I dropped the window to my life onto the first dirt of the mountains. A short while after, I searched my pockets, and the terrible realisation dawned: it wasn’t with me. A quiet panic started. As the horror of losing this window settled in, my belly became poisoned with nerves. I backtracked, revisiting the teahouse that serves chai masala tea, and doubling back to that lopsided tree of imperfections. I found the device atop the tree but, to my horror, it was in the clutches of a great eagle of the mountain top.
My eyes looked into the eagle’s, and it returned my stare. Then the eagle did something quite extraordinary. It opened its beak, and the sounds it made were none other than human speech. For the first time, an animal was speaking to me.
‘I say,’ said the eagle, ‘how lucky am I? How lucky am I to stumble upon this silver ingot?’
I tried to reason with the avian stranger.
‘Please, kind sir, the object locked between your talons is not a silver ingot as you say it is. It is, in fact, my only connection to my home. It is my only window to the world I left behind, and to the trials which made me. In a literal sense, it is a part of me. I beg of you, return it please.’
‘No,’ the eagle said. ‘I think not. However, I would like to strike a deal. Find me at the top of Speared Stone. I vow to hand it back to you if you make the journey.’
I watched the great bird flap its swings and soar, the window in its talons. I was now without the window I always relied upon. A world devoid of colour pooled around me, and an unending monsoon clouded my mind. Solitude was my new master.
I moped along a gravel carpet that was a myriad of twists and loops. Sometimes the gravel was lazy, and the carpet would become heavy cobblestone. Eventually I came to a set of stone stairs that lead up a small hill. Stone stairs aren’t a problem for most people, but when they’re abundant over the land, and their height reaches unmeasurable lengths, it’s easy to lose every glimmer of enthusiasm. What was even more foreboding was that I had not a bone of optimism in my being, for it was taken with me in the theft earlier that morning.
Except that it wasn’t that morning. It was two days ago.
The days were slipping away in seconds. I had no recollection of anything but my inner torment. I had left behind the comfort of masala chai tea homes and was now at the mercy of the towering mountains. I stared up at the mountain and imagined a great face. Those eyes opening for the first time, the very motion of their eyelids causing earthquakes, the yawn of their disturbed slumber throwing me back in a great blast of wind, a rocky avalanche. I moped onwards, not daring to imagine what could be lost if the mountains awoke.
I cursed this long and dreadful road as I felt more life leave my body with each step. I was becoming a walking corpse. I would die, frozen over in December, and (if I was lucky) be dug up from the winter permafrost. Strangely, these thoughts of pessimism did not hold me back.
Very soon, those snow-capped peaks of the speared stone came into view, and how lovely they were to see. I didn’t know that two weeks had passed. I was shuffling my boots over gravel and cobble stones all the way.
Time was not a construct but an exception. The world could be bright and full of birdsong, and in the blink of an eye that light would be gone, and the birds would be asleep. The night sky was a pool of sparkling water. I bathed there, floating among the shimmer of starlight, in the lapis-coloured water. A feeling that once consistently prodded me was now defeated by my acceptance of inner peace.
The window, my treasured possession, was there. The eagle dropped it by my side.
‘You have passed the test. You may have this back.’
I looked at the window for a moment. In that blissful second of starlight swimming I had grown, moving past my desire for the glass and frame, where my past was held. I had no use for it anymore.
The eagle departed, in much the same style it did after our first meeting. It disappeared toward those snowier mountain peaks that brushed the cosmos.
Now I am home. The window I once cherished is still lying there, in that pool of stars, locked away. I am not sure how much time has passed between then and now. What is clear is that I am not the person I was before that daring journey. I have never again had a need for any window.
I can see through my eyes and beyond.
Author: Lachlan aims to convert his experience of existence into writing. For Lachlan, the most entertaining thing about being a creative writer is the ability to become multiple things at once. He hopes you come away from his work feeling connected with the universe, and indulging a stronger sense of optimistic nihilism.
Artist: Yongzheng Wang is a visual arts student from China, currently studying at QUT and living in Brisbane, specialising in traditional painting such as classical oil painting and academic sketching. While studying art in China, he won a first prize in landscape drawing in institute. He is fluent in Chinese, French, English and Italian and has a good knowledge of Western art theory.
Editors: Willow Ward and Hannah Vesey