She looked out across the plains, from the tree tops where her group had stopped to spend the night. Grass, trees, animals, the sun sinking into the plains: although she was aware of what her eyes observed, she had no subtle language to express the African plains where she had grown up. Tonight she was familiar with everything except the stars. Through sleepy eyes the stars moved. But the sky had never been much of a threat for her group, so she fell asleep.
They were woken in the middle of the night by a light so bright it looked like the sun had fallen upon them. The grass and the trees swayed in the wind as the light grew nearer. Animals scurried, flew, and galloped across the plains. Swinging from tree to tree, her group fled from the light as fast as their little bodies would move. All escaped except her.
From a safe distance in the tree tops, they watched as the fallen sun paralyzed her.
She awoke on the ground. High in the sky, the sun was back in its familiar position. Confused and frightened because she had spent the night and half of the day without the protection of her group or the protection of the trees, she hurried to the edge of the plains. Once in the trees she could decide what to do.
Knowing her group’s simple habits, she set out in search of them. It took the rest of the day to catch up with them. As she walked among the group they stared at her with a fear reserved for outsiders. Every time she came near they grunted, made horrible sounds, and pushed her away.
She attempted to make it on her own, but the fear of wild animals, the fear of the sun fallen in the night sky, and the fear of the baby growing inside her permeated her mind. She remained on the outskirts of the group hoping that they might again offer protection. The routines of obtaining food were no problem. She had always been a good hunter, gatherer, and tool maker, but simple tasks were becoming difficult with the pregnancy. As her belly began to show, the males became more violent. They knew that none from the group had touched her.
Unleashing physical pains over her entire body unlike any animal’s unforgiving jaws, images of the sun fallen in the night sky filled her dreams. Paralyzing her night after night, black eyes observed her in sleep. The time came when she couldn’t follow the others any longer. She gave birth.
With almost no hair and dark, knowing eyes, the baby elicited memories of the creatures from the fallen sun. Creatures unlike the animals of the plains, creatures like her but different. She tried to leave the baby at the edge of the plains to be eaten by an animal, but he was responsive and made sounds that she had never heard before. He did not make grunting noises like the other babies made. He made sounds that touched her heart; sounds that ascended and descended in patterns like the branches of trees. Compassion overcame pain.
From time to time they crossed paths with the others who stared in fear at the mother and child.
Despite the painful memories the male child evoked, she grew to love him. One day while holding him, he looked into her eyes and said “Ma Ma.”
She taught him how to hunt, how to distinguish between edible and non-edible plants, how to make tools from bone and stone. In such a small amount of time he comprehended more than the other male children she had observed during her short life, but what made her respect and almost fear her son was the way he stood erect and walked. He walked without the support of his hands touching the ground and unlike his mother he did not share an affinity for the treetops.
Years of being an outcast wore on her, and the pain of that night continued to haunt her dreams. It was her time to rest. The boy waited with his mother as she died. He closed her eyes and covered her with leaves. From a comfortable distance the others watched his life evolve.
One day while drinking from a stream, he stared at his reflection in the water and remembered his mother bent over beside him. He became aware of her harrier body and shorter stature. As if the memory of his mother in the water was a sign, he decided to follow the stream. After days of travel it poured out into the ocean.
From the tree tops the others watched in paralyzed fear as he stood erect and looked out across the ocean. They had never been this far from their territory, so they remained in the trees. As the sun fell into the water, colors filled his mind. Making sounds that have never been uttered on earth, he described the colors of the sun in subtle ways the others could not perceive.
In the distance a female walked along the shore. As she grew near, he saw that she didn’t have as much hair as his mother. He studied her and found a beauty in her that he had only known in his mother. They began to communicate as if they were programed to be together. Fulfillment in discovering another of her own intellect overcame her. They walked along the shore.
James Guin lives in Woodstock, GA with his wife and two children. He has no publications to date. James teaches guitar and writes during “no shows”.