She remembered the ebb and flow of the light, her words measured as drops of water on rock. And then she spoke.

“One day, the sun rose in the west and set in the east—”

She saw the Teacher move, a flash of light that hurt her eyes and caught her breath. Her tale ended, the rush of a stream, and she did not hear the tales the others told. Then they went away. She waited, her light fading, for the Teacher.

“You must learn to do better, P’mëa,” he said. “Did you not hear the others?”

“Yes, Teacher,” she said, softly. “But I remembered the light, did I not?”

“That is not everything.” The Teacher looked at her, the thunder in his eyes a little less. “The tales of the others, did you not hear?”

“I do not understand,” she whispered. “How can we make tales of what is not? Are not tales told of what is?”

The Teacher shone a little brighter. “Yes, P’mëa, but you must also learn to make tales of things that are not.”

“Why?” She knew her light was a fading sunset, covered in clouds, but she could not change it.

The Teacher’s light dimmed, only for a moment. “The others who have come make stories of things that are not. We try to learn their ways, to tell their tales.”

She was all darkness now, without stars. “I do not like their ways. They are like water run dry.”

The Teacher said nothing. She turned away, and saw K’tor was waiting for her. Her light leapt up again, and they went away together.

“Why do you question the Teacher?” he asked. “It is not right to question, P’mëa.”

Her darkness fell again. “My tale was a good tale,” she said. “It was a right tale.”

He laughed, like a new rain. “But our sun climbs west and falls east every day. The Teacher did not want that old tale. The tales of the others who have come—”

“I do not want to be like them, K’tor. They do not have light like ours, and they make tales of what is not. How is that right?” She looked at him, and his light dimmed as the Teacher’s.

“I do not know.” His words were slow, like the words of tales. “They want to learn our ways. It is only right that we learn their ways.”

“Is it right? I do not think so.” She looked to the setting sun, and her long shadow.

K’tor smiled, like the air after rain. “You think many things, P’mëa. You are not always right.”

He went his own way, his shadow crossing hers and winding away like a dark snake. She watched him until his light almost joined with the sun.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

She turned. One of the others stood there, the others who had no light.

“Etta,” she said, slowly. “She of the strange ships, I do not understand this ‘beautiful.’”

Etta smiled, and there was some light in it. “Your way of words is—strange—to me. Let me think how to tell of ‘beautiful.’” She sat down on a white stone, that long ago would have flown with water, and she spoke to herself in her own words.

P’mëa did not understand, but she looked again at this one of the others, this one who came in the ships and spoke to them, who asked them of their ways and learned their way of words. The one who was not like them, but the one who held light in her smile. 

“Beautiful,” Etta said, carefully, “is the sky when the sun falls. It is the rain that comes after a long time. It is a tale that does not grow old for the telling.”

P’mëa felt her light grow and fade, a flash in a storm. “But your tales are not beautiful. Our tales speak of the sun and the rain, as they are.”

Etta laughed. “You like the sun and the rain, P’mëa. So do I. So does everyone, other or not.”

“I do not like your tales,” she said, but she felt her light growing still. “You make tales of what is not, and tales must be of what is. Light on sun, and light on water, and light on stone—these are tales of what is.”

Etta nodded. “Tales of what is, they are good tales. But also the tales of what are not.” She looked out at the sun, fallen far now, and back to P’mëa. “If I told a tale of you, a tale of what is, to those in my staying-place—my home—they would say I told of what is not.”

She did not look at Etta. “But I am here, Etta. And they would call me what is not?” The sun fell, and her light dimmed.

“They would not understand that you are here. We make many tales of what is not, P’mëa. Our staying-place is small, and we have little light. So we make our tales.”

“A tale of what is not that gives light,” she said, the lightest breath.

“Your tales of what is, they are full of light to us,” Etta said, her words a hurrying stream. “Your sun, falling east and rising west, is a light, because our sun is not like this. In my home, we say, ‘One day, the sun rose in the east and fell in the west,’ and that is what is.”

She looked at Etta, her light like the hidden stars. “But your sun is a tale of what is not!”

Etta smiled. “For us, a tale of what is.”

For a long time, she did not speak. The clouds fell away above them, and the stars shone down on the white stone, on Etta, and on her. “And your tale, this tale of what is—this is beautiful?”

“Our tale, and yours,” Etta said, and her light shone, “they are both beautiful.”

She remembered drops of water on rock, the ebb and flow of the light. “Then, I will begin my tale like this. One day, the sun rose in the east and set in the west, and it was—beautiful.”

April 29, 2020 19:01

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Arwen Abbott
12:51 May 07, 2020

A very good well-written story that made me wonder more 10/10.


13:44 May 07, 2020

Thank you! I may write more about them if the right prompt comes up in future


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Chloe Alistar
02:15 May 04, 2020

Great story!


02:28 May 04, 2020

Thank you!


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