How many years had they been married? Abbas sighed. He couldn’t remember. His wife had always taken care of the details—anniversaries, birthdays, and celebrations of all kinds. He had always been too busy. Mirage rather than marriage demanded his unfailing obsession.
The town folk bowed their heads and shuffled their feet in shy obeisance as the funeral procession marched passed. His son, Omega, strode at the front helping to bear the slight weight of the petite coffin. The shoemaker, furrier, carpenter and other inhabitants marched in a stately manner to the Resting Field.
Flowers bloomed in glorious array; Abbas had made sure of that. Color splashed against the horizon from simple white daisies to blood-red roses. Though there had been a murmuring among the children at the sight of spring blooms in the middle of winter, their parents had sense enough to hush the little ones and remind them that Abbas could do what other mortals could not. He was their father, after all. And today they must bury their mother.
After the intoned words of blessing upon her spirit, which everyone trusted to the outer limits of their imaginations, a wailing chant set them into mournful retreat. Abbas stood alone by the stone slab engraved with her name: Mother. It was her vocation and her title. Even Abbas called her Mother in the intimacy of their chamber. She was, above all things, a giver of life and love.
Omega stepped to his father’s side, and the two stared in silence at the grave. A red bird burst from the woods and soared into the noon sunshine. Omega lifted his tear-stained eyes and gazed in wonder. “I imagine she flew to her rest—as happy to go as to stay. She was always a cheerful being.”
Abbas glanced at his son. “We grieve, nonetheless.”
Omega nodded. “Yes, but perhaps we should do more. We ought to bear testimony to her spirit somehow.”
Abbas shrugged and turned, his body hunched and his gaze blank. “I bore little testimony to her while she lived. I hardly—”
Omega grasped his father’s long, flowing sleeve and halted him in his tracks. “But that’s not true. You adored her. You fulfilled her every wish.” Omega threw back his head and closed his eyes to the burning sun. “It was I who tore her heart, always racing about the universe, chasing every passing fantasy, leaving her to hug vaporous memories of my childhood and those who passed beyond.”
Abbas placed a warm hand on his son’s shoulder. “You were her passion. I loved her, but Mirage and world-making were my chosen professions. It seems we three, despite our mighty powers, have been little more than star-crossed lovers.”
A large, muscled man with thick, brown hair dressed in a jerkin worn over a black, cotton tunic strode forward and bowed with a hand clasped over his heart. “My lord, the townsfolk have set the repast in the main hall and await your arrival.”
Abbas nodded in dignified acceptance, and the man turned to his next duty.
Omega stroked his chin with the glimmer of a smile. “Father, I have a magnificent idea! Mother enjoyed my stories of Newearth and—”
“One village is enough, son.” Abbas marched at a quicker pace toward the lofty castle on the hill. His boots left no print on the rocky road.
Omega squared his shoulders as a light flared in his eyes. He hustled alongside. “She thought that the universe would be much improved if there were more places like Newearth—”
Abbas stopped suddenly. “You want to introduce other species—here? Do you realize what that would entail? The shifting of populations and the destruction of their native culture!”
Omega laughed. “But it would be a challenge. Medieval Oldearth has its limitations—as well you know. We could remake it, completely fresh, in a new century with a variety of life forms. Mother enjoyed a scene I once brought of a small farming town with a vibrant population—”
Abbas waved his hand toward the little village nestled against the hill. “And what would you do with this population? Mirage is the only world most of them have ever known.”
Omega strode to the gate where an elderly woman in a long, homespun dress curtseyed in formal recognition of her Master. He clasped her wrinkled hand and gazed into her eyes. “Martha, dear, what would you say if I wanted to bring new life into this old, barren village? Would you support me?”
The old woman gazed back with devotion. “We would do anything you ask, for you are our Lord. You can do no wrong.”
Omega hugged her frail shoulders and led Martha toward the open door and the lighted hall filled with tables loaded with food. “You do me great honor, my friend. And I’m sure it would please Mother. We must honor her memory with a new direction, a new life.” Omega charged ahead, leaving his father on the threshold.
Abbas lifted his eyes to the sparkling, blue sky and shrugged. “He is your son as well as mine. What would you have me do?”