands slid over herself, then touched me, turned into sharp points that impaled inward, a thrusting that did not hurt; it connected. I trembled, my back arching with a terrible energy, and though I might die I trusted her.
"Shh…" she whispered.
She let go of me, touched a finger on my lips, wiped the wet near my eyes. Something was different.
It felt as if I could sense the frogs in the trees, the insects in the air, the life in the land itself.
She was molten, rivulets running through her arms, her legs, her throat. Images changed rapidly and I was unsure of what I perceived. Rainbows burst from her head, tendrils twisting, surrounding, pulling pieces of me out in the same way. Blue light dancing with silver, a tumble through the most sublime calm I have ever felt.
I remembered to give her the silver leaf.
She smiled, crushed it into a ball, and it became a silver being, winged. It flew near my eyes and waved, giggled, said thank you and good bye and a tear dropped from its tiny body.
I caught it in my hand, a perfect crystal silver tear. Utterly beautiful.
The winged one flew off, content and eager to exist. I watched the tear spin in my palm, saw it scatter the pale moonlight, flashing quiet strobes across her face, her eyes. Black, gold, or violent blue; I still couldn't discern their color.
"This is for you," I said, and gave her the tear.
Her mouth curved upwards and her face was bright and shiny.
"Thank you," she said, and ate the silver crystal, swallowed.
"All of this is momentary," she breathed, "every bit of it. It is a trial to get beyond, to ways of being and becoming. But you must, we all must, if we are to survive."
"I don't know if I understand," I said.
"You do. It is in you. Do you remember the oak, with its questions of corn and gold?"
"That fire, that gold, has no need to be possessed. It can be made into things, it can grow into corn, it can gleam warmly in the darkness. But you must let it be. You need to be alive without it, by yourself, for only then do your secrets and stories become true."
She brushed some of her dark hair from her face, tucked a strand or two behind an ear. She seemed almost shy, and I did not expect her next words.
"You must go now."
"I don't know if I can."
"You must. You have much to share. You have to go."
"I'll come back."
She started a chuckle, which grew into a burst of laughter. "I think you might. That is part of the point." She swept her fingers abruptly in front of me, raking three short scratches across my chest with her nails.
I inhaled sharply and she leaned in, kissed my throat so softly it was like mist and when I looked down at her she melted into foggy silver liquid droplets that fell against me and slid into the water.
I took a step backwards and the pool deepened suddenly, pulling me under. I fought a while, then relaxed. Only a moment's ease, though, for I realized I couldn't breathe. I sucked in water, but it choked me.
Help! I begged of her.
Everything went black.
Hands pounded on my chest. I coughed, spit. Carefully I opened my eyes, expecting to see her silver skin. Gatt and Llan stared down, concerned. I sighed, and sat up.
I examined myself, realizing I was naked. The three lines bled freely on my chest. I hugged my arms close and shivered.
I knew why I was marked. But how to tell them? I don't think they understood what had happened. Gatt was struggling with words, Llan was shaking his head.
I would try to explain the seeking, the importance of the lure, the need to give our hearts. With words as slippery as eels, I would tell them how her smile burns the world.
"I think we will always follow her," I began. "She is wildly strange…."
I opened her book, tore off several pages, divided and handed them to my friends. Gatt perused his, his brow furrowing. Nin read and crumpled his pages into neat balls that he swallowed.
The air glimmered.
It was the easiest way for them to know.