The Kingfisher’s Wing

After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.
–T. S. Eliot from Burnt Norton


“There’s always something to listen to.”

Sugar often rests at the still point. At first, I thought the legacy game had a glitch, for after the recent patch, autofill stopped working on Sugar and onezero’s fun and energy meters, and I often found one or the other of them standing and gazing.


“This is what I want to do right at this very moment.”

But then I noticed that autofill did work for the other Sims on the lot, and when Sugar and onez were standing around, they weren’t standing around aimlessly–they were standing around intentionally.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
–T. S. Eliot from Burnt Norton

They weren’t fixed or stuck–their attention remained fluid. It was as if they were… thinking. Or maybe just enjoying the quietness of being. Often, onezero would laugh to herself or say, “Ah, vadish!” while Sugar simply gazed and smiled.

I began to think that Sugar was waiting for me to suggest something for her to do, for whenever I would queue up an activity, she would launch into it with a laugh and her eager stride. Most of Sugar’s life has been spent collaborating with me to complete aspirations; perhaps she has grown accustomed to my suggestions, and maybe she prefers them.

In one of Ren’s games, a digital copy of Sugar Maple Bough has taken on a different approach which caused Ren, at first, to suspect a glitch. Ren’s Sugar stands and waits, not for actions to be added to her queue, but to allow those items already queued up to cancel out. And once they do, Sugar does whatever she wants, like soak in the hot tub. When Ren told me about this, it seemed to me like it wasn’t a glitch, but that it was Sugar being Sugar. I know that look of hers when she’s standing and waiting all too well.

In my game, it’s not that Sugar never chooses her own activities: she’ll paint, play the guitar or violin, work out, watch tv, mold clay, observe the sky, study the molecular structure with the microscope, mix drinks, play video games, take showers, take naps, serve meals, clean the dishes, and socialize with family, friends, ghosts, and plants, all autonomously. She will also autonomously stand around, with no items in her queue, to breathe, think, and be.


Sometimes, there are no words.

I suppose it’s not that different from me, now that I think about it. For mixed in with all my activity throughout the day are long moments of standing, gazing, being–feeling what’s going on inside and out.

Redbud, who with her writer’s eyes is always watching, noticed Sugar and onezero’s moments at the still point.

“What’s going on with you two?” she asked her aunt onez.

“Are you talking about the dance?” onezero replied.

“I don’t know if I’d call it a dance!” Red said. “I guess if you call standing around doing nothing a dance, then yeah.”

“If one is still,” onez said, “it doesn’t mean that there is no movement. The eyes blink. The pulses flicker: off, on. The mind flashes light to light or rests in the dark pause between the flash. Even in the stillest point, there is still movement, for all is movement, all is flicker.”


“There is great movement within each moment of stillness, and much stillness within each moment of movement!”

It didn’t really make sense to Red, but then she has too many plots racing around her head to worry herself over pondering the esoteric.

Red, always the writer, prefers settling into the meaning of the word, not that which is found behind, under, or between the words. Having skipped the reading of Wittgenstein in her youth, Red still believes that words carry significance which can be comprehended within the experience of time.

And time is one thing Red believes she has plenty of.

I’ve stopped feeling antsy about which man she’ll feel attracted to, when she’ll feel like dating, and when we’ll get the next generation under way.

She has choices.


“Clarence. You read, right? What do you read? The sports page?”

Jamie, a fellow bookworm, provides a great source of conversation for Red. He eagerly listens to her latest plot ideas, and then he tosses in a few ideas of his own.

“Yeah,” he laughed after hearing about her latest plan for a science fiction novel. “You could even include some sort of weird wormhole time travel thingy!”

“Those things don’t really exist,” said Clarence, who always seems to be around whenever Jamie stops by.

Red still views her two childhood friends as if they were the park boys–great friends and fun to hang out with. And that’s about it.

But there are other guys strolling through Oasis Springs. There’s the mailman.


“Both my great grandpa and great grand uncle were mailmen!”

Most every day now, Sugar throws a party. I stow the potions in Alder’s inventory, where, at least for now, they’re safe from the gluttons’ party zest.

At the last party, flanked by the park boys, Red sounded yet another plot idea.


“I really feel there’s an audience for this one!”

“What do you think of this?” she asked. “A young woman all her life carried her family expectations: be brilliant. Be strong. Have kids. Make smart decisions. She was ok with most of that, but then, halfway to her adult birthday, she realized that she wasn’t ok with all of it. She simply didn’t want to have kids!”


“I mean, why bother? If she doesn’t have kids, that’s that many more Townies saved from culling!”

Jamie thought it sounded promising–all the right themes for the modern audience.

“Should be a best-seller,” he said.

But after the party ended and Jamie headed home, Red’s dad offered his perspective.


“I don’t find it fulfilling. Or socially responsible. Or inventive. It sounds contrived!”

“It’s not a bad plot,” Nathanael said. “But it seems kind of predictable, don’t you think? I mean, isn’t that what all the heroines in novels do these days? Take a stand against their family’s expectations? What if you took that trope and turned it around. What if she decided to not to have kids, but then she fell for a guy, maybe even somebody she’d known since childhood, and she suddenly realized that she did want to have kids? She realized her earlier reaction was all just a counter-reaction to expectations, not something that really came from her own desires?”

“I like that plot!” Clarence said. “Now there’s a novel I would read!”

But Red’s not so sure she wants her dad and childhood friend writing her plots for her. And I suppose if Redbud herself absolutely refuses to choose a man to have kids with, we will still have options.


“I don’t think these were any ordinary lights… these were strange lights!”

Alder returned from his adventures in space feeling confident. Space explorations are simply inspiring to any artist!


“Hang on! I think I’ve got an idea for a painting!”

But once he headed out to harvest the garden, he felt dazed, and he realized that he actually had no idea whatsoever what had happened when he was out there.

We don’t know yet what will occur, if we’ll get a blue side-shoot through which we can continue this legacy, or if Red, once she finishes her writer’s aspiration, will decide that maybe raising a family isn’t the worst idea. Right now, we’re in the dance at the still center, and unconcerned with time past or time future.


“I just wish I could remember what that spatula-thing was used for.”