A Crossroads in Limbo

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

Homin dragged themselves from the raging tide and onto the coarse sands. They coughed and spluttered the dry taste of the ocean from their lungs, stinging their throat and eyes. Homin thrashed and brayed, digging gouges in the damp shoreline to escape the onrushing tide – only to realise that there was none – all was quiet.

Homin looked out across the bleak expanse of damp sand. It was like looking across the surface of a mirror that had somehow deformed in the damp. Mirages sprang up on the horizons and the silver shinings of shallow pools reflected the odd nothingness about this place.

Confused, Homin looked to their body. The skin changed from wrinkled to firm and back again, from black to white to pink to brown and beige and their sex switched from one to another. It was like all of the aspects of their body were being twisted through a kaleidoscope.

Homin sighed, realising their situation. They would settle on a race, sex and perhaps an age soon – they did the last time this happened.

Resigned to their fate, Homin rose from the ground. They winced at tender flesh – corroded from salt, sand and sun – and dragged themselves across the desolate swamp of damp sand. Every so often their foot would catch on something solid; they shuddered to think what it might be and made for the dead tree which arose inexplicably before them. It was scorched black – dead by all accounts – but offered some shade against the white light which seemed to shine from every angle, at the least it was something to lean against.

They rested their head against the hardened bark and gazed upwards. The world was roofed with a shallow layer of water, only half a dozen metres beyond the reach of the gnarled wood. They could see people walking about up there, or just the soles of feet that sloshed through the water. They quickly multiplied and the waters became blurred with filth and chaos.

Still, it looked nice – to be around others.

Then they noticed a presence before them, appearing suddenly, yet it had always been there. It was not an unfriendly thing, yet it was not welcome.

“What do you want?” Homin asked.

“I wanted to see how you were.” It answered; moving from where it was to sitting against the tree besides Homin – as if it had always been there too. “I worry about you.”

“I’m fine,” Homin said, gazing up at the soles sloshing through the watery ceiling above, “Just lonely, restless.”

“You used to have company.” The presence gestured to the damp expanse of sand, the solid objects making themselves known as bleached bone – former cousins of Homin.

“They weren’t all my fault.” Homin said irritably.

“No,” The presence sagged, “No they weren’t.”

“Is this the end?” Homin asked, “Am I finally dead?”

“You know you aren’t.”

“Then what is this?” Homin gestured helplessly. “Why am I here again?”

“What do I call you these days?” The presence asked.

“Homin.”

“Not long ago you went by Mann… and Homone… and… Sapen? I guess etymologically speaking, all the same.”

“Which begs the question, who gives a fuck?” Homin replied, they had settled on a form, but didn’t really care what that form was at this point. “Why am I here?”

“Look.” The presence gestured the water ceiling.

Homin watched on as the soles slowly dwindled, until what was once hundreds of pairs were now a handful. The waters settled, the filth filtered out to the edges of the expanse, butterflies flitted freely about the sky. Lily pads blossomed on high, their roots spreading downwards like a beautiful hanging garden, whales and octopuses and crows floated through the area above as if in bliss.

“Octopuses? Octopi? … Ocotpose?” Homin asked.

“Etymologically, who gives a fuck?” The presence projected a warm smile at Homin, who ignored it. “But do you see, without so much interference, that many potentialities can grow and prosper?”

“So, I ‘was’ the problem.” Homin said sullenly.

“No,” The presence was kneeling before them, hands on their shoulders, “No. You ‘have’ problems, you are not ‘a problem’. You have a place up there my love, you just don’t need to carve it out so forcefully.”

“But I ‘did’ need to.”

“Would this not be enough?” The presence gestured across the bleak expanse they resided in.

It transformed before Homin’s eyes, into a rolling green plain. Down the slope was a quaint village which married the rustic with the modern. Solar panels and home gardens in every yard, bees and butterflies and birds and the like were rife in peaceful presence. The sky was blue and the air clear, animals grazed wild grasslands with mighty turbines – elegant and beautiful – standing watch over it all. A tribe of people were joyously leaving the nearby forest with their hunt – treated diginibly. The people were in good health, stood tall in their stature and were abound with love and peace. The sea was nearby, the waters were clear and the whales frolicked in the bay, singing to the delight of children on the wharf.

“You may not have been the most intelligent of my creatures… depending on what metrics you used, but you were the most inventive, the most symbolic. And a trait that was both a boon and a curse to that was your focus. You found a temporary solution to your immediate problems and then doubled down, focusing your effort onto it when there were many options to explore.

And then when these methods were challenged by your own thought you doubled down again. Much misery was wrought, onto your earthly companions and to yourself. But there are other ways for you to find your place, my love.” The presence rose, dusting themselves off. “You are more than capable of finding a solution to your current strifes. You just need to believe in your strength to do it, in your ability to see it through… and don’t fret on your failures. They aren’t who you are, just steppingstones to who you will be.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this.” Homin said to the presence who was starting to recede into the distant mirage.

“Luckily, you have much time here to think about it.”

“Hmm,” Homin looked down at the wet sand, seeing the tracks of the presence as it receded, and called out after it. “Leaving one set of tracks? I thought you were supposed to carry me on your back during the hard times?”

The presence turned back with that same warm smile, “Homin, if I were to do that now, I would rob you of your ability to stand on your own two feet. That was once your edge, find it again.”

The presence receded into nothing, and Homin leaned back against the scorched tree, enjoying the pleasant rippling tapestry of the many different forms of life swirling about on the water ceiling.

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