A BUBBLE OF LIFE  by Tina Stone

            The sky filled with the deafening sound of screams and calls. Wings filled the air, as Ariva flew towards her mountain cave.

            A Storian dove at her, pecking at her eyes, but all the animal did was hurt its sharp, tooth filled beak on the violet glowing shield that surrounded the fairy as she flew. The shield flashed brightly and the Storian, guardians of the mountain, fell screaming through the air as sharp, killing sparks retaliated.

            The sky became silent and the cave mouth beckoned. The fairy flew on, through the silence and into the darkened chamber.

            High on the mountain of Shorcan, in a bubble of ageless time, lived Ariva's spirit.  Every year, on the anniversary of her enchantment, Ariva fought her way into the cave and landed gently upon the rough surface of a stone dais.

            “You are well?” Ariva asked when a bubble floated towards her and landed gently upon her upturned hand. The shell of the frosted bubble cleared and her human self nodded once. Blond wavy hair bounced around a slim naked form.

            “I am well.” Ariva’s spirit agreed with the inclination of her head. All around her rose streaming tendrils of smoke, the smell of sulphur filled the air, but Ariva had long since learned to ignore it. The sulphur, she knew, kept the bubbles suspended in the air, and as she watched, one of the spirits floated past her on a thick yellow ribbon of mist.

            The walls of the crystal lined cave glowed, pink-red, from the lava hundreds of feet below. In the warm cave the spirits showed no signs associated with such heat. Other bubbles floated all around her, the rainbow coloured spheres were out of reach; these contained other spirits, The Chosen, who were to be in this dimension for as long as they wished. The bubbles hovered, moved and swirled with the changing air current within the cave.

            The rainbows dissolved into clear shells, for a few seconds, before clouding again. Ariva knew that when she left here, her own spirit would allow the rainbow frost to cover the globe in which she lived.

            The spirits did not commune, they remained silent and aloof, once the owner had left, both body and spirit lived in virtual isolation.

            A Krantz chittered, clicking its pincers as it walked up the steep rock towards the fairy. With her free hand Ariva stroked the hard shell to hear it purr, she smiled absently. The harmless creature settled itself on the warm stone beside her, accepting the caress. Ariva continued to stare at her spirit self.

            For many years she had considered returning to her own world, “To start my life again is a real temptation,” she said wistfully, as she released the bubble that continued to float in front of her eyes. It had been a long, lonely, time, with no children to fill her maternal need, no love to warm her at night.

            The spell used to cast her into this world had saved her life.

            “But such a lonely life it has been,” she thought as the mist obscured the cave entrance and cleared with the gust of wind.

            When the offer was made Ariva had been tied to a stake. In her world she was branded a witch, tortured and raped, all in the name of God. The Witch Finder General had stuck knives and spikes into her flesh to find the evil.  She had stared death in the face as flames licked painfully at her feet.

            Her name then, was Megan. When the Chooser had visited her that hot summer day, she accepted the offer of immortality thinking it a dream. The Chooser called her Ariva, he gave her wings to fly and brought her to this cave, so that she would know where her spirit lived; but never had she seen another fairy.

            In her own world she knew that her body was dead, long since turned to ashes and blown away. She would return anew, as an infant, with no knowledge of her stay here in Raneash. No knowledge of what she had learned about the world would remain with her. Yet, for the chance of a child....

            “Your need will not be fulfilled until time is restored.” Her spirit answered her unspoken thoughts.

            “What?” Ariva looked down at her spirit. It came to rest on the rock beside her.

            “You can not bear children while time is stopped.” The spirit replied.

            “I have thought of going back.” The spirit knew this, as it knew every thought.

            “You must choose your path as do others. You have lived long,” the spirit replied. It floated from the rock bed, where it had lain, and hovered in front of Ariva’s eyes. The fairy opened her hand and once again the bubble balanced upon it.

            “Then I should free you,” Ariva replied.                  

            “You should do what you think best, if you wish to renew your life, you need to start time again.”  Ariva knelt for a long time, staring at the bubble. If only time could start again with the knowledge of her centuries. She had watched the world live its life. She had seen man's mistakes, she knew that they had things, machines that were ruining the world; men were destroying the seas, the sky.  If only....

            Ariva’s mind raced with the thoughts of what she could do, if only she had the knowledge. But being born again, with no knowledge at all, would be preferable to this sterile barren existence. Finally she reached her decision. If the knowledge must be lost, then so be it.

            Together, spirit and fairy spoke the end of the spell that had kept them bound in timelessness for hundreds of years.

            “We are one, let time start anew.”

            The bubble burst. With a shiver, Ariva felt her spirit enter her body.

            The cave shuddered, the crystalline walls closed in around her as darkness descended.


* * * * * * * * * * * *


            Bright lights stung new eyes and a woman’s scream split the air. A baby’s cry and a happy laugh calmed the new born.

            “Well, that was some cyst.” A strange male voice nearby sounded amused.

            “After all these years.  I’d given up hope. Are they healthy?” The baby recognised the female voice as “Mother”. A baby’s cry, nearby, startled her into crying. A warm breast was offered to quieten the noise. She was raised slightly and stared into blue eyes. The warm soft cloth that surrounded her trapped her hands, she tried to reach out and touch her sister. She cried out in anger seeing through her tears that her sister also cried.

            “They don’t like the restriction,” her mother’s voice told the man, who instantly loosened the blanket and smiled. Infant hands touched briefly.

            “We are one, and yet two. How can this be?” her mind asked as the small fingers gripped tightly to each other.

            “We will never be alone again,” came the reply and both infants relaxed.

            “They wanted to touch, isn’t that amazing?” asked Mother in an awed voice. There was a distant rumble in reply sounding amused.

            “We’ll call them Vera and Megan after our mothers.” The deep voice rumbled overhead as the infant tried to focus brand new eyes upon her father.

            “Don't you think that’s a little old fashioned for this day and age dear? She's trying to see you come closer.” A woman’s gentle voice sounded loud against her ear.

            The heartbeat was comforting, dispelling strange images of warm red walls; she closed her eyes for sleep.

            “It is, but that’s all that springs to mind.” The voice rumbled soothingly as the newborn closed her hand around one thick finger.

            “They’re smiling, I think they like their names, where do you suppose that blond hair came from?”

            Megan smiled as she felt the warmth and love of her new parents and the closeness of her sister, in mind, body and soul. Two and yet one.  Even in her infant mind she could understand their words.  She could remember, everything.


ENDS  ©  Tina Stone 2001

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