We stood on the precipice, the wind bellowing in my ears and whipping her long dress and hair all about. She was taller than me. I had somehow forgotten about that. Maybe because she never feels intimidating.
It was easy to be with her. Even today. Even when things had gotten so messed up, and the land below us was being marred by a battle I hadn’t started and didn’t want to join.
My eyes scanned the land below us that stretched out as a blanket of the softest green. In previous times, it had been a peaceful place. The kind of place you go to practice flying a kite, or to look for caterpillars, or to race your little brother from the oak tree to the stream.
Today was different, though.
The landscape was filled with people who, from this high up, looked like tiny figures jolting back and forth at one another. I couldn’t see details of their dress or their faces, but I didn’t need to. Because I heard them.
Their voices rose in volume as if they had each been handed a megaphone and were shouting through it, as if the person in front of them would not be able to hear what they were saying without it. Insults struck the air like slaps across the face. Belligerent cries of vengeance ricocheted around the field. Words that taunted, words that maimed, words that held them in annihilation’s grip.
They were at war, these people. And their weapons were words.
“I don’t know how it started, or how to end it,” I admitted, the echoes of their weapons piercing my ears in the worst way.
Her arms were loose at her sides, her gaze fixed upon the land and its people. The profile of her face held no tension as the wind blew strands of her hair across it. She seemed poised and strong. But then a single tear rolled down her right cheek.
“This is what humans do,” she said. “When they don’t remember who they are.”
Humans. She had said it so softly I almost couldn’t hear it over the shouts of people below. She had said it tenderly. Mournfully. As if she was one of us and a connection had been severed. As if we were the same.
But I knew.
I knew that she carried herself in ways we could not. I knew that she had spent years carrying others in ways we refused to. And I knew that even though she and I were alive and breathing and standing there together on the precipice, that we were not the same.
She had her own ways of doing things; I have only ever witnessed a few of them. But in that moment, when she said the humans had forgotten who they were, I knew what she would do next. She would go down into the battle and try to stop the fighting. She would stand next to each person, saying something to try to help them find a way out. Some would listen to her. Others would break out their weapons and cut her. She would bleed. And once she knew they didn’t want out of the battle, she would let them go. They would continue doing whatever they did, and she would return, either to a resting place or to another land that needed her.
I knew it would happen like this because I had met her once after she had visited another battle. Traces of blood had marked her sleeves, but there were no wounds on her skin. She had some magical way of healing. I was still trying to understand it. I was still trying to understand her.
So today—even today—I did as I always do when she speaks. I inhaled her words as if they were air. They sank into me like water sinks into dirt. And I prayed, for the thousandth time, that I might one day be like her: able to stand in each present moment truthfully, but never without hope.
Remember who you are, she keeps telling me.
Remember who you are.