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The Legend of Sia – Chapter 3

August 31, 2010
The Legend of Sia - Chapter 3

The Legend of Sia - Chapter 3

“Argh!” cried Sia, flinging herself to the ground in frustration. She’d come to the end of yet another path that had petered out into nothing.

For weeks now it had been the same story. Sia would see a path that she thought looked promising, she’d follow it for a while, and then it would either turn into bleak, impassable territory, or it would simply disappear.

That wasn’t all.

The tom yum soup had kept her sustained for a while, but she’d consumed the final sip over a week ago. Now she survived on what she could forage – and, while there was plenty around, Sia found that it unaccountably varied each day.

One day she might find a fruit that she thought was delicious and sustaining; the next day it would be too bitter for her to swallow. Another day a gurgling stream tasted as sweet as lemonade; the next it would leave a rotten, metallic taste in her mouth.

Sia rolled onto her back and sighed.  How long could she carry on like this?

Her favourite time was at night.

Initially, she slept out of habit curled up on her side, her face pressed against the ground. But on the eighth night after leaving the city, a giant Moth had fluttered down and whispered into her ear:

“You’ll never find inspiration staring at the ground all the time. Look up and discover your dreams.”

Sia had turned over, following the Moth’s trajectory up into the night, and gasped. The City smog had always hidden the night skies from view; but now, in the clear expanse of freedom, she saw the twinkling stars above her, paving a shimmering path to infinity.

She fingered her own star-shaped peg and imagined its cousins above as great sparkling crystal balls, each foretelling the unique story of one individual below on earth. She wondered which one belonged to her.

From that night onwards, she always fell asleep facing the sky. And she would dream the same dream.

She would be walking through her very own giant crystal ball. And she would come to a White Closet. Sia knew that the White Closet contained her future. With tentative fingers, she would reach forward and pull its doors open.

And out would fly a myriad of bright stars, blinding in their brilliance, which surrounded her and swept her up into the sky with them, higher and higher and higher.

And she would wake, and smile.

Lying at the end of the path, Sia was wondering what to do next, when she heard a rustle in the long grass nearby. She held her breath.

Was this a friend, or foe? Someone who could point out the right path, or someone who would drag her back to the City of Bureaucracy?

I’ve come too far to run, she decided, grimly. Keeping perfectly still, she listened to the rustling getting closer and closer.

And then, she pounced.

Leaping into the grass with a wild yell, Sia grabbed blindly with both hands and lifted her struggling trophy high into the air in triumph – and curiosity.

It was a huge, shaggy ball of white, fluffy fur.

“Oi! Let go of my ears!”

A ruby eye glared balefully at her from the centre of the ball of fur. Sia squealed and dropped it in surprise.

“What are you?” she asked.

The furball picked itself up and brushed its long white hair down in indignation.

“I take it you ain’t never caught a rabbit before, then?”

Sia looked uncertain. The furball didn’t look like any rabbit she’d ever seen. She thought back to a storybook that her mother had read to her as a child.

“Are you the White Rabbit?”

The rabbit snorted. “I’m not just a white rabbit, darling. I’m a White English Angora Rabbit.”

The rabbit flicked its head back proudly – for there actually was one buried in the fur – and lifted its nose high in the air. Fur flopped back over its eyes.

“You could do with a haircut,” Sia observed.

Inhaling sharply, the rabbit drew itself up onto its hind legs.

“Do you mind? “ it thundered. “English Angoras are the only rabbits to have hair covering their eyes. That doesn’t mean I need a haircut – that means I’m special.”

“Sorry,’ mumbled Sia.

The rabbit dropped onto its forepaws again. “I’m groomed twice a week and I’m shorn every season. That’s plenty of hair care for your average metrosexual bunny. Now, do you have any lettuce?”

“No, I don’t,” said Sia. “Sorry Mister… Rabbit… Er, what’s your name?”

The rabbit shook his fur out grandly. “I am the Exceedingly Honourable Sir Macleod Bradley,” he announced with a flourish. “But you can call me MB.”

Inadvertently, Sia chuckled. “That’s a pretty big name for a rabbit,” she said.

MB twitched his nose with irritation. “Well, excuse me, but ‘Spirit of Independence and Adventure’ doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, either. Anyway, you’re asking all the wrong questions.”

“How did you know my…” started Sia, then thought better of it. “Where am I?”

“You’re in the Wilderness of Confusion, of course,” said MB, ”but that’s not the right question, either. The question is not: where are you? The question is: where are you going?”

Sia flopped to the ground once more, opened her mouth and started to wail.

“I don’t know where I’m going! My compass is useless without a map. And nothing’s what it seems to be. The paths keep changing, or disappearing. One day I find food that I like, the next day I hate it. And I don’t, I don’t know…”

She paused, sniffed loudly, and sighed. “What do I want?

Macleod Bradley broke off from scratching delicately behind his ear. “Finally, a decent question!” he exclaimed. “Now think about it. What do you want?”

Sia pondered for a few minutes. MB yawned, whisked a tiny hairbrush out from beneath his fur and started combing his front paws.

“I want to… create,” said Sia, slowly. “To do something meaningful, that expresses me. Something good; no, something great. Something… gorgeous.”

“Well, you’re on the right track,” said MB, still combing. “Although if all you’re looking for is ‘gorgeous’… But I guess that’s what happens when you’ve got that thing hanging off you.”

He extended a be-groomed paw towards Sia’s purple pumps, where for the first time she spotted the strand of cobweb that the Guardian had attached to her shoelace.

“What’s that?” she wondered aloud.

MB sniffed. “Looks to me like you’re still tied to Conformity,” he said. “If you can just bring yourself to cut that final thread, you’ll really be on the road to adventure. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” he added, rising to his paws, “I’ve got to get to the farmers’ market before they run out of carrots.”

“But, wait!” cried Sia. “I still don’t know where I’m going!”

MB smiled. “Ask your Belly Button,” he said.

“Er… What?” asked Sia, wondering if she’d heard correctly.

The rabbit sighed. “Haven’t you learned yet? Your gut always knows which way to go, even when your mind doesn’t. Start listening to your belly. It does more than digest food, you know.“

And, with a hop that was surprisingly agile for such a hefty furball, MB vanished.

Sia pondered the rabbit’s words for a moment; then she lifted the cobweb tied to her shoelace and bit it sharply between her teeth. The slender thread separated, dissolving into silvery dust between her fingers.

She brushed herself down and picked up her compass. Then, pulling up her top, she rather self-consciously addressed her stomach:

“Er… Belly Button? Which way should I go?”

And she watched in amazement as her Belly Button pursed up its lips and replied:

“Go West.”

“Oh. Right then. West it is,” said Sia. And, with a tap of the compass, she was on her way once more, to a place that her brain knew nothing about, but that her gut could feel was waiting for her to discover.

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