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27 April 2010 @ 10:23 pm
Fic: Wind Horse (Bay)  
Title: Wind Horse
Rating: PG
Word count: 3133
Characters/pairing: Bayarmaa (Oz/Bay)
Promt: written for still_grrr, challenge “characters of color”, prompt free for all
Summary: Five colors in Tibetan prayer flags, five moments in Bay’s life.
A/N: Tibetan prayer flags are called 'Lung ta' in Tibetan, which translates as 'wind horses'. They consist of flags in sets of five different colors, each with their own meaning and symbolism, to be put up in their proper order: blue (sky/space), white (air/wind), red (fire), green (water) and yellow (earth).



                                       Blue.

When she was little, and the days were long (the trees high and the world so great), Bayarmaa liked to play with her sisters a game they were sure they invented. They would run through the high grass surrounding their house, and when they got tired—which she usually lied about, because she liked the part that came afterward much much more than the running—they’d take off their shoes and lay down in the field, the green tickling their necks and feet and gaze up towards the sky. Above them, the blue would stretch across for miles and miles like a great dome of heavenly, never-ending water through which shapes (spirits, they said) of animals and people and things passed them by on their slow journey towards other, faraway places. They’d greet them, waved, or sometimes even shouted when they were feeling bold, expressing their hopes they would make it to their destination safely and sending them their blessing and prayers for them on their way, and asked they do the same for them in return.

When the three of them were sure they’d just seen a white elephant blow past them, they’d run back home to their mother to tell her about it, excitedly, because they’d just seen the Buddha and it was beautiful and all the stories she had told them were true. It usually didn’t come to that, though—because wouldn’t the Buddha have better things to do? Besides, he’d surely be faster than that other spirits so they wouldn’t as easily see him before he was gone—but mostly because they’d rarely agree on exactly what spirit it was that glided overhead. When Bayarmaa would see a yak, her sister would see a fish, and the youngest didn’t see much at all; or the others would tell her it was a tree, a tree and how could she not see it? while all she saw was a really big foot of something and idly wondered what happened to the rest of it. (A quick prayer they would soon find the rest of themselves was silently sent out, too.)

And as the other two would continue to argue their siblings were just plain wrong, Bayarmaa liked to quietly think that the three of them were equally right, and that the spirits just liked to show themselves in different ways. Because if she were a spirit, she surely would do that, too.

After nightfall, and they were back inside, tiredly, for dinner and sleep, she sometimes secretly crawled out of bed to stare through her bedroom window into the now black above. The wood was cold beneath her feet, as was the window pane when she wiped the condensed wetness of her breath away to see what she was looking for, but whenever she found it any thoughts of cold were soon forgotten. Because above her the spirits had changed into stars, and when she greeted them again, they winked back and she simply had to smile, because they had made it, and although it was still unknown to her, she could rest in knowing that one day she would reach her destiny, too.

                                       White.

Her mother has been praying for two days straight now. She expects her father is doing the same, although he is usually much more quiet about it, as he is whenever he enters her room these days, only to let his hand fall tenderly across her hair before leaving again in silence. As she lies back into bed, Bayarmaa’s eyes flutter, the warm covers enveloping her safely like a cocoon; and without meaning to her mind’s eye wanders to Lhasa, to Shigatse, to Gurum and the magnificent prayer wheels there, even to the ones in her own village – and her heart is stung with great sadness when she imagines the look in her father’s eyes as he is there turning them.

The sounds from the room beside her (oṃ tāre tuttāre ture mama ...) are starting to filter out, becoming less insistent (ayuh punya jñānā...) and drifting out of focus (puṣtiṃ kuru svāhā...); whether it is because she’s been hearing the same words for too long—like a jasmine flower in bloom smelling so good one can’t stop breathing it in until its scent can’t be smelled at all—or simply because of a tired mind having much more to process than it is fit for, she does not know. There’s guilt when she is thankful for the approaching silence (kuru svāhā...), and sadness following it, and only more guilt arising from that. With the cacophony of emotions whirring in her head like a maelstrom, sucking her down and drowning her, she does the only thing she can think of: pulling the pillow over her head and closing her eyes as hard as she can and suddenly she feels so, so small again.

She wonders where’s she’s gone wrong, what evil deeds she has undertaken in a past life that this is the punishment that was seen fit for her, that this is what she has brought about herself. She feels so small and young and tiny, and with it her mind wanders to more innocent times, times that may not have been so innocent after all: perhaps it was one of the spirits... one she did misidentify after all... Her prayers and blessings would not have reached them, meaning they would never have arrived at their destination in the sky but fell down to Earth instead, becoming solid and taking the shape of something big and black and monstrous and coming after her to punish her for it in retaliation. And now, whenever the sky is dark and the stars look down on her, the moon regards her with such contempt because they are without one of their own and then—

Mother! she wants to call out. Please cease your prayers to the White Tara. Do you not remember what it is they say about her? That her skin is as white as and shines with the light of the moon. The color in which all other colors are present, in which nothing remains hidden and everything that is secret becomes known...

Bayarmaa is tired, and her leg hurts with a flaring pain, and with it the sounds find their way back to her again. Oṃ tāre tuttāre ture mama ayuḥ punya jñānā puṣtiṃ kuru svāhā it goes on and on and on again, her mother begging Thangka-drolkar to heal her daughter from the illness that has befallen her, to save her, to see with her seven eyes the suffering and show compassion for it. It isn’t until the warm wetness on her cheeks clues her that she notices she has started crying, and she pulls the pillow tighter around her head, throws the blankets on top of it for good measure, and asks the Orange Tara instead to let her drift to sleep.

                                       Red.

Nothing works. The words sting like poison in the back of her head, and it only hurts worse to know that it’s her own rational mind that whispers it. Nothing works. She counteracts the phase not with more words, but rather with hope, a feeling that hails straight from her soul and she cherishes it within her heart – because even if her body betrays her and her thoughts aren’t her own, she can still find strength and confidence in knowing that her soul will always, entirely, wholly, be hers.

So here she stands, alone and scared, but hopeful before these walls. Their color smiles at her: red, the color of coral, of safety, of protection. When the heavy wooden doors open to offer her entry and she steps beyond the threshold, as if entering a new life, the color encloses her like a mantle and for the first time in a long time she can feel a notion of safety welling up inside her limbs again. The covers of her bed and her pillow used to provide that same feeling for a small time, but they choked her as well. Here she feels as if she can finally breathe.

The monastery is a vast complex, with ample halls and many more smaller rooms, an enclosed garden, towers, golden statues and beautiful paintings and other ornaments. Outside it’s equally beautiful: the retreat sits on a cliff, offering a splendid view; it borders on forest in one far corner and there’s a body water not far away in the valley below. It’s as beautiful as it is bare; pious and devout. She has seen monasteries before, but this time she looks at it with different eyes: eyes of knowing that this will be her home.

There are monks, reverent in their saffron robes, and girls, women, like her who live here. She knows she’ll have company.

Moreover, she learns there are others like her. She learns she is not alone. They can’t provide much answers to the ‘how,’ much less to the ‘why’, but the mere knowledge—the mere word—makes her want to cry in an alien mixture of pity and relief. All stories told are different, but they have one single element in common: the puncturing of skin, the drawing of blood. For most there are no spirits; for some, not even an attack. It lessens her fears and soothes her guilt.

She also learns there is hope, tangible and real, and that there are things that work. The victory of the mind over the body, of peace over choas. The kind of peace she experiences now when she looks up towards the sky and sees the moon, round and full, and she feels nothing but reverence and awe. She writes home to her parents and her sisters sometimes to tell them about it, and while she misses them Bayarmaa decides to remain at the monastery, because it has become her home and she couldn’t do without the peace, as rich and nourishing to her soul as any kind of butter tea to her body.

Sometimes, when she looks out the window at night like she did when she was little, it again feels like the stars and the moon are looking back at her, as kind and acknowledging as they did then. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s as if they’re staring at her, gazing upon her and calling her to them, looking inside her through her eyes and the call reverberates inside her bones. But really, who wouldn’t have that when looking upon something as beautiful as the radiant and pregnant moon?

                                       Green.

She heard the tumult starting just after nightfall, the voices filtering through her evening meditation with an urgent sting. Voices didn’t carry easily through the long halls—not in the least because this was a place of peace, and there usually weren't much voices to be carried—but when they did, and made it through the concentration of her chants, chances were great something, and most likely something bad, was taking place. She would’ve checked, helped, but... at that very moment she was afraid she would’ve done more wrong than right – when good descends the sky and evil takes its place, and she needed every bit of focus and calm to resist that interchange.

After the evening was well underway, the moon high in the sky and her success clear another time, she dared to venture out of her room to inform the monks exactly what it was that happened. Another, was all they said, though that was in no way less than they needed to tell for her to comprehend. She’s not unused to strangers arriving at the monastery. After all, she arrived a stranger once here, too.

Now, as the first warmth of the soothing morning light falls through the windows once more, making squares on the floors, the only sound even remotely resembling the tumult from the evening before is the quietly reverberating tapping of her own slow footsteps as she makes her way to the main hall. She expects he has woken up some time before her arrival (crack of dawn – they all do), but is only just now moved to getting up as she greets him. He accepts her offering of butter tea and the clothing handed through the bars with square hands with thumbs that curve backwards and tired eyes of the most curious color, which convey stories to which his lips don’t carry the words. When they do, there are few, and while his emotions are hard to read, she tastes the bitter tang of sadness behind them. She’s not surprised, though, nor does she blame him: most people visiting here don’t do so because they have a song in their heart.

Throughout the time that he stays with them, he remains quiet, with few words spoken, but which often hold more meaning than any other could relate in a spiel a dozen times as long. Between those moments she learns to read him in other ways: the crinkle around his eyes when he tells her something she isn’t sure how to interpret and realizes not to take it seriously, or the phantom of a frown when she explains to him the meaning and use of the dung-dkar and surmises she should take a different approach. He spends most his time with the monks who teach him, but is happy to help when he struggles with the pronunciation of words like tutararyi or ngö in the chants they’ve instructed him. He remains quiet, though his eyes light up, and that is really all she needs to see to know he is prevailing in his quest.

On the morning of the day that he leaves again—back home, to the other side of the world—it’s as if an Endless Knot has formed in Bayarmaa’s stomach overnight; and it isn’t at all one that implores peace and balance at all, but one that hurts and was created there almost with the specific intention of tearing apart her insides. On the one hand she wants him to be happy and whole, and that would mean that he would forever stay away with no reason to ever find his way back here again; on the other, there is the silent wish she would see him again, but that would mean she’d beseech tragedy upon one another’s head and she could never do that. She honestly, truly, wholly decides on the former and tells him so as they stand framed by the doorway, with a laugh and a smile, and watches him go through the waving grass and flocks of yaks until he’s disappeared from her sight completely.

And if the next time she is making butter tea she just ‘happens’ to pour one cup too many, which she then would ‘accidentally’ take with her to her room and ‘somehow’ ended up sitting in her window still, it really wouldn’t be to prove anyone anything, would it?

                                       Yellow.

Bayarmaa liked waking up early with the still-yellow morning sun falling onto her bed more than waking up any other way. ‘The sun’ because it made everything appear soft and secure and because it made it seem like the room she found herself in was temporarily the only thing that existed in the world. ‘Early’ because she liked watching him before he woke up, and because she liked seeing the look in his eyes when he did and she was the first thing he laid his eyes on.

The pain in her leg is long gone, as is the storm in her head, quieted and died down by ways of her own making. Their own making. She thinks of the once upon a time she hoped he didn’t need come back here, and it makes her wonder what would have happened to him if he hadn’t. Before, the denotation of the “what” used to be good, though there was a moment, once, in summer, when he used those words—‘you’ and ‘saved’ and ‘me’—and she couldn’t find any crinkles, no matter how hard she tried. After that the meaning changed to very, very bad. It makes her sigh and she places her hand in his, softly, as not to wake him, and delights in taking in the sight of stubble lighted up to gold. It also makes her ponder what would’ve happened to her if he hadn’t come back here, and while she can’t imagine the word ‘bad’ to be applicable to it in essence—her life was good and she was grateful—the sight and touch she’s experiencing right now makes her heart sing and the lack of it would most surely sicken it. It has brought her life to new heights, and the imagining of its absence would mean falling down as if from a great mountain, a blow she doesn’t think she would survive.

It’s still quiet, with the only sounds coming from the birds outside and his soft breathing beside her – or perhaps that’s only because those are the only things she’s striving to listen to. There probably aren’t any others awake yet, tired and worn out as they usually are after days of learning, working, trying… and everything pertaining to it. Others, she thinks. Others they’re saving. Maybe. People, their numbers increasing by the month, from all regions of the world are finding their way to their retreat, and what can they do but take them in, feed them, teach them what they know? After all, how could they not? The knowledge isn’t theirs to keep; they didn’t create it, much less do they possess it. The only thing they did was uncover it, found a light within their own darkness that illuminated it, and it’s the least they can do to pay respect to the forces that made this—this…—possible in the first place: the spirits, the forces of nature, the Earth…

It’s a life she never fathomed for herself, while at the same time, it exactly is.

Her thoughts have gone someplace else with her contemplations, but they’re ushered back when she feels the softest of brushes against her cheek. It is soon joined by a caressing hand underneath her nightgown and the touch—and all it pertaines—makes her smile. Her hand joins his under the fabric and she scoots closer to him now that he’s awake. She breathes in his scent, always entirely his, and lets her eyes glide shut against the arch of his body. She has missed his waking up, but that’s okay – they’ll have many more mornings of waking up together to look forward to.

Another part of her life she, a year ago, could never have imagined.

But here he is, lying beside her with fingers intertwined over her swollen belly, warm, whole, and she swears she can feel the flutter of his eyelashes against her cheek. She feels more than hears the words when he breathes them (“Nga kayrâng-la gawpo yö”), warm against the curve between her neck and shoulder, and with a smile tugging at her lips she whispers back, “I love you too.”

---///---


For those of you who are wondering about some of the terms mentioned in the fic above—not that there will be any, let alone people who made it all the way down here, but heck—but don't feel like looking things up (you should – seriously, it's fun), I've made a little 'splainy list of things here. I have a new-found respect for Jane Espenson.
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Mx. Jack Beloit: Stealing babiessonnekinde on April 30th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) I think Bay has a lot of potential, and like you I'd love to see more fics with her. So I figured, why not write one myself? I'm glad you liked it!