There is a story I once heard, a story of a hero who stole fire from the Gods. He gifted the first flame to mankind, and the Gods watched as a spark of fire erupted under a dark sky. For this, the Gods punished this hero, chaining him to a mountain. The world of man stared at him from below as the sky grumbled in godly rage.
The bright sun’s shine was sheathed by this grey grudge, clouding heaven as vultures circled the mountain with bloodlust. Their tongues tasted fear, and their beaks blasted for blood, pecking, and gouging at the chained hero as he shrieked in utter agony. The beasts would never relent.
This would last eternity.
I wondered why the Gods punished him like this. Had he not saved us? Fire was a gift, a blessing even, yet it was not one from the Gods. I dare say I rebuked the Gods for withholding such a gift, didn’t the Gods want mankind to prosper, did they not want mankind to rule the earth forever…
My wisdom held my tongue for I knew the Gods knew better, so instead, I wondered what it was the Gods saw, what vision was so horrid, so terrifying as to refuse them the will to grant mankind such a gift. Fire has given mankind dominion over the earth. It has warmed their homes, cooked their food, lit their streets, and enflamed their swords.
If only it ended there.
As time went on, I soon knew the answer to the Gods’ mysterious objection, I knew why the Gods refused man fire’s eternity, once man’s eternity ceased.
This story rang in my mind in an aimless amble across a beach as I was lost in the deep sands of reminiscence. I could hear the writhing of the waters; I could feel the cold touch of a whispering wind, I could see the great grey sky above, how a subtle light leaked through the clouds.
I was alone.
I was alone in a small corner of sand, one hidden from the running children, sheathed from the held hands, covered from the young hearts and the sun glazed twilights.
My feet sunk into the wet sands, the earth dipping deeper with each wave. The waves came and went, my eyes imprisoned in their motion, it was completely paralyzing me, deafening my ears as the laughing children died down, the world shrinking into that mere body of water, translucent with a shade of glistening flare, rising, and falling, forever in motion, a storm breaking within the supposed calm waters.
How could such tranquility wilt into utter chaos, in such swift succession too. I’d say it was without warning, yet it was always known, I could tell from the internal bend as the moving waters morphed, flowing within themselves, uniting into a multiplied force, growing in speed and power, in will, will for destruction.
I could feel their surge, their zeal. It is quite a beautiful thing- destruction. To look at the end from afar, to see it rise and ascend, a messiah of the purest form, the ultimate salvation… for where is damnation if there are no damned. I was on the verge that day, on the very precipice of tomorrow, right there in those heavens where the Gods roamed. I could feel the warmth of their fire, its burn searing onto the tips of my fingers. How could I wield it without burning my flesh? How could I steal it and grant it to mankind?
The story of the man who granted men fire echoed in my mind, but I think back then, I didn’t fully grasp its gravity, and to my own defense, I didn’t even think it was quite possible, this sin, this forbidden dream I dared ponder. I didn’t yet know or even really imagine the true cost of such power, this fire burnt brighter than I could ever fathom, and to give it to such feeble hands such as those of men, hands plagued in greed and corruption, in jealousy and spite, in self-destruction and all destruction.
I wish I followed wisdom’s path, I wish I held my tongue, I wish I asked myself if it was the right thing to do, instead, I lost myself in how I could even fathom it, daring to dream, dreaming a nightmare.
Oh, the foolish girl I was…
Tinker, tinker, tinker, but some things are best left untouched. And for what I wonder, then, now, and tomorrow, oh if I only had tomorrow.
I didn’t even gain the world, yet it cost me my soul.
I would turn to him, and then I realized I wasn’t alone, he’d followed me. Maybe I should have followed him, I always thought he was holding me back, but maybe, maybe he was just trying to keep me anchored.
Foolish, foolish girl.
I turned to the waters for refuge, their calm chaos comforting me from the beach of people. Even with my eyes averted away from him, he lingered on. I’ll have to give him that, he always lingered, always waiting.
I guess we all waited for it, the silence speaking louder than the waves. He lingered like always, even when it was right there, right in front of him.
He would turn away and I’d watch him, realizing that I’d never see him again. I know how cruel I was, I’m not here for redemption, the blood, it’s too much. But I want the truth, it may not set me free, it may not set anyone free, but at least IT will be free.
I still remember the first time I laid eyes on him, how different I was then, or at least I hope, memory is after all, an unreliable historian, especially with those rose-colored glasses of hers. Still, I hope he saw something good, he must’ve, why else would he have put himself through this, through me. Even if it was only then, just something, a mere drop inside an empty glass. For on that day, I wouldn’t turn back, not after the fire of the Gods’ burnt back in my glaring eye.
I guess it was always there, I shy away from destiny, I fear her hold, her chain. To be forever trapped in a set course, a slave to entropy, bound to make the same mistakes forever. I yearn for freedom, even if not in this lifetime, then at least in another life, in another cast of the die, for the true face of hell is my future being signed and sealed, that whenever I become, so does death.
I could see it, yet like the waters I missed it, I missed the shift, the sudden birth of will as single bodies merged into united waves, as my future in this life, maybe in all lives, sealed in motion, right there on that beach.
Maybe I didn’t want to see it… The fruit was too sweet.
In my small pocket of space, I ventured forward, my feet sinking further and further, till they began to float, wiggling, and wobbling within the cold grasp of the sea. Soon, I was entirely submerged, diving further into the dark, the fire of the Gods luring me in, promising me eternal life with its black burn.
Legacy is powerful, to never be forgotten is godly. Yet the real question is, will you be a devil or a saint, I suppose I never got that far. Besides, it wasn’t about my name, it was instead about what I wrought, what I left behind. My fire would do more than just warm, cook and feed mankind, it wouldn’t just enflame the sword, but rather it would burn it away entirely.
Amidst the cinders, something would reveal itself…
A god, my fire would make us gods!
At a certain depth, deep in that darkness, the fire of the Gods revealed itself to me. It burnt bright in that frightening black, flames glowing in my eye! I had always been imprisoned by this dream, this forbidden fruit.
The story of mankind’s first lovers has always puzzled me, how they lived in paradise, drenched in bliss, yet they threw it all away, succumbing to the sweet bite of that revered apple.
Why risk it all, why risk paradise, perfection, life, eternity?
I never really knew, until then, when I was in the depths of that sea, hidden from the beach, hidden from the people, hidden from the person I once was, hidden from the world, from what I thought was paradise. They say curiosity killed the cat, and in the end, I wonder if it was worth it, either way, I took a bite.
The rest, the rest is history.
I had, I have, I am become.
This story was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 1 on Thursday, Aug. 31.