The Shieldmaiden and me journeyed into the countryside recently. It was a jamboree of navy blue, green and sky blue, with the magnificent countryside all around us. There was nobody to see and nobody to see us. The only sound was that of the beck rushing by our lodge and even that was muted when we rounded the bend from our sanctuary in the mountains.
The cloudless sky that had embraced an unseasonably warm day remain unblemished as night arrived. Following a satisfying dinner, The Shieldmaiden and me extinguished every electric light, lantern and candle at the lodge and then ventured outside as our eyes adjusted to the darkness. The moon was low to the east, having just ventured beyond the horizon and the tree line beneath it, its milky pallor not able to impact substantially on the cloak of darkness which now enveloped everything around us.
We stepped onto the extensive veranda which surrounds our lodge and then lay down on our backs side by side as we looked upwards to the wheeling heavens. The evening air was cool, but not frigid and all that could be heard was the gurgling of the beck a little distance away. The birds and animals had fallen silent and the harsh sound of humankind was absent from this haven. No horns, no engines, no sirens.
As we lay there, the vastness of space loomed over us. The shimmering stars from light years away glinted and sparkled for us. Thousands of them, clear and visible, since not only were we free of the noise of humankind but we had been spared the polluting effect of thousands of streetlights and the glow cast from tens of thousands of windows by lamplight, screen glow and flashing neon. The night sky was untainted by the construct of humanity and instead hung over us as it has done for billions of years prior to our appearance.
The Shieldmaiden said nothing. I remained silent as I lay there and stared up at the sky. Ursa Major was immediately apparent and within it The Plough or as our transatlantic friends would label it, The Big Dipper. My eyes lowered and I looked upon the constellations of Leo and the Lynx which nestled beneath the large bear. As I turned my head I could see the Milky Way, like some stellar smear across the centre of the sky, ranging across nearly the whole of my field of vision as I looked across tens of thousands of light years of space from my vantage point on the top of this mountain.
I thought of how I was able to see all of this from my position on the rooftop of the region and that far away and far below me scurried the minions, the underlings and the tertiaries and how unaware they were of the brilliance and majesty which spiralled above them. I felt a sneer of contempt form on my lips as I contemplated the ignorant hordes who would be staring at pavement, turf and foam rather than lifting their heads and drinking in this vista. ´Twas ever thus. They always look the wrong way. That is why they never see me coming. Even those that broke with convention and rejected a lifetime of shoe-staring would only see a tiny fragment of what The Shieldmaiden and me were looking at. They would, if fortunate, see some of the stars, maybe a part of a constellation but their view would be obscured by the light pollution, ruining the spectacle and reinforcing the fact that they would go through life without true vision and clarity. My thoughts of their frustration and resentment if they were told of what they were missing caused that pulse of power as the Thought Fuel arrived, landing on the far more potent and plentiful Proximate Fuel which The Shieldmaiden had been providing throughout our visit.
“It is truly spectacular,” said the Shieldmaiden softly besides me. Her clear and elegant voice gently intruding into my contempt-filled thoughts and scattering them. The dispersal of those thoughts however was rapidly followed by that sharp shard of envy for she was commenting on the stars and heavens above, her fuel was directed elsewhere and whilst her tone was that of admiration and delight and her words appreciative, they were not aimed at me. This was a waste. Yet this was not the occasion to bridle with her, not at all. Her fuel needed to be mine, but I would not lash out, there was no need.
“Yes it is, absolutely majestic,” I replied as I readied my comment to draw fuel from her.
“And can you see Jupiter? Over there. Can you see that bright “star” that is Jupiter, to the south-west,” I explained and raised a hand, extending a finger pointing to the giant of our solar system.
“Where is it please?” she asked and I felt the flames of fuel rising again as her words of enquiry directed to me, because of me and I sat up.
“Sit between my legs,” I instructed and she too sat up and shuffled into position, her back pressing against my chest, the outside of her thighs, brushing against the inside of mine. I placed my chin on her shoulder, the light fragrance of her shampoo detectable from her long, blonde hair and I raised my arm around her.
“Follow my finger,” I said and waited as I pointed to Jupiter.
“Ah, yes I see it. I love how you know what is where in the sky, but you have always loved the stars and planets haven’t you?”
The positive fuel splashed over me.
“Oh yes, ” I confirmed edified by her validation of my direction and her remembrance of what I had told her previously.
I felt her lean back into me and I recognised that this once again signalled her ease and comfort with me. I felt the instinctive bristle against this closeness but the presence of her fuel enable it be surmounted and I allowed the contact to continue.
“And now, if you follow my finger, I will take you to Saturn,” I explained. She gave a short, warm laugh at my interplanetary finger and more fuel washed over me.
“You should bring your telescope next time, HG, so we can see the moons and rings,” she suggested.
“Absolutely,” I answered.
We both fell silent as I lowered my arm and she remained still, nestled between my legs and leaning against me. She moved slightly, as if to ease herself even closer to me and this act of affection caused once more the fuel to be mine. Her I sat, her god, presiding over the galaxy. Entirely apt.
“What do you feel when you look at this?” she asked me.
I did not answer immediately. This gave the impression of gravitas and due consideration to her question and was a useful collateral consequence of my pause. The fact was that my delay in replying was not borne of conveying such importance, although of course I would claim that it was, but it arose form my consideration as to what to tell her.
Should I substitute knowledge for feeling and allow the literary splendour of my educated mind to fill the gaps occasioned by what I am? Should I plug hole with adjectives and poetic observation? Should I address the chasm with the acquisition of the described feelings provided by others that I had heard, seen and read, claiming them as my own?
Or should I provide my reality?
Should I tell her that my feeling for the vista was as empty as the space between the stars that shone above us? Should I tell her that it was the minions that made me feel, even if only slightly?
Should I tell her why the stars continue to matter to me not because of a feeling, but because of a historic significance or would that shift too much power from me to her?
Should I tell her that it was her that made me feel more than anything – namely power?