The message has a set destination. Within a piece of paper, a direct message that contains no irony, sarcasm, or fancy language like a metaphor hinting at uncertain meaning. My simple job was to take the worn road through fairy forest and unicorn meadow to the emperor to handle some political matter most likely. As a bird, even one such as myself who can not fly, destiny predetermined us to deliver paper. Lack of curiosity or at least denial of curiosity got you higher up jobs, but regardless being a bird always equaled delivering papers. Curiosity never prompted me to be late or destroy secrecy with wandering eyes. Horses were destined to carry loads with more weight. More weight didn’t necessarily mean more weight, though. Paper could contain the most threatening item scrawled by a writing utensil with a questioning hand rendering a once blank, obsolete space fatal and dangerous within seconds. Seconds that could alter the world. The papers within my cotton knapsack were probably concerning the Elf Revolt. The dirtiest, most vile jobs are given to the elves. But, that is their lot in life. I should not ponder such matters. My duty is to deliver the message, not question its content. Questioning leads to job destruction and it’s just paper, after all.
The ground is familiar with its soil texture and random pebbles every now and again. But, the trees were peculiar today. Their shadows seem to stalk me like prey, unlike their usual guiding warmth. Anyhow, the fairies pollinate the trees and flowers. Spring is approaching. Plus, imagination is apt to toy with one’s mind when a task is repeated like an endless melody in a common tune. The sun appears to be lowering. But, the path takes exactly two days. Today is the second day, I daresay. My destination should have been reached. The surroundings say I have a good 4-5 hours to go and the stars are unwelcomed; yet dominating the sky. I have no choice, but to sleep. Sleep and not ponder too long on the unforeseen oddity. But, I’ve traveled the path all my life with my grandparents and parents and now, it’s changed.
Hopefully, today shall introduce some normalcy. But, it’s dark, damp, and the ground I woke on is not the ground I slept on. It’s rock not soil, rock like a tunnel or a cave. In a crevice, a wax candle illuminates the face of an elderly, female elf. Her eyes spoke of a thousand sorrows and this instant, too, was a sorrow. “Give me the paper, you shall see, one has nothing to fear in old age, when death is welcomed.”, the woman declared.
“No, no. This paper contains my life and it’s my duty to give it to the emperor unread.”, the candle lowered, as I spoke to reveal a lion. Lions were known for one thing: war. Trained and disciplined for nations not individuality nor themselves. But, this lion possessed a scar that ran across its forehead and down a space an eye ought to be and a once flowing youthful mane was tinted grey. His eyes roared with an intensity that saw a goal not in battle any longer, but in something deeper like justice and equality in any cost.
“Death or the paper.”, the lion commanded with one claw against my thin throat to the stone wall. The elf looked away painfully. The lion roared, “Your grandchildren and their grandchildren, you know they rebutted your pleas with threats.” His one eye gave a message few were willing to ignore and none lived who did ignore it. “Here’s the paper, just take it.”, no choice and my whole life destroyed. Tears flowed freely, as the lion placed the paper into the flame of the wax candle. Who knew a wax candle would destroy my life?
“You shall go now, your decision was wise and helped our plight. May your assistance give your soul flight.”, the elf said, as the lion escorted me through a series of passages leading into the open space of the meadow. Flight?! Oh, flight never will be seen my soul. Sufferings shall be all it can see. My soul was burnt with that paper containing my destiny. All I’ve ever known up in flames. I can not return to my old life, no one will hire a betrayer of the emperor. No one will accept a threat upon society. I will wander aimlessly. I’ll travel somewhere I’ve never been, different and untouched by my feet. Meet beings barely touched by the curse of life’s complexities in the areas under populated with little outside influence. Oh, darkness approaches yet again. Darkness is all I feel so why sleep, because the pattern has progressed into night? Hell, I have no letter to keep or loss of life to fear. Time quickly passes in my agony. My footing is lost in the process. Solid rock ground until I reach a space and stumble into nearly oblivion. But, the empty worn, cotton knapsack caught a branch and oblivion was not met. Perhaps, my corpse shall dangle and all shall assume the letter fell into that oblivion. Oh, then my reputation, my duty, my life had honor and meaning. But, not much time passed before, a beast ruined such a grand illusion.
I did not want help nor need it, especially not from such a creature. My death would be torturous with such a creature. What even is it? I don’t recognize such a thing in all my years of traveling. The wings of a dragon, the ears of a bunny, horn of a unicorn, trunk of an elephant, a lion’s tail, a horse’s hooves, and that dreadful horrid color of nothingness. Every being has a color and an identity, but not this beast. Even if life were to enter my mind again, I would not in all the world want to live through what this would inflict upon me. Hopefully, my heart will implode inside my chest with such an impossible pulse. Radiating out of each strand of fur was an aura of every color imaginable swirling in and about each other like water flowing with the intense sensitivity to each strands’ movement. The eyes are empty like they possessed no individual soul. They reflected the surroundings back like a mirror, a mirror, mirrors with no individual identity, no meaning, no life, no soul. If something with a soul could perform atrocities, imagine the damage this beast could impose on me. Perhaps, the beast is from the stars and possesses its identity. “What are you?”, if I can discover an identity, perhaps I shall feel some peace, even if it’s false. “No, no, don’t you touch me, first tell me what you are.”, I shall die, oh I shall die. I can’t even decipher a gender or an origin. How can an empty being radiate color? Reason is gone. I contorted my body into a ball to die without the sight of how I shall die. My pleas are nothing to something without a soul, it won’t even answer my question before death.
The beast thrust me into the air leaving me stranded upon its back. The fur was luscious and engulfing, even against my filthy feathers. The colors swirled in and out of each other, but I could not feel them, they were like water. Water without feeling. “What are you?”, I inquired, perhaps the beast does not speak. “WHO are you?”, the mouth spoke I didn’t think could. “A bird, of course.”, such a ludicrous inquiry. Gently, the beast placed me on the grass.
“That is what you are. Of course, you are a bird. Oh, a bird, So limited and refined in a word and a category, I asked who are you”, it never answered my question. “What are you?”, I pushed trembling.
“What am I? You suppose, I, too, shall limit myself. Your words overflow with folly. You quiver and shake in fear at someone who saved your life.”, the beast searched my eyes. “I don’t know what you are.”, I answered back.
“Well, you don’t know who you are, I believe that is more frightening.”, the beast responded and left leaving me searching for who I was. I shall never see it again. That beast was everything and nothing, it permitted everything to flow through it and gave back everything in return like water and a stream. The identity was never obtained for I do not think the beast possessed one. It saved me in more than one way. It’s being thrust my eyes open beyond what I was. Who I was is certainly a more frightening question to thrust myself into. Those eyes like a shallow puddle reflecting myself leading to the beginning of a new journey.