Chapter 37 – A New Answer
Make no mistake, the fear in my heart was still very real, but the calm of finally making my decision and putting my first foot forward, though the next may falter, was uplifting. It was almost refreshing confessing my sins, no longer having to hide it beneath obscurity, and the world seemed all the more bright and vivid for it.
I never communicated with my lizards through discussions, such a thing was impossible. The family heart could only carry emotion and intention. It was free of deception, but could not impart details. They would never know the whole truth of my transgressions until such a day that we could actively speak to each other. And while they knew my feelings came not from an individual lizard, but the core of the family heart, I was still something of a mysterious and unifying existence to them. It was rare for me to ‘speak’ to all of them as I did in my confession, and it caused all activity to cease.
I could feel fear and anger come through the family heart, directed at none other than myself. I couldn’t blame them. Of those that could understand the most, some felt insecure and drew away from the family heart. The children who had a harder time comprehending the complex feelings were mostly confused, and huddled with their families for comfort.
I had done wrong by them; I had gone from a caring overseer to a selfish intruder. The guilt I had already been feeling was amplified by their reaction, and I was truly ashamed. My entire existence quivered under their judgement.
But the feeling I feared most, the desire to separate, never came. True, some drew away, but they never cut themselves off completely. Mostly, it seemed, they needed time to come to terms with my transgressions, made all the more difficult with my shapelessness and their inability to directly interact with me face to face.
The greatest surprise, however, came from two lizards, those I had given a name. The Thrillseeker, who was now greatly aged, and the Collector both recognized me. I could feel them both reach out to me, their desire to touch me greater than any other. I was shocked, and didn’t know how to respond. I had always been the one reaching through the family heart out to them, and while the group as a whole would sometimes calm my raging emotions, it was just because some member of their extended family was feeling great pain; great enough to resonate through the heart.
But the Thrillseeker and the Collector were different. Although they had been vaguely aware of my presence before, my confession gave some amount of form to the being that had helped connect them to their desires. It was through my body stealing that they had both come to realize more about themselves, and achieved goals they had thought to be an impossible dream. And I came to find, they were trying to thank me.
I was dumbfounded, caught completely off guard. I’d done this horrible thing…and I was being thanked for it? Amidst feelings of remorse and confusion there was also…elation? Even though I’d done wrong by them, my actions had still produced positive results, enough for some be grateful. Could it be that my actions were not wholly wrong…just misguided? I had thought I would never invade their bodies again after this, but now I was reconsidering my way of thinking.
The biggest problem was the addiction, and using their bodies for my own personal gain without their knowledge. What if instead I asked for permission, and used the ability the way it was meant to be used, such as when I helped the Thrillseeker bond with his Quickspring…could that be the answer?
The more I thought about it, the stronger my connection became with the Thrillseeker and the Collector. It was almost like…communicating with them directly. I had thought such a thing impossible, but was it really? Even if it was only by these two, I was being seen as…an individual. To them, I was not just the family heart, but an actual being. My presence was being validated beyond a mere idea or shared cultural phenomenon.
I was a person. The two came to that conclusion. In that moment of our connection, of our mutually acknowledges existences, I was able to see how they saw me for the first time. To them, I was a brilliant blue light, and though I existed in all of them, I was a presence beyond that. I was more than their connection to their family and their neighbor. I was a guiding light, an inspiration, a parent, a child even. I existed both within them and without them. That was the kind of revelation they had at that moment.
For the Thrillseeker, who had endured a long life, the revelation both shocked him and put him at ease. It was like he truly understood the world, because for him, I was the world. All his memories, all his thoughts, a lifetime of disappointments and achievements, of sorrow and love, flowed into me. And just as I had done for every lizard that had passed before him, I accepted him into my being with open arms.
The Collector never got the chance the revel in their shared revelation beyond that single moment all three of us connected together. Once again, he knew something that others did not, something they may not understand. But this time, instead of giving up hope, a small flame lit deep within him. Where before he had accepted his lonely reality, after receiving my inspiration he knew he could shape his own fate just as he could work the shape of the hot metal. The fire inside him grew as if a bellows had fanned the flame.
He had given up trying to get his fellows to understand him and thus perpetuated his own isolation. And me, a being whose form could not be easily understood, even though I was different from the understanding of my lizards by leaps and bounds, I had still somehow gotten my lizards to understand my confession despite our inability to directly communicate. If one such as I could overcome such great gaps in understanding, then surely the Collector was capable of such smaller feats.
Once again, I served to inspire him, not through any kind of communication, but simply from my actions. It was heartening. There may well be some hope left for me after all this.
And so, while I was reprimanded and chastised for my decisions, and even further for trying to hide it, there were none that thought to abandon me. Even though I had made poor, even terrible decisions, they still accepted me with all my faults. No matter my past or all the horrible memories of who I once was would change that one simple fact; I was family.
I truly felt there could be no other family on this world as great as my beloved lizards. They were my happiness, my joy, my world, and my heart blossomed in love for them. I wished only that such days would continue until the end of their time.