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The Sun Shepherdess & the Cloud

A short Summer Solstice story

By Gina C.Published 15 days ago Updated 15 days ago 6 min read
Runner-up in Summer Solstice Challenge
Image created with Midjourney

I wake up today with a flutter of nerves in my stomach. I can’t decide if I should tell Tatǎ Caelum I’m not feeling ready.

Don’t be absurd, Ușoară, I scold myself, today's not the day to be a disappointment.

I take a deep breath and flicker my hand above me, playing with a pattern of clouds in the sky. The white wisps part quickly, obeying my commands. It’s a rather small glint of encouragement, but I’ll take it. I turn to see the rest of the tribe walking to where I stand on the hilltop. Sora Grindinǎ, Sister of Hail, is the first to reach me.

“Are you ready?” She asks.

I offer a faint, undecided smile.

For some reason, she buys it.

I watch as the worry melts from her starry-grey eyes.

We’ve climbed out of our ivy-veiled lair a bit earlier than normal today. Now, we all raise our gaze toward the cloud-mottled dawn. There, nestled between various layers of the apricot-indigo atmosphere, your jets and satellites operate as usual, blinking in the brightening skyscape of fading constellations.

Below us, your sleeping city is full of the voices of mothers, singing to their children:

“Rise and shine, darling, the sun's out.”

As I listen, I yearn to sing along. Then I remember my past - how I used to be like you. I remember why I wandered, and I become affirmed in the purpose of my tribe’s convergence today.

Will I do it? I wonder. Damnit, Ușoară! You didn’t get here to dwindle like a candle in the wind.

Suddenly, Sora Grindinǎ nudges me.

“Look!”

I turn to see Tatǎ Zăpadă, Father of Snow, approaching us. In his hands, he carries the împotriva lunǎ, which represents our departure from the moon and the dream realm.

Watching him carry the sheep-sized statue, made completely of lunar eclipse, the nerves in my stomach flutter once more. There’s no turning back now.

The year is 2074, and our many nights of drinking wine and hallucinating among the distant star spirits have come to a close. Last night was our ultimate attempt at communicating with you, and your kind, through the moon - through your dreams. You never once listened. Now, as we prepare to welcome the Solstice, our blood and hymns will finally have the chance to be delivered through one celestial spirit and one spirit only: the sun.

“Dear Great Empyrean,” I pray, “please, don’t let me make a fool of myself.”

As your village continues to awaken, we are wise enough to know you’re not truly awake. This is why we’ve emerged from our hiding today: to guide you. Our people, the Nubibus Vis - the majority of whom are keepers of clouds and welders of dreams - have one final gift for you.

Will you accept it?

“It is time,” says Tatǎ Zăpadă, breaking the silence. At the sound of his words, we move to our places.

A rush of excitement infuses the air. The moment we’ve prepared for is here.

Deep breath, Ușoară: just like you’ve practiced.

We gather in a circle, holding our thin, muddied hands up to the widening rays of the daylight. With delicate movements, we swivel the air-buoyant molecules of sun between our fingers, allowing them to bounce from our skin’s intricate print-work. Some of the luminous particles take to our epidermises quickly, seeping into our plasma. Others are more stubborn. They leap over the unique markings of our palms, guarding their secrets.

Interpreting the language of the Solstice’s sun is tricky. A certain adeptness must be possessed to succeed. When transcribed authentically, small fragments of light will be enticed to intertwine with the soul. This is the true essence of enlightenment.

Am I doing ok?

As we observe the curious behavior of the solstice-rich sunbeams - as we watch the tiny molecules of light somersault in odd, gravity-defiant motions - we bask in the peer bliss of receiving the warm, energy-charged magic. We savor the rich sense of enlightenment as it seeps into our minds, hearts, and blood. We envision how wonderful it will be to pass this sageness - this wisdom - on to you.

Of course, we can only rightfully take from the Solstice once we’ve first made an offer.

Inside the ivy-laced labyrinth, hesitant to leave his small patch of Eden until his gifts for the ritual are just right, Tatǎ Caelum, Father of Sky, puts the finishing touches on an assortment of small, animalistic figurines, which he’s molded from earth. Each creature has been intricately carved with a special significance in mind. Once properly charged by the Solstice, each tiny creation will fill something empty within you.

I suppose that’s where I come in.

Specially chosen by the înţelept, our elders, to complete a special apprenticeship, I’ve been working in tandem with Tatǎ Caelum in the eighty-nine days since the Great Equinox. Soon, by harnessing the light of the Solstice, I will lift several millennia of subliminal storms from the minds of your kind. Shortly, I shall play the key role in gifting to humanity what my clan has been trying to share with you: the element of innermost light.

I just hope I don’t freeze in the spotlight.

It’s no coincidence I’m the quickest to lure the sunflakes into my keeping. Here for my moral support, my brothers and sisters delight in the sensation of the glimmering particles on their skin, almost as if this is all mere game.

Meanwhile, I take the endeavor more seriously. Cupping specs of the sun’s glistening dust in my palms, I walk them over to a small, half-moon opening in the hut. Then, I funnel the molecules so they filter downward, surrounding Tatǎ Caelum and his sculptures. I watch from the outside as his bald, shiny head reflects their luminescence, and I smile as his small room turns aglow in their wake. We’re so close, I think.

From where I stand on the exterior wall of the lair, I overhear Tatâ Caelum mutter.

“That they may see,” he says. There is a soft tuft of wind that escapes from his lips. The particles drift like dandelion seeds on his breath, then seep, as if they were drops of glowing rain, into the soft clay of the figurines.

“Make no mistake, Ușoară,” Tatǎ Caelum says, “it’s because of you that these creatures will speak to them - not because of I.”

He says this, I know, to boost my confidence. But the fluttering in my stomach returns. That’s because the onus of this ritual - of this day - will soon shift to me. I know that bringing these figurines to life with the sun I’ve captured is only half of my job.

So, I wait to be tested once more. A moment passes. Then another. Then, it happens.

One by one, the animals emerge from Tatǎ Ceulum’s lair. What once were small trinkets are now fully grown creatures - and alive. They’re charged, like batteries, from the Solstice’s light I’ve seized.

First, the polar bear comes - fierce and pearly-white: a symbol of climate change. I stare, disbelieving that I, myself, have caused him to walk, breathe, and growl. I snap out of it, remembering what I must now do.

Because the bear is awake with light - because I am Shepherdess of the Sun - I must guide the bear to you, so you’ll see. So you’ll listen. So you’ll not just talk about eliminating greenhouse emissions - you’ll take action.

Somehow, I get the bear to follow me. I guide him to your waking world, bypassing your dreams. We watch as climate change becomes a reality for you, not just an imaginary figment you ignore. Because you’re now awake and not viewing your surroundings with rose-colored glasses, you see the world for what it’s become. The corals are dying and faded. The forests are burning and no longer green. By the love of the Grand Empyrean, you take action. You become enlightened.

Next, the horse: the symbol of war. Death, by destruction. With a drumming heart, I guide the stallion to your awareness. You awaken to a nuclear nightmare. Your world leaders’ frontal lobes fully develop. Idiotic problems are solved peacefully.

The third animal is the rat, representing hunger and poverty. No coaxing is needed. He enters your reality willingly - your billionaires show compassion and generosity. Love and wealth are spread.

Before the next creature appears, I smile. I then feel the presence of my tribe-siblings around me.

Sora Grindinǎ winks at me, then summons an impressive hail cloud to hover above.

“Take a break,” she says, “let us pitch in here a bit.”

I breathe deeply as she motions above with her hand, then watch the auras of your minds float up toward the sky.

They hover in a beautiful mist of pastel colors before seeping into the cloud.

You’re now enlightened. You’re now uploaded to the collective consciousness.

Rise and shine - are you awake?

Short Story

About the Creator

Gina C.

Twice-published in Vocal's Moment of Freedom Collection:

My Soul of Red

Free Verse

Free-Form poet🧚‍♀️✨

Fantasy writer

Working on my novel & poetry book!

Follow my:

  • Ghosts of Relationships' Past Series
  • Inspirational Series

TT: poetry.in_pajamas

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Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (12)

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran2 days ago

    Wooohooooo congratulations on your win, dear sweet Red Partner! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • D.K. Shepard3 days ago

    Back to say Congratulations on Runner Up, Gina!!

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • So magical and great world-building. Is this the start of a cool fantasy novel!?

  • Liam Storm12 days ago

    Great story and amazing future world building! It's amazing to see what people think the world could look like in 50 years! Congrats on top story, well deserved!

  • L.C. Schäfer14 days ago

    Smashing world building here!

  • Awww, the polar bear, horse and the rat. I wish I could hug all of them! Ușoară is such a beautiful name! How is it pronounce? Your story was extremely powerful and has such a positive aura to it! I loved it so much, my sweet Red Partner! 🥰🥰🥰

  • Harbor Benassa15 days ago

    I love the world you've created! This story really captured my attention. Wonderful work.

  • Cathy holmes15 days ago

    This is fabulous work. Our, how I wish it were real. Well done, my friend.

  • Heather Hubler15 days ago

    Oh, your brilliant mind!! I love this so much!! If only this was a possibility. We desperately need the enlightenment. Fantastic work, my friend :)

  • D.K. Shepard15 days ago

    How wonderfully creative, Gina! This is a gem of a story! Great imagery and a compelling character voice!

  • This is wonderful, love falling into the mysticism surrounding your creation. Definite Top Story

Gina C.Written by Gina C.

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