Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
On the day that Liam was created a terrible storm brewed on Earth. It had been building over the ocean for several days, and had reached a magnitude that would be destructive to anything in its path. The season was not new. Hurricane Liam roared through the tropics, cutting a path of damage and destruction in its wake.
Terra watched the destruction through her portal. She saw the bleak changes the storm made to all that it touched from the perspective of several mortals she guided. The very landscape became forever altered, and entire communities were flattened like a child’s sand castle at high tide. She felt the terror, the pain of the injured, and the grief of loss, and realized that life as these people had known it would be changed in a powerful and far-reaching manner. While her attention was so completely diverted, the element that would change her existence in just as irrevocable and tangible way walked into her life.
Liam appeared at Terra’s workspace innocently enough. He came to her as countless other charges had before him: as a corporeal entity deemed ready to be joined to a guide. Liam was not at all arduous to watch like the hurricane for which he was later named. In fact, Terra found it difficult to take her eyes away from him. He was crafted with a chiseled and refined posture, and his inner luminosity had a quality that made him compelling. His broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips, his dark hair framed his symmetrical features and full lips. From this ideally proportioned purveyor of maleness, blue eyes shone forth with an innocent and all-encompassing gaze that demanded Terra’s undivided attention. As she stared at him, she realized he was looking back at her in a very odd manner, waiting for her to speak. He had come to her for guidance, yet here she stood, transfixed.
“Maybe I’m in the wrong place?” he asked.
“Err, no, probably not,” Terra stammered. “I’m expecting a few new charges today. You’re probably on my list.” She fumbled for her list, the stack of papers slipping through her fingers in her rush to seem prepared, his eyes evaluating her awkward response as she scrambled to collect them. Wordlessly he knelt and began to recover the rogue pages, then handed the stack to Terra with a glimmer of amusement in his eye. She felt herself flush with embarrassment, and quickly averted her eyes under the guise of sorting the pages she had planned to consult.
Liam extended his hand for classification. Terra grasped his hand awkwardly in her own and recognized his identity as the one that she had anticipated. She had expected a charge like any other, not someone with this undeniable quality. He was like no other being that she had ever encountered. She released Liam’s hand and gestured towards a chair positioned against the table.
“Welcome. Please have a seat. Let’s see what great things are planned for you.”
Liam showed no hesitation as he extended his hand to her once more across the pale wood grain of the table’s corner. As Terra grasped his hand, she felt a firm mind link form between them, and his thoughts became quite clear to her. A strange shiver went through her. The shiver seemed to grow into a beautiful hum. They were a tuning fork that was struck by each other’s touch, and their pitch matched perfectly. This was a new feeling for Terra, but not an unpleasant one. She felt as though every part of her began to speed up. She responded to his confusion and newness in a way that she had never reacted before.
Typically, Terra would form a mind link with charges to help them understand the newness of their creation, and then start planning the proper mortal placement for them. It was usually very clinical. Now, completing her link with Liam, she found herself hesitant to let go. She fought the urge to pull him towards her with both hands and explore this new experience more carefully. Terra opened her eyes, preparing herself to break the link, but she was not prepared for what she saw. A greenish hue surrounded them both and cast light around the entire chamber. It was as though their inner lights, his yellow and mortal bound and hers composed of pure blue light had merged. As the name would suggest, inner lights were not something readily observed externally, so this was a surprise to Terra. She folded her arms against her chest in a defensive posture, and reflexively leaned away from him. He sat back in his chair and smiled. He could not read her thoughts; the link of a guide was one way only. In the sweet innocence of the newly created, he had no notion that the experience had been anything but typical.
Terra stammered, “Um, yes, you are one of my charges. Have you taken a name?”
He looked thoughtful. “Well, nobody has given me one yet. Is that something you will do?”
“I think it’s more meaningful if you choose one. What appeals to you?”
“I have heard the name Liam many times on my way to meet with you. I like the way it sounds. Would it be presumptuous to choose that as my name?”
“No, I think it suits you,” answered Terra.
Liam nodded in agreement. A barely noticeable smirk crept on to his face. He grinned, and that expression overpowered all of his others.
“Now that we have decided on my name, may I know yours?”
“My name is Terra.”
“That’s a pretty name. Did you choose it for yourself?”
“No. I was given my name when I was created,” said Terra. “When guides are created their names precede them. We’re intended for a specific job, an existence of servitude, whereas your kind is intended to have a life of free will in set circumstances. That’s why you have some choice in your own name.”
Liam’s brow creased slightly as he thought. She heard the question form within his mind. “So the guides are created…”
Terra finished his thought, “All sentient beings are created, except for ‘The One’. He has no beginning and no end. Therefore he was not created, he is as he always has been and will be. The rest of us have a starting line to cross.”
“That’s a lot to think about,” said Liam.
“Yes, I suppose it is. It’s better if you just accept it as a fact rather than try to analyze it.”
Liam laughed, a deep rolling sound. It surprised Terra that a simple laugh seemed to encourage her hand to move towards him. She had never felt drawn to another in this way, and to be honest it was disconcerting.
“I suppose that we had better move our session along. You have a name, now you need to know a little about the existence you have been given. Corporeal entities like you are designed to fulfill a specific purpose during a mortal life.”
“What kind of purpose?” asked Liam. He seemed mildly concerned. “Has any entity ever failed?” Terra felt a nervous laugh rise to her throat.
“Every entity has failed somewhere along their journey. Most individuals can change course and achieve success by learning from their mistakes. I won’t hide the fact that there are individuals who require more than one lifetime on earth to complete their part in the greater plan.” Terra regretted having to discuss the possibility of failure before her hopes for Liam’s success.
“Okay then, assume that you have given me my assigned purpose. I begin my corporeal life, and things are going great, but then I decide that whatever course I am supposed to take is not what I’m comfortable with. What happens in that case?” Liam had a mischievous look in his eye. He was challenging Terra to see what she was really about.
“As your guide, I can help you stay on track by manipulating small events around you to help you change course on your own,” Terra answered. She realized as she responded that it sounded as though she would tamper with his life rather than help him along the way. “I think that I said that badly. What I meant is that I can help you along the way.”
“So you drive and I go through the motions of mortality,” Liam responded. Terra had a distinct feeling that he was purposely challenging her. Normally, she would not have been open for this kind of rousing, but since she had been second guessing herself lately Terra had left herself open to scrutiny.
“You make it sound so malevolent! I promise you that I’ll have your very best intentions in mind as I help you along. Besides, I can only provide suggestions. As a human, you will be fully endowed with free will.”
“Free will?” Liam asked. “If I can do as I please what’s to keep me from deciding to change my priorities?”
Terra was having a hard time believing this situation. In her entire career she had never been doubted by an entity that she had guided. Now, just as suddenly as she had realized that she had a reason to doubt herself, she was being asked to answer for herself. It seemed the very nature of who and what she was had begun to blur.
“It is very difficult for humanity to sacrifice self for the greater cause. Consciously making those choices can be a very tricky thing. The path you will take will put you at the right place at the precise time in the hope that your nature is properly chosen to be the person to fill that need.” Terra was determined to regain control over the exchange.
“So that is how you help your charges? By presenting us with opportunities to be successful despite ourselves?”
“Well, I don’t think I have heard it described that way, but yes, that sums it up,” Terra confirmed.
“I am glad to know that I have somebody so beautiful who wants me to be successful,” Liam added. “Will I see you often after transition?”
Terra was flummoxed. She had never seen herself as a thing of beauty. She thought of herself as a utilitarian being that was an implement to the grand design.
“Ah, no, I’m afraid not. Once you are born to a mortal life you’ll not remember me at all. I will look in on you, but you will never need to worry about my existence during your stay on Earth.”
“Please be clear, what part of my existence will I be able to carry with me?” Liam asked. Terra found it difficult to interpret his expression.
“You will be the same person. Your thoughts will be your own, but some parts of you – your memories of your beginnings, and your awareness of whence you came – will be veiled by your mortal mind. It’s a temporary condition; the body is a vessel that was never meant to endure forever. The person you are today is the part that lasts, and the part that will return to The Tweens to be made ready for whatever comes next.” Terra was trying to make Liam understand what was to come without upsetting him, but she seemed to be failing miserably. She could not understand why this charge was determined to be a challenge. If he was this difficult when she could reason with him, imagine what he could become in the mortal world!
“I suppose I can accept that if I am allowed to return here to you,” Liam declared.
“To me?” Terra was lost. “I will remain your guide while you are in the mortal world. You won’t need me when you return to The Tweens. That will mark a new era in your existence.”
“Won’t need you?” asked Liam. “Then who can I argue with about existence itself? Your whole face glows every time I challenge you, and I’m finding it hard to look away.”
If her distraction had been so obvious when she reacted to his debate, then Terra must have turned ten shades brighter when he spoke these words. She was having a difficult time looking away from Liam as well. There could be no denying that he was a magnificently formed creation, but this sense of attractiveness was complimented by an intense sense of intrigue. For the second time, her concept of what was absolute was shifting. If it was shifting towards Liam, she already knew that she would be tempted to let things keep surprising her.
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