16 Chapters
Medium 9781782201885

XI

Mahon, Eugene J. Karnac Books ePub

One day, after Rensal had seen the redwing in the stream, he wondered what became of it. At first, he was afraid to touch it or even look at it. Later, he couldn't get it out of his mind.

What became of it after it drowned in the stream? Was there a history of redwings, or was there only a history of famous redwings? Were redwings who intimidated the wind with their flight remembered, while redwings who lost their hold of the wind were forgotten? If this was history, one were better off without it, thought Rensal to himself sadly.

“History doesn't exist,” said the Tall One, when Rensal arrived with his dilemma. “Redwings exist and the wind exists and death exists and memory exists but history doesn't exist.”

“What's the difference, then, between memory and history?” asked Rensal, trying to follow the logic.

“Memory is alive. History is dead,” said the Tall One bluntly.

“But isn't history a way to keep the dead alive?” asked Rensal.

“Yes,” said the Tall One, “But we can only keep the famous living. The forgotten are dead forever.”

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IX

Mahon, Eugene J. Karnac Books ePub

Rensal, though young, was becoming aware that life was not all play, nor all music and poetry either. There was fear and illness and death also, dark shadows that jostled with light for space.

War was another word that had recently entered his vocabulary. “The war is over,” he heard one tall one say expressively to another.

Rensal had not known that the war was on, or what war was for that matter, but it did seem to be something that was better over, that you're better off without. He wondered if it was a subject he could discuss with the Tall One. He would find a way to ease it into the conversation.

Next morning, on his way to the Tall One's, he picked some berries from the bushes beside the stream. “They will go well with toast and tea,” he thought to himself. The berries hid their dark rich colors under leaves and thorns, but Rensal's fingers could have plucked them in darkness without missing one or pricking himself. When his basket was full of berries beyond the brim, he hurried past the bend in the stream towards his destination.

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XIV

Mahon, Eugene J. Karnac Books ePub

One September day, when the air was sharp and the light was brilliant, Rensal watched the autumn leaves falling. He gathered a few and carried them to the Tall One.

“Spring and summer have passed. They have left their shadows behind in these leaves,” said Rensal like a poet.

“Even their shadows are beautiful,” said the Tall One consolingly.

“I remember my first autumn,” said Rensal. “No one had told me about seasons. I thought the trees were on fire.”

“Yes,” said the Tall One. “Flames falling out of the trees in many shapes and colors, giving a visible form to the invisible wind. I know what you mean.”

“I was really afraid the first time,” said Rensal honestly.

“But from then on you called it a season and you were no longer afraid,” said the Tall One knowingly.

“Yes, the word helped. Everything was falling down, but the word ‘season’ made sense out of it,” said Rensal.

“A word that helpful should be used more than four times a year,” laughed the Tall One.

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Medium 9781782201885

I

Mahon, Eugene J. Karnac Books ePub

Many years ago in Mytherranea, before the stars had names, when daisies were still called days’ eyes, and the moon stayed up all night to keep the darkness company, there lived a race called redbits. Mytherranea was so far to the East that some believed it was always the first to wake the sun in the morning. The redbits were not unlike our rabbits except that they were smaller and stayed small for much longer. There were grown-up redbits, of course, who were big, but the young redbits grew so slowly they could not imagine ever being big. Redbits loved to play in the grass. They ran around like flames dancing between the green columns and this was how they got their name. “There's a red-bit,” someone would shout, as if the grass had suddenly changed color. This mistake was repeated often and the name stuck (the world is probably full of colorful mistakes like these that nobody remembers anymore). The redbits had personal names too, of course, names such as Ludik and Silitar. But the redbit I want to tell you about was called Rensal.

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XV

Mahon, Eugene J. Karnac Books ePub

Having discussed the beginnings of each important thing that had ever entered his mind, one day Rensal had the idea to discuss where his interest in beginnings came from in the first place.

“What a perfect peach of a question,” said Rensal to himself, knowing that the Tall One would get as much of a kick out of it as he did. Rensal looked at the stream that kept him company as he walked. Did it care about its beginnings, the first seeds of water in the high rocks close to the sky that gathered speed, trying to make a name for themselves? Were beginnings the foolish obsession of redbits only?

The stream was beginning to dimple with gentle morning currents as Rensal reached the Tall One's house.

“Why do I care so much about beginnings?” asked Rensal. The Tall One was beginning to light his first pipe. “The stream doesn't seem to care a whit. It just flows and reflects me whenever I happen to be close to it,” said Rensal indignantly.

“Oh, you can be sure you're still there, Rensal, even when it's not reflecting you,” said the Tall One, trying to humor him, his pipe interrupting speech with punctuations of smoke.

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