Press Play for the Atmosphere
Gooma is a fruit from a modest, inconspicuous, nameless tree. How these fruits came to life, nobody knows for sure. Some say that they were touched by inexperienced magic; others witnessed a falling star in the thickets. There is different gossip about it, but one thing is true, once upon a time this tree’s fruits came to life and went ahead traveling in all directions over our vast continent.
It happens that in the middle of his travels, Gooma withers and from the seed in his head a new tree appears. Its fresh fruit comes to life and continues this desperate journey.
Gooma keeps a diary during his entire life, and then his followers continue traveling from the last page where the life path of the older Gooma stopped.
Look at the huts rushing. Either the wind is pushing them, or they are running downhill. Their hooves are clattering, and they run, they won’t wait, and they won’t tire out. Someone has been living in one of the booths for a long time, the other one has been filled with all kinds of trash and set on its way, and Gooma happens to follow the same path. Wherever the way takes it.
This journey has no goal. But it would be nice to look at the sea. To raise the sail of a light boat and get as far from the coast as possible. Finally, to take a breath of the salty air.
But for now, the hooves are clattering, the booth is rocking, and the entire herd is rushing wherever luck takes it.
It’s getting late. The booth run is still frisky and friendly, but will they bring it somewhere before it gets dark?
Clip-clop. Clip-clop. For a while now, one can see no houses or trodden paths. It would be nice now to find an old hut, a cave, or at least a hollow in a tree... Only broken branches are cracking under the hooves, and little pebbles are being scattered.
They ran across another hill and here, at a distance, at the very edge of the cliff above the sea, a structure appeared, a stone island with winds blowing in every direction. Apparently, it never had any walls, but the roof seems to be strong. It will be cool, but at least it will be dry.
Gooma gathered everything he had, jumped off while the hospitable booths were still moving, looked back at them and headed to his night shelter. He heard the crunching sound of last year’s dried grass under his feet.
The shelter is warm and fragrant. Dried flowers and leaves cover everything around, the scent of juicy overripe fruits fills the air. You can hear the whisper of an hourglass, candles bring the smell of autumn, and it seems that a dense bubble of muffled sounds covers everything around.
A strange place to spend a night. Rocks, glass, and fire. It seems someone lives here or comes here often. The place is deserted but does not yet look abandoned. A slight ringing sound is heard from somewhere, waves are hissing and foaming at the precipice, and sand is rolling across the ground.
It’s difficult and viscous... Fatigue is growing, causing the eyes to close, but questions about the mysterious place won’t let it fully fall asleep. And thoughts froze...
In this oblivion, there is no counting of time.
Shadows dance under the closed eyelids. They gather together, speak in gestures, move across wagging their smoke tails and whisper poems. Maybe it’s a dream and maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s sounds in unison...
And under the very dome, in the round dance of these black otherworldly shadows that live between sleep and non-sleep, Govra, the goddess of all endings, is dancing like a glistening scale, sonant but fragile and elusive.
Sometimes she dances at the end of the road or over a cliff; she appears when she feels someone’s death, she crowns the finished work, counts the last grain of sand in the hourglass, breathes in the smoke of the extinguished candle. She appears only for a moment and disappears again to appear where it has just... been cut short.
This scene of the divine dance around the sleeping Gooma is observed by a tired group of pilgrims, wandering eyewitnesses of Govra. Witnesses to the culmination of many large and small undertakings, the endings of which she revealed to the world. And this dance is a gift to them, an unexpected miracle at the end of the road.
The hourglass burst with a quite clang, Gooma flinched and opened his eyes. Govra and her round dance disappeared.
The pilgrims are begging Gooma to call Govra again, but not for nothing: to become a Petitioner, to help stop those who endlessly continue doing the same thing. Those who do not see the finish line and run around in a circle, who sneeze until they turn blue, who dig a hole even though they cannot get out any more, who chatter incessantly even when they are asleep, who lie all the time, who have counted everything many times and cannot stop.
Each of the pilgrims has ways of seeing the goddess for a moment, but not a single way to hold onto her, much less to ask for something. Leaving Gooma with their library of scrolls and their notes about how to call Govra, they bow down and dissolve into the twilight.
Sparkling loud bubbles, ornate knots, sparks, sighs of ancient poems, steam and grains of sand, dry stems — Gooma time and time again creates those fleeting moments. Here it was, and here it is not.
And then he integrates this multitude into a system to repeat many times all these shifting moments and braid them all together. If he can, he will make her stay. He will persuade her to listen. He will ask for others, and maybe he will get his question answered too?
On the cliff, at the end of the day, in an instant, when the wind subsided, and the clouds hid the last rays of light, Gooma launches the chain of events to which Govra responds.
She appears to him for an instant once, then a second time, and a tenth time, each time disappearing in a flickering crown.
But a simple catalyst intensifies the chain of events. Gooma puts a simple bagel in the center — its form endlessly plunges into itself — similarly, Gooma’s system starts working again and again, and Govra cannot disappear and hide forever.
The pilgrims are in awe and fall to their knees. The goddess of evanescent completeness stands before them in a fragile radiance and does not disappear. Having forgotten about all the requests, they cannot recover from their admiration, and Gooma has become speechless.
It seems that the miracle will now become routine, and then we can talk, ask all the questions, receive many answers and solutions.
The beginning and the end are two shores in time, but time has no fords. Only inexplicable and unnamed forces can do anything with it without asking us.
The little, locked up and frightened Govra is all gathered up, and everyone heard either her sigh or her moan. And the subtle sound dissolved from under the sanctuary dome.
The night light faded, the darkness appeared and the ever-sleeping mother Govra came out to them — she opened her eyes and stopped the space, the time, the light and the rustle of the hourglass.
Myriad sisters danced around little Govra and while she was immobilized and light, they dragged her up above somewhere with them.
Gooma’s trap has failed.
All those who couldn’t stop froze, those who were driven into an infinite circle came out of it. Everything that once began ended in one instant.
The universe froze, and all the invisible took shape. The light reflecting from the water surface was bubbling, the scents hung in colored clouds, the breeze froze in a curved mass, and the time fell into silver sparkles.
How long did this hitch last? There was nothing to count because time had simply disappeared. And it continued its flow. One, two, three.
Sounds came to life, bubbles of light burst, aromas mixed and got carried away with the wind. The sand in the hourglass started rustling, counting the seconds.
Four, five, six.
Only a vision of the coming remained. All who watched this miracle were shocked and depressed. Not a trace remained from the previous celebration and delight. And no one noticed how Gooma became petrified...
Touching otherworldly forces took out of him everything that could continue living. And only the fruit pit deep in his head held onto the vital forces and much later broke through the frozen crust with a fresh sprout.
Some time later a new Gooma will come from the fruit of this tree. And old and new will be united by the common history of the single time-spanning path — their diary.
Those who could not stop, still cannot do so in spite of the divine intervention.
Curious Govra does not appear at the first call anymore. The events that interested her became more significant, and she was seen less and less.
Petrified Gooma is still standing on the cliff near the sanctuary. Offerings and gifts are brought to it. The pilgrims decorate it with flowers and tie knots so that everything that has been started reaches its conclusion.
To complete the tale of Gooma’s adventure and the hitch that happened in time, the pilgrims wrote this story in Gooma’s journal, preserved on its pages across the generations.
And the new Gooma took its bag with the diary, read this story and made his first entry — «Yes, it would be nice to take a breath of salty, windy air!»
For grown up readers
Story told and pictured by Sergey Safonov
Edited by Marina Walker & Jeremy Brautman