The sea tells me I am its mother.
It hides and holds me tight and I remain buried beneath the salty, night-colored waves. I have lain this way since the universe and I were born and the great celestial clock first began to tick far beyond the reaches of eternity. The seas rush up against me, warming me, cooling me, covering me. I have never seen the sky. But then, I have only just awoken.
The water moves across the lines against my face.
I am still young when the seas peel back. It startles me; I have grown larger than I thought and the sea can no longer contain me. Air grazes my skin. I begin to cry and beg the seas not to leave me, and tears run down my face, and thus the rivers and streams of the world are created.
Do not cry, mother, the seas croon softly. Do you see? We are not leaving entirely.
And it is so. The seas still rush up around me, run its fingers gently through my hair, kissed my cheeks and welcome my tears. And all my tears, for I am still weeping and in pain, run still into the sea and are kept there.
You are only young, mother, the seas tell me, smiling. I smile back. The sea loves it when I smile. It tells me the whole of creation quakes when I smile, but I only feel the tendrils moving in my hair, boulders rasping into happiness, the rush of the waves to fill the crevices created when I smile and am happy.
I am much younger than you, I say to the seas.
Oh no, the seas tell me. We were created with your first teardrop, mother. We are only posterity.
I do not remember, I tell them.
Yes, you do, they respond.
And then I do. I remember opening my eyes into blackness, and there was nothing but myself. I was the universe and the universe was me, and it was lonely, for I could see nothing and hear nothing but some distant, harmonious ticking of a great clock, and I wept. And suddenly I was no longer alone.
With the seas no longer hiding me fully, I could see the glory of the universe high above me. I was no longer the entire universe; there was some slow unearthly glowing thing moving up from the mountains lining my arms. I watched it rise, stretch itself, and set itself on its new journey upward. It moved in time to that distant ticking sound, which I could barely hear by now. The sun was someone else’s child but it was still beautiful, and I loved it. When it played over my mountains and brushed against my seas, it lit the world—me—up, as if magic itself had smiled. The sun was still young, but it was warm and passionate, and it knew the rhythm of the far-away clock down to its bones.
Hello, mother, it would say to me each time it breached my mountains and bounded to the sky above.
Hello, I would respond. I am glad to see you. The darkness is so lonely without you. You are welcome.
I will warm you today, the sun would always say. You are no longer alone, mother. I am light. I am day.
Then new things began to spring up on the skin that was exposed to the air. Moss, seedlings, skinny saplings. Tendrils and buds and uncertain little ivy sprigs. And I watched them grow and tried to nurture them. I kept them safe from my first children, the seas, for their touch was deadly to my new children, the green and growing things that reached instinctively to the sunny sky. I watched my children grow with the ecstasy of some young thing that has just had their first child. And when fish and other small things began to worm about in my seas, I watched them in delight as well. I watched each new child borne and grown as if they were my first and only.
And still the night was lonely and dark. In the day, everything was so loud and boisterous and growing and young, I could not hear the vast ticking of the clock now growing old. But at night, everything was quiet and dark and lonely, and I had only the clock to keep me company. I wondered if we were friends. We were born at the same moment, we stretch out into emptiness, we have nothing but each other to listen to.
At night, I wonder if he can hear me and all my children. I wonder if he is proud of me. I wonder if he wishes he had his own children.
All time is his children, the seas tell me, though the nouns and the pronouns get mixed up. All, plural, time, singular, children, plural. All time is his children, the seas tell me, and I smile and the sun smiles with me.
At night, I see nothing. I try to look out and see old Time, but the blackness blinds me. I can only listen. And so I listen to time tick by.
And as I grow and my children grow, and the seas swell and recede, time passes.
Time and I are endlessly old by the time the night sky finally appears in all its young glory. One night, in an instant, something is born, and above me rises the night sky, and I am no longer alone. He is magnificent to behold, dark navy, luscious in color, and set all over with sparkling, revolving stars. It is so much younger, much more innocent than I, and yet as I lie with my children growing with me and inside me, I fall in love.
You are looking, I tell my night sky tenderly, at a lonely, lonely world.
You have everything you could ever need, he tells me softly, shyly. You have so many children. I have none.
And yet look at all your stars, I tell him.
And he smiles and I smile. The universe smiles with us, and we are the universe.
His name, he tells me, is Ouranós. He is the only one in creation that calls me Gaea rather than mother. My children call me mother, my beloved calls me by name. My love keeps watch over my children, directs them with the revolutions of his stars, sings in tune with my friend the sun. My love tells me the sun is to him what the seas are for me; posterity, younger and yet older. The seas are good friends with Ouranós’s own children, the planets and stars, and move and dance in turn with them. My love’s children show my seas the way to move, when to pull the blankets over me for the night and when to pull them away for the day.
The sun moves when the stars do not, and Ouranós and I always have the night to ourselves. His jewel-like stars keep watch, time ticks onward, and we grow old together. Time is happy, life is happy. New things grow within me and on me and grow children of their own; life is abundant and rigorous and full. I am full, the sky is full.
And then, it is time to die.
Somehow I know. Time and I, we are friends and I know, some way, that it is time to leave and allow new players to enter the stage. For the first time, Ouranós reaches down, and earth and sky are joined in embrace. He holds me tight.
I look up at him, at the endless shining stars, at my love, for the last time.
Far, far above, out past my beloved, the great and ancient clock begins to chime. And I look at my love and we are together as time stops and the world ends.