Now Life, Still Life
Love in Time, Space and Other Assorted Dimensions
(Until the Stars Fall From the Sky there will be You and I)
Whatever the title (this time) this is a fable to be read aloud around the fires on far shores.
Out on the eaves of the universe sits a little planet made up of the flotsam and jetsam of spacetime, a little orb of left over physics. It is called M’nar. On M’nar live the b’Nai b’Rath. They live in the bottom of a cone as deep and steep and narrow as an artery so that they only have a ragged hole for the sky; with walls as black as the inside of a brain to hold it up. Through this hole comes a weak lavender radiance that is the leftovers of their distant sun. The light makes their slender turreted silver city glow with the color of moon moth shadows. No occupant of the city has ever been higher than the few meters of the highest tower, so they assume that this cone is the entire universe.
To you and I, it would seem a fantastical but comprehensible city, but to the b’Nai b’Rath it is quite different. For, you see, they live in only two and one half dimensions. And the half dimension is not wholly one of space, but is partially one of feeling. It sounds very complex to creatures locked into space as we are, but listen well and perhaps you will come to understand. For now, think of it like this: they move through feelings as we move through space. They would be no more able to comprehend our movement in three dimensions than most of us can comprehend making progress on an emotional plane.
Of course the first question you would ask is “what do the b’Nai b’Rath look like?” This is really a silly question, for even if I tell you that they are so tall, with skinny arms and legs, protuberant proboscises, pointy gnome ears, and that they have little tufts of fur at their wrists and ankles and little bellies, that would only be how you and I comprehend them. Actually, all the things that we put names to like eyes (which are surprisingly small and beady for their cavernous environs) are really just our perception of their expressions of how they feel about the world they live in, and not necessarily what they feel it with. A projection of two-and-one-half dimensions, with feeling, into three, without.
One day one of the b’Nai was sitting at the top of the highest tower of his high house, gazing up at the hole that was the sky. In his language it would be called mulla-mulla-woda-mu, which means “the-place-that-is-too-many feelings-away.” His name was mLnar, which doesn’t really mean anything more in b’Nai than “Bob” does in English. mLnar was a scientist. Long ago, his people noticed that if you looked very hard at the-place-that-was-too-many-feelings-away (about the size of earth’s full moon), things seemed to move there. You and I, being well traveled in the various galaxies, know that this was nothing more than the stars and moons, maybe the scudding clouds in the world that was so much bigger than any b’Nai ever imagined. The b’Nai had no more idea of this than the men in that other cave did of fire, so they invented many arguments for what they saw. From them came philosophy, religion, and science. Some said the shadows were other universes, some said they were gods. Some, a trick of the light and many feelings in between.
mLnar was as yet undecided, but professing to be a man of science, he was looking first for rational answers.
Actually, he was more pragmatic than most b’Nai and at this particular time he was just musing that if nobody else had figured it out, maybe he should find some other problem to work on that had a higher probability of increasing his reputation, which was the only reason a b’Nai ever did anything. His “eyes” were just drifting shut when he perceived movement in the sky. He became instantly alert and felt the apparition coming closer.
It was a being like what we might think of as a fairy, except all in silver and black laid out in shifting abstract patterns. After long reflection he realized that the black areas were transparent patches, for the lavender light spilled through them as gently as a maid’s hair will caress a kitten if she nuzzles it just so. The creature whirled and whirled through his emotions, much as she would have done even through yours. She was as beautiful as any earth dream and her wing beats would have kept time with your heart.
Can you blame mLnar for falling deeply in love with this creature? She flew down his thoughts so straight and true that he was certain she would land on his heart, but instead she fanned her wings at the last moment and alighted next to him on the tower. At this distance he became agitated, noticing there were aspects of her he could not feel. She might have looked fuzzy to you and me. First this part, then that fading at the corners of our sight. This is because she was one of the Lilinar, the ageless, who live in three and three-quarters dimensions and who only experience time rarely and then obliquely at that. How can I explain this to you, who has all of themselves locked away in the pasts like beads on a string, with no picture of your futures? She was an infant and a crone and saw her death though she still searched her birth.
She stood next to mLnar when she was still far up in the cone, his love for her unformed as boiling pudding (strawberry) in his mind. She crossed the stream of time as you might cross a brook on your way to school. And if your feet got wet, then that was soon forgotten in the wonders that lay a damp pair of socks away in the field beyond. If that does not help, I must continue anyway, for this story is not about what she was but what she became.
Her name was Lololiandra-dor and she knew that there was a world beyond the cone. A dark world with wisps of life tossed about in folds of continuum. She was the first of her people to have traveled here, though of course that had no meaning to her. Even now she was beginning to remember how this would end.
mLnar threw himself to his knee-knob feelings and wept tears of devotion that fell through her to the stones below, washed by his eternal love. She was infected by these feelings just we all are infected by time. For her it was love. For us it is age.
In a dash of inspiration, she lifted mLnar and flew him high, high up to the roof of his world. His body shook as he rocketed through every feeling he had ever had and many times more that amount through feelings no b’Nai had ever known. It escalated until she burst him through the-place-that-was-too-many-feelings-away.
In the world above the cone, he had no feelings to experience what he saw. Thus he was reduced to only two dimensions and so slipped through Lololiandra-dor’s hands and, alone, fell entirely into the third dimension. Lololiandra-dor shrieked her delight at being able to teach this to her love; she had given him space. She swooped down in glee, her wings winking through time to propel her at times farther away, at times nearer, until at last she caught him just above the roof tops no b’Nai b’Rath had ever before been above.
Wrung of emotion, he did not share her delight. Imagine if the left of you had been stretched until next Thursday and snapped back to your right. In fact, so traumatic was the experience, having evolved in a single moment beyond all his race would be in all of forever, he expired without leaving a hint of his accomplishment. Only could he repeat his love before he expired. None would speak the name of mLnar with awe. His lover was consumed with grief, her face a chrome steel mask. She wrapped him in her wings with the promise that she too would love him forever. He had given her time.
With this one alien, unutterable thought in her psyche, the whole world locked into place through her tears, like a stream freezing in the barest moment it takes to clear the wind tears from your eyes. No more to feel time as one feels the north wind through the farmhouse wall on a brutal December night. In a nonce, Lololiandra-dor was trapped in now and now and now, echoes of a stick dragged click-clacking along the cage of life and death.