Not Even Light, “First Things,” Part 1 of 2

From a Book in Teacher’s Library

…much can come
And much can go,
And yet abide the world!

First Things

It puzzles me whenever I run across someone who doesn’t know anything about the Long Last Days, but it probably shouldn’t. Stories from the times that saw the superbug pandemics, the New Coast Wars and the great high ground migrations, the cobot defection, planet-wide famines, the collapse of the Word Mind, and the arrival of the Flies–all of which and more kicked the legs out from under what was called civilization and knocked us all the way back to donkey cart and barter days–those stories have mostly faded away in a mass forgetting. Time is the tongue that never stops licking away at those old wounds, and a lot of time has passed since then.

Even so, the Long Last Days gave rise to my life and yours just as sure as thunder follows lightning, and it’s in the shadow of our falling down, wearing out, and scattering across the still habitable parts of the planet that my brief and unfinished story begins. It’s brief because I’m just a few years beyond being a kiddie, and I haven’t lived long enough to have a whole lot to say. It’s unfinished because I’m still alive in spite of all that’s happened to me these past months. When and how it’ll end–well, who can possibly say more than it sure as hell will someday. But not just yet if I can help it. I think stories, like people, should have names, so I’m calling mine Not Even Light. I’ll tell you why in just a bit. Other than Teacher Avner who’s given it to you to read and you since you’re curious enough to have it in your hands right now, I can’t think of anyone I left behind at White Cedars farm who’d know why I’d call it that–or even care to find out, for that matter. They’re a pretty incurious bunch, even for farmers. It’s the same for those I’ve met while running the footpaths of the Big Woods–except for Dyani, and Dunc, and Hadi, too. But for the rest? It wouldn’t occur to most of them that playing with words or writing down a story would be worth the smallest effort. If once in a while you happen to see someone scribbling anything down on the farm, it’s a duty list, or a stock-taking, or something just as routine and practical. I’ve done my share of that. But I’m also a friend of words, and I enjoy playing with them whenever I have time for that pleasure. I like to consider words and listen closely to them and imagine them birthing new words and ideas. I love to see words flowing out from the tip of my scratch pen, emerging from my mind and experience, neatly set down on paper–even if the story they tell isn’t so neat and orderly itself. I go exploring with words much like following a new trail through the woods. You might say that, for me, writing down my story is a lot like walking along many trails all over again, only leaving out most of the ho-hum parts, those fiddling little details that no one wants to hear about anyway. I myself don’t like stories with too many legs, so don’t worry and stay with me, because I won’t be going on about how many times a cricket chirped when I stopped to catch my breath with Meeks on my trail or how beautiful high reddened clouds looked just after sundown–unless, of course, it helps my story along or if now and again I just feel like it, which, I have to warn you, sometimes I do.

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