Kommos Beach on the south shore of Crete. The sun setting to my right. The timid surf. Gold cliffs that Theseus first saw.
The ten of us: Andy, Xan, Dido, Manny, Brit, Juno, Cly, Gallia, Camilla, and me. In a row, our feet bare and sunk into sand; our knees bare, our arms crossed around them.
Saying goodbye to Earth: to land, sea and sky.
The sea of aquamarine, navy, rolling the gold sands licked from the cliffs.
The sky also blue, clear, Our setting sun seen from Earth.
Our last days.
Most of us were fairly young. But 59 years had grooved a deep habit. So, to this we had come, to this evening ritual after a days work, after swimming, walking, quiet, talking, after a drive on the thrilling roads.
“I’m not going to be able to leave.” Camilla.
“Ha! Right?!” Gallia next to her, leaning with her desperate laugh against Camilla. Our friend. Her constant companion.
“Look. When we were in Italy, I found this place. You know, if you have money to fix it up, you can get one for $20?”
Camilla passed her phone around. Each of us looked at the picture of her ruined villa, its arches and graceful spaces. The wild vineyards. A courtyard with its greened and calcified fountain stopped.
I for one looked numbly, blankly.
Everything was something not to want. There was freedom in this. But I found it disconcerting.
“Oh! This place was so cool.” Gallia.
“Only $20,” Camilla repeated.
Then we got awfully quiet.
The waves rushed up at us, towards our toes at the edge of the surf where we had sat in a row.
* * * * *
The Mycelium had learned to connect across. Through the cooling sand—up its heavy layers, into the loose warm, into their feet, across the white strands of nerves, down the branches of them.
In Camilla, the sense of Home, brighter than the rest. Red and rooted. Determined.
For Camilla, the Volcian girl, the pull was innate. Indigenous. As the historian Virgil wrote, she had given her life to it once, long, long ago, resisting the one-day Romans.
The Mycelium felt how this also connected, unsevered, through sands, across the Aegean Sea to that wild vineyard. A light in Camilla was mirrored and rooted there. In Flagstaff too—and other…homes? But the beacon shone the brightest in ancient Latvium, amongst the Volci, in the golden days before Romulus and Remus would arrive, where the Mycelium knew humans located “the past.”
The Mycelium focused there, growing nerves, tightening connections, brightening them. She found another light, one matched in Gallia’s chest and all of our bodies. She tightened and brightened and fiercened the white nerve networks.
She did not mean to be cruel, but experimented like this as a matter of adaption. The humans had given her permission, entrusting her to the unfathomable complexity of time, space, history, destiny, knowledge. And there were places, lights like theirs, in her too, nodes in her, where we all met, where she could never let go, where she hurt and yearned valiantly.
* * * * *
The disconcerting numbness eased, replaced with a tugging. Quiet like the surf, but insistent, always pulling.
It pulled us home.
It pulled us to the stars.
Born, born again, and again. This faint sense of familiarity in a place has been written about a million ways, ruined, made trite. It was this the Mycelium tweaked in us.
What was it?
A magnet pull.