And Thus, She Danced
She stepped forward silently, whispering in like a kite on the wind. There was no one there to notice her, although that didn't bother her. So, she thought to herself, so it begins.
The ground beneath her bare paws was covered with the greenest grass, soft to the touch and cool to the fur. She bent down and sniffed a flower, found its aroma appealing, and snapped its stem with the gentlest of snaps, deciding to stick it behind her ear to keep it for later. The sky above her was of the bluest of blues and the sun shone bright, almost as bright as her spirit. The air was pleasantly warm, the hills rolled before her in the loveliest of ways—and so she began to dance.
And oh, how she danced!
She twirled and spun across her delicate stage, twirled and spun and pirouetted and leaped and touched the sky! She was joyous, she was demented, she was blissful and mad and crazy and flying high, she was as light as a feather and on top of the world, and nothing could bring her down, nothing!
She reached the top of the hill and finally paused, breathless in her exuberance and her ecstasy. As she took in the view—all of the lands of this earth, all their spectacular glories visible far and wide, all of it, hers for the taking, hers for the celebrating!—her grin couldn't help but widen, widen, widen, and suddenly it was gone, replaced with an open mouth exalting the wonders of this beautiful existence and singing, singing!
She spread out her arms and released a pitch-perfect A, her clear voice carrying far across the hills. She sang of nothing in particular, yet she sang of everything. Her aria spoke of the wind whispering through fur on a cool fall day and of the friendly brook babbling its thoughts underneath the bridge and of the small pleasures found from the smell of cinnamon and the taste of honeysuckle and the warmth of the fireplace on a snowy winter's day and the beauty of a good friendship. The tune struck the air with confidence and with pride; her song was wordless, yet it spoke to all of everything that day as it carried itself with the boldness of strong coffee and with the grace of a falling oak leaf. She was singing the world's song, and she was bliss, pure bliss, nothing but the embodiment of joy and true happiness! She was all things, and all things were her, she was the sky above, and she was the grass below, and she was, she was.
She was invincible.
She had gone on twirling for too long, far too long. Happiness is temporary and her voice could only hold for so long. After all, nothing lasts forever.
The sky darkened, the rain began to fall, the thunder began to rumble, and her perfect world shattered into a thousand tiny shards of broken pottery.
Nothing lasts forever.
She fell to her knees and beat the ground with her fists, her rhythm silent but bursting with heartbreak and despair, grief and misery, rage and fury and a madness altogether different than the joy of the Acara who had been dancing on the hill just moments earlier. She was broken, done for, a mere relic of a former glory. Her fur was soaked through, her paws were unwashably muddy, her eyes were irreparably red. She was no longer everything, no longer the sky and grass and the world itself. She was only herself, herself and nothing more, a speck of unnecessary dust eking out a bleak existence—no.
She was nothing.
She raised her head to the roaring sky and let out a wail, let out a high and piercing cry, let out a cry for mercy and forgiveness and for answers as to why it all had to come tumbling down, why it happened to her, why it had to be this way, why, why, WHY?
The rain continued to cascade as she plead the inexorable storm for mercy, please, just a scrap of mercy for this poor retch, please... please. Slowly, she lowered her head and collapsed onto the feeble, drowned grass, the grass that had once been her companion and her stage. The blossom behind her ear fell to the ground, limp and dead.
She lay there, lay there, lay there, her eyes closed to the agonizing world. Surely it would all be over soon. Please, someone, anyone! Just snuff out this joke of an existence. Just leave me be and let me sink into a perpetual sleep.
And then came the sun, that beautiful sphere of warmth and light and glory! Oh, it was weak, ever-so-weak, but it was there, ever-so-there, and it dared to cast a ray of hope onto the hopeless Acara, the speck of dust who lifted her chin off the ground and blinked upon the brave new world that lay before her. A smile spread slowly across her face, a small smile, yes, but a smile that held a glimmer of the grass and the sky and of everything, the shine of the joyous creature who had once frolicked and leaped and held the world within her paw.
And so, she pushed herself up, her knees aching and her elbows popping. She rose, hardly a triumphant figure, as damp and dirty as she was, yet still daring to stand strong as the sun became her spotlight through the clouds. She stepped forward, looked up at the sky that had held her prisoner, and laughed.
Nothing lasts forever.
So she journeyed on, sometimes singing, sometimes dancing, sometimes weeping, yet never failing to have fun and find the simple joys in life. Her journey was long yet short, far too short to have been a reality. Yet it was, and she was, and she thrived day by day, hour by hour. She hardly knew what she was looking for, but she could care less, for she was free, and freedom was all that she needed. And though she didn't know where she was going, when she reached it she knew that she had, and her heart sank like a poorly thrown stone in a rushing river. The spring in her step faded into nothing; her song perished as it fell off of the edge of the world and into the mouth of the beast.
"Alright," grumbled her massive adversary, somewhat boredly. "Get on with it."
"I don't want to destroy you," she said, with the impossibly brave voice of the most impossible heroine. "I am not like the others who come here to defile your sanctuary."
The Chomby stared up at her, blinking its tired red eyes. "Well, wot do you want, then? I have little ta give you, besides a fight."
"I journeyed here with a song in my heart and a storm forever behind me," she told him boldly. "I could have quit and returned home, yet I continued to press on. I faced stream and brook, scream and crook to get here, and I only wanted... "
She fell silent. What did she want?
After all, she had already twirled and spun and sung the world's song. She had done everything she had wanted, and more.
"Actually... I wanted to thank you."
"I wanted to thank you... for my freedom," she declared. "I yearned for happiness, and I found more than I bargained for. I desired a challenge, and I overcame a grand one. I only wanted to live, and I did! So thank you."
"But how did I help you get thah?" asked the puzzled behemoth.
"You brought my dance to an end. But I refuse to mourn. After all, nothing lasts forever." And, grinning a mad grin and singing a mad song, she ran at the Chomby and leapt over the edge of the world, laughing with joy yet crying bitterly from the sweet, happy memories that she had to leave behind. She fell and she fell and she fell...
"And that's what a good book is like, you know?"
The Wocky standing at the cash register smacked his gum, totally uninterested. He hadn't asked for a speech on the joys of reading or whatever, but of course he had gotten one, delivered by this smarmy little kid. Why did he always have to ring up the odd ones?
"Yeah, sure. Your total is 951 Neopoints." He took her coins and then turned back to the Neovision display behind the counter. "Come again... " he murmured as his mind drifted to the screen.
The Acara stared at him blankly. As she stood there, a blush filled her cheeks and she sighed sadly. Why did no one understand her? She pulled up her coat so that it mostly hid her frowning face and shuffled out of the store, her new tome lying dejectedly in her backpack. No one got it. No one ever did.
As she meandered along through the market, a single sunbeam poked its way through the clouds and bounced off of her glasses. She looked up. Hmm... perhaps today wouldn't be so bad after all. She dared to whistle, just a single bar of a simple melody. Sure, she was off-key, and the street was packed with passerby, but...
Nothing lasts forever.
The shoppers in the market watched the small Acara in an unseasonable coat skip joyously down the path, her arms spread wide apart as a motley crew of las came singing out of her smiling mouth. Her tune was annoying and backpack whacked anyone in its path, yet she carried on as though she was the only one there, as if she owned the world.
What an odd creature, the shoppers thought, before moving on with their lives and browsing the market's displays of swords and asparagus.
She was breathless and a wee bit embarrassed when she finally skipped up her front door, and she kept her head down as she slunk into her room and closed the door behind her. Nothing lasts forever, she reminded herself. The day's embarrassments would fade away, and indeed, most already had. She wasn't the confident heroine who could overcome any obstacle and pass any barrier, yet...
She was herself.
Though nothing lasts forever, she'd always have the small comfort of having herself. And that realization was enough to make her smile, smile the smile of the dancing fool on the hill, the smile of the singer who sings of the world, smile the smile of the wretch who stood up to the rain.