Archive | May 17, 2011

Drabble: Dancing for Joy

From [community profile] dailyprompt:

They are dancing again.

They dance for the full moon, for the changing seasons, for the first harvest and the last, for the first snow and the last. They dance for weddings and for childbirth, although they do not dance for death.

I cannot fault them; they have, despite that litany, so little to dance for. They came here so naked and unprepared, so bold and brave and completely not ready for what this place was; they came here and they died.

This planet is not a nice place, and they are not the first sentient race that have walked over its shifting skin and been eaten by its trap, frozen by its winters, swept up by its maelstroms. I’ve seen others come, and I’ve watched them all die. The death of these creatures did not surprise me.

What surprised me was their tenacity and their adaptability. They saw that the ground would shudder with no warning, and they built shelters like boats to move with the shifts. They saw that their plants from home were twisted by the soil into something inedible, and they learned how to eat the plants that were here, thay have grown to process the poisons of this place.

They died by the dozen, and they learned with every death. With every adaptation, the planet had to work harder to shake them off its back; and with every shake, their grip dug in tighter.

No other species had lasted through more than two seasons, but these, they were still alive when a year had passed. And now it has been two years, and, while there remains only a tenth of the original population, they die much less frequently now, and they give birth more often than they die.

And they dance. They dance for ever success, every triumph, every survival. At first I thought they were mocking the planet, taunting it for failing to kill them. Then I thought this was part of their grieving ritual, for all those that the planet had succeeded in eliminating. No other race had lived long enough to even bury all its dead, much less construct rituals to mourn them. And these creatures, all these little sentient creatures, are so different from me, from my people. Their rites, all of them, are so mobile.

It took me a while to learn that they called this particular set of gyrations dancing, longer to understand that it was a celebration, a prayer to the higher powers they believe rule them and protect them, a hymn of joy sung with their whole raggle-taggle wiggly bodies. And this thing they did, this dancing, was a thing of joy, not of revenge or of grief.

And I do not begrudge them their joy, because this planet is a hard place, as none know better than I. If they have found, like I have, to take their pleasure where they can, than the better for them.

But I do wish they would learn that the mountain they dance on is my head, and the valley my throat. They’re giving me a terrible headache.

Prompt was “dancing on my head”

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