She knew he would come from the stars, the man she would love. She knew it because the cloud shapes told her so; the patterns of the falling leaves said so too; the raindrops whispered it and the thunder shouted it throughout the heavens: he will come – the starship will land and he will come.
Day after day, she followed her mother to market to sell their produce and buy what they needed. Some days she worked in the fields, other times she helped look after the children in the village. She heard their unspoken thoughts but veiled her own and seldom spoke.
And one day, he came. He came to the market, after walking from the secret valley where he had brought his starship to rest. To most of the stallholders, he looked unremarkable, just another young traveller stopping to buy provisions for the next stage of his journey. But she knew what to look for; she alone saw the light reflected from his skin and the golden sheen that surrounded him.
She took him to the forest that skirted the village and its green fields and there she gave him what she had gathered and kept for him: cornseed; kernels of the sweet woodland fruits; the dirt and dust from beneath her feet; and, precious and forbidden, the bones and dried blood of her ancestors from the grave places where no one went. And she gave him also, unasked, a feather from the great, wild speed-eagle which no longer outflies the wind. And as she loved him, so he loved her, too.
When he had gone, she persuaded a young man from the village to claim fatherhood of the star-child she would bear. When the child was born, she alone saw the starlight reflecting from his body and as he grew, she understood that somewhere in the galaxy there was a starship and its home star which knew that her son, and his, was here. And as the years went by, the light left in her womb by the starseed touched the skin of her younger children as well, so that they shared their brother’s inheritance.
Far away, the re-animated spiral essence of the Earth seed she had given him revitalised the failing blood of his people and the dying dust of their planet. Her gifts bore fruit and built a new Earthland for his people, and they knew that their light shone more brightly in the galaxy because the substance of Earth was within them. And if he was honoured as the saviour of his people because he had risked so much and travelled so far to find the girl who would save them, the girl, who had also dared much, would never know, but would remember only the golden light reflecting off the beauty of his hands.
All this happened a very long time ago and the girl’s bones have long since dissolved into the dust and ash of Earth. But sometimes, even now, a golden light gleams on the skin of a new-born child; while far away, the children of his children’s children still see sunlight reflected from the surface of the distant Earth-star. And as the great, wild speed-eagle soars overhead, fleeing the pursuing wind, they smile, and remember the ancient story.
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