A little background, before we start...
This story is an ongoing project that my Twin, Danielle, and I have been working on since 2001 (middle school for us), and will continue to channel into this reality until we die (and possibly beyond. Hard to say.)
It would be easiest to describe it as science fiction, but there are elements of mystical exploration, humor, and slice of life storytelling. A few years ago, I heard two terms that I related to in regard to this work. The first was space opera. I think that phrase is a great one to encapsulate the feel of the thing. The second word was paracosm. A paracosm is an alternate reality created and experienced in minute detail by one or more persons.
This story is more than just a story. All of my personal artwork is derived from or based upon this world and its characters. On my instagram feed, many of my posts reference characters and scenarios occurring within this alternate universe, and I have been working my nerve up to begin sharing the foundational component, which is the writing, publicly. It is my hope to create a multi-dimensional experience for the viewer, with visual artworks and written components entwining to immerse you in our world. So, welcome. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy it.
Here goes everything.
To Be Continued
Beginnings, and beginning in the middle.
The crying was weak. It couldn’t be described as “rending the air,” or anything so dramatic. Truly, it was more like a mewl as Veta made her away down the trail beside the river. At first, she barely registered the sound. She was lost in thought, thinking about the herbs she needed to bundle for a purification ceremony later in the evening. Sage, of course. Palo santo. Lavender would add sweetness, maybe inviting even more happiness in the new home…
The cry seemed to burst disproportionately into her thoughts, eclipsing her awareness more than the tiny sound seemed to warrant. Veta stopped, listened. A fretful stirring of grasses-right at the water’s edge. It sounded like...but no, she told herself. The river thundered by, green-gold water frothing and dipping in eddies. The rainy season was drawing to an end, and the swollen rivers and streams were raucous. She crept to her right, off of the path and towards a clump of rushes and grass. Again the cry. She dropped to her knees and started pushing the thick stalks and rough fronds aside.
“This is going to be a nesting bird or something and it’s going to fly up in my face,” she muttered to herself, but a cold sweat was starting between her shoulder blades.
Then-a small chubby hand-mud streaked, pruny, plunged through the sodden weeds- pink, full of life. As she shifted the rushes aside the hand slipped back, away. Unthinking, Veta lunged forward, mud slipping under the fabric of her dress against her knees. Distantly, she heardfelt a seam rip under her arm as she threw her hands out, blindly grabbing. Sliding off of the embankment and into the weeds, her face struck the water but she closed her fingers tight, and felt something soft, fragile, warm. Flailing her free arm back, she snatched at the reeds and shore, clutching desperately as the current caught at her, trying to pull her away from the land. Grassy clumps tore free in her fingers at first, and now her feet were the only things touching the shore. She felt her left shoe pop off. Then her hand closed around a thick, trunk-like plant, and didn’t slip, though the bark dug and scraped in her palm as the water pummeled her. She could hear nothing but the roar of water in her ears. With a heave, gasping and pushing her head above the soak, she pulled herself and the soft thing with her. The hand, a child's hand. For a moment she thought her arm wouldn’t move, couldn’t pull any harder, then, she was yanking herself upright, toes squishing in the mud, scrambling up the embankment, dragging something wet, small, choking against her chest. Rolling over onto the grass, curling around the thing, gasping for air. Lying flat on her back, she turned her head slowly and looked down. Loosening her grip, she sat up, still drawing in deep, quivering breaths that had little to do with the exertion and everything to do with the strangeness before her. Lying back on her sodden skirts was -not quite a baby, not yet a child. No longer crying, but staring, bright eyed and solemn, up at her. The skin was pale, almost translucent, with a sheen to it that was unrelated to the dampness. The eyes were large, almost jewel bright, ringed with a fringe of long, dark lashes, droplets of water clinging to them. The strangeness of the skin could have been overlooked, maybe half drowned toddlers have a right to look pale. But the ears. Long and pointed, almost elfin. And-“What is this? -oh my god.” Curling out from beneath the child was a long, bedraggled...tail covered in pale blonde fur. And around this tail was a flat band of golden metal, with something engraved on it-Tmonk-Tmonk Beren and some symbols she didn't recognize. The child suddenly shivered. Her lower lip quaked. Veta realized with a start that evening was falling and while “cold” wasn’t exactly how one would describe this humid Brazilian evening, that there was a cool breeze flowing over the water, and that they were both soaked to the skin. Gathering the little one against her, she clambered awkwardly to her feet. Her heart was hammering against her ribs. She couldn’t hear any voices or sounds of a search party. She looked around. No one was within sight. The closest busy area was several miles upriver. After a few indecisive moments listening for the sound of a frantic parent, or anyone at all, she shook her head, turned and began down the path again. The first priority was getting home and drying off and getting this baby warm and safe. She would begin the next day to look for the family.
Fifteen Years Later
The front door flies open and hits the wall behind it. A framed photo of some dried herbs goes askew, swings, then slides down the wall with a thud and a tinkle. Calmly, I set the sage bundle I was wrapping aside and look up. In the doorway stands CiCi, my best friend, her round, freckled face shining, blond hair in a curly cloud.
“Is that entrance necessary every single time you come in? I think you broke the glass this time,” I say mildly, standing up from where I was kneeling in front of my low table.
“Oops, I’m sorry!” She glances behind the door, winces, and turns back to me. Excitement appears to immediately eclipse the moment of remorse.
“You need to come with me right now!” I notice she’s a bit sweaty and generally bedraggled.
“Where? Why?” I ask, dusting my hands off and going towards the kitchenette. I grab my coffee mug off of the counter. CiCi bursts into my house at least once a day, so if I seem unruffled, that’s why.
“I’ll explain on the way! But you need to come NOW!” Something in her voice is a bit shrill. I’m used to her rambunctious enthusiasm, but this feels different.
I set my mug down again and turn around.
“Is something wrong?”
“What? Oh! No! I just-well I don’t want you to miss this!”
“You’re being mysterious,” I say, smiling and curious in spite of myself. A prickle of anticipation starts at the nape of my neck.
That’s how I ended up in a tree.