CABB’s 2021

April 12th Challenge



by Carole W

I am old now. I have always been. Singular, I imagine (though perhaps not, and it matters not). No one who visits tells me otherwise.

An age ago, I closed myself away, drew around my being a gritty cloak of protection. Huddled deep within this earth, I cold-shouldered the centuries. Suffered the pressures and heat, the chilling floods, the airlessness …

Secreted so, I bore the aloneness. Inside, I remained. As ever, I was.

But as one should, I grew; I changed. Though I worked in the dark, drop by drop I lay down layers of glassy salts, sifted and cast the silts, willed the rising spires to cleave to points and facets.

And I began to hope … to be discovered, to be for someone else.

Alas, came the wonderings …

If no one ever finds me do I exist? Might I be beautiful nonetheless, unrecognized?

Time would tell … or so I chose to believe.

I waited.

The epochs passed, the eras, the years. I admit after a while I slept and slept deeply … until the rumbling. Oh, there’d been quiverings before, shudders that would rouse me, but nothing … nothing like this. I hardly had words for the sound – the voice of fire, the song of molten gold. First a drumming, then a roar. The stewing of impatience, an uncoiling …

A whip-crack! My long-held breath rushed out. And then …


Here, deep in the diamond. I didn’t question the miracle of it.

She wasn’t my first visitor, but she was the first to address me as an entity, an equal. She didn’t rush to gather up my fragments or chink at my walls. She didn’t bellow upon entering as one wanderer had years before for no earthly reason, as far as I could tell, other than to revel in the reverberation of his own voice. No … she introduced herself almost as soon as she inched through the now not-so-new fissure. In my midst and marrow, she turned and turned.

“It is I,” she whispered once she’d come full-circle.

Her smile nearly blinded me.

She closed her eyes and held out her hands palms up, not in any anticipation of taking, but more in gladness. I was, then, encouraged to show her my more glorious self. I’d learned to play with the curious glow coincident with my breaking-open and woke her with a flash. I prismed this way and that, made brilliant my amethysts and opals, fire-lit my citrines, illumined my starry moonstones, my rose and smoky quartz. And, ohhh, all the ice-turned-stone, my many glittering hyaline points and clusters … how they gleamed, these windows to infinity.

She gasped at the sight, then laughed. What a joyous music that was. How found I felt.

She told me her first-given name, one that would forever be our secret, allowing she’d told others something altogether different. She’d left enough darkness behind to warrant a new call-word, she said. “I’m Narcissa now.”

I’d known darkness as well. I rayed my light once more, bright and dark and bright again, compelling a moving mosaic of color on my walls, willing her the happiness I now knew, the promise of sanctuary.

We spent her day together. She was loath to leave, but worried searchers would come. “The way is dangerous,” she said. “Too dangerous for some.”

I believed she was more worried for me than for anyone who might follow her down, but I didn’t argue. Our secret – keeping it – gave me new purpose.

“May I?” she asked, drawing from her skirt pocket a patchworked pouch. “Only a few,” she promised.

I’d have given her all.

I led her to a smoky tower. After only a minute in her hands I felt its warmth spread through her bones. A layered cluster of rose-gray would quiet her dreams. I insisted, in my way, on a pyramid of amethyst. Something told me she’d need its guardianship, its powers of inner-sight. I focused on it until she did, too.

I let go a cascade of clear crystal wands and seeds and scepters. Stones of the sun, the breath of white dragons, ice everlasting. She nodded and thanked me, cupping each with reverence, one by one by one.

Would she come again?

At the breach, before she slipped through and away, she steadied against my bedrock. “Oh, yes,” she murmured.

Return she did, more than once. Sometimes we’d sit in silence. I’d lower my light and help her drift. I taught her to direct her vision beyond my mirroring facets into the boundlessness. There were those she’d loved once, who’d loved her, who worried yet, and thus she was able to visit them and, in time, say goodbye. Sometimes she’d sing. Other times she’d tell me stories of those she lived with or near. Some names she mentioned lit me with joy, others … darkened me, chilled the air.

She wasn’t regularly a teller of wild tales, but there came the day when even I drew back breathless, dimmed my light until her story concluded.

A child was found. Born into brutal winter. Abandoned it was being said. An aberration he was, some muttered, a deviation, too wrong for the world.

A rarity, yes, she’d countered, an exception of extraordinary beauty. A reason to love, others asserted, to love all the more. Their stronger voices prevailed.

For three full days he wailed, Narcissa told me, his cries so mournful everyone wept with him.

“Well, almost everyone,” she whispered.

She seemed unwilling to say more and I would not press her, but her gaze was beseeching, keen to traverse the boundary between this day and tomorrow. She worried for the babe, sought the illumination of his path.

This is the creature there has never been … and yet none the less …

Together we contemplated; as one we pondered. At long last, an ember flamed within my strata, and with its kindling befell a great calm and a greater sobering. His journey would be challenging; he would survive to know heartbreak and despair. But a light burned for him, burned brightly. Its flame would be fueled by love, by hope, by promise.

“He needs me,” she said and gathered her skirts to rise, to return. The child’s protectress.

Perhaps, one day, we’d meet, the boy and I. Until then, I’d do what I could.

I narrowed my light, sending a golden slant to my farthest wall. Following, kneeling, she drew The One from the pile of what might seem rubble, not the largest or the most perfectly-formed sphere, not the already-fractured and unsurprising, but a rock-gray, brown-stained orb.

She would break it open it at his crib-side, she said, trusting the geode’s mystery. Trusting me.

I knew, of course. Inside, for him, a hollow was ringed with jewels of pale blue celestine. The very color of his eyes. My very best work … so far.

After her leaving, I wept too, my salty tears falling on a youthful spire already clustering in a slight basin at my heart’s center, one I would nurture to a piece of eternity, one I would guard until its perfect moment of discovery.

* * *

In a crystal we have clear evidence of the existence of a formative life principle, and though we cannot understand the life of a crystal, it is nonetheless a living being.

~ Nikola Tesla


Deep in the diamond of the day – from Merlin, by Edwin Muir. 1948.

This is the creature … Rainer Maria Rilke.



1 Comment

  1. A beautiful story about a mystical place, full of energy and power. How good that finally appreciated and treated with respect, the cave became a friend and faithful listener to many stories until she heard about someone between a miracle and a dream…


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