Made of the Gray

Submitted into Contest #99 in response to: End your story with somebody stepping out into the sunshine.... view prompt

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Fantasy Drama Sad

The Earth was spinning wildly around a coverlet of gold fastened tight into a ball, whirling while I gasped under the sweat-soaked covers, light flowing through my room. Before I knew it, I was back outside, drifting among banked seaweed and other paraphernalia—which was a better word for litter on the otherwise sandy beach shores.



Had my body really kicked back the sparse bedding and knocked books aside, all in preparation for a walk on the beach? If I knew someone worth my time, I’d imagine they’d call me something along the lines of sadistic, but I wouldn’t care. As I kicked up flecks of sand, my irises fazed in and out, sending crashing waves into tumults of black and white.



“Are you hungry?”



“Now, why would you say that?”



I growled for good measure, avoiding her gaze to watch the pink haze melt between the sky’s smile lines, smearing frosting on a young, untamed toddler. Sunrises were beautiful out here—it was why I even bothered showing up for shifts.



“You’re angry because you’re hungry, and I know you’re hungry because I’m good at my job. I can’t imagine my Ara waking up this early…what time is it again?”



She lifted a hand to my cheek, narrowly missing when I sidestepped. Too bad the sand was so stilted, not a chunk satisfyingly rested in the crook of my toes. I would’ve squeezed them until their molecular structure crumbled in my wake. Falling, falling, falling.



“You aren’t allowed here.”



“I’m your mother; I can go wherever I please, in all cases where you are concerned.”



For every fault of his, dad was admittedly better at the jokes and the lies.



“And since you suck at your job, I’ll be going, and you’ll be gone.”



Such backtalking would’ve gotten me punished to the once-a-month visits if I were younger, but I was not afraid of her, her stilted-like-sand love. Drawing my shoulders up, I strode forward, each pace a new pink bloom in the sky. So much sun, so much gilded gold dripped essence. My irises flickered back into their black-and-white shades, and my mother dissipated with lost color.

That night, I climbed back to bed, the ocean’s tide yanking me forcibly to the beaches once more. For the first time, I resisted, silent terrors in my head bleating no! I did not go to see my father, and my shoulders hurt like hell.












Second sunrise, second shift.


“Hey darling, no need for that knife…we just want to cross over. You should know these waters—this beach—are tainted by the gods…sweetie, you should know there ain’t safe passage for nobody.”



“The mortals don’t want your ugly hides.”



I tried to stifle the putrid stench, his water cave reeking of rot. A flicker of my eye and I caught a glimpse of more Spirit-men, their swords drawn. I drew my own weapon in haste. “You dare attempt to ambush the Guardian of the Gateway?! The sun and moon cycles are on my side. Lyrastis, keep care of your head while you still have one.”



He snarled at my backlash, and I waited for his men to launch into their synchronous chant like all the other times they’d seen me. One of us. One of us. But I wasn’t one of them—not exactly—I was the one on the other side. The Spirits were the slave-workers, unpaid, unguarded, nearly terminated, and clothed in chains.

Suddenly, the water in this underground chamber grew cold with fury. These were the regulars, who tried border crossing each solstice, or whenever the sun was high enough in the sky for their comfort.



A knife sliced open air, a perfect shot into the back of my skull. Sometimes, they forgot I was also made of gray. Barbarians.

My blood spurted onto the cavernous walls, quick to mix with the ocean’s salty liquid. The man who’d caught me unawares had my blood on his shirt, oddly twisted as I pulled the knife from my head. He was young. I would feel a slight wash of emotion at his death, but not too much because my father would notice. Under the slanted sunlight, these waters would bleed red…red, and gray.



“My matter is like yours. It unwinds, in a way, young ‘man’, reshaping itself so we all have an advantage.”



For a second, Lyrastis smiled, the edges of his lips quirking, seawater frothing around his shapeless frame. He was stunned stupid in hysteria, chortling at my remark: young ‘man’. I was a young ‘woman’ myself, but I was aged old in my craft.



Thwack. The young man died, slumped on the floor with his own blade embedded in his chest. Mine was saved for Lyrastis, my aim flawless as usual, beginning the bloody maul of swords and freedom.



I’d stopped crying over bloodied hands when I remembered that our blood was colorless, odorless, gray.













What am I? My parents would hear no end to my questions. Even during my youth, I knew my place was among the gods, though the rest of my kind shined gods’ shoes. Cruelty was exposed to my eyes, but I couldn’t help but ignore it. Maybe I deciphered the difference between my parents by the way my mother walked.



Her feet were wisps, like the tufts of clouds—like me—while my father walked with the power of the shaking multiverse beneath him. Like all the gods.



I had to visit my father after my bloody brawl. Unfortunately, those were the two things that came with the solstice: a visit to my godlike father and a bloody outbreak to keep spirit refugees from escaping to the mortal world. The gray-and-ash mingled soot still collected on the walls of the cave, just as I’d left it, cutting my palm open with the dagger in reverence for the dead. I had half a mind to tidy up the underwater hideout, but instead, here I was, floating over the stripped beach.



There were few beaches still left untouched by humans, but little inlets remained. This one was my favorite, by far, and I visited quite a few of them when the Gates deemed necessary.



What am I? I propelled my disheveled essence of a body further along the beach, back where I’d met my mother yesterday. What I was meant nothing; it was all worthless face value. My status was above that of the spirits if I kept in my father’s light. He gave me the job, and I was good at it. Good at sending your own kind to their deaths, if not in the crossing but during the slave toils. You are one of them.



Hissing, I roared back. Prove it!



Throwing myself in front of the scalding sun, I released my arms, letting the unforgiving heat attempt to give me what mortals called sunburn. I felt nothing. Need I prove to you more? Now, run quickly. The gods do not like to be kept waiting.



My thoughts silenced until night fell and the moon rose over the clouds to take its shift in the skies. Waves rolled back in a calm, fluid motion, and I smoothed my matted raven hair. Would he think I looked different this year? Older? Wiser? My back was stiff and covered in sand from staring at the horizon for so long.



“Ara.”



“It’s been another year, father.”



“How the time likes to deceive us. Has another year gone by without casualties? We can’t let the slaves—spirits—escape their duties, Ara. Remember why you’re different.”



I already knew what would come next; a year’s worth of time lost brought back old lectures. The god who’d taken my mother as sport and unknowingly bonded their lifelines together would talk of rules. Rules of my visits to my mother, rules of my uncanny spirit-like shape, rules of the generosity of the gods keeping me alive because they took pleasure in watching me mass murder my own kind.

This only proved he wasn’t powerful, though he did have a slight satisfaction in leading something.



“Ara, you don’t look well. Was it a bad night? Did many refugees trying to get through the barrier?”



Well, then; I guessed he’d skip the rules for today. Besides, I could recite them in my sleep—better to nod my head in response.



“I can’t believe those monsters keep infiltrating the mortal world; we treat them well enough.”



My father lied like it was a second breath, rolling off the tongue so quick…but I’d heard all the stories, seen the gashes, sobs, the dead. Gods weren’t saints if they had slaves, slaves I’d killed for my own life. Still, instead of baring my teeth and chewing him out, I dipped my head once more, knowing how much was burning at the stake.



“Yes, father.”



“Now you’re not those vile, evil creatures we enslaved. They are strange, transparent, gray, and obsolete. Anything as such has capability for great harm.”



Just enslave them, and when they try to escape for better lives, have me kill.



They’d raised me a killer since I was in diapers, all for my own good, but what was ‘good’, really? Putting different in chains and turning them into commodities?



“Ara, you are above their class. Never forget that you have my blood flowing through those veins.” His eyebrows relaxed. “Now, come give your father a hug.”



I did not move, tears raking down. Falling, falling, falling, my hands yearning to squeeze the sun. He left me on the cool beach, my gray flickering out, out, out.












At least they provided me with a cottage by the sea, so I wouldn’t stand in their way, wherever the gods resided. Rocks slapped the shoreline like a slap to my face as I sat by the fireplace. They were people like me. For years, I hadn’t even buried them properly.



“Ara, you bring the rain.”



Was it sunrise yet? My eyes blazed in anger and determination. I’d finish myself off. I’d take up the sun and moon dagger and slice it into my heart. Years of this had killed me, and I’d hope to join the sun in its neverending cycle.



Rocky shore. Murky depths where I’d spilled so much blood. What had I told Lyrastis? The mortals wouldn’t want him. In truth, I knew nothing of mortals. Humankind was the white in a black-and-white illustrated world. Gods were one side, the all-powerful, pristine, and highest ranking. Humans remained the lower end, clearly distinguished while we—spirits—were the gray.



Life had many divine breaths of gray, but gods chose to cut their eyes to it. Anything different; anything unknown was born a slave. And I had thought myself different, in a world so much more than clean, cut lines of black and white.



Murky waters, oceanic depths. Pitless bottoms. The Gateways.



Where my knife had been poised towards my transparent chest (where matter couldn’t recoil) was now aimed at the Gateways. What was I? I had killed one too many.



“FATHER!!!!”



My throat ran raw, but I shrilled relentlessly, sawing at the Gates until they broke free. Why, why, why. I cut the water, slashing at the emptiness like it was a festering wound.



He came displeased and with a hint of surprise at my progress. “You are Ara. You can’t.” He parted the sea until the world receded into sand and seaweed and flopping fish, his trident looming over the crusty waters. He aimed the spear at my chest, and I lifted my head high.



I was just another one. A mistake. I was challenging a god, but I commanded the seas just as well as he. Slashing my arm, I stepped forward, letting the gray blood soak deep. He recoiled. The gods were afraid of us.



“I can. I am Ara, and I am made of the gray.”



I launched my dagger-turned-vicious blade as his spear struck my chest. I stepped out into the sunshine following the gray, and I inhaled. I could truly feel it, this time. 

June 24, 2021 19:48

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6 comments

Mira Echenim
08:47 Jul 01, 2021

This story was sad indeed. I feel Ara was internally lost. She was fighting her inner demons as she was fighting those who rebelled. Well done Amaranthine Sky.

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Amaranthine Sky
14:48 Jul 02, 2021

Thank you : )

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K. Collin
21:14 Jun 30, 2021

I loved your story. Being a fan of greek and norse mythology this felt too intriguing I wish I can learn the way you choose your words and then arrange them into beautiful metaphors. My favorite line was i was a young woman myself but aged old in the craft. it was simply beautiful.

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Amaranthine Sky
14:48 Jul 02, 2021

Thank you so much!! I'm also a big fan of Greek and Norse mythologies--or any mythology in general.

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Rayhan Hidayat
23:33 Jun 27, 2021

Wow, this had quite an epic vibe throughout! The imagery you used was impressive; I especially liked "to watch the pink haze melt between the sky’s smile lines, smearing frosting on a young, untamed toddler." The setting, characters and conflict seemed reminiscent of Greek mythology. My main critique is that I occasionally wasn't sure who was talking. Dialogue tags are important for the reader to follow what's going on! Great work, keep it up! :)

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Amaranthine Sky
00:31 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you so much for the comment! I really appreciate the feedback : )

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