“And We Spake of Them Words Which Make You Goddess” by A.J. Fitzwater

You goddess be sit on that hill two days. You daint spake or look or et, least of all to or from we. We caint leave a goddess hangry or unlooked or ungreeted. That what they spake. Who? Everyun.

But everyun here aint seen a goddess. They know some-un of a some-un who mayhap. So how we know you for real? You daint move, is-un. You ignore we, is-nother. That what them words in them older books say bout goddesses. You only come to listen, to warn. Of what, we haveta waiten see. It be something to do with the big gray, cause that where you be from.

So you go-head, draw them important thots from the suns and grass, valley and Home, them walls of Biggen. Sure, them words be from the Afore Time so mebbe naint total proper for a goddess, but this here you aint look at is Home word-smith. Words be our work. We be good with them words. Naint, the best. And if we use a word of our own choose, we be. Got naint-un to contradict we, least of all that crack of a vase we call our mam.

Hai, we be of she who push up from river bottom.

What name suit you? Welp, aight, we wait. We have plenty time, as we make them words for this place. Hai, and that includes you now.

Daint you move or be make contact of the eye on our account. See that cart there, fullen words? We be off to Biggen with this here six-day worth of books. Hai, we weave words good, use them old and new and them in between. Bettern mam slap mud. Betteren those words fill the cracks of that there tree.

Hai, we see where you choose. We daint like sortilege much as the next-un, but these young-un and their full hearts need tend. Old girls and their stiff joints too. They daint know tis we, but we give little story as bits for the feed they leave the tree, so hush it. Let them keep of the thot this here be a wish tree. It makes you and we alike. Naint a huge stretch to be a goddess tree, aight.

But naint a story for the men-like kin. They have moren-nough, but they make plea-tend too when their mams aint look. We et them men-like words. We et them good. They taste of sugar and tears.

We let you know now, we read them old books of Afore Time, full of Afore so old as be worthy of forget. Them old words say goddess be tend to all. But goddess, you daint know Home. Or Biggen. We know the apologue that goddesses once did spake their words from their chariots up there in the gray, they pushed we this way and that till we choose these suns to warm us. Then they hush.

Hai, you like our bigger words? We choose them just for you.

But we here in the Aften Time live without them goddess words. A goddess daint spake, naint now, naint mebbe ever agin. We know these suns only be every-uns long as we take good care, make good words. So your wordless interest make we pause. Why a goddess of your reputate take to our hillock here?

We can wait. We have all the time. Moren others, lots more. We live and live and they be worm fodder. Tis why they call we witch. But we naint angry. We have more words over them, and that be fine to our head and eyes. They need our words, or they be stone cold fools.

Aight, we spake it. You came to a hill of fools. But that be a choice moren some others have.

* * *

You still be here? Aight, just so long you be warm and et and clean. Them fools bring you plates, we see. Daint you naint be look at we like that, call them fools if want. More fool them, less fool we.

Truth be, they aint scared-nough of their word-smith, they be scared of that vase and them pages. Hai, our mam be big with the best glaze, and da be multiple sheaf of fine pulp. We talk at them every day. We must, or them fools be bigger fools, and Home naint be Home, the tree naint be tree, the Afore Time daint be time at all.

Hai, the vase talk back, but the pages daint. But that as it be. They parent the best they know.

Hai, they be uns that brung we to this world, but they be mud and pulp so early we daint member they spake or et or shit. Hai, parents they shit, but them fools daint be spake of such necessity. Aight! We bite a knuckle at such jest. Them fools make parentage like a goddess thing when they be weary of wait for your type to appear on handy hill or rock or roof all silent and make them look up from their fool lives and fear the gray.

You be et that? We daint see cheese that fine. Them fools keep the best for the council table. Hai, there be council tables since the last of you decide be make our acquaintance. See how wellen long this Aften Time be? Daint you go shitten it up, hai? We been gooden alive longeren them fools know. The vase and pages forgot to give we the Aforen words of It All afore they put a foot to the world, so our guess is best.

Oh, hai, that cheese be best, and that bread too. Mine be most rough, but I daint complain. Food is food, goes in this end, make we go, then come out the other. Just so long the taste be fair.

We daint have tongue for fancy-up meals, we be too busy with them words and be avoid the vase. Hai, the vase watchen wait, naint two suns bout that. And we only be invite to council table on story day. They listen to we then, for the totalage number of words we have. We be sure they listen-nough, so we pass over them rich cheese, cause them council fools believe that what make we be fat. But how that be when it aint what we et all this long time, and we walk to Biggen and back agin, cart full of words each six-day?

They aint look now, and you aint spake at them, so a sliver of this good here cheese daint hurt any. Fat is just fat. Our body still goes, betteren longeren than any fool aften all these wheel turns.

We see you aint look at this here near empty cart. It be decent day at Biggen market. Our words be of fair price, but naint too fair mind. We make quality words and we spect fair bits for it. Words wanted, words needed, all good.

You be in need, you shout towards our house. We be that way.

Aight. A goddess daint need. You only wait. And watch. And judge.

Damn fool goddesses. Judging what? When them others make words, them fools send them to the gray like that still works for them in the Aften Time. If you look up in the short gray time between suns, you see them words of Afore fly over, overen over agin, their gray-chariots wheelen wheelen. Them fools forget where our gray-chariots be, and shout their words upen there above it all, so them Aften Times words shoot every-which way. One these days if they daint be careful them words collide and then be trouble.

At least we know. Some-un got to. You hear those Afore Time words, we guess. You only be here to judge on old words. Mebbe it why you daint spake.

We daint like be judge, but some-un gotta do it when you aint here. And we be prepare them with these words, but no guarantee they listen. To them fools they just be stories. They prefer them words of a goddess, but a goddess daint spake. So we daint know how be make this work.

* * *

Hai, it rain here. Offen on. Nough. That surprise a goddess? You choose this place, you take the rain with the suns and them birds.

And dirt in your face, too. Them fools be throw earth at the gray agin? Cowardly fools, throw and run. They use how a goddess daint twitch when they blow smoke in her face. They run anycause. They fear the Afore words.

Let we clean your face and hands. If you let.

We take that as hai.

We do this to fool them fools. There be less words to et in that tree since you be here, and that be good. More time to spake at you. Them fools thot you clean and et yeself, so we make bigger words for them. And they listen. They hafta, since they see how the gray get longeren longer since you came. You should hearen see how foolish they be at council table bout it. Hai, but of course you can. You be goddess.

That better. Worry naint, we daint be touch a goddess’s sacredness. That be tween you and the gray how you be void of your leavings. Naint to we to know whether a goddess piss or shit. But them fools, we bet they be curious. Oh hai, we see how them come Home aften supplicate with a curled hand or blacken eye. That be you? We hope it be.

Caint do naint for those locs of yours, but you have them good in hand. Caint do naint for them rags you call clothes, but that be your choice too. We leave these folds here for you, take them at your will. Aint our best work, naint our worst. We still have things we do otheren words. Our fingers daint forget. We like the practice.

How be that view, hai? Same-at the day afore, and the day afore, we spect, only the seasons be move. Hai, if you be call them seasons. Allays hot. Hai, and wet today.

What bring we here today? We spect a goddess already know suchen answer, and the answer aften that, and that-un and that-un too. But we go on, day and step and word at a time. You must be forgive of that. As a goddess should.

Hai, we have two thots last gray, as we watch the words chase across upen there. First be: we talk too much of weself. And that be absurd, you be goddess. You have everything we and them fools afore we say it.

At the end of that thot, we be thot agin: welp, if you be angry or be done you make words or just go.

But hai, be calm, we naint make you talk. We count our words, as we be taught, so a word-smith daint outstay their welcome.

That be right. You stare down that valley like you paint a vase or plough a row with your eyes. This ground keep every-un well. This ground keep every-un in their words. It is a home for Home. Naint worth be sad bout. We naint foolen-nough to search for them words beyond the gray. That be wish for moren due this old sack of ink stain and letters. Or so the vase once said to we.

The second thot. Hai, we be have moren un, daint let them fools or that vase fool you naint. We can make words and thots in the same day, we be clever like that.

Second thot: How you know this and that dialect?

But our vase. Huh. She spake, aften so many wheels, so so we be look her way try as we might naint. She know you be heren now, and she aint be happy. We spake at the vase, daint you be impatient with we old mam, shut your muddy yap, it be fair question to ask of the goddess.

We be a good word-smith. We have all them words from all over here and afar, all them good, all them welcome. We stir and we make and et them all. Some we forget, some we just daint share anymore. Some so old they taste gooden proper. Some we even use fingers for, like this. But we all, here and afar, can spake wellen good, but diffent, with all of them words since that first goddess, hai.

So mebbe you ignore we and them fools because you daint understand every-uns words.

And how we explain that failure as a word-smith if that be truth?

A sign. A sign be good. Look at we. Look away. Make a word. Show we you et. Show we you shit.

Daint you thot we deserve a sign?

We be good with words, we promise, naint matter what words that vase make. That vase, like all that turn their hand to be mam, lies. Some moren others.

Hai, we break that vase if it be lie to you. She know better. She should.

But she daint. She daint even know mud these days.

* * *

We daint ever thot they leave.

Daint with the apology. Naint be of our make. We have to spake them words they like. We put together gray and ground in that pleasing way or we daint et. We the smith of this truth aften-all. But what is that truth, when them grays be longeren longer this wheel, some them words upen there spake loud and fall away? Them fools daint want truth, they just want them words they like best, words from tween the Afore Time and the now time.

They want your words, naint ours.

The word of your sit travel long and far, so more them fools come. You see them fools from Biggen, them fools from Bigger, and even them fools from Biggest. We daint give them their true names, cause truly, what is a name? You have them anycause, like you have our name. We know you know.

That be the sign, we ask. Be spake our name, and we leave you to your goddess ways.

We daint be jealous like that, naint matter what them fools spake at you, or what words them stuff in that tree there.

So show we what you know of this here view you so enjoy. It be rude you naint tell we what comes. Mayhap you want us deaded. Mayhap you goddesses want these suns to yourselves.

Hai, we be think of these things. And we caint be allow that.

* * *

You naint hear her from here? Hai, that vase can make a fuss. That why we be here, when it be gray. This far tween the fires of Home and Biggen make good view for them Afore words up there, and them Aften words I let go. Look, there goes un. There be nother. Be ride their chariot, fasteren faster, sun to sun and back agin, but naint yond.

What she be fuss over? A vase caint be cold. It daint matter. It allays be bout we.

She spake we daint use our proper words with you, like we daint use our proper words with her. But we spake at her, you aint be our mam since afore we member. You just sit there, all mud like, all painted and spake and words and spit.

And she spake, I fall off this high shelf, you be mindful. I fall, I will. Then I be broke, and you daint learn new words. And it be quiet.

Like that be a terrible thing with these wordier grays.

And we spake, hai, you go-arn, we have da here for his words. And we hold up the pages, shaken, like this, and she go-arn more, spake back, and back and back and back, louderen loud but it be words that naint worth your good ears.

She be like this when she thot we make words too much, or watch words from the gray instead of from her neck. Now it be bout you sit up here. Mebbe she be cold. She be silent for so long, we thot that vase cracked too far down, and now the cold be get in. Then she hear the word on you, and off she spake agin. She had much thots afore she set her foot on the world but she naint share them with we. She keep them away, too precious for this word-smith anycause. Mebbe that true, mebbe she wait for less gray agin, for words yond the suns.

She be wait a long time.

We bet you thot: how does a vase and paper bring up a child? Welp, they daint. They made we, but there daint be a way the fine mud of mam and high thread count of da feed and fuss the likes of we. We be special, is them word. Special aint the word them fools use, but how else we be a word-smith of our like, hai? We daint just fall out of the gray like any word.

Daint you fuss. While the vase and papers be put foot on this here world, do things moren portent over words, we have flesh that tended we good-nough. Them flesh had names, but to we they just be mam and mam and mam too. They do their best with child of mud and splinter, but we root bout for words. Allays words. Mam threaten to break herself agin the tiles when she discover da share his clean pages with we, but eventual da only have so many words for we, and he stop.

But them fleshy mams, they be fools just like the rest of them, so afraid of the words. They turn them faces from the gray. They thot the gray allays just be. They daint appreciate the words that we make and spake and et. Them be long for the gray now. The words of their names we put in that tree, but the tree et them. So we put the words of their names up there in the gray too, so we see them fly over. Look, there they be now.

But daint goddesses see all of Afore and all of Aften, and all of it tween? Welp, we be thot real hard on this, and we have it.

We know there be many of you goddesses cause you all look so diffent, so spake books.

If we be real, you be real. Hai, we pinch you, but daint leave blue. And when we pinch you, we pinch weself, skin for skin, and that daint leave blue either.

So we be thot: if both be real, what that make you and we?

* * *

It be unusual cold this turn of the wheel. Why you be so stubborn? What you be prove?

Our vase, she thot you fool. That word only for them others, so we warn her we push her off the shelf if she make epithet agin.

But we be tired, and we sell our best words to make through this unusual cold. See our fingers and toes? So much like yours, but they aint. Yours be warm and brown, mine be cold and stained by ink.

What be with this silence? It be arrogance, hai.

Our vase, when she make silence for so long we swallow rocks to carry the weight of her. She naint be a bad vase, just busy with bigger thots, and we be too small. Tis true, we be a small child, she truths it.

But them flesh-mam of we, their words bout her daint fit our pages. Them ill words. Sick as this gray, grayeren grayer in the face of them suns, gray since you came.

You rude. That what you be. You mock we with your clean skin and soft eyes. Naint-un be soft when they look upon this place. But you goddesses, allays be soft bout it.

Stop it. This naint what goddesses be.

Stop it. If you daint, we hate. We be good at that, so mam truths it.

Aight, daint expect we to share words with you. It be too cold out here for that.

* * *

Them suns come, agin agin. We watch them, as we watch for them words which fall fasteren faster from the gray. Words bright and small and haphazard. They drop the membrance of Afore Time words right in our lap sometimes. Watch for them for you, so they daint hit your head, cause your eyes be turn from brown to gray. But see our own eyes, they be the same as the moment you come.

It be a lot quiet, cept for the gray. Home. The vase. The valley, see how it waves at you.

There be smoke from Biggest now. It start aften a loud word from the gray. Naint a shout, we here daint shout, tis rude, spake mam.

But a loud, round word it be, which hurts these here ears and mind. Mebbe it be a word spake by all goddesses all at once, tis what we thot. We dream of the shape of this word, even when waken. It breaks the yond, show us a dark biggeren any gray we see.

Head pictures be easy to a goddess, but to a word-smith they be hard. Words be our thots, even when we turn off the gray and rest. Now we caint, and we be fail at our word-smith.

These new thots, they be a mirror. We see weself in a place like this here hillock, but aint so much this place, sitting like you. We be like you. We watch, we wait. But our diffent be the weight them rocks, words, which push agin our skin from the inside.

We laugh. Ha! We naint be a goddess, so spake the vase many times.

We spake of this, cause we be offen search for this hill, away from this gray that gets loweren lower. This be so you know you be dirty and hangry and unspake from onwards.

It also be counsel. That gray be on your head soon. And that smoke over there, it naint be a whisper for long. It make words in the bottom of we throat, the kind mam use to lock we in the charnel house for.

We must go, though we make up words for what come aften the valley. There daint be other thing to do with all them mams and men and their dams and sams gone.

Hai, you be right to ask what of the vase and the pages. They caint be fed or clean or spake of themselves. But they caint go where we go.

This here them. You be witness.

Hai, she protest and question and question and question, but she be silent when we widen her cracks and smudge her glaze. Of her colors she be proud. But what use colors when the gray be longer, longest, the words louder, loudest?

There. It be done. Earth, back to earth. Mud back to mud. You watch her pieces, set mongst this here fire.

And these pages. The fire we set for your warm naint be for him. We put da in this here tree. Naint-un to et his words. He be what he be, the answer and the question.

Now we pick a path to and away, compose a word for it.

So. You win.

See, we make a step, nother. This hill here be yours, you take it now. We find our own, the hill from our head. We go, to sit and thot and find new wordalige.

You watch our back as we leave.

Hai, you be a goddess to the end. Daint even find our name as we step and step.

Wait, where you go?


A.J. Fitzwater is a meat-suit wearing dragon living between the cracks of Christchurch, New Zealand. A graduate of Clarion in 2014, they won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2015 for Best New Talent. Stories can be found in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, and Shimmer Magazine. Daily brain fluff happens on Twitter @AJFitzwater.
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