Gigas awakes as soon as the last shade of purple-red disappears from the never-ending coal-black sky. I watch him as his earth-shaking snoring ceases and he licks the dried drool from the corners of his mouth. Groaning, he stumbles out into the dark. Several minutes later he reappears, wet from his wash in the waterfall cauldrons.
He leans over and stares at me from above; seeing I am awake, he plucks me from the sleep place. Not uncarefully, but still roughly. I bite my lip to keep from crying, because my emotions are still in a turmoil. Gigas places me in a tub of water, which is to him like a cup. He splashes me and rinses me till I am refreshed and cleansed, then plops an animal skin to dry myself with over my head. I cry as I dress myself in the garments that Gigas sewed for me. I cry because I wonder how a being like me would wash me. I finish dressing, comb my hair slowly, and rub away the tears on my clothes.
Gigas gives me some cold aloe, “Your eyes,” he explains in his guttural language. I raise my hands to my eyes. They are hot and swollen.
I don’t think Gigas notices I have been crying. Even if he did I’m not sure he would mention it. Would I want him to comfort me anyway? I inquire this of myself, laughing coldly inside. I’m not sure if I even want him to know what I am thinking about.
That is one thing that is mine and mine alone…my thoughts.
As we proceed with the day by scraping away the dust and cobwebs from the cave with a bristly branch, I feel more distant from Gigas. Darker. Older. Alone.
It gives me a certain thrill, an almost selfish fulfillment of desire, to be alone in myself. I don’t speak to Gigas the whole day. Or the next week.
And he doesn’t care.
Finally, I can’t stand it anymore. At the end of the week, when the sun begins to rise, I scream. I yell at him, “Don’t you ever understand what it is like to be alone, and empty? Don’t you understand?”
Gigas stares at me blankly, with the expression of an animal just before it dies. My mind computes, slowly and stupidly, that I am speaking in my own language. I begin trying to say it in his language, but stop abruptly, realization dawning on me.
There are no words for alone and empty in his way of communication.
I turn away, falling to my knees as tears tickle coldly down my chin, and let sleep overcome me.
I can’t see. Everything is blinding white. Then the lightness is penetrated by a faint grey line, and the shape of a person like me appears vaguely, like the shadow of a fish on the bottom of a stream. The light dies down to a comfortable level, and I am looking into the eyes of a being my size and my race. Masculinity defines his face, outlining his firm jaw and enhancing his eyes. His eyes. How alive they are, irises pure icy blue, with thin, narrow spokes of grey dancing about the dark-as-night pupils. They penetrate my heart deeply and seem to have a life of their own. The person whirls around, laughing, and enters a swarm of beings.
I look around me and see more people. Of every width and height and color, but still comfortably between five and six feet. I take in the vivid sight, the distinct smell . . . it is almost overwhelming, but I am happy, so happy. A being calls sharply, “Cassie Baby!” And a familiar face bobs in front of mine. She clasps my hand and another person, a familiar person, grasps the other hand and I look into his familiar face. Then their beaming eyes grow brighter and brighter till I am enveloped in white light, then everything is shining whiteness, like a colorless winter sky. Then everything explodes like a pressurized clay jar: a split second of glint and glare, color and crystal––then blackness. A universe with no stars. I stare at nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. For too long to count, there is nothing. Gradually a red glow seeps into the nothing, and heat along with it, growing stronger and stronger . . .
Until I awake. I turn over, too tired to cry, and gasping for breath. I see that the stars are out through the mouth of the cave, and Gigas has prepared a fire in the opening. He is roasting ibex, my favorite meat. The lightly charred, stomach-churning smell wafts over to where I lie, but I’m not really hungry.
Reluctantly I take a few bites, because Gigas wants me to. I think I have never disagreed aloud with Gigas, because I wouldn’t dare to risk what will possibly happen. I gag on the meat but swallow it down with a choke. I do whatever Gigas wants, but there is still an ember of fight left in my soul. All that is left in me is curiosity searching for answers to the question, “Are there more of my kind?”
Gigas tells me to wash. I wash, but think. Gigas suggests we go outside. I follow, but think. He also decides to hunt for more meat as the months go by, and I wait for him. But I think. Think inside my mind and let myself imagine.