I wanted to create something, but all I had was this pencil and this paper. So I drew a picture with my words of a girl touching the sky. She was in white dress, with little black ringlets that bounced freely. From my vantage point, I could blot her out with my thumb.
She was by the shore, barefooted, letting the waves lap at her feet. I could hear her giggle, but she was miles and miles away. She splashed the water with her hands, twirled around with her arms spread wide, and chased seagulls down the surf.
Then suddenly she looked around. She was searching for someone, and I wondered if it was me. I crossed the sand to reach her. When we stood only a few feet apart, she brushed a curl from her face. “I can’t find my brother. Will you help me look?”
Where are your parents?
She did not answer. Instead, she held out her hand. “Come, let’s go this way. Maybe he’s down here.”
So she slipped her child-hand into mine and we began to walk. Standing beside her now, I could see the more intimate details of her face. Her cheeks were coated with tiny freckles, and her eyes were large and expressive. There was wisdom – endless amounts of it – despite her young age.
We said little as we moved down the beach. Occasionally, she’d bend to pick up a shell and show me. They were always flawless. There wasn’t even a chip. What kind of beach was this, where the shells were never broken?
Time was of little importance. She seemed in no hurry to find her missing sibling. Our feet carried us slowly to the south; at least, I think that’s what direction we were headed.
Finally, we came upon a pier in the distance. It was barely visible at first, but the image continued to sharpen until she finally pulled her hand free. “There he is! Pollux!”
I ran to keep up with her.
Underneath, we found him squatted down, his attention focused on something unseen. Drawing closer, I noticed a stick in his hand, and closer still, a seagull washed upon shore.
He poked at it. “It’s dead.”
Pollux lifted his eyes toward me and I saw the resemblance. His hair was black, like his sister’s, and the freckles on their faces were the same. He was also in white, and I noticed now their clothes were neither wet nor dirty.
“What’s all this black stuff?” his sister asked. It was sticky and shiny on the bird’s coat. It covered its beak, its wings and its feet. It was also in the water, swirling slowly, and staining the sand.
“Death,” he answered.
But I knew better. I’d seen this before. Oil.
The sister looked up at me. “Oil has never reached our shores before.”
How peculiar, I thought. Surveying my surroundings, I suddenly realized I was far from home. There were no buildings. There was only beach that stretched out in all directions. Though it was bright, there was no sun. The sky was cloudy like a New England winter, but despite the thickness, there were stars visible, twinkling proudly. Where are we?
“I’m Castor,” the girl said, “And this is Pollux. You’re in Gemini.”
“Not a planet. Just a world different from yours.”
I understood it now. These twins were the only ones. This was their world, and something foreign had just invaded it.
How did I get here?
“You’re here because you want to be,” Castor answered.
“But everything is changing,” Pollux added.
I looked at the bird. There had been others earlier, but now they were out of sight. Were they still there? Did they exist before I arrived?
The pier was new. The twins didn’t have to tell me in order for me to understand. It was the only man-made object as far as the eye could see. Guilt instantly washed over me. I brought the oil.
How can I fix this?
“You can’t,” Pollux told me. “The damage is already done.”
I’m so sorry. I never meant to destroy your world.
“We know,” Castor said for them both.
Something behind me caught Pollux’s eye. He gasped and pointed. “What’s that?”
I whirled around. Off in the distance stood a tall, cylindrical building with a slowly spinning light on its top. It’s a lighthouse.
“What does it do?” Castor asked.
It calls all the ships.
“I don’t understand…”
It lets the sailors know that land is near.
The little girl looked up at me. “More people?”
Pollux cried out and hammered his tiny fists on my legs. “Make it stop!”
I seized his wrists and stepped back. I don’t know how.
“Yes you do,” Castor stated calmly. “You just need to think.”
I nodded. Let’s start with the lighthouse.
They each took my hand and peered up at me. Their innocence was absolute. As we took deliberate steps to reach the lighthouse, we talked.
Are you really the Gemini Twins?
“Of course we are. Why would we claim to be what we’re not?”
I just thought you were stars, not people.
“We are stars.” Castor’s feet stopped, halting our group. She turned her head to the sky and pointed. “Do you see those stars, the three that are in a line? Look to the left, there’s a red one, then just below it. That’s Earth.”
Earth. It was so tiny; barely a speck in a sky. How could it be that everything I’d ever known existed right there? Suddenly I felt so small. This can’t be real, I whispered to myself. I must be dreaming…
“Why would you think that?” Pollux piped in.
People don’t just travel to constellations.
“Your people travel to the moon,” Castor pointed out.
The moon is much closer.
“Distance has little to do with it.”
Then how did I get here?
“You’re here because you want to be.”
When at last we’d reached the lighthouse, we found a door that opened to a staircase, winding its way to the top. Step by step, we climbed our way.
“Do you have lots of these on Earth?” Pollux asked.
Umm… There’s a couple of them….
“You must like lighthouses, since you brought one here,” Castor observed.
I don’t like oil spills and dead animals.
“Sometimes our fears transcend even our brightest imaginations.”
How wise this child was. She spoke with the maturity that can only come from being trillions of years old. I was envious of them. They existed in their own paradise, untouched.
“Are you worried about what we’ll find when we reach the top?”
She fell silent and I instantly wished she’d say something more.
The top of the stairs opened to a wall-less room, with the lighthouse’s life source rotating slowly in its center. We walked over to the edge and looked out, our breaths hitching in our throats.
The sea was filled with ships. Thousands of them, their sails billowing and advancing them steadily forward.
They anchored themselves and lowered rowboats to bring the men ashore. We watched in horror as they broke land and began spreading themselves out. Immediately they began digging, tearing up the ground. “Make them stop!” Pollux shouted at me again.
HEY! I shouted, waving my arms. STOP! NO! PLEASE! It was useless. They couldn’t hear me. I took the stairs two at a time and hurried down the lighthouse, the twins close at my feet.
Men were everywhere when we reached the bottom. Castor and Pollux clung to my legs as we tried to maneuver our way. Stop, I said to them. You’re destroying everything. You don’t belong here. But they didn’t hear me. They moved like soldiers, marching with their tools, breaking up the dirt, putting up walls. Their eyes, I noticed, were black voids. They blindly carried on.
“They have no souls,” Castor explained when I slumped my shoulders. “They won’t listen to reason. The soulless never do.”
“They can’t appreciate our beauty either,” Pollux whimpered.
No, the soulless never do, I agreed
He began frantically beating on my legs again. “Look what you’ve done!”
Why do you think I’m responsible?
“Because you are.” Castor answered.
I didn’t bring them here.
“Yes you did. You’re the only one who could have.”
What do you expect me to do? They’re not listening.
“Make them listen.”
“I don’t know! Only you know!”
No, I don’t!
“Yes you do, think!”
Ahhh! Frustrated, I turned my back to hide my face. Running my fingers over my scalp, I watched the scene continue to grow around me. There were skyscrapers now, and factories breathing smoke. Smog from the vehicles blotted out the sky.
We could burn everything, I suggested.
Castor put her hand on my arm, “No. Fire is too dangerous. You have no control over your thoughts.”
My thoughts? What do my thoughts have to do with it?
“They have everything to do with it,” Pollux said softly.
Suddenly there was whistling, then a crash, and a boom. We were flying, and then I was on the ground. I forced myself to sit, terrified for Castor and Pollux. They were beside me, holding each other for support. We were scraped and bloody, but we were still together.
The sight before us grew darker. The sky turned red, and as buildings crumbled, more went up in their place. There was war, and death. There was screaming, and blood. Bombs continued to fly. Soulless army against soulless army marched at each other, wielding weapons of hate. Rubble filled the streets and dust clouded the air. Pollux raised his shirt to cover his nose and Castor pleaded me. “Please hurry.”
But I was lost. Terrified, I didn’t know how I got here. I was so far from home, where nothing made sense. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breath. I didn’t know how I brought the destruction, and now I feared there was nothing I could do to fix it. Tears welled up in my own eyes and my bottom lip quivered. I’m so sorry…
Castor began to cry as she comforted her brother. “But I believe in you.”
The ground was shaking beneath our feet. We were doomed. The Soulless would tear this world apart until there was nothing left of it.
There was another blast nearby. I dove to the ground, determined to protect them this time. I wished there was something I could do. I wanted more than anything to save their world. If only I could wave a magic wand and-
I’ve got it! Suddenly, I knew the answer. Castor had been right all along! I quickly stood up and pulled them to their feet, wiping away their tears. They peered up at me expectantly. Hope was renewed!
I understood it now. My thoughts were manifesting into reality. Subconsciously, I was morphing the world around me. It seemed fitting that a lighthouse would be nearby, and so there was. I worried about drawing more ships, and I did. Tucked away in the back of my mind, industrialization haunted me, bringing the trouble here and destroying Gemini’s serenity.
But now I had the upper hand. I knew how to make this right for Castor and Pollux. Before leaving this land, I swore I’d return it to its former glory.
Winking at the twins, I faced the mess I’d made. This was my imagination. I created everything about this world, and I started with only a pencil and a paper. I could restore order. I could make everything perfect again. All I had to do was erase it.