Lighthouse: Magic

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Santi sat before the platter of veggie burgers I’d grilled up at Rachel’s.

“Why doesn’t she eat?” I asked Rachel.

Yo paya, yo jisu. ‘No sing, no eat.’ She thinks she needs to play for her supper.”

“But you’ve explained that’s no longer the case?” I asked.

“Only a million times!” laughed Rachel. “When she’s hungry enough, when no one’s looking, she’ll sneak a bite.”

I thought I’d try to convince her she could eat without performing.

“You’re not a servant anymore, Santi,” I explained. She looked at me as if she comprehended.

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“You’re free! Doxni! You’re safe! Sanghi!”

Yo doxni, yo sanghi,” she said, very quietly. “Squeegee. Payazi?”

“All right! Sing!” I replied. “Then we’ll feast on veggie burgers!”

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She sang very softly, with her mouth barely open, and I couldn’t tell if she sang in words or simply sounds and syllables, and slowly I felt a channel of energy, or maybe it was light–in particle and wave–flowing down from the sky, entering my body through the crown, and coursing through me.

“What is this?” I asked her. I had never felt music enter me so fully.

Ontsi molsuravensiku,” she said. Made of love. No wonder her music was considered subversive.

After Santi finished eating, I was ready to head back to the cabin. I figured, if we walked quickly and didn’t get lost, we’d get back before dark.

But Rachel wouldn’t hear of it.

“You have to stay here tonight,” she said. “And for as long as it takes. You cannot leave with the child until you’ve bonded. It’s not safe otherwise. She needs that to be able to travel with you.”

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I resisted. Frankly, I was afraid to bond with this strange, magical child. I had already started to fall in love with her, and I feared that if we truly bonded, I wouldn’t be able to separate with her when Ritu found her a permanent home.

But Rachel convinced me that this child needed connection, if she was going to go with me. She’d be lost otherwise, and I had the impression that Rachel did not mean this metaphorically.

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I didn’t know what to say to her that first night. My Vingihoplo was so poor that I wasn’t able to express much, and she hadn’t yet learned any of our language. So, instead, I simply talked, without worrying whether she understood or not. I told her all about Sept, about the crash, about brave Situ who rescued the 144 pagotogo, about Sebastion, Octy, Mop, and the new baby. I told her about meeting Sept and falling in love and pledging ourselves to each other. I told her about how, now, his cause was my cause, and how I would do anything for him, his family, and Xirra.

She brightened when she heard Xirra’s name. “MoXirra!” she said, meaning that she loved her like a mother.

“MoSanti,” I said, for by then, I loved this child.

Rachel wanted us to stay another day, but I felt it imperative that we get home before the weekend. The Anti-Alien Coalition had posted on social media that they were planning protests that weekend, and I wanted us to be safe at home before they started.

The next morning, we left for the cabin. Rachel had packed us a lunch and snacks, and that turned out to be a good thing, for walking with a small child went much more slowly than walking alone.

We arrived after sunset.

Santi was so tired she fell asleep on the sofa while I fixed soup and sandwiches for supper.

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She ate without singing this time, looking at me with a conspiratorial smile. I took this as a sign that she was beginning to trust me, that she identified me as something other than her mistress or owner.

“You can take off your disguise when you’re inside,” I told her.

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She didn’t understand.

“The second skin?” I said. “Refijotu pi?”

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I mimed pealing off my skin.

“Show your real self, if you want,” I said. “Yada baska.”

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She looked at me a long time. Something about her eyes melted me. She looked like she had seen so much, horrors and joys and terrors and beauty and wonder. She looked like she had lost and gained and lost again.

Sanghi,” I said. “MoSanti.”

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Wa!” she shouted. “Baska! Sanghi!

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Then she stepped out of her disguise-skin.

She was moon blue, like Sept, with ears like his.

Falazi Mallory,” she said.

“I know you, too,” I said.

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“We have a big trip tomorrow,” I told her. “You’ll wear your disguise, refijotu pi, when we travel, OK? But then once we get home, you don’t need it anymore.”

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Gotukoda mokiya?” she asked.

I remembered that gotukoda meant “home,” but I’d forgotten what mokiya meant.

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She showed me. She closed her eyes, and I closed mine, and then she sang, and waves of happy love tickled me until I laughed, and when she sang, it felt just like home.

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Wa,” I said. “Gotukoda mokiya. Our home is happy.”

We were sleepy. I tucked her into bed, singing her a song my grandmother used to sing me, “Mares-eat-oats, and does-eat-oats, and little-lambs-eat-ivy, a kid’ll-eat-ivy, too, wouldn’t you?”

She sang back, first simply, “Marezeedotes, and dozeedotes, and liddlelamzeedivy, a kiddleetdivytoo, woodnyoo!”

Then, in a sleepy, happy voice, she began improvising on the tune and the lyrics, and by the time she fell asleep, still softly singing, “dunyoo,” she had invented something worthy of Bach.

I woke in the middle of the night. Her bed was empty.

My heart raced into my throat, and I ran outside. There at the edge of the forest, having remembered to slide back into her second skin, she stood before three colored lights.

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I can’t tell you what they were. They weren’t insects. It wasn’t phosphorescence. It wasn’t some optical trick.

Maybe they were fairies.

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All I know is that the magic in this world was drawn to this magical girl.

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Septemus 49

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Dear Sept,

It’s from you that I’ve learned to listen to that voice that sounds inside. It’s not my voice. Usually, it’s yours.

This time, it belonged to someone else.

“Come outside! Meet with us again! We want to see you!”

How could I refuse? I knew who it was. It was your people. I’d been hoping to have another chance to see them. I’d been waiting for this.

I felt excited. I was going to see your people again. What would they tell me this time?

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I hoped I would remember every word they spoke.

The light wasn’t frightening this time. It felt warm. It felt like a welcome.

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For just a moment, my rational mind kicked in: What if something happens to interrupt the beam?

The ship was an awfully long ways up there.

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But once I begin to lift off the ground, I put my worries aside.

Trust.

This was their words.

Concentrate.

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I looked in the bedroom window as I began rising up.

There you were, fast asleep.

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Do you know how proud I am of you?

“Sleep well,” I whispered. “I’ll be back before you wake.” I hoped I’d have more news from your people to share with you.

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It seemed like I was gone for a long time, though it was still dark when I returned, and you were still sleeping in your bed.

It’s hard for me to explain what it feels like on returning. It’s something like waking from a dream–so much has happened, more than I can process at the moment. And that strange feeling of adjusting to the atmosphere and gravity of this planet. That’s the most disconcerting part.

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I stood in a stupor on the lawn before our house.

The space craft hovered above.

And then, then I heard singing. It was all twelve of them–all twelve who’d been on the ship–but with the echoing of their voices, they sounded like hundreds. The melody followed the cadences of the songs you sing, that same minor key, filled with longing and love.

Pagoto, dear one,
Hold one,
Carry one.

Love one,
Dear one,
Our one,
Sweet one.

EO inna-inna O
O inna-inna EO.

EO in’i O
O in’i EO.

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I looked up, and the light of the ship’s eye winked, and then it was gone.

Son, when I remember what happened, I will share it with you.

–Your pops

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Three Rivers 24.1

Twenty-fourth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

AN: Another beautiful game-generated Sim in another beautiful house by TheKalinotr0n

24.  She discovers she’s an artist!

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When Rachael Stanley retired from forty years of office work, she felt the whole world awaited.

She had time to practice yoga.

She stood in tree pose, her gaze following the butterflies over the meadow.

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She had time to prepare lunch, rather than grabbing a sandwich from the deli.

The red of tomatoes stole her breath sometimes.

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She joined the Green Party and helped with campaign events.

“The butterflies, yes!” said Alec Dolan, the party candidate. “It is for them, no?”

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She watched Alec talk and lost the sound of his words. Such beauty in the face of humans!

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She played the piano. Green and blue swirled through the Chopin nocturne.

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She even found that, for the first time since she moved here twelve years ago, she had time to meet her neighbors.

Emiliano Zorelo, who ran the café next door and lived in the small home on the other side of the café, often strolled by on his evening walks.

“You come to watch the sunsets, don’t you?” she asked.

“Ah, no. For the exercise,” he said. “I become restless. I must move.”

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“But the beauty,” she said, gesturing towards the pink clouds. “It’s breath-taking!”

Emiliano gazed towards the horizon. “El misterio es el elemento clave en toda obra de arte. You have the eye of the artist, Señora Rachael.”

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That evening, she stood on the upper deck and watched night arrive. During the years of work, she only caught the passing of time at a glance–that’s how quickly it always moved. Now, she watched the changes brought by the turning of the earth.

Light fades slowly, until at once, it is dark, and the quiet outlines of clouds nestle against the black sky.

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When Sasha Mignon, the granddaughter of her friend Esmeralda, dropped by, she had time to visit with the child.

“You have a nice a garden,” said Sasha. “It’s got a little bit of everything, like my auntie’s paint palette.”

“Oh! Your aunt is an artist?” asked Rachael. Esmeralda had never mentioned her daughter was an artist.

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“I guess you could say so,” said Sasha. “But she never paints what she sees, only what she feels.”

“Do you like her paintings?” Rachael asked.

“Kinda. They make me feel things. But I think I’d like them better if they were of horses and stuff. That’s what I mostly draw.”

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Inside, Sasha quickly ate her snack and washed her own bowl. Then she sat with Rachael.

“Can you tell me a story?” she asked. “I’m collecting stories.”

Rachael began a long story about a girl who pretended to be a boy and stowed away on a pirate ship. The story was filled with discoveries, treachery, sword-fights, and cannons.

“I think you must be an artist, too,” said Sasha, as the story was winding down.

“Why’s that?” asked Rachael.

“You spent more time describing the colors of the waves, the shape of the clouds, and the way the waves move than you did telling about what happened! Only artists care about that.”

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The next morning, Rachael noticed her friend the writer Isabel Rosella as she ran along the path.

She felt that tug inside that she calls “the beauty response.” The lines of the leg, the slight bending forward of the torso, the tilt of the neck.

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The human form expresses such beauty.

And then her face! The quiet lift at the corners of her mouth. That wise, thoughtful gaze in the eyes. And all the lines that traced the passages of her life.

If only I could paint that! she thought.

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Alysia chuckled at one of Sebastian’s jokes–it least she and Alysia assumed it was a joke. With Sebastian, one could never be quite sure.

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And then, Isabel joined them, and just for a moment, Rachael felt overcome by the wonder of it all. The bilateral symmetry of the human form: yet it can express itself in so many ways. The grace, the assurance, the awkwardness of the person molds and modifies the outer shape. She could not separate the essence from the exterior.

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Walking home, she passed Emiliano, and she read the culture and history of worlds within his face.

I would like to paint his portrait! She thought.

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Enough with the dreaming! She decided. I am retired. Let’s do it!

She went to an art supply store and bought a few easels, a few very small canvases, and some very cheap acrylic paints. Who knew that art supplies could be so expensive, and, since she was just starting out, she might as well keep the investment to a minimum.

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As she worked, it became very clear very quickly that inexpensive paints yield inferior results. Of course, this was just her first painting in, what, fifty years! She couldn’t expect to immediately scratch that itch that was so deep inside of her. Yet, even with a washed out, naive rendering of a pink flower, she felt such joy!

It wasn’t what she had hoped to paint, but it was something, and it was a first step towards becoming a partner in the dance between essence and form.

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The next day, she told Sebastian, Esmeralda, and Nash about her painting experiments.

“I like music,” said Sebastian.

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“I taught art for a while,” said Nash.

“Oh, I don’t have any pretentions,” said Rachael. “I know I’ll never be any good. I’m starting way too late. But I love it. And it’s a minimal investment. I’m just using student grade supplies.”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” replied Nash. “You never know what you might discover. For playing around, any materials are fine. But if you really have something you want to express, consider getting the best paint, brushes, and canvases you can afford.”

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Another trip to the art supply store, and she returned with a larger canvas and studio quality acrylics.

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She lost herself in the experience of painting. She realized that she still didn’t quite understand mixing colors, but she was intrigued by the contrast between light and dark in this landscape.

Now and then, she would glance up from her canvas to watch the dance of sunlight and shadow. It’s movement, she thought. That’s how essence expresses itself. Movement and stillness.

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She spent long hours looking. Everything shimmers. The shimmer must be life, energy. She wasn’t sure how to paint that, though she understood the seduction of pointillism.

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At the end of the month, having graduated to professional quality acrylics and large canvases, she now and then painted something that pleased her.

The composition isn’t right, she thought, too crowded. But then life sometimes is crowded, with everything trying to fit into the same tiny space.

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Towards the end of summer, she began to notice an organic pattern repeating itself across the landscape: criss-crossing lines. Light and shadow integrated the pattern.

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She found it everywhere she looked in nature.

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Sometimes it was muted, or partially covered. And other times it was the dominant pattern. It meant something to her, which she couldn’t articulate.

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Except through her canvas.

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Through her canvas she could express all the meaning she found in this pattern, and more. She could express life.

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