Word Count 470
A Bright, Shining Star
The word “bright” entered her consciousness, as she squinted her eyes open a slit. Immediately, she shut them against the light. It made her eyes hurt. No warm, soothing fluid bathed them to diffuse the brightness into a dim, all-consuming halo of protection.
Why had she come here? Something had drawn her—told her to hurry—the ever-expanding universe of her existence beckoning her to explore outside. In her haste, she had left the warmth of her little cave, never imagining how different it would be. That the very atmosphere surrounding her would be nothing like what she was accustomed to was beyond her understanding. It was too late to retreat. Now she had her head through, she couldn’t go back. Too startled to breathe, she could feel the tunnel squeezing her torso and abdomen. If she could just free herself of the cave altogether. The inability to move was causing her to panic. Anticipation of the unknown was terrifying.
Other forces suddenly prevailed in a spasm and a whoosh, as the cave decided to release her. Something strong and sure guided her exit. Eyes still squinched tight, her other senses were assailed by more unknowns. A clammy tickle enveloping her head. Absence of warmth. Noises. Along with the gentle rhythm of blood coursing in her temples and ears, a sound familiar and calming, came harsh clamor, instantly causing her to tense again. Then, she realized she did know these noises. They were no longer muffled, as they had been inside the cave, but she had heard them before. Many times. Not clearly, as she did now. Previously, the vibrations came to her through an ocean. Deciphering the vibrations had meant feeling the intensity and intent. Without the cave’s protection, she must use her ears in a different way, but still search for the intensity and intent. The sound she heard now, the vibration in her ear, was more urgent than what she was used to. But the volume had dropped to a murmur, barely more than a stirring of the chill air.
“Breathe. Co’mon breathe.” Was that meant for her? Something she was supposed to do? This wasn’t anything she knew, but the sound relaxed her. Her diaphragm hiccupped and drew in air then forced it out again in a little mew. “Ten fingers ten toes.” The strong touch pressed against her briefly, then moved away as another touch, tender, warm, buzzing with the wonder of life, enfolded her. Now she knew. This was why she had come.
Looking back a year later, she knew infinitely more—the tenderness of the strong hands, the strength of the enfolding arms; Woman’s strength of purpose; the shining light of joy; the brightness of a star—she reaches for these every day. She will always be a woman ahead of her time.
for Natalia Ann from Gramma December 28, 2017