It is the first time Beth has seen Dalygaran streets decorated as such: many lighting effects with garlands made of multicolored and reflective objects. It is a real pleasure for the eyes, she says to herself. Every store and house is open. Food and beverages are offered almost everywhere. Dances that resemble Farandoles are improvised here and there to the accompaniment of music. The least that can be said of it all is that it is a joyful atmosphere. It is with the father and the son flanking her that she takes her first steps into the celebration set up in her honor.Soon she can see Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain with little Moon Crystal in her arms.
– Very nice speech indeed, she says to Beth as she approaches.
– Thank you, answers Beth.
– Major, Supreme Commander, says Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain as she bows her head in greetings.
The two men answer her, bowing their heads in turn.
– Is Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe not here? asks Beth.
– He’s gone to get the horses ready for the race. They’re celebrating too. The great track round the town is theirs today.
– There’s a race?
Beth is intrigued.
– I’ve been living on Earth for a month now, and believe me, the races here are nothing like the Earthling ones. They are not held in the same spirit. Races here are held among friends. The horses decide who leads. The race is meant to please them. That doesn’t mean they ignore our own wishes. They can feel us, as we can feel them thanks to the bond. But it is precisely this bond that allows us to completely share their joy, and nobody, as you’ll see, wishes to go against this.
– That’s it, absolutely, answers Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain with a smile. We have four horses with us. There are two for you, as well, she says to the attention of Beth and the Major. But I can’t find my parents in this crowd, to take the baby. Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe must be waiting for us.
– Would you mind giving me this young person? says the Supreme Commander to Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
– Supreme Commander, I don’t kn…
– My child, I’m just a father here today, one of your friends’ father. Allow me to do you this favor.
The Supreme Commander holds out his hands toward the baby. Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain gives him little Moon Crystal.
– Is it a girl? he asks.
– She looks like her mother so much, notices the Supreme Commander.
– Yes, it’s what most people say, replies shyly Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
– And what’s her name?
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain hesitates to give the answer.
– Father, it seems that Dalygaran welcomes another Moon Crystal.
– Moon Crystal? I’d have never guessed there’d be another one, some day. Do you know why we named him so, even though everybody here thinks his name is so short?
The Supreme Commander receives a silent “no”. It is obvious that everybody is waiting for the answer.
– This young man’s mother, he begins, pointing at his son, was fascinated with crystals. She used to pick up all she could find. Well, the most beautiful ones in fact. She made amazing tableaus with them. At that time, I was already part of the spatial unit. And one day, upon my return from a mission to our Moon, I brought her back a crystal that she had since always worn around her neck. I gave it to her saying, “May the brightness of this crystal light up your heart forever.”
At these words, Beth looks at the Major with surprise. These are the same words he used when they were both trying to invent him an Earthling past. The Supreme Commander goes on:
– She started laughing and kissed me. I never would have dared do it myself. We had been together ever since then. Later, when our son was born, she looked at him and said: “Here is the one that’ll light up my heart forever, my little moon crystal.” And it became his name. We didn’t care much for this question of name length. That was what we saw in our son, and it was the only thing that mattered. Oh, but I talk and talk. Off you go now. Go to your horses, race. Go, go.
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain, Beth and the Major go away. Beth is annoyed.
– I told you these words were not credible, she says to the Major.
– They aren’t on Earth. Nobody talks like that.
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain looks at them without understanding. Beth tells her they had to make a past for David Crystal–the Major’s new name—on Earth and together they came up with a scenario. They met in the spatial travel museum and David offered her a crystal, just like those that can be seen on a planet called Proxyterra.
– When he proposed to give it to me, he said, “May the brightness of this crystal light up your heart forever,” and I burst out of laughing, saying it has to be credible. He told me nothing. Nothing of this sentence’s origin and certainly not that it was his father’s love declaration to…
Beth hushes suddenly, realizing that put in the context of this particular day, it was simply a love declaration she rejected. She stops walking and faces the Major, taking his hands. For the first time in her life, she purrs. And for the first time in her life she hears the Major purring.
– You’re lovely you two, says Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain. Come on, Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe must be waiting for us.
It is with an obvious joy that Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe welcomes his wife, Beth and the Major. Behind him stand four mounts.
– So, you make people laugh at my expense, says Beth. Do you know that human people are very vindictive?
– Do you know that by living on Earth, I’ve become more and more human-like? adds the Major.
– I.., well, I didn’t intend to…
Beth and the Major start to laugh: “Earthling” they say in chorus.
– And you find this funny, answers Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe a little bit offended. Major you’ve changed so much!
– His name is David now, specifies his wife.
– David? Is it…
– Earthling, yes. And it suits me. Don’t take offence, my friend. Human beings like to tease from time to time. Well, are we going to have this race?
– What are we waiting for? asks Beth.
– For you to stop tormenting me, answers Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe falsely grumpy.
Beth comes and kisses him on the cheek.
– Earthling, says the Major.
– Everyone in their saddle, exclaims Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
Then all four, each on a mount, head to the start line. Beth doesn’t worry anymore about her new body. She was able to make the bond quite quickly with her Dalygaran horse. At the start line, the four mounts stop by themselves.
– Who’s giving the start signal? asks Beth.
– They do, answers Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, pointing his chin down toward the horses.
It is Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain who goes off first, followed by the Major, then Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe and at last Beth. It is with a real pleasure that Beth regains this feeling of fusion with the beast beneath her, and taking into account the Major’s advice, she remains attentive to and follows its wishes. The mounts seem to have decided to each be in front, one in its turn. It is always the last one that overtakes all the others, at full speed, and this, until the four mounts line up and gallop together. It is how they cross the finish line. What you win in Dalygaran races is the pleasure you put into it, thinks Beth. She jumps off her horse delighted. The Major and she raise an arm and slap their hands high, under the surprised look of Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain and her husband.
– It’s a high five, explains the Major. It expresses a great satisfaction with what has been done.
And so the two spouses try it.
– I’ll go and bring our daughter, announces Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain to her husband.
– I’m going to help you lead the horses to their rest area, proposes the Major.
A farandole is passing nearby, followed by a group of musicians providing the tempo.
– Come with us, come with us, shout some smiling faces.
Beth takes one of the outstretched hands and goes along with the joyful band.
– Let’s meet at our haven of peace, shouts the Major.
From afar, Beth nods to show she understood. Then she lets the joy all around her hold her.
The farandole sometimes stops, and people gather two by two to perform some dance steps. Thanks to her anticipation abilities, Beth succeeds in following the steps more or less. Things get more complicated when one farandole meets another. It is the opportunity of figures and exchanges between the two lines. But having to mobilize her anticipation abilities exhausts Beth, who gets out of the farandole, the way she saw the others do: with the thank-you gesture, the same one she used after her speech.
Food and drinks being offered almost everywhere in town, Beth stops for a snack to take strength. Then she looks for an isolated place. It seems more polite for her not to disappear in public sight. But it is not easy to be alone anywhere in this day of celebration. Finally, she finds a spot where she won’t be seen and dematerializes, only to rematerialize near the diving board of the Great Waterfall. This second body works really fine, she thinks.
The Major is already there, sitting at the edge of the board. Beth comes to sit just next to him.
– Have you been here for a long time?
– Without you, it was an eternity.
Then, he passes his arm around Beth’s waist and they start to purr.
– We still have time in front of us, she whispers.
– Do we jump?
– Let’s jump!