Jan 20, 2012
Flash Me Friday
“What are you doing?”
Gihar squeaked and just about fell off his perch. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that!”
Meniha shrugged, unrepentant. “Maybe you shouldn’t be so focused on the view that even a clumsy child could approach without you being aware.”
She sighed as she realized she’d already lost his attention again. “What is it you find so fascinating?”
“Down there,” Gihar pointed. “Do you see?”
Meniha peered over his shoulder. “I see the forbidden lands and the wizard’s tower, same as always.”
“Look closer. Do you see them?”
Everything looked the same to her. The same stretch of beach, the same abandoned tower that had withstood gods only knew how many seasons of neglect. She was about to tell Gihar so when she saw them, two forms wheeling gracefully in a circle around the tower.
“What are they?” she asked in wonder.
“I don’t know, but this is the third day they’ve appeared.”
They watched together, in silence, for a time. Meniha finally stirred. “We need to tell the elders about this.”
“No!” Gihar grabbed her arm as she stood to leave. “You can’t tell anyone. Promise me!”
Meniha had known Gihar all her life and never once seen him so desperate. Fear curled in her belly like a snake. There was a wrongness to this that she couldn’t put a name to.
“All right, I promise,” she told him. “I won’t say anything. But you are not the only one who ventures near the forbidden places, the elders will find out eventually.”
She waited for him to say something, but his attention was already back on the strange creatures circling the wizard’s tower. Shaking her head, she made her way slowly back to the village.
The creatures appeared for three more days, and for three more days Gihar crouched in the opening to the forbidden place, a gaping hole left in the forest wall where a tree had been uprooted, Meniha by his side.
Though at first she couldn’t understand Gihar’s fascination with the creatures, Meniha soon became as captivated as he by the sight, perhaps even more so. She wondered what it would be like to stand in sunlight that wasn’t dappled by the leaves. She wondered what it would be like to soar over the vast stretch of water. When she began to wonder just what was in the wizard’s tower, she knew she was in trouble.
On the fourth day they waited in vain for the creatures to appear. They did not appear on the fifth day either, and on the sixth day Meniha waited alone. With the creatures gone, Gihar no longer felt the pull of the forbidden lands. Such was not the case with Meniha.
On the seventh day her obedience to the laws warred with her desire to have a closer look at the wizard’s tower and see what might be in it. Why was it called the wizard’s tower? Why was it so tall and round, unlike their own homes set in the trees? Why was it forbidden to set foot outside of the forest?
The desire to see the wizard’s tower grew stronger with each passing day. On the tenth day Meniha was joined by one of the tribal elders.
“It is said that in the Long Ago there dwelt a wizard in that tower,” he said, standing beside her where she crouched. “A fearsome creature was he. He wielded power over life and death, creation and dissolution. It is said he created our kind.”
That caught her attention. “Truly?” she asked. “What happened to him?”
“It is said he died, as all things must die, and his bones lay bleached by the sun on the top of his tower. We are creatures of the dark forest,” the elder said. “The light is not for us.”
He let his words sink in for a bit and then melted back into the forest, not comfortable even looking out onto the forbidden lands. Meniha was not even aware of his leaving, her focus was once more on the tower.
If she climbed to the top of the tower, would she be able to see the creatures that had circled it so gracefully? Were they more of the wizard’s creatures, come back to their home? Questions and always more questions, and never an answer. If she sought out the answers to her questions would she be punished? Banished? Worse?
On the eleventh day, Gihar came to her. “Come away, please Meniha,” he begged. She paid him no mind. “The wizard’s tower is a cursed place, it has you in its thrall. How can any good come of such a thing?”
Meniha paid him no mind. His words were like gnats, buzzing around her head.
“I curse the day I first came to this place!”
On the thirteen day, Meniha stood, knowing what she had to do. Placing one foot carefully in front of the other, she walked out into the sun.