“I spent the day running through the woods like a wild animal. Being chased by you is the only thing that would have made it more romantic.”
~ Amanda Mosher, Better to be able to love than to be loveable
An ongoing story of self-discovery and love.
BY D. PAUL FONSECA
Through the eyes of Jahl
A noise stirred Micah. He sat up in the dark, his pulse quickened. Something moved off in the distance and out of sight. The ground trembled. Something moved towards them through the forest along the edge of the grassy field. A raucous flutter of flapping wings unmasked a murder of crows. They took flight somewhere unseen. Their beaks screamed at whoever had disturbed them.
"What is it?" asked Jahl, without opening her eyes, still formed as the girl, Evelyn. Her voice came at Micah, soft and sweet. She lay beside him, sprawled on her side in the tall crushed grass at the edge of the field. Her white tee-shirt clung tight to her small, delicate breasts and well-defined rib cage. She rolled over, exposing her bare bottom. They remained camped out beneath the brush at the base of the slope. Dry grasses tangled in her hair. Even though she heard the sounds and felt the vibrations in the ground, she did not yet stir. Something about the sounds felt familiar, though it had been many years.
Evelyn’s form took the boy’s breath away. The light of the moon shined down on the vision of his lover, casting shadow and form over feminine splendor. When Jahl took Evelyn's form, he did not only look like her, he emulated her. He became her. The beast left no trace of himself, save for those times when Evelyn's eyes flashed gold instead of blue. But now, not a single flaw betrayed the shapeshifter, and that weighed heavy on the boy’s heart.
"Something's coming," Micah announced. He pointed towards the disturbance, far down into the lush sloping field. The brush hid them from prying eyes, but whatever moved on them appeared to be heading right for them. He could see the high grasses, beneath the scant moonlight, bend aside by some hidden form. Whatever it was, it then moved steadily up from the field towards them.
Evelyn listened. Micah realized that for a moment, her eyes flashed a change of color. In the darkness, twin flashes of bright gold swirled in her eyes as she gazed beyond him into the distance. She stood up. “It’s Adya.”
The young man peered through the wilderness. Unknowing and unsure, he asked, “Who is Adya?” He became unnerved as Adya came for them, unseen. An immense creature rushed to close the distance between them.
“She is the first. She is a warrior, a goddess and last time I saw her, she was my friend.”
“Should we be alarmed?” He asked.
“I don’t know,” Jahl replied. “The last time I saw her, I was a man.” She chuckled. “Let’s find out.”
Up the slope, a cool, gentle breeze, developed a welcome summer sensation. Jahl took several slow and deliberate steps towards the coming Goddess.
Behind her, Micah scrambled to pull on a pair of shorts. His dark brown eyes searched for a clear image to present itself to him. He saw only the slightest movement in the grass, swishing this way and that, getting closer and closer.
Jahl inhaled the cool air through her nostrils. The sweet fragrance of roses, water and earth filled her with delight. Her senses heightened. She licked her lips and the taste of salt came away into her mouth. She smiled then, knowing she was not wrong. Adya was close, so close she could taste her.
“Adya?” Jahl whispered into the early morning. “I know you are here.” She took another delicate step towards the field. Her tiny frame moved across the grass, step by step. It was then that she realized the air before her flickered. It in a most unusual way, like looking though moving water. Jahl followed the distortion up, into the air above.
Micah startled. He jumped and gasped as Jahl was roughly hoisted into the air. Something unseen had grabbed her around her waist and held her up high. Jahl wriggled, waving her arms, kicking her legs. She writhed above the grass more than ten feet up.
Frantic, Micah searched for a weapon to use against this thing. This could not be the Adya Jahl spoke of.
Jahl tried to push herself free. Using Evelyn's small body Jahl fought the hold of Adya.
Micah, terrified, felt defenseless, helpless to do anything for Jahl. Then a wholly unexpected sound filled his ears: Laughter. Evelyn’s laughter, unmistakable and beautiful, split the air with its piercing warmth. Disarmed, Micah’s jaw slacked while he discerned what was happening. Evelyn’s form wriggled, and she fought off an invisible giant. That much was clear, this thing was enormous.
Jahl remained in the form of Evelyn. Her grin wide as she continued pushing something away with her arms. Her movements resembled rough housing more than life and death combat. She showed no sign of fear or concern. The only thing keeping Micah from attacking was knowing Evelyn could defend herself.
Evelyn’s voice came through the laughter. “Stop!” She yelled out. “That tickles. Stop!” She sat in mid-air. Then suddenly, in one fluid motion, her thin white shirt puffed up around her. It then flew up over her head, and fluttered to the ground. She placed her hands on her hips, and stared ahead before her. “Is that better?” Her mouth moved, mocking the invisible giant. “I can't even see you.”
“I know you, and I cannot see you. Not the real you, Jahl.” A woman's voice boomed from above. Jahl kicked her feet in the air at the giant. The giant said, “My, you have changed.” Jahl stood fast. The giant continued. “Fine, I'll give you something to look at, since you've gone to all the trouble of making yourself all dolled up.
The flickering image holding the shapeshifter materialized into solid form. A sumptuous light skinned woman stood twenty feet tall, holding Jahl one hand. Her long black hair hung back in an enormous braid behind her. Her other hand held a Titan sized spear. There was a powerful statement in the clothes she wore. Heavy royal blue and gold trimmed fabrics surrounded her frame. Micah did not know what to make of her, though her impressive image commanded respect.
Jahl, in Evelyn's form remained defiant. “You may put me down, now,” she said to the giant.”
In response, the large woman picked her up off her palm with another hand, a third hand. She reached around Jahl’s waist. With a fourth hand, she rubbed the round flesh of Evelyn’s bare bottom. The giant cooed and said, “Mmmm, now that is soft.”
Micah had enough of the giant Adya, and her bad manners. “Enough!” Micah stepped out of the brush wearing only his shorts as he beat his bare chest. “Put her down. Now!” The heat of the moment had reached its peak with the young man. He couldn't stand there and watch this giant woman accost Jahl any longer. The woman stopped mid-stroke. She held the shapeshifter up in the air, slowly closing her grip around Evelyn’s hips and shoulders.
The young man had reached his limits of tolerance. "Put her down now." He stepped up to the giant. Jahl looked down on him from high above.
Jahl said, "Micah, it’s okay. I can handle this."
"So, you're the boy who has taken this…” The giant woman looked at Jahl, working out what she would say to describe her. …creatures heart?” She smirked at them both. “Jahl, I would have thought to find you in the arms of someone more suited to your station.” The giant raised a fourth arm to pick up Jahl around the ribs with a thumb and finger around Jahl’s rib cage. Holding her like this left Jahl’s legs dangling. Her breasts protruded, bouncing with youthful plumpness.
To Micah it was unbearable. He trotted up to the giant woman and yelled raged at her. “I said put her down!” He picked up a large rock from the ground and raised it up.
“Surely you realize that this thing is not a woman? Don’t you?” Adya looked at the young man, her eyes squinted and her head cocked to one side.
“I know who Jahl is,” he said. “Now put her down.”
“Micah, don’t.” Jahl implored of the boy. “I’ll shift.”
“No, don’t.” Micah said, unsure of his motives. His voice trailed off.
Adya listened to the exchange between the two. She worked to decipher how honest this relationship was. “You two are something else. You know that?” She set Jahl down on the grass and let her stand up on her own.
Micah ran to her side. Despite the indignity, Jahl remained in the form of Evelyn. She lay captive, completely naked and distressed. She reacted in the way Evelyn would have. Jahl did not break character.
“Are you alright?” The boy asked Jahl.
Immediately, Adya interjected, “Of course he is! He cannot be harmed like this.” The giant leaned down on one knee and put her face up to the pair. Two of her arms pushed their knuckles into the ground holding her up as she leaned in more. With a third hand, the goddess reached into her shirt. She pulled out a brilliant, faceted gemstone of the most beautiful violet.
Jahl retreated, taking a step backwards, away from the giant.
“Jahl, don’t make me use this, let me see you.” Adya held the stone between Jahl and Micah. “Why would you hide from me?”
Instead, Jahl put her hands on her hips and stared at the giant in defiance. Evelyn’s very feminine voice trailed out of her mouth to say “This man is my lover. He is my partner, and I do not take orders from you, Goddess.”
Micah winced. She doesn't need to provoke it, he thought.
Adya leaned between the two. Her eyes shifted from the boy to the girl, and back again. From beyond the giant goddess, a low rumbling sound huffed. The ground vibrated as some other very large being came from behind Adya. First, a huge, furry white paw stepped around the giant’s side. Then another came as the enormous head of a tiger, with ice blue eyes, moved into the mix. Jahl was taken aback, but recovered. She stood her ground. The tiger’s head was so large, it was as tall as Evelyn’s entire body. On bite would be no more than a snack for the beast.
Micah stood motionless. He felt his heart pound in his chest, but the fear of the new beast topped that of the giant he’d been arguing with. He had to trust Jahl.
“You are in love, are you?” Adya smirked at the girl. “Well, that’s different.” The giant reached out one of her many arms and retrieved the shirt Evelyn was wearing. “I knew Pokka was looking for you. He said you’d run away. There was something about a girl you were with.” She gestured to Evelyn’s body. “I can only assume this form is the girl you were with before?”
Jahl nodded. She bowed her head, and tears began to roll down her cheeks, and over her chest. “Her name was Evelyn. She is gone now. She’s… “He paused. “She’s moved on.” Jahl turned and waved Micah over to her. As he took her hand in his, Jahl continued. “Evelyn loved this young man, Micah. Pokka broke his promise to her. He said he would let her go, and he lied.” Jahl took the shirt from Adya’s hand and pulled it on over her head. The token modesty was enough for the giant to cock her head to one side.
“So, you took up with this boy?” The goddess squinted, gazing down at the pair. “Out of what, pity?” She frowned. “I don’t understand.”
Micah tuned his head downward. He searched the tall grasses around Jahl, or rather, around Evelyn’s legs. The light of day loomed in the distant east, though the moon lumbered low on the horizon. Where had the time gone? Micah marveled at the reality before him. He turned his head up to look at the two giants-the woman and the tiger. They hadn’t disappeared as he thought they might. A gentle breeze blew among them.
Evelyn gripped Micah’s hand with force. “Because he is beautiful.” She said. “Because he loved her, a true and genuine love. A love so strong, I could feel it through her. I know she wanted me to stay with him when she was gone. She asked me to stay with him.”
“Where has she gone, exactly?”
“She’s dead!” Yelled Micah. “Alright? She’s dead.” He sat down on the grass, adrift in his own misery.
Evelyn sniffed and said, “She took her life.”
At this the giant stood tall, the tiger backed away in a defensive pose. Then she knelt and put a hand on Evelyn’s shoulder. Adya closed her eyes. A strong wind caught her hair but the goddess’s mind stopped the flow. All became silent. No bird sang, no wind moved, not a sound could dared stir in that moment. The goddess let the pain in the boy's heart flow through her. When she opened her eyes, she said, “You speak the truth.” Then she reached down to kiss the top of Evelyn’s head. “I am sorry for your loss, Jahl.” Then she turned to the young man, and picked him up off the ground, placing him in the palm of one of her hands.
His heart indeed felt broken. She kissed him on the top of his head, like a tiny doll she’d plucked from a shelf. “When I find Pokka next, I will have words with him.” She placed the young man on the ground next to his lover. “I will find Pokka and we will have words.”
Adya turned, disturbing the ground. The earth shook, and then she disappeared into the world in a way only gods can do. The tiger was nowhere. It had disappeared.
Evelyn crouched down beside Micah, quiet and reserved. A warm breeze caressed her slender, bare thighs and reminded her that all she wore was a tee shirt. Beyond the trees a bird chirped, calling out to its mate. The world around them had become mundane once again. Except for the girl who could change shape at will, all was well.
Micah looked in to the eyes of the girl before him. He wondered why it was that she was and was not Evelyn Ashley, the girl from the mall fell in love with when he was fifteen. Though he had not wanted to know how she had killed herself, he felt compelled to discover the truth.
Evelyn wrapped her arms around Micah’s shoulders as he sat on the grass. The awkwardness of her pose, as she bent over him, prompted her to straddle his lap and sit down. The embrace, both intimate and compassionate, fueled the kiss he placed on her lips. Micah knew this was not her, not really Evelyn. But, he could smell her breath, and the soft aroma of the makeup she used on her face. He could feel the illustrious softness of her tiny pink tongue as he licked at it, and kissed her. Nothing on earth was as sweet and soft as Evelyn’s tongue.
“I…” Micah tried to speak. But, she hushed him with more kisses. Soon Evelyn pushed him back, easing him onto the grass in the pre-dawn light. She removed his clothing, and made love to him, pushing aside any questions. This moment belonged to them, Evelyn and Micah… and Jahl.
As they lay in the grass, the sun rose over the hills and light spread across the valley. The trees around them whispered and swayed in the breeze. The sound of birds singing filled up the silence in tiny chirps at irregular intervals. Unknown to the two lovers, a lone observer watched them from across the valley. The pair of brown eyes gazed upon them, eyes which had never seen such sights before. The lovemaking, sure, but the giants who had left, no.
The observer lowered the lenses and reached a hairy hand into his pants pocket to pull out a pen. He then retrieved a small notepad from his shirt pocket and scribbled something onto the paper. He remained hidden behind a large oak tree, careful not to call attention to himself.
Whomever the woman was he was sure that the boy had run away with her. On the radio overnight, he’d heard the APB go out on his police band radio. The boy was a runaway, but the girl, she was not mentioned. She looked older than him, and must be of age, while the boy certainly was not.
The man’s hand shook as he made his notes about where they were, and what he saw take place. Something was not right, and that was obvious. At the moment, the man was questioning his sanity. He tried to draw a sketch of what he saw, the giant woman, and the enormous tiger. The way they were at first invisible and then vanished from sight, that was something he wondered at for the sake of his own sanity.
He put the utensil and paper away, and took up his binoculars to see what else he could fathom. He hated feeling like a voyeur, but it wasn’t his fault they decided to get naked and go at it like animals.
He could just make out the young man, sitting up in the tall, dry grass. But he did not see the woman. Where did she go? He searched the area around them. The distance between him and them couldn’t have been more than fifty yards.
The boy had pulled on his shirt, and some shorts and he moved his lips as though he spoke to somebody unseen. The girl must be lying in the grass, the man thought to himself.
At that moment, the boy got up quickly and jumped up, just as a great horse rose up beneath him, appearing beneath him as if out of nowhere. It was a huge, and beautiful mare. The dark black coat shined in the sunlight, glinting a lush gold undercoat, radiant as could be. Before the man with the binoculars could understand what he was looking at, the horse took off, bolting across the field away from him. The boy yelled a whoop and the animal galloped off, faster than seemed possible.
The man waited. He waited for the woman to show herself. She couldn’t have just vanished. Where did that horse come from?
After twenty minutes, the man grabbed rifle from the tree it leaned against. He walked over, quietly to the area where the two had been. There in the brush, was nothing. No trace of anyone lay behind them. “They had been here!” He shouted. His curiosity grew. He found no impressions on the grass of them, not where they had lay before the giants, and not where the giants had been. It was as if the man had imagined it all. There were no hoof prints, and no trail where the horse had escaped with the boy.
The man spoke to himself in low tones. “You might be losing it, Pete.” He spit on the ground, wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “But that was real.” He pulled out the notebook and opened to the page with the sketch of the boy in the grass. He flipped to the previous sketch, the one with the tiger behind the giant woman. He stabbed a finger at the paper and said. “I’m going to find you.”
First published Thursday, August 10, 2017
Last modified Thursday, August 10, 2017