I. In The Beginning
I woke up to the resounding howls that came from the nearby forest. My sleep had been interrupted abruptly for many more nights than I could remember. Tiredness was never an issue; the problem was the cold. The glacial weather of the north was slowly taking over my body, almost completely numbing it. The elders silenced us when we dared speak a word on the harsh conditions, reminding us that we had survived the dark winters for generations. The only remedy for my sleepless nights was to observe the bright stars in the sky. It brought me joy to think that their beauty accompanied me during lonely times. The dawn was almost unrecognizable, but a faint gleam of light that came after a long wait indicated that it was time to resume our activities. As I packed on the pelts and faced the wilderness, looking for provisions, I noticed how my limbs moved in an idle fashion and how my eyes struggled to recognize shapes in obscurity. Regardless of any intentions to seek for change, the fight for survival made it impossible to halt and think of a solution. We had always lived at the mercy of the night, and it seemed like we would always have to. Most of the big animals were hiding from the winter, making everything particularly challenging. We heard an unanticipated rumbling noise that was coming toward us, and, thinking it was the prey we had been looking for, got ready to attack. To our dismay, it turned out to be a neighboring group of hunters who had just as bad a luck as we. It may have been a strange feeling of empathy caused by the discouraging circumstances that made us remain together that night, as if we were a single, very broad clan. The unceasing howling woke me up again, but this time, I was surprised to see one of the youngest members of the neighboring group awake as well. He looked at the moon with perplexity, admiring the soft glow that illuminated our surroundings.
“What if it were different?” He asked, taking notice of my presence.
“What do you mean?” I inquired, sitting next to him.
He turned to me and I could see his face for the first time. It was very much like mine, I still remembered from a time I had gone to the lake to fish, only to find it stood still and no longer flowed like before. His eyes were dark like the sky, but there was a special glow that resembled the first ray of sunshine in the morning.
“I was told a story that happened some time ago, south from the forest. A man was to collect berries from a bush that stood close to his den and instead, found a huge star that had fallen from the sky. It was too bright and hot, it was the work of magic. It frightened the big animals and burned the man’s skin. It made the night disappear.”
I stayed up thinking of the star and wishing I could be fortunate enough to see it. The neighboring clan left the next morning, eager to find the prey that had been missing. The elders had already begun trekking to a far land, hopefully filled with animals, when I decided to stand in their path. I begged for us to change our course and look for the star that dwelt south of the forest, telling them it would offer what we needed most. They ignored my pleas and threatened to exile me, so I had no more choice but to keep my curiosity to myself. We had no more than a small piece of meat that night, another sleepless night for me. I sat at the entrance of the cave, watching the moon and wondering if more stars were to fall from the above. My eyes had grown accustomed to the infinite darkness, so I flinched at the sight of a light that glowed not too far away. With the thought of the star in my mind, I ran towards the light. Every step took me to a warmer place, one that felt welcoming, even though I knew that I was venturing into the unknown. The spectacle that awaited was more breathtaking than I could imagine. The young moon-watcher from the neighboring group danced and jumped euphorically around a golden apparition. Its brilliance almost blinded me, but I forced my eyes open because I was afraid to miss the image. It was alive, and it danced to the rhythm of my beating heart. It extended its long arms over our heads in an attempt to touch the sky, probably trying to find its way home. I felt a heat that caressed my skin and slowly hypnotized me, sending me into the deep sleep that I had craved for so long. It was different, however, since it was a sleep of the mind, one where my senses fought to stay conscious and admire the body of luminescence before me. The moon-watcher’s screams gradually entered my mind and I came back from the trance.
“How did you find this star?!” I asked him with tremendous excitement.
He gave me a huge smile and came close to me, grabbing my face with his heated hands.
“I made it! I made a star! It never had to fall from the sky! We could make a sky of our own!”
My eyes filled up with tears of happiness. I thought that I could meet them only when they fell, and if fate decided to guide me to them. I was enchanted to learn that they would always be next to me, because they were to be crafted with my hands. The moon-watcher picked a tree branch from the floor and touched the star with it, immediately obtaining a beacon of light, a sister to the mighty blaze. He handed it to me and looked me in the eyes.
“You must take this to your people. From now on, it is you who must guide them with the light. This is the gift of the skies, the star that will forever illuminate our paths. We will never be cold again. But the most important thing, what you ought to remember, is that they mustn’t wait for it to be born fortuitously before them. It has to be built from the ground, mirroring what rests above us.”
With trembling hands, I grabbed the torch that I was to give to my people. I didn’t fully understand it yet, but I sensed that I held a great power that would transform the eternal winter we had learned to live in.