Gigas’ twelve foot frame shuffles out of the cave, into the dying of the sun, illuminating every hair on his bare back into bristling thornlike fibers. His footsteps shake the ground tiredly. Just as I feel now, waking from blissful sleep.
From my place in the cave, behind a wall constructed of woven tree trunks, I watch Gigas’ massive tree-like form disappear into the sea of wide banana leaves. His ugly, knobby head and hairy torso go first, then the back of his furry calves, and lastly the chapped bare heels with the dirt ingrained into the lines running across them. I sigh as I watch him go; although he treats me as well as he can, I don’t enjoy his company.
By Sunlight, Gigas smells. The whole cave reeks of his pungent stench. His body odor is distinct and rather obscure, yet hard to describe. It is somewhat like damp, rotting cloths—of things dead. Although I have lived with Gigas for many bloomings of the flowers, I still can’t get used to it.
The sky fades darker into shades of amber and fuchsia, colors mingling together like hot and cold water. Wavy rays of mixed light sink together, away into the land of night, as the stars poke through the dusky sky and reclaim their rightful reign. The banana and palm trees are black shadows against the sky. Their outlines fade until they dissolve into the dawning night.
It seems strange that while we wake and go about our normal nighttime activities, all the other creatures are asleep. Once I asked Gigas about this, but he said we are Cimmerian creatures: we live in the dark. I don’t understand why I think it is strange. I just do, although I’ve lived most my life like this. Where I came from is also unknown, and Gigas is mysteriously unforthcoming about this. However, I do have one tie from my life before. It is the language I speak. Gigas speaks in grunts and throaty sounds, and I can also understand this language. Gigas tells me only that he has been with me for nine bloomings of the flowers now, and when he found me I was already mostly the height I am now. I have continuously wondered why I have never grown as tall as Gigas; I am maybe five and a half feet tall. I only wish I knew more.
My name is GuhnOooUhnOh, which is Gigas’ language for Little Star Eyes.
Gigas reappears just before the morning births the sun, slung over his knotted shoulder an giraffe, which is a fifteen foot tall orange animal with a long neck and dark brown splotches all over its sides, a teeny little thin tail with a tuft of hair at the end, and two horns between its erect ears.
It is very dead. One eye dangles from a thick nerve––the optic nerve, Gigas says––and dark blood crusts down its long neck, the source being a wide gash right across a brown coat marking.
Gigas looks at me and explains to me the biology behind the kill, although I have heard it many times. Yet still, as always, it calms me down. I try to whisper the words in my own language before he speaks it aloud in his.
As he hefts it from his shoulder, he says, “This is why you need me.” He grins.
I watch him methodically skin the animal and prepare some food for him and myself. Giraffe is quite delicious, prepared properly with the spices Gigas collects, roasted over a fire fueled with one large banana tree. Gigas says the nutrients in the banana tree help with life in the blood, as well as add a lovely aroma to the cave.
As much as Gigas tries to be kind to me, as much as the knowledge he shares with me is rich, and still yet as much as he genuinely cares for me, Sunlight, I am lonely.
Whether there are more of me, wise Gigas says, snuffling around the cooking meat, he does not know.
Gigas hands me a slab of meat which I hungrily devour from my ten-by-fifteen enclosure on the ground. The enclosure is very important, because without it wild animals will gulp me down. Gigas built it himself, and nothing can break into it.
I lick the juice that runs down my hands. Meanwhile Gigas picks up the hollowed-out tree stump that serves as my toilet between his colossal thumb and forefinger. He empties it outside, flaring his cavernous nostrils and snorting.
I finish licking my hands and Gigas gives me a handful of aloe, and a vessel of water. I rub the slimy, clear aloe over my face and neck and arms, then rinse it off with water. I pick up a comb of polished wood that Gigas cut for me and rake it through my long hair. My hair is the color of sunset on cinnamon bark, and Gigas compliments it regularly.
Showing his massive, crooked teeth Gigas grins as I untangle my hair with the comb. His teeth are clean because he scrubs them three times a day, or else they will decay. He values his health with intensive care.
After I finish combing my hair, Gigas hands me a toothbrush and I scrub away at the build-up on my teeth and tongue.
Yawning, I slip into a nest of animal furs that Gigas gathered for me to rest in. The sun is already partly in the sky; it is time to sleep. Warmth from the large fireplace gently persuades my eyelids closed, and combs out the rhythm of my breathing. Unconsciously, I think, Nothing can be better than this calm.
It seems as if I blink and it is time to start the day. Shuffling to my enclosure, Gigas hands down a tub of water with a calloused thumb and forefinger, along with a cleanser made of aloe and nectar. I do not want to bathe now, not now when I am warm and cozy in the furs. The atmosphere is not pleasant as it is frigid and biting at my tender skin. I bury myself under the furs. Reluctantly I hear Gigas’ morning call, deep, then high and long, arising from his stomach through his vocal chords. I knew it was coming. Groaning, I reluctantly throw aside the blankets and head to the water.
I hiss through my teeth, almost in pain, for the water temporarily shocks me to the core. Cold flashes and tingles through my nerves. Quickly, in order to avoid the majority of discomfort, I scrub fast and hard with the cleanser, splash my face and hair with the crystal-cold water, and instantly I am fully awake. Stepping out of the tub, I close my eyes and accept the drying cloths Gigas drops down to me. I sigh contentedly as I rub my skin and normal circulation is restored to the capillaries of my dermis, spreading heat to every inch of me. I stretch my neck, reach high with my arms, twist my back and bend down to get the kinks out of my hamstrings and calves. Gigas wraps me in a freshly washed and dried fur tailored to fit my body. This one is my favorite, because the pattern of the soft white hide alternating with black scaly one contrasts appealingly to the eye.
Gigas carefully leans over my enclosure and picks me up in the palm of his rough, calloused hand. I cling tightly to his fingers, which are as wide as my legs, hugging them with my entire body. He sets me down on a little shelf chipped away in the rock wall of the cave, and gives me my breakfast in a hollowed-out, halved coconut shell.
My morning meal is the flesh of the orange mango fruit, sweet yet wake-up-your-mouth sour, and firm. Its thin fibers wedge their way between my teeth, but it is worth picking all of it out to experience its delectable flavor. There is flower nectar drizzled on it, so it is sticky sweet and delicious. I take large bites out of the mango until it is finished, even licking the shell clean of nectar and its starchy sweet orange-colored juice. At the corner of the shelf is a bucket of water that Gigas replaces every day. I dip my hands through the smooth surface of the clear water and rinse the stickiness from my hands. After dunking my face in, I dry myself with my hands and hair.
Gigas hovers over me, laughing deeply and shaking the air with his voice, as he gnaws on a leg of meat. He reaches into the shelf and pulls me out, taking me with him into the awesome night.
I stare, mesmerized, at the beautiful sky. It is black as ink, but it glimmers so brightly. Little pinpoints of light dot the sky, as if some very great being sprinkled glowing pollen over the ceiling of the world. The lights shine as clear as the ocean waves, bright as a piece of polished coral, shiny like a fly’s compound eye, and glittering like a serpent’s scale. Gigas calls them the stars.
As he holds me, he points out the star pictures, the constellations. I feel the night wind whip my hair into my face, and fill my lungs with clean, pure air. The billowing wind seems to probe down to my very soul, exposing everything I am. I feel so small, insignificant, yet free––it is an exhilarating feeling.
I hold on to Gigas’s shoulder as we plunge deep into the palm forest to find some game. As I hear an animal’s soft breathing arise from the short, squat bushes, Gigas’s shoulder muscles tighten in anticipation below his tough, tanned skin. Not a cry stirs the darkness, as Gigas’s sure spear pierces the ibex’s soft hide. The tall, scratchy grass is stained by a rush of warm darkness that issues from the animal’s gaping wound. Singing wind closes the bloodshot eyes of the twitching ibex, and although I feel sorry for it, I know this is a part of living.
The wind slackens to a calm, barely noticeable breeze, and the stars blink off one by one. Soon the inky purple darkness twists gradually into a shade of grey.
Gigas helps me to the ground, and bends down. He gathers up the kill into his burly arms, as blood drips down his stomach, down onto my head and in my hair. Some gets into my mouth, stinging my lips and tasting sharp and bitter. Suddenly I am tired. So tired.
A gold shaft of light pierces the sky pink. The brightness blinds me, yet enthralls me; I want more of it. Every leaf and plant gleams auburn in the sunrise, as blooming flowers take on a vibrant, shocking color more full and beautiful than ever before. Gigas is grunting in pain as the sun climbs higher and higher, his breath hissing between his teeth raggedly. Frenetically, blood jets through his veins, bulking up the vessels under his neck, as his stalactite canines protrude between his gaping lips. Terrified and highly sharp, a scream escapes the ivory fence of his teeth. I grimace and cover my ears as we stumble back into the cave.
I watch the beautiful light shrink to a narrow shaft, then disappear altogether, as Gigas quickly rolls the stone over the cave’s entrance. I want the light. I want it. It seems right.
My hair is sticky with ibex blood, and I stand on my little shelf, not realizing I am crying till Gigas stops groaning and rubbing his eyes. I reach unconsciously for the cave opening, for light, for freedom, for where I belong.
We are Cimmerian creatures, Gigas tells me. I am not.
Sunlight, I feel so out of place.
When Gigas sets me down in my sleep place after washing me off, my eyelids dip closed. I let the light of the dreamworld envelop me.
I’m plunged into the dreamworld, and everything is a whir of colors and shapes and places; my mind is disoriented. Suddenly everything stops and I’m in the cave with Gigas. But my safety enclosure is gone and there’s a lion at the mouth of the cave, growling, showing a set of four marble-white, shining canines. I’m screaming but no sound comes out; I feel I am going insane. Gigas is stock still, like a stone boulder, unable to save me or even himself as the lion grows closer. A wall of translucent, smooth stone, like petrified water, drops in front of the lion. Gigas’ lips move vaguely, and suddenly he shrinks to a little over my height and his features have changed somewhat to a pleasant, handsome face. His hand fits perfectly in mine, and our fingers are intertwined. He points at the lion, safely away from us behind the see-through wall, with his free hand.
My lips form a foreign word.