The creature standing next to me was beautiful enough to distract me- if I hadn’t been overwhelmed by the simple fact that I was…well, dead. So I stuck with my question.
She laughed. I don’t know what species she was. Heck, I don’t even know if she was a species, but she was beautiful, feminine in demeanor, and laughing. I turned a shade of red that I probably couldn’t have managed when I was alive. I stuck with my question though.
“Silly boy, God doesn’t have Green Acres- as far as I know, He still lives over in the Believers section surrounded by his admirers. This is Ultimate Thule and where it is- is up to you.”
I knew I could talk. I had asked a question after all. But now I tried really hard to get my tongue to do something other then press itself against the roof of my mouth as my brain spun uselessly against any form of coherent thought. To no avail.
The Creature, whoever she was, whatever she was, stroked my hair with one hand. That alone startled me. Oh sure, I liked the caress- as it took me back to the women in my life who had played with my hair, tangling it in their fingers like some kind of treat. But I hadn’t had hair in three decades, unless you count the hair on my back, ears, or nose, which (I am fairly certain) would have made a splendid throw rug.
Yet, here she was stroking long blonde hair that came to my shoulder. In life, I was a redhead, a red that was closer to orange than ruby- and wasn’t as much hair, as thatch. Her other hand (when I say hand, I don’t mean a HUMAN hand)was drawing little Celtic designs on the back of my palm.
No big deal, you might say. I would have to disagree. Sure the long blonde hair might be seen as attractive, maybe even appealing- but what would you think of the back of your palm being stirred like oil on water in a puddle, by a finger (Okay, not a HUMAN finger- but a definite sound substitute). That’s right, stirred.
Her finger was making designs in my skin that flowed and ebbed like the oil rainbows on a puddle. Except when she lifted her finger- well, the designs locked into place. I was becoming a living Rune, and it ruined my sense of self and place.
She must have noticed the look on my face as I stared at the designs on the back of my palm, and probably noticed that I hadn’t answered her answer either. My tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth- defiant to the last. It wasn’t going to say a darn thing until my brain stopped spinning like an unchained bicycle sprocket.
“It’s okay. You are in Ultimate Thule.”
(Her smile made her a very beautiful woman, but she wasn’t. She was a creature. Never forget that, I couldn’t.)
Finally, my brain stopped rotating long enough for me to sit up. I was sitting on grass. Soft, friendly, happy (don’t ask me how I know, I don’t know) grass. It was a good thing it was soft. For one look at it made me fall back to the prone position. Why?
Well, the grass was blue. It was alive. And it winked at me.
My brain decided to go spin again. My tongue stayed safe enough, glued to the top of my mouth like it was.
The Creature - as pretty as she was- and she was pretty; got a sharp edge to her tone:
“You have hurt the grasses feeling. You apologize right this minute. Here it is holding you up, giving you comfort, and happy to chip in, and you faint when you see it? I think you may have hurt its feelings. Now …apologize.”
I did. My tongue just got tired of waiting for my brain to come up with any response at all. My tongue surprised me with its eloquence…and the touch of sincerity. I was quite pleased with it. The beautiful creature smiled at my words, and the grass bowed gently.
I told the grass that I had just died a few minutes ago, woke up beside this beautiful creature, laying on grass that cared and waved. Could it please excuse me for being overwhelmed. I guess it was the right thing to say.
Because this time, the grass under my back, neck, and head, grew long and strong. Pushing me back to a sitting position. I thanked it.
My brain spun again when thousands of tiny voices came from all the blades of grass under and around me:
My tongue - going rogue - answered for my almost useless brain:
“Thank- you. You all are very kind. I am pleased to meet you.”
The Creature, and she was a Creature, beamed at me. As beautiful and pretty as she obviously was- it was her being that was overwhelming me with attraction. I think…well, if my brain would work, that I might be falling in love.
She spoke as if she heard my thoughts.
“Oh. Of course you are falling in love. That is why I am here. Nobody comes to Ultimate Thule to travel alone. That would be Silly. “
The way she said “Silly” made me think it started with a capital “S”- and was a definite bad thing to be.
My tongue, which was doing an admirable job of replacing my brain, continued on making sense- at least to the creature.
“Why would it be Silly to be in Ultimate Thule…alone?’
This time I am fairly certain it was I who looked Silly, and not the Idea.
“Because this is Ultimate Thule!”
Spoken as if that is all the answer needed. The blue grass did not help much, as I could feel thousands of little chuckles under, around, and near me. Like giggling lapping up against bare skin. Not unpleasant, just different.
She must have seen my confusion, or read my thoughts, or just felt pity on me, because she spoke to me as if I was a child. (I was not a child, but doggone it, I was an infant. A new infant, in a new life. A baby in all but size, shape, and brain…although my brain still had not caught up to my tongue. I was getting more than willing to let my tongue do all the talking.)
This time she was smart enough to ask me a Question.
“Do you know what Ultimate Thule means?’
“No. I never heard of it. “
If you think grass giggling under you feels a bit strange, try picturing thousands of tiny gasps, with itty bitty hands flying up to cover their mouths- just like the gasp and hand cover that the admittedly beautiful creature was doing.
“Never heard of Ultimate Thule?”
Did you know that “incredulous” is an emotion, a feeling, and an expression? It is, at least on her...and the blue grass.
I felt the grass lowering me slowly to my previous prone position. I felt one of the creatures long lovely curved and shapely arms, slowing my downward process by gently lowering me to the comfort of the blue living grass with her arm under my back. Together the blue living loving grass, and the stunning creature that I was beginning to adore- floated me to the ground. Again.
I fainted this time, in complete agreement with my brain - it was just to much. For when I said “No”, the entire meaning of Ultimate Thule appeared in my head, as one gigantic thought with all the nuances of every definition about Ultimate Thule arranged in neat columns, linked by mind mapping yellows, blues, greens and reds that build a spider web of content into something so far beyond comprehension, that I had to borrow some of the creatures thought, and quite a bit of the blue grass to fit in my own head.
I know new what Ultimate Thule meant, what is was, and where.
It is the regions left unexplored in life, to remote to ever arrive at. But here, in the Afterlife, dead as the proverbial doornail, Ultimate Thule reigns supreme. And that is why nobody comes alone. I had the creature (or she had me- I was never quite sure which) to go explore Ultimate Thule with. For what is the good of seeing unknown unexplored regions to remote to be gotten to easily, if you don’t have someone with you to share the awe?
It didn’t bother me that the creature pulled me to my feet with what wasn’t really a hand, but was slender, warm, comforting and welcome. It didn’t bother me that the grass under me cheered when I finally gained my feet. It didn’t even bother me that my brain was now (once again) on speaking terms with my tongue.
No. What bothered me was this:
I had never heard of Ultimate Thule.
But it had heard of me.
Hand in hand (okay, it wasn’t a HUMAN hand- but it was a loving hand, and it belonged holding mine) we left to the wishes of thousands of blades of blue grass: living, loving, caring, happy, blue grass. All of the stalks waving gently as we headed up the hill, some using tiny hands to wipe a tear or two away.
We turned at the top of the hill to wave one last time. When we turned back, we had our first kiss. Okay they weren’t really HUMAN lips, but they were soft, pillowy, willing, and loving. And that was good enough for me.
The sign at the top of the hill waved as we went by.
I read it out loud, and waved back at it: which made the Creature reach over with her other hand (Okay, it wasn’t a HUMAN hand, but it was a universal sign of humanity) and squeeze my bicep. I had made her happy…er…happier.