Chapter 17 – Mourning
Earthquakes continued after the calamity, but none so great as the first. Although they made the lizards tense, they did little more damage than had already been done, and soon a little rumble wasn’t even enough to spare a glance seaward.
Firestarter had been lost when his tree home fell to the forest floor. He and his female had been thrown from their hole, and in the freefall he used his body to cushion his mate so that she may live. She had been badly injured but survived the fall during the earthquake, and she cried for Firestarter as a female defender carried her back into the treetops to wait out the coming tsunami.
The bodies that hadn’t been taken back to the sea were collected together and those that had been trapped were unburied so that they may at least receive a proper burial at sea. Most of those who had tried to swim away had gotten caught up in the pull of the great wave, swept far away to unending depths as sacrifices to the sea.
But the lizards survived. There were many survivors, and they mourned for their fallen brethren.
Their voices were quiet but they were not mourning silently. Shimmers and flashes of color filled the colonies, and the night was alight with cries and grieving. Broken bodies, broken hearts; shattered, fragmented psyches; pieces of a whole swirling around with flashes of brilliant colors.
I embraced all the new stars that had come to me, seeing their lives play out before me. All their joys, all their sorrows, all their dreams that would not come to pass but would be passed down to the next generation.
The last time I had mourned so greatly I had been surrounded by others like me, their black shapeless forms unremembered, gathered around a grave; a body being laid to rest deep within the earth. Inside myself was empty, a deep pit from which there was no return. Eyes that remained dry because a lifetime of tears had already been shed watched as the body descended, and with it, my heart. A broken heart that rejected all love. I was not silent, not inside, though my body showed no hint of movement. The memory had no sound, but I knew I was shouting, yelling, screaming inside the pit that now took the place of my heart. I was lost, alone, and no comfort could fill the void inside me.
Another painful memory, this time of loss. The hand I could not reach had perished; I had been unable to save them. I mourned now as I did then, but with a family to keep me from that deep pit of unending sorrow, devoid of love. We all mourned together.
The mourning period was long, but there came a day when we began to move on. Those who could no longer walk set about a task of making decorations to remember the fallen, setting the pieces into abandoned holes so that all may remember a family once lived there. Warmth of created fire warmed the bodies of the remaining while their extended family warmed their hearts. FIrestarter’s female shared her mate’s fire with her fellows, keeping his memory alive with every lit flame. And when all her colony knew how to make fire, she left, venturing deep into the earth-torn forest, and did not return. She sought to be with her soulmate once again now that she had ensured his legacy would continue, and she came to me in all her sorrow and happiness to see the star of her beloved again.
The shore colonies had been hit the hardest in losses, and those left formed a single large colony in the middle of the cliff-side shore to begin again. The rockslide of the mountainside left the mountain colonies in a similar state. Some went back to the forest, but most moved on to the least affected areas of the mountain, afraid the loose rock may unsettle itself again with little provocation. It was time to rebuild their civilization, piece by piece.