Word Count: 1271 Average Read Time: 6:22 Time Completed: First Day's Sprints
The room was lit a holy shade of blue.
It would be unusual, on any other day. Laughable, even, for someone to expend enough of their energy in such a show of intense emotion. But on a day like today, the day when there would finally be a child brought into this world, all around would gladly show their support.
The couple in question had been trying for the last 5 years to conceive such a bonding testament to their union. I had grown up with them, a constant friend and companion through troubling times. But without such a friend, they had told me, they could not had gotten through this.
To see them now, enacting that union they had so deeply and truly wanted, made me falter.
Falter is indeed the right word, though it left an odd color as it left my mind. Faltering in three ways, as their heads began to glow over the child they wished to create.
First, in the utter beauty of it all. I had only ever been witness to three conceptions, and one of which I was interested more in the technical side of things than in the spectacular moment.
It was surreal: Others of importance in both of their lives gathered around, lending the soft blue glow of their emotions to the room which would otherwise be black as obsidian or coal. The couple, enamoured more than ever with one another, stood at the center of it all arms stretched over their past weeks' labor- a collection of precious stone cut just right, and assembled overtop of an inscribed circle.
To reproduce, it was said, there needed to be both an intense fire and a deep determination between those involved. Constructing Your child by hand, or overseeing a very close friend's hand if You lack the skill, was indicative of the latter. And if You lacked the former, well...
Shhndr's light faltered just a hair, and only for a split moment. Should it go out, or dim too long, it would spell disaster for their unborn child. Deep fire, deeper than anything else in life, was needed to be successful.
Especially in recent years.
Shutting that thought deep from my mind, I focused my emotions on the task at hand. Our role was secondary, of course, but our light would help mask any faltering of their own, lest their partner notice and begin to doubt themselves as well. The avalanche of pain would claim many a child from parents with too few friends and too many faltering thoughts.
Which brought me back to my own, and reminded me of the second reason I falter as I stand here in support. The reason which shook me and my close ones whenever we thought of children. The reason that I could not stand by my friends 100% as they moved on to the next stage of their lives.
I was not unpopular.
Three Births, including the one which taught me what it was. Two births by friends. And though I was far from crumbling, I could not claim youth as my excuse anymore. There should be more, and would be more, were it not for all of the failing births I had seen over the years.
Why were people no longer able to do that which was once so normal a part of Stalac life? Why did one in every 10 or 15 ceremonies end with meeting a newborn, and the rest end with crushing despair and bitter, bitter darkness? Why were we not able to conceive, though we wanted no more than to be with one another?
Why couldn't we?
My light went out as my mind began to reel uncontrollably in response to that question. I focused on the stone walls, old and strong and firm in resolve. I tried to push that angst from my mind, on this very important day. That third reason to falter, the real reason behind it all, was not important right now. I must be here for Shhndr and Kshtk.
I took just the smallest step back, and then one step forward to make up for it. Looking straight ahead, I imagined myself as I was, without light: My perfectly polished edges shining only the reflection of those around me, the only light present my two yellow-green eyes.
And then, I imagined the light once again falling from my body, and gushing into the room around me. I imagined those around me reflecting my own light back instead. And I thought of my friends, and how hope has helped heal heinously hardened hearts in the past.
And hope sprung from me again, along with my light, blue as the fabled 'sky' from the stories the wanderers would regale the children with. Those same stories which would soon be told to the child lying there in the middle of the room, beneath Kshtk and Shhndr.
They were both emanating streams of that same color. Was that..? No. I urged myself not to revise what I saw with what I only wished to see. Casting my gaze to those around me for a second, and then back to them, I saw it again: A tint of red in the otherwise holy blue. It was faint, but definitely present, and in both of them.
I heard a surprised gasp from across the room as someone else noticed it too. "When hope springs eternal, eternal springs life." That was the mnemonic my parents had taught me when I first was to see the miracle of a birth. Hope was blue, and life was red.
Shhndr and Kshtk, however, were both rapidly glowing purple. A deep purple. Deeper and deeper, until they could go no further. Their light outweighed and overpowered ours, though we were not to stop our labor until they had stopped theirs. This, I had seen, was a very wise bit of advice, for what comes next can easily be ruined by a lack of constant and consistent support.
The bright purple glow was snuffed suddenly, and all that remained were the faint blue glows bordering the room. The center, both couple and child, were unlit, as unlit as those without life might be.
This was the dangerous part of a birth, and the one which had always been so. It was not unheard of for life to be taken instead of given here; A fate which forced the lone survivor to live alone for the rest of their lives in remorse for their crumbled partner, and their child who would never get the chance to crumble.
I could not think in that one moment. All I could do was glow.
And then, miraculous release! Both Shhndr and Kshtk sprang back to life, with their purple union draining softly into the body beneath them. Though they would fade to normal, if satisfied, shades of greenish blue, it was the child which drew one's eye. Bright red, brighter than ever shown by those born even only a few lessons ago, shone from their body.
And slowly, they began to move.
First, a leg. Then an arm, and then the head— and there were the eyes, bright and yellow amidst the newborn red. They pushed themselves up, to sit on the ground, as their eyes fell upon the sated and sighing couple beside them.
This was too much for me. Too beautiful, too perfect... Too close to home.
I left the room, my inner light snuffed by thoughts of despair and frustration, as they spoke their first words.
"What will You call me, parents?"