Universe 726 Rhiebekka
Judi Suni Hall
© Gingezel 2013

Gingzel Fantasy Haiga: the beginning ... is the end ... is the beginning

The beginning is the end is the beginning. Rhiebekka had learned that from her mother who had learned it from her mother who had learned it from her mother back to the beginning of their line. When her daughter was born, she would teach it to her. But what did it mean?

Her aunt was wise. She said it referred to the circle of life. At the same time as every birth, somewhere on the vast plain there was a death. And for every group who mourned a death, somewhere on the vast plain was a group who celebrated a birth. That was true, and wise. But Rhiebekka was sure that was not what the words meant.

Her friend, Blustskie, was a small bird and she was wiser than any of the herd. Blustskie was free to fly beyond the plains, to follow the cycles of nature that called her to leave for distant places and return. Rhiebekka had asked Blustskie if there was an end with a beginning in her eternal journeys. By oath Rhiebekka could not repeat the ritual phrase, and of course all beginnings have ends. So that question was the best she could do.

‘The spring that calls me as it begins far away happens as the coming winter brings death here, a temporary end to the rich cycle of life on the plain. But even in the winter are the seeds of the next spring. The beginning of new life.’

So perhaps that was what it meant, to accept the cycle of life. She had asked Blustskie how she knew when to leave. The answer had been ‘The knowledge comes when you need it.’

awake
dust smothers the stars
reddens the moon

The dawn haze was thick and heavy with dust. The hint of moisture that gave a damp smell to the dust would be gone before the sun was twice its height above the horizon. It would be a hot day, one in a long unbroken string of hot days. What had Blustskie said? The knowledge comes when you need it. Rhiebekka knew. She knew that she must search until she found the answer to her question and she must leave now, this very moment while everyone still drowsed. Otherwise there would be questions, delays, and she would never go. Her pace was slow. Blustskie could easily find her and fly back to tell her family why she had gone. Rhiebekka took her first ponderous step on her quest.

the beginning
of the day ... of the journey
of forever

The sun was clear of horizon now, casting long shadows. In shadow her squat legs looked tall, her horn enormous. The sun turned the colorless dust a deep rust. Her family was left behind her now. Ponderous step followed ponderous step.

night
under familiar stars
without family or friends

Where was there left to go? Who was there left to ask? Rhiebekka had known the plain was vast and its emptiness filled with a multitude, but she had not known how vast or how many lived here. Most were kind, but none had the answer to her question.

As it had been every morning, the dawn haze was thick and heavy with dust. The drought was unbroken. Rhiebekka was tired and the teasing damp of dawn made the dust choke her throat. The water hole she had been directed to was dry, and looking for water she had walked all night. She would stop for a moment and rest once she had reached those rocks. It could not be for more than a moment because she must continue to search for water before the day was hot. She had learned in her quest to say ‘I will rest, but not until …’ This morning it was ‘not until I have reached those rocks’.

As she approached the rocks a gleam, a splash of water caught her eye. Water, here? She moved closer. It was not water, but a ball, a perfect clear sphere. Surely this was the end of her quest. Surely her feet had been guided to this magic orb. But when she looked into the crystal ball, all she saw was herself made tiny in the vastness of the plain.

Then that empty stillness was broken. The motion was minute, no more than if a speck of dust had landed on the crystal. But even as Rhiebekka watched, the speck grew and took form. Blustskie spiraled down to join her. As if that broke a spell, the plain she saw in the orb was no longer empty but crowded with her family, her old friends, the new friends she had met on her quest. And on the distant horizon clouds gathered and grew to end the drought.

the beginning …
the end …
her beginning.