He was five years old today. This year they were going to celebrate his birthday in the clearing of the forest so that Yggdrasil could participate too. He had such a droll sense of humor.
Ellen’s maternal instincts had finally kicked into play. She was only human. She had resisted the temptation to undergo the operation that Lem had performed on the boy five years ago.
The little boy walked hand in hand with her the whole way from the cave to the clearing. He wanted to make sure Ellen didn’t get lost along the hyper-dimensional paths and junctions. His head came up just a little above Ellen’s waist.
He skipped beside her the whole way, a complicated mathematical skipping, not just the two right feet then two left feet that normal human children skipped, but Fibonacci numbers – one right, one left, three right, five left, eight right, and so forth. He would ask her to guess what series he was skipping to and when she couldn’t guess, he’d tell her the answer and then try something easier. He started skipping again and, after some time, he asked Ellen to guess. “I have absolutely no idea,” she said.
“Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor, silly,” he giggled.
“Father,” Lem said from behind them, “stop showing off. It’s making Ellen self-conscious.” Yani looked at Lem and smiled.
Now he was doing the cha-cha. Ellen figured that one out and cha cha’ed alongside him.
Finally they reached the clearing. Everyone was there — the Tin Man, Vitruvius, Thort and Evanor, Cori, Sam, and Yggdrasil. Lem unfolded a large blanket and spread it on the ground for everybody to sit on cross-legged. Yani passed out plates and cups to everyone, and placed bowls of fruit and vegetables and breads in the center. Evanor opened the basket beside her and took out the cake. It had a big five made of yellow icing on top of it.
“Oh good!” the little boy exclaimed clapping his hands together. “That’s my favorite number!”
Thort lit each of the five candles that Evanor had placed around the big five on top of the birthday cake.
Since there was no sense in making a wish, the little boy filled up his rosy cheeks with air and blew all the candles out.
A leaf flitted down from one of Yggdrasil’s upper branches, meandering through the air until it landed in front of the boy.
He looked up at the tall canopy of over-arching trees above them. A tear trickled down his cheek.
That night, after they had returned with Lem and Yani to the cave and the couples had gone to their respective bedrooms, Ellen and the little boy lay together in bed quietly listening to each other’s thoughts.
“Let’s just hold each other closely tonight,” Ellen whispered to him.
He said nothing but moved in closer to her and wrapped his arm around her waist, holding on to her for dear life. His ear pressed against her breast and he heard and felt her heartbeat. It soothed him until he fell asleep.
Ellen felt his head heavy against her breast and also fell asleep.
Time wove their dreams, but the whirlpool would not be sated until it had swallowed their worlds and their dreams.