The city speaks to me, each night, as the rich smell of wood smoke and the eternal thunder of cascading water embrace me, guiding me to my dreams. It takes a conscious will of effort to notice it standing forever above our heads – the Forbidden City, stretching silver fingers high, as though man in his hubris had tried to reach out and grasp the heavens. The city calls to me as I wake, long shadows flung like teeth across our village in the light of dawn, it calls to me each night as we light our fires, golden-tongued flames thrown-up as shields to guard against its presence.
The others look away, their eyes never straying above the rock-wall, never curious about the treasures held long-forgotten. They look away, whether subconsciously or by some Herculean effort, curious only about the harvest, or how full the water tower is, or whether the windmill keeps turning. They cast their lines into still waters, never following the quicksilver flicker of the line, never watching the joyous, freefalling flight of hawks as they plunder our fishery. I want answers. I want to know. I ask myself daily questions, single words held silently from my tongue as Jonah mentions the birthing of new lambs, as Ezra talks of building new bridges of stone. “Who were they?” I want to ask. “What happened?”
“Why do we live here in the shadows?”
They found me out. Father Levi heard my muted questions escaping in the cool of night, my mind betrayed me to these uncurious, uninterested cowards. My love brought me flowers and honey cakes, when what I need is a blade. I’ll fashion one from the spoon they have given me.
The city is calling. Soon I will go to her, wearing their blood as a talisman.
My city is calling me.