A Matter of Life and Death
My talented sister was inspired by my drawings and wrote a beautiful story… I think you will enjoy it as much as I do. I really love it!
A Matter of Life and Death
The existence of the world is based upon balance. Everything consists of two sides, two forces with opposite directions which strangle to maintain balance.
Where there is something good there is also something bad; where you can find beauty you also find ugliness. When you reach for happiness you step on misery; you feel lonely when you live in a crowded world.
The day follows the night; there is cold but there is hot; you taste bitterness but you can taste sweetness, too; sometimes you’re strong, sometimes you’re weak; there is black and there is white; there is winter and there is summer;
You love, you hate. You live. You die.
This story is about the two opposite forces that keep balance in this world. But what happens when these two forces instead of holding the balance, collide and finally consume each other?
The perpetual battle between life and death keeps the story going. But what if this battle stopped? Just for one second?
Life, as we know it, isn’t something that can be fully and clearly explained. We all identify it as a miracle; the miracle of life.
Death on the other hand is bit easier to explain; it’s what takes life away.
The nature of both life and death still remains a puzzle to humanity. But not in this story.
Once upon a time, Life existed not only as a pulse in every living creature, but as a lady spirit as well. She was beautiful, of course, as we all know that life is beautiful. She had long, reddish brown hair like the color of the fertile ground and the vivid barks of the trees. Her eyes were dark blue, like the color of the deep, mysterious ocean, the depths of which were the sanctuary of her great sea creatures. Her skin was like the powder of the white velvet roses while her lips were dark red like the blood that filled all of her creations. Finally, her dress was sapphire green like the leaves of the trees that so patiently stood there protecting her; for she had created the trees for her own protection; they were making her stronger and stronger as time lapsed.
Life’s purpose was to share her gift with people and animals; the gift of life. She loved to do so through her thoughts, her touch, her voice, even her breath. Every time she created someone, she was filled with happiness and so everyone was grateful for her, even though they couldn’t understand her.
But Life was also a free spirit that needed to live totally detached from her children, being on her own, hiding from everything and everyone. She liked to wander around a secret grove she has created for herself. There she was protected by her precious trees and plants.
That didn’t mean, of course, that she didn’t love all of her creations; on the contrary. She wanted to let them live their own lives and create their own paths to the world. That was the only way for people to be brave and fearless. But as she could travel everywhere she wished through her thoughts, no one was ever really left alone. Whenever someone needed a hand, she could decide, depending on the problem, whether she would help or not. When she thought that one was strong enough to deal with the difficult situation, she wouldn’t get involved. She only wished that people could someday understand her intentions because up until then, there were many that considered her to be unfair and cruel.
So, she would live peacefully in her grove, constantly creating new life around the world, but as much as she craved for the wellbeing of everyone, there was an eternal rival that she had to deal with.
Death. He was Life’s one and only adversary. His work was to eliminate her, starting from the consumption of her beings. It wasn’t an easy task though, because Life’s creatures were very strong and managed to avoid almost every attack of his. The good thing for him was that as the creatures grew older an older and thus weaker and weaker, he could more easily deprive them their own life.
He was aware of how miserable Life was getting every time someone was dying; and that was his happiness. Taking lives was just the mean to one of his purpose, which was also to collect Life’s tears, for with every life taken, she would shed a tear that would fall down to earth where he would easily steal it.
Death was a male, bodiless and dark spirit that used to wander beneath the ground, all around the world, usually taking the form of negative sentiments and instincts that could cause harm such us anger, envy, vanity, insanity and even craving hunger when it came to animals.
As mentioned above, his purpose was to collect Life’s tears and eventually eliminate her. But as she was fighting him with fury creating and creating new beings, it was clear that this battle would go on and on for all eternity. And Death, unlike Life, was not a patient spirit. He wanted to end this, once and for all. He needed to find a solution to the constant creation of life.
The thought that crossed his mind was a bold one but also the most certain answer to his problem. He would try to confront her face to face. The outcome of an eventual straight forward battle was unknown, for Life was extremely strong. But he had no physical substance, so it wouldn’t be that easy for her to deal with him. It was worth the try; and even if things didn’t turn out the way he hoped, he would quit.
The plan was set. The only thing he would have to do next was to locate Life.
When Death decided about his vicious plan, Life felt it in the air and started making preparations.
She started filling her grove with new trees and animals and making the existing ones even stronger. Her only drawback at this battle was that every new being she was creating needed its time to grow so that it would be able to protect her. While her creatures were still young she would provide them with a natural shield so as to be protected from Death, but for them to help someone else, time was indeed necessary.
Fortunately, the way she had calculated things, there was enough time for new trees and animals to grow strong. Her secret grove wasn’t easy to be found; not even by someone as cunning as Death.
As time lapsed he finally managed to find Life’s hideout. He had never seen her so he wasn’t sure what he was searching for. He only knew that she had physical substance. It would be the first time ever to take a life out from her grove so, and to make his presence known, he destroyed an old tree.
Life’s tear didn’t escape her cheek this time as she didn’t wish to reveal her location. She had still a few things to settle before the battle.
Death on the other hand was ready and couldn’t wait, so he sneaked into a fox’s body and started to stroll around the grove looking for her. He expected to recognize her the moment he would see her. And that’s exactly what happened.
The very first time that he laid his foxy eyes on her and saw her radiant face, something totally unexpected and extremely dangerous happened; he fell in love with her. He had no idea how beautiful she was, nor that she looked like a human. And her sad, ready to shed tears, eyes, full of compassion and goodness, made him love her so much that he felt like he was burning inside! He couldn’t possible do any harm to her. He was feeling the urge to protect her instead of hurting her. He was even willing to hurt himself for his once thinking of it.
Puzzled and devastated, he moved slowly away from her before she could realize his presence.
Life, standing there waiting for Death to meet her, didn’t either know what to expect, because she was aware of the fact that he was an invisible spirit and that he was only making his presence known by eliminating her creations. She could sense though that something was wrong in her grove. It had been infected by Death and now all the old plants and animals around her started to die. Her eyes were filled with tears she couldn’t yet shed as she was straggling to keep herself calm.
While she was anxious about the upcoming battle, Death had left her forest still hiding in that poor fox. He kept on thinking about his preposterous feelings, which he had never felt before, and decided to make something that would probably destroy both of them. He would get into a human’s body, he would find her and try to conquer her heart, willing to quit from taking lives forever.
In the meantime, Life figured out that Death had left her hideout and that she was alone again. She felt a little calmer but knew she had to leave that place immediately and create a new sanctuary someplace else. For Death, now knew exactly where she was, and this fact alone revealed her place to the whole world, as well. No one should ever know where she was hiding.
But, while she was conceiving her new grove, something strange happened. She heard human footsteps approaching and they were too close for her to run before anyone sees her. So the best thing she could do was to hide behind a tree and wait for the intruder to show himself. When that happened she couldn’t believe her eyes. It was a very handsome man, strong and radiant, with dark, mysterious eyes that captured her heart. She knew that no man would ever have the power to make her feel this way but at the same time she failed to recognize who he really was as he had taken the form of one of her creatures.
The man just stood there waiting for her to come out, and she couldn’t hold herself any longer. Her heart was beating fast and her mind was overwhelmed by this stranger’s presence.
She got in front of him and asked “Who are you stranger? This is a sacred forest you’re in.” But Death didn’t utter a word. He was too dazzled by her beauty. But Life had to know who he was. So she asked again “Who are you?” Death said “I am someone very eager to meet you.” That should have rung a bell at Life’s instinct but she was too dazed to notice.
“How do you know about me?” Life asked.
“It doesn’t matter. Deep down you already know the answer.” Death said unable to control his emotions as he didn’t like the fact that he was lying to her.
Life felt a twitch of fear as this man spoke these words but she realized that it was too late to back down; she was in lovewith him.
Death reached her slowly and gently put his human lips on hers. Life immediately understood who that man was, but she was so in love with him that couldn’t fight it. She felt good in him and at the same time a mystery that made her heart explode.
Right there, in the middle of her secret grove, they came together and she became his and he became hers.
After what happened that day a lot changed. Life realized that she had made the biggest mistake she could ever make; she became Death’s wife. She felt she had betrayed every living being she had created, which left her no option than to disappear from the world. She could no longer afford the luxury of a human form, living freely among her own creations. She left her body forever, lying soulless right where Death had found her. From now on, she would only be a life giving spirit.
Death, after waking up next to Life’s dead body, felt responsible of killing her, which in a way was true. This love altered him so much that he didn’t want to go on with his miserable task; only that that had been his destiny and he kept on doing it unwillingly, sensing his love’s loss with every life taken. He didn’t even bother killing the person from whom he lent the body and so when he left it, the man came back to life.
Both Life and Death went on in misery since then, not only because they thought they had made a big mistake but also because their feelings were genuine and strong, which was an even bigger mistake.
But not even they couldn’t conceive the intensity of their union and the fruit of it; for there had been indeed a fruit left behind their odd love. They had created a seed; a seed that was cursed to exist between Life and Death.
Under the ground, at the very spot where Life and Death became one, right in the middle of the secret grove, a new kind of existence began to rise. As time lapsed, this existence was emerging from the ground, just like little plants timidly grow from their seeds.
It was a female soul, slowly coming to the surface, gradually obtaining a human like form, as her parents had both human forms when they had been connected.
The rising of this creature conceived an undead fox; the one who had hosted Death to spy on Life once. That fox was now a blend of life and death because Death hadn’t killed it but it had altered it in a terminal way, too.
When the tortured animal perceived the odd and familiar undead existence of that girl, prompted to find her and take her under its wing. The sight was unbearable; the girl was halfway out of the ground, and the rest of her body under it. Her face was clear, though, looked like it was dead but simultaneously there was life in it; it was solemn. She looked very much like her mother; a figure very familiar to the fox. So the animal was standing there, waiting for her to go all the way to the surface so that it could be with her.
After a few days, the girl was fully born; she wasn’t an infant; nor she would grow anymore. She looked like a human but she was a grove spirit as well. She could interact with nature and animals but other people couldn’t perceive her existence. She was alive as she was dead. She was stuck for all eternity in that grove which was now hidden from the world as it had been tainted by Life’s and Death’s union.
When the girl opened her eyes the first thing she saw was the sleepless and compassionate undead fox that so anxiously had been waiting for her to wake up. Strong feelings flooded her heart at the sight of that patient animal that had been taking care of her, protecting her, until then.
Liath was this young girl’s name; a mix of Life and Death.
The years passed and Liath was living calmly, safely hidden in the forest, with her faithful companion, the fox. By the moment she came to the world by this strange way, she knew that in her heart there would only be this fox. But their physical union would never be feasible. She knew that but didn’t care; she was happy.
As she was also a spirit she could communicate with all animals and plants and thus with her love. They had made a secret contract to take care of each other forever.
At first it seemed really simple, but as the decades passed, the fox was taking back its normal form; it was becoming mortal again. Liath couldn’t understand why this was taking place, since she was still immortal. She had never found out about her roots; about her parents. Her existence was a mystery even to herself. She could tell that something was different about her and her beloved fox, but she could never conceive the implausible of what had really happened.
She had never actually wished to learn, as she was plainly happy with what she already had, but now that her love’s life was getting weaker and weaker, she had to do something.
Was she supposed to expect something similar to herself, too? That would be a wishful scenario because she couldn’t imagine her way on this world without the fox. What if she was never going to die? How could she deal with that fact if she was left all alone? The other animals and plants would comfort her but would never alleviate her pain. The irony was that she was afraid that she would never die while she was already in the middle. But from the way she was seeing it, she would have to go on alone. That was the truth.
Panic took over her, when her love was heavily ill and couldn’t walk anymore. Just like the dying companion had done decades ago, Liath was always by its side, taking care of it, bringing it food to help it get stronger.
In a few days the beloved animal was at the edge of dying and Liath was helpless. She kept crying and crying wishing for a different end for her companion.
Her father listened to her prayers but it was too late. He had already stalled that fox’s death many times, that he had no other choice but to terminate its life, as he once had done with Liath’s mother’s body, immediately.
As the tortured animal gave away its soul, Liath wouldn’t let herself believe it and so she kept the fox’s dead body in her arms for days, hiding inside the hollow of a tree.
When she began to realize what had happened, she left the body inside the hollow and asked the tree to protect it for all times. The tree condescended and asked Liath if she wanted to find out the truth about herself. Liath, who was already dead spiritually and partly physically, begged the tree for more information.
But the tree didn’t have the answer, simply because it wasn’t alive when she was born. But it advised Liath to seek for the old oak, an ancient tree that was more than two hundred years old.
Liath lost no time, and started looking for that tree. It wasn’t easy to find, but eventually she did. She approached it and begged it to let her know about her past; where she was coming from.
The old oak could barely speak because of its advanced age but finally managed to reveal to her who her parents were. At the sound of this unbearable truth, Liath was stunned. She thanked the oak and retired to the heart of the grove where she had been conceived.
She cried and cried and cursed her already damned fate. She didn’t want to believe that it was her own father to separate her from her companion. She ran back to the tree that guarded her love’s body and asked to get into the hollow again.
She rested there for days, weeks, maybe even months. She had forgotten about the sunlight, about the wind, about everything else. She kept hiding there, waiting for her father to take her life, too. But that could not happen. She was feeling suffocated by the torture she was facing but the craved death never came. She hated her mother for being too weak and her father for what he was.
A few years later, after having totally lost herself, Liath decided to go out again. The pain hadn’t backed down not even a little, but staying there didn’t help her either. She took the fox’s scull and wore it on her head ever since. She somehow felt its soul in her heart and this was the only comfort she had.
7. The bitter end
Liath never stopped searching for a way to end her life without her father’s help. But that seemed unlikely. And this fact was infuriating her because how couldn’t her death be possible since her existence had been even more impossible?
The last thing she tried was to rip off her supposedly heart; after all, she had lost it years ago inside a hollow of a tree… But that didn’t work either.
So after having tried everything, she finally made peace with the fact that she was obliged to go on for an eternity, soulless, emotionless; empty.
The creatures of the grove always stood by her side but all she could see was her own misery.
And that’s how the story ends: Liath still exists in the secret forest, mute for all times until the world collapses.