Author : Kieron Walquist
As of this moment, I am a ten-year-old Eskimo, lying on the beach in the frigid rain, stone-cold and lifeless. However, that could all change in an instant.
My father, for now, is a humpback whale, circling the shallow waters that lap upon the shore, crying out to me in a mournful song to lie still. But I defy him.
My mother, whom very recently has become a weeping willow tree rooted in a nearby field that hugs the charcoal dunes, sways her long, limber branches toward me, forever reaching yet never receiving. Faintly, I can hear her voice through the whispering of leaves, carried by the arctic chill. Yet I ignore her.
The hovercrafts patrol the twilight sky, seeking for expired forms, like me, amidst this dying, terrifyingly beautiful world—to resurrect and reform those once broken into whatever kind of living entity they so choose; their searchlights scan for my location, my body, but I am somehow mysteriously camouflaged among the waves of crashing water and dazzling sand that they pass by overhead and I go unnoticed. I don’t mind—they should find the others who are lifeless and fix them instead.
But that’s just the thing. People no longer die here on Earth. We are altered; morphed, transformed—however you want to word it, into something else than what we previously had inhabited. Their word for it: Shedding. Like a snake sheds its skin. The serpent doesn’t die, just grows anew. The procedure is a little like re-birthing, if you will; only we don’t fully experience death, just a nebulous passing. The Creator wanted it like this, molding us in the beginning to become interchangeable, limitless, so that we could partake in the infinite possibilities The Creator had in store for us.
It’s not like dying. I have to believe in that, somehow.
I’ve been through many Sheddings before; I have been many things. Months ago, I was an albatross; ivory in plumage, colossal in wingspan, oblong in face and webbed in the feet. I think back on that lifecycle often. I used to soar above the clouds, throw my fragile birdsong to the ocean, nest under my children and feel them rumble beneath me in greeting.
Then, I had shed that existence away and took up a different host.
For a while, I was a mountain. That lifecycle was unpleasant. I endure the sporadic and harsh effects of weather—rain, snow, quakes, gales and strikes of lightning—unprotected. I allowed animals and birds to use my body as housing. Then, there was the pain; excruciating aches and spasms where chunks and pieces of my being would separate without warning and fall off. The view of being a mountain was spectacular, I’ll admit, but that was really the only perk.
But after a while, I altered once more, this time awakening as fire. I scorched the grass and smoked the sky as I danced effortlessly across the way. Uncontrollably at times; I’d blistered and baked every beautiful thing I touched without meaning to.
Then I became a human: a little boy. And for just a short while—like a blink of an eye, really. I didn’t want to give this body up, despite my parent’s insistence. Not just yet. Because, you see, Shedding, to me, really did feel like dying, and I had died enough already; had changed enough already. And if I kept on changing, than who am I, really?
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