By V. Medina
There’s a young god standing in my doorway. He has torn his way through worlds, ripped apart the fabric of reality to find his way here.
It’s remarkable to see him once again, to see how far he’s come in such a short time. He’s grown from the seedling he was and come into his own, broken down a universe and turned it into fertile ground for another to grow. But when he raises his head and looks me in the eye, his expression tells me how far he still has yet to go.
“I made it,” he says. “I made it here and now you owe me.”
I smile and don’t scold him for talking to his elder that way. He doesn’t know who I am, not really. He doesn’t know that one day he’ll fall into the ground and return to me.
“I’ll give you a cup of tea,” I tell him, “and I’ll tell you a secret. How does that sound?”
I don’t tell him that he won’t like what he learns. I don’t tell him that he’s bound to fall into the the floors of the world sooner rather than later. I put the kettle on; I tell him to sit at my table and eat my bread and honey instead.
He wolfs down his food, crams every scrap into his mouth as if he had not eaten for days, as if that would even matter to him. I let him; after all, it’s rude to refuse a guest. I fix him his tea. He doesn’t tell me how he takes it, but those who find me are often predictable. I bring him more bread, some meat and cheese.
Once he’s finished his meal, he levels his gaze at me, expecting something that I’m not giving him.
“Ah,” I say. “You want your secret then?”
He shrugs. “If that’s all you’ve got, I suppose. Though I feel like you’re really not giving me my due.”
I shake my head, laughing just a little. “I’m giving you what I see fit to give you and you can take it or leave it. Remember, though, that you found shelter here, you found food and warmth and an open door. Don’t be so quick to turn your back on it.”
“Just tell me,” he snaps, eyes narrowing. “I have places to be.”
I sit across the table from him, fold my hands and watch him for a long moment. “This is the end.”
“This is the end. You’ve come to the end. I know you thought you had more, but this is it.”
He shakes his head. “No, you’re wrong. I have more to do, I have a world to—”
“Your world is dead.” When they’re kind, I hate this part; but he has been less than pleasant, and I don’t mind informing him nearly as much as some.
“You’re wrong.” He grinds his teeth and gets to his feet, his eyes narrowed at me. “You don’t know anything.”
“I know more than you think.”
He growls under his breath, stepping closer to me. I don’t flinch, I don’t even blink. I know what he’s going to do and there is nothing to be afraid of.
He raises one hand, trying to conjure something from deep within the world that he once claimed as his. When nothing comes of it, I see the fear streak across his face.
“What,” he starts, but I cut him off.
“I told you.”
I can see him wobble, his legs wanting to give out on him, and he reaches for the tabletop to steady himself. “I don’t understand.”
“The world that you came from is gone. It was taken down too soon, I know, but there was nothing to be done about it. You’re all that’s left.”
Something in my words makes him sink to the floor, pale and small and terrified. His hands shake and I can taste his anxiety in the air. He’s not ready for what comes next, but I expected as much.
“You’re going to come with me now.” My voice is gentle, more so than I meant it to be. I get to my feet, walking over to him and resting a hand against his shoulder. “I’ll show you my garden.”
He looks up at me, confused and aching, but he rises nonetheless. There’s nothing left for him and he knows it; he can feel it now that he’s looking. It hurts, it always does. A god without a world is hardly anything at all these days.
I guide him to the back garden. He steps out into the sunshine and turns to look at me as I move closer. “Why are we here?”
“I’m going to help,” I whisper, my words gentle against his ear. “I’m going to make it better.”
He catches my eye, a question on his lips, but I’m already moving. My hands coax the world around us to bend and twist, reaching up to him and pulling, gentle and but firm.
His eyes widen, his hands reach out to pull at the grasping vines of the earth, but he knows it’s no use. His eyes meet mine, tired and scared and pleading. I smile, reach out and touch his lips. “You’ll be fine.”
I let comfort fall from my fingers into his skin, soothing him as the land pulls him into the darkness once again.