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 mesmerizing – they hung there like tiny helium balloons. Lifting my teeny hands, I tried to grab the eyes, but they were out of my reach. 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 just kept watching them floating above me, year after year. Never scared, I looked forward to them, feeling safe when they were watching over me. Every night I whispered good night to the eyes, they were part of my world.
Just after 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 curious. Softly, softly its salacious voice started to form words that I could hear in my head. It fascinated me. Every night it would talk a little more. I suppose it was building itself up to why it was there. I gave it the time – not having much of a choice.
Finally, I found out its purpose and lay quietly 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 and unbelievable.
“How? What do you need?” I whispered.
“Your voice.” It blinked at my shock. Its mesmerising eyes burning into my brain, almost hypnotising me. 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.
Pondering on what he said, I asked “Wouldn’t an adult be better? Someone older than me and stronger maybe?” I waited sure he would see the sense in that. “Adults don’t see or hear us. We have spent many earth years trying to talk to you – today you heard us.”
He went on to describe the problem. “A new species has arrived on our planet and they can’t hear us. We have tried for years to get them to understand us, but they only hear with their ears.” The eyes blinked slowly.
Remembering what he had said – I replied “I’m sorry to tell you this but I don’t have a good singing voice. In fact, it’s quite unappealing!”
“You have more voice than we do. They keep singing and we keep trying to talk to them, but they cannot hear us.”
“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, at least 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. They are not killing us on purpose, the Beriberi people are friendly and kind, they just don’t know, and we cannot tell them without a voice.”
Captivated I stared into Lynx’s eyes wondering what to do and time seemed to stand still for us.
“We have asked many people before you, they didn’t hear us. 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. We didn’t want you to be afraid so we waited. 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.
I made a quick decision, jumping up – careful not bump Lynx and ran to the bathroom to get dressed. “What does one wear for a trip to space?” I wondered, deciding on warm clothes, a thick black jacket and high tops. Pulling my thick hair back into a pony, I was glad I had washed it last night. Heaven alone knows when I will shower again. Time’s an issue – no way did I want to be responsible for another Lynx dying. My heart beat fast as I pulled my shoes on and finally was ready. I sat at the end of my bed and stared into Lynx’s eyes.
“Hold on. We’ve got you” he said. The voice in my head faded. It was replaced by a rush of icy air. Closing my eyes, I felt scared for the first time. “We’ve got you” I heard again and again and again. It seemed to echo in my head. “Open your eyes.”
I opened my 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. But constantly moved and flowing, it was an incredible sight, like nothing on earth. I became aware of movement and looked up straight into several Lynx eyes. I 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!” Several of the Lynx slinked up to them and rubbed their cheeks on me as a kind of welcome. Their obvious delight soothed my fears and smiling I bent down to touch their velvety fur. It was a special moment. The Lynx smiled back with dreamlike, stumpy, red teeth and squinted eyes to show their joy.
“What are their names?” I asked interested. “Its hard to explain but Lynx are all simply Lynx. We don’t distinguish between each other – we are one.”
“So you are all Lynx?”
“Yes” Lynx smiled again as if that was perfectly normal.
“Come with us” Lynx asked floating away. We walked taking in the sight of the magnificent planet as we went. Everything new and amazing. Shrubs of silver shadows, swirling objects in the sky that were maybe transparent clouds. The Lynx lived in little cones and I could only guess as to what they were made of. Little Lynx babies ran in between them, playing. They were a deep black colour. Lynx followed her eyes “They only get their colouring as they get older. These little ones must have had their fruit higher on the Sacred Waft Tree, otherwise they would not have been born.” They kept on walking, all the while I was drinking in this strange and enchanting new world.
After a while we 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. I stared fascinated, still walking through orange smoke. We kept on walking.
I became aware of a lovely sound, only then realising that I had not heard anything other than the voices in my head until now. In the clearing the Lynx and I found them. Expecting fearsome creatures, I was surprised to see little goblin-like people. They were grey and slow, with large feet and big heads. One noticed us 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 I 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 was no threat and I felt complete peace.
“I am Debs” I said with a smile. He just stared at her – he didn’t understand.
Taking a self-conscious breath, I sang, praying that they would understand me and not burst out laughing “I am Debs.” No laughter I 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. His eyes were huge and so expressive.
“I am here from Earth” I 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?”
I nodded. Just as we were about to carry on talking I 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” I shouted. They all looked scared but didn’t understand.
“STOP.” I sang quickly. They did, and all turned to face me. It was a little frightening.
“The fruit off that tree contains the souls of the Lynx. Every time you eat one – a Lynx dies!”
The Beriberi people were devastated, I could see it on their faces. 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?” I 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. Every single one cried fat, green tears. They plopped into the orange smoke and disappeared. The Lynx just floated and blinked. He had stopped the turquoise tear from falling. The Beriberi started to hum, then sing. Softly and slowly at first. Then picking up momentum. They swayed from side to side in perfect unison. It was a delicate and moving song of apology.
“Hum-de-hum the Beriberi come in peace.
Hum-de-hum the Beriberi did 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 stay in this place.
Remember us even though we part.
Goodbye from our Beriberi hearts.
Hum – de – hum. Hum – de – huuuuum.”
I closed my eyes at the wonderful sounds, losing myself in the words. When I opened them, the Beriberi were gone. I turned to Lynx. He had sapphires in both eyes. “Thank you Debs” he said in my mind. “Try your voice” I encouraged.
The Lynx cleared his throat “Thank you Debs” he sang. It felt like liquid honey pouring down my ear. I laughed and hugged the Lynx again marvelling at its velvety fur. Walking back, we were amazed to hear exquisite singing and realised that all of the remaining Lynx’s were singing. It was earth-shatteringly beautiful I thought and then laughed at the thought. I listened for a long time, mesmerised until Lynx took my arm.
He said “Now we celebrate this wonderful day and the souls that are lost.” I noticed that 100’s of beautiful, slinking Lynx were heading our way. The sound in the air was electrifyingly melodious and astonishing. I closed my eyes again and let the singing wash over me like ocean ripples. It was a celebration to remember. The Lynx had so much love for each other that it was palpable. I inhaled it and absorbed it. I would never, ever forget these exquisite creatures.
“We will take you home” Lynx smiled. I smiled and felt sad to go but this isn’t my home. “Can I ever return?” I asked. “Only in your dreams” he sang.
When I awoke I was sure it was a dream. Stretching, I snuggled in my bed smiling at the memories and marvelling at how relaxed and full of love I felt. My dream echoed through my head and I could still hear the Lynx and Beriberi singing.
That morning in the shower I started to sing my favourite song. Flowing swells of magnificent sound, poured out of me. A few seconds later my 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.” I jumped out and opened the door in my gown. “It does sound different hey? Isn’t it beautiful?”
I sang another song and the look on my mother’s face told me that it wasn’t a dream.
My parents encouraged me to sing. I sang in church and at school events and at every opportunity I got. Each time riveting me audience. I went on to be an internationally renowned singer in my lifetime, spending hours on stage enthralling the young and the old with my unique voice. Every time I did a show – I would whisper:
“Thank you, Beriberi. Thank you, Lynx,”, and would blow a kiss to the stars. But I never told anyone who they were.