“Of their first meeting, little has come down to us and yet less is known for certain.”
In the time of the Pentarchs, toward the end of the first summer, when his mother lay sick of a fever, they arrived severally in apprehension and wonder, he from the west or from Airyaneum Vaejah some say and she from Ur as it is written in the prophets and they came to where now we gather at the water for healing and to glean grain from the fields and harvest of the maples and the catkins of the alders there, as has been our way since that time.
Of their first meeting, little has come down to us and yet less is known for certain. That they arrived we know, and that they departed three days onward, we learn from the items in the cloudregisters and from their exchanges afterwards which had in that time begun to archive, though during the days and nights themselves, all record has been lost, or rather was never made, scorched to untelling by what came to pass there. Whether by cataclysm of flesh or divinity or by a minerology or a tectonics now unknown to us, the old screens melted and the old drives fused hopelessly in ports. All seems to have been burned to vapor and then beyond vapor to evanescence, no trace found even on the walls or in the dirt or affixed in the latesummer pollen as was often detectable by the forensicists of that age who were trained exhaustively in the recreation of lost things.
And so also the second, a year after, when rains drew channels in the mud there that then filled with the glittering dust that settled after their collision and that became the crystal branches of the Labyrinth of Pau that we walk today in solemn prayer. And yet still so little is known to us of this, the second September, despite the obstinate, cloistered study of our sages and academicians.
Between times, from the first to the second, it is known that in the loam surrounding the cottage had bloomed whole gardens of improbable things, blood oranges and cherimoya and enigmatic persimmons and ranunculi of colors unknown there before, each drawing from the streams and the alteration of the sunlight, wrought by what may have come to pass, some finding their place in the shade near the red dwelling and others splaying fully in tendrils and vines to the sun, forward from its porch in crawling branches and rays, so that where once the land had been barren and broken to all but corn and soy, fertility yet remains to feed and delight our encampments of pilgrims and prevail upon those of unbelief.
And as before, how they arrived and what happened there can be surmised but not known, though of this their second visit, augurers and auspices in dominions as remote as Uaxactún and Luoyang reported and enregistered in their cloudworks, a furnace gust on their faces at the moment it may have begun, while others in regions still more remote, whose names are now lost to us, record that the air of their cities and freeholdings and heaths and marishes became redolent of warm almonds and sage.
Still no voice or image or even written record has come down to us, though it is recounted that women barren to childbearing became fertile the night of the onset of the second September and men whose limbs had withered and eyes had become sunken with defeat and sorrow became handsome again to their wives and to the women of their youth they had wished but failed to marry.
And so unto the third, while yet no eye might see nor finger record the things that happened there, the scriptures tell of coveys of birds bursting like hydrangea petals into the sky by the thousands, chanting mysterious tidings to the sky. And among the Athabaskans of the north, and the Samoyed also, it is said their dogs took no soothing from the scraps of the children’s tables and began to howl piteously one for the other, both the dogs of labor, thick of shoulder, and alike the dogs of the hearth, which they called klee kai, who were their companions and listeners.
And yet after, in the libraries of Svartálfaheimr and Themiscyra were found new typescripts and unorthodox scrolled pages in tubes, previously uncatalogued with markings and schematics that seemed to point toward a knowing deeper than could be uttered aloud by human voice or sung even by the cantors of the their age or ours.
And last, the effect of the third arrival upon the children of their time is well recorded — children, who together those nights, though in countries far separate from each other, indeed in dominions which in those times were believed to have in common no travelers or commerce, began of single expression a hymn of exaltation that haunted and fulfilled them for the rest of their days. And the song, though nearly unpronounceable and in their several languages now lost to us, each so different from the other, upon study and reflection by the gnostics of those days were found to have been wrought to the same simple melody entreating a promise, translated to us from the scriptures as:
The wind, the wind, the wind blows high,
Blows Abigail Plover through the sky.
Abby is fair and Abby is pretty,
The loveliest girlbird in tin can city.
She calls the animals one, two, three.
Abigail, Abigail, who is she?
She calls to her bear friend, sweet and low
And waits for him in calico.
Bear enters with a bearly bellow
And Abigail, “Bear, please be my fellow”
And she gives her bear a tickly kiss
And shows him where the candy is.
Then out spill jellybeans and out spill chocolates.
Cup your hands and fill your pockets.
One two three four jump your turn high,
Abigail Plover, her bear, the sky.
Then all the animals, five, six, eight, nine,
Were free again. The goose drank wine,
The lion took up aquarelle, the monkey wrote,
And they all went to heaven in a little rowboat.
And so, only by the time of the fourth, were the particulars of their union recorded by any means transmissible and archivable, as among the people of those days, devotions might be recorded to be heard and others to be read in solitude or aloud and others to be gaped at in stunned wonder, some fragments recounted in loops that repeat indefinitely.
Of the fourth, all agree he found her there, in the bedchamber, wrists bound with vines above her head to the mullion between the windows above the bed, twisted one half turn so that, though while the vines had been set while she arched to him from behind, she was now on her back, her wrists above her head, her knees drawn back to him and wide.
Some say she entered the dwelling imperiously, others that she came as a supplicant. The Chronicles of Zerzura say she had bound herself, harvesting the ones from the dirt upon her arriving and bringing them with her into her chamber, still alive and writhing and dripping liquor from the cut ends, that she bound herself to the window in anticipation of him, completing the final ties with her teeth and pulling with her strong and graceful neck until they snaked through her fingers, green leaves through the warm earthbrown of her fingers and wrists. The Codex Xantusia says she lay in enchantment for her beloved and as she dozed and roiled to thoughts of his approach, the vines themselves quickened and rose up the wall of the dwelling and in through her open window, threading in sympathy and mischief through her limbs.
As it may be, when he found her, his eyes at once glazed and brightened and he reached for himself and she began speaking to him, saying I can barely even and he responding No, I know, yes, we, hers pants of breath and guidance and invitation, almost no language at all, and his of affliction and questioning and arrival and retelling as we read in the scriptures.
Then to him, she said,
— Look at what has happened again. I was worried.
And to her, he,
— I’m sorry, sweet. Dead stop at Berea. It’s all torn up.
— I mean, you could have.
— I did.
And he showed to her the glow of her own device and she smiled and him and drew her thighs back, her wrists and forearms still entangled in vines above her head. She hummed a dizzy hum and rolled her hips and abdomen and craned her neck forward as if to watch herself move, though her heavy lids were almost completely closed.
— I’m so happy you’re here now. So happy, Bear. Do you remember?
— I think maybe I can remember. I always remember eventually, muffin. I will muddle through.
Then she flicked his torso lightly with one foot and laughed again until her laughter fell into a spiral of breathing and she rocked and her eyes rolled back hazily into her skull.
Then, as he climbed onto her body, she enfolded him into her as cicadas began a roar outside, and he bore down on her with kisses to every part within the reach of his mouth. She rocked her scent against his clothes until they were darkened with wet and bit down on his beard, painting the scent of her breath on his livid face.
She drew her knees and feet back as far as she could, until she could push either heel into his mouth and thus guided him off her to kneel on the bedding where her hips were now the farthest point forward toward him and in her pleading instructed and guided until he was exposed to her, rigid and desperate as he stared into her face, each mirroring the same look of simple questioning, in the way of children asking please? until she rocked herself in waves near him and finally on him and he disappeared partway into her body. They were still for some time, her wrists bound high, the vines seeming to writhe and tighten and relax with the flexion of her arms, and her body open to him and long, straining her neck forward to see him, his back tall and his shoulders taut and clenching halfway inside her as she made the ancient noises and crying.
He collapsed onto her in a slow frenzy of pushing and pawing until his own hands found the vines enwoven around her limbs and he pulled at them until they untangled and gave way, some tearing in shreds and dripping their clear, resiny fluid onto their faces and skin. He rolled her free and she wrapped her fists in his hair and pulled as she kissed, as if the pulling drew them from him, each humming and grunting into their kisses. And later, when she brought herself forward and neared to lower onto his mouth, the cicadas fell silent as though enrapt with the music of wet skin and hair and the claws of one on the other announced to their legion in a way as yet unknown to their kind.
And in the unbroken winding of their eight limbs together, in tenderness and refinding, the room became redolent of each of their bodies in each particular until it flowed in vapor and foam and liquid into the hallowed dirt beneath the floorboards of the dwelling and thence into the lands that thereby became consecrate to the apostles of that time and through them by succession of retelling and revelation down to our own time. And though not the text of our canon, the teachings of the fourth September are familiar to us in the shape of their meanings, as after that time enregistered and encoded, speaking to us, according to the sacraments of our tradition, of redemption and return, and of a gnosis occult in its particulars.
Greg Sendi is a Chicago writer and former fiction editor at Chicago Review. His stories and poetry have appeared or been accepted for publication in a number of literary magazines and online outlets, including recently Apricity, CONSEQUENCE, Plume, Pulp Literature, upstreet and Master's Review.