A long, long time ago, perhaps before calendars and watches and sundials were invented, there lived The Ethereals—a small group of friends and enemies there before the beginning. Now, there were many Ethereals who were meant to guard the universe, but the seven are part of this story were assigned to Earth.
Of the seven Ethereals, there was: Amber, rich with copper, silver, and rice; Afzal, lover of sunsets; Everly, lover of the finer things, such as beaches and the ocean; Araminta, lover of all wildlife; Naseem, lover of culture; Saffron, lover of waterfalls and mountains; and finally, Tahinaustralis, lover of snow and icebergs. Most called her Tahini.
The Ethereals lived together on Earth as one big land, which they had named Arcadia. While each of the seven Ethereals had their own section of land, they spoke often and even shared their spices and food with one another. Winter turned into Spring, Spring turned into Summer, and as Fall rolled around the corner, The Ethereals spotted something strange going on with Tahini. She had stopped changing her seasons.
While the other six Ethereals lived through their four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall normally, Tahini stayed cold and covered in ice throughout the year. Amber and Everly tried to talk to Tahini and get her to change her seasons, but the Ethereal refused. All she wanted out of life was to lay in the snow and look up at the shimmer of stars and the beautiful, flowing lights in the sky when the sun parted and the glowing moon blackened the Earth.
The Ethereals could not understand this. Afzal enjoyed Summer sunsets and could not understand why any Ethereal wouldn’t want to change their season when the time came. Saffron, while having affection for the ivory snow caps on her mountains, loved to see the snow melt and the mountains blossom with flowers in the Spring. Araminta found that the Winter chased her precious wildlife into hibernation. She could not stand to see them shivering. However, each of the Ethereals, though having a lack of understanding, respected Tahini’s odd ways and stayed away from her borders, while still including her in meals and dances.
But there was one Ethereal who just could not stand to see one-seventh of Arcadia suffer for most of the year. Everly did not like the cold. She found it dispassionate and void of life. Everly hated even more that it froze over her handsome beaches and left chips in the waves that she adored so much.
Everly could not see one more season ruined by Tahini. Though the two lands were quite far from each other, Everly swore she could feel the chilling breezes coming from Tahini’s land in the Summer, and told the rest of the Ethereals that Tahini’s snow was always spilling over the borders of her piece of Arcadia. Everly could not stand Tahini’s joy as she took up more space than she deserved.
Before the beginning, Everly was given a stretch of land that was less than a “stretch”; it felt like more of a compression to Everly. It was a very small space, and Tahini’s land was tremendous in comparison. Now, as Tahini openly broke the rules of the four seasons, refusing to live through Summer, Spring, and Fall, Everly’s lakes and ponds boiled. Tahini did not deserve her land. She was violating every rule of nature, and as far as Everly could tell, that was a crime.
So, one night, as Tahini lay asleep in an igloo on her land, far from the whispering voices of her fellow Ethereals, Everly started up a fire and had every one of her peers sit around it.
She told them of her troubles, but the Ethereals did not seem invested. One by one, they left the meeting, laughing to each other about Everly’s seemingly unimportant issues, and the Ethereals went off into the night.
Everly was angrier than ever now. The dirt underneath her feet began to shake and crumble, the ocean fizzed and hot bubbles broke through the water’s surface. The sky above appeared to fear for its life, the northern lights hiding from view. The colorful, waving lights rushed to Tahini’s land to tell her, but Tahini was fast asleep in her igloo, her ears closed from any warnings.
The shores were splitting.
Everly simply could not take it anymore. For years, she had dealt with the jeers and mocking stares of the other Ethereals, while Tahini, rule-breaker extraordinaire, had always been tolerated, if not respected, by her peers. Everly had never committed a crime. Everly had always tended to the sands on the beaches and kept the waves from coming too close to dry land. She was the good one. Not a wrongdoer or villain. Everly did as she was told to do. She did not step out of bounds and do such a heinous thing as change the seasons.
But Tahini did.
Tahini was the criminal. The one who had snowball fights mid-June. The one who made icicles fall from mountain ledges when grass should be spurting from the soil. If Tahini could not care for her land, if she could not follow the order of the seasons and obey the laws of nature, she obviously could not understand what it meant to be an Ethereal. The land was not something to play with. It was not a child’s toy. It was something to tend to. Trees should be allowed to grow. Rivers should be able to run. Tulips and orchids had earned their place on a mountain. Yet Tahini would not let them bud.
The ground cracked and shifted, sending an earthquake throughout Arcadia. Amber and Afzal ceased their cackling. Araminta looked up from feeding the lemurs their dinner. Saffron and Naseem tripped over one another, trying to figure out what was going on and why. Tahini lay still in her igloo, sleeping like an angel.
The Earth’s crust moved and the tectonic plates below the terrain shook Arcadia to its core. One by one, as Everly’s emotions grew, the lands broke off. As a result of Everly’s anger, her land broke off from Arcadia and floated away. Her section of Arcadia then turned into islands.
Finally, when all was done, and Everly found space to take a breath, she discovered the wreckage. Gaps between the lands were filling with saltwater, and what was once Arcadia was now a spread-out collection of seven sections that floated to their own place on Earth.
The other Ethereals panicked, not knowing how they would reach their friends or if they would ever see them again. Tahini, through all of the ruckus, stayed asleep in her igloo, finding warmth in the cold. Everly was satisfied with herself now that she was distanced from The Ethereals and, most of all, Tahini. It being the middle of Summer, Everly decided that she would go lay on the beach and enjoy the serenity of the moment.
Finally, Everly was able to live a life away from the chill of Tahini’s land. She could sit on her glorious beaches every day without having to worry about a sudden draft of cold air flowing through Arcadia. Because Arcadia was no more. It was broken. Everly had banished the lands, splitting them into seven, never able to meet again.
Time passed, and there was a discovered loneliness to it. There were no more late-night talks with Afzal and no more hikes with Saffron. Everly had made her choice, and by breaking the boundaries into individual continents, she had gotten what she wished for.
Everly had her own land, free of Ethereals who would not follow the rules. She would never know of Tahini again. They were torn apart by jealousy, and while Everly now had a continent of her own, she knew she would miss Tahini and the others.
It was a price to pay for peace, she told herself. Warfare brought about tranquility. It was worth never hearing their jeers again. Though maybe Everly did not want to be so alone. And perhaps, one day, the seven Ethereals would connect again. They would have their meals and their discussions about the weather, and Everly might feel a snowflake upon her cheek. One from Tahini’s land.
The seven Ethereals grew apart. Over time, they realized there was no one around to call out their names anymore, so the names morphed into something new.
Amber became Asia; Afzal became Africa; Everly became Europe; Araminta became Australia; Naseem became North America; Saffron, South America; and Tahinaustralis, lover of snow and icebergs, became Antarctica. The seven Ethereals, or continents, did not forget about each other, but continued to guard their own sections of the Earth while still holding a place in their hearts for their friends. They chose to move past betrayal and vengeance, loss and drifts, and instead found love.
Tahini went through her days staring up at the northern lights, which, on that fateful day, fled from Everly’s land to warn Tahini of danger and never flew back. They reminded Tahini of the other Ethereals, Everly most of all, whom Tahini had always wished to show the charm of Winter.
Everly could have had the most gorgeous beaches. She could have had pearly-white snow hugging the branches of trees, making up for the absence of leaves in its beauty. Everly had missed out, Tahini knew. If only she’d let Tahini share a piece of herself that was misunderstood. Tahini thought of this often.
Although the changing of their seasons was a stab in the heart to each and every one of them, thinking of what they’d lost, there seemed to be an unchanging factor in Tahini’s seasons. She had always kept Winter, as she found it the most beautiful season. If Everly asked, if any of the Ethereals had pondered why, even once, they would now know why Tahini remained so joyful though her friends had disappeared.
Tahini kept Winter because it had every surprise around the corner. No snowstorm was the same, no snowflake was identical. Glaciers were ever changing and she had never found a speck of ice in the same place it had been the previous week. Spring, Summer, and Fall were all the same. Leaves change, the sun rises, flowers bloom…but Tahini found her happiness, not in the changing of the seasons, but the changing of the day. Her contentment was frozen within the ice and the hail. The beauty, to Tahini, seemed to be in the smaller picture, and she knew this was something Everly would never understand.
Still, Tahinaustralis convinced the north winds, every so often, to send a chilly breeze Everly’s way. Tahini did this at least once a year to let Everly experience the beauty of Winter, though the seven banished shores would likely never meet again.
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