The Story of Us
by Kami Finkel
I want to tell you a story. The story? It’s about me. Well actually, it’s about us. Yes, it is, so just sit and listen….
Long ago, I lived in the deserts of the southwest. I loved the wind and the stars most of all, my family, as I had no other. I never minded life. This was all before the earth had become scarred from anger. When the sacred knowledges were still alive. Even in the mundane world, my village was still a people who looked to the sky and earth, knowing a great many of this and the next world’s secrets. There was always a consciousness of the shadow world in which our souls lay, outlining, shadowing, always overseeing the world of sunshine and water and fire.
I cannot say when I first saw him, just that I thought the sun had to be jealous. But the stars, oh the stars, they knew we were meant to be. I swear when he looked down at me, I could feel Kiro’s hands running over my shoulders and down my arms. When he spoke, I could feel his lips on mine.
His shadow world had crossed with mine. It was Kiro’s shadow that passed like wisps of smoke over my flesh. Mine did the same to his. Our shades began to dance with one another and once that starts, it is difficult to stop. It is a rare thing to have them recognize each other so clearly and work together so well in the world of sunshine. It is one thing in their world, dark like the night and there guidance cannot be sought with sight. Only with other senses, higher ones. Maybe that is why they love the nightfall so much more. But when the sun comes up the story can change, and two shadows that can survive in the sun still embracing is a rare, precious thing. They must draw strength from each other equally and without reservation. Shadows may think with calculation, but they act with feeling. Thus in the night when his lips brushed my neck and all melted together, I still relished it in the light.
For a time, we laughed and lived and loved together taking what pleasures our bodies offered which was never quite enough. We licked our lips in anticipation of again.
However, the day came when our men were to embark on a war campaign, and at sunrise Kiro came to me with hallow eyes. I knew his shadow was trying to pull away; he had to go and the distance was too much. It is better that we do not try. There would just be heart break. He said “you” in that sentence, but I suspected there was more of him in there than me. So I let him walk away and try to wrench his shadow from mine. Shadows once they dance do not like to be without a partner, so he took some of mine with him, ripping me apart. With blood poured forth, I slid to the ground wounded.
That night I had my funeral. There were tears and wailings, clawing at the ground and an anguish in the mind that all but suffocated. It did not take any time to decide what to do. The dead cannot possibly stay amongst the living. They rot and smell horrid and bring all that has life down by a mere presence. Nobody wants the deceased. What is something without life good for, even if it has flesh?
The land of the world waited for me; and with nothing to call my home anymore, I was finally ready to see it. Ahead there was possibility. Behind, I left a trail of tears that would follow me for many seasons.
So, I traveled. I cannot say where as it had no shape. I forgot all of my former life to the wilderness, and I was lucky to fall asleep and wake in its arms with every turn of the earth. Water, food, and good company were not hard to come by as I swept across the plains all the way to the coasts and swam in waters of salt and pristine. I spun tales as my fare at night around campfires and on beaches, mesmerizing babes and their grandparents. My sweat seemed to washed any bitterness from my body in those places. For much of the time I saw the world the way shadows must see it; not through separate eyes but as a part of the outline of every beautiful sight and boundless expansion of life.
There is only so much land to see, though, before one must start crossing great waters. That was another adventure for another lifetime. So, I returned to my birthplace, for I still missed my grandfather, the desert, who had born me and shared my blood. Upon my return, it was no coincidence night had fallen. Shadows always recognize each other better in the darkness. For there was Kiro, against the city wall. Words were beyond him, but his arms promised to never let me go again. He had tried the life without me, tried to live and gather familial ties and forget what had been between us. He could not. His despair had eaten away at his insides turning them as rotten as a corpse. The corpse I had been years before. He had died many times over whereas I had died immediately and been reborn to start again. No. No more such thoughts I commanded. I never wanted to hear of that again. It is always harder to let go of love than to be the one let go of.
Our shadows danced once more while I whispered into his ear the beauty I had experienced and places I had seen. Between ecstasies, I murmured more magnificence into his being. By dawn, he slept soundly dreaming of those places of mine. And, I was thankful just to have his skin against my cheek for a second time in that life.
I only left him once after that moment. For a few hours, I had to speak to the stars alone.
“I understand now. Shadows have no concept of distance or time, so to worry about such is useless. Love is their thing, gorgeous and tricky and can disappear in an instance. No matter the number of lifetimes or distance of worlds, they will. It is not magic; there is no magic. Just, the way things are. That is why shadows recognize so easily. The time they have been apart is harsh, and they treasure coming together again.”
That is why I never agonize. They will always come together again. The wind provides the music, calling the shadows to dance and providing a hauntingly familiar tune. Do not worry about me. Do not worry about broken hearts. Revel in what is now and if we have to part do not forget that we will meet again on a gusty night. We always do.
- - -
Legend states that Kami Finkel’s birth is similar to that of the Buddha’s; however, her parents continue to insist it took place at a hospital in Duluth, Georgia. She now studies at Georgia Institute of Technology where she has developed a serious latte addiction and plans to go on to subtly take over the world.