The english translation of “Da una Lapide”.
This story begins from a tombstone on which grew a love. But never mind the usual game of the circle of life, of the life and death cycle that’s been perpetuated for eternity. It’s not what I want to talk about.
The first time I saw her, she had brown hair, long over her shoulders. She was smiling, sitting against a sphere lying on the ground. An imperfect sphere that sprung from the ground, with its myriad of facets, its bumps, with the misery of its wrong shape. The little girl laid her back on that sculpture. I was amazed by her lack of touch, by her arrogance. Who was her, to seat beside my father? Who gave her the right?
I went to her, politely asking her to go away. She demanded explanation, almost claiming it. I was seized by anger and ordered her to get up. She stood still, with her back against the rock. It was then that I remembered the words of Henry: «The ground doesn’t belong to anyone, it passes from hand to hand as needed. The ground on which I’ll rest shall be this way. This is my only wish, Peón.»
Words resurrected from the depths of mind. Hidden words that that young lady had thawed. Destiny showed its face for the first time.
With confused eyes by the hyperboles of light, I smiled at her, saying she could remain seated as she wished, if she needed a support on which to rest.
I was lying in my own pain when I saw them. My tummy was bursting in an atrocious and marvelous suffering. I was alone and they were too far to hear my voice, which was choked by the moans. I remember my blurred sight, altered by the tears. I remember my effort, the deep sadness and the immense joy of that so extraordinary day. Was it perhaps a gift? Was it the circle of life that showed its bright face? Two buds that came out at the same moment. The blooming of a kiss and the burst of life from my belly. There was something magic, ecstatic, in that instant. For a short period of time it seemed like I was grabbing the whole universe. As if the coagulated ancient theories had pulsated to a new life. As if giving birth to a life at the cost of great pain I could receive, in exchange, the understanding that was never shown in years of studies. I – the best pupil, the most irreverent mind in the school of Ser.
Under the influence by that euphony, a soft breeze carried the words of an eccentric alchemist who kept believing in the impossible. «In order to get something, first you must give something else of the same value.» The old story of the Equal Exchange Principle. Obviously that was a popular belief, yet it seemed to just collide with the ecstasy of the moment.
The pain of birth got repaid by the happiness of a new creature, coming into the world by my own hands. The chases, the scary moments, the sensation of being powerless, the escape from my country through the northern states, they were all getting repaid by the softness from the surrounding countryside, the green landscape, and by the most blatant expression of love between two young people. I couldn’t help but cry again, seeing the caresses that the two half naked lovers were exchanging on that almost spherical rock. The man’s fingers were passing through the girl’s sparkling hair. The memory of me and Samuel was too pressing, too hard to get rid of by meditation. As soon as I recovered I could, with a last effort, give birth to my girl. Then I cleaned her as best as I could with my hands, tearing blades of grass or picking up dried leaves. The last thing I remember was the kiss I gave her while the little one clapped her hands on my breasts. Then I passed out.
Seeing a so intensely bright ray of sunshine radiating light on the grave of the great Henry Lodel, I was smitten. That tombstone seemed to filter the rays, releasing them from an invisible film, in order to give them a consistency. Whoever made that object, anyone able to shape the ground into that thing had to be a genius.
Legends say the work was carried out by a disciple of the great Lodel. A pupil, to whom the master himself asked to mold the tombstone. A stone with no name, no epitaph. The only distinction from other tombstones should be the shape and colours. With his last will, Henry Lodel succeeded in giving a shape to the goal of his life. A philosophy that permeates all of those who, like me, have been inspired by their wisdom, calling themselves “Disciples of Shape”. Disciples of the ideas of someone who, unfortunately, we had no chance to meet because of the time barrier stood between us and him. Centuries of distance, in which Lodel had spread his thoughts, finally coming to die right in this place. In a border town, not too far from his hometown. From this planet, “the Splitting” has started, the division in two parties that many simplistically define as the Fracture between Good and Evil.
As if we were the “Good”, and all the planets of the other alliance were the “Evil”. A way of thinking that the same Lodel has denied more than once, only able to stem when he was still alive. A blasphemy that caused cracks into the foundation of the lodelian thought, till nowadays, when disagreement rules within the alliance of Cedrik.
The woman stayed asleep in the hospital bed for long time. Fortunately my breast was generous and full of milk, so I could feed the two babies. My son and the daughter of that woman spent the first days of their lives cradled by my care. They fell asleep to the sound of my voice, rocking in my arms. As soon as she recovered, the girl’s mother came to my house, claiming to return what she considered a favour. I firmly replied that I have been pleased to feed the baby and I refused to accept any gift from her. If I remember correctly, my exact words were: «I gave some milk to your daughter, in exchange I got the chance to cradle a second child, although for a short time. This is enough for me, I gave to you and her as much as you gave to me and my son. I only followed the first rule.»
But Priscilla, this is the name of the woman, was convinced that she had to return that gesture. She didn’t say it, but I knew it, I saw it in her eyes. She spent her days locked in the Community House to look after the girl. After fifteen days she returns to my house’s doorstep and handed me the fruit of her labour. A splendid handmade outfit for my Pajaro. I was speechless. I couldn’t refuse such a gift, which cost many sleepless nights to that poor woman. However, I couldn’t return the favour because of the nearly imminent departure of Priscilla. Aware of my hesitancy, she proposed a solution: «Let’s make a deal», she said, «when my daughter returns to this town, you will make her an outfit, or a scarf , or anything else. So that she may grow certain that someone, in a little town, is waiting for her; the same woman who took care of her in the first days of her life .» Then she left, restarted her tortuous path and I didn’t see her ever again.
When he appeared the first time, nobody wanted to believe that that man was the one he claimed to be. There wasn’t any sign, any trace of greatness in him. It was said of Henry Lodel as a charismatic man, able to excite a whole crowd with his speech. That man, on the contrary, arrived in silence. He would never make a speech in the square. He seemed almost annoyed by the murmuring of people around.
It must be said that he never claimed to be a relative of the great Lodel, he just signed the city’s book as Gentío Lodel. The news ran quickly through the streets. In a few days everybody knew who that man was, or better yet, who he was pretending to be.
There was a woman by his side. Beautiful, her eyes were clear as her hair , they had iridescent pearl highlights. She seemed to suffer the sunlight, given the frown she wore when walking around during the day. Luckily their children were not affected by the problems of their mother. They were four beautiful robust boys, maybe a little bit short for their age.
When that man started to talk, everyone noticed that he deeply knew the teachings of Lodel. He never mentioned which kind of relationship was between him and the Master, that same Lodel who, centuries ago, had invigorated Cedrick’s theories, giving new impetus to the rebellion against the First Alliance.
Since the first meetings, you could realize that that man really had a natural ability to draw people in. He, along with his wife, were able to counter any claims. Slowly the word spread, and philosophers and masters came from every part of the planet. At first, they tested the truthfulness of the rumours, then they were going into the group, claiming themselves apprentices of Gentío. He and his wife Gema were refusing to use their alchemist abilities only to demonstrate the great skills they possessed. Yet, when this was strictly necessary, they were able to mould unimaginable structures. They could even cure wounds, as long as they were not too deep.
Gema and Gentío taught us to create things from nowhere. Or, better yet, to remould an element, giving it the desired shape. Among them, the woman was the most capable: there was something bright in everything she moulded. An infused light right into the body of the object.
Gema created incomparably beautiful items. Her creations were resulted from special events. Mostly weddings, but also other ceremonies, like the achievement of adulthood or the Praise to Nature. Nevertheless, both of them always refused to shape funerary monuments. Nobody ever knew why.
How couldn’t I get sad seeing my woman wasting away? No matter how much I try to explain her, she can’t understand, she can’t believe that, since I was young, I grew up with a confidence into my body. My body, yes! My organism doesn’t age. This physic kept young, although many centuries have passed. Everytime I look at her, I can’t help asking myself what will I do later, when she’ll pass away in my arms.
What ‘s the sense, father, in having taught me the formula for the Long Life Elixir? Elixir… it almost seems that the delay on ageing could be obtained by drinking an ampoule, a potion… that’s what the ignorants called Alchemy! Potions, spells arising from the chemistry. The philosopher’s stone, the elixir of eternal youth. All rubbish, all deviations from a real and conscious approach to the universe. But this is not the place for such discussion. I’m right now writing out of anger, or, more precisely, out of desperation.
I can’t, I don’t want to think of having to spend centuries without her. It’s unfair! But maybe it’s because everything is too beautiful to last, it wouldn’t be fair to the millions of people that age quickly. It’s the due tribute to be paid for the centuries I lived in happiness.
I could talk to her about it, she’ll probably be glad. For long time we have lived without secrets from one another. But now that that young dark-haired girl became an adult, now that she grew up accepting the illness that makes her eyes burn… Now that she’s ageing, how can I tell her I fear for MY happiness when she won’t be here anymore to take care of me? She would probably tell me to forget her, and to remember her only one day a year. To care for our children, to find them a new mother. To think no more of our love. She would say that there will be other women who can fill the void she’ll leave.
I don’t know, I don’t think I’m like my father. He has always told me we were deeply different. That I was, among all his children, the eternally indecisive, hesitant one. That’s why he gave me the name Gentío. People often misunderstand the meaning of my name. They think that it’s come from my ability to draw people in, when my father was, in fact, referring to my personality. To the thousand voices that crowd into my mind, to the contrasts, to the doubts. Gentío, “Crowd”, just like a bunch of individuals that aren’t able to think logically. Instinctive, sometimes furious. Nevertheless, I found someone able to settle down the commotion, the repressing of thoughts. Someone who has made me understand the need of following a single voice. The same woman that was shown to me by destiny, few days after my father’s death.
The case follows a twisted path. Otherwise, why would the life of my man have ended right in this place? Why should I cry for him a few steps away from his father’s tomb? A few steps away from the place of my birth? Here, now you’ve got a tomb worthy of your name, shaped by your own woman. I’ve tried to make it more beautiful than the one you moulded for your father. «Make a beautiful sphere, as round as you can. You won’t have to adjust it later; once finished, leave it as a memory of the imperfection within each of us.» That was what he told you. And you took the dust of different grounds, rich in iron and other minerals, and threw them down, blending them through Alchemy, conceiving an almost perfect sphere, on which many Disciples of Shape, in awe, have laid their eyes. I don’t even know how did the tombstone I shaped turn out; I had to throw the dust I had to the ground. One moment, just long enough to shape the form, and then run away. Without even a last look at it. You died in the name of what you thought was right. In the name of non-violence. Because you knew that defining them as the pure evil meant to trigger a war. You knew that following rigid logics would have brought the armed conflict. To say that they, The First Alliance, were the Evil, would inevitably bring the impossibility of wiping the thirst of power off of them, and therefore the impossibility of directing them to a more suitable path for the humanity. It would eliminate any chance of dialogue, forcing us to war. You died because you didn’t believe that, after centuries of peace, a battalion of men could actually invade another State. It was clear in your stupefied eyes, while you trembled from the hole right in your stomach. While blood was streaming out of you, Peón, taking your life away. And I couldn’t do anything but escape. Leaving your body to the enemy, shaping your tomb with my own hands. Right here, where I had a second home. Where a woman was waiting for me, with open arms, with a scarf as a gift.
Now war seems to come. A bunch of fools that hold the government of The First Alliance wants to “recover” the planets from the Alliance of Cedrik.
Here we are, at the beginning of a conflict that our people don’t want. But they’ve got weapons and we, alas, must defend ourselves. Your disciples acclaim me, they want me to lead them. And I don’t know, don’t know how much longer I can refuse to be their guide.
This illness has taken me away so much, it’s true. The pain that passes through my body when the sun’s high in the sky is terrible. It’s difficult to convince myself, even more to accept it without hating some guilty god. It’s hard to treat an incoming rage, the screams, the shouts. But it gave me the possibility of living more longer, to see again that haughty little boy after many decades. Of loving him, of being possessed by him. Right there, where we had met for the first time, when I still was a normal girl with brown hair and eyes. The syndrome I’ve got granted me the ability to move my gaze freely. To give a sense to the connections, to the mesh in which we’re trapped. I can see light wires connecting people, animals, plants, ground. With an effort, I can even understand the message they share. I can “see” a dialogue existing from the mists of a time of which nobody has ever suspected the existence. I don’t know how to explain the meaning, although it seems to be obvious to me.
Is life a circle? Is it really that simple? Can all Being be explained by the idea of one huge circle spinning on itself?
It seems to me that these last testimonials clarify the strange knots that tie different destinies. Is it possible that a simple place could be the centre of a so complicated event? Don’t you find it absurd? Don’t you find irrational that, after centuries of peace, nowadays we have to defend ourselves through the teachings of my grandfather? That Alchemy has become a weapon in our hands? Hands of us, who swore to never use it to harm any living creature?
Sometimes I wonder if there could be another way. If it wasn’t possible to avoid deepening our knowledge of Alchemy for war purposes. Every soldier dead by Alchemy’s hand weighs on my and my family’s conscience. From my grandfather Henry to me. After all, it was my family that has ressurrected a matter that’s destined to sink into oblivion, spreading it and building a life philosophy on it.
Me, my father Gentío, his brother Peón and my grandfather Henry. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s really right to widen the crack opened by Cedrik. This distinction among them, who keep giving themselves names of Anglo-Saxon roots, and us who speak Castilian.
I can easily throw artefacts of multiple consistencies and sizes. I can defend myself with indestructible walls arose in a moment from the ground. But I really can’t image how can I protect myself, if they are really getting back to the old atomic science that remained buried for millennia. Even if they were able to do so, they would find other methods, they would devise new weapons. So I don’t want to believe in the circling of destiny. Because that would mean that the path taken by these people is unchangeable. That the entire humanity would self-destruct and other creatures will be reborn from our ashes. That would be the perpetuation of an unmotivated circle of destruction and creation, which only purpose is the evolution.
But I don’t want to believe to a so tragic conclusion, I can’t accept it.
A story never ends, it connects to other old stories, becoming the basis for a new one. Stating that these events start from a tombstone is not correct. First, one should mention the life of the man buried there. One should explain who Cedrick was and how my grandfather became his first disciple. Why the First Alliance broke. What – or who – Priscilla Sunder was running away from, and what she found in the birth town of my aunt Marisa. How the facts and the life of the mentioned people evolved. In conclusion, one should tell the whole story of humanity and how it began.
In every story there’s the entire universe. Since its beginning, what many believe is the Big Bang, and other, that goes beyond, that starts even before.
I dunno what awaits me, my family, my nation, neither what will be the destiny of humanity. Given the assumptions of that, I’m not sure about the future.
But this allows me to have hope, starting from the farther frontiers of my logical thoughts.