Uncreation Myths

(July 13, 2008)
Comment on this story | View comments

It took her a while to realize that the stories she most wanted to write were uncreation myths. She had no love of destruction, and never imagined the world consumed in fire, its inhabitants immolated by each other's cruelty. Instead, she dreamed of stories' quiet return to their component parts, a gentle unworking of the storytellers' words.

She stepped backward through time and watched the concrete around her give way to a Mi'kmaq forest, the skyscrapers blurring with budding leaves while forgotten fliers rose toward the sky as freshly reprinted eagles. She pulled Gloosecap's arrow from the pine tree where it lay buried, licking up the sap and mending the bark with the touch of her tongue. It wasn't that the people who'd stepped forth from the wound the first man had created weren't beautiful, because they were; she simply preferred the tree.

On another night, she closed her eyes and sleepwalked to Olympus, where she stood before Zeus with Athena cradled in her arms. As she lifted the goddess toward her father's forehead, the maiden-warrior shrank to scale, the venal rage in her eyes cooling slowly to baby-calm. The tiny girl leapt from her hands and into the flesh with the relief of an infant returned to the womb; she sealed her in with a kiss. The thunder-thrower nodded his respect, then sat back to wait as she went to fetch Cronus, his own father hungry for unity in undoing.

Determined to see the project through, she swam to the middle of the ocean and pushed the rocks under the surface, feeling their texture change as they remembered their origins as turtles' shells. In the beginning, there was nothing but the water; then she asked the water to evaporate. It flowed around her as it dwindled, cupping her body in warmth as it lowered her slowly, deeper and deeper into the space where the earth had gone. She scooped up the final handful and lifted it to her lips, but did not drink; she breathed the hottest breath she possessed, erasing the droplets and returning them to the empty air in which she now floated. And as she sat in the nothingness before the stories, she wondered,

"Could I have written it better?"