The Egg

Voice Card  -  Volume 19  -  John Card Number 2  -  Mon, Mar 18, 1991 1:28 AM

This is ONE OF 2 responses to VC 18 John 2 ("Melanie's Tale")...

[This is part eleven of "Dolphin & Melanie"]

At first Mealanie did not know what to do with her egg. It was awkward to carry, but she was afraid ever to leave it hidden, for fear someone else would find it and steal it away. Sometimes she would wear it between her breasts, like a broach or the pearl of a necklace. But in this position the whole ocean could see the egg, and she began to feel that it should be hidden, like a secret wish. So at last she took to concealing it in her hair, just behind her left ear. Her hair was so dark and lush that the egg stayed hidden, and rode there serenely, as the moon rides through the night.

It was clearly a thing of great magic. For hours on end Melanie would hold it up to her eyes and see many odd things. Sometimes she saw herself, swimming through coves and reefs that were strange to her. And sometimes the phantom of the egg, as Melanie called the little girl, would appear and press her tiny lips against the inside of the shell. They could not really talk, but they could sense one another, and while the egg was with her, Melanie never felt alone.

The greatest wonders revealed by the egg were the visions of deep land, far beyond the shore. Here were mountains like frozen tidal waves, and trees as thick as kelp, and strange, furry animals that peered from holes in the ground. The visions came and went at random, as if directed with the capriciousness of a child, and were unrestrained by time or space. Melanie came to understand that the egg could see into the past and into the future, but whether there were many futures or only one was hard to say. Other than the phantom, and the past or future visions of herself, the only person to be seen through the glass shell was a tall man with red hair who seemed to live in some kind of sandcastle. The three of them began to seem like a family to Melanie, and she grew to love the man as dearly as she did the child.

From the very beginning Melanie understood that this man was a kind of future shadow cast by the boy she had seen on the shore. She began to watch over this boy as a mother might watch over her child. Less and less of her time was spent in the deep, and more and more often her gaze was bent to the shore. Although far younger than others of her kind, Melanie had watched many boys sprout into manhood only to wither at last and fall back to the earth. Before, this had seemed no stranger than the passing of a fish, but now the process began to interest her, and she watched with growing awe as Dolphin changed into a man.

She often sang to him, and at times he would look up and stare into the sea amazed. But always the doubt would come, and he would turn back to his work, confused and somehow sad. When he swam, Melanie would swim with him, and even run her fingers through his bright hair, but he sensed nothing more than a feeling of joy, which he interpretted as the joy of swimming. It was maddening to be at once so close and yet so far removed. It began to weigh on her heart and at last she sought out her friend the turtle.

"Why can't he ever see me? None of them ever see me except a few old men."

"It is a strange business. My belief is that these creatures are blinded by their own mortality, and can only open their eyes after great suffering. But they ripen and fall so quickly that few find the chance to see, and then only when they are old. They are ever sad, and they bring sadness to everything they touch."

"I'm not sure I can bear to watch my Dolphin fade away like that, without ever once seeing me or saying my name."

"You are becoming tangled in their net. Be careful."

"I never see the three of us together in the egg. But I see Dolphin and the little girl playing together. They are so happy! And I see myself waiting on a rock by his sand castle, combing my hair and smiling, as if I was in my own home. I feel as if we belong together. But how can this ever be?"

"You chose a riddle when you chose that egg. All I know for certain is that if you ever lose it you will lose yourself."

"Do you think me so careless? This egg is my dearest possession, in part because he lies inside it."

The old tortoise smiled. "Then I suppose you must follow him until he leads you to his castle. Or until he dies in your arms. I can't open his eyes for you. Only you can do that. But be careful, child. He will lead you into darkness. They always do."

Melanie kissed her. "You are full of warnings today. Doesn't every darkness kneel before the dawn? Where is your hope? Have you never been in love?" And with that she splashed away and went to rejoin her private vigil. For Dolphin was already aboard his first ship and would go to sea that very morning. And Melanie was prepared to follow him to the ends of the world.

The turtle watched her go. "Love!" she snapped. "That's a mortal word." Ageless as the sea itself, the turtle turned and swam away.