The pamphlet in her hand was not very detailed. Whoever had built the complex and lived here for nearly a thousand years was a complete mystery. No trace of writing or language was left behind. They had appeared thirteen centuries before the Aztec, and vanished by 750 AD.
She had brought not much more than her camera and a canteen strung across her chest. There was a pungent scent that she could not place, something like sage. The feeling was strangely alien, as if she were slightly off balance, in a different gravity. She had never felt this way in Mexico, until now.
Well Callie, if you do nothing else, you must climb that gargantuan pyramid and see what there is to see.
She quickened her pace and soon reached the base. It looked like as if there were thousands of steps leading to the summit. A small side stairway led to a set of wide central steps, which turned into two smaller parallel stairs, which turned into a single set of steps that led to the top. Why did they design it that way, she wondered.
One step after the other on the rough-hewn stone, up and up she trudged, not looking up or stopping for a view, ascending upon the work of the mystery builders, on stones that were shaped at the same time as Hadrian’s Wall, until she came to the last few steps, breathing deeply, feeling like she was suspended in the clouds, then raised her eyes to gaze at what lay around her.
A sudden wind chilled her sweating body, but it was the grandeur of the setting and the intimidating bulk of the pyramidal structure that sent shivers down her spine. She put her hands to her mouth and felt the surge of a silent power break against her. If it was meant to impress, it succeeded. She wandered around the top and rapid thoughts tumbled through her mind.
It’s like a sleeping giant, that if awakened could crush us all in an instant. How could the people that conceived of this simply vanish?
But I feel like it’s sleeping, not dead, like a soft vibration down in the earth right beneath these pyramids. Strange, but that is what it feels like.
This was not “Mexico”, just as Mesa Verde was not the “United States.” Something that preceded all the mess and stuff of our civilization, leaner and purer.
She sat there, taking in the panorama around her, then noticed that, except for her, the pyramid summit was deserted. But she was not alone - hundreds of butterflies began to appear. They seemed to be coming up in droves from below, fluttering all around her in random movements. Then it dawned on her that their movements were not random at all.
Ahhh .Callie, you moron, they’re mating, or trying to, or thinking about it. But it’s all so fluttery and wispy, so graceful...they make little circles...they seem to be, I don’t know, they could be...look at those two, they’re touching. God, they are beautiful...drops of gold, and all so silent.
The butterflies increased in number, until thousands upon thousands ascended to the summit and filled the air with shimmering colors, gold, with black stripes, looking like half-daisies.
Callie, in her white dress, stood motionless in the center of the silent storm, Buddha-like, with her arms spread, eyes closed, perfectly still, letting the butterflies alight upon her hands and arms and shoulders, settle in her hair, cling tenuously to her dress. She lost all sense of time.
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