She felt Talas’s eyes looking into her and she turned to meet his gaze.
“Talas……?” She began, completely at a loss for what to say.
Talas gave one of his sudden mischievous laughs and began gently prodding at her with one finger while calling out gently, “Lilanthro, Lilanthro, are you in there?” He continued to prod at her and tickle her until she could not help but laugh and began tickling him back. There followed a tickling match the likes of which had not been seen or heard in the depths of the forest for hundreds of years. Talas continued to poke and prod at her from head to toe. Even as she ducked away he somehow managed to reach a part of her body that made her squeal with laughter till her eyes were streaming. When she attempted to retaliate, she was amazed at how fast he could deftly escape her voraciously darting fingers. But once in a while she got him and he laughed a laugh very unlike his usual melting velvet tones. This laugh was high-pitched and boyish, as if he was once again a young child, unable to contain himself as laughter poured from his mouth like a bubbling mountain stream.
The tickling match continued until both protagonists were completely overcome with the giggles so that they sat with bodies shaking and eyes crying, clutching at their stomachs, still unable to stop the mirth tumbling from their mouths. Like waves on a beach that came and went of their own accord, the laughter ebbed away, then flowed uncontrollably back, and then ebbed away again. Gradually, in their own time, the waves found calm and stillness.
As the last trickles of laughter dissipated, Talas turned to Lilanthro and said, “It is time to leave. Let us thank our good friend here and depart.”
Lilanthro nodded. She ran to the tree and stood just beneath its swaying form. She looked up towards its highest reaches, placed her hands respectfully against its age worn trunk and whispered her gratitude to it. As she turned she saw Talas in stillness, head bowed, in his own silent moment of communion with the tree. And then together they set off through the forest.
They travelled calmly at first, in comfortable, companionable silence. Lilanthro was aware of a lightness in her body as she moved. Gone for the time being were her questions and wildly spinning self. Her mind was still and clear, not fixed on anything in particular, her emotions freely flowing between a gentle contentment and curious alertness to the forest’s energy pulsing into her. She felt centred and calm with her heart open within her.
After they had been walking a short while Lilanthro felt a circulation of energy building within her. Her body began to tingle from her core to her extremities and she had an urge to move more energetically than their walking pace allowed. She sensed Talas’s smile even before she looked at him and knew that he felt her alive exuberance straining to be let out.
“Well, come on then, wild, free Lilanthro. Show me your dance!” He challenged her.
With a carefree laugh, Lilanthro accepted the challenge. In a flash she was off, darting amongst the trees, letting out a joyful cry as she went. Talas walked with calm amusement as Lilanthro spun tricks around him. She leapt gracefully over fallen trees, rocks and other obstacles and curved herself under low hanging branches. She climbed trees like a cat and swung on vines, arcing eloquently through space. She darted suddenly out of sight and reappeared in unexpected places. Her arms carved spirals in the air as she moved, her body undulated serpent like, in and out of every space. She never missed her footing or hesitated for an instant, her feet carried her smoothly, effortlessly from place to place. Lilanthro’s dance combined fluidity with speed as easily as flickering tongues of flames pulsing with heat.
As she moved she started to sing. She called to her friends of the forest. She spoke to the animals and plants in a strange language shared only between them and her. She uttered melodies that echoed the call of birds and sung startling notes that rippled through every leaf on every tree. She spoke and sung to Talas a lilting story of her life in the forest, naming the creatures to him and telling him the secrets of their characters. She wove patterns in the air with her body and her voice, a translation of the forest’s deep energy into human form and expression.
As their journey continued, Lilanthro’s dance became softer. No longer did she leap in total abandonment or play hide and seek with Talas. Every movement became a tender gesture of care and attention. Her body expressed an ever circling flow of beauty combined with strength. Curving protectively inwards, unfolding expansively outwards, spiralling from high to low to high again, drawing energy in to her centre and sending it outwards to touch the world around her. Her hands lingered gently on the trees and plants, her feet trod with respect over roots and leaves. Every note she sang was filled with warmth and emotion. Her melodies flowed soothingly outwards, caressing the forest. She sang a lover’s song of unconditional acceptance and gratitude.
The sun was sinking low in the sky as they approached the village. Talas stretched as he neared his home and stroked his hand delicately over his forehead and cheek. It had been a long day and one in which he had laughed as if he were still a boy but had also been reminded of the long span of years that he had walked the Earth. Lilanthro came close to him and held out her hand. He took it gratefully and she led him the last stretch of the way, sending her energy into him and guiding his tired feet on the path. As they reached the garden Lilanthro let go of his hand so she could run to the gate and open it respectfully for him. He smiled a gentle end of the day smile at her and entered the oasis of his garden. He walked with more care than usual and for the first time Lilanthro could see the age in his body as he moved.
“Ah!” Talas sighed as he sat down on the bench where he and Lilanthro had spent many hours together, “It feels good to be home. Now come and sit beside me Lilanthro and talk to me. I seem to remember promising to help you become more like yourself… I am wondering if I have done so. What kind of creature is Lilanthro I wonder… I think I would like to know her… Perhaps she will be kind enough to share with me her knowledge of who she is…?”
But Lilanthro shook her head. “I will gladly do so Talas, but not today. The day has been long and we are both tired. Let us sleep and tomorrow I will tell you all I have learned.”
“You mean I am tired!” Laughed Talas, “Thank you Lilanthro, you are being kind to an old man who does not have your gift of youth to sustain him. Very well, bed it is, and tomorrow we shall greet the sun together and then you can teach me a thing or two I am sure.”
“Good night Talas, and thank you. May I sleep in your garden tonight in the hammock which you offered when I first arrived?”
“It is always yours Lilanthro, and it will gladly hold you safe till morning.”
With that they parted and each went to their bed, Talas to sleep deeply and hear the voice of home calling him, Lilanthro to dream of tapestries weaving themselves into life, a perfect multicoloured thread dancing a pattern out of which solid forms arose and dissolved away again… A never ending undulating motion like waves upon a beach… Or laughter ebbing and flowing…