Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Xibalba: The Room of Re-membering, Part 2.

As the ghost sorted through his bones, he began to find bird bones mixed together with his human bones. At first, he was puzzled; but all the bones seemed to belong there, to be part of him.

As he reassembled his human skeleton, he began to put together the bird skeleton, too. He found its skull and beak, its vertebrae, the fine, fragile bones of its wings, and its legs. As the bird took shape, he saw that it was a parrot, a macaw.

Memories came with the bird-bones, too: first, only vague impressions, animalistic feelings; the sensation of movement, of flight, of being guided by instinct. Then, as the parrot's form began to take shape, he got his first clear memory:

Long ago, when both he and the world were young, this bird had come to him, beneath the branches of a marvellous tree. The bird had diamond eyes and plumes as radiant as the rainbow. It had shone its eyes at him, fluttered its beautiful feathers, and it had spoken.

But now, the bird did not move or speak. It lay on the rock, lifeless and inert. The diamonds were gone from its eyes; there were just empty sockets in its skull.

The ghost searched for the diamonds, looking everywhere, in the dirt, under rocks. Finally, he found one tiny, broken piece of diamond. He held it in his skeletal hand, puzzled, wondering what it meant.

Then, he remembered something he had learned as a miner: Only diamond can cut diamond.

All at once, he knew what it signified: He, and only he, was responsible for the bird's destruction. Whatever other factors had been involved, his own choices had brought about its final demise.

"I'm sorry," he whispered to the bird-spirit. "I'm sorry that I failed you." But the bird did not answer. It was dead -- far more dead, perhaps, than the ghost himself.

Sitting on his rock, the ghost held the dead bird's remains to what was left of himself, and he cried for a long time.

Nonetheless, the bird's bones were still his; they belonged to him. And, although the little skeleton was now nothing more than a symbol of despair, he couldn't bear to leave it behind. So, when he had finished assembling the skeletal macaw, he hung it inside his rib cage, so he could carry it with him, inside him.

The ghost continued his work of rebuilding himself. As he put together his legs, he gained memories of walking and climbing, of wandering through the world. There was something strange about these memories: he seemed to have seen too many places, done too many things, for the life of just one person. He wondered, perhaps, if he was just recalling stories he had heard of other people' lives. But that could not be true, for the figure in the scenes who moved and acted was always himself.

And, lastly, he put together his feet, adding each tiny bone until all ten of his toes were complete. His feet gave him knowledge of dancing. He danced, sometimes alone, sometimes with a woman. He still didn't see her face; he was only aware of her body, her movements, her long black hair floating around her like wings.

When his skeleton was whole, his spirit-energy began to knit together around it. As the ectoplasm folded itself into place, closing over his frame, it began to take on a darker hue, an echo of the rich coppery brown of his living skin. A ghostly cascade of jet-black hair draped to his shoulders, wispy as spider-silk. He reached back and knotted it into a ponytail.

Well, he thought, I am now as close to being myself again as I can be for now.

He still did not know who he was, but he knew some things about himself: He was a miner; he had dug precious things out of the dark earth. He had created things of beauty. He was a man of knowledge, a scholar. He had travelled all over the world, in search of its wonders and marvels. He had danced, he had flown, and he had loved. He had raised children.

But he also knew two other things:

First, he had terrible enemies. The Twins, the one who had tortured him, had power over time. Somehow, they had actually changed the way time worked. He didn't understand it; he only felt horror that such merciless forces existed in the world. And he knew that those two were not his only enemies.

And, second, through some act of folly, he had let what was most precious to him die. Therefore, he was truly one of the accursed.

Nonetheless, he began to move his creaky bones, stretching himself, swinging his arms and legs. While he limbered himself, he thought: What's done is done. I have regained my ability to move, speak and act; I will never give that up again. Those are my treasures now.

And so he got up from the rock, and set off across the barren landscape of Xibalba.

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