Tuesday, 8 April 2008



Every night they would sing. They sang to the sky, to the lake, to the forest and the small creatures. They sang to night itself. They sang in long, sustained notes rather than in harmony or melody. A hummed soft sound was already there underlying their singing, as much a part of the world as the lake and the moon. On top of this melody which came like mist out of the night their voices soared, in perfect tune, and with beautiful texture.

Xailo had learned to pitch his voice from the beginning, when he joined them to replace their recently dead Xailo. It hadn't been difficult to learn. It had almost been as if he already knew how to do it. On that night, they had all risen and walked out from their domes together. Xailo saw them and felt it was natural to join them. They had walked to the shore of the lake and had stood there together, their arms relaxed by their sides, their purple eyes wide open for the darkness. Xailo remembered he hadn't wondered then, he had found that standing with them was as normal as breathing, as taking in the sounds of the night and the sweet smell of the earth.

He had looked up at the colours in the sky, and he had known he was finally home when he saw the bright oranges and reds and purples that streaked the otherwise dark night, starting in an emerald green from the horizon and shining with the brightest beauty he had ever seen. He had known that his own eyes were a part of that sky, and he felt it was his own body that smelled sweet like the earth, and his long mouth had already been pursed forward when he heard the rest of them rise their voices like straight beams of light.

He had joined then their song without any surprise or effort, and his voice had blended perfectly with theirs. A few small creatures around them had approached them that night, and every night afterwards. He had gone back to the domes feeling more real and more complete than he ever had, and when the white moon came out in the morning he had tended to his dome's garden with a full heart.

But the wonder Xailo had felt on the first night now felt worn and almost forgotten. It had been so long ago. He understood now that he was a part of the world, a part of the sky and that his voice gave the earth the warmth it needed to give fruit and flower. He understood that his hands had the power to create, and he wondered what they could create if for once he followed his own dreams and not the dreams of the night, or the dreams of the other Xailos.

He had survived many of them. By his own account, he had been alive longer than most. He had seen some of them die: old and tired they would walk into the lake, and he had been there in the morning when the moon-washed shore had brought forth a new one. There were always exactly ten. They all came out of the lake, in the bright morning moon, their long bodies still covered in sea-weed and their bright eyes reflecting the white of the moon. So innocent and beautiful, like he had once been. Guided to their domes they would sleep their last deep sleep. Then, on the first night, they would always follow to the shore, and they would always know how to sing. From then on, they would become fully Xailo and their gardens would grow with ripe, crispy skinned vegetables and juicy fruits, and buds of white flowers opening up and lifting from the packed earth. And the small creatures would love them like they had always loved the ten.

Maybe it was because Xailo had survived for so long, that he started thinking more often about the wonders he might create if he didn't follow the rest to the shore at night. He longed to sleep and dream his own dream, to wake to create his own creation.

One night, he didn't go out of his dome with the others. He closed his eyes to the sky, and to the earth and to the lake. He closed his eyes and he forgot how to be Xailo.

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