way of explanation...A
COMPANION FAIRY TALE
Once upon a time, there was a precocious girl-child who wanted
to ask many questions before she gained the ability to speak.
Her mother, who had raised three children already, was no
longer mindful of explaining the world to her youngest child.
So the baby girl, in the absence of explanations, answered
her own questions.
the girl was not more than four years old, she had a
question she could not answer. Mother and child were traveling
a long road that could be seen to the horizon. Other travelers
dotted the road as far as the eye could see. As these travelers
disappeared into the distance, the young girl's curiosity
could not be contained.
"Mother, when the travelers reach the end of the road,
why do we not see them marching up into the blue sky? Shouldn't
the road continue up when it reaches the edge?"
Her mother laughed heartily at the image this conjured.
"My dear child," she answered with amusement, "don't
you see? Everyone knows the world is like a ball, and the
road lies like a ribbon on top of it. The travelers eventually
progress to the other side of the horizon, which is only as
far as you are able to see."
The little girl considered this. A new reality crept over
her like dawn across a troubled landscape.
The child's eyes grew wide and she whispered, "You mean...we're
on the outside?"
As the tiny girl began to understand, everything
above her loomed threateningly large.
It was as if small pieces of the world she knew were crumbling
and falling to the ground, first some plaster then a beam
until the cold, hard sky was pressing down upon her.
many years afterward, the girl lived as one who might be crushed
at any moment from falling debris.
She had little trust in life and took few risks to her circumstances.
Then one day, out of the blue, a waking dream overtook the
now grown woman. She looked and saw she was that four-year-old,
precocious child again. Before her rose a giant window onto
the world. To see out of it, she had to place her step-stool
on the edge of the earth and balance herself. She could not
discern whether the window was inside, looking out or outside,
looking in. She heard her mother's laughter at her illusion
of containment and felt again her own fear of exposure.
Remembering the day her world fell from the sky, the dream-child
felt compelled to repeat herself, this time to the Great Mother,
"You mean...we're on the outside?"
At first, she saw a long crack pierce a fiery-red, plaster
sky. Was this the end? Would her vulnerability now be realized
for eternity? The clouds swelled upward as might an expanding
balloon, doomed to reach its limit with an explosion of nothingness.
Many years before, this girl's fear and her mother's laughter
had prevented her from receiving the complete answer to her
naive curiosity. As she now teetered at the edge of the earth
she witnessed the parting of the clouds and the rich flurry
of stars like diamonds emerging from the blue-blackness beyond.
She felt the lifting of each and every one of her soft, golden
hairs in succession from the nape of her neck up to the top
of her forehead and down to the tips of her fingers. Her face
awe, the girl whispered something wordless and meaningful,
the answer to her own question. Pure beauty of color,
light, and presence spilled through her window erasing her
fear, as her mother's laughter swirled into the sound of the
wind and the songs of the birds circling below her.
© 2008 Jeri Lynn Ross
all rights reserved