Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e8
I shared a room with a sibling, but we humans were the only creatures on board not grouped by God into specific, uniform pairs; couples that would some day repopulate our churning blue world.
After the fortieth day of sunstroke and nausea, the waters steamed and rose as vapour into the sky, back from whence the deluge came. The rocky ground was damp only for a short time: soon the sand was sizzling as we had known it before God’s great retribution.
My father deconstructed the ark once the animals were let free. The fine planks of polished wood were transformed in his capable hands into a stout home, cool enough inside to protect us from the searing sun, as well as from the sand gnats, which had multiplied and filled the arid desert.
My siblings and I tended a small vegetable garden. We had only a few seeds each from father so we watched our charges carefully, delicately coaxing what green we could from below the brassy sand.
I was to play my own role, of course, as were we all. We were each paired with a sibling by my father, under watchful eye of God. We each bore many children, who aided us in the growing gardens as they came of age. We crafted many tools, rude and simple giving way to subtle and sophisticated as our techniques sharpened. Cheerful puffs of smoke went up to God from our clay chimney on every chilly evening.
My father lived a number of years after the floods had gone, many more than were accountable, but he was after all a mortal man, and in time, he died. His children and grandchildren, and their children yet beside them, we each felt a great heave in the earth, the firmament itself shaken by death rattles – we were stricken, all, in the moment of our father’s death.
A calm, quiet rain fell in the desert that day. The crops were painted a glossy green by the sun, hidden behind a soft curtain of cloud. The day hung without shadows for many hours.
When the rain stopped and night came on at last, we arrayed our father upon a simple pyre, built of the planks of our home, of our ark. It bore him so that all could see his earthly repose. As the eldest, it was my privilege and my burden to ignite the pyre.
With the moon came the first of our visitors. The old dogs and their offspring approached and stood with us. The flames licked the planks at the base of the pyre, cracked nourishing kindling. Now a pair of cats arrived, followed by others. They joined us in the pulsing ring of light around our father. The flames crept higher, consuming the planks on their quest to reach God.
Other creatures came. Owls and mice and snakes, old enmities put aside a final time, as they had been when we bobbed upon an endless sea as one.
Flames soon reached the hems of my father’s robes, but his face was at peace and untroubled. The courtyard filled with animals, but quiet reigned: only the snapping of the flames broke the night’s silence.
When my father rode the black smoke high into the heavens and the creeping sun splashed the desert pink, the animals turned and went out. They returned to their plains and forests, burrows and nests. The fire burnt down to embers, and by true daybreak, even those were gone.
I built a home of my own, of stone quarried from the desert by strong grandchildren. They are readying my pyre now, in the sunset’s golden light; building it of scrub and brambles, the bounty of these lands. Soon I will go to meet my father, go with that black smoke into his waiting arms, and the gardens below will flourish yet, until the day the rains return and do not stop.