One Memory in Dark Waters
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We have lived long. We have lived many lives. Some we spent together, some we spent apart, some we spent as One. Those are the oldest memories. These are faint, dreamlike. The farther back we go, the more muddled and alien the memories, the less familiar things become. Some of them are not ours.

We remember a childhood spent under a blanket of stars, avoiding the great black shape that seemed to swallow up the faint twinkling of the distant specks of light. It sometimes would move, and the sputtering stars would wink out as it passed. We remember how it drew closer every time we looked at it. It always watched us, and it would be there no matter how far we traveled. Even when we could not see it, we could feel it. Always in the corner of our minds. An enormous great nothing that drew our fear with its unknowable vastness.

We also remember a childhood spent under the glaring sun of a vast desert of red sand. Our heart pounded in our ears, and the precious little water left in our body would escape through our skin. We would try to swallow despite the sandiness of our throat ravaged by the memories of broken screams. The sands would become hazed, our ears would ring, and our vision would darken. We would cry out for water, but no one was left to hear our wail.

Our favorite childhood is one spent hunting in dark silent jungles. We would run through the trees, our feet silently beating the ground. We would jump down from a tree and pounce on a small bundle of fur that would squeak piteously before its final twitch. We would sink our teeth into the warm, wet throat of our meal, the iron taste of blood filling our mouth as the panicked beating of its heart would slow and stop.

All of these are our childhood, yet they do not feel right. We have thousands of youths, and not one feels right. Which one is ours? Which one is real? They all feel real but not ours. We are sure of only one memory; the last memory we both shared as One.

We once were One. And One was us. Now we are many, now we are two.
One was once under a large, lifeless ocean of ink. The dark sea was as still and dry as volcanic glass. The amount of time that One was buried in that ocean is unknown to us. It could have been years. It might have been centuries. Or millennia. Half-buried in the sands of ages. One could not leave that dark place; it had tried long ago and has long since given up. Every once in a while, One would sometimes stir and remember a blanket of stars and weep. It longed to see stars again. These brief bouts of consciousness were rare. It spent most of its time still and unthinking, half-buried in the ebony sand at the bottom of that ocean and just as still.

There was no sense of time, no indication of any time passing. No life swum under that lightless tomb of a sea. Time would run like sand through an hourglass, but it would not affect One. Time blew by like those violent storms of red sand from its childhood. If it were not for the Way, One might have spent the rest of eternity in that dry ocean of shadows. It was suddenly there. There it was, but a pin-prick. It danced in the still waters. And One, for the first time in Eons, remembered it could think.

One could feel the promise of air and light on the other side. This infinitely small aperture had awakened a burning bonfire of frenzied, desperate desire in One's heart. It stretched muscles that had sat unused forever. One felt neglected bones pop and joints creak as it strained toward the Way. It was too far! TOO FAR! One felt that feeling once again. It felt the bitter taste of wild, animal hunger on its tongue, a taste that One had believed it had left in that jungle so long ago. It hungered for that Way; it should belong to One. The Way drifted away like a mote of dust dances in a beam of light.

One thrashed harder now, feeling all of its hopes drifting away with that dancing mote. The final chance at freedom. One tossed up swirling eddies of dark sand in the thick, black ocean. The still, dark ocean mass swirled for the first time in memory. One tried to scream and wail, but it had no air in its throat. Only ink and shadows. One strained toward that mocking beacon of hope and felt its newly awakened muscles scream, and its ribs and spine cracked and folded.

One managed to catch hold of the edge of the impossibly small hole. One gave a silent laugh.

One sharpened one of its long fingers into a sharp point and dug its needle-like point into the tiny Way. Then One began to pull. The Way creaked and screamed, and the singularity became wider. One stuck another finger in the Way. The space around the Way contracted away. There. The Way was large enough now. No bigger than a grain of sand, but that was all that One needed. One began to shift and bend all One's will towards the Way. Its bones cracked again and began to squeeze and fold impossibly thin. Organs shifted and were flattened paper-thin. Its skin ripped, and muscles liquefied. One pinched itself into the light of the Way and out to the other side.

One dropped unto a beach of pink sand. One heard birds screeching and smelt the salt wafting in on a cool ocean breeze. One spluttered and coughed up the briny water of the ink ocean. The inky liquid spattered thickly on the sand, where it glimmered darkly and then disappeared in the afternoon sun. One began to twitch and warp its body, its bones cracked and ground into place, and torn muscles knit themselves together. Skin began to regrow and heal. One breathed in as far as One could, feeling the sweet, clean air fill long-unused lungs. The wind caressed One's face for the first time in eternity. The sea was a bright, beautiful blue, and the surf's roar banished the last memories of that still, black ocean, and the sun burnt the shadows of its waters away.

We are not ashamed to say that One cried. Big, hot tears of savage joy and relief. One laid down in the sand, not minding how the hot sands scratched and burnt One's bare skin. After a while, One got up and stretched and felt the last of its bones settle. One looked to the right and saw a village. The sounds of people living their lives drifted on the breeze. One's heart leaped with longing. One had been alone for so long that it desired to hear the sound of laughter again. It looked left and saw an expanse of grass and hills for as far as the eye could see. The sheer size of the world made One's head spin with giddiness. One's heart jumped again with desire. One had been still for so long. One longed to dance and sing and run.

We at once curse and rejoice in its indecisiveness. One longed to do everything that had been denied to it. It longed to run as far as it could, yet it also longed to stay and make a home. So One split Oneself in two. One part would go right and settle down and send deep, comfortable roots down into the soil. The other part would go and see everything there was to see. So they did. And we were born.

I, the part who went right, settled in the village. Although my appearance was peculiar, I looked enough like the villagers and talked sufficiently like them that they accepted me with open arms. I made friends and companions and grew happy surrounded by familiar faces and horizons.

I met many people and saw many lands, but I never stayed too long. There was always a new sky to run under or a fresh breeze to chase. I, the part who went left, danced and sang under endless skies until I thought my heart would burst with happiness.

We met again many years later. We did not know what to make of the other. To one of us, the other would talk too loud. To the other, too quiet. One of us had become tall and strange. Heady, exotic scents accompanied her. The other one of us seemed shorter and softer. He walked the same paths thousands of times and carried its dirt on his shoes. We sat in silence, for the most part. What were we to say to the other part of us? We walked along a dark beach and tentatively talked about how our lives had gone and marveled at how foreign the other one had become to us.

Right (as he called himself) talked about the small, quiet deeds of his neighbors and the many summer days he had spent walking the beach for seashells and marveling at their whorls and designs. The part of One who had gone Right was content in his small village by the ocean. He had walked its streets for decades and seen the stars above his head spin and dance in their old familiar rhythms.

Left told stories about sprawling glass and stone cities and nights spent under unfamiliar stars. She would spend many days getting lost purposefully in strange places. The part of One who had gone Left found pleasure in roaming everywhere beneath the sun. She spent her time laughing and dancing with everyone she met on the long winding roads of the world.

We talked for a long time, and we never grew tired of the other's company. And then the sun rose, and we knew our time together was coming to an end.

She endeavored to convince him to leave, and he attempted to persuade her to stay. We decided that we would part again. We won't lie, we cried at our parting, but both of us knew that we were not One anymore. Although we were cut from the same being, we no longer were the same. It is an odd feeling to see yourself in a strangely familiar face. We hope we will see each other again. No matter how far the distance between us grows.

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