Written for The Domain's Summer 2009 Challenge, which is…due today. Figures.
Prompt: "Droit devant soi on ne peut pas aller bien loin." ("Straight ahead, one cannot go very far.")
A couple weeks ago I watched the Disney version of this…what a classic. This is based off of that, with a few minor changes (gorillas can't fricken climb trees, Disney! –eyeroll-).
Written in first person; the main character in this is Kala, Tarzan's ape!mother. D'aww.
((Warning: Beware of typos. Yes, I know.))
I had always wanted a family; the idea of it was appealing to me ever since my days as a young ape. While others my age were off stuffing themselves with food or causing havoc on the rest of the troop, I hung back. Instead, I spent that time with my mother and the other senior gorillas, fascinated by their knowledge, their dedication; I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. They were very patient with me, always pointing out little things they said mattered in the long run. I was told I was exceptionally observant - I picked up on details others were oblivious to. My mother called me compassionate, as well as determined. Though I always thought those were her best qualities, I agreed with her, hoping. Always hoping.
I wanted to be a mother, too.
I found my mate; by luck or by destiny, who knew? Kerchak was older than I and poised to become the next leader of the troop. He was headstrong, yes, and often overly wary of matters that we had little or no control over, but he was also powerful, bold, and respected. Very respected.
I admit that perhaps I did use his status within the troop to gain respect myself. What can I say? I was young then, so young. Foolish enough to use my mate to help my own personal goals. Despite that, I loved him; I loved him so, so much. He was all I could ever have asked for to be the father of my child.
I had my son. I never set eyes on anything more incredible than him-the silky fur, the velvety charcoal face . . . and those eyes, deep, dark and intelligent. He melted my heart; the heat that radiated from his tiny body was nothing compared to the warmth, the true warmth, I felt in my chest as he clung to me, wrinkled hands gripping my fur with stubborn strength. As I held him, Kerchak - now the leader of the troop - stood by my side, guarding his mate and his son . . . his family. I closed my eyes, wanting to preserve the too-perfect moment in my memory forever.
My son died. The emotions I felt shook me vehemently by my neck, threw me into a bottomless pit. Grief-endless, agonizing, suffocating. Shock-short, quick bursts of it, stabbing me again and again in the heart. And rage . . . rage at all reason, at death, at the time that was unbearably short. At Sabor the leopard, for taking my only son from me. At myself, for not being there, for not stopping it, for not being enough. For never, never being enough.
For days and weeks and months the sheer pain and confusion of loss consumed me, slowly taking over my body one cell at a time. My blood seemed to thicken, slow; soon it was just a river of anguish pulsing through me. My mind deteriorated and fell apart; I wasn't who I used to be. One of my troop admitted to me that I cried out frequently in the night, emitted lonely, dreadful sounds. I took this in with a leaden nod; it was just the truth, after all, the cold, blunt truth that nothing could ever have the power to stop.
It was never going to end, was it?
Then-a sound. The only sound that could have brought me out of my nightmare of a trance. High-pitched, broken and echoing, this voice connected with me so absolutely because we both contained something so abyssal and unknown once you heard it you could never turn away.
I followed the sound; I knew destiny was calling. Through the trees toward the sun, under the waterfall where the elephants basked . . . I was carried by the crying across a path of wobbling wooden slats that slung over the water far below, onto an island I had never visited before.
There, I found a creature that was unlike any I had ever seen before. And yet there was something familiar about him, achingly familiar. Like I already knew him, somehow, from long ago in a past life (or two). I thought perhaps it was in his innocence, so evidently sincere in his green eyes, so like my son's had been . . . he needed me. But more importantly, I needed him.
So I took him as my own, and I named him Tarzan.
Though he was allowed into the troop, it took many, many years for him to be accepted. I saw the way the others looked at him, at my new "son," like he was wrong-from a completely different world. I couldn't deny the part of me that knew this was true, that in reality such a creature would never exist in such a place as our green forest, but I did not flaunt it, either. I simply pushed the thoughts away and hid them in the back of my head, refusing to think of them. If the truth couldn't be prevented, at least it could be hidden.
As Tarzan grew, things changed; Kerchak never looked at me the same way again, and my heart ached with longing for the past. But there was no going back; what's done is done. Though I was still officially recognized as the dominant male's mate, Kerchak no longer belonged solely to me. He went on to father many others' children (as was his duty, I tried to reassure myself without hope), and the feelings he harboured specifically for Maka, a female ape who had been my friend from a young age, were no secret.
My hurt was badly concealed, if at all.
As things changed, I felt myself becoming more and more distant from the rest of the troop. I often felt lonely, like I was being left behind while the rest of the troop moved on, leaving me sitting in a cloud of dust.
But I had my son, and he was the remedy to all my fears and pains, to the ache of grim solitude and worry and sadness.
He grew . . . he grew like something that belonged in another world (which, I was constantly forced to remind himself, he did). Long, pale and tough, completely furless save for a few curiously-placed patches, he reminded me of some kind of grotesquely-malformed gorilla. Though he could not move as fast as the rest of us on the ground, he was like us in many ways - though not as thick, for example, he had strong limbs that allowed him to walk the way we did, crouched low to the forest floor. He taught himself other skills, too; he could also swing from vines and climb trees and so much more.
But Tarzan's physical abilities were nothing compared to who he was. He was one with the animals, knew all by thier name, could fluently speak in each of their tongues. He spent his entire life proving himself again and again to Kerchak, pulling himself up after countless falls, forever striving to do his best . . . his bravery and determination and cunning mind never ceased to awe me.
He was my son, and I loved him with all my heart and more.
(More than I should, I sometimes thought to myself.)
More of Tarzan's kind came. I wasn't terribly surprised - I had always known that they would come again, would come back to retrieve that which had strayed too far from their own strange herd - but I was filled with dread. My son.
The minute I saw them I understood that Tarzan was never really meant to stay with us, despite years of insisting to Kerchak the exact opposite; he belonged with creatures of his own kind. It was selfish and wrong for me to have taken him as a baby, but I had needed him . . . wanted him so much . . . but that was then. Now that he was grown, it should be his turn to make choices and be with his own kind. Still, I couldn't help begging fate to turn the tide in my favour-that my son would stay with me and remain the soothing bandage to my broken heart.
It was as I feared. Only the very youngest in the troop - and perhaps Kerchak, because he was allowing himself to drown in his own denial - were oblivious to the fact that Tarzan was absolutely and positively absorbed in the others of his species. For days I caught him mumbling sounds I didn't understand to himself: words, I guessed, of a foreign tongue. Of his tongue. He didn't know that we all saw him slipping off to be with them when he thought no one was looking, and I couldn't bring myself to tell him; while Tarzan's continued to expand with love he hadn't known he could feel, my own heart was slowly dying a second death.
I thought I'd done the right thing by saving him all those sunrises ago, but now, who knew? I'd accused Kerchak of ignorance, but I realized then that maybe I was the real culprit. Could it be true? I thought it over carefully, aware that studying matters of truth-of good and bad and right and wrong and all between-was nothing less than treacherous business. What was left of my heart sank, and I sagged, overpowered by revelations that hurt even to imagine.
A lifetime later, I will look back at my life and know that I did the right thing. Because everything happens for a reason; because no matter how low you feel yourself sinking, there will always be another turn that, once passed, will raise you up to soaring heights once more.
There will come a day when I will be content, and I will regret nothing. And I will lie dying, and peace will fill me with its wisdom. My son will stand beside me, not saying anything, just watching; and his mate - my daughter - will be there as well, face wet with her sadness. My grandchildren, small and pale and innocent and beautiful, will clamber over me and not know. They will twirl my fur in their paws and rest their heads on my chest and call goodbye without really understanding, only saying it because they were told to.
And as I pass, I'll smile, because their not understanding only means there's more for them to learn.
Yeah, so I ended it there. Bah. I really wanted to do a lot more with it, but… -shrug- I'm tired; what can I say? xD At least I got /something/ up. ^^
Reviews are appreciated~
Monday, August 31, 2009