Chapter 10.5 – Interlude – A Resounding Echo
The day was a normal one for the male lizard. He popped his head out of his home’s hole just a bit after sunrise. The chill air caused a shiver after being warm, snuggled around his family. He was the Defender of his family, and as such, he came out first to check for danger and make sure it was safe for his family to follow.
Spear in hand, he looked all around the perimeter, seeing a few other lizards already out and about, and some going through the same motions as himself. The coast clear, he shimmered down to his tail for the family to see before jumping out, his family not far behind.
The little ones were all too eager to get out of the hole and start the day, and jumped past one of their fathers to soak in the early morning sun. The Defender had vague memories of doing the same when he was young. It made the back of his neck shimmer with nostalgia and affection.
He felt a familiar bump on both his sides as his beloved female and male physically expressed their own affection while watching the little ones galavant around. His family often spent moments like this in the morning before procuring food.
Some of the holes near the center of their colony served as stockpiles so that any lizard could eat when they were hungry, and that’s where his family headed now. The Defender walked hunched over on two legs, periodically using his free hand to balance on the ground. The little ones followed the adults on their own erratic path, the three of them running and leaping around, their scales a whirl of color. It was good for them to be energetic and play together.
They came upon the food stores and the adults greeted each other before consuming their fill. One of the Defender’s children seemed to be eating more than her fill, and received a bump on the nose from her Defender father, a reminder to not be greedy. She offered the extra food she’d shoved in her mouth to one of her brothers and he gladly ate the sloppy seconds.
Waiting for his family to finish, he looked towards the sky. Today was a clear day, a good day to clean out the dirty foliage in their hole before the rains came again. Their holes were porous and the rainwater usually ran right through, but would sometimes get stopped up by the old foliage, making it sopping wet and unpleasant smelling.
The little ones were big enough to help with the chores, and thought this would be a good exercise for their rambunctious little selves, as well as teaching them about keeping the family hole cleanly. He communicated his intention with his family unit, and the other two adults felt it was a good idea.
Getting back to the hole, his beloved male affectionately bumped him again before going down. His two mates were both quite physically affectionate, but the male even more so. As a good Defender, he kept an eye out for predators, despite not being close to their colony border, and an ear out for warning calls.
The little ones followed the adults out, carrying as much foliage as possible, trying their best to be helpful. The Defender shimmered in a laugh around his face at the little leaf monsters that had replaced his children. They carried the dead bedding in their hands, tucked under their shoulders, and in their mouths, each trying to outdo the other sibling for carrying the most. Prideful flashes adorned their backs as they followed their other parents to the forest edge to deposit the used greens. The Defender brought up the rear, steering his little ones in the right direction since they could hardly see past all the foliage they carried. He felt they walked very well on two legs, and they rarely tripped themselves up.
A flash came over them suddenly. No, was it a warning cry? His heart hammered and he immediately got defensive. His family dropped their loads and huddled behind their Defender. Another wave came over him, over his family as well. It was painful. He had no injuries but it hurt, hurt his heart. The hurt felt similar to when his female was having a hard time laying eggs and was in a great amount of pain. Her pain had been his pain, and he could feel it. This was the same. He knew his family also felt it, for they were clinging to him not out of fear, but out of comfort.
If his family didn’t have each other, surely it would have been too overwhelming. He looked around and all the other family units he could see were huddled together as they were, all seeking comfort from each other. Something was grievously wrong, they could all feel it in their family heart.
It felt like a desperate shimmer in their minds. It was loud and thundering, yet weak and helpless. Something inside them was crying out that one of their family was hurt. It felt so very fragile, like a newly laid egg before the shell hardened. He did not know where it came from, but he sought to comfort it, just as he had his female when she had been in great pain. Just as he comforted others when they were hurting. He did not know where this member of his family was, but he sought to give them peace. His body shimmered in soothing waves of color.
It was like a light in his heart had lit up. It was not a light that could be seen, but he could feel it. He could feel it in his male’s and female’s hearts. He could feel it in his children’s hearts. He could feel it in the heart of every member of his colony and beyond.
He had been close to all of his extended family, but now he felt them. What had been a faint sense of others seemed like trying to catch a glimpse of the sun through a canopy of dense trees. Now it was like all the trees were ripped away and the sun shone marvelously in the sky, warming his scales, and the scales of all the other lizards he could not see before for the shadows of the trees.
It was a great coming together of hearts. The flash that had been so startling and fearful turned into a strong wave of something entirely different; Something joyous and fulfilled. There was not a sound nor a shimmer that could describe the feeling of completeness he now had.
And just as suddenly as it had come, it was gone. …No, not completely gone. It was there, he could feel it in his family heart, like it was alive and pulsing next to his body’s heart. His spear dropped, and he put his freed hand to the center of his chest where he felt the dull, living pulse. His chest shimmered in a light blue around his hand at the content feeling now living within him, a deep connection to one and all of his family. His family unit saw his action and did the same, each placing a hand upon their chest and shimmering in that same content light blue. Another family seeing them also copied the gesture, and just like that, it spread like wildfire across his colony and all the other colonies.
It was a new word, one that would stay with them long through the ages. It meant ‘Family Heart’.
I want to thank everyone for all their replies and rating comments, I read each and every one of them, and it always inspires me to write more. I am very happy my story has touched so many of you emotionally.