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Faces of Sand

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She is in a ruin.

She knows the word, “ruin.”

She knows the color under her, “gray.” She knows that the tall, still creatures she can see outside the ruin are called “trees,” and that the they are different from the split pillars closer to her, which are made of stone, and not like her or the trees, not exactly. She knows that the thing making her feel so sharp on the outside is called “cold.”

She lifts something to her face, soft and pale and imbued with a spark, and she knows it is a hand, and that it is her hand. But before a moment ago, there was nothing. Nothing, and then air, and lungs to silk it in and back out, over and over, and eyes to see the gleaming sun filtering down, casting an angled column over her.

There are ears, too, to hear a word:


She pushes herself up off her back, stunned with wonder at the feel of having such power, to simply wish something to be, and to instantly make it so.

She sits up, and she sees before her something new. She glances down at herself and realizes it is like her, another something with a spark like hers, not like the stone or the trees or the sun. But it is bigger, covered in thick furs from its neck down to its feet. It is watching her with eyes like sunlight and chips of gemstone, and it is making color with its breaths, and it does not move.

Another one comes, picking its way over crumbling stone and through holes that were once walls, speaking words that are bored. It is puffed up with furs, too, but smaller underneath than its friend, and its eyes are not gems, they are shifting green clouds. It has a spark, too, but it is less, until it realizes its friend is staring and sees her.

It cants its head and approaches, speaking more strange words. Speaking to her, she knows, but the sounds are nothing more than beautiful music. Some of them bring pictures into her mind or her heart, like steps to a dance, but she does not know enough to follow.

It makes its face into a shape she does not like while it talks, while it looks at her, and she feels a heat inside which makes the sharpness on the outside fade.

The creature puts its hands on the raised stone where she sits and leans in, peering and examining as if she is something… less.

Less. She does not like this word, and frowns.

It makes the creature laugh, and it sings again, more quickly than before, and without stopping, but not just at her now.

She looks over its shoulder at the first one. It has not moved, and it is still watching her. She likes this one better. It is calm, and it does not think she is one of the stones. Something passes between them, from her eyes to his and from his eyes to hers in an instant and it feels.... She does not know a word for this, but she wishes it were the one close to her.

Its friend laughs again. It moves around the stone on which she sits to stand too close. It should not do this, and suddenly she feels hard and big inside, and her skin goes hot.

It reaches out to touch her, as if she belongs to it. As if she is no more than the table under her.

Her face twists and she jerks back with an angry sound, and finds she has raised her hand and flicked the creature hard in the center of its forehead. She moved, even though she did not wish it first, and the skin she struck goes white, and then pink.

She wonders if she has broken the creature, because it has stopped moving and its eyes have gone wide and unblinking.

Its friend laughs. She likes this sound much better.