The Words Written at the Gate
"The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes and hung them like bangles in my mind."
-Hortense Calisher, Extreme Magic
Every seventh day he comes, rain or cloud or shine. The day is waning; the forest is retiring against itself, trees entwining branches drowsily, crickets humming quiet hymns. The setting sun is curling blurry fingers against the watercolor sky. The dust trail he conjures swirls behind him in one constant, dancing motion, like the ghosts of the day giving lazy chase, a hand that beckons forward (back). The traveling is not easy; the road, bespotted and bespeckled by war, by time, battles him the whole distance, gives passage reluctantly (only when his wheels grumble and strain and squeal with the effort). But he comes.
He sits. (They sit.) For a long, lingering hour, they watch as the day ends and night secures its place, the sun swallowed up by the jagged mouth of the mountain range. Then they talk. Or Prime talks. Rambles, even. Slowly, at first, like the wisp of smoke drawn out of the hot barrel of a gun. Then faster. Steady, like water. A river that flows deep and wide and uneven, where thought lingers to brush the safety of the shore. Prime talks about Cybertron. He talks about Earth. About missions, upcoming. About the future, uncertain. Prime talks about everything, nothing, something in particular.
He talks like a leader should, Omega thinks, commanding the air when his armies are absent, shaping and bending the echo of words to his bidding. One who spends his days filling his hours and thoughts with the talknoisesoundstatic of armies under his control, of battles, past-present-future, in the foreground of his thoughts. He talks like one who still loves the feel of words, and where they come easy, pouring out with relief, like the open swell of a broken dam. An unexpected assurance, maybe, in one Omega would have thought taciturn in his hours alone.
Optimus Prime reminds him at times of Bluestreak, all running noise and steady nothing, but he knows this isn't an accurate assessment. Prime speaks aimlessly but deliberately, not in disjointed and scattered patterns, the mark of skittish thought; he speaks with the air of one who knows his words are being measured, even when the meaning of them often isn't. Omega Supreme has forgotten words (or maybe they've forgotten him), and it is a wonder to hear them so freely given, without insistence or presumption, without the sting of calculation. They hearken of something past (maybe dead), drawing him back to the place where words began (and ended).
Omega Supreme has no words to give, and even if he had, he has long forgotten the art of speaking, that subtle foreplay of verb and noun, that gentle touch of tone and octave. But: under the punctured, glittering veil of night, under the sound and rumble of Optimus Prime's voice, the past speaks. A shaky thing, the timid whisper of recollection that must be acknowledged before it can manifest. Omega Supreme lingers in that breadth of memory-time; his circuits buzz with the cautious energy of /listening/, the electric thrill of resurrection, as uncommonly placed as it is (unwillingly) anticipated. It is a moment, inevitable, that he suspects has been long in coming.
When Prime leaves, the sky is blushing pink as the sun peeks shyly over the Eastern border. All of Oregon quivers and coils hazily under the blaze of morning heat. The whole world crackles under his frame with sound-motion, the harmony of things that communicate without the weight of words and history hindering their passage through time.
Omega Supreme has no words, but they linger anyway. In his temporary memory, the image and sound of Optimus Prime conjures easily. His words animate themselves, turning over and over again like the railing of an ocean straining for the shore. They scatter and misalign, forming figments and abstractions of things past, conversations that he and Prime never had, but might if -
Omega Supreme watches the sun rise - and watching, listens, falling in love with words all over again.
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