|People keep demanding the truth kept just out of reach, but when they get a chance to seize it, they cry that the sky is suddenly empty.|
(vii. the coming of penguins)
There are other, even more beautiful things to remember with our eyes. I worry sometimes. If people stop remembering the beautiful things, what will become of us? And although many of these things dont comfort me here in a hospital bed, I still try my best to remember.
More and more often the Doctor asks me what I am thinking about. She gropes for a remembrance that we can both share, but rarely does she take the time to write it down.
"I continue to think about beautiful things," I say. "Like penguins."
She says that she remembers them, too. At last we have found a common memory!
"Its too bad they dont fly anymore," I tell her.
But penguins cant fly, she proclaims.
"Of course they can," I explain. "They just choose not to anymore. Can you blame them?"
But the Doctor doesnt remember. She says that the penguins have never been able to fly.
Certainly, though, penguins used to fly through the sky at night. How could she forget? Floating there, looking like waves, the penguins seemed tidal: guardians of the sky, the soul that lived in heaven. And they were beautiful. All the people looking at penguins flying through nighttime agreed that they were beautiful.
The Doctor doesnt care to reminisce about such things. She scribbles something on the chart hastily, and rushes on to her next appointment. Alone again, I continue to think about that time when the penguins first landed on the ground. I remember it was the same day that the sky broke. I wonder if it was just coincidence that when the sky fell, the first penguins landed. Maybe a lot of things shattered that day.
Certainly some child had wished for the penguins to come down. He wanted to see the penguins up close and in daylight. Back then, people were still capable of wonder and wishes. Yes, we used to wish then. Can it be that I almost dont remember how?
"I wished on a penguin, mama," a child would say.
And the proud mother would look down at her young child and smile. "Yes, dear," she would say. "But if you want your prayers to be answered, you must be good, and kind, and loving." The more honest mothers would add: "And you must be loved."
It must have been strange for the penguins on the ground. And of course they were used to flying at night. So even the daylight must have worried them. But revelation requires daylight. And so a step, a turn left, then wobbled right they came walking, bouncing, shaking toward us. The penguins.
I recall when the penguins first approached, the sound of childrens joy, the rush of muteness in the babies eyes. I can still hear the utter hush of silence that fell with the sky. But as they came closer, the silence broke painfully with laughter. The people giggled and pointed at the penguins wobbling. In the sky the penguins had seemed so graceful. But we had never seen them so close and so helpless. The people fell to the ground, hysterical, laughing at the penguins.
The laughter became louder and louder in crowds, forming an invisible wall where the penguins stopped. And then backwards, stumbling upon themselves, the penguins faltered back. Having had a good laugh, the people began to chase them. The penguins were forced to take to the air again, flapping their wings and rolling in sky. And even that even the penguins flying in daylight amused the wishing people. The people fell again on their stomachs in convulsions of laughter, watching penguins wobble through sunlit sky.
I heard that when the penguins left to up north, (or south maybe?) they took with them part of the night. And they went away, to be away from the laughter, and never to fly again. Yet the hysterical people now wonder that the night seems colder and vacant. People keep demanding the truth kept just out of reach, but when they get a chance to seize it, they cry that the sky is suddenly empty.
The day the penguins left, people first began walking as adults. Just like the Doctor, they stare fixedly and always at the ground. There is nothing left in the sky to amuse them. And wishing, now wishing on the breathless embers of stars, people wonder to where the soul of heaven went.