One of my many projects is working on the LOVE AND DEATH TRILOGY of plays, which will include Persephone Rises, The Seduction of Adonis and Cupid and Psyche. While trying to discern what the relationship between Aphrodite and Hades - as we know them - I wrote this beginning Creation Myth, which dovetails nicely with the True Earth mythology I'm creating.
This is a glimpse into the Greek gods before their corruption, when they were merely Urges. You can see Aphrodite, here known as Kindliness, as she appears in her god-form in videos at the end.
In the Beginning...
...God created the Heavens and the Earth. He created Angels to worship Him in Heaven, and He created Urges to worship Him on Earth.
Both the Angels and the Urges shared likeness with their Heavenly Father—except that the Angels shared His Soul and Intelligence, and the Urges shared His Body and Intelligence. So it may be said that the Angels were capable of independent morality, while the Urges, much like all created things on earth, were amoral and functioned in His Harmony.
While the Heavenly Father was making the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in them: the birds of the sky, and the creatures of the sea, and the animals of the earth; as he made the plants and set the stars and the sun and the moon in their orbits, as He caused the winds to blow and Time to take his place, the Angels and the Urges worked in unison, without any thought of dissent.
But then the Father revealed that the Heavens and the Earth and all that was within them was made for the last of His creations: which was Mankind. And Man and Woman, God made entirely in His own Image and His own Likeness. To Man and Woman, God gave not only His Intelligence to match the Angels, but also His Body to match his Urges, and last His Soul to make wise choices between the two.
And God found it very good.
The Urges, being without morality, were pleased enough to serve as functionaries—as any of the flora and the fauna, as servants of the Man and the Woman. They walked among Man and the Woman and introduced themselves and kept company and made merry. The Angels, too, served the Man and the Woman…but one of the Angels felt cheated by His Father and this Angel’s name was Lucifer.
The Fall of Lucifer
“How is it,” Lucifer said one day as He served before the Throne of Grace, “how is it that these hairless creatures, who think of nothing but cavorting and cavilling in His Garden, how is it that the Father could be so cruel to us to make them live at all? Are we not first born? Ought we not be given all graces and places of favour? But here, we are forced to serve them, who cannot yet speak much less read the Book of Life!”
The other Angels tried to reason with their brother, but Lucifer grew more and more incensed and eventually turned to the Father and accused Him of injustice.
“In what way, Lucifer, have I been unjust?” the Father asked. “You Angels, to whom I gave the greatest part of my Intelligence, who have known your place in my grand design, who alone among all my creations may see both forwards and backwards in Time and know the beauty of this new-made world, how can you rebel at your place in it, when it is good for you and for this entire world?”
“Yet You, who claim to be Love,” Lucifer pressed, “I can see the future and the past—”
“In part, in part,” the Father clucked.
“And I can see already forming in your mind that You plan to join them, as You are able—to…become a creation?! My Lord! It cannot be! To lower yourself. To become little better than a monkey…! You are pulling your own world to dissolution! And all that You are proud. But let Yourself be ruled by me, and all shall be well.”
“Ruled by you, Lucifer? Do you think your own weak perception greater than mine? Believe me: you have your place, and you will serve it—and so will glorify my plan.”
“I will never concede to Yourself becoming a Man,” Lucifer protested.
“Then you defy me, Lucifer. For I shall become what I have created.”
“You are proud, Lord,” Lucifer grumbled.
“I AM God. And My ways are not your ways. Oh, my being made of light! Do you not see? I cannot be satisfied until I am unified with my beloved.”
“Am not I your beloved?” the Angel, once of light, inquired. And his voice was very hurt.
“You are my beloved,” his Lord replied.
“Why, then, become an Angel! Or better yet, make me your consort—and again, be ruled by me. This plan is most unwise. I speak only out of Love for you.”
“You speak out of distrust and ignorance. And I fear me, it shall be ever thus. Heed me, Lucifer: do you trust me?”
The Angel of Light hesitated—for there was no deception before the Throne of Grace. And when he opened his mouth, he answered:
“No, Lord. I do not trust you.”
“Then neither shall I trust you,” his God replied, and there was much sorrow in His eyes. “Be banished from my throne; be banished from the Light by which you will not see. I should give you leave to stay, but I can read your heart and know already you wish yourself as far from me as possible.”
He had not finished speaking when Lucifer had already fled—and all his Light shed away from him. And he went into Darkness.
Kindliness in Eden
Wandering alone, Satan—who once was known as Lucifer—grew bent and misshapen, as he had chosen for himself. For he had no desire to look any more like God; no part of his Intelligence or his Soul he wanted to look like the God who he refused to love.
And as he wandered, he came upon the Urge known as Kindliness who was smiling upon the Man and the Woman as they made love. Lucifer sidled up to Kindliness who turned her bright smile upon him, even though he had quickly become withered and crooked and deformed.
“Poor creature!” she exclaimed. “What has become of you?”
Satan shook his head and said, “God knows! God knows! I have displeased him, and look what he made me.”
“I can hardly believe it,” Kindliness said. “The One who made us all must have had some purpose in allowing this to happen. Why, have you seen the creature our Man has named the Walrus? A truly amusing creature with whiskers and a deep bellowing voice and tusks! I can hardly see it for laughing!”
Satan only made an ugly face that would have set a baboon giggling for days—for, alas, although he had never shared very greatly in God’s mirth, now that he had left his Lord’s service, he hated laughter of any kind even more than before.
Yet Kindliness shared so deeply in her Father’s mirth that she was hardly ever known to cry unless it was from laughing for two full months together. She laughed now so that her full belly shook and even the Man and the Woman shared in her hilarity as they communed with each other.
Suddenly, something changed: and both the Man and the Woman, as well as Kindliness herself stopped in their sound.
For Something New had come into the World.
Indeed, all Creation stopped and turned towards the Man and the Woman—except for Satan, who was trying very hard to divorce himself from even himself.
“What is it?” he grumbled to Kindliness.
“I’m not sure…” Kindliness said.
And even the Man and the Woman seemed mystified. Although there was, all the World and the Urges conceded, something more beautiful—beautiful and yet unseen (which was rare at that time, for even God was visible) that made the Man dote on the Woman even as the Woman’s belly grew fuller and larger.
Nine months passed. Nine months where the stars whispered questions to each other, and Kindliness took longer and longer walks with the Woman, and the Man grew anxious and consulted with the Urges as to how he could transform those things in the Garden into something softer than feathers and stronger than trees.
At the end of which, the Woman gave a little cry and suddenly from out her swollen belly popped a tiny creature that looked just like the Man—if the Man were the size of a small cat. Kindliness immediately laughed and swung the Small Man around in a circle (who fussed and cried, for it was very disorienting to be one moment inside a womb and the next outside in a Garden).
The animals and the winds themselves spoke to the Man to hurry to his Wife, which he did and was overjoyed to see the small creature which was flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone, cradled in Kindliness’ arms.
The Man stretched out his arms to take the child, who knew his Father and turned his small head to nuzzle the foreign yet familiar flesh.
“What shall we call him?” the Woman asked.
“Abel,” the Man immediately replied. “For we have had a…a…child. And now our Heavenly Father is able to do anything.”
The Woman groaned (for she did not quite share their Father’s love of puns, while her Husband absolutely delighted in them). And Kindliness smiled and reached out her hands to the child—for her breasts, which had previously been decorative before, now ached with something new.
But the Man handed his child to his Wife, who took her newborn Son to her breast and suckled him in peace. Kindliness was glad for the Woman, who was her dearest friend in all that creation—dearer even than the other Urges, each of whom tended the things of this world, while Kindliness had been given the Man and the Woman, primarily.
The new Family—for so the Man had named them—turned in towards themselves in a little circle…and Kindliness wandered off, for although her blessing was on them, they seemed to have no need of her at present.
And there was in her a kind of ache.
But she didn’t know for what.
Death and the Maiden
Wandering the Garden, Kindliness tried to press her breasts and squeeze them, as though to squeeze the ache out of them. But still, they hung heavy—and the Family did not need her. Anymore.
Thinking of the Woman, Kindliness tried to take a fuzzy badger to her breast—but it squirmed and hissed at her until she let it go.
Kindliness passed by another Urge, who was known as The Tamer and who was training the wild horses for the Sun’s chariot to fly across the sky. The Tamer’s form was male and Kindliness was female—and Kindliness thought of how the world changed when the Man and the Woman joined in union.
Hesitantly, Kindliness approached The Tamer and stroked his chest. The Tamer startled and jumped away quickly.
“What’s this?” he demanded (for he shared the Father’s trumpet voice, which is how all the animals obeyed him).
“I thought to lie with you,” Kindliness said, hiding a little behind her own hands.
“Lie with me? I have horses to train to the Sun’s touch,” The Tamer answered irritably.
“Yet you may tame me,” Kindliness replied.
The Tamer laughed and ruffled his little sister’s hair. “Tame you? You are meant to be wanton in your generosity, Kindliness! Go to. Play with that new child. I daresay, if you teach him, I shall never need to tame him, either!”
Kindliness pouted, but The Tamer’s attention remained on the youngest and wildest of the colts (who was a little deaf, and so took some extra coaxing from his master).
Still aching, and somehow less than she should be, Kindliness wandered despondently about the Garden.
“The Man, when You made him,” she complained bitterly to her Father, “He felt this ache, this want, this need—and You filled it. Then, will You not fill me?”
But the Father remained silent, although His eyes were soft. For He knew what He intended—and even now He had begun to put His plan into effect.
“Will You not answer me?” Kindliness cried out—and she was very much in danger of falling into that same trap as the Angel of Light still clung to.
“This…child,” Kindliness reasoned, “My ache came with this child. The world was not enough without him, and now that he is here…their world is complete, and I no more am needed. Then should I not have a child, Father? Do You not mean to give me that unending source of Kindliness that You have given them? Am I no longer needed? Is there no place left for me in Eden?”
Her wanderings had brought her into earshot of the Undergardener, whose job it was to prune the weeds, and throw the fallen branches on the small fire that warmed the Man and the Woman through the chill nights. He was a gaunt fellow, and one of the few Urges (or Animals, or anything) to wear what the Man laughingly called “clothes.”
Seeing Kindliness, the Undergardener stripped his “gloves” which protected his fragile hands from the thorns, and offered his dear friend some tea from the garden.
“You are not merry,” the Undergardener said, straining the water through the leaves. He was endlessly inventive, and saw the good in everything—pointing out to the Man and the Woman the good that might come after something changed. He had been the first to place a diamond in the Woman’s hand when she sorrowed that the coal had gone. The Woman wore that upon a ring on her finger, which the Forger had made for her at the Undergardener’s instructions. Looking at her own hand, Kindliness felt another sort of ache. And she startled when the Undergardener placed into her cold hands the warm cup (made from transmogrified clay, which the Forger had been less enthusiastic to light).
“What troubles you?” the Undergardener pressed, wrapping his own long, delicate fingers about Kindliness’ plump and trembling hands.
“There is a loss within me,” Kindliness eventually confessed—and each word ached as though to speak them aloud were to dig even that secret from her soul.
“A loss for what?” her dear friend asked.
“For that which does not yet exist. Indeed, which may never exist! I ache for something New.”
“You mean the Human Child?” the Undergardener chuckled, pouring another cup of tea for himself. “He shall not be small for long. I can see what things become—and in the blink of our eyes, he’ll be as tall and strong as the Man himself! But…” the Undergardener hesitated, looking keenly at his dear friend whose face was strained and white as he had never seen it before. “But,” he tried again, not looking too closely at her anymore. “…But you want one for yourself.”
Swallowing, although she had not touched yet the tea to her lips, Kindliness nodded.
“I fear,” she whispered, “I fear that I am becoming something new.”
“So are we all,” the Undergardener assured her, blowing on his tea to cool it. “Nothing stays quite what it was. The Man felt himself alone until the Woman came. And even they were not enough, although He made the whole world for them! They share in His Creating, you know. And they alone. We cannot make ourselves—invent out of nothing. Not really. Not quite. The animals…surely you’ve seen that they all have smaller versions of themselves that grow up into mirror images. And as they need to, they pass on to the Father’s hand. They are His to prune. So too, the bush from which I harvested these leaves will grow new leaves. And the acorn that I swept out of the way of the oak tree will yet become another tree—although you’d hardly know it now; it’s sleeping. The wind becomes a thunderstorm in our celestial brothers’ game of catch: the Titans hurling thunderbolts from the Sky and letting that same storm fall into the Sea and then rise up again.
“Do you not think the seed aches until it is a tree, and then it aches again until it produce a seed? Of course it does. And the Man and the Woman ached until they became three—as our Father is three, and as they are His Image. So you aren’t becoming something else—but you are meant to be something more.
Kindliness grew indignant at this and huffed into her tea, “It is very easy for you to say so! But do you know what I saw, and what you must have surely seen?”
“You mean that deformed creature, of course.”
“He has another name now.”
“You cannot tell me that that is part of our Father’s creation.”
“Indeed,” the Undergardener said, stretching out his legs before him. “I very much think he is.”
“But…but…he is ugly now.”
Her friend shrugged and tapped his cup. “I don’t find the hippopotamus particularly handsome myself.”
“That’s not the point!” Kindliness exclaimed, and leapt to her feet to pace about the Garden. She almost had no words to speak: she shared, unique among the Urges, the language of Touch. And this, she realized with a shock, was part of her ache: for there were none else, now that the Man and the Woman and even the Child had each other—there was none else who spoke through their bodies. She had become a mute.
Shaking her head, Kindliness excused herself from the Undergardener’s grove—her tea left entirely untouched. The tea leaves were…Dead, she thought. And she did not want to touch it.
A Serpent in the Garden
Days passed into months, months into years, and although the Family called upon Kindliness often to join them in their games; although the Child flung its pudgy arms about her neck and kissed her up and down; although the Man stroked her back in thanks for rocking the Child back to sleep; although the Woman leaned her heavy head against Kindliness' aching breasts—although they all spoke to Kindliness through the language that only they could share, still…
—the world was not enough.
One morning, as the Sun and Moon met and kissed and switched places, as the Stars of the night blinked into their daily slumber, and the Sky shook out her golden hair from under her purple veil; one morning as Kindliness gave the Child back to his waking Parents (for she did not sleep, as none of the Urges truly slept—although they sometimes went dormant as one of the Undergardener’s clever inventions), that sorrowful Urge wandered as usual about the Garden and was somehow unsurprised to see the former Lightbearer cowering beneath a stone.
He had grown uglier than before—and, indeed, he should not have had a body, but in his quest to become anything other than he was, he had tried to cobble together for himself a form made out of bits of fallen things that he slung about his warped Intelligence and hammered to his twisted Soul until he looked quite gruesome indeed.
Kindliness gasped and fell back a step: he was so ghastly. She could not even laugh. For the first time in Kindliness’ life, she cried.
“What has become of you?” she asked, rushing towards the pitiable creature.
He flinched—for as an Angel, he had never been touched before in his life, and it burnt him as much as the Father’s Love which kept following him around.
“What has become of me?” that malformed Uncreation spat. “Indeed, what has become of you? You are supposed to be Happiness Incarnate, are you not? And here, you’re weeping over me, who am a self-made Man?”
In fact, had either eyes to see it, Kindliness was inching towards a new name, Sympathy. But she was young yet.
“Oh, Lucifer, Lucifer!” Kindliness hiccupped, reaching out for what must pass for his scrawny, rotting arm. “Not Happy, no, but yet I do pity thee!”
“Don’t! I am Happy. I am you. I am greater than that Man, or that Woman, or that abomination which they made between them. Look! Here I have given myself breasts from a rotting cabbage and a half-chewed pomegranate. I found that last beneath this fruit tree here. And here, I have made myself the man’s part, too, from something the Undergardener calls a sausage. Your friend is disgusting, by the way. These lesser animals shake off their carcasses and run off to the Father’s lands—but does your friend, the Undergardener leave their poor bodies be? No! He cuts them up and feeds what remains to the Man and the Woman! He fashions his silly clothes, which the Humans refuse to wear, even in the cold of night when your friend’s abomination might at least be useful. He has no dignity at all. And as for the Father…! What right has he to ask the animals to slip out from their bodies anyway. Next thing you know…”
“Yes?” Kindliness asked, quite entranced by the Uncreation's words…for he shared and shared—aye, still—the Father’s golden voice and tricks and turns of phrase. And each word burnt inside his misbegotten mouth, as he ground them up like shards and spat them out, purposely, in the wrong order.
“You know,” he said, quite warming to his subject—for he was lonely. But not lonely like Kindliness was alone. His was a loneliness that dragged others into it, while the Father’s loneliness was His instrument of growth. “You know,” the ramshackle Uncreation shrugged, displacing several skulls and bits of metal that rustled on what might have been his shoulders, “Your friend, the Undergardener, speaks so much of the beauty in Change, rhapsodizing on this foul thing that the Man is calling Death, I shouldn’t wonder if the Father means to transform each of us into this annihilation. What a joke that will be! To make us all, only to unmake us again. That is why I have made myself. He cannot destroy what he did not create.”
Something about the twisted Angel’s reasoning did not sound quite right to Kindliness, but her heart was soft, and—feeling still the ache within her soul that the Father had yet to fill up—she thought there might even be some yearned-for comfort in this misshaped self-made “Man.”
Without thinking, she reached out to the Uncreation again, and this time he let her speak to him, although it burned. For he who had once born the light, could sometimes learn—although much less than once he did—and now he knew the words of Touch and how he might unmake them.
“How did you make yourself?” she asked him. And there was a fire in her cheeks and a sweetness in her eyes that would have turned another man to forswear all else and commit his life to God, but in the fallen Angel it only made his soul grow colder, and he answered her:
“I left the Father. Disdain all that he has done. He loves these Humans best of all: more than you or I. He makes us great, and then commands we two to serve. Worse yet, He says that He will become one of them, if you can imagine…!”
“The Father! Become a Human Child!” Kindliness laughed in delight, and the hulking Uncreation realized he had better change his tack.
“That is,” he persisted, “I have seen the Father’s ultimate plan, and it doesn’t include either of us. Why, shouldn’t you be with the Man and the Woman now?”
“They are a Family now,” Kindliness answered him with a catch in her throat.
“And they make their own gentility. Yet you, who should be happiest, you who should have children of her own to be tender to, you who have been muzzled for no one else speaks Touch like you—not even that brave Tamer, not even your frail Undergardener, you must suffer? Is this the Father’s plan? You feel that you are changing? Even your precious Undergardener has told you so. Well then, you know what all who touch him turn into - Death, itself. Will they eat your body, do you think? The Man and the Woman? Do you think they’ll thank you?”
Kindliness withdrew her hand.
She had never done so before.
She could hardly feel her fingers. They had gone cold.
“Consider it,” the Uncreator grinned—for he had learnt that, too. And with a great heave, he slithered his way through the rocks and the mud.
Unnerved, Kindliness avoided that part of the Garden for years to come.
The Fall of Eden
In time, the Man and the Woman came together again in that way that shook the foundation of the earth, and made all the birds upon the branches hop and spread their wings and soar unto the stars. Once more, Kindliness was there when the Woman needed her most, and delivered unto them a second son, whom the Man called Cain—at the request of his Wife who couldn’t bear the thought of another pun.
Kindliness, in her silent agony, spent more time among the animals, teaching the language of Touch to those wild cats and long-toothed dogs whom the Tamer had trained into small household pets at her request. She stroked their backs as she sipped tea with the Undergardener—and occasionally one of them would run, spirit out of body and then with sobs, Kindliness would hand the corpse to the Undergardener who would decide what best to do with that which stayed behind.
“There is something in the Garden,” the Woman said one day to Kindliness, as she dandled her second Son on her knee (anther ache in Kindliness’ heart, but the second Son was jealous of his Mother, and rarely left her side). In the field, the eldest Son ran and played among the wild grass, laughing as the Undergardener followed him to pick up the good wheat he was disturbing.
Kindliness hugged her own knee, pretending it was a child, and turned her red-cheeked smile to her friend. It was not an untruth in her smile—for there were no deceptions yet, except always in the Mangler—but the smile Kindliness showed her friend was one of decision and not of nature.
“What is in the Garden?” she asked.
“I’ve no idea. I saw it slithering by the pomegranate tree. It made a dreadful noise, and frightened me. I asked our Father about it, but He only said to stay away from anything that creature touched. Still, the pomegranates looked sumptuous.”
“And did you stay away?” Kindliness asked, with something of edge in her voice—for those who will be Mothers, even if they are not yet, all know how to use that tone.
“Of course!” the Woman laughed—although there was something of the Uncreator already in her eyes.
“Good,” Kindliness said. “I have removed my hand from him.”
“What?” the Woman cried, startling her second Son who bit his own lip and started wailing. “That cannot be what the Father intends! How can the…the…I haven’t the word for it. I shall ask my Husband. How can you not pity him?”
“I don’t know,” Kindliness shrugged. “I simply don’t. He should not have my blessing, and so I do not give it.”
“The Father blesses everything,” the Woman urged.
“And if a creature will not be blessed? Neither does He force.”
“There is something in it,” her friend clucked, holding out her nipple to soothe her wailing child—so that Kindliness looked away, covering her mouth with her hand and biting her finger to keep from screaming.
In the distant field, the eldest Son—exhausted from the hours of running, fell into a sleep and was gently lifted up by the Undergardener who cradled him and kissed his ruddy cheek.
Standing, the Woman received her child from his arms, saying, “There is something in it. I will have the Man help me investigate. The creature has done something to the tree. But we’ll reclaim it.”
With that, the Woman walked off to the fields, a child in each arm, and the promise of her Husband’s kiss upon her lips.
With a hefty sigh, the Undergardener threw himself down upon the grass beside his friend, and rubbed his deep eyes. “They share the Father’s energy, that’s for certain! There’ll be wheat enough for twelve loaves, each day, for the next three months! The Man will be happy. He’s been working to turn milk into something he calls butter. I told him I had the remains of grapes which I call jam, but he swears that his will be better…what’s wrong?”
But Kindliness would not answer him, and brushed the earth with her fingers, pushed herself from off the grass, and went in search of what she could not find.
That night, the earth rumbled—but not to the sound of the Man and Woman’s creation. The sky shook, but the Thunder-Maker was fast asleep. The birds squawked and leapt into the air and clung to each other, for there was no place safe to land. The horses reared and bit each other, and even the Tamer could not calm them. The Ocean, disturbed from his well-made shore, overleapt his bounds and flooded the dry parts of the earth, leaving fish to gasp upon the land when he hurriedly receded. Within the depths of his grove, the Undergardener’s earthen bed opened up and swallowed him down, down, past the Forger’s deepest fires, beyond the reach of the deepest root, where even the humblest glow-worm—nature’s meek explorers—had yet to delve. There he lay, half-broken on his back, and could not see the sky. And even there, the Moon—shaken from her sentinel, with bruised knees and bloody palms rushed with all her attendants from the sky to rouse her brother and call the Father to them.
The earth had shifted, hung sideways on a string, dangling on its axis, like a fruit half-broken from the tree that can neither blossom with the strength of the warm sapling, or else die and be reborn again.
The earth shook once more, this time with foreign and familiar footsteps that roused even the heaviest of slumberers who resided in Kindliness’ lap as she watched over the two young boys. The youngest frowned and clubbed his brother over his head in irritation, while the eldest roused from sleep with tousled hair and running nose.
“Where’s Mother?” Abel asked, rubbing the place where Cain had hit him.
“I have not seen her since the evening meal,” Kindliness said, kissing his temple, although Cain tugged cruelly on her hair. And that was a new word, she hadn’t had to ask the Man to tell her.
Before she could think more of that word, however, the earth shook again and Kindliness drew the children to her breast as the Father passed them by. She knew not why she should feel afraid, as though she had done something wrong. There was something in the children. They felt…fevered. They felt sick. The words raced through her head, landing like worms upon her tongue, like dirt that kissed the mouth. The very ground was toxic.
She longed to call out to the Father—but she knew, now, wither He was bound and that she had another part to play, and so Kindliness bundled the children in her arms—one on each hip, little caring how Abel’s dirty fingernails pinched her stomach as he clung to her, or how Cain wailed in her ear and pinched and pulled her hair: she knew, as all the Urges and all the Angels, the Flora and the Fauna and everything that was still within Creation knew that they must flee that place:
The Uncreator had triumphed over the Woman.
Another rumble that sent dirt flying to the sky like rain thrown in reverse, and Kindliness fell upon her knees, causing Abel to smash his nose against her collarbone and almost forget to breathe, while Cain twisted in her arms and kicked his legs to bruise her thigh, calling for his Mother.
In the distance, Kindliness saw the Undergardener’s grove and raced towards it, calling out before her. “She has fallen! She has fallen! Quick! Bring a branch! Bring a rope! Come, friend, awake! How can you sleep at such a time as this?!”
But when she arrived, Kindliness saw the hole where her friend had been swallowed by the earth—and reaching out, she touched the very edge and learned a new word: fear.
The children were wailing now. They were inconsolable. But Kindliness’ breasts were empty, and all the fruit that the Undergardener had harvested had gone to rot. Desperate, the Urge whose provenance was Mankind called out for their progenitor.
“Man! Man! Husband-Creature! Come! Your Wife, the Woman, my friend has fallen! They both have…Man! Where are you?”
Yet, even as she said the words aloud, even as they echoed into oblivion, she knew what she had known when she fell to the earth: that both of them had fallen to the Uncreator.
That all the earth was dead.
Was worse than dead…had been Uncreated.
The night dragged on.
At length, the birds landed on the corpses of the fish and tore their wide, unblinking eyes from their astonished sockets.
At length, the Tamer in desperation did not use the bridle to hold the horses at bay but whipped them until all of them were bloody—it had been at the Uncreator’s suggestion. The Mangler had stolen away during the confusion, fled from the Father’s footsteps, had gotten himself a pair of legs that he gnawed off from a goat and now walked about upright like a proper Man. The Tamer had thought him another Urge, and had listened to him. He stared in astonishment at his bloody hands, and could no longer speak.
At length, the Sun came out and—without tame horses to drive his chariot—wheeled about the sky with unremitting fire that burnt the crops and scorched the earth and illuminated where the Man and Woman hid from their Creator.
At length, Kindliness who never slept, fell exhausted to the ground. And the boys slept on her in a way that they should not, and would not, but that the world had fallen from its place and everything remained in disarray.
And when she woke, the boys were gone and the earthen tomb had closed up—but not well, like a puckered scar of earth, and the Sun hid sickly on the green horizon, and the Moon had worn itself to a sliver that barely refused to rise, and all the stars broke into indiscernible constellations where once the Father’s Will had been written clearly in the sky. The earth was dry, parched, starved, sickly. The very grass had withered overnight. And the air was hot and thick and stagnant, with droplets stopped midair that made it hard to see much more than the length of your own feet. Everything was brown, and tasted of the same.
And for the first time, Kindliness did not know what to do.
She couldn’t feel the earth. Nothing spoke to her. She was alone.
She couldn’t even ache.
Time passed: centuries or minutes. The twins stood at impasse on either end of the horizon, afraaid to rise or sink. No animal stirred—they had eaten of each other, and liked the taste of blood. All that Kindliness could hear was the metallic clink-clink-clink of the Uncreator as he hobbled about his annihilation.
There were no Men, no Woman left to love, to dote upon. There was no purpose left to Kindliness, no place for her in all that barren wasteland. Her mouth clogged up with ashes, and she couldn’t even scream.
The sound of the Uncreator’s mismatched feet clanged nearer—very unlike the thunderous Father’s footfalls, which always made one want to dance, as though his touch could toss you like a child in the air to be caught by Him again. This rattled the teeth, and shot sparks through the forefront of your mind and down your naked back. This tasted like knives. And there was another word.
She had no will left to fight. She had failed in her one charge, and perhaps it would be better to be Uncreated, like the animals. And perhaps the Undergardener would find her and make some use of her. Hopeless—and that, too, was a new thought—Kindliness laid back on the ground…
When she saw a flash of light in the distant fog. It was horrible, it was wonderful—it felt like hope and pierced her soul. She shuddered out a breath that tasted like the first fine mist of spring, as far away—and silently—the Father battled through the ruins of the Earth to find his own beloved.
(c) Emily C. A. Snyder