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Myki ([personal profile] notbantamweight) wrote2011-08-03 11:00 am

dreams of days past

 The mist spiraled slowly under the streetlight, forming whimsical curlicues that drifted apart almost as soon as they coalesced, faint orange and yellow and grey in colour, a kind of tangible ethereality that reminded Damian of the Otherworld, that one which he caught glimpses of sometimes, out of the corner of his eye, reflected in his glasses. That one where angels floated silently above the pavement, and ghosts in Victorian daywear strolled along the sidewalk, unthinking, unseeing humans just walking through them, ignorant, blind. It had been an age since humans had really been able to see the supernatural, since Gods walked among Men, since Satyrs were sighted in the woods, and Naiads had sung to those by rivers.

No, the mind's eye of mankind had become clouded with his own cleverness, with his own scientific prowess that he had lost sight of what he had come so far with - the knowledge of his past, so short in comparison with the world, a mere million years of souls and memories and dreams, of plans made and battles lost. And Damian wept for those forgotten souls; for that was when they truly died. Ever since he was a boy, he had watched the watchers, making imaginary friends that he didn't abandon when he went to school, grew his hair long as once was the fashion, and told stories to they faeries, and the dryads in the grove of Waratahs and Wattles behind his house. He went swimming with a Yowie, and raced the shadows of the Children of the Earth in the bush, shinning up trees to survey plains filled with extinct creatures, the likes of which science could never know. He went to school, and sat through classes that were meant to make him conform, when all he wanted to do was talk to someone interesting, for once. And then, one day, an Elder came to the school, the likely last head of his tribe, and he told them stories of the Dreaming, how the Rainbow Serpent carved out the rivers, and the frog who drank up all the water. And Damian had cocked his head to the side, and asked something in his language.

He had said, "Why don't you sing with the birds anymore?", and the Elder paused dead, and stared straight at him, looking around him, at the spirits that clustered around this rare, rare boy, the boy who was not blind, and the Elder had cried tears of joy, and gestured the boy forward, and all the class suddenly saw the light of the world, if just for a few minutes. Just for a few minutes, the world was rendered in gold and bronze, and the sunlight that spilled through the trees was pure, and untainted by chemicals, and the birds sang in the air, a dozen species that science would never know, and it was like they were in a dream, a dream that no one wanted to end. But when the light faded and they were left blind again, no one ever teased the boy with the long brunette hair and the garnet eyes ever again, not when he spoke a near-dead language, and could briefly reverse the blinkers that time had imposed upon them. And then Damian graduated primary school, and went on to secondary. Things changed, and not all for the best.

The world seemed to dim, so he ran away, halfway through year ten, ran away, and caught a ride on the coal train. And when that was far enough away from civilisation, he jumped off, and landed in a different world. The sky was more blue, and the dirt beneath his feet was not tired, but fresh, and full of promise. The homesteads which stayed on the horizon were as mirages, transient and flickering, only really halfway there, and he wandered for half a year, walking with seven-league strides across the country, and where he walked, things happened. So it should have been no surprise that one night someone else walked up to his fire, and sat down opposite him, pale amber artificial eyes glittering with the reflected flames, shirt loose and travel-stained, pants worn and dusty.

And he'd said, "Hello, I'm Simon." And Damian had understood him, that he was different, and like him and not like him all at once, because he'd been blind, but now he saw, and saw the world through different eyes, not blind eyes, but ones wide open. And he'd reached out an already broad hand over the fire, and the ghosts sitting around it with them smiled, and dissolved away, and they were left sitting in the dark. Damian smiled at Simon, and reached out his own hand, clasping it in a firm, calloused grip.

The world had dissolved around them, and they'd fallen through space, until they were sitting crossed legged on Damian's verandah, and his mother came rushing out of the house, enfolding her only son in her arms, but he just sat there, and watched as Simon got up, and beat his trousers off, and he walked off, dreadlocks swaying easily with every step, until he melted into the twilight shadows, and Damian hugged his mother back.