Clay and Rocks

He hurdles boulders.

He weaves through trees.

He leaves his feet.

Leaps into a stream.

Stops.

Stands.

Scans the land.

Warriors rappel down his back and sides.

Form a perimeter twice his size.

Farther ahead is where they will make their last stand.

All except one.

He looks at the little one still hugging his neck.

“Go on” he says.

The little one shakes his head.

“It is okay” he says.

He makes a platform out of his hand.

Places it tightly against his chest.

The little one lets go.

Jumps into his hand.

He lowers the little one down into the stream.

Water pools in his palm.

They have been running all night.

It is nearly dawn.

Water Pools

“We have only a few moments” he says.

He musters the courage to say what he has to say next.

“I have to go. You have to stay.”

Confused.

Surprised.

Scared to be alive.

“What?! Why?!” the little one replies.

“I cannot hold this land” he confides.

“But you are a First One” the little one says.

The First One

“Yes. I am” he says.

“But, no one, not even a First One can hold back the black that is coming.”

“But, your warriors?” the little one asks.

“My warriors” he says “they are like you too newly arrived.”

“So, we will retreat, make a last stand, fight to the end. That is our task.”

“And you” he says “your task is to stay. Save what you can of this land.”

“Will I ever see you again?” the little one asks.

“I do not know.”

“I hope so” he adds.

The little one buries.

As deep as he can.

His face into the First One’s mane.

The First One whispers.

Details the little one’s task.

The little one listens.

Eyes are all red.

Swollen.

They glisten.

“I-I-I don’t think I can” the little one says.

“Yes, you can” the First One says “Here, show me your hands.”

Palms face up.

The little one does as he asks.

The First One dips his paw into the stream.

Scoops up some clay.

Places it in the little one’s hand.

The First One dips his paw into the stream.

Scoops us some rocks.

Places them in the little one’s other hand.

“Cover yourself in clay and rocks” the First One instructs.

“Layer it on thick. Bury this moment. Bury it deep.”

“Sir” a warrior interrupts.

“Someone will come little one” he says.

“How will I know who?” the little one asks.

“Look for two hues of blue” he says.

“Sir!” a warrior repeats.

The perimeter shrinks.

Warriors ascend the First One again.

“Who am I?” the little one asks.

The First One rubs the velvety nubs of the little one’s soon to be horns.

“You” he says “have a task to complete.”

“Sir!!” a warrior insists.

“We have to go little one. I am sorry. Hard things are coming.”

The little one acts brave.

Fakes being all right.

The First One knows better.

But, still plays the part of not worrying at all.

“Goodbye little one” the First One says.

He leaves.

Retreats.

Splashes downstream.

Looks back.

The bend the stream.

Breaks their final eye contact.

Slams the screen door on what they could of had.

A history.

A shared trajectory.

Holding a hand full of rocks and a hand full of clay.

The little one remains.

Toughen up is his parting gift.

He squeezes his fists.

Clay drips.

Rocks plop.

The water circles his waist.

The stream bed erodes under his feet.

He sinks.

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