Realising the Dream
The circus came to town on the day Daisy and Fox emerged from the mine to live above ground. As soon as they came out of the tunnel, they saw a cloud of dust in the distance and ran back to the camp in fear that it was an approaching dust storm. They hurried to close up the house but when they arrived, the circus people had already started to unpack.
A man was shouting as he directed trucks. He turned to Daisy and Fox. ‘We’re a little ahead of schedule. They call me the “Captain”; I’m the ringmaster. A relative of yours on the coast told us to call in and say hello,’ he shouted over the chaos.
‘A relative?’ said Fox. ‘I don’t have any relatives in Australia.’
‘Well, a sort of relative,’ the Captain said with a wink. ‘A lady who said you were like a brother to her. Said you’d welcome us with open arms; said you loved visitors especially the …’ He turned towards Fox to make an hourglass with his hands. ‘… shapely ones,’ he grinned as a group of female acrobats walked past.
Fox blushed. ‘You got me wrong, mate. I’ve got the woman of my dreams here,’ and he pulled Daisy close. ‘I used to have the wandering eye, but … no more. No siree, I’m a reformed man.’
‘That’s right, Fox, you tell him,’ Daisy stuck out her tongue. ‘Don’t you come around here mister insinuating all sorts of things and saying stuff that just ain’t true. Fox is reformed, did you hear? Go shout that from the roof tops, you big bozo,’ she said, kicking up dust at him.
‘For goodness sakes, Daisy, settle down. Don’t be so reactive! Show some hospitality, will you.’ Fox turned to the Captain. ‘You can stay, mate, just for a few days. Come on in.’
A trail of circus people followed him into the house to eat the roast dinner Daisy had cooked for lunch. Fox and Daisy thought the uninvited guests would leave in a few days as they were itching to get back down into the mine to keep digging for the heart, but the circus people had no intention of going anywhere in a hurry. The Captain explained that their next booking was still six weeks away so they had time to kill between gigs. Daisy was scowling by this time.
‘What can I say?’ whispered Fox. ‘If I look like I’m in a hurry to get rid of them, it’ll raise their suspicion that we’re up to something. Best to act as if we’ve got nothing better to do than to hang around here and party. We don’t want to draw their attention to the opal mine.’
‘And the cooking?’ she grimaced. ‘You have no idea how much food these people eat. All I do is cook and clean. It’s relentless J! We’re almost out of stores. They’ve stripped the house of everything that’s not bolted down, and they show no sign of leaving. We’ll be lucky to have this bed to sleep in tomorrow.’
It was just a shell of a house when the circus people finally left.
‘Oh, my beautiful house!’ cried Daisy as they stood waving goodbye to the convoy of trucks, trailers and caravans moving at a snail’s pace out the front gate.
‘You’ve got to admit,’ said Fox, still a little hungover from the night before, ‘it’s been a hell of a lot of fun!’
As soon as the last vehicle was out of sight, they ran straight to the mine and discovered it had completely caved in. Fox cursed himself for giving in to Daisy by moving back up to the house.
‘It’s not my fault, you made up your own mind … and lucky you did, otherwise you’d be buried in there.’
‘It’s your fault, all right,’ he said. ‘This would never have happened if it weren’t for you.’
‘Rubbish,’ she retorted.
‘I’ll give you rubbish.’ He grabbed her by the shirt and pushed her away. ‘I’ll give you rubbish, all right, Miss Fancy Pants,’ he said as he grabbed a shovel resting on a tractor nearby. ‘I’m sick of you. It’s time you pulled your weight around here.’ He threw the shovel at her. ‘Dig,’ he said, turning to walk away. ‘And when I come back, if you haven’t dug six feet, you can stay here until you do.’
He stormed off, leaving Daisy standing in stunned disbelief. No-one had ever spoken to her like that in her entire life, but she refrained from answering back. Fox looked like he meant it and she saw a mean streak in him she had never seen before.
‘Six feet! Does he mean to bury me?’
For the first time in her life Daisy was afraid, so she bent down and began to dig. After ten minutes the first blister appeared, after 15 she was parched and after 20, she was ready to give up. She threw the shovel down and collapsed in tears.
‘Why did I leave John? What have I done? Why am I never happy?’ she sobbed.
When the tears eventually dried up, she raised her head to look around and assess the situation. She was in the middle of nowhere, all alone in a hostile environment with a madman. She flinched as a huge wedgetail eagle dropped out of the sky to land directly on a rock in front of her.
They eyeballed each other and waited for something to happen. Nothing did, so she resumed digging while the eagle sat watching her.
The eagle was still there at nightfall, and sensing that it had something to communicate, Daisy said, ‘Who are you?’
And just as Homer had once stood on the cusp of time to recount epics from the past, so too did the wedgetail as it drew a breath and began to tell the story of The legend of Opali.
‘I am a wedgetail called Magnificence. A long time ago I lived in the realm of the gods. My ancestors were appointed to carry the spirit of the god Ore through time to be here today in this form; the form of an eagle.’
Daisy’s mouth fell open. ‘Who is the god Ore and how does he relate to me, us, at this point in time?’
‘Well,’ the eagle said, ‘a long time ago the world was flat like a sheet of paper. It was held in place in Space by spinning around its axis located at the core. On one side lived the gods and on the other … well, no-one knew. Time, an ambitious god who felt confined in the space he had been allocated, wished to expand. He went to Providence, the god of all gods and asked her permission to travel through the core to explore what was underneath. He argued that by opening up the underworld and breaking through the crust on the other side, he could blow Earth up into a sphere – like a balloon – expand time and create new frontiers in Space. Providence, a little bored with the limitations of her own situation, granted him permission to go and gifted him two gods, Ore and Opali to help him achieve his goals.’
‘Why did Time need two gods?’ Daisy asked, thinking the story sounded strangely familiar.
‘Time needed two gods because he had peeped through a tiny hole in the core one day and saw a large river dividing the underworld into two. One side was as dark as the night and made of dense compressed soil and the other side appeared to be empty space filled with mist. He wanted Ore for digging and Opali for turning mist into light. Providence gave him the gods on two conditions – that they must never meet and that they must never leave the underworld.’
Daisy started to yawn so Magnificence called it a night.
‘You’re tired now, let’s continue tomorrow night,’ he said.
Fox came down every afternoon to bring food and check her progress on the tunnel, then he’d return to the house before nightfall. When he came down that first afternoon (before the recount of the story) with his tape measure she had only dug one foot, so he threw her a blanket and told her she had to stay there until she got to six. When she reached that goal the next day, he invited her back to the house. However, since the circus people had destroyed her beautiful house, it was too sad for her to go back so she told him she’d rather live at the mine and do her penance for all the bad things she had done in the past. He helped her rig up a camp and there she lived from that point on.
On the second night she got comfortable after dinner and said to the eagle, ‘Let’s continue.’
‘Where were we,’ said Magnificence, scanning his memory for where he had left off in the story the night before.
‘Oh yes,’ he said, ‘Providence gave Time two gods, Opali and Ore, and told him they must never meet nor enter the New World should Time manage to break through the crust.’
‘That’s right,’ said Daisy, ‘go on.’
‘In the underworld, each god had a kingdom. Ore was on one side and Opali on the other, separated by the large river that Time had spotted when he first looked through the hole. Ore was responsible for digging tunnels, and Opali was responsible for breathing life into her side by weaving mist into light and perfecting the processes of reflection, refraction, and diffraction. Time oversaw the two and everything went well for a few million years, then Time got bored, became restless and began to make mischief. He questioned what Providence had said and came up with a rationale that got us all into this mess.’
‘Us? Do you mean me?’ asked Daisy.
‘Sadly, yes. You’re involved in this, but I’ll come to that later. For now, let’s go back to the story. Where was I?’ Magnificence reflected.
‘You were at the part where Time had decided to break the rules and he did something that got us into this mess.’
‘Yes, that’s right. Time was in a hurry to break through the crust but was unsure of what to expect when he got there. He decided to send Ore and Opali up first to test the water so to speak. If the coast was clear, he’d go up and actualise. But Time had a problem. Ore had lost interest in digging when he happened to hear the voice of Opali singing in the distance one day and became lovestruck. Desperate to get Ore digging again, Time arranged for both gods to sight each other. This led to a mutual attraction and a desire to meet in person. As the gods were forbidden to meet, nor leave the underworld, Time was forced to design an elaborate plan to arrange a meeting in the outer world. The promise of a meeting was motivation enough to get Ore back on the job digging. Are you with me?’
‘I think so,’ she said.
‘Time couldn’t give two hoots about love. All he wanted to do was break through the crust. He figured he would not need them anymore after the crust had been pierced, and as Providence had told him that they would lose their god status if they entered the new world, he decided to set them free. Hence, he tricked them into entering the new world at different times and as a result they were unable to find each other.’
Magnificence paused to make sure Daisy was listening.
‘I’m awake,’ she said lying in her swag. ‘Don’t stop now!’
‘Good, you need to hear this. So, as it happened, Ore broke through the crust, followed by Opali then Time. But there was a problem. The atmosphere of the new world was under attack from Space. As soon as Time stuck his head out of the hole, he realised the situation was impossible and turned to scurry back down to the underworld. He called to Ore to give up the search and leave her behind.’
‘What a turncoat that Time is,’ muttered Daisy. ‘What happened to Opali while all this was going on?’
‘Opali was frantic and desperate to find Ore. In her desperation she summoned a large wedgetail eagle flying overhead to land at her feet and take her up to look for Ore. That was my ancestor by the way, the first wedgetail called Magnificence. Well, they flew around and around, until eventually Opali stood on the back of the eagle to sing to Ore, and as she stood, a tear fell from her eye. As the god of water – as well as light – this was not an ordinary tear. One tear turned to two and soon the floodgates were open, forming a river on the ground below; a river that tossed and turned with raging fury, growing more powerful with every teardrop that fell. Unfortunately, while all this was going on, she was exposed and Providence in her fury threw a large silica meteorite, collecting her and driving her deep into the river where her heart was transformed in an instant into an opal the size of a clenched fist packed with the most brilliant colours you could ever imagine. Indeed, The heart of Opali is a very beautiful thing or so the legend says …’ said Magnificence with a faraway look in his eyes.
‘Goodness,’ whispered Daisy.
‘Ore, who had decided to stay rather than go back down to the underworld with Time, saw Opali just as she fell to her death, and swore to stay on Earth until he could take the heart back. Ore was not able to achieve this without Time, so he waited, living in the wedgetail eagle, and his spirit was carried from one generation to the next until the time came for atonement.’
‘What happened to Time?’ asked Daisy.
‘Time had to wait until the atmosphere settled down and re-emerged one hundred million years later in the form of a blue snake as the Present. It was imperative Time find the gods and return them to Providence.’
‘Well, when Providence had given him the two gods, she did not tell him that when she removed the core to allow them to pass through, she placed it in The heart of Opali for safe keeping. She did not expect Opali and Ore to be away long and saw no harm in leaving the passage open. So, you see, with the flight of the gods the heart was lost and with the passage open, there were bound to be issues relating to stability. The quest for Time – who had made a mess of things in the first place – was to return The heart of Opali to its rightful place in the centre of the earth and restore the balance,’ the wedgetail said.
‘So, the heart ended up in the river, right? Solidified into an opal of magnificent colours the size of a fist?’ Daisy clarified.
‘Right, that’s what the legend is all about,’ the wedgetail replied.
‘So, Fox was right!’ she said with wide eyes. ‘Tell me then, Magnificence, how does the spirit of Opali come to life?’
‘Tomorrow night,’ said the eagle. ‘Sleep now and tomorrow all will be revealed.’
Daisy worked with gusto the next day to make the time go faster as she was keen to hear the last part of the story – the part that involved her.
The third night soon came.
‘Where were we,’ said Magnificence when the time came for the final episode of the story.
‘We were up to the part where I asked you how the spirit of Opali comes to life,’ Daisy said.
‘Oh, yes,’ he said. ‘That’s where you come in.’
‘Yes you. Sadly child, you were adopted. Your mother was a child of the moon and your father an Italian gypsy.’
‘Well, well, well, what do you know! I never did feel like I belonged here, or anywhere else for that matter. Tell me more,’ she said.
‘Your father was murdered by the evil Lord Fang and your mother escaped death through the intervention of Time.’
‘Well, she was pregnant to the Italian; something that infuriated Fang who ordered them both to be killed. He did the deed on your father himself and ordered one of his men to take your mother into the bush and dispose of her there. When the killer was just about to take her life, Time, in the form of a blue snake, intervened and saved her.’
‘Well, Time had been given the form of a blue snake by Providence to help him sort out his mess and he killed the assassin with his special powers. This meant your poor mother was forced to live off the land for the full term of her pregnancy. When her time came, she was exhausted and lay down in a shallow river to give birth and die. During the birth she slipped away, and the life of the infant hung in the balance as it lay in the lifeless womb.’
‘Heavens,’ said Daisy, on the verge of tears.
‘Don’t cry,’ said Magnificence, ‘it ends well.’
She sniffled and said, ‘Go on.’
‘Ok. So just before the spirit of the child slipped away, the spirit of Opali, alerted by the ruckus being made by my father from above, rose out of the heart, which was buried deep in the river, to enter into the body of the infant to bring it back to life.’
‘So, you’re saying the riverbed where my mother lay down to have me was where The heart of Opali lay?’
‘And that all the commotion the wedgetail was making from the sky above brought her spirit to life and that she planted her spirit in the near-dead body of the baby to save it.’
‘Exacto! and that infant was you.’
‘Me? I don’t believe it,’ she said. ‘I almost died, then came back to life. You mean, I’m Opali, from the legend?’
‘Indeed,’ the wedgetail said. ‘That riverbed where it all began is now dry, but it once ran through this mine; the one we’re sitting on now. That’s why we’re here; to work together to take the heart home and put things right,’ he said, waving his wing over the land around them. Land that was beginning to show signs of environmental degradation through rising temperatures, high evaporation rates and the extinction of many plant and animal species.
‘But what about him?’ she asked, looking in the direction of the house.
‘Fox is not really the man you think he is,’ said Magnificence.
‘He carries the spirit of Time, just as I carry the spirit of Ore and you the spirit of Opali. After the big showdown at the end of the legend when Opali ends up in the river and her heart turns into an opal the size of a fist, Time scurried back down into the underworld like the rat that he is and pretended that nothing had happened. Providence knew everything and ordered him to go back up to get the two wandering gods and bring them back. He knew for one that Ore was still roaming around in my form, but Opali was no longer a spirit; she was an essence trapped in an opal rock. Time could only come back up when he had a plan to release her essence. He put together an elaborate plan that has ended here. You carry the spirit of Opali; that’s why he wants you here. He can’t do it without Fox; I couldn’t do it without John; and Opali couldn’t do it without you. We are all just wandering spirits, living in the form of another, who need to return home. We must return the heart to the core to put things right. By that I mean if we return the heart to the centre of the earth, we will restore the balance and stop the environmental catastrophe currently unfolding, from getting worse.’
At the end of the third night and the revelation that she, Magnificence and Fox carried the spirits of the gods Opali, Ore and Time within, and the three of them were integral to saving the world, Daisy worked with greater purpose and renewed vigour.
Daisy improved at digging, developing huge muscles, massive lungs, and hands as hard as steel as she progressed the tunnel to 60 feet in depth. When she came to the level where there were indications of high quality opal, she knew she could stop digging. She was a breath away from the heart and could feel it beating in time with her own. She wanted to spend one more night on earth before the crossing took place and decided to wait until the morning before telling Fox.
‘I’ll send Fox a message in the morning to come down and we’ll dig the heart out together,’ she said to herself as she emerged from the mine and saw the eagle perched on a rock waiting for her.
‘It’s time. I’m there. I’ve found it. Tomorrow we cross to the other side. You’ll have to find another form though. With Fox and me in the pit, there will be no room for you; you’re so big,’ she teased.
‘I shall take the form of a bat,’ he said as he watched a flock of tiny bats fly out of the mine. ‘I’ll see you in the morning,’ he said and flew off to join the bats.
The next morning Daisy sent a kangaroo she had tamed up to the house to deliver a note to Fox to come down to the mine. He came running down the track with so much enthusiasm that he fell over three times. She met him at the entrance and led the way down to the bottom of the pit where a circle of bats hung above them on the roof of the cave.
‘I’m there, Fox.’ She used a torch to throw light on the opal in the walls. ‘I can feel it and the quality of the opal here …’ She ran her hand over a boulder loaded with colour. ‘It’s amazing. I’d say we’re on the level.’
‘You’re right, sweetheart,’ he grinned. ‘Finally!’
He reached forward to pluck a large chunk of clay that stood between him and the heart, and set a chain of events in motion that could not be stopped. They heard a deep rumble as if a sleeping giant buried deep in the pit had awakened to complain about being disturbed. A shower of rocks and dirt came tumbling from the roof and walls. Then came the call to run. Daisy, in her desperation to fulfill the prophecy, reached forward to free the heart, but just as she was about to touch it, a huge rock fell from above and fatally crushed her. Fox saw her die and, helpless to do anything, turned and ran for the entrance as a hoard of bats followed. The tunnel caved in behind them, collapsing like a house of cards in their wake.