Chapter Four: Reverie
Panting heavily, the tiny creature sprawled upon a soft pile of fallen leaves. The late afternoon sun blanketed the clearing in the forest with a mottled coverlet of gold, green and gray, and had warmed the air to such an extent that even the ancient, towering trees could not provide the soothing coolness that the fatigued little mouse required in order for her to continue her exertions. She needed to rest for a while, and deciding that she would be much safer if she was concealed, crawled under the decomposing leaves, dragging the talisman after her.
Her extended trip through the bowels of the temple had been largely uneventful. Negotiating the rugged landscape of the floor of the temple while towing the torus had, of course, taken a very long time and necessitated using much of her store of energy, but nothing dangerous had occurred to delay or deter her. Occasional aftershocks had manifested, compelling her to hunker down and wait them out, but they had been weak and incapable of causing further damage. In her travels she had seen many strange and singular items that, had she been given the opportunity, she would have enjoyed investigating, but her mission was too important to interrupt just to satisfy her curiosity. After laboriously making her way through the tangled, complicated maze of the structure's interior, she had finally located an open doorway which allowed her access to the outdoors.
Now, as she lay quiescent, resting comfortably under the leaves, she gazed wonderingly upon the violet talisman, drifting into a reverie, thinking back over the recent past and pondering the extraordinary circumstances which had brought her to her present situation.
Just two days before she had been living an uneventful life, engaged in a familiar and comfortable routine. She had only recently moved out of her mother's nest, parting from her brothers and sisters, to establish an existence of her own in a nearby location. She had sought out a soft patch of earth among the roots of a towering tree and excavated her very own burrow, digging spacious cells where she could store the grains and nuts that she fervently hoped to gather. She had already completed her sleeping chamber, furnishing it with soft grasses and prized toucan feathers which had fallen from the wide blue sky. She had also dug an elimination chamber, with a separate entrance for efficient clearing, and lined it with small fragrant chips gnawed from the bark of the cedar beneath which she lived.
She had been required to defend her territory only once, when an opportunistic interloper had happened upon her cozy burrow while she was out gathering grass. A fierce tussle had ensued, with minor injuries occurring to both combatants. Her tail had been sore for a week, and there was still a small knot of scar tissue a third of the way down its length, but she had prevailed and fought the offender off.
The plucky little mouse had quickly discovered that there was no shortage of suitors in the savannah in which they all amicably resided, but she had as yet made no choice from among them. Unfortunately, this had created some uncomfortable moments as she had occasionally been forced to abandon her activities, run, and hide so as to escape the attentions of an overly ardent wooer. She had decided that she would make a selection in her own good time, and she chose to tolerate the infrequent interruption in order to preserve her precious individuality.
She had eventually established a comfortable routine, slowly exploring the area in which she lived, ranging over the savannah and discovering various places in which valuable nuts and grains could profitably be obtained. She had marked the exact locations of several distinctive landmarks such as boulders, bushes and trees,and filed them away for future reference. She had also taken time to observe and occasionally interact with the diverse denizens of her compact little world, making friends (or enemies) with the multitude of mice that were not members of her immediate family circle, and avoiding the fearsome predators that sporadically stalked among the tall grasses, searching for a plump, tender, grain-fed snack.
Taken all in all, her life had, up until now, been a quiet, pleasant and comparatively placid one, marred only by the recent unexplained disappearance of her father, who had not often been present in her mother's nest but whom she had, from time to time, encountered while searching the grassland for food. At their first meeting he had appeared threatening, but after recognizing her as one of his own had accepted her and taken her into his confidence. While her mother had taken her kittens outside the nest and taught them basic survival techniques, her father, veteran that he was, had imparted to her some of the more esoteric lore that he had painstakingly acquired.
She looked forward to their infrequent meetings; she had not, however, seen him for days, and one of her sisters,closer to her father than she, had informed her that he had been absent for almost a week. She had heard no further news of his whereabouts, and feared the worst. She felt a keen sense of loss, understanding that he was probably gone forever, but could still summon hope that he might yet return to her. Meanwhile, she did her best to carry on without him.
We are all (he opined) shaped, to a lesser or greater extent, by our pasts. How we integrate our experiences, the accumulated detritus of years, determines how we live in the here and now, and the paths our futures will follow. Each individual is a compendium of knowledge collected along life's way, and each individual filters that knowledge through the sieve of her or his own viewpoint. There is, it seems, no one universal way to look at and understand a given situation. Emotions tend to interfere with an objective view of many of life's dilemmas. What's my point? I'm not sure I have one; I sometimes just spew out whatever my subconscious conceives and transmits to my consciousness. Consider it a fragment torn from Malcolm's Massive Compendium of Generally Useless Ramshackle Knowledge.
That's all until next time. Peace.
All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005