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Jul 17 2017

Path By TeraS

A short story this week on the Tale … Something of a … let’s call this a thought pondered over while … things happened. For each soul there is a way, a direction, a …

 

Path
By TeraS

 

The morning sun hadn’t dawned, the light was still making its way over the hills and valleys, caressing tall sinuous spires and rounded bumps on the landscape where those that called the Realm their home dwelled. It brought the promise of a new day, the expectation of events unfolding, souls meeting, and lives entwining in the dance that was time itself. Some thought about the future and what it would bring; others pondered the past, lessons learned, and expectations. Each had their own concept of what the day brought and what they hoped it would be.

He’d been up early, more so than he usually was: not that he wouldn’t have been more than happy to stay curled with his Eternal, their red tails entwined—for, after all, there really wasn’t anywhere else he’d rather be. But this moment, just before the dawn turned the black hues of night to the mottled blues of the morning, held something special in this day. The sun that warmed the land had moved along its path, the sky moving about its own. He’d always had a fascination with the sky of his home, knowing the constellations which were visible as his imagination traced upon the glittering dots of the night sky in his memory. From time to time, he’d catch a glimpse of other planets, some giant balls of gas, others smaller and more substantial things. Still, there was one sight that always called him back to the place and path he’d walked before.

The names came easily to him, some learned when he was so very young, sitting on a rock ledge, a flashlight illuminating a book he’d taken from the library, noting the star, planet or constellation that he wanted to find above and put to memory. Some didn’t quite understand why he did so; his answer, which seemed to be a rational at first, would come to haunt him from time to time.

The sound of crickets, the last before the dawn, came to him and he remembered that cold winter, when he was barely in his teens, making his way through the woods in the middle of the night: the escarpment on his right, the cliff edge there in the darkness, he alone. No other soul for miles around, no lights to be seen. His goal was somewhere up ahead, in the darkness, waiting for him to arrive. It would be worth it, even if he’d be the only one that really knew why. A glow on the horizon flickered at his consciousness, turning his attention towards the new addition to the sky. Something he’d heard of, but never seen in the lights of home, for the sky there wasn’t dark enough for it to be seen.

The memory left, his attention returned to the small rucksack he’d packed the night before. A smile came as he thought of her, how his simple pleasures were her delight, the bemused smile that graced her lips. Kneeling down, he worked the flap open, drawing out things that had come along the path to here and now from then and there.

The cliff jutted out into space, a shelf which the night surrounded, still hiding the dangers of a misstep, the need for caution. He wasn’t foolish: this wasn’t the first time he’d been here, after all. This was a path he’d walked often over time, some nights in deepest cold or sweltering heat. Driving rain, winds, and snow had been his companions as well more often than he’d have liked to admit, though he never did. When he was far younger, it was so one soul wouldn’t worry. Now, with the passage of time, he’d allowed her to know it wasn’t, exactly, completely safe, but it would be fine.

He could have just appeared in the place he needed to be, but there was something about walking the path, as done for so many years and decades now, that made it feel like a betrayal, a loss of respect for the place he was and what he came to see, to arrive by other means. A mote of light in the sea of the universe should have respect, after all.

The first thing placed on the ground from his gear was a small tripod. Worn, dearly old, a gift he’d received on his eleventh birthday which was still with him. Oh, he had better ones now, without question, but he brought this one to this place on the first night. Next came the camera, the leather of the grips worn smooth, the metal worn down in places from years of being held by slightly rough hands. Some had asked why he did not use the modern things; they didn’t seem to understand the need to follow through on a treasured memory, it seemed.

As he turned the camera over, the back sprung open when he touched the lever. He recalled the reactions when he explained that not everything happened in an instant, sometimes you had to work at things to make them happen. The path from beginning to finish mattered, and being impatient was never acceptable.

The small tube, capped with a grey lid, rested comfortably in his hand—another of those bygone things that the world didn’t have time for on its path forwards. Opening the top, he enjoyed the light smell that came. It was hard to explain to others the attraction of a roll of film, unprocessed, not as yet having captured time or space.

Years of practised motion took the film along its path from waiting to be used to being in place, the camera closed. There was nothing to do the work for him. There was no automatic wind, no autofocus, no perfect exposure. The shutter closed under a finger, the film moved forwards as his thumb moved from left to right. His tradition was three shots made, the camera pointed out into the darkness without form, a void, the rim travelling on its path before mounting the camera onto the tripod that waited for its role. Lastly, the shutter cable was unwound, connected to the release. All was prepared for the moment to be.

The creatures of the night still held sway as he rested on the ledge, looking out towards the horizon, his mind racing to calculate the length of the exposure, the direction, how much aperture needed, the depth of field required. Again his thoughts passed back to the first night: how cold it was, his hands turning blue, risking frostbite to capture that which he’d been driven to see, the wind whipping around him, snow soaking into his clothes and yet not being miserable about it. Far from it: the discomfort was part of the moment, gave memory and meaning to it all. This night wasn’t a trial. Far from it: the night was warm, a midsummer’s night, one that promised the experience would be well worth the effort. Turning the mount a few degrees to the right and raising the angle slightly before locking it, all that remained was to wait for things to travel on their paths.

He felt her long before she made her appearance, there was but one path and there was no hiding from one’s Eternal, after all. Even if that red-tailed, ebon haired seductress probably could have managed it, this was something special to him and she’d not just appear out of thin air: “Is there room for two?”

His answer was a chuckle: “Always. Watch for the slippery rock on the right.”

He heard her steps, she did avoid the rock he’d warned about: “All set?”

She probably could see his smile, even if he was looking towards the horizon: “Yup. All set.”

The cable release rested between his left thumb and forefinger, ready to be triggered, his thumb brushing over the plunger as she settled in beside him. They were quiet for a time. He patiently waited before the love of his life rested her hand on his shoulder: “How many will this be?”

He thought about that: the winters alone, the summer nights with the crickets his only companion, the spring rains that made him shiver, the fall leaves swirling about him. He thought about the long path that he’d been on, where it had taken him, the wonder he saw, not in the sky forming, but the woman beside him. His answer was the truth: “First with you.”

He enjoyed the glow of her eyes as the sky flashed a warning and he pressed the shutter, locking it down. The aurora washed over the sky, the multicoloured hues casting light upon the two small motes of light in the universe that had come to see the spectacle above. The lights above danced their way over the sky, entwining with each other, casting their beauty upon the souls below who laid beneath, curled together, making their own light in their own entwining. In the moment the passions of the universe met the love of two souls captured within their own orbits. The skies seemed a bit brighter, more vibrant, the night sky painting above while the souls below marveled in the ecstasy of light above.

A slim hand, tipped with red nails, reached out to the release, ending one exposure for the sake of another. The skies lightened as the night continued on its path, the dawn arrived on its own. Amongst all, the path of a soul, brought from the past to the present, from isolated joy to shared wonder, continued onwards.

The path stretched into infinity, offering itself to be discovered and remembered, shared and held. A path shared with the universe given hope that the next moment, the next memory, would be what the path promised it to be.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    James

    The path is full of dangers, but these two travelers will always keep each other safe.

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