Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shell Girl and the Black Storm

Once upon a time there was a girl who lived in a shell. She was small and light and she had a voice that sounded like the breeze. The shell was warm and smooth, and lay day after day on the sandy beach of the Seneca Bay. When night came and the seagulls slept, the song of the sea harmonized with the girl's sleeping breath, and even Poseidon was lulled. Truly a beautiful sound, the shell projected her voice for miles in every direction. It was even heard on the 12 islands of Tanuket, a cluster of small islands that used to be one many years ago, before the sea welcomed the Black Storm.

The Black Storm had changed many things in Seneca Bay, but the most dramatic change was the sky. Torn in peices, it hung like shrouds and even dipped into the sea when the wind stopped blowing them to and fro.

It was during the Black Storm that the girl climbed inside the shell, for she had to find shelter or she would have blown away like the rest of the light things on the beach. The shell was small but heavy, and it was lodged in the sand where a man had once built a platform for selling goods during the summer months. The top of the platform sheltered the shell and kept the wind from blowing it away.

Every now and then, the girl would crawl out of the shell to find food and drink, but always to the shell she returned when she felt the first hint of a breeze. The Black Storm had not left room for peace of mind, and the sky was a constant reminder of that.

She often wondered where her loved ones had blown away to, and thought many times that they might be on one of the 12 islands, but she dared not to enter the sea to travel there, for she was too scared to swim and she did not have a boat. So instead she sang inside her shell, hoping the sound of her voice would carry far enough for them to hear.

All around Seneca Bay, the Heavy Ones listened in wonder when she sang. These Heavy Ones had made themselves heavy by eating rocks, for they were afraid of being swept up in the next big storm. They were not used to hearing such a light sound, and their heavy ears and heavy hearts would delight in it. So that they would not loose it to the wind, they caught the songs in metal boxes and buried them in the sand, far from the threat of a returning storm. They did this with every light thing left on the island, and they took comfort in knowing that their heavy bodies sat above everything light, keeping it all safe and protected.

However, several of the Heavy Ones did not like this idea. They argued that keeping everything light beneath the ground no longer made it light- that once these objects, sounds, sights, and feelings were inside metal boxes and buried in the earth, they became heavy just like everything else. They longed to dig up the light things, and they longed to hear the songs above ground, in the freedom of the air. When these Heavy Ones vioced their opinions, the other Heavy Ones, who called themselves the Protectors, would point to the sky and say, "Do you not remember the Black Storm? Do you not remember what happened to everything light and good on this land?"

In reply, the Heavy Ones who disagreed, who called themselves the Trusters, said that there was no proof that anything light had disappeared, but rather that they had blown to a new location. Further, they argued, how could one deny the presence of a light thing when they heard the songs? Surely this must come from something light, and surely they would find this thing and bring it back as proof.

So for days the Trusters waited for a song, and finally one began to swell up from the shell float across the breeze to the Heavy Ones. The Trusters began their journey at once and found nothing but a heavy shell. Upset that they had only found something heavy, they picked it up and threw it into the water, where it sank to the bottom.

Standing on the platform, a Truster began to remember a man who used to sell goods during the summer months. He sold kites and trinkets and nets for fishing. The kites and trinkets had blown away during the black storm, but the nets were strewn all over the beach. This truster had a sudden realization which brought joy to his heart. They did not blow away because they had holes! They did not blow away because they did not resist the wind! They allowed for it, and they were spared!

As this Truster was relaying his epiphany to the others, the girl was struggling at the bottom of the sea to free herself from inside the heavy shell. She began to realize that the protection the shell had provided had become a trap, and she vowed to never hide inside anything heavy ever again if she broke free. She thought about all the time she had wasted in the shell, and all of the life she had not lived for fear of another storm. She thougth of her friends and family who disapeared in the storm, and she remembered that they all reacted differently. Some were fighting the wind- flailing thier arms and legs and screaming for help. Others were bewildered and seemed in shock. But the ones that she remembered most were the peaceful ones- the ones who seemed to almost comply with the wind by puffing out thier shirts like kites and manuevering this way and that when able. While she fought inside her heavy shell, she remembered those peaceful ones, and she began to understand them. She let out one last long sigh, and it was heard by the Trusters, and they realized what they had done.

The Trusters returned to the Protectors with nets in hand and a truth on their lips. Light things are spared in storms when they allow the wind to blow through them. They blow away when they don't. But even when they blow away, they can end up on beautiful islands. It is only when they try to avoid the storm that they end up at the bottom of the sea.

Years went by, and most of the Heavy Ones got lighter and lighter, for they stopped eating rocks and started to dig up the metal boxes and set every light thing free. There were those who were still afraid of being light, so they ate rocks and sat all day in thier heaviness. One day the sky turned black and the winds began to blow. The heavy ones sat down in preparation and told the light ones that their day had finally come. But just as the winds carried the light ones up to the sky, the ground broke into islands and the heavy ones sank into the sea. The light ones grabbed onto the shrouds of the sky and make their way to safety on beautiful islands, where they met other light ones and, eventually, other storms.