TBOTSG-Chapter 15

July 9, 2024

Filip was feeling happy and he smiled constantly. Consequently, I felt the same way too. It was clear to me that I was sensing more than just ordinary feelings from Filip. Because I found him likeable, I had the opportunity to form a deeper connection with him. And he, he had grown accustomed to me and was no longer intimidated. He was simply happy to be around me. Now, as we traveled along a long road in the middle of the plain, with endless rows of trees on either side separating us from vast expanses shaded in different colours, he smiled not only because he was satisfied with himself, but also because he imagined that I could be his beloved. This amused me. It intrigued me as well. Love, I had not felt it for thousands of years, even before the world beyond had come into existence. Common mortals, those who worshipped me and prayed for better crops or health, or whatever else a goddess might do for them, had written ballads, songs, performed plays, made comedy shows, dramas, and tragedies out of my last great love. For me, it had indeed been a tragedy. But so much time had passed that now, trapped in this limited body, I almost couldn’t remember it anymore.

A strong and brief image interrupted my train of thought. It was my hand picking up Roah’al’s pendant from the pile of bones turned to dust. Indeed, the most painful moment had found its way to me and seemed to slap me in the face. I suppressed a sigh and tried to focus harder on Filip’s thoughts, who was imagining all sorts of situations with me. Some were cuter than others. He kept imagining possible scenarios where he would hold my hand. Clumsy scenarios that almost made me laugh out loud. I didn’t do that. I knew it would ruin his mood, and I wanted to enjoy these two or three hours of sensations that I didn’t even know humans could feel. Like affection, like love. I placed my left hand over Filip’s hand resting on the gear shift and felt a wave of emotions that I overwhelmed me. I was even happier.

I wonder when was the last time I had been happy? When Roah’al agreed to come with me. To escape the oppression at home.


The sound of my voice surprised both of us. Filip was pleased that I spoke. If he were a dog, he surely would have wagged his tail. I wanted to tell him to forget about it. But I realised I wanted to talk about her, something I hadn’t done in ages.


‘Her name was Roah’al. She was a woman from a planet I visited during one of my travels.’

‘So, aliens do exist! I knew it.’ Filip chuckled for a while on that topic, unaware that his interruption annoyed me. Yet I liked this aspect of him, the way he made digressions and interrupted all the time, because it never let things get too serious. I realised again and again that this was exactly what I needed.

‘Yes, they exist. And the other gods, my brothers I told you about, they all come from different worlds, from different parts of the galaxy.’

‘Like in Star Trek!’


‘We must watch it together someday. So, Roah’al? Was she your lover?’

A brief silence followed because I had never looked so trivially at what had happened between me and her. I don’t think I had ever used these words, but now that Filip had said them so simply, I suddenly felt very human. Roah’al had indeed been my lover.

‘How did you meet?’

‘She was the second alien civilisation I had encountered by then, so I was still very curious when I discovered her. Curious and extremely ignorant, I could say now.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I was convinced that all I had to do was be a bit discreet, otherwise… I behaved as if the new planet I had discovered and all its places and civilisations were there just for me. At first, I was content to wander through all the beautiful places, to watch a procession or a festival and to delight in the spectacle of their existence as a mere spectator. But after a few centuries, it didn’t seem enough anymore. Anyway, as I became more neglectful, I began to be seen more and more often. And a new religion had sprung up…’

‘So you’re not a goddess just on M’s planet!’

I smiled at the thought of the worlds that perhaps still revered me and wondered if I would ever have the chance to see how they had evolved.

‘At first, I enjoyed seeing their reverence, awe, and exaltation when they saw me. But over time, watching people kneel before me over and over again, I began to wish I could speak with them. A new form of curiosity seized me, so I resumed exploring, but this time not through the universe, but among living beings. I wanted to know more about each one. They fascinated me. It was impossible to appear before them and not feel how they seemed to close completely, overwhelmed by my godliness…’

‘How funny ‘my godliness’ sounds,’ Filip said, chuckling quietly.

‘Maybe it sounds funny,’ I said, finding it amusing myself, ‘but it certainly wasn’t for them. So I started taking various forms as similar as possible to those of those beings. It was the first time I did this and it was difficult for me. Hardest of all was hiding my aura. Apparently, I radiated light even when I thought I had transformed completely.’

‘Even gods need practice.’

‘It seems so. And I needed a lot of it because it took me years and years to succeed in passing unnoticed through their world. I experimented with a lot of things then… More, perhaps, than I had experienced in my original life.’

‘What do you mean by your original life?’

‘I mean… my energetic form is the next evolutionary step. I evolved from humans. I was a simple woman from Earth. But that’s a story for another time. There, I truly lived life, fell in love many times, in many forms, and was loved.’

I closed my eyes and remembered for a moment that vast world as seen through my past eyes, sitting on the edge of a cliff hand in hand with Roah’al. We were both perched right on the edge, our feet dangling over the abyss. It was just beautiful to me. She was slightly scared. She would sneak glances at me from time to time, then quickly turn her gaze back to the sunset. It was a unique sight.

I chuckled softly, remembering one of her pleasures. The first time, especially, it caught me off guard: when she realised how powerful I was, she amused herself by testing me.

‘One day, she got the idea to jump.’

‘To jump?’

‘Into the abyss. It was a huge hole hundreds of meters deep. And she looked at it, she looked at me, then leaned back, took to a run, and jumped without even glancing at me. I went to the edge of the cliff and felt instinct take over me. I jumped after her.’

‘What did you turn into?’ Filip asked, turning his eyes full of enthusiasm from the road, waiting for who knows what answer.

‘I didn’t turn into anything,’ I replied. ‘My body was energy itself. I embraced her and carefully placed her on the ground.’

‘Ah, I thought maybe you turned into a bird or grew wings.’

‘Hmm, it wasn’t necessary… so I didn’t think about it. But maybe she would have liked it more if I had done that.’

Filip’s perspective surprised me, and I felt slightly disappointed now that I hadn’t been more imaginative.

‘It would be awesome if you did that with me too. But transform into something cool. Like a dragon. Yeah… that’s what I want.’

I burst out laughing, taken by surprise. I didn’t even know I could do that.

‘Don’t laugh,’ Filip said, laughing with tears in his eyes. ‘Once we get rid of your seal, we’ll try.’

I didn’t tell Filip because I didn’t want to spoil his mood, but I didn’t plan to stay even a second longer after getting rid of the seal. The thought saddened me a bit, but I managed to focus on Filip’s joy and I recovered my good mood.

When we arrived at our destination after a few hours, M, Ofelia, and Andreea were already waiting for us. They seemed agitated, impatient, annoyed, which irritated me a bit. But Filip seemed excited by what he saw, so I allowed myself to continue enjoying his company, so I smiled as well. We were in a picturesque yet poor village in the south, with a fence made of red-painted wooden slats. M was opening one gate, Ofelia the other, and Filip was trying to manoeuvre the car into the courtyard without touching any trees or running over a dog barking loudly near the car’s wheel. When he turned off the engine and we got out of the car, I sensed… a different atmosphere. It seemed peaceful. That’s how I perceived it at first, but then I started to hear all the sounds that were actually there, which I found delightful. I paused for a moment to listen. There were chickens, ducks, even a pig grunting, which made me notice the countryside smell as well. Then I noticed I could hear the dog’s wagging tail as it sitting right beside me, waiting to be petted. And that’s exactly what I did, without even thinking about it. I felt like I had been here before. Maybe not exactly in this place, but I felt nostalgic and didn’t quite understand why. It didn’t bother me. On the contrary, I was enjoying the sensation without caring about the reason behind it.

The others were talking to our hosts, bustling about and inviting us to the table.

‘Shall we wash our hands?’ Filip almost whispered in my ear, making me jump. He started laughing and gestured for me to follow him.

I looked around eagerly, doing anything but being present. The others apparently noticed and left me alone. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that only Filip would have had the courage to ask me questions, and he was just as concerned as I was about our surroundings, in his childish manner, obviously. After we ate, we went to watch the sunset together in the vegetable garden, and I couldn’t escape until he took a lot of pictures with practically everything – us with a haystack, with a donkey standing in an overgrown field, amidst tomato plants, by himself, something he called a selfie. It took a lot of oaths and vows to convince M and Ofelia to keep the photos. In the end, he succeeded, so I felt even happier than before, and I found myself thinking about the moments when he would look at the pictures after I had left.

‘When are we starting off?’ Ofelia asked at one point later in the evening when we were all gathered together, the five of us and our three hosts: a woman dressed in a long pleated skirt, a headscarf tightly tied at the back, both with flower-patterns, a younger girl dressed in a modern style, with long nails and very bushy eyelashes that she kept fluttering at Filip, and a man who seemed older, and I couldn’t tell if he was the woman’s husband or not.

‘We agreed to meet up with the others here around nine-thirty, and we’ll head out around ten. It won’t take more than fifteen to twenty minutes on foot to get there, and it’ll take us about thirty to get everything ready. The bags are packed, look over there, they’re ready,’ she said, gesturing towards some bags in response to M’s skeptical looks. ‘We’ll be good to go by twelve, you’ll see.’

M nodded. I don’t know if he meant to say he agreed or not, but it didn’t matter anymore, because the others immediately resumed their conversations. And I… I was experiencing a new emotion: a mixture of anticipation tinged with the fear that nothing would come of it.