The fall wasn’t hard, but it was abrupt.
Whoever knew that commenting on somebody’s toga could land you a suspension eh?
Besides, the Emperor’s toga was a very nasty shade of orange.
And I hated it.
So there I was, falling through the sky, wings gone and basically hurtling through the clouds at more than twice the speed of sound.
Alright, I made that figure up.
It’s funny though. Most people would be screaming their lungs out as they fall towards that hard, hard ground, and probably get their oh-so-angelic hair messed up. But my hair is already messy enough so I didn’t care at all.
Not one single bit.
Because I hit the ground then.
The first thing I saw were leaves, lots of them. Grey, brown, green, red. It was like somebody added Smarties to nature’s biological mix.
Okay that was me, but I was 8 months old then.
The second thing I realised?
There are no grey Smarties.
Not me then.
I was lying on the ground.
It took me approximately 5 seconds to realise that the leaves were on the ground, and not attached to a branch, which was where they were supposed to be.
So I stood up and dusted myself a bit. The place sounded a little quiet, but keeping oneself tidy wouldn’t hurt right?
The place sounded quiet, but what was this place?
I took a good look at my surroundings while swivelling on my heel. It was bright, which was good. Always nice to see sunlight streaming down from above.
At that thought I looked straight up. High above me was an artist’s canvas. It was complete, or perhaps, it never will be. It was composed predominantly of the most vivid shade of green, with streaks of brown holding the greens up and the white of the sun streaking in between the greens.
And it was absolutely beautiful.
I looked back to the horizon level, and realised that I was in a forest of some sort. Rows after rows of ancient trees stood tall with gnarled trunks at the base. As I was standing in a bit of a depression in the ground, the trees seemed to tower over me, more so than ever.
“Are you an angel?”
I swivelled round at the sound of the voice. It was female, and sounded rather innocent: Like the smell of the air after the rain.
Or maybe like the twinkle of delicate chimes in the wind.
But I saw nobody.
“You definitely are an angel. I heard angels are tall”
I looked straight down. There at around the height of my knee, stood a blond haired young girl in a vivid red dress. She had on her face an expression of utmost curiosity.
“Why hello there, what are you?”
“Are you an angel?”
“Why would you ask that?”
“I saw you fall through the trees. Did it hurt?”
“Not at all,” I had a rather confused expression on my face.
“What’s wrong with your face? Do you not like it?” she squinted at my face curiously.
“No, no, I do quite like it actually” I was beginning to be baffled by this person.
“You must be a model then. I heard they like their faces very much,” she concluded happily, albeit it was quite untrue.
She seemed about the age of 5, but her command of speech was too exceptional for a person her age.
Besides, there wasn’t any human homes as far as my eye could see, and I only remember a huge carpet of Green shortly before I plunged through the treetops.
And whoever said height corresponded to age?
This must be one of the forest nymphs then, I mused.
And so I enquired of her identity.
“Oh no, no, I am not a nymph, they are way smaller than me and I don’t really like them much,” she shook her head.
“And I am just a simple living creature!” she added, doing a cheerful skip, a bit like a butterfly dancing amongst the flowers.
This got me baffled. She was about the height of an average forest nymph, and cheerful enough to be one too. This meant that she probably lived in one of the farms in the valley.
“Do you come from the valley?”
“The farmers? They’re too far away, and I don’t quite like the valley either, it’s too boring.”
“Are you human?”
Upon hearing my words she burst into cheerful laughter, and must have been in such glee as tears streamed from her eyes in her laughter.
“Oh no, no you silly! I am not human. They’re fun people but way too noisy for me,”
Forest nymph, then.
But her eyes suddenly clouded up with such sorrow that my heart instantly took pity on her. The feeling must have been so overwhelming that she had to sit herself on a rock.
I rushed to her side instantly.
“Oh bother, bother,” she mumbled over and over again.
She wiped her eyes on a huge handkerchief that she produced out of nowhere, and when she looked at me, her eyes were neither sorrowful, neither cheerful as before, but grey.
“You must forgive me. I do get quite emotional sometimes, mostly when I think of the humans,” she sniffed.
She stood up suddenly.
“But otherwise I am perfectly fine,” she insisted.
Hmm…the humans aren’t exactly very well behaved aren’t they?
“Oh look! The stars are here!” she suddenly exclaimed.
Instinctively I looked up. I had always loved looking at the stars from the ground since when viewed from my realm they were nothing but burning balls of gas that had to be taken care of all the time.
I should know. I was a Starkeeper (First Class in fact!) for about a year and a half when I was 20.
It took me awhile to realise that I was looking at a big black field full of stars, where there previously was that lusciously beautiful canopy that I so admired earlier.
“Where is the canopy?” I asked her.
“Oh it’s still there, but not us” she replied somewhat cheerfully.
The sound of flowing water nearby told me that we were in a different place. We were now next to a flowing stream in an open plain, and the full moon in all its radiance was reflected perfectly in the water.
How did she even move us?
“The forest is mine. It obeys me!” she happily informed me as if she just read my thoughts.
“Can you read my mind now?”
“Of course not, silly! It’s what people would usually wonder wouldn’t they?” she said with a wink.
“So you get other visitors as well?”
“Not really. I just thought that anyone would be confused over what just happened,”
“And you’re the first visitor I’ve had!” she did that odd butterfly skip again, as if she took great pride in that fact and expected me to.
“Oh you’re quite the sombre kind aren’t you? What goes on in your head? I wonder…” she mused quietly.
There was a sudden explosion of colours in front of me. From it, a multi-coloured ribbon streamed out and up into the air.
“Tell me, what do you see in the rainbow?” she waited for my reply with wide eyes.
I was growing more confused by the minute, but I couldn’t resist that wide puppy-like eyes.
She burst into such a laughter that I was reminded of my early days, where there were no worries, and I could run around with my friends in the fields all day until Mother demanded that I return home for dinner.
I had to laugh with her at that. It was a long time since I heard a laugh as beautiful as that.
But the beauty of the stars were way too seductive, and so I lay on the grass and gazed at them. The twinkling reminded me of all the pressure tweaking I had to do in the ferocious heat during my time as Starkeeper, all so that millions of people living in the star’s system could live to see another day.
“Here come the Springboks!”
Not too far in the distance we could see a herd sprinting across the landscape. Occasionally they leaped, and when they did, they seemed to land further than ever.
Magnificent creatures, they were.
Not so far away from us we could see the fire of a Voortrekker camp, with the faint outline of several people peering at our direction quite visible.
Must have been our light show then.
“Don’t you think we should have a change of scenery? Don’t want the Boers to think we are a Zulu party or something,”
“Don’t worry, ek kan nie praat Afrikaans”
That bit was quite unexpected.
“Wouldn’t that make our situation worst?”
“Oh don’t worry so much! When they approach us we shall disappear into the night!”
“If you say so then,”
“But you’re no fun at all! A shame…”
A snap of the finger, and we were in woods of some sort. The stars were still there, and so was a bright dot in the sky.
I pointed at it and asked: “Venus?”
She merely looked stared up at the sky and replied:
“Mars is bright tonight”
“Mars is bright tonight”
If you say so then.
I walked further up a faint trail. Around me were rows and rows of slender trees. The scene was replicated for miles, but it was hauntingly beautiful with the white glow of the moonlight streaming down from above.
Faint gallops in the distance perked my eyes up. I could see the faint outline of a horse-like creature moving away from us, until it finally disappeared.
I whipped around. “What?” I asked.
“Minions are good”
“Centaurs live in this part of the world. This is their natural habitat.”
“I had no idea centaurs existed, I’ll be honest” I admitted.
She gasped loudly, with her hand over her mouth.
“But you are from the stars! You must see everything!”
“Not exactly, most of the time we only see the continental shelves and the lives of random humans,”
“Oh must you be so dull?” she sounded very disappointed.
We sat in silence among the trees for a while, bathed in the ethereal light of the Moon, listening for the gallops of other centaurs.
“I guess it was a horse then,”
“No, no, no! They must be sleeping. It’s late at night you know, and everyone sleeps at night!” she insisted firmly.
If you say so then.
A fast gallop suddenly appeared out of the vast silence. At its zenith, I saw the most unexpected thing.
A human with the body of a horse, galloping majestically through the night.
“Ooh! I told you they did exist!” she applauded happily as if she scored a major victory over me.
The scene changed, and we were back in the forest where she found me. The first of the sun’s rays were already starting to diffuse into the grey of the night sky.
Day was fast approaching.
“Here comes the sun, I guess that’s my cue. It was really nice meeting you!” came her cheery but now rather distant voice.
On hearing those words I intended to ask for an explanation. But I found no one when I turned.
Coming and going just like she was never there.
Many a millennia later as I sat deep in thought by my fireplace on a planet so far away from Earth, I often found myself wondering who she actually was.
Perhaps she was just a forest nymph, but nymphs can’t teleport from place to place.
Or maybe, MAYBE, she was the force of Nature herself, who just grew bored and wanted to show a fallen celestial being the beauties of her realm.
That was a long, long time ago, and throughout my travels of duty I have met many souls who had many a tale to tell, that were more exciting than the Springboks sprinting through the plains, and the Centaurs galloping away in the distance.
But on quiet days like this, I find myself thinking back to the girl in a vivid red dress, who teared up at the mention of humans, and who proved to me that centaurs do exist.
I wonder if she still gazes up at Mars every time it brightens in the sky, or whether she pets the Springboks in the fields as they stop to rest.
And most of all, does she ever befriend the centaurs? She sounded really lonely.
I will never know.