“So, have you guys tried to move this rock, or break it apart to spread out the light?”
Everybody around her looks at each other in confusion. Eyebrows are raised quizzically and they confer in murmurs too low for her to make out. At last Bry speaks up.
“Why would we do that? There’s nothing here. Grag wandered forever before he found the light. And each of us wandered through the dark before we were drawn here.”
Tiane stares at him. Suddenly the realization strikes her like a thunderclap. Her eyes widen in shock.
“Are you saying that you’ve just been sitting here? Doing nothing? All this time?!” She stands as her voice raises at the end. She sweeps her arms around her.
“Why haven’t you tried to find a way back home?”
Bry looks at her like she’s perhaps a little slow.
“Because there’s nothing in the dark. It’s just dark. Wasn’t that made perfectly clear to you as you were being drawn to the light?”
“You were brave enough, or curious enough, or desperate enough to venture into the forest in the hope of changing everything in your life and when you get here you just sit down and wait for somebody else to do something?”
“It’s like I told you, Grag wondered forever. He found nothing. As each new person joins us we share what we know of this place and what’s happened where we came from. There’s nothing but dark here. There’s nothing to explore.”
Tiane narrows her eyes and glares at Bry.
“Fine then, if you won’t do something then I will.”
She leans forward, her hand stretching out to the glowing beacon before her. The light is neither hot nor cold.
“Tiane! No!” Bry lunges at her, reaching for her hand but stopping short as her palm lands on the beacon.
“But,” he stutters.
“It’s fine. In fact,” she reaches forward with her other hand and picks the beacon up, “it’s lighter than it looks.” She hefts it experimentally as she rises. It really is deceptive in looks and weights very little. The weight almost reminds her of the other kids, when they were babies, newly born and tiny.
“Look!” A voice in the crowd exclaims. Tiane and Bry both look down. The crowd around them murmurs excitedly.
The ground where the beacon was sitting is now growing a rich, lush moss. Tiane kneels down, balancing the beacon on her hip, and brushes her fingers over the moss. It’s slightly cool to the touch and springy. She pulls some up and it’s instantly regrown. Tiane laughs and puts the beacon down by her feet. She pulls more and more; the moss regrows each time. Finally, she has enough to fashion a smallish pallet of soft moss to rest on. She looks up and scans the crowd before speaking.
“This should go to Grag, he’s been here the longest.”
“No child, you should have it, you found it. You didn’t give up like we did.” Grag answers.
“Nonsense. It doesn’t matter who finds the answer, as long as it is shared freely with all who share the problem. There’s plenty of moss, and hope, to go around.”
Quietly, humbled, the group begins to work together, gathering moss and making pallets for each other.