Chapter 06 – Starlight
A tiny light.
A star, I thought.
I drifted, drifted towards it.
Always out of my reach, I drifted towards it.
If I could just grasp it…what would happen? I did not know.
I did not know, but I kept trying. It was out of my reach, but I was getting closer.
I felt like if I could not get to the starlight, it would surely be the end of everything for me.
The end? I felt like I had thought of that once, but could not remember where.
There it was, I was almost there. It shone with a light of a million colors.
I was dazzled, enraptured by it. I reached farther.
Desperation pushed me, desire fueled me.
I was so close.
The moment I touched it my world flooded with color, sound, and memory.
I had almost lost myself to the abyss. I now remembered everything, saw everything, heard everything. Just this small bit of starlight had saved me. But what was this starlight?
Ah, I could see her, and she was beautiful. Her small lizard head looked towards the sky, not out of fear of a tall predator, or searching for flying prey. It was curiosity, awe. While the other lizards slept, she alone looked up at the stars and realized their wonder.
It was like she was looking at me.
I could feel my essence spread out to all the lizards, much as it had been before, but my attention was focused on her. I longed to weep, to laugh, to scream, to love. She had saved me, I knew. I could feel the feelings she felt. She believed in something. That something was what lived in the heart of all her people. The heart that told them they were all family.
She believed in me, and I was able to exist again. I could not do much for her, I knew I was too weak. But I did reach out to her. I touched her heart. I gave her a feeling that said ‘You are not alone.’
Although not enough to fully drain me, it was close.
Conscious in my weakness, the flow of time felt slower. Starlight’s life did not end as quickly for me as the Little Leader’s or Strong Light’s. I saw just how far they’d all come since I had fallen into the abyss. They had made tools. They chipped rocks to make them sharp, tied them to fallen branches with vines from the trees. A spear.
The shore groups caught fish beyond just the edge of the water with the piercing weapon. It was easier to use the spear underwater than on land. They weren’t bound to the earth on all fours in the buoyant sea. They could hold their breath and hang suspended underwater vertically or horizontally as they desired. They were also quite adept at swimming now. Holding their back legs tight against their tails, they undulated their strong tails to achieve a great amount of propulsion.
The spears also made a difference with the land-dwellers. They would walk on three legs, carrying the spear in one of their hands, and although primarily still quadrupedal, they would at times rest on their hind legs, sitting up. An image of a prairie dweller appeared in my mind. Another lost memory resurfaced, of a creature I did not know, but felt like I could remember. The lizards would sit up when aiming with their spears, or when confronted with a predator. Making themselves look bigger, and having the freedom to brandish the spear made for an intimidating foe that all but the largest predators avoided.
The ability to sit on their legs also allowed them to look farther in the distance to spot predator and prey, and maintain balance when they cracked open shells with sharp rocks. Some even tried to walk bipedal, but it was awkward and floppy. I thought I would like to help them achieve that feat with more grace. It also felt familiar, just like when I had reshaped their hands.
The forest dwellers were very adept at climbing trees now, and had long ago mastered the art of viewing in the distance by using the height of the tree. They used sharp stones to break off useful limbs from the upper branches to provide for the other lizards. I also noticed they did not come down to the ground as often, preferring to stay in the heights of the tall old trees.
But what heartened me most of all lied at the heart of their colonies. Over time, I had seen many lizards become ill or crippled. They were left to die since they were too weak to provide for themselves. But now, the lizards around them provided for them if they could not, or comforted them with their company as they lived out the last of their days. They had scavenged off their dead before I had gone to abyss, but now they seemed to hold them dear. They would take the dead to the shores and, with a hint of ceremony, give their dead to the sea; a watery burial.
There seemed to be a group of lizards devoted to making the rock tools. They used blunt, rounded stones to shear off thick flakes of rocks with sharp edges. They even sharpened the edges of harder seashells. While many were attached to wooden branches with strong, thin vines, they also sharpened the edges of some of the branches into a point. Although not as powerful as the stone spears, the wood spears were easier and lighter for the young ones to handle and use. They were likely the predecessors of the stone-tipped spears.
They had come very far. Their community shared with each other, protected each other, comforted each other. The family units of two to five were still prevalent, but the community itself was also one giant family. And all the colonies together were family.
The combination of opposable thumbs, Defenders, sharing, and rock smashing had all culminated into this over time. I was amazed. Indeed, these little lizards were capable of many things.
Focusing my attention on Starlight I saw that she was not yet a mother, but that time would soon come. Her colony was in the site of the original colony the Little Leader was from, between the shore colonies and forest colonies. She was not a Defender type, but went out on food runs to collect bugs and bring them back to her colony. She also helped comfort the invalids and the old. She was in a straggler unit, not yet part of a family unit, and while all the other lizards slept, she would always stay up later into the night and gaze at the stars.
After watching her and the others for several day and night cycles, I realized something new about my little lizards. Sometimes they would look at each other, and their dark scales would shimmer with color; not because light had hit them in a certain way, but a deliberate patterned flash of color.
Communication existed in their community now. Their communication was basic, simple things like ‘Take’, ‘Stop’, ‘Do’, ‘Good’, ‘Bad’. They would shimmer, sometimes accompanied by minute movements of their long and thin, whip-like tails. Starlight often shimmered at night, perhaps trying to communicate with the stars that twinkled and shone in the distance, her tail swaying questioningly. Perhaps to communicate with me. I wished I could respond.