• Published 30th Nov 2015
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Analemma - Miller Minus



Once every month, a mare appears on a remote beach, far from her home. She plays, she reads, she sleeps, and she wastes precious, precious time.

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5 – Temporary

I spent the next month gathering food. The island was full of it, actually. Berries, acorns, even some vegetables. Pretty soon I was stocked for months. I was ready, and I was set. I wasn’t gonna take this lousy illness lying down. I would do exactly what I needed to do to fight this thing, even if that meant lying down.

Illnesses are weird.

Sunny came back right on cue, a little closer to shore this time, and believe it or not, she actually got to work again. Maybe she could hear me whinging up in my tree and took some pity.

She started out with another stick that she gracefully ripped off my tree. The letters were back in the sand, and she would be up in her perch again in no time.

But something paused her. The stick came up to her chin again and tapped it twice, before she laid it on the ground and swiped away what she’d drawn.

She turned her attention to the forest and flared her horn. Several snaps of wood came from below (scaring the crap directly out of me), and at least three dozen more branches of all shapes and sizes floated towards her.

She smiled at her squad of sticks and sauntered out to the middle of the beach, where she got to work. Not like she’d ‘gotten to work’ a couple months ago. No, the tallies and the letters weren’t really work, I realized. It was like a child faking chores while a parent was passing by. But this? This was some hard labour I could get behind.

The sticks tore through the beach at a wicked pace. They didn’t have a pattern or rhythm or nothing, they just cut the dirt and the air like it was their bloody destiny.

What a madmare, I thought. She’d forgotten she could teleport and decided that the best way home was to dig her way there. Why, at her pace she’d be there in less than a week.

The idea made me laugh. The laugh made me cough. The cough became a blizzard of noise and chest pain, so I retired from the window to get some sleep.

Whatever she was doing, at least it wasn’t very loud.

***

I woke up to the sound of a river. Not a beach, but a river. Thinking I was dreaming, I crawled to the window, peeked over the edge, and took a gander at her little digging project.

The beach had been absolutely shredded. All of the dry sand had been piled up around a great big hole, uncovering the dark, damp sand underneath. In the hole were thin scratches and wide gashes, curving and jutting in wild and random ways.

Or maybe it wasn’t random? It actually looked like a drawing of some kind. Were those two boats? And the boats were on fire? I couldn’t tell—it was all just dirt from where I was.

There was one spot of dry sand left: a large circle sitting near the water that rose above the hole like a pedestal (and guess who was standing on said pedestal).

The ‘river’ I was hearing was in midair. Surrounded by her goldie, glowy magic, about half the ocean was floating above her, sloshing and running in a circle like it was pretending it had somewhere to be.

Okay, sorry, not half the ocean. It just looked that way at first. Maybe I was the crazy one.

“And…”

The magic opened up. The water flowed out of a tiny, growing drain and began filling up the beach’s wounds one at a time. She rotated on her little dirt mound and moved the drain to every little crevice, enlarging and shrinking it as she got to thinner and wider spots. The glow of the magic stuck with it, too. Even as it sat in the trenches it continued to shine, as if still following her magic’s orders. The lines started to stand out. Less than a minute later and the all the water she’d put above her was all used up, and not a drop more.

They were faces! A couple of stallions, I reckoned. On either side of the mound, sparkling, facing away from each other and looking down both sides of the beach.

The one on the left looked like a cocky little fellow. Every piece of him was made with these thin, jagged lines, right down to the cracking, toothy smile and the tongue sticking out from under his chompers. His mane was unkempt and curly, and there were a few golden lines on his chin resembling dirty scuffs. All in all, he looked like a self-absorbed galah.

The one on the right was cleaner, drawn with smoother lines, and looking upwards. He had a svelte collar around his neck and a long, blunt horn on his forehead. His eyes – protected by a pair of tiny glasses – were open and hopeful, and his smile was closed and gentle. In other words, he looked like a wuss.

The mound itself had a few swirly lines sticking out from its base, making it seem less like a mound of dirt, and more like – you guessed it – a sun. I reckoned that was the point, because when she was finished hovering above her work, she took her spot on the mound above the two stallions and curled up wolfhound-style.

It was quite the image. Truth is I was charmed by it, but only because the water hypnotized me with its slow swirling and its showy shine. And it’s a good thing I was around to see it get made, because it meant I was one of the few.

See, it was perfect except for one minor detail. It could have done with a few mounds of sand between it and the ocean.

The tide climbed up just before the hole and receded again. I noticed the big mare breathing in and out in her sleep with the same rhythm as the waves. They slid up closer to her as if every time she inhaled she was helping the wind bring them up the shore. Soon before long, a tiny bit of water spilled over the edge and took a peek at what was inside, and it got jealous of what it saw.

The wind got freakishly strong, pushing the water into the dirt and dragging it into the hole. The edge of the hole crumbled from the force and more of the ocean took claim of the trenches. The spiky stallion’s shiny mane bled into the rest of the water, and with two more waves, his smile was rinsed out. The calmer pony followed in his hoofsteps shortly after. Once the hole was just a pool of diluted gold, there was just her on her mound.

Poor girl. It was an hour before she even knew her stallions had ditched her.

“No!”

She awakened in a tizzy. With a beat of her wings, she rose up and surveyed the damage. And it didn't take long for the sleepy, old mare to realize what had gone wrong, hang her head low, grimace, and shake her head. For all of thirty seconds she wallowed in anguish, and the scene was so devastating it made me wish I’d been responsible for it.

So that I could apologize, I mean! Nothing’s going to make you feel better about nature blowing dirt in your eyes. That’s just heartbreaking. At least a prank can be forgiven.

She softly landed on the mound and let out a sigh. Her wings expanded and her horn lit up, and she poured the water from the pool back into the ocean. She then pushed the hills of sand back into the ruined canvas and smoothed it over with her sticks. Good as new.

The sticks all rose up in a glow, and they flew past her back into the forest. They made quite a racket smashing (and sometimes snapping) against the tree trunks. That is, all but one. She picked it up last and sent the tip on a journey through the sand. In curvy, loopy strokes it left a few words behind, just out of my sight. Then it was off to be with its friends.

And then she packed it in early. The sun was barely up, but she vanished anyways.

I had to stand up on the windowsill and push out my neck as far as it could go. I nearly fell just trying to get there, but come on, I wasn’t just about to not know what the words said.

It took a few minutes, but I worked it out. They said:

Nothing wouldn’t last forever
if Nothing knew any better.

A wave crawled up the shore, gathered the words, and stole them back. It could keep them, I thought. They were a bit overdramatic if you asked me.