“Then the squirrel told the possum her favorite story. The squirrel swears it is true and she witnessed it herself. The possum stared back at her and listened with all of his might.”
“I was resting in The Great Feeding Tree. It was darktime, a couple coldtimes ago. I had fed. I was happy. I was safe. The Giant Ones had once again extinguished their suns like they always did. The world was quiet from all of the noises from The Giant Ones and their gods.
“I never understood why The Giant Ones’ gods went away when The Giant Ones extinguished their suns, but they did. The only one of The Giant Ones’ gods that we ever see or hear is the one with twin red and blue suns trapped on its back. It runs so fast and loud that it seems to be flying.
“But not even those gods were present on this particular darktime. The only gods I could see were the small suns up in the darkness.
“Fed, safe, quiet, I rested for a moment and looked to The Gods Up In The Darkness. There were only a few at first. Then more and more showed themselves to me. It was as if they wanted me to see them. As if they needed to see them. As is if I didn’t see them, they wouldn’t be.
“So I saw. And saw. There were so many Gods Up In The Darkness desperate, yearning to be seen. But there was one god that drew my gaze, focused it. It was bigger than the other Gods Up In The Darkness. Big and orange.
“The more I fixed on this God Up In The Darkness, the more the other Gods Up In The Darkness faded away in pain or jealousy. The only Gods Up In The Darkness that were still present to me were the immediate neighbors to the bigger, oranger God Up In The Darkness. There were three very close neighboring Gods Up In The Darkness that were in a straight line.
“I had never seen any Gods Up In The Darkness inline like that. And so close! They could have reached out and touched one another.
“And then on this particular darktime when I looked at The Gods Up In The Darkness, I wanted for nothing. I asked of them nothing. Then I saw it.”, the squirrel finally paused.”
“Saw what!?”, the possum demanded.”
“The truth. The truth.”, the squirrel answered staring emotionlessly off into the distance.
“The Possum still hung upside down by his tail, but completely honed all of his attention on the squirrel waiting for more from her.”
“The squirrel’s eyes adjusted as she returned to here. Then she explained herself.”
“While I was watching it, the bigger, oranger God Up In The Darkness grew larger and brighter. I first thought it might be angry and exploding, though I had never seen a God Up In The Darkness explode before.
“But when the other neighboring Gods Up In The Darkness began growing in size and brightness, I realized they weren’t exploding. The Gods Up In The Darkness were falling from the darkness.
“Something happened between the moment when they let go their grip up in the darkness and the moment they flew through The Great Feeding Tree and crashed to the ground.
“They weren’t bright anymore. Or even light at all. They were now small too. So small that I could pick them up with my mouth, which I did.
“When I had what used to be some of the Gods Up In The Darkness in between my teeth, I could taste that familiar flavor that I have lived on for years. It was the fruit from The Great Feeding Tree. Smooth green skin. Rich meat. Hard inedible center.
“But they were rotten. Bitter and stringy on the inside. Bitter and fuzzy from the sickness on the outside. I spat it out and ran away back up The Great Feeding Tree. At the top, when I looked for The Gods Up In The Darkness, it was just the darkness.
“That’s when I realized the truth: the gods were never real.
“That was the end of the squirrel’s story to the possum and they each went on their way”.
“So, what do you think? It’s the first time I’ve told this one”, Annie said and then pushed the coals in the campfire with a stick.
“It’s good! I wasn’t expecting it go that way. A story about a story, you’ve never done that before”, Beau answered. Then asked “When’d you think it up?”
“Last night. After a long ‘family meeting’ where mom and dad told me that they’re getting divorced. I couldn’t sleep, so I just stared at the ceiling trying to imagine the stars. But I couldn’t anymore.”
“There’s an epilogue to the squirrel’s story to the possum. Want to hear it, Beau?”
“The next lighttime, the dog who lived with The Giant Ones chased the squirrel up The Great Feeding Tree. All the while screaming and yelling ‘This is my space! You can’t be here! My food! Go Away!’ The squirrel escaped like she always did.
“After a while, the dog stopped screaming and went to investigate the fallen gods. And then the dog ate the moldy, bruised, stringy, brown fruit. Just like the dog always did.
“The squirrel never saw The Gods Up In The Darkness again”, Annie finished.
“That’s it? The dog ate the gods?”, Beau fired back.
Annie calmly replied while staring at the fire “they were never gods. They were just like everything else, food for something else.”
Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b4PF1