There was a game my siblings and I would play when we were kids. It was a good way to pass the time while Mom ran errands, or when we were “focusing” on chores. The game would always start with the same question: “What if there was no such thing as…?”
And then we would name a letter. Like “S.”
“Ooh. Then there would be no school!”
“Yes, but there would also be no snacks.”
“I don’t think I’d miss salami.”
“How about saliva? How would we eat?”
“It wouldn’t matter. There’d be no safety. We’d all die.”
“No sharks, though.”
“Well that would be bad.”
“Literally. I could live without socks, though.”
“But you couldn’t have shoes either.”
“We’re back to ‘no safety’ again.”
“At least Mom wouldn’t be short anymore.”
“Oh, but I’d miss her smile.”
And so forth. It was a fun game, and I think my parents enjoyed hearing us practice our letters. More than wordplay, though, for me the game was always about imagining a different world, often an impossible one, where the rules would have to be different and even familiar things would have to take on new meanings if they wanted to survive. Contradictions were welcome and contributed to the fun. It was an exercise of the imagination that encouraged us to make sense out of nonsense and order out of chaos.
I never realized that when I became an adult, I’d be entering a world premade to demand such exercises of the imagination. We’re expected to imagine things we can’t see all the time. We imagine that the world is really full of good people, even though the news only talks about the bad ones. We imagine that giving a homeless man a few dollars is going to do him some good, even though we know it might not. We imagining a broken heart was not a wasted effort, even if that is exactly what it feels like at the time.
We move through this world of things as they are by focusing on things as they might be, as we hope they someday can be. A refusal to accept the present as eternal, in favor of some better thing we dare imagine for ourselves, is only possible because of worlds that don’t exist. Before we can even show faith in such worlds we have to have the imagination to hope for a world that, to put it frankly, only exists in our minds and hearts. Having conceived such a world, we immediately become enabled to start building it.
So this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for nonexistent worlds. Bright, beautiful worlds that we can only imagine now, but which are real enough to make us live better, more hopeful lives. Just because such worlds don’t exist here and now, doesn’t mean they don’t exist somewhere and somewhen. Perhaps not very far away either. Perhaps just close enough to make a difference.
Title: The Son of Dark (Book 1, The Darksome Thorn)
Genre: YA fantasy, sword and sorcery
Author: Jeremy Higley
Publisher: Class Act Books
A thousand years ago, the wizards of the Nynsa failed to follow the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, and now the greatest evil of their time has survived into the next age.
Now, the Darksome Thorn has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.
Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent...
...and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything. Will Skel's newly developing powers be a help or a hindrance...
Marga pointed to the south. Zar didn’t turn, but he heard a gasp of recognition from Skel.
“Aja-aja,” he said with concern. “Three of them, about two miles away.”
Zar sighed in trepidation. The aja-aja were rare, enormous snakes prowling the Eltar plains, preying on elephants and any herders foolish enough to attack them. They had three heads each and stocky, powerful bodies to match, and could grow to over forty feet long. They killed and then predigested their prey by spitting streams of corrosive poison from their mouths.
“The aja-aja will be no problem,” he bluffed, staring into Marga’s eyes. “I have two magic-users with me now, a wizard and a Phage. They’re perfectly capable of dispatching a few overgrown snakes.”
“If so, then I’ll simply have to wait longer to be reunited with my precious one,”
the Wyvern said, eyeing the flattened snake corpses around her.
Something inside Zar began to burn like a fuse at the words “precious one.”
“You knew her before, I presume,” he continued, his voice much quieter. “Before you kidnapped her, I mean, and took over her mind.”
“She was mine to take,” the Wyvern retorted through Marga’s lips. “She was always mine to take.”
The last words hissed from Marga’s mouth like a challenge. Zar’s fingers wrapped around his sword’s hilt. He wanted nothing more at this moment than a way to strike at
his enemy, but the Wyvern was far, far away.
“If you want her,” Zar said, “you’ll have to kill me.”
“Too risky,” the Wyvern replied. “You crave nothing more than to die for her. To kill you might break my grip.”
“If you don’t kill me she will never truly be yours,” Zar said. He walked to within an arm’s length of her. “As long as there’s breath in me, I will always be fighting to free
“I’m sure you mean that,” the Wyvern said. “Once you’re dead, there’s nothing to stop me from singing her back to me.”
Jeremy Higley was born in California but now lives in Arizona. As of 2016 he’s a graduate student working on a master’s degree in English. He’s also an instructional aide at a local elementary school, a novelist, and a contributing editor for a nonprofit student success company called LifeBound.
YoutubeTrailer Link: https://youtu.be/svt6n7Rv2Lw