Shifting Sun

When Summer Sun is at Her peak,
resplendently She shines,
encouraging a bounty’s fruit
to ripen on the vines.
In Autumn, She’s a gentler queen,
who keeps the snow at bay
and rises later every morn
to tighten up the day.
When Winter comes, She rests a while,
but still keeps careful view
on snow drifts, frost, and icicles,
to know when thaw is due.
When thaw is here and Spring arrives,
She takes a gentle hand
and lends her warmth unto the earth
to wake the slumbering land.
Onwards She toils, from year to year,
no payment as Her due;
retreating when there’s cloudy skies,
and beaming when they’re blue.

The Commission

“Ciao Gabriella,” I called, as I squeezed past the stack of blank canvasses blocking the doorway to the small office at the back of the gallery. Hearing my voice, Gabriella squealed, practically vaulting over a small pile of boxes and pulling me into a tight hug.

 “I’ve been trying to call you all morning! Oh, Bella. You’ll never guess what!” I couldn’t miss the excitement buzzing from her small frame, but I couldn’t resist teasing her.

 “Erm…you’ve just found out that I’ve been awarded the Future Generation Art Prize and we’re splitting the winnings sixty/forty?” She pulled back and slapped my arm.

 “When that happens — and I’ve no doubt it will — the split will be fifty/fifty! Where would you be without me hmm?”

 “Languishing away down in my parent’s freezing cantina, and working minimum wage to save up for new brushes?”

 “Certo!” She said with a mock glare.

 “So, what’s this big news then? Did we manage to make it into the black this month?” She rolled her eyes, grabbing my hands.

 “You have a new commission!”

 I got commissions reasonably often, so that couldn’t be the ‘big news’. She only left me hanging for a moment before her excitement got the better of her

 “…for forty-six canvases!!!” She finished with a little hop, laughing as my mouth dropped open in amazement.

 Was that really only six weeks ago? I’d been so thrilled. It was the largest commission I’d ever had. It even included an all expenses paid trip for my family and me to visit Sydney for an entire month. Australia… we’d never even been outside of Italy. My nine-year-old son, Mattia, hadn’t stopped talking about it since. He and my husband, Marco, had spent hours pouring through travel sites, making a list of all the places they planned to visit. It was a career maker, an open door to future commissions from other hotel chains. It felt like I’d finally made it — certainly a far cry from how I felt today.

 Standing in the hotel reception, my heart in the pit of my stomach, I waited for the hotel chain’s owner to finish yet another overseas business call. The bulging portfolio clutched in my numb fingers, contained my last chance at securing the job. Forty-nine sketches in total, this included a couple of backups as a safety net, just in case any of the first forty-six fell flat. As Greta Thompson’s muffled voice drifted to my ears from behind the thick, opaque glass, I felt anything but reassured. The devastation which followed our last meeting ran on a loop through my mind.

 “Oh no, this won’t do at all!” Greta frowned down at the freshly sketched images scattered across the large conference table. Tutting, she shook her head.

 “What don’t you like about them? Maybe once I add a little colour and…” She waved her hand at the pile with an overly dramatic flourish cutting me off mid-thought.

 “Everything, darling. Just everything!” Taking hold of my arm, she pulled me closer. Forcing myself to focus past the terrible well of despair bubbling up inside, I scrutinised my work again, trying to find whatever it was she found so offensive. I just couldn’t see it. I’d thought the botanical gardens, harbour and opera house would be the perfect subjects for the series. Each one was uniquely ‘Sydney’, and the only guidance I’d been given was ‘capture the essence of Sydney’.

 “Could you try to be more specific? If I had a clearer idea of exactly what you’re looking for then perhaps…”

 “Something unique darling! Something that only you could have painted. I want to see your heart and soul laid out on that page…not just another ‘hotel room’ painting.” The last she’d put in air-quotes as if she wasn’t sure the words themselves would hammer the point home enough.

 “I see…” I didn’t though. I’d spent hours finding just the right locations for those sketches. It hadn’t been easy either. It was my first time in Sydney, and I’d never been very good at following street-maps. Plus, although my grasp of the English language was better than most of the people I knew back home, it was proving no match at all to the thick Australian dialect and strange slang which most of the city’s residents seemed to use. Asking for directions had been like sitting an exam in a subject I’d never studied.

 Hearing her describe them as ‘just another hotel room painting’ was crushing. It gave me doubts I really couldn’t afford to have. Not if I wanted any chance of taking home the promised paycheck. How would I face my family and friends back home, or explain to my son why the new bike he had his heart set on would have to wait for another year. We weren’t poor by any means, but luxuries were in rather short supply at present.

 “Okay… Let me see what I can do.”

 Greta gave my shoulder a squeeze, which I could only assume was meant to be a gesture of encouragement, then swept from the room, calling her PA’s name at the top of her lungs.

 All I’d wanted to do at that moment was go back to my room and have a good, long cry. Crying wouldn’t help anything though. So, shoving my bruised pride aside I’d headed back out in search of my muse.

I was pulled from my dark thoughts by the sound of the office door opening. I tried to achieve a convincingly confident expression, as Greta’s face poked around the doorframe. She was still on the phone.

 “Gio, darling…give me just a sec, will you.” She covered the mouthpiece with a perfectly manicured hand. “Wonderful man, couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag,” she whispered conspiratorially.

 I didn’t quite know how to respond to that.

 “Is that them?!” She held her hand out for the portfolio, which I was still clutching like a lifeline. I handed it over, but instead of looking inside, she just tucked it under her arm.

 “I’m going to have to be unforgivably rude, my dear. I was expecting to be finished by now, but Gio really can’t cope without me.” She shrugged with a dramatic roll of her eyes.

 “I can come back later…?” I wasn’t sure I could handle the stress of waiting even longer for her review of my work, but it was clear I had no choice.

 “Could you? That would be wonderful, darling…shall we say 8 pm in the foyer?” Before I had a chance to answer she was gone, door clicking shut in her wake.

 What on earth was I going to do for the next six hours? I’d made it as far as the lobby when Greta’s PA came chuffing to a stop at my side.

 “Ms Thompson wanted me to tell you to bring your husband and son with you to the meeting.” My heart sank further, now resting somewhere near the level of my shoes. I nodded, and the man scurried off again.

 Six hours later I was a bag of nerves. It didn’t matter how many times Marco told me that she’d love my work. Even the none stop questions from my son couldn’t lure me from my anxious cocoon of anticipatory misery.

 “I’m so glad you could all make it!” Greta came sweeping into the room — a cyclone of energy and emotion.

 “Ms Thompson, I hope…” She held up a hand.

 “First, Follow me.”

 I felt, rather than saw Marco’s mouth drop open in shock. Greta didn’t see it though, as she’d already marched from the room.

 She finally came to a stop in front of a closed door, which still had ‘under construction’ signs clearly displayed. Ignoring them, she ushered us into the dark space beyond.

 I was about to ask what was going on when she flipped the light switch. My eyes grew wide as saucers as I realised where I was standing.

 “Its…a gallery.” She laughed, clearly enjoying my surprise. Looking around I realised all of the pieces on display were the preliminary sketches I’d handed her earlier.

 “It certainly is, and it’s all yours darling girl!”

 “I…I don’t understand. I thought you wanted the paintings for the hotel?”

 “Indeed I do dear, and the first sketches you gave me will be perfect for that. This gallery is for the wonderful ones you handed me today…and any you might paint in the future, of course. This past month has been about more than just a commission. It was an interview to see if you were the right person to receive our ‘New Talent’ grant — you passed with shining colours. Congratulations!” She put her arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze. My son and husband began to clap; beaming smiles on both their faces.

 “You knew!” I accused with a mock glare.

 “They were sworn to secrecy. Couldn’t have them spoiling my fun.”

 “You are a very unique woman, Ms Thompson.”

 “Noticed that did you?” She grinned unrepentantly, and we all dissolved into laughter.

If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

© 2019

The Trees Remember

Dappled light warms the nutrient soil
through dew laden boughs,
wreathed in the scent of pine
and rich, dark earth – I stand;

The vibrations of the forest speak to me;
It’s whispers – a thousand soothing voices –
fill the lingering silence within my soul.
An endless web of living roots
hum contentedly beneath my feet –
stretching infinitely out in all directions;


I feel others in the dappled shade
all around me
Family, Friends, Fellow souls;
all seasoned travellers
in the endless cycle of existence

Within the forest, I am more myself
Than I have ever been.
– Part of it –
A single, shining facet
of it’s immense soul;
gone for a time, but never forgotten.

The Trees remember and they sing my name.

At last, a reindeer approaches,
Her antlers draped
with silken strands of green moss,
and small, snow-white blossoms;


Somehow, I’ve known her
for longer than I’ve known myself.

I raise my hand,
smooth, silver-brown fur.
Soft and warm beneath my questing fingers.

Her gentle breath brushes my face,
sweet grass and chamomile.
We’ve had this meeting a thousand times.
– A Million –


I know our sacred ritual,
just as I know she will wait with me here,
beneath the sheltering boughs.
Until the time comes
for my spirit to travel
– Once more –

If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

© 2019

Lost and Found

I stood in front of the rather shabby looking reception desk waiting for the hostel owner, Evie, to return with my passport.

 At least the hostel was clean, which set it apart from many of the others I’d visited in my time backpacking around Australia. Innisfail hadn’t been on my travel agenda, but money was tight and this working hostel had received glowing reports from the backpacker community.

 Evie, middle-aged and rather plain, but friendly enough to make a person forget any other shortcomings, bustled back into the room and handed me my passport with a welcoming smile.

 “Welcome to River View Eilidh. We’re thrilled to have ya. Alright. Come on back then.” She grabbed a key from one of the hooks behind the counter and motioned for me to follow.

 Like most people, she pronounced my name ‘Ee-lid’ instead of ‘Ae-lee’ but I was well used to people struggling with the Celtic spelling.

 I followed her down the small corridor toward the back of the building complex.

 “Ear ya go.” She paused in front of a door with the number 5 painted on it. “Ye’r a lucky one! This room sleeps six but t’night ye’r pat malone.” She handed me the key. “Hooroo then. I’ll catch ya on the sunny side. Work starts around five so be sharpish with yer brekkie.”

 She left and I let myself into the small spartan room. Like the reception, it was clean and functional, but I was knackered from the long journey. I dropped my bag next to the closest bunk, kicked off my shoes and fell into a grateful slumber.

 5 a.m. arrived far too soon. The stomping of heavy work boots past my door woke me.

 “Shit!” I grabbed my phone from the pocket of my bag and grimaced. ‘4;45’ glared up at me from the screen.

 “Double shit!” There’d be no time for the shower I so desperately wanted. For once I was glad I’d slept in my clothes. They were a little creased, but they’d do — traditional backpacker chic.

 I pulled a brush through my hair and slapped on some deodorant. Hopefully, the work would be outdoors so no one would notice my less than sociable hygiene.

 Stuffing my wallet, passport, inhaler, and room key in my pocket, I scurried from the room and followed the sound of clattering dishes and mumbled conversation.

 Breakfast, or ‘brekkie’ as Evie had called it, was a chaotic affair. I found the hostel kitchen outside underneath the communal deck. The hostel provided free pancakes and syrup each morning, and at least twelve, sleepy-eyed, backpackers were jostling for room at the hotplate.

 “Here you go.” I turned to find a tall, dark-haired girl smiling down at me. Before I could respond, she handed me a shiny, green apple.


 “Don’t worry. I’m not a morning person either. Usually, I’d be wallowing in a cup of coffee right about now.” She grinned and I found myself grinning back.

 “You said ‘usually,’ what’s different about today? …I’m Eilidh by the way.” I took a grateful bite of the apple and followed the girl over to a nearby picnic bench.

 “I’m Annie. It’s nice to meet you!” She sat down at the table, tucking her legs up on the bench beside her. “I haven’t actually been to sleep yet.”

 “Well, that would certainly do it!” I laughed, taking a seat.

 By the time breakfast was finished, it was time to leave for work. Annie had told me she worked for a building contractor who needed an extra hand on his cleaning crew.

 A cyclone had swept through the area only a week or two earlier. Thankfully, no lives were lost, but the damage to buildings and crops had been considerable.

 She asked if I wanted to give it a go and I gladly accepted. Starting new jobs was always a little stressful, it’d be nice to have a friendly face there to show me the ropes.

 Five minutes later, we jumped into the back of a battered-looking flatbed truck and set off to the site.

 We drew up outside a huge, blue-washed house about twenty minutes later. Annie climbed down from the back of the truck, holding a hand out to help me down.

 “I envy you your long legs right now,” I grumbled. Annie laughed.

 “Trust me, you wouldn’t be saying that if you’d ever had to take them shopping for jeans!”

 The contractor walked around the truck to where we stood.

 “Okay girls. It’s hard yacka, but it’s good honest work. I’m all for equality, so don’t expect to be treated different for bein sheilas.”

 I nodded and he beamed at me.

 “Right then! Smoko’s at ten, any questions just ask Warri. He’s the big blackfella…bit of a tightarse, but fair dinkum. He’ll see ya right. Annie here can tell ya what’s what, she’s a corker and it’s not her first roo shoot.” He patted me on the shoulder. “Hooroo then. I’ll catch ya later on.”

 I was still translating that mouthful, as he jumped back into the truck and sped off down the street, windows down and music blaring.

 “Is he…always like that?”

 Annie laughed again. “Jackson’s a little rough around the edges, but his heart’s in the right place. Come on, I’ll show you where to start.”

 The job involved shoveling cyclone debris and rubble into wheelbarrows and then emptying them into a large, battered, blue skip. The cyclone had really done a number on the house. The roof was lying in a smashed pile in the back garden, and the smell of damp, rotting plaster inside the house was unpleasantly pervasive. I found I had to plan my work to include regular fresh-air breaks to avoid feeling sick.

 The morning was uneventful, aside from an encounter with a giant huntsman spider. Annie had screamed her lungs out from where she was working in one of the back rooms. Warri and I dashed to her aid, only to find her, perched on a rickety wooden chair, brandishing a broom at the poor, terrified creature.

 Warrigal Anggamundi, Warri for short, was a stoic sort of man. He rolled his eyes and gently took the brush from the shrieking girl, shooing the impressively-huge spider out into the garden and effectively ending the drama.

 Lunchtime came, but I’d only managed to bring a cereal bar which I’d snagged from the hostel vending machine.

 Leaving the others to their sandwiches, I pocketed my less than appetising lunch and headed back out into the garden to explore some of the battered outbuildings.

 I loved nature, even the eight-legged variety, so I was hoping to find more unusual creatures hiding in the outbuilding’s dusty interiors.

 The first two I poked my head into were pretty uninteresting, lots of cobwebs, but no captivating fauna. The third one looked as dull as the other two at first, it had a few broken bottles, some water-damaged children’s toys and a large pile of debris from where the roof had caved in.

 I was about to leave and move on to the next when a small movement caught my eye. I took a couple of steps into the room, and heard a snuffling noise coming from behind the pile of broken tiles and cracked timber.

 “Hello.” My voice was barely a whisper as I didn’t want to scare whatever was back there. I skirted the pile, but at first, all I could see was yet more rubbish. I slowly reached my phone out of my trouser pocket and turned the torch on.

 The beam of light illuminated a large pair of scared, yellow eyes.

 “It’s okay…I won’t hurt you.” The creature cringed back, pressing itself tightly into the corner of the room with a terrified high-pitched whine.

 Remembering the cereal bar in my pocket, I unwrapped it and broke a piece off, gently tossing it over to the leaf litter at the creature’s feet. At first, it hissed at the offering, but after a moment or two, it gave a long deep sniff.

 Not taking its large eyes off me, it leaned forward and slurped up the piece. Delighted at my success, I broke off a second piece and tossed it over. This time, I aimed for directly under the hole left by the collapsed roof. The corner was dingy, so it had been hard to make the creature out. I’d guessed that it must be some kind of dog because of its long fur and pointed snout, but as it moved into the pool of light my breath caught in my lungs.

 What on earth was it?! It had long dark fur much like a dog, but that’s where the canine similarity well and truly ended. Its long-pointed snout was covered in greenish scales, like those of a crocodile and its feet were webbed like a duck’s. Its tail was long and flowing like that of a horse, and it had two large, grey tusks protruding from beneath its upper lip. It was like someone had got their hands on the god clay, and gone to town with it.

 I heard Annie calling my name outside but I didn’t want to chance leaving, in case the strange creature disappeared before I could show it to her. I broke off another piece and threw it to the creature to distract it, and called Annie’s name.

 The creature flinched at the sound but it was clearly starving and it pounced on the third piece dragging it back a couple of steps into the shadows before devouring it with gusto.

 Annie appeared in the doorway, followed closely by Warri who must have joined the search when Annie failed to find me.

 “Eilidh? What are you doing in here?” Annie glanced nervously about, no doubt looking for more man-eating spiders.

 “I found something…something strange. Look…” I broke off another piece of the quickly dwindling cereal bar and tossed it again into the pool of light.

 There was a short pause and then one webbed foot poked into view. Another pause then, forgetting its fear in the face of its hunger, the creature trotted forward to claim its sticky, honey-coated prize.

 “Struth! Take a breather for a sanga and a cold tinny, come back an there ya are, mad as a cut snake, feeding a frickin Bunyip!”

 Warrigal’s eyes were wide as saucers as he stared in horror at the small scruffy-looking creature. “That things oldies’d spit the dummy if they found ya.”

 “Feeding a what?”

 “Bunyip…Dangerous fellas that live deep in billabong country. Must’a bin dropped ere by accident when the willy-willy passed through.”

 Annie and I both looked at the odd little creature. He didn’t look dangerous in the least. Even his little tusks were dull at the ends.

 “Can’t stay here. Got a crate in back, should fit the little bugger though.”

 I felt a surge of fear for the poor little thing.

 “You aren’t going to…hurt him?” It was meant to be a statement but it came out more like a plea.

 “Nah. I’ll jes drop the ankle-biter back off where his oldies’ll find him. They jes tryin ta live, same as us folks.”

 Half an hour later with the baby bunyip secure in his makeshift cage, Warri calmly waved goodbye and headed off in search of a suitable billabong.

 Annie and I stood in stunned silence for a few minutes just trying to process what we’d seen.

 “No one will ever believe us back home you know.” Annie ruefully said at last.

 “I’m not even sure I believe us!?” I replied with a shrug and a smile. “So bunyips really exist then…I wonder what tomorrow will bring?”

 “As long as it’s not another huge hairy spider then I’m happy!” We both burst into fits of giggles, grabbed our shovels, and went back to work.

If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

© 2019

Harsh Reality

How cruel it was, that fateful day
When Reality came to call
No pause for invitation
He didn’t stop at all

He strode right in with muddy feet
And trampled all my dreams
Grabbed up my secret bag of hopes
And rent it at the seams

With desperate hands I scrambled
To try and catch them all
No matter how my fingers flew
I couldn’t stop their fall

I managed to snatch one or two
But crushed them in my haste
And when I opened up my hands
They crumbled into waste

Their ruin broke my heart in two
I sobbed out my despair
But Reality walked out the door
As if I wasn’t there

If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

© 2019

Eteroa: A Second Chance

[This story is also available in audio format via my online Bookstore]

As Tane stood on the rocky crag at the topmost point of the Star mountains, he could clearly see the place where blue ocean waves kissed the stony shore out beyond the lake-studded plateau which lay below him.  

Papua wasn’t a large island in comparison to the rest of the world, but what it lacked in size it more than made up for in beauty and diversity. It was the centre of the world; the vast cauldron from which all life had sprung countless millennia ago.

Dawn’s first rays caressed the crowded canopy which surrounded his vantage point, and a cloud of steam began to rise into the still air, as the lingering droplets from last night’s rain, transformed back into the fluffy, white clouds which had birthed them to the land. The sight leant even more credence to his cauldron analogy.

It seemed like only yesterday when he had stood at this very point, viewing the earth in its infancy and marvelling at all of the countless possibilities that would arise to shape its future. The one possibility he hadn’t considered though, was the almost complete destruction of his creation by the very beings which had been born from his seed. The beings that he, so naively, had charged with being the dedicated caretakers of his living work of art.   

Oh, how misguided he had been.

He turned and began to descend the mountain, large strides eating up the miles between him and Kemea lagoon with each determined step.

As the god of forest and light, there wasn’t much that Tane couldn’t do with his own two hands. He could birth trees, plants and even animals from the dark, rich soil in his isolated valley home, and breathe life into them with just a drop of his vast power. The one thing that he hadn’t been able to do was to create a fitting mate for himself.

He had first visited Eteroa, the spirit of the island, many millennia ago. The primordial spirit resided deep beneath the dark, blue waters of the lagoon, which were now shining up at him from the plateau below. A few more steps and he was standing on its lush, green banks staring out across the mirrored surface of the lake.

He felt doubts rise once again, within his chest. Ordinarily, deities didn’t possess the capacity to doubt their actions. Doubting one’s self was a mortal affliction, driven by human emotions such as ‘guilt’, and ‘fear’. But most gods hadn’t been the cause of such terrible and all-encompassing devastation. The last time he had visited the lagoon, it had been to ask Eteroa to create for him a mortal wife. The island had happily granted his request, and Sisiroha, mother to the entire human race, had been born from the waters. Their mating had been blessed with countless genetically diverse children, who had gone on to form all of the different races which, until recently, had inhabited the earth.

In the beginning, life had been good. He had dreamed of fathering human children who, blessed with the transience of their mortality, would truly cherish the world which he had created for them. In return, they would pass on the sacred knowledge which he had imparted to them, to each future generation of his growing family. Together, they would see the earth realise its full potential.

For a while, his dream became a reality. His children lived in harmony with the land; only taking what they needed in order to thrive. Ensuring that, for every tree and plant they pulled from the earth, they gifted back double in the form of precious seeds; carefully tended under his nurturing sunlight. For each animal slain, to provide their food and clothes, they would put aside an offering of feed to give back to the herds throughout the cold winter months, when fresh food was scarce on the ground. It was a paradise, and Tane had congratulated himself on a job well done.

In time, though, even the gift of longevity provided by Tane’s power was not enough to prevent nature from claiming back the mortal body of Sisiroha; freeing her soul to travel to the Summerlands beyond the veil. It was in that moment that Tane’s heart ceased to beat, and he discovered something which no divine being had ever encountered before. The feeling of loss.

Seeing that his creation was safe in the hands of his children, he retreated from the world. Falling into a deep and dreamless sleep, until such a time that his heart would mend.

Centuries passed in the blink of an eye, but his heart still refused to beat. Eventually, Tane realised that slumber was not the right cure for his loneliness. He returned to the world he had so lovingly crafted to seek solace in the collective light of the children he had been so proud of. But, in his absence, his children had forgotten almost all of the lessons which he had taught to them; their knowledge becoming more diluted with each generation. Greed, sloth, envy, arrogance and hatred had bloomed within their hearts, turning them away from nature as they fought for material superiority over each other. They had soon forgotten that they had ever lived in harmony with the land.

Tane had wept bitterly to see the sheer destruction which his children had wrought upon the world in his absence. Logging and industrial farming had all but scoured trees and plant-life from the earth, and the use of chemicals and genetic engineering had corrupted and weakened almost every species on the face of the planet – if not eradicated them completely.

The oceans and waterways were choked with a substance called ‘plastic’ which Tane, to his horror, learned was formed from the ancient liquid remains of dead plants and animals. A process which turned his once beautiful and vital creations, into something so unnatural that even the passing of countless centuries couldn’t return their desecrated remains back to the natural cycle of the earth.

It wasn’t just nature that his children had turned their backs upon. It seemed that, in their unending quest for power, they had also forgotten the important bonds of family. They had tried to oppress and gain control over each other, based solely on meaningless divisions; like the level of pigment in their skin, their sexual preference, or even by the doctrine and dogma of the myriad new ‘world religions’ which had sprung up.

Tane could still see the shadow of his teachings, lingering at the very core of each of these new ‘belief systems’, but many of his children seemed to ignore even the ghostly remains of the knowledge which he had so carefully imparted to their ancestors. Instead, they used their ‘allegiance’ to a particular faith as a crutch, in some misguided attempt to give themselves a false air of superiority over others. Some even went as far as to use their own twisted doctrine as some sort of ‘divine justification’ for their countless sins. At this extreme, all trace of his loving message had been erased.

By the time he had returned from his slumber, there were only a handful of human bloodlines left. The vast, diverse and disparate beauty of his children had been pared down through war, famine, and disease. Those that had somehow survived the carnage of the terrible wars, which had struck their brothers and sisters from the face of the earth, were already sick and dying from the poison of the chemical and nuclear weapons which had marked the beginning of human extinction.

Seeing the broken bodies of his children littering the scorched battlefields, now marring the earth’s surface like open sores, Tane’s silent heart had clenched painfully within his chest. How had it come to this? He had vowed to himself, that he would never again create another being in his own image. And for a time, as the planet slowly began to heal itself under his gentle care, that was enough. But, as the centuries passed, Tane came to realise that trying to forget, wasn’t enough to make up for what his absence had allowed to happen, nor to mend his twice-broken heart.

He thought of his beautiful Sisiroha, and of the deep, unfailing love and devotion which she had held for each of her children and their descendants. Surely, any being capable of such unconditional love, was also capable of becoming everything that he had dreamed?

And so, with renewed resolution, he stepped forward and entered the waters of the lagoon. Cool waves danced against his legs as he waded further out, not stopping until the water reached his waist. Raising his hands, palms facing downwards, he gently placed them on the shimmering surface of the lake.

“Eteroa, spirit of the land and guardian of all who dwell upon it, hear me!” He called, feeling the water vibrate and shiver beneath his fingers. “Hear me and awaken, I ask your counsel and a blessing.”

The hum of insect activity surrounding the lagoon ceased, and Tane waited in the silence. Moments passed, but he didn’t move from his place in the shallows. At last, a gravelly voice reached his ears.

“Tane, God of Forest and Light, what would you ask of me?”

The voice was dry and ponderous, but, despite Tane’s previous reservations, the spirit didn’t sound angry, so he forged ahead.

“When the world was still young, I came to you in this place and asked you a boon… do you recall our meeting then?”

“My memory is longer than yours young Tane, and my age far greater. Yes, I remember the meeting of which you speak… now, what would you ask of me this time?”

“No more and no less than I did on that day, Great Spirit,” Tane replied, subconsciously holding his breath as he waited for a response. The seconds ticked by, each one an agony.

“After what your children have done to our world, you would dare to ask this of me again?! Why? Why would I grant you this boon a second time?”

Eteroa’s voice rose thunderously, and the waters of Kemea shook and danced all about him.

“Please, oh wise spirit of the land, do not lay my sins at my children’s feet. It was my own negligence, which brought us all to this end, and my children paid the terrible price of my conceit. I should never have left them, still so very much in their infancy, all alone with the whole world clutched in their small, fragile hands.” Tane paused for a moment as a swell of painful emotion threatened to choke him.

“If you feel that someone should bear the weight of your punishment for this crime, Great Spirit, then I offer myself up to your mercy. But, before you make your judgement, I ask that you please hear my proposal.”

The waters stilled, and silence returned to the plateau.

“Granted. Speak your piece, and I will consider your words.”

Tane bowed respectfully, making sure not to remove his palms from the surface of the lake.

“It is true that I come to you once again asking for a human mate. When I first woke and saw the destruction of all I had once loved, I vowed to myself never again to make the same mistake. As time passed, though, I realised that the only way to truly correct the mistakes of the past, is to begin again; this time ensuring that I am the dedicated father that I should have been from the very beginning. In addition, I would like you to take my memories of all that has been, and to pass that terrible knowledge to my mate. In this way, my new family will grow from out of the ashes of my slain children, hopefully never to repeat the mistakes that lead us to this end.”

“That is a heavy burden, indeed, for a new soul to bear. Are you certain you want to place such a weight on your new mate’s shoulders?”

“I am. I will sacrifice a portion of my power to ensure that she doesn’t become overwhelmed with the knowledge all at once. I will take responsibility in gently revealing the truth, piece by piece. In this way, I will share the burden with her… supporting and guiding her, as I should have done with my children.”

There was a rumbling sigh, as Eteroa carefully considered Tane’s words.

“Alright, God of Forest and Light, you may have your second chance. Be warned though, this time the earth itself will hold you accountable.”

“Thank you, Great Spirit of the land. I will not fail you or my family a second time, I promise you that.”

The water began to glow with a radiant white light, and Tane waded forward to the centre of the lake, using his power to keep himself waist-high even in the deepest parts.

As he reached the centre, the light began to coalesce, drawing in on itself to form a large iridescent sphere before him. Reaching his arms into the centre of the sphere, Tane took hold of its precious content and, as he did so, the light began to fade.

The lonely, broken man, more human than god at that moment. Gazed down at the sleeping woman in his arms. “I will name you Kemea in memory of your birthplace.” He whispered to her, as hope once again welled within his breast, and his heart uttered its first stuttering beat in millennia, in answer to her own.   

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