I must have been 3 years old when I first saw the eyes in my space themed nursery. I was too small to be scared. They floated above my bed and I stared. Golden brown, slanted and mesmerising – they hung there like tiny helium balloons. I stared for as long as I could keep my little eyes open. The next morning, I remembered little. Every night they kept coming.
I told my mother several times about the kitty but she just tut tutted and told me I was dreaming. So I ignored them year after year. Never scared, I looked forward to them, feeling safe when they were watching over me.
On my 16th birthday things changed. The eyes moved closer and I could see a whole face behind them. Hairy like a cat’s but like no cat I had ever seen. It growled, and I held my breath. I still wasn’t frightened but became apprehensive. Softly, softly its salacious voice started to form words that I could hear in my head. It fascinated me. I lay there listening as it spun a tale of magic and mystery that I could not have imagined myself.
“We are Lynx”. Briefly I wondered why it referred to itself as “we” but I never had time to keep wondering as he spoke again.
“We are from Halisyrat. A wonderful planet about 6 clicks from Alpha Centauri and we need a human to help us from becoming extinct.” Intriguing.
“How? What do you need?” I whispered.
“Your voice”. It blinked at my shock. Its mesmerising eyes burning into my brain. For a second I wondered if he meant to just take it and I would be left without a voice.
“We need you to bring your beautiful singing voice to our planet to help us. Centuries ago we stopped speaking when we mastered telepathy and none of us have a voice anymore.
“Wouldn’t an adult be better? Someone older than me” I asked confused. “Adults don’t see or hear us. We have spent many earth years trying to talk to you – today you heard us.
“A new species has arrived on our planet and they can’t hear us”. The eyes blinked slowly.
Remembering what he had said – I replied “I don’t have a good singing voice”. “You have more voice than we do. They keep singing and we can’t respond.”
“Why is that a problem?” I asked, intensely curious.
“They are killing our people and don’t know it. Every sunrise, which lasts half the time yours does, 1 Lynx dies. They are eating wafts from the Sacred Waft Tree but they don’t know that they contain our souls. Without our souls we die, we cannot be reborn”.
Captivated I stared into Lynx’s eyes wondering what to do and time seemed to stand still for us.
“We have asked many before you, they didn’t hear. As soon as they saw Lynx they were afraid. We have been asking for years. We picked you as an infant and showed ourselves to you, so that now you are old enough to help you can answer our cry. Today you answered”. He continued to float and blink, blink and float.
“How many Lynx have died?”
“3650.” He looked away as if listening to a noise outside. “3651”. His eyes paled and a tear floated out, it was turquoise blue and just magnificent, like a tiny sapphire.
“Will I be safe?”
“We will keep you safe”.
“Can I come back?”
“We will bring you back”. Blink.
“Is it dangerous?”
“We will keep you safe”. Floating.
Debs made a quick decision. She jumped up – careful not bump Lynx and ran to the bathroom to get dressed. “What does one wear for a trip to space?” she wondered. She decided on warm clothes, a thick black jacket and her high tops. Pulling her hair back into a pony, she was glad she had washed it last night. Heaven alone knows when I will shower again. Time was an issue – she didn’t want to be responsible for another Lynx dying. Her heart beat fast as she sat on the end of her bed and stared into Lynx’s eyes.
“Hold on. We’ve got you” he said. The voice in her head faded. It was replaced by a rush of icy air. She closed her eyes, feeling scared for the first time. “We’ve got you” she heard again, “Open your eyes”.
Debs opened her eyes to heaven. Immensely intense colours swirled together to make Halisyrat’s sky. It looked like cake batter swirled in blues, purples and pinks, dotted with millions of twinkling diamonds. The ground was orange smoke. No not smoke as such, but constantly moved and flowing, it’s incredible. Debs became aware of movement and looked up straight into several Lynx eyes. She could hear their thoughts, they were all talking at once.
“Is this her? Has she come to save us? How did we get her to come? Can she save us? Can she sing? Get her to say something. Thank you. Thank you, Lynx!” Their obvious delight soothed her fears and she smiled. They smiled back with dreamlike, stumpy, red teeth and squinted eyes to show their joy.
“Come with us” Lynx asked floating away. Debs walked taking in the sight of the magnificent planet as she went. Everything’s new and amazing. Shrubs of silver shadows, swirling objects in the sky that were maybe transparent clouds. After a while they came to a forest of sorts. The trees were very tall and thin. Their leaves were clouds and each swirled in a different colour. Grey, white, yellow and even black. Debs stared fascinated still walking through orange smoke. Lynx and Debs kept going.
Debs became aware of a lovely sound, only then realising that she had not heard anything other than the voices in her head until now. In the clearing she found them. Expecting fearsome creatures, she was surprised to see little goblin-like people. They were grey and slow, with large feet and big heads. One noticed her and stopped singing in his mesmerising voice. They turned as one. Lynx said “Please talk to them for us. Explain about the Waft Tree and the souls. Ask them to stop killing us”.
The biggest one approached her with a big smile. “I am Shawl and we are the Beriberi people. Who are you?” he sang in the most melodious voice she had ever experienced. He moved his head from side to side when he spoke as if listening to music and the words ran down her ear sweet and charming. There’s no threat and Debs felt complete peace.
“I am Debs” she said with a smile. He just stared at her – he didn’t understand.
Taking a self-conscious breath, she sang “I am Debs”. No laughter she felt relieved.
He waddled up to her singing “We are happy to see you. We are not from this place but the creatures here are very friendly, although we cannot understand them” he looked sad.
“I am here from Earth” she sang back, smiling a little at that “The creatures are Lynx and they all seem to be connected somehow, they can’t understand you either. They can only talk in their minds their voices have long ago left them”.
“Can you talk to them for us?”
Deb nodded. Just as she was about to carry on talking she noticed a tear fall from Lynx’s eye and looked up. One of the Beriberi people had just picked a fruit off a huge shimmering tree. You couldn’t see the top and it was full of portly, deep red fruit. It must be the Sacred Waft tree.
“STOP” she shouted. They all looked scared but didn’t understand.
“Stop.” She sang quickly. They did, and all turned to her.
“The fruit off that tree contains the souls of the Lynx. Every time you eat one – a Lynx dies!”
The Beriberi people were devastated. The girl who had pulled the fruit off the tree returned it to the branch. It gently wrapped its stem around it and the tree absorbed it. It was saved!
Shawl took her hand. “We have eaten a lot of that fruit.” His eyes were huge and welled with green tears. “Have we killed all those Lynx’s?” Deb nodded feeling terrible for the Beriberi. They didn’t know and now felt responsible for all those deaths.
They rushed together into a circle holding each other round their shoulders for comfort. The Lynx just floated and blinked. The Beriberi started to hum, then sing. Softly and slowly at first. Then picking up momentum. It was a delicate and moving song of apology.
“Hum-de-hum the Beriberi come in peace.
In peace.
Hum-de-hum the Beriberi did wrong.
So wrong.
Beriberi’s sorry. Beriberi’s sad.
Beriberi want to make it better.
Make you glad.
We walk away in shame and sorrow.
Not knowing where we will be tomorrow.
We leave a gift for all of you, as we leave to go.
Here are musical voices for all the Lynx.
And for you Earth Debs for helping us know.
Thank you for feeding us and be safe.
The blessing of the Beriberi will always remain.
Hum – de – hum. Hum – de – hum.
Deb closed her eyes at the wonderful sounds, losing herself in the words. When she opened them, the Beriberi were gone. She turned to Lynx. He had sapphires in both eyes. “Thank you Debs” he said in her mind. “Try your voice” she said.
The Lynx cleared his throat “Thank you Debs” he sang. It felt like liquid honey pouring down her ear. Debs laughed and hugged the Lynx marvelling at its velvety fur. Walking back, they were amazed to hear exquisite singing and realised that all of the remaining Lynx’s were singing. It was earth-shatteringly beautiful Debs thought and then laughed at the thought. She listened for a while mesmerised until Lynx took her arm.
“We will take you home” he smiled. Debs was sad to go but this wasn’t her home. “Can I ever return?” she asked. “Only in your dreams” he sang.
When Debs awoke she was sure it was a dream. She stretched and snuggled in her bed smiling at the memories. That morning in the shower she started to sing her favourite song. A few seconds later her mom knocked on the door.
“Debs? Is that you?”
“My word your voice sounds amazing. I never realised that you can sing that well. It doesn’t even sound like you”. Debs jumped out and opened the door in her gown. “It does sound different hey?”
She sang another song and the look on her mother’s face told her, it wasn’t a dream.
Debs went on to be an international singer in her lifetime, spending hours on stage enthralling the young and the old with her voice. Every time she did a show – she would whisper:
“Thank you Beriberi and the Lynx”, but she never told anyone who they were.

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Writer, Mother, Grandmother and Wife.

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