A droplet condensed out of the heavy fog high above the curve of the blue world. Having been born from mist, riding currents beneath a horizon of limitless translucent clouds he knew only falling. And, so, took falling for life, and not falling at all.
On his journey toward the gentle curve, the droplet watched as cousin-droplets evaporated around him – too small to hold their shape against gravity and wind. It did not occur to him that he was destined for such an end.
“Help me,” cried a tiny droplet, no more than a foglet. “I can feel myself fading away. I’m so scared.”
The water droplet saw that there was nothing to be done; the little foglet was going melt into the thick air. So he reached out to offer comfort, to hold the frail droplet, to say, “there, there,” until the foglet had evaporated into the humid air. But when he embraced the droplet, it disappeared.
“Ah, well, I was too late.”
He heard another cry and turned to face it.
“Help me! Help me!”
It was another tiny drop, reaching toward him. This blush of mist was more substantial, but still too small to last for long.
“If I hurry, I’m sure I can save her.”
The water drop rode a tiny thermal to the pleading droplet and grabbed her. But too late – she dissolved under his touch.
Now, voices cried out above him and below – water droplets, begging to be held. He tried again, but each droplet disappeared upon his touch.
“It must be me,” he thought. “I am killing the poor tiny foglets.”
He vowed to stay away from all water drops. But the cries: save me…help me…let me join you, would not cease.
Even as his shame from killing the tiny drops overwhelmed him, he felt his strength grow. He fled the droplets reaching out to him.
“Don’t touch me! Stay away!”
But fleeing one droplet only brought him into the path of another. And they always dissolved into nothing. And whenever a nearby droplet witnessed a murder, it pleaded to be next.
His grief would not cease; yet his strength increased with each sad encounter. He felt ashamed of his great good fortune. He knew that he would never melt into the air, would never experience the death he had so often witnessed.
“I must use my strength, my gift, to help these poor tiny droplets. But how? Whenever I reach out to them they perish.”
He had been so consumed with concern for the surrounding droplets that he hadn’t noticed the radiant transformation of his universe. No more was he immersed within a gray humid fog, hovering beneath even grayer clouds, overlooking the gentle curve of a blue world.
The curve had dissolved, replaced by an immense floor of churning midnight-blue. The clouds were now wispy white and further off than his long-ago life as a droplet.
He realized that the midnight-blue below was an ocean of water drops. And now that he could see sky and cloud and ocean and himself as separate…he felt himself falling. And that the falling would end.
Drops as large as himself, and larger, raced to the ocean. All of their eyes facing forward. Their jaws set. Striving to be first.
“Where are we headed,” he shouted to a cousin over the roar of the wind.
“Down? Why, down?”
“Because. Down is for winners. Down is the place to be.”
“But, why? What is down that we don’t have already?”
“The ocean. Can’t you see? I’m going to be first.”
The water drop studied the ocean.
“But there are other drops ahead of us; they will reach the ocean before we will. Countless thousands must have reached it already.”
“We can do it! I know we can. But we need to focus. Think of nothing but reaching the ocean. And we will. If we believe, we will reach the ocean.”
The water drop studied the ocean, again. It was growing ever larger, ever nearer. He could now see the ping-ping as his cousins slammed into its black waves.
“I, too, believe we will reach the ocean,” he said to his companion.
“That’s the spirit!”
As an ocean-swell reared high he saw his friend touch its watery crest. His friend, The Drop of Unshakable Faith, merged into the ocean. And now, during his last moment as a drop of water, he saw a true thing. That the ocean itself was a drop. A rather large drop, yes, but still: a single drop of water; the same is he.
He saw that he and his friend were tiny foglets compared to the water drop that was the ocean. He realized that all the foglets crying out to him, who he thought he had killed, were actually now a part of him. He saw that these helpless tiny droplets were the source of his great strength – not the source of his sorrow. And that he, a water drop, would be the source of strength for an ocean. He saw that each drop falling through the brilliant sky would continue to fall even when it touched the ocean. For the ocean was a drop of water falling through an even larger, more brilliant, sky. And since falling was all the ocean ever knew, it took falling for life, and not falling at all.
Charming story, I enjoyed it.
Really good story, thanks!