Bridge to Global Literature

Here, translation unlocks stories from languages afar, people unknown yet familiar in voices that stun you and resonate with you. here is your book of world stories

Celeste – Mehreen Ahmed

Mar 12, 2022 | Fiction | 0 comments

The children of the alley made clay dolls. They sat by a rubbish pile and dressed them all. Dolled them up, faceless at first. Then they gave them eyes and nose and curvy mouths. Legs and hands to dance with them at sundown. If this wasn’t enough, they also made tears with Lipids, Lysozyme, Lipocalin, Glucose, and Sodium. Water, made out of H2O. Oxygen to breathe, blood from Iron to carry oxygen to brain; carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and ethanol. Estrogen and so on to trigger pleasures, euphoric. The brain, composed of Cerebrum, Cerebellum, and Brainstem. Skin to cover and protect.

The children were blind. Still, they melded a silken network of chemical medley into this unique creation. Even kindness, generosity, jealousy and cunning—propensities—were inclusions of this concoction. They gave them a name Clay Dolls, who had everything they needed to dance with them—energy, intelligence, sentience. Except, there was one potent component, the children were circumspect—eternity, they reserved only for themselves, which the Clay Dolls found disturbingly lethal. The chemicals they had been tied with were eyewash.

Every dance was long and nuanced; the children took a lot of care to choreograph. In great details they took a butcher’s knife and pierced it through the Dolls’ hearts. They were blind; they didn’t see them die; but they had known it all along; this dancing was thrilling, in which the bodies putrified, not the chemicals. They used the same building blocks to make new dolls in tightly packed chemical knots. In their blindness, the children saw naught, what the Clay Dolls had asked for. They’d never even viewed their own reflections—let alone them—but Clay Dolls had eyes. They saw them—The Makers for who they really were—insensitive, in wanton jouissance.

No matter, the Clay Dolls matured overtime. They developed a foresight, which eluded The Makers. The Dolls thought of a ruse to get even with them. They learned the ropes and progressed. While they danced with The Makers, they’d also begun to tutor themselves in natural herbs, potent in medicinal value. The Makers had taken them for fools—Clay Dolls. Surely, when they tried to butcher them, they realised they couldn’t kill em’ all. Some stood back up while some fell. The Makers comprehended with a sixth sense, but couldn’t do anything preventable.

The Clay Dolls were gradually overpowering them. Knowledge had given them much boost. Still, they continued to dance but far lesser kills, for The Makers to roost. More Clay Dolls survived as their skills exponentially exceeded The Maker’s expectations. However, The Makers found comfort that the ultimate power over the organic world resided in their hands. Only they were eternal, and wise enough to govern these lands. Although, the creepy sixth sense alluded to them that the Clay Dolls were not only dancing in tight compartments under the blue, but had traversed the space as well, who now had the sense of space-time, the gaseous Canopus and the laws of physics.

Why, the Clay Dolls were unstoppable, yet they were fettered? The Makers felt angst and conferred amongst themselves. The Clay Dolls were reaching heights too far in the sky. They needed to be cut down to size. Whoever had the knowledge of immortality would win this war. The Makers found solace that the Clay Dolls would not win because they danced to a mortal tune which they had been attuned to since inception. The Clay Dolls would never know how immortality worked, thereof, The Makers would always dominate.

It rang true, the laws of physics did decree this that in time every organic life would perish. The Makers had made sure that the Clay Dolls were just that—organic, and nothing more. The sixth sense allowed them the light of prediction. However, The Makers had not predicted this. The Clay Dolls persisted. Did they not deduce that immortality was immutable and not bound by any strict parameters? Maybe, The Makers were delusional of galaxies that when they blossomed, they hinged on the laws of physics, alone.

Who made The Makers, any way? The Clay Dolls theorised that The Makers were subjected to the rule of law, too, not all that powerful—astronomical objects galvanised the stars. Where did black holes exist—wholly eating stars and what not? Galaxies could die and another could be born. Also, true to time. Since the big bang, this stretch of the solar system had occurred. It stretched and the stretching continued, theoretically, towards a gravitational collapse—Clay Doll’s collated and observed the true nature of the universe.

The Makers spun out of gasses, far surpassed the lowly masses—immortal creators just their luck, but, no interlocutors by any long shot. Both mute and blind, they made the Clay Dolls in their own image. Albeit, the Clay Dolls were borne out of them but had not turned out eternal, but different—enigmatic and more.

The fate of the Clay Dolls was sealed. Without oxygen, they couldn’t breathe. Without food this variant would be deficient. All designed in blindness, but the same law could be applied to The Makers in reverse—stars, the sun, the rains, the rainbow and all the lovely confection that fell from them. In hindsight, they too died. They too were prone to destruction which the deluded Makers wouldn’t know. The Clay Dolls, figured out the celeste. More lights sparked through their neurons than all the lights sparkled in the milky way.

In this blinding paradox of the sixth sense, The Makers had not marked a proximate magnet—a spiralling blackhole they couldn’t flee; new stars were born, new Dolls were made—locked in a deadly dance—a game without a referee. Much to their delight, this much light the Clay Dolls had perceived. Knowledge that had given them an upper hand that there were more things in heaven or on earth—no one was free from the strict laws of physics. Such choices had not existed. Not to date at least.

Mehreen Ahmed is an Australian novelist, born in Bangladesh. Her historical fiction, The Pacifist is a Drunken Druid’s Editor’s Choice.  Gatherings is nominated for the James Tait Black Prize for fiction. Her short and flash fiction have been much awarded. She is contributing editor and jury to the KM Anthru International Prize of the Litterateur Redefining World Magazine and a featured writer for Flash Fiction North and Connotation Press. Her Toads on Lily Pads was curated by Cambridge Press on Muck Rack. She is widely published online and in anthologies. She has published eight books, and her works have been translated in German, Greek and Bangla.


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