Time Passages


Far Earth Orbiter 63

A grassy meadow, the dew drying in the morning sun, a clear, clean sky. Labrinth’s daughter picked her way along the small creek, a small tribe of children behind her. They reach the place of teaching, a rock shelf warm and welcome, and she finds a place to recline and the kids take places around her, talking excitedly among themselves.

She claps her hand and says, “Attention please.”

But the children have seen the old cat, and reach out to touch him as he picks his way through them to a place next to her. The station hawk, Rain, flew to a nearby tree.

She waits for a moment for the children to quieten and for the Station guardians, Wind, and Rain, to make themselves comfortable. She starts again, “Good morning class.”

The children respond as one, “Good morning teacher.”

She looks at them, child to child, and smiles, “Who can tell me what today is?”

As one, their hands go into the air. She chooses the youngest, “Robert?”

The boy stands, and says, “It is the end of days.”

She says, “Thanks, Robert, you can sit down. Today is the day we remember the end of days. So we have come out here to the rock shelf to look at the sky and remember.”

She points to the sky, and they look up past the skydome, to the stars and the Earth hanging there above them.

She smiles again, “Today we tell the story of where we come from. When we remember our parents and give thanks to the station guardians. Please stop me and ask questions. All ready?” The children respond as one, “Yes teacher.”

She starts.

1. I bid you hear me

Children of the Rainbow

From high, middle and low

Tales of women and men we still know

2.  Of man and monster

Those who gave us milk and bread

From the nine worlds here wed 

Locked tight beneath our moldy firmament

3.  From chaos, we come

From dust created in star anvil

Sometimes volatile enough to cancel

Sometimes thin and insubstantial

The teacher paused, “Who knows the next part?”

They had been practicing this all week, and she chose Rebecca, the oldest at six years, to stand.

4. Here, Sun shining fair

On Earth alone

Warming water and stone

On the ground, green life did grow

Her voice carried across the meadow, to a full balcony set in a grove of birch trees. David and Labrinth are sitting together in the warmth, listening to the ceremony. David says, his hands running through her hair, “She spoke well.”

Labrinth stretched and turned, “Let’s go find the others.”

David said, “Of course, but listen a little longer.”

Labrinth smiled as teacher and children chanted the names of those who came before, “I am in no rush. But I care not for the fairy tales we tell the young.” David said, “They will learn the truth soon enough. Would you have them recite the old words today in their innocence?

Ax time, sword time: shields are broken, Wind time, wolf time: ere the world falls Nor ever shall men: each other spare

Labrinth turns and looks up at the Earth turning above her, “I wonder if we will ever go back?” David said, “All I love is here. Here we are free.”

Labrinth settled back in his arms and listened to the teacher

Below the teacher reaches the part the children have been waiting for, and they are restless. She says, “Settle, please...

44. Loud growls the watchman at his post

His chains cracks and he runs free 

Much can I remember, more did I see during the end of days.”

The children cry out, “The end of days!”

Labrinth murmurs, “Um ragna rök... römm sigtíva”.

In the distance, she hears her daughter claps her hands, singing after the children, “And now go play. There will be milk and bread when you return.” David and Labrinth settle in the mid-morning quiet, nothing but the bees to break the silence. 

She holds him. She misses the real wind and the real rain. The ones from the sky. She misses thunder and lightning. And she remembers those other days: the days of color and danger in the final days of Hanoi, the days of burning heat of the salt lakes in the central deserts, the days when she ran in the sand and surf. But, she had made a choice, her love is in the stars.

She drifted back to that night at the boathouse when the wind blew away the past.

She told herself, “For so long as someone still remembers, it will not die.”


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