She came into this world, shedding tears the size of small peas. She came into this world with such passion for the passage of life and death, that the doctor, unamused, handed her over, afraid that his own longing for truth would come out of his wells to haunt him. He informed her mother than normal newborn babies never produced tears. Form the very beginning, normal was something that she wasn’t.
Her mysterious connection with animals made her a peculiar child to all. She spoke in tongues that only those with heavy fur, solid hooves, or feathery wings could comprehend. She eagerly learned from their ways of being; how to shake off, and release fear, how to use her body and senses to adopt best to all situations, how to love fiercely, and how to trust the currents of the world completely. She saw in them an innocence she could not always see in her own kind. And yet, she craved human connection, and would crawl up into any available laps, even the smallest, and boniest, if only accessible. Like a cat, wanting to be held and touched, on her own schedule, and to her likings, she asked to be seen in all of her dimensions. She wished to invoke a feeling in others that she herself experienced from the wild ones – a true sense of belonging to the world, as if every cell in the universe held its righteous place. And so she apprenticed to those with fur, wings, claws, scales, and feathers, becoming unruly and feral, with an etiquette of a proper young lady.
Dreamtime was her time to thrive. Was her time to fly. Was her time to morph into the being that she understood with the greatest fabric of her longing. She traversed realms familiar and foreign, meeting those from times past and future. Animals spoke to her, inviting her to their nests, their dens, their burrows, presenting themselves as her guardians. Others hunted her savagely, giving her opportunities to taste fear and raise above it, offering a chance to connect to the preciousness of her own existence.
When she traveled in the time of night too far for too long, her sister would awaken their mother, informing of an incoming state of a potentially dangerous fever. It became a rhythm, these ritual occurrences, like the beat of a drum, forever changing the pace of life, blurring the boundaries of waking and dream, leaving her unaware that there was any difference. Memories of both parallel realities, left her swaying, like an intoxicated fool, somewhere in between.
Mostly, she had a sunny disposition. Her laughter rose from the animal residing in the pit of her belly, while her smile infected even the grumpiest of her neighbors. But her wells ran deep, and when she felt moved by the beauty or the suffering of the world, the fulness of the moon, or others’ capacity to feel emotion, those around feared that she could drown the village with her tears. Tears that, with time, grew to be the size of grapes.
As a naturally curious being, she liked to see just how deep she could go, testing the murky waters, each time holding her breath a little longer, until eventually she learned to breathe on her own. She loved exploring the darkness so much, that at times she would forget that the world of light and air existed. And so the old women with sharp chins and awfully crooked noses, who boiled chicken feet in their heavy cauldrons within obscure underwater caves, would call upon the bravest of creatures to swoop down and pull her back up. The wise elders could not allow her to lose sight permanently, but strongly encouraged the mastering of lessons in navigating through absolute and utter darkness. The unexpected visitors came and went; the owls, hawks, eels and snakes, and even the courageous fawn on those rare occasions when she would get stuck in the muck for too long. Once she met again with the light of the sun, her spirits would rise to new heights. She learned quickly that the deeper she could go, the higher she could soar.
When the mother went to inquire about her daughter’s fate from the ones with glossy eyes that could see into the future, they would tell her that her daughter was a child of the wind and that the stars alone had a grand plan for her destiny. They predicted that she would find her medicine from the scorpion that stings her, and travel to the lands where only those ones with permission could enter. As her mother’s face contorted with worry, the wizards, sages, and magicians, ensured that her daughter was protected and would always be safe, as she was quite a skillful dancer. They promised that the heavens would guide her, even through most challenging times. Confused, exhausted, and perpetually worried, the mother would return home, trying hard to protect her little one from the hardships of life and the dangers of the world. She would lock her in her room, and hide the key, until the angry, relentless winds would arrive, and knock down, not just doors, but walls, summoning the dancer to fly far and wide.
She loved to adventure, and feared very little. One of her dearest places to explore, was a clearing in the birch, oak, and pine populated forest, on the West side of her little village. The lively meadow was a home and a place of refuge to many of her other-than-human friends. It was situated directly across a dirt path from a grand staircase that led to an unknown place. She was warned from the time she was first able to decipher whole sentences, that the stairs led to a forbidden world, and she was never to go down them. Even the most experienced of the village elders, the most courageous of the village protectors, and the strongest of the village men refused to step foot on the first crumbling step. At times she witnessed familiar faces dropping off a bundle at the top of the staircase, then quickly running off. She also saw her wild companions take their last breath under the Great Grandfather Oak, which stood tall and grand where the stairs began their descent.
There were rumors and stories among the village youth that one never came back from the darkness of the mysterious world that the stairs led to, that goblins who devoured human flesh ruled that frightening world, and that a vicious dragon guarded the staircase somewhere in the middle.
She would silence those who knew the truth, whenever she inquired about this terrifying place. This, in turn, would make her more curious, restless, and even suspicious. As time went by, she visited the meadow frequently, and watched as more and more bundles arrived, then simply vanished by the next day. She was also refused the answers when she questioned the contents or the significance of the bundles.
Then, came a day, when her best human friend disappeared. She searched for her in the hills to the North where they used to discuss plans for their future on frosty Winter mornings, on the banks of the East river where they often played their silly games amidst the early Spring wild flowers, and in the dense forests South of the village, where they used to catch fish, leeches. and frogs with bare hands in the many clearwater creeks, and escaped the dry Summer heat. With no luck in finding her beloved companion, she retreated to the clearing in the West, where her friend used to keep her great company, watching the impressive trees shed their leaves of many brilliant colors in late Autumn. As she sat there, looking ahead at the forbidden staircase, anxious about her friend’s whereabouts, she saw a bundle being dropped off by her friend’s weeping mother. Before she could run over and ask the questions that deserved solid answers, the old lady ran away.
Defeated by her unsuccessful search, and tired from running around, she quickly fell asleep in the comfort of the late afternoon shade. She was awoken at dusk by the familiar screech of her friend, owl, who felt it was finally time to shed light on her deepest inquiries. He pointed to the recently dropped off bundle, and told her that it was the bundle of her darling friend. Bewildered, she asked owl what would happen to the bundle during the night. Owl shook his ruffled feathers, screeched three times, and advised her to descend the stairs on her own, to find out. Before flying off towards the rising crescent moon, he assured her, that those from her dreams awaited her there.
She looked towards the terrifying mystery before her, and began to tremble. She was concerned that if she went down the stairs, she might never return. And so, she ran back towards the village, and dove into the salty waters of one of her wells, where she swam for some time again, before one of her allies came down to retrieve her.
Years went by and she watched the bundles appear and disappear – a few of her neighbors, her grandparents, and one of her first love. As much as she wanted, she could not bring herself to cross the threshold and follow the bundles, for the fear of the great unknown was not an easy one to shed. She felt she was not yet ready for the big journey, until the day, a tiny bundle of her baby appeared. She looked at the precious little bundle and longed to know where it would go. But the waters kept calling, enticing her with their unexplored depths and various shades of dark. Knowing there was more to discover, she turned her back on the stairs once more and dove into a new well she had never before explored.
That time, no-one came to her rescue for a long, long time. She went down so deep, that even the eels could not find their way towards her. She soon began to forget of the world she adored so much. She could not recall the beauty of the place where the sun made glitter on the water surface, and sweet birdsong was carried on the tickling breeze. She forgot her friends and family; the shape of their handsome faces, and the sound of their resonating giggles. She began to forget that a different world, from the one she was swallowed by, even existed. On the day she almost became a fish, she noticed white owl feathers floating all around her. With a childlike curiosity, she swam upwards, to see their splendor more clearly. The further up she swam, the more she began to remember. She recalled the very existence of owl, then of other birds, and finally of all the other beings she cared so much for. With each stroke, new memories of loved ones, colors, and joy returned, until she pierced through the surface and was met by the bright, vibrating world of light. She fell madly in love with life, once more. The wilderness of her laughter returned more mature, the zest for adventure more pronounced, and the fondness of light stronger than ever before. Life was sweeter than she’s ever remembered, but the tiny bundle kept haunting her dreams.
The wind blew hard on the day she could no longer ignore those dreams. Somehow, mystery had lost its threat, and began to summon the brave animal residing in the pit of her belly. She took with her only one feather of owl to remind her of the beauty of birds, and flight, as she walked West, away from the village, towards the threshold of the unknown. Trusting she could breathe underwater and float back up, she began the descent down the forbidden staircase.