Calanthe and Ol’ Black Pete

Life’s poetry sounded across the still plain of Infinity’s endless expanse, leaving, in its wake, a silent knowing. Those who heard the call awoke that morning to listlessness, realizing something was different but not knowing exactly what. Most rose and went about their daily business in vague discomfort, reminiscent of that feeling you get when you’re trying to remember something, but can’t even remember what it is you’re trying to remember. A certain sense of unease marked the day, and the world continued along its path, desperately calm.

The children sensed it first in the cast of sunlight falling through the clouds, the sound of crickets chirping and cicadas singing. The rush of water, gurgling across the stones and pebbles of streambeds sounded different, somehow. There was an ambience, a certain change in the air that made Calanthequite suspicious.

Her chocolate eyes were brilliant in the morning light, the subtle interaction of the sun upon her nut-brown skin imbuing her aura with a healthful, absorbative sheen. Her vibrancy was infectuous and she attracted friends like flowers attracted bees.That morning she was alone, walking to school on the ridge rising between Blue and Venus Bayous, the sanguine, organic scent of pollen and living water mingling and rising into the early light, small motes of life swirling around her in absolute delight.

The dream had been so strange. Millions of tiny lights above her, around her, below her. She had been floating, it seemed. Alone, but not alone. She had felt as if someone was with her, someone she loved and knew. Where she had been, it had not been dark, but not light. No color she could think of, either. In fact, she couldn’t remember actually ‘seeing’ anything, or ‘feeling’ anything at all. She had just been ‘there’, experiencing whatever it was, with no sense of separation or thought at all.

Calanthe shook her head and skipped across the rickety bridge leading to Pierre Fontaine Road, which would take her directly to school. As she continued mulling over the strange dream, a hand on her shoulder made her almost jump out of her skin.

“Bon jou, ma cher, oy byen? You head to school now, girl? You not missin’ much, but today,” He leaned back and inhaled deeply, his eyes tightly shut, “wi, today, will be a day of days.”

Calanthe drew back instinctively, her brow raising a bit at the strange smell of him.He was well familiar to her andthis was the closest she had ever stood to him. He smelled like tree bark and sky, with a faint hint of pollen and wet clay.

He smiled gently down at her, fully aware of the effect he was having upon her. Remember Mamere’s stern instructions, she struggled to be polite. “Wi, bon jou? Komon ou ye? I got to hurry, I am late, Sir.”

She hesitated to call him by the name she knew him by, Ol’ Black Pete, because her Mamere had told her it was impolite to mention someone’s color. His deep chuckle and quick pace announced his intention to walk with her and her heart sank a bit as she tried to increase the distance between them.

No such luck, his strides lengthened to match her speed, his grin widening. She quickly glanced back and forth, but the road was empty of all traffic.

“Non, ma cher, who you lookin’ fer, eh? Dere’s no rush, today. Why don’t you sit a while and talk wid’ me, eh? Ol’ Black Pete won’t hurt you.”

Her pace quickened a bit more, “Non, mesi, I must hurry, I cannot be late. My Mamere will beat me!”

His hearty bellow at that point surprised her as he stopped in his tracks, bending over with the force of his laughter. Taken aback, she stopped also and stared at him, the tone of his laughter banishing all of her fear.  “Tout bagay anfom? What is so funny, please? Mamere will switch me if I am late to school!”

He stood straight, wiping away tears and smiled at her, his white teeth gleaming against the dark skin of his face. She wondered why all of the children thought him a devil, a Voodoo Priest no less, and why he was always alone.

“You go on ‘head, gal. Prese, prese!” He stomped his foot and she flinched, moving back again, eliciting another burst of hilarity from Black Pete. Angry and embarassed, she placed her hands on her hips and glared at him.

“Eskize mwen, you don’t need to be so rude. I’m not scared of you!”

The abruptness of his silence startled her anew and the intensity of his gaze caused a cold shell to form around her heart as he stood straight, then looked up into the sky, his black skin absorbing the sunlight like a vacuum.

“You should not be, gal. Dere are greater tings to be scared of, den ol’ Black Pete. De sky, for instance.”

Instinctively, Calanthe looked up, following his gaze. The cold stillness around her heart spread, filling her body as she saw countless balls of fire filling the blue void, casting a light of hellfire and damnation over the landscape. She thought of the picture in her Papaw‘s bible, of screaming people looking up into the sky and God flying there, his face twisted and ugly with anger.

She turned around immediately and ran back toward the bridge, not even noticing that Black Pete was gone too, vanished, like a ghost. Her heart in her throat, all she could think about was getting home to be with Mamere and Papaw, her fear driving her like the wind.

Her feet clattered over the bridge and the twisting, swirling motes of life gathered around her as her fear crested like a wave, washing over her reason and all she could think about was her family as the light around her intensified, the deep, calming green, brown and blue tones of the bayous shifting to red and gold tinted violence, a subtle hum becoming a roaring, screaming conflagration that sent her into shock, the distant sounds and impressions subordinate to her overwhelmed perceptions. Her feet darted effortlessly over obstacles, twists and turns and she burst through the door, her chest heaving, eyes wide in fear.

Mamere and Papaw were standing there, in the center of the big front room, Mamere’s deeply lined, walnut skin creased with worry and dread. Papaw’s golden tones seemed hushed, the faint sweat on his brow the only indication of his state of mind. Mamere beckoned Calanthe to her, the tears brimming in her eyes.

“Venez ici, ma chere…”

Calanthe ran into her arms, weeping, the rising cacaphony outside a distant threat as the comfort and love of her grandmother enveloped her. She felt her grandfather’s hand on her shoulder and found herself covered by them both, the sound of her grandmother and grandfather praying toger enveloping her in a protective bubble of love and intent.

She felt herself descending deeper into a cascading well of non-light, an antimatter reality growing, spreading from her center outwards, encapsulating thought, her breath slowing as she recognized it as the space of her dreams, filled with consciousness, love and a bursting familiarity, but this time, she was not alone. Mamere was there, and Papaw too and there were others, also. Others that she recognized.

“Mére, Pére,tu me manques! I miss you!”

She was enveloped and comforted by their love, by an all-encompassing and pervasive Love, floating, rising on sighing clouds of consciousness, surrounded by loved ones, those she knew and those she did not.

Ol’ Black Pete was there too, his low, prescient chuckle sibilantly distinctive against the rising chorus of inner voices and outer noise, the burning, roaring consumption of the atmosphere by the countless fireballs rising with the heat as they drew closer to the Earth’s surface.

Before all was consumed in flames, Colanthe opened her eyes to witness the last moments of her life. Brilliant, white light surrounded her and her grandparents, a protective sphere of love and intention binding them together as one and in that moment she realized the blessing of her dream, which, she now realized, had been her life, and closed her eyes again, content to awaken, on the other side of death.

An implosion of consciousness. Matter twisted in upon itself coalescing, strengthing with intent then bursting forth into rebirth, expanding infinitely outward, traveling beyond speed, beyond time, the infinite and eternal, pale reflections of true movement, evolution, growth toward greater consciousness, higher spans of perfection gathering as storms of light and love, rising into greater and fuller expressions of Divinity. And within it all, Souls gather, experience love and life, joy and hate, ever-moving, ever growing as one, into the Light.

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