The anomalies hit me much faster than I was ever used to. Instead of arising from sleep with a head filled with sand and a crick in my neck, feeling stiff as a twig, I instead found myself unable to shut off vision as soon as it returned to me. Eyes glistening with the many miles of stars stretched far above me, and I took in the light string by string. As I noticed each star and counted each moving flashing light high within the twilight velvet sky, I noticed the second anomaly. Although my nose has always been damaged, a defect of my creation, even it picked up the scent of blood on the wind. Air carried it through me, into my mouth where it soaked into the back of my tongue, within my sand-filled head. A heightened state of awareness, perhaps caused by the rush of adrenaline as the iron liquid filled me. And gripping grass between each one of my slender fingers, so tight the muscles could break the slim bones at any moment. I am alert and ready for a sound.
A sound, within the still night. This is calmly normal for me; I expect no noise at the best of times, lying out here in the secluded brush of the landscape. Every insect footstep on every leaf of every tree, nothing would be lost upon me. My ears, hidden though they are, sense the very smallest sounds. Especially now in the silence. My mind struggles so much to determine whether anything I hear is a product of the world or my own imagination. Is the creaking from my bones, or from elsewhere?
I hold myself steady. A third anomaly has become apparent. Shadows, so thin I almost missed them, reach across my body. And the places the shadows flee from is a stunning silvery blue. My own shadow darkens the grass as the light, lethargic, but with intention, moves closer to me. Slow strides, almost completely silent, I realize are coming from the world and not my head. Without a movement nor a sound, I lock myself completely onto the light and the noise. Friend. Foe. Or Neutral?
It will take me less than a second to scatter myself away from the noise if it is cruel. I will scamper, and I will fight. Beside my right hand, my fingers numb to its feel, is my companion. The two sticks, a cross on the grass, and strings confining it. When I touch it, it talks for me. If I cannot tell what the intentions of the noise are, I will let it know I live, that I am in its way.
The light is so close now, so bright and reflecting off my eyes, I can barely see the stars. What was once a sequined cloth crafted by a godly hand, laid over the resting world has become a void, the only shimmering light the one scattering warmth onto the side of my face. This in itself is strange as the night never promises comfort. The night is calm and quiet, but with that comes the frigid temperatures of a world without life, and that world is getting colder. To feel warmth now is close enough to blasphemy that it almost angers me. My fingers silently pull my companion’s sticks into my palm. I grip them – I feel the connection between us form instantly almost feel a heartbeat through the sticks that pulses with mine. A heart that pumps through grey stuffing, but a heart that beats nevertheless. Its mouth is mine, and it will speak for me.
With the light that approaches, I notice our shadows. Mine and my companion’s. There I am, stretched tight on the grass, a shocking darkness against the white light that seems to come straight down from the sky. And the mound beside my shadow is my companion’s. Joined at the hip, we are congealed into a singular mass, so strong with ourselves and our hearts so combined it knows what I need to say, and what I want to hear. Its shadow stretches into mine, and mine into its, a combination borne of the shyness of the light. And a sharp outline of the sticks, raised a little way above our bodies. Rubbed smooth by my fingers over years of attention and necessity. Indents, catches and marks are the scars of our time together, from where my anger was too great, from where I dropped my companion in the brambles once too often. Similar, the stitchings on its body. Thorns tear thought cloth, through the polka dot blue fabric I used to patch the previous hole to reveal the same one, where stuffing will be pushed out by the aching heart within its chest. And that heart aches with mine.
The fabric is even more illuminated by the light approaching us, and I have still not moved. I have not judged whether this stranger is a friend or foe yet. Or Neutral. I have merely stayed completely still, a cat trying to hide in its own darkness. Trying to decide whether to run or to stay resting. To wonder if the light will try to touch me, or lie down next to me to hear my companion tell it all about the stars we will both be looking at. The stars I am currently lying under. The stars they are currently standing under.
I silently grip my companion’s sticks, as I hear the half-quiet rustling of the stranger halt just behind my head. I daren’t move, so I listen, and I look. My eyes readjust and I see the stars spark back to life, as well as notice the new life currently tilting their head down at me.