I love the music, mother Goddess. I never thought there would be music. That’s silly though. Where am I that I didn’t expect music? I don’t know. It doesn’t hurt me, though. That’s not my job. It’s never been my job to speak to the Gods. That’s Minis’s job. The boys. Mother is it my job to sometimes spea to the girls? The female Gods of the Ten, oh, all right. Is that the Imperatrix’s job? Other than carrying the next Spark of the Sun’s Ray.
I won’t think of that right now.
The flowers are beautiful. All white with brilliant yellow centres and spindly white and gold petals that make them look like white puff balls surrounded by a globe of gold wires. And the sky. It’s so blue. I’ve never seen the sky that brilliant a blue.
The wheat field all around me stretches as far as I can see and there are white birds everywhere. A white owl softly lands on my hand and turns its head around so that it looks at me upside down. “I only have these three wheat heads,” I say. “I didn’t think owls ate wheat.”
I hold out the hand holding the three golden, gleaming stalks even though part of me is somewhere screaming no.
Why am I screaming? No. Two of the three are split from the same stalk and are perfect. The third is separate and smaller, it isn’t gold, but the colour of copper. It has been blighted and I hear it, feel it weeping. The tips of the kernels are withered and blackened and I feel so sorry for it. I am suddenly desperate to keep them, all three. But the withered one does not want to be what is now.
I toss the owl into the air and it flies away from me. I follow it through the endless wheat and I leave no track, all the stalks that I step on spring up again behind me. Lives. They might be lives and my stepping on them could be troubles in their…
“Hello, Mother Selinae.” I don’t look at her. I just know that she’s beside me. “I didn’t think I should be here yet.”
“And so you should not.”
“So why am I here talking to you?”
“See the City?” She waves her hand in front of my eyes and I can see the shining buildings but they are too bright for me to see and my eyes tear up so that all I can see are glittering crystals, like raindrops.
“Mother, help me. Please.”
“There you will find more help.” She points to a tower that reaches up through the blue sky to where the stars shine bright against the black of no air.
“Mother, I can’t climb… not holding these…” I wave the stalks of wheat and see with horror that the smallest is almost completely black. It is starting to taint the stalk next to it.
“No, oh no, oh no!”
I am flying up to the top of the tower, held pinched in Her almighty fingers and She drops me in a place of whiteness.
There are cages all around me, stretching away as far as the wheat field did. White kittens wash their paws and blink their pink eyes at me, white rats running on wheels or turning things with their clever hands pause to scrub their pink ears with pale hands and gaze at me.
A white monkey, wearing a small white cylindrical cap swings down from above, hangs from its tail, claps all four hand-paws and screeches and says “Break!”
All of the animals reach through the bars and open their cages and come pouring down to ring around my knees. I’m kneeling and a ten of white kittens purr and settle all around my knees. I realize that I have been cold. My legs have been so cold. Now they warm up and I put a hand down and three rats bow and clamber up onto my palm. “Give us. Give us. Give give give!”
What do I have but the wheat, but I cannot give them my precious kernels. “Give,” they squeak. “We cannot help you, unless you give. You decide! Give, give!”
“Wretched stupidity!” I can hear the Divine rage even as far as She is from me. “We give those miserable ones the short-term solution and what do those ones do? Go galavanting away from US! Stupid!”
“Mother of Knives. Please help me. I didn’t realize. I didn’t think.”
“That one certainly did not think!”
“This one is here, oh Divine Thinker. As a child this one is foolish and thoughtless and helpless in the face of all that the Great Maker has given these ones in Her beneficence.”
“I made you polyoviparous on top of it all!”
“The Great Healer is wise.”
“Give Me the Blighted one.”
I sit, shivering. Terrified, and weeping. “Yes, Mother.” And open my fingers so that all three stalks lie across my palm. A white kitten reaches up and pats my thumb with its little hand, as the rats pick up the blighted grain and in solemn procession take it away through the crowd. All I can hear is purring. All I can feel is my tears. What have I done?