Destruction is how the universe makes room for new creations.
Usually, I research a little bit about each planet’s Cycle before I get there, but when I started to look this one up, people were saying that it’s best to experience without knowing anything. I put my computer away to stop the temptation to learn more and finished packing my bags before heading to the terminal. On the flight over, I met a woman who was coming just to see the Cycle.
"You look like someone who travels a lot," she said to me. "My name is Rose. Are you going to see the Cycle too?"
"I'm Olivia. I'm on a business trip, but I've always been a fan of Cycles so I'm staying a little longer to see it."
We got to talking and she mentioned that when she was a little girl, she was also fascinated by all the Cycles that she’d heard about. Just like me she had a teacher who encouraged her fascination and it solidified her determination to see as many of them as she could. She reminisced about the Cycle on her home planet
"It was simply beautiful. Everyone in my town would walk to the edge of the forest and watch as the trees shed all of their leaves at once. As they twirled to the ground, they curled into small balls and landed with enough speed to bury themselves. A few seconds later, the ground would begin to shake. Most of us would try our best not to flinch, but mother nature is a powerful being. Over the next few minutes, all the trees would go through the entire year's worth of growth so fast that you could see them grow inches at a time."
“Wow, that sounds amazing. I have to go see that one day."
We talked for a few more minutes about the Cycles we had seen previously, sharing stories of the wonderful sights and sounds.
"You mentioned someone else in your stories. If you don't mind me asking, why are you travelling alone this time?"
“Oh, I don’t mind at all. My husband, Joseph, and I used to travel to a new planet once a year as a special treat. He loved the Cycles even more than either of us do."
She paused for a moment.
"Then he got sick. The doctors said he wasn't allowed to take any more flights, and our plans were put on pause. After he passed away, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself, so I started travelling as much as I could. I've been going to a new place about once a month at this point. I want to take in as much as possible, so that when we meet again I can tell him all about it.”
“I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. That’s such a wonderful thing to do for him, I’m sure he'll love to hear all the stories.”
We kept sharing stories for the rest of the flight. I added as many details as I could for her, and I could tell that she was trying to take in everything. We agreed to meet up before the Cycle in a couple days so that we could see it together. After disembarking the ship, we went our separate ways.
I saw a small market as I walked to hotel. Inside, I could see some locals preparing to decorate for the Cycle. Celebrations vary pretty wildly from planet to planet. Some, like my home planet, would go all out for multiple days before the Cycle, but other people just put up some lights. This place seemed to sit somewhere in the middle, the stalls were filled with folded paper bunnies of different sizes and colors. I took a detour through the market to take a closer look and saw children folding more bunnies.
A little boy noticed me walking past and ran up to hand me two bunnies that he had just folded. He set them in my hand and before I could say anything, the boy gave me a quick smile and ran back to the stall. I got a bowl of soup from a shop and sat down at a table to look at the bunnies while I ate. The larger of the two bunnies was blue with crimson lines drawn onto it. There didn't seem to be any pattern to the lines, wandering from place to place across the animal. The smaller one was bright yellow with a carrot drawn right in the center of its back. As I finished my meal, a little girl ran up to me and handed me another bunny.
"My brother gave you those two bunnies but we noticed you're new around here so we wanted to give you something special, make sure you place it in your hand when the Cycle happens."
"Thank you." I said. "They're beautiful. What's your name?"
"I'm Jane and my brother is Phillip."
"Well thank you very much for the bunnies, Jane. Make sure to tell Phillip I said thanks as well."
She gave me a smile and ran back to the stall. I heard her talk to her brother before they both looked back at me and waved. Their mother called them inside and told them it was time for bed. I looked at the bunny sitting in my hand and noticed that this one was quite different from the others. This one had a much more detailed shape and a very complex pattern. The paper making it up was a deep purple, with two colors of lines drawn across its surface. There was a wavy pattern of silver that looped over itself creating a knot-like shape. Woven through that was mirrored lines in gold. I placed the bunnies in my pocket and continued walking to my hotel.
When I got to my room, I placed the bunnies on the table next to my bed. The shape of the bunnies allowed them to stand upright on their legs. I stared at them as I laid down, wondering what was to come. Before I could let my mind wander too far, I had fallen asleep.
The next day was, relatively speaking, uneventful. I met with the local liaison from my company to check how things were at his office, making sure that everyone knew what they were doing and who to contact if there were questions. Throughout the day I noticed everyone passing through the various parts of the market, each choosing a pair of bunnies.
By the end of the day, all the bunnies in the market were gone and everyone was walking around holding a pair of them. I messaged Rose to make sure I had the right location and time to meet her. After confirming, I went to sleep feeling very excited.
The next morning, I woke up and ate a quick breakfast before heading out to meet Rose at the memorial in the center of town. As I walked up to the large stone fountain, she waived me over and showed me a bunny that she had found.
“It’s my favorite color, red!”
“It’s very pretty,” I said.
“I tried to find one for Joseph, but I couldn’t find anything that he would like.”
I pulled my bunnies from my pocket and handed her the blue one that Phillip had given me.
“This is perfect. Joseph would’ve loved this. He was always a bit of a goofball, didn’t like to play by society’s standards,” she whispered, holding back tears.
“A boy named Phillip made that bunny, and I think he’d agree with that sentiment,” I chuckled. “Let’s go find out where this is happening.”
We left the center and asked a nearby person running a stall about the Cycle and where to be. “It happens at sundown, right here at the memorial,” they said. Rose and I decided to make a day of it and walked around town, taking in the sights and sounds.
We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch, and I let our waiter know we’re new here and asked what he recommends.
“I think I know something you’ll love, it’s a local specialty. It’s a lettuce wrap stuffed with a mixture of fish and some vegetables that only grow on this planet, all topped with the chef's favorite sauce.”
With a recommendation like that it was certainly something we had to try, so we both got one. It was certainly a very unique experience. The mixture of textures and flavors was unlike anything I’d had before. Feeling very satisfied, we paid and left the restaurant to continue our walk.
As the day drew to a close, we headed back to the memorial alongside everyone else. I remembered what Jane had told me about the bunnies.
“A little girl told me to place the bunnies in my hands when the Cycle happens, but she didn’t explain why.”
Rose smiled and gave me a quick nod before we placed our bunnies in our hands. Everyone stood in a big circle as the sun began to set and we watched as a whole colony of multicolored bunnies began to hop into the square and gather around the base of the fountain. This crazy mix of colors seemed to mimic the paper bunnies that we all had in our hands. As soon as the sun touched the horizon, the wind picked up slightly and the bunnies turned to dust. The dust began to swirl and mix around the square, surrounding everyone and everything with a fog of pigment. Slowly, the dust began dissipate, leaving the square empty and motionless. The crowd stood still, holding their paper bunnies. All eyes were staring intently at their hands.
I turned to Rose and whispered, “This is sad, but beautiful in a way.”
“Every time I would get sad about something breaking, my mother used to always tell me: ‘Destruction is how the universe makes room for new creations’,” she replied.
Almost in tandem with the words leaving her mouth I felt something in my hand. I looked around quickly as all the paper bunnies began to float into the air. The drawings started to peel off and drift away from their paper. The carrot on my yellow bunny flew up and began to twirl. The tangle of lines from Rose’s blue bunny began to flow and twist, making all kinds of patterns in the air. The gold and silver lines on my larger bunny hadn’t yet moved, but the bunny itself began to stretch and move as if it was alive.
Then, the pattern flew off of it, twisting and turning in the air, making more and more knots and forming a ring. I looked around and saw 3 more bunnies just like mine. One was bright pink with orange and yellow lines forming their own ring. Another was green with purple and red lines. The last bunny was gray with black and white lines. As our rings began to spin faster and faster, they grew in size. The rings continued to grow until they made contact with each other. When they touched, they started to twist within each other forming a larger knot-work pattern. This new ring grew until it encompassed all the paper bunnies in everyone’s hands. The crowd was smiling as the origami animals came to life in our hands, hopping around. My purple bunny hopped out of my hand and moved towards the center alongside its mirrors in other colors. When they reached the center, the rest of the herd followed.
The large ring began to close in, taking all the floating patterns in with it. Everything seemed to grind to a halt as the floating figures reached the center, and we all watched intently. As quick as it had stopped, everything began to spin again, this time very fast. One by one, the patterns shot out of the air and back onto the paper bunnies they came from. As each one hit, the paper would unfold and then fold itself again before suddenly transforming into a real bunny with a matching pattern. All the bunnies transformed except for the four in the center. The ring started to spin so fast that it became a blur of colors until it enveloped them from all angles. They began to unfold and refold again and again, slowly moving closer together. There was a flash of light and suddenly the ring in the center was gone and in its place was a very large bunny. Its fur slowly changed colors, and around its chest was the four rings with their twists and knots, rotating. The group made space for the bunnies at the exits of the square and they all hopped off.
I looked at Rose, but no words came out of my mouth. We just looked at each other, in awe at what we had just witnessed. It seemed like ages before we moved again. We gave each other a nod before leaving the memorial. As we walked around, we were both silent until we came across the blue bunny again. The animal seemed to stare at us as if it had something to say. Instead, it hopped up to Rose, placed one paw on her foot, then hopped off. We looked at each other in silence and she began to cry. We hugged for a while before I walked her back to her hotel to make sure she made it back safe. We agreed to stay in contact and tell each other about all the Cycles we saw throughout our travels. I turned to leave but she gave me one last hug and said “Thank you, Olivia. You and Joseph would’ve been good friends.” I held back tears as I returned the hug.