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words become worlds

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She said the names of some animals, over the years. Goat. Bird. Earthworm. Ant. None of the words held the weight of the infant goat in his lap, or the way he can feel her heartbeat as he cautiously strokes her back. None of the words held the way the dark grey feathers of the pigeons somehow hold a rainbow of colors that shimmer when they take flight.

“Hey, Cyrus.” Kai is approaching at a steady amble. There hasn’t been much time for anyone to amble anywhere since… There hasn’t been much time for anyone he’s met to amble.

Kai is holding a cup of liquid, and he holds it out toward Cyrus. Steam rises from the liquid, which is light transparent brown. Belatedly, Cyrus realizes that Kai is offering the cup to him.

“Dani made tea. It isn’t made from a tea plant, so technically it’s a tisane. Or maybe an infusion? It’s made from dried mint and chamomile. There’s also honey in it.”

Cyrus takes the cup, keeping his other hand resting lightly on Marshmallow, who baaas. “Thanks.”

“No problem, man.” Kai sits on the other end of the bench.

The tea is sweet, with a hint of astringence. It’s the first time Cyrus has drunk a beverage that’s warm. The sensation is strange, like drinking liquid light. “It’s good.”

Kai doesn’t say anything to that, but he seems pleased. Marshmallow baaas again, and then they sit in silence, watching the birds flutter through the aviary as Marshmallow’s heart beats under Cyrus’s hand and Cyrus drinks the liquid light.

In there, each animal word was only a sound: short and one-dimensional. Out here, every creature is color and sound and thought and intention, living through space and time, and words become worlds as he watches them take flight.