This story is by Soleah Kenna Sadge and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“How can we save them?”
The Cherub turned in his spot and, face down, dared to cast a single look on Earth. Seas of gray puree were scattered all over the surface, bordered by seven greenish ponds. They used to be a celestial blue reverberating the color of the sky. Wherever he gazed, the same sad scene replayed.
A chill crawled down his back, the same back he’d kept turned until there wasn’t much time left. Could he help now?
“What is so mesmerizing down there?”
His friend on the left peeked at what he was seeing, shrugged, and faced upward again. The Cherub couldn’t blame him: he had acted the same so many times. Not anymore, though.
His friend sighed; he must have sensed the Cherub’s change of heart. “Let it be, old spirit. You can’t do anything for them. Don’t forget your place.”
“Exactly. This place—that I’m bound to—gives me a direct view on them. Perhaps it was chosen with great care, for a greater purpose. Perhaps we need to undo this disaster.”
A formidable voice exploded in the Cherub’s chest. “Do you really want an answer to your question?”
He shivered and just nodded.
“You asked, and you shall get.”
The Cherub’s eyes rounded in surprise.
A chuckle made his essence vibrate. “Curiosity was the first to vanish. Quickly replaced by arrogance. Eventually everyone stopped asking. Until now.”
The Cherub swallowed a lump in his throat but forced his words out. They sounded squeaky in his own ears. “What about being careful what I wish for?”
“Ah. That is still relevant. So be careful. Think and ask again.”
“How can we save them?” The words escaped his lips before the Cherub could stop them. He’d sealed his fate.
The inside voice quieted. No answer thumped nor thundered. Instead, it fell on him and almost shattered his mind. A heavy knowledge, yet simple. Startled, he wondered what the catch was. That was it?
A single word?
“What can I do then? Just say it and all will be fixed?”
And he did just that. Since curiosity was indispensable, he tried it. That failed. Miserably. No matter how many times he showered the world with the word it had forgotten, nothing changed. If anything, more gray mass seemed to succumb.
So much for saving it.
“It didn’t work!”
And he laughed, a brief snort that dropped from his mouth. Any being with sight, smell, and hearing would notice he hadn’t made the slightest difference. Who was he fooling? One cherub that decided to change the world, in a second, on a whim. The world needed more than one being who’d regret his indifference for a second before most certainly going back to his old ways the next. He’d been played and proved to display just as much arrogance as the gray souls down there.
Eyes pained, nostrils flared, smile upside-down, he closed his eyes and faced upward, giving his back to earth.
“Told you you were wasting your time. Now, look at what you’ve done to yourself. How many centuries will I have to deal with your crappy silence?”
The Cherub refused to open his eyes. Looking at his friend would make his words all too real. He’d rather pretend they were a dream.
“Hey, you didn’t really think you’d gain the answer to solve millennia of decay, without even the tiniest of effort from your part. And then what? Bong! You’d wave your magic wand, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and go on as before?”
The Cherub’s eyes sprang open. Of course, that was it. The inside voice sounded again.
“Ah, you got it. Sometimes knowing the key is not enough. You have to be it.”
He needed to become the answer to his question, and only then could he make a difference. Which meant leaving his place at the foot of the Throne.
“You wanted to hear the truth. Now are you willing to act on it?”
“Would it be a permanent solution?”
“Ah, that would depend on you first, on them second. When you are ready, will it and you shall be. But there will be no coming back. Succeed or fail, you will go away.”
And the Cherub willed.
Soon his body became lighter, and his limbs elongated until he became as light as the word the Supreme had trusted upon him. He spread since no more barrier held him prisoner in a single form. As much as he tried to gather himself and keep compact, soon he had no more limit. He was hovering in the sky. A word. An idea.
Dispersed in a thousand little particles, he couldn’t stick to one place and then, began his descent. Sudden as a downpour.
Not only his texture, but his vision encompassed more space. Through his thousand eyes, he observed a thousand places and reached them to start the inception. As soon as he inserted himself as a seed in the beings, their minds shone, and their stature straightened. They raised their heads to the sky. Some opened disregarded books, others took the pen. Some sowed, others built. Some smiled, others even laughed.
It was working! But how to reach more people? If he left the core of that being, would it wither and die again? Or go on, survive, and thrive?
Torn between the choices, the now ethereal Cherub didn’t realize that the one he’d inhabited had communicated and passed on the word. The Cherub suddenly dropped into the new being while still maintaining a firm hold on the other. He had multiplied. Soon, the word passed on and on, and joy filled him as he became part of all creatures. The gray surrendered to the power of light and started fading away.
He, a word, was the answer and the cure. He was ubiquitous and boundless. He was hope.