The terrace was bordered with gardens full of flowering shrubs and trees laden with flowers and fruit: jacarandas, almond trees, oranges, pineapples and mangos. Countless birds perched in the trees, including several flocks of wild macaws who came to Seven Macaw's call as if they were tame. Seven Macaw sat down under the shade of a tree, arranging his writing materials beside him, in preparation for the serious thinking he needed to do.
He glanced out at the scene in front of him, and frowned slightly. Something seemed wrong. The street was empty of passerby, and the nearby houses all had their doors closed and windows shuttered. Nobody stopped by to offer him a friendly greeting or seek his advice, as the citizens were usuually wont to do. Everything was still and quiet, sombre, as if on the day of a funeral. Moreover, something was wrong with the sun. Its golden light was flickering erratically, casting a chiaroscuro of shifting shadows over the lonely street.
With a surge of magical power, Seven Macaw reached upwards to stabilize the sun, making it shine steady and clear. The effort left him drained again. Sighing, he slumped wearily, holding his head in his hands.
Then, from somewhere outside the burning blackness behind his closed eyes, he heard a voice call, "Mister Sun?"
He raised his head to look, and there in the street before him stood a small girl. She gazed up at him shyly, her hands tucked behind her back. "Hello, Mister Sun," she said.
"Well, hello there," said Seven Macaw. Even though it hurt, he made his mouth curve into a smile. "And whom do I have the honor of meeting today?" he inquired.
The girl blushed and giggled. "I'm Julia," she said. She pulled her hand out from behind her back, holding out a bouquet of flowers. "I saw you were sick, Mister Sun, so I brought you some flowers."
"Why, how kind of you, Julia," replied Seven Macaw. He had thousands of flowers in his gardens, many of them far more rare and exotic than the simple wildflowers she had brought. But her compassionate gesture touched him, nonetheless. He did not reach out to take the flowers, however. He didn't want to risk accidentally touching the girl, for he knew his illness could easily kill a mortal. "Just set them down there, Senorita," he said, pointing to a spot on the terrace near the front steps.
Julia looked puzzled, but she did as she was told, laying the flowers where he pointed. Then she skipped back to stand in the street below him, regarding him solemnly and earnestly. "Does it hurt really bad, Mister Sun?" she asked.
Seven Macaw thought of saying something reassuring. But when he saw the simple, clear honesty in her eyes, he knew he had to be honest too. "Yes," he nodded. "Really bad."
"Well, I'm sorry, Mister Sun," said Julia. "I hope you get better soon."
"Gracias, Senorita," said Seven Macaw, managing to smile again. He picked up the flowers and inhaled their sweet scent. It made him feel a bit more refreshed.
Just then, a pair of shutters across the street opened, and a woman leaned out of a window, her face strained with fear. "Julia, what are you doing?" she called anxiously.
"Its okay, mother, Senor El Sol and I are just talking," Julia called back.
Seven Macaw lifted his hand to the woman in a friendly wave. "Buenos Dias, Senora," he called to her. Then he leaned down to address Julia softly. "I think your mother wants you to go home now."
|Giorgio de Chirico, The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street.|
"I know," Julia nodded. "See you later, Mister Sun." She ran off across the street and went inside the house, and the frightened woman closed the door behind her with a sharp bang.
Seven Macaw rubbed his chin gingerly, wiping some of the oozing blood from his shattered face. Why, he thought with astonishment, these people are afraid of me. But why? I have done nothing to threaten them.
He meditated on it for a moment. Then, with blinding clarity, he saw himself as others saw him, as if he were watching himself from a window on the other side of the street. He, the man whom these people revered as a living god, the one who lit up the Sun and Moon, was sitting there maimed and broken, groaning with pain, gasping with fever, putrid blood flowing from his lower jaw, the bright feathers falling from his wings like dead leaves in the dry season. Seeing their divine protector and benefactor in such desperate condition, how could they not feel that some terrible doom was overtaking the world?
Then another image flashed into his mind: a memory from long ago, of his parents lying dead with the plague.
So that's it, he thought. I am no longer their Saq Etal, their Bright Sign, symbol of joy and hope. I have become only a Kame, an emblem of death.
Then Seven Macaw felt ashamed. Enough! he thought. I have let this go on on long enough. It is no longer just I who suffer; I have also brought misery to others, to my good people who honor me and wish me only well. I must bring an end to this wretchedness; I must find someone to help me as soon as possible.
Chimalmat had been right, he realized; and as soon as he saw her again, he would tell her so -- not grudgingly, but gracefully.
As Seven Macaw thought of his wife, an idea came to him. Smiling softly to himself, as much as his sore jaw would allow, he picked up his bark paper and began to pen a note to Chimalmat. It was hard to write, because he couldn't see very well, but he managed to scrawl down a few rows of glyphs, then signed it with the numeral seven: :| Then, he wrapped the paper around the flower bouquet Julia had given him, and set it down gently at his side.
This task accomplished, he returned to pondering his situation.
At last, he clearly perceived the trap in which the Twins had caught him. They had damaged the very part of him which enabled him to channel his divine power. His magical teeth and eyes enabled him to heal and regenerate the rest of his body, even to resurrect himself; but they could not repair themselves. That must be the flaw that Itzamna had warned him about. And now he had nearly drained himself in his futile attempts at healing.
But, he thought proudly, I am still a god, and though they have hurt me, they shall not conquer me.
Indeed; his vast power was still spread out through all the sky-earth, keeping alight the Sun and Moon, holding off the dreadful wrath of Hurucan, and sending life-giving winds and rains where they were needed. But now he was so sick and weary that he could feel the weight of the heavens pressing down upon him, as if he alone held up the sky. And he dared not rest from his burden for even an instant, or the sky would fall and crush the world.
Well then, thought Seven Macaw, I will just have to endure until I can find help. And, should the Twins again attack me, I shall hurl the very power of the cosmos against them, no matter how much pain it costs me.
Thus Seven Macaw vowed in his heart. But he still could not see past the horizon, and he did not know what his enemies truly had planned for him.
The proudest man in the world sat in front of his beautiful house, gazing out at the fine street with the locked doors and shut windows, the smoothly paved road on which the shadow of no passerby fell. There came a strange, ominous hush, the wind was still, and the birds were silent in the elegant gardens. The sun flickered in the sky like a pale ghost. And Seven Macaw began to feel terribly, terribly alone.
Again, he felt the immense weight of the heavens looming over him. Lowering his head to his hands, he hid his stricken face. "Help me," he whispered. "Somebody, help me."
Then, as if in answer to his plea, he heard the sound of voices, old voices and young voices. He looked up. There, coming down the street, were an old man and woman, accompanied by two teenage boys.
[And, if you've read the Popol Vuh, you know that Seven's goose is about to be cooked....]