Spending any more time in the World of the Living would be dangerous for me. My room would come to swallow me whole if I ever neglected my duties. It’s already done so once. It wasn’t that my room had any ill will for humans. Nor did it hate me. But if I found myself too attached to the humans I served, I could harm them. Divines and humans are never meant to be together. My room, who in of itself is a divine, knew that very well.
“What do you usually do?”Lily asked as she walked with me to the festival. She told her sister that she would be exploring the festival with me and so I met her where the festivities congregated. After we came back to town, she went on her own way. Her eyes were steadfast, and her gait lulled in the slight winds. I got her to talk about her shattered dream. She wanted to meet her parents again, that was her dream to fly. But as it was, she knew that she could never meet them. One of them was already gone. Dreams could shatter at the drop of a hat. Some may not even realize that their dreams had shattered. Thinking of it like that made me want to protect them. And so I talked to humans, to make sure that they knew, and that they were going to be fine. It was my hobby.
“I usually just talk to people,” I answered. Lily was wearing a white summer dress for the festival. Her hair was tied, and her steps were fluttering. Her voice rang clear in the air.
“You talk to people?” I nodded.
“It’s nothing special, but that’s what I usually do. Probably nothing like a day in your life.” Her smile beamed in the dark of night. The town was filled with artificial lights that breeched outer space. Bodies of other children and parents scuffled by us. Some wore masks. Sounds of sales and laughter cried with the sharp winds that came against our faces.
“In the mornings I go to school. Except today! Today is a special day. We never go to schools on the spring-time festival.” She was spinning in circles, her dress and hair following her in a ring. Fried food wafted through the slow winds that brushed against us.
“And what about on days that aren’t today?” She held her hands behind her back, as she lightly skipped with her steps.
“After school, I would go home and wait for my sister. We play together until I get tired. But sometimes my sister can’t play with me. Then I have to play by myself.” Although the lights were gleaning in from all around us, I couldn’t help but keep my eyes on Lily. As she jittered between the glow of the festival and the shadow of the town, she hummed. The song she hummed was sweet and fell onto the noise of the town in a blanket.
“I think it’d be more fun if you were out here. Children shouldn’t be cooped up. They should frolicking in the sun.” I smiled for her. She smiled back.
“But I love my sister. I have to be with her or else she’ll fly.” Like a switch, her attention shifted to a stand selling candy apples. She ruffled in her dress and produced coins to buy two. The man smiled as he handed them to her. She ran up to give me one.
“For being my friend!” I smiled and let out a breath.
“I’m not sure we’re quite friends, but thank you.” However, I couldn’t taste. And so I ate in respect to being human. The crowd began to congregate as chatter combed together into a cacophony. I made sure that my eyes were locked onto Lily as we pushed through shoulders and watched our feet.
“It’s here!” The crowd dispersed into two lines on either side of the road. Coming from the slope was a parade of platform bearers. They were an assortment of men and women who chanted in march. The wood that was laced together by red string didn’t falter once. They held a statue of a woman leaning down with her hands clasped in prayer. Her hair was intricately laced together. Her dress flowed with life and her face was in solemn focus. The streets boomed for the arrival of the Valley Maiden. I looked down at Lily. Her mouth couldn’t close and her eyes glinted in the short bursts of light that peeked through shoulders.
“It’s quite amazing. I can’t believe the level of detail on her. This town must really love the Valley Maiden.” I meant that honestly.
“My sister said they reuse the same statue every year. But they polish it down to make it look new. If anything is chipped or worn, they spend hours just making sure that it doesn’t seem old to the Valley Maiden.” Shoulders bumped occasionally, though Lily shifted out of the way in succession.
“I’m sure that wherever she is, she’s happy.” I smiled for her.
“I’m sure mother and father is thinking about the Valley Maiden as well. I know they are.” Her eyes wandered from the Valley Maiden and back to the stalls lining the streets. She took the last bite of her candy apply, and smiled from one end of her face to the other.
As the statue bearers came by us Lily couldn’t help but to wave and jump for the stars. Her noise bled into outer space. We soon begun back to the festival. The night seemed like it would last forever. Though eventually I noticed Lily’s eyes struggling to keep their light.
“This festival was really fun Lily. I never expected to see so much energy after this morning. Though I guess that’s just how the law of the world worked.” I smiled for her though she only tilted her head in response.
“Just my own rambling,” I added with a breath.
“Either way, this has been a fun day.” We walked to a point where the crowds thinned. The lights behind us washed over our backs, and the noise simmered into a light whisper of the wind.
“You have to go meet other people now?” I smiled. I was surprised my room didn’t come to get me. Though even if I had found some interest in Lily I had no intention of staying with her.
“Right. If I don’t go to many places, I’ll never meet many people. It’s just like flying.” Her eyes lowered.
“Even though flying is scary?” Her voice was light.
“It’s not as scary once you’re in the air. As long as you remember to land,” I shrugged and smiled for her.
“I had fun too.” She smiled with all she had as she leaned on me. The night’s draft came rushing onto our faces. Her hair ruffled on my sides. Her breathing slowed.
“Where are you going next?” She asked as she looked up towards me.
“Wherever my wings take me.” Lily led me back to her home where the lights no longer followed us. The crowds of people died, and the darkness became our closest comfort.
“What do you think you want to do when you grow up?” I asked. The words came out of my mouth before I could realize I had said anything. She scrounged her face to think. It wasn’t that I was trying to help them cope or understand their tribulations, but that was how it usually ended. And with that, I accept their company and knowledge as my reward. That was all I could ever hope for.
“If you asked me, I’d think I’d just want to sit around and watch the world around me move. ” It was the first thing that came to mind. Though I smiled thinking of a world that allowed me to just drift in nonchalance.
“I’d be able to not worry about a single thing as everything else raced by me. Even if I’d be left in the past, I’d be happy.”
“Isn’t that really sad?” She skipped on the street and landed in front of her door. A single bulb protruding, alighting the silver handle.
“Sad or not, that’s just how I feel. It’s just like you with flying. If you feel it’s scary, then it’s scary, but that’s fine.” She nodded, her eyes lighting up.
“But it’s really good to have something like that anyway. That’s what my sister told me. I remember now.” She turned as she entered the light of her door. I walked towards her, mimicking her skip. I almost fell.
“Now I really want to see how you fly Summer!” I ruffled her hair. I began to wonder as I held onto Lily what it would have been like if I was human. I would lose my knowledge of the divine and of the shattered dreams. I would be like everyone else, living their lives unknowing of the power that I held. As I stopped, Lilly looked up, a yawn emerging.
“Summer,” she said under her breath. Her pulse softened.
“Summer,” she repeated again.
“Summer–” Like a switch she beamed and opened her eyes.
“What is it?” I said with a laugh.
“If I had a list of all the things I liked. I would put Summer on it!”
“Where did this come from?” I said with a chuckle. She broke free from my grasp and ran behind me, back into the dark.
“The season of summer. And Summer. And my mother, and my father, and my sister.”
“Even though I just met you?”
“You don’t want to be on my list?” She pouted, and crossed her arms. I laughed genuinely.
“It seems I don’t have a choice.” She smiled with her teeth as she glided back to her door. She brought her hand into her dress and produced a key. She struggled for a moment before dropping the key and laughing. As she opened the door she turned and waved.
“When I grow up I’ll go and meet my parents with my sister. I know I can’t go now. I know it’ll be hard if I force my sister to bring me. I don’t want to cause them any trouble. So I’ll wait, and I’ll see them when I can fly properly.” I nodded and smiled.
Just as her door closed, I could hear her feet tapping away. I made sure that no one was watching though I knew I didn’t need to, and then opened the door to Lily’s home. I then stepped forward into my room. I adjusted my eyes to the white that threatened to blind me. I stepped over to my desk, where I emptied the jar I had into my bank of shattered dreams. Upon touching all the other dreams, the marbles began to twinkle. Even if I tried hard to remember her dream and the things she told me I was sure that the next day and the coming week would bring me even more. And so I silently gave her my earliest condolences. That was all that I could ever do for the humans that kept me company as I collected shattered dreams. I hoped they would never remember me.