The Terrible Meaning of Awe
by Jody Schiesser
Gavin walked with ease along the path. Two dragonflies zinged before him, chasing each other in hovering biplane maneuvers, sliding, dodging, and then flying off, somewhere in the trees. The deep blue sky slung down its cascade of light, and for a moment Gavin considered jumping into it, becoming that light.
He laughed. Sure, I wonder what they would think.
He almost released to the brightness, but then didn't. He knew a part of him wanted to prove it was possible to those ordinary ones from the world who wanted to keep life compartmentalized into one place, one logic, one system, one language. He couldn't go between in that way, he couldn't, it would leave them all behind.
He stopped walking and bent down to pick up a twisted twig. The wood of the twig, or maybe it was a vine, curled around itself. Each edge had a split, with a spiral whirling in from one of the splits.
"Hmm," he said. He kissed the stick and set it down.
There was water ahead, and he wanted to find it, find her pool and sit with her for a while.
"Hey, Gavin," she said when he arrived. She sat cross-legged on the wintergreen and moss covered bank. The pool water glistened silver, like a mirror, and like ever, Gavin had no idea how deep it was. He'd swum in it several times and still didn't know.
"What's up?" she said. "What are you doing?"
"I don't know." He smiled. "I'm just walking, enjoying swinging my arms around and breathing everything in. I wanted to see you so I walked here. I like our conversations. I enjoy that you are real."
"Am I?" Her kaleidoscopic eyes danced. She licked a finger, drew a sigil in the air. "Are you? You keep asking that, don't you."
Gavin ducked his head.
She patted the ground next to her. "Come sit with me."
He walked over, sat down. The earth hummed, maybe from being so near to where she was. She was light, she was--he wanted to know.
"You are doing it again." She ducked in close and pushed against his chest with her head.
"I'm not asking questions," Gavin said. "I've stopped doing that. I'm just wondering where to step through, where to step back. What part of me do I leave in reality?"
"Isn't that a question?" She lay back on her elbows and wondered at him.
Gavin shrugged. "Okay. Maybe I'm supposed to ask questions."
"Maybe you are."
"Anyway," he said, "I've come to tell you something. I've figured out how to move through the world without getting caught up or crinkled in the quagmires formed by people who think nothing can exist but where they are. I've been letting love flow into small pockets around such snags. At first it was tricky, but it's so easy! I open, and the love of the universe comes into me, replenishes, and I don't try to possess any of it. I become a conduit, and the love flies through into whatever I'm doing leaving a signpost or maybe a light on for those who happen upon it. It's really cool and feels incredible. I don't know yet if it works, if someone else catches the soft glisten of light, but I've been leaving them out there. They're set to spring like surprise jack-in-the-boxes, though not so startling, just a warm glow to shoot across anyone passing by."
"Wicked." She smiled and tilted her head, looking up through the trees. Her breasts were outlined beneath a thin shirt, quiet with the breaths she took as she thought. Often she was nude, and it surprised him to see her clothed. It amused Gavin that it had taken him so long to notice.
"Gavin." Her fingers touched butterfly soft near his left eye. "Do you know why you came to be, why you chose to be alive?"
He remembered standing around barefoot and cooking rice, then jumping into the phosphorescence in the sea--it was like shooting stars, like love, like golden sunbursts of trust. He had laughed as her head ducked into the folds of her jacket, not hiding, just playing, sweet temptress, the two of them tunneling a path through jungle and wet leaves with the forest's glowing mycelium like signposts in the dark. She knew what lived within the waterfall that fed the pool, a being with arms outstretched, impaled, crucified, breathing through the rush. An essence untouchable by mortal consideration, curious and shy. That first time, when he left, a full moon was floating over the engorged pool, the surface pregnant with its tug.
"I've chosen to perceive beauty, to celebrate its awesomeness, in the truest terrible meaning of awe. That's why I'm here." Gavin leaned back, his arms sinking into the moss as he watched Silvergirl smile.