Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)
TITLE: "...and this is how He speaks, for all time"
By Sherrie Jackson
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She reached the edge of the forest and paused, with her hand to the rough bark of the nearest tree. The birds were calling ardently. No one was around that she could see, so she danced forward lightly over the fallen twigs in her path.
The dwelling was unlike any her people could make. There was a symmetry about it, and was made of things she had never known. Upon first coming to this place, she had run her hands along the outer surface for a long time, noting its unusual color, how when she pushed against it there was no give.
Inside was more newness—thick fabrics hanging on walls, structures made from smoothest bark; and many more things for which she could scarcely understand their uses. Some emitted dust or crumbled like ashes when touched. And there were thin blocks that opened, so fragile with tiny shapes lined up on fabric thinner than leaves. It was these she was back to explore.
A few of them had collapsed already, so when she reached for the one with dark gold shapes on the front of it, she lifted it with her fingertips and cradled it tenderly, pulling back the thick cover and flipping gently through the flat brown leaves. Oh, the shapes, and how many! She could never perceive a number so high. Many of them she found again and again, but the search became dangerous as more leaves disintegrated even with her caution. She set the block down and pulled back, and found that a leaf had broken away, stuck to her fingers.
She gingerly brought it close to her eyes. Most of the shapes were the color of darkest soil, but some were like blood. She walked slowly to where the door stood open and light tumbled in. There was something on this leaf, something she saw in several places that intrigued her in a way she could not explain.
Stepping outside of the dwelling, she knelt down on the grass and laid the leaf down. She found a twig and grasped it, pointed it into the soil, and tried to draw the shapes that had lit up her mind. The first was half a circle and then a few straight fragments. G. The next, round like the brightest lights in the sky. O. The last, like a smile turned sideways. D.
She sat back to stare at them. Her eyes read them from left to right, repeatedly.
What had these shapes been for? Were they related to the golden light of day, or the serene light of night? The wetness as it fell from the gray sky? The cold that came, the plants that bloomed, the herds that gave up their fur for warmth and their meat for food?
She carried the page with her as she wandered back from the forest, down the hill and then across the wide plain. She contemplated the shapes and what they knew. The day’s light was dropping from the sky by the time she came to the edge of water and stopped. The page slipped from her hand and onto the crisp blue surface. G, she remembered. O. Then D.
In her life she had never thought about the things that came before, but now she realized there must have been a world that lived prior to her. Those shapes—that word—must have been part of all that once was, and she somehow knew it must continue to be. G. O. D.
She wished the word could speak to her. She wished for a connection, for the world beyond her simple village to open up to her, for things that always existed to be revealed.
As the colors of the sky became like fire, she held her arms out, then slowly raised them. She closed her eyes and saw the word in her mind, imprinted perhaps forever. GOD.
And as she silently appealed, a cool wind started across the vastness.
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