The sandy shore was empty of life, human or otherwise, as usual. The silent ocean was to be feared, a danger to any who strayed too close.
A wall had been built, lining the sand and water feared by all. It was not tall, only about a meter high, built not to keep people from going out, but to remind them of where the water was. Where not to go. The one side of the barrier was sand, grainy and light colored. The other was a grass-covered expanse of rolling hills.
They dotted the land, small and green. The smooth slopes told tales of many years of wind and wear. Flowers grew in abundance, watered by the frequent coastal storms. They were mostly blues and pinks, but occasionally, they were a simple, glowing white.
The sky above was dark, lit by stars only. The darkness seemed to go forever. A faint glimmer here and there was all the heavens provided. Most saw that as a blessing, for the skies were of the Unknown, and feared almost as much as the sea.
The land of hills and darkness was empty, all creatures sleeping. The animals in their burrows and nests, and the humans in their hovels and homes.
All this was, and the Wind knew.
But one young girl, a human, knew nothing of the fears the sea held and wanted to feel the water with her hands. She longed to feel the mass of it, to be part of its silent stillness. Even its reflective surface seemed to be a wonder and a mystery.
The same was to be said of the sky.
It held no terrors for her, instead, it called to the young girl. She watched the faint stars each night, growing more and more curious as the days went by. She also cultivated a dream, a fantasy, that she could one day be a part of its grandeur. That someday the darkness would surrender its secrets to her, one by one. She would know them all. This was her greatest dream.
But her people were afraid of all things pertaining to the Unknown, and they taught her to fear the ocean and the sky. As she grew, they instilled in her the same fears they had cultivated. By the time she was fifteen years of age, the young dreamer was just like the rest of humanity.
Where she had been carefree and curious, now she was reclusive and withdrawn. She no longer looked at the stars, instead, joining her family in their house where light prevailed and shadows were rare.
The sea became something she strived to avoid. She had no more dreams of exploring the depths and secrets of the sea, for the horror of the Unknown now lived in her as well.
Her dreams had been slowly and mercilessly killed, and their absence had left her a sad and frightened young woman.
All this came to pass, and the Wind knew.
A boy, young and wild, crept away from his people’s grasp and discovered the stars. They were bright, they seemed to shout freedom. The glow they produced seemed to blind the boy, brighter than anything he had ever seen. They illuminated the land below, presenting possibilities and journeys never explored. Paths never before tread.
He wanted nothing more than to run to the Unknown, learning of it and coaxing its secrets away for himself. He longed to know of light, but it was forbidden by his people, who feared light more than anything else.
But his kindred found him outside, swiftly pulling him back into the safety of their darkness. They taught him to fear all light. That darkness was safety, and that the Unknown was death to all who left.
At least, they tried to.
He wouldn’t listen. His people would tell him tales, and they would share their fears with him, hoping to show him the danger they saw in the outside world. He would listen, but none of their voices called as loudly as that of the stars.
He waited, looking for his chance to escape, and the Wind knew.
Back by the silent sea, the young woman lived and grew, waiting for something she didn’t remember. She was even oblivious to the fact that she was waiting, and her impatience she subdued with all the mental strength she could conjure. She forced herself to focus on doing the things her friends and family did, and the memories of her young dreams remained unremembered. Buried beneath her anxieties and doubts, weighed down by over ten years of fear.
The girl, now a woman, led herself to think like her people, and the Wind knew.
The boy, living in the dark, spoke to his fellow men, learning all he needed to of his future. The others seemed to have a plan for his life, but he had one goal: To escape the corridors of darkness and explore the bright, starlit world outside. So he waited patiently, not yet knowing just how soon his opening might appear.
His people taught him to navigate in darkness, and he learned well. His reasons for learning were very different than theirs. They learned out of necessity, while he learned only so that he could escape.
Sometimes, between lessons, he told stories to the young children. Stories of the stars, of the light he had seen. He hoped to spread the curiosity he felt, rather than teaching the children to fear the Unknown.
Eventually, and inevitably, word of his stories reached older ears and he was punished severely. Believing differently was dangerous enough, without instilling in the children with the same false ideas.
His punishment was hard, but he managed to bear it well, passing the time planning how he would escape. By the time the five days were up, he had it all planned out.
His plan was a good one, but it would take a certain amount of skill and luck. Hope alone could drive him to success.
So the Wind hoped.
Her life was dull, but she found ways to gradually enjoy more about it. She studied light and grew to love it as much as she feared darkness. It became nothing less than a passion, and she learned all she could of it, for it was Known, and accepted by all her people. Her studies intensified as the days passed, and none could stop her from reading about it, observing it, and creating it.
A new motivation had entered her dull life, and her anxiousness was gone. Sadly, the departure of her worried mind carried with it all memory of the gap within herself. The gap where dreams can had been.
New dreams awoke, and the Wind knew it.
His lessons resumed almost immediately after his punishment. As he studied, a young girl whispered in the dark, speaking to him.
She spoke of the stories that had been shared, of the stars, and the land outside. The small girl spoke the same stories back word for word in the silence that surrounded them.
The boy of eighteen was astounded. This girl had listened to his stories, she had sucked in every word. He had never thought that he would have such a profound effect on anyone.
The girl went on to speak of how she had slowly killed her fears. She had told herself the stories again and again, each time with more light, and more stars, until the fear became wonder and the distance became raw desire. As she spoke he realized that she wanted to escape nearly as much as he.
These two spoke in the dark, conversing about a dream shared.
And the Wind heard.
The woman felt her life progressing, almost as if speeding up. Possibilities opened up before her, and she knew she would need to make even more decisions for herself. And in turn, those decisions would shape her life into something new.
These things were, and the Wind saw.
The boy tried to rethink his plans of escape. If he could only fit the girl in, they could both discover the world together. Starlit prairies, and the mountains he had seen in the distance. Exploration fueled by wonder and motivated by dreams.
But the more he tried to fit her into his plans, the more he realized that she wouldn’t fit. It would make things nearly impossible, and while it pained him to do so, he tried to forget that she had ever told him of her wish to see the stars.
Remorseful, he put his plan into action. His foolproof escape somehow didn’t feel so foolproof after all. The joy of the plan in motion seemed diminished by her absence, but he pushed forward. It was now or never.
As his escape progressed, he tried to hold back the tears of guilt, but failed. So all he could do was weep in silence as he abandoned his friend to the life of darkness he was freeing himself from.
As he escaped through the darkness, a wound opened inside him, and the Wind almost felt it as if it were its own.
The woman spoke to many, absorbing information about light until she had learned all the information she could. In the back of her mind, something whispered that there must be more to know, that there was more out there. All she could think of were the stars, but no, they were of the Unknown. More, the thought of them invoked in her an anxiousness greater than any other.
Her new passion seemed to be dying, and the Wind could feel her pain.
The boy stepped out of darkness into starlight, reaching the object of his greatest desire. The stars were even more glorious than he had remembered, and their glow seemed to have increased throughout his life.
The great band of stars lay across the sky, pointing the way for him to go. His feet tread the way the stars pointed, and his mind reeled at the majesty of a world of light. His aching eyes were ignored in the wonder of it.
The stars looked down on the boy, and the Wind rushed by.
As the days passed, the woman searched for answers, and the boy traveled with the wind. Her search seemed fruitless, but his search was guided by destiny itself.
So the two dreamers continued dreaming, and the Wind was pleased.
He traveled over hills and through canyons. He saw mountains and felt the breeze pushing him onward. Then, as he reached the peaks of the highest mountains, he looked forward and saw the sea. It was silent as the sky, and inside him, a new furious desire lifted its head. He needed to feel it, to touch it with his hands.
Then another sight caught his eye. A glow brighter than the stars lay before him, illuminating what looked like houses.
Towards this city, the Wind urged the boy.
As she sat in her well-lit room, she tried to convince herself that there was something to learn from the stars. She tried to hush the voice inside that screamed that there was nothing but danger and darkness to be found outside.
Try as she might, her fears were too great, and she resigned herself to teaching young children. If she couldn’t pursue her dream further, then she might as well share it with others.
So she taught children about light, and some were as enraptured with it as she had been.
The Wind heard her lessons, and all the while, it led another student to her.
He saw more detail as he drew closer to the city of light. He had to squint as he got close, and his eyes hurt from the light. The windows were closed, and there were no people in the street, so he walked rather boldly up to a door and knocked.
It opened, and a man stared out at him.
Suspicion and fear were obvious on his features, and he hesitated before calling his wife to the door. She gasped as she saw him, and took her husband aside for a moment, whispering in hushed tones.
The boy could hear them. As a result of living in the dark, his hearing was sharper than any of theirs, and though they were whispering, he could clearly understand their words.
The wife thought he was of the Unknown.
But the husband argued that he was a human, and humans are Known.
Eventually, the two decided to take him to the leader of the city. Eyes aching from the firelight, he complied.
How could they live with so much light?
The leader had barely anything to say on the matter. The boy was human, and humans are Known. The boy was relieved.
The boy was then told that he was welcome to their food and that he could take part in school classes if he wished, and he gladly accepted the offer of a place to stay.
He was happy, and the Wind was pleased.
News of the boy reached the woman’s ears long before she saw him, and she had dared to imagine what he would look like. He wasn’t quite what she had expected.
Teaching him was rather unnerving, after all, there was something strange about seeing someone new in a place like this bright city. She had been raised with an exposure to everyone else in the city. She knew their names and their faces. So seeing an unrecognizable face was a shock, even when she had been expecting it.
He learned quickly, and seemed anxious to know everything about light the woman knew.
So she taught the boy of eighteen, and the Wind loved her for it.
The boy loved his lessons and was curious about many things. The silent question he had was about his teacher.
Her white dress and her light hair seemed to give off a dull glow, but it might have been his imagination. Her eyes held a glow like his, and she spoke with the energy the younger girl had spoken with. So he wondered, silently, if she too was a dreamer.
He never dared to speak his question aloud, though the Wind whispered for him to ask it.
The boy she taught was not only ambitious, he had the capacity to learn. He soon learned all she had, and she saw a question in his eyes. Boldly, she asked him what he was thinking.
She saw the boy hesitate, then he spoke his question. What were her dreams? Had she ever wanted to learn things forbidden by her people?
The questions hardly surprised her. She had seen in him the same energy she had once felt, and she had tried to ignore it. She had shoved the thoughts back to the far recesses of her mind, preventing the dreams from coming back.
She did so now. She rejected the questions, brushing past her student and going to her house.
The woman was scared, and the Wind knew.
After the woman left, the boy stood in the light thinking. He took her rejection as an answer, and that answer seemed to be yes. She had dreams, she did want to learn what her people didn’t know.
So he listened to her lessons, often helping her teach them. The woman seemed hesitant to speak to him, and the boy knew it was because of his question. But he knew he had made her think. He knew there were memories buried deep within her, and he had woken them. The pleasure he felt was great, and he waited patiently for the day when she would accept the truth. The truth that she was different than her people.
Slowly the barriers between the two of them crumbled, until finally, after nearly a year of waiting, the woman finally ventured out of the well-lit hovels her people had lived in forever.
He rejoiced silently, for fear of scaring her back inside. He had succeeded.
She looked up at the stars and found herself strangely relaxed. She had tried to forget the stars and all her young exposure to the dark. All along, she had remembered, and the vision of the stars had never faded. One fear she had carried for years was that if she did see the stars again they wouldn’t be as wondrous as her memory depicted.
This fear was in vain. Every twinkling light was as awe-inspiring as before, and she was by no means underwhelmed by the view.
Still, she was frightened. Her people would not like her to be out here, and their fear of the Unknown could easily carry on to be a fear of her.
But she had won a battle, earned a victory. She was learning to accept her place, and with her young friend, the boy, at her side, the shadows didn’t seem so dark.
The boy went out regularly, and as he did, the woman, now twenty-three, followed him regularly. He was teaching her things she couldn’t learn elsewhere, and she seemed to treasure that. Whenever he spoke of the past and her dreams, she stiffened. She would walk away, a pained expression on her face.
Even this occurrence became less frequent as the days passed.
Then the woman’s people started to talk.
They spoke to both of them, telling them to stay inside. They warned the two dreamers that they would become another shadow of the Unknown. But the boy didn’t listen, and with joy, he saw that the woman didn’t either.
Her people became angry, and the woman was confused. She had grown up with them all, and they had Known each other so well. How, she wondered, could they dream of her becoming Unknown?
Could they ever trust her enough to open their eyes to new ideas? Would they never step past the walls they had built around themselves?
A stranger had come and introduced to her a diversity she had never known existed. Could they not try to understand?
Sorrow filled her as they continued to warn and threaten her. Every time she noticed herself believing their words, she needed only to look for the boy, and when she saw the determination on his face, every doubt was dashed to pieces. She resolved to follow him, and she told her people.
They wept, and each tear cut a small tear in her soul. Then as she felt the boy’s firm and reassuring hand on her shoulder, she knew she was choosing rightly.
Her people took them before the elders, and the woman still hoped that her people would come to know the truth.
They didn’t, and the woman, along with the boy, was exiled. The elders said that when people of the Known tried to understand the Unknown, the threatened the very existence of their civilization. The Unknown was nothing but danger, and the woman had tried to bring that danger closer than ever.
She left, and through the pain, she knew she was happy.
So the dreamers were sent away, and the boy, as he looked at his friend, saw a tear glisten on her cheek. A pang shot through him at the thought that he had brought this pain to her, but then she looked at him.
And she was smiling.
He threw his head back and let free his emotions, all the joy he had felt as she cultivated her dream. As she visited the world of stars and discovered the secrets of the Unknown.
His cry of joy was as wild as the wind. The woman spread her arms wide, and the breeze blew her dress, pure white, into billows that seemed to speak of freedom, that gave shape to the moving wind. She ran forward, and the Wind followed joyfully. Their dreams swelled within them, and the Wind whistled by on its path.
All this was, and the Wind rejoiced.
Far away, the young girl stepped out of the dark cave and saw light for the first time. The tears could not be stopped.
Her friend had told her of this, and she had begged to see it with him. Then he had disappeared without a trace. This, instead of dashing her hopes, had given her more motivation. Here was proof that he had escaped. If he had, then so could she.
So she had left, slipping past the guards with all the skill she could muster. All the while, she had asked herself what the boy would have done in her place, and the question had seemed to give answers that had liberated her.
Now here she stood, blinking in the extreme light. The stars stretched in ribbons above her, blue and white and purple. They glowed with strength, and the girl’s tears of joy shimmered in the light.
A light flashed across the sky, and for a moment she thought it looked like a woman dancing among the stars.
Then, as the young girl turned around, she saw the moon. It glowed brighter than any of the stars, round and white and brighter than anything she had ever imagined. For a moment it reminded her of fabric, soft and white. Then the moment passed and she started walking.
Hours later, the sky started to brighten, and the girl had to cover her eyes as it turned orange, red, then orange, then gradually blue.
The sun rose, and the fiery heat it gave reminded her of the storyteller she had looked up to so much. The light it provided seemed to her exactly like his stories: warm and bright and hopeful.
She was free. Free to explore this new, rather blinding world.
Her efforts had paid off, and she couldn’t be happier. She smiled, and her smile shone as brightly as the sun and the moon.
At that moment she promised herself that she would bring this light to her people. They, who lived in darkness, would never know change until they accepted the truth, and she resolved to bring them that. She would herald the change.
The Wind witnessed her vow, and knew it had succeeded. It swept across hills and mountains, over streams and oceans, by the light of the sun and the moon. It saw the moon’s reflection in the slow-moving sea, and the sun’s light shining where darkness had always been. The world seemed better, for dreams were alive.
And the Wind knew.
Author Notes: I had a plan for this. It was going to be an origin story for the sun and the moon. It’s pretty obvious that that idea died, and it did, I murdered it as I went along. It never seemed to be happening that way, so I just went with the story. Thus this story—and this ending—was born.
I didn’t like it very much, and I said so. Everyone said that it was fine, but I felt like it lacked meaning. So I asked people things like: “What do you think the light and dark mean?” and “What is the Wind?” but people never really had answers, so I kept complaining. So then someone finally said, “The light and dark don’t really have to mean anything, you could just say that the story is about diversity.”
For some reason that really fixed a lot of things, and I was able to go back and change things a little to accomodate a larger meaning.
I guess it would be that diversity is necessary for growth, and without stepping out of your personal barriers—the walls you’ve built around yourselves—and overcoming the obstacles within yourself, you can’t change for the better or the worse.
So, I’m happy that I could finally finish a story, and that’s all really.