A juvenile god learns a lesson in creation.
God ran up the grassy slope towards the big trees overlooking the near side of the meadow - trees that produced the tastiest acorns, a favourite of the brown squirrels.
His gun, well used and worn-in since Dad gave it to him for his sixth birthday a year ago, had many scratches and dents on the stock and sticky gun-oil around the receiver and trigger, but it was still a great shooting gun and very accurate.
He loved birthdays; that why this day was so special. Seven was a big number, and he'd barely slept all week wondering what big-boy gifts this day might bring. No more kids toys, he thought, I know I'm past that stage now.
The gun, a beautiful antique .22 calibre rifle, was the perfect choice for squirrel hunting. There were only twelve brown squirrels in the small woods near the cottage; he should know, he created them and perpetually resurrected them each time they got shot. Such fun!
Same story with the fish. The brook, which ran past the old mill towards a flooded area of marshland choked with grey trees and six-foot bull rushes, had many varieties of fish; some indigenous to the environment, others transplanted from faraway places. All the fish thrived, adapting to the tepid waters swirling around the base of a small purplish mountain. The stream always ran downhill yet somehow caught up to itself to repeat the infinite cycle once again. If a fish got hooked, young God would immediately return it to the warm waters, unharmed and blissfully unaware
But today was for Small-Game hunting, just squirrels and rabbits, and little God was skilled in tracking them down, lying in wait before ... BAMM, a perfect shot every time. There was always a squeal or chirp or micro scream as each rodent exploded into shards of fur and blood, but after each kill, God would kneel with the remains and place his hands over the tiny body. Within seconds the varmint would be up and bouncing through the meadow again, looking for siblings with another Lazarus tale to tell.
"You know they feel pain, don't you?" his older brother once asked.
"Ya maybe," said God, "but it's temporary, besides, the way I sees it, it's a small price to pay for eternal life in a predator-free forest."
The sinking sun turned the trees to orange, signalling an end of the hunt. God quickly gathered up his belongings, wrapping them in a green canvas backpack before hurrying home. He wasn't going to miss tonight's dinner for the world; cake, ice cream and mounds of presents - he'd even get to stay up late with the older folks.
Panting and sweating from the run, he burst into the main cabin, eyes wide at the sight of all the balloons and streamers throughout the house, and a big banner reading 'Happy 7th Birthday God'. Uncles, aunts and cousins milled about - a big cheer rising when they noticed the young lad standing at the front door, ears red and swollen, mouth agape.
At the head of the big oak table, God took his seat in the place of honour. As the guests settled, each was given a hat and party whistle before taking their seats and topping their drinks. Little God's grin, now connecting both ears, never broke, not even when eating. He keenly noted that the children had been segregated to the kid's table, but not him, the centre of attention - the birthday boy.
A sumptuous meal of pasta and cheeses led to a chocolate cake with extra icing, just the way he liked it. Then came the presents, a mountain of them; brilliant coloured wrappings that shone like a sun - bright shiny bags brimming with mysteries concealed in pastel tissue paper, and, in the corner, near the dining table, a big wooden box with a purple bow on top.
God was so excited he couldn't sit still; he loved receiving gifts, as any child does, and his eyes waded through the assortment, bedazzled by the variety and sheer quantity until finally settling on a glossy green bag as the first chore to tackle.
He made his way through each present spending the appropriate amount of time on each. He exclaimed his unconditional love for each one, then thanked the relative or friend who so graciously provided it - kisses and hugs to all.
Item by item, the room filled up with gifts, ranging from sentimental hand-me-downs to frivolous yet delightful time-wasters. God's aunts, of course, gave him clothes, but that was ok, at his age he went through them like butter, and he knew it was the thought that mattered. He truly loved every single gift, but purposely left the large wooden crate for the end.
When the big moment came, all the guests gathered to see what magical gift might be in the wooden box. "I bet it's stone tablets," said a family member. "No, no, it must be gold, like a throne or covenant ark," said another.
Since the gift was from God's Dad, he assisted his son in opening the heavy crate using a knife and a big claw hammer - the four walls falling away ceremoniously, followed by a collective gasp from the guests. Then silence.
Little God stared for some time at the enormous white orb suspended in air by an unseen hand and pulsating with life. He'd seen this before, and he knew what it was, he just didn't know why he was getting another one.
Dad chuckled and lifted the boy onto his knee. "My son, it's another proto-planet for you, but not just any planet, it's gonna be the Earth."
"What?" said God, puzzled and cocking his head to the side like a Schnauzer. "But I built the Earth when I was four. You said it was good for a first try."
"And it was my boy, not half-bad at all. But you've learned so much more since your first try; it's time to make a better one, don't you think?"
God looked around the room at all the nodding, smiling faces. "I, I guess so, but I like the Earth I made."
"Son," said his mother, her hands untying a big flowery apron, "the planet was beautiful, but some of the animals you created were quite dreadful, look at the mess they've made."
"Oh Sharon, don't be so dramatic. What your mother means boy, is that your food chain's been out of whack ever since you erased the big lizards and got carried away with the monkeys, that's all. They did indeed make a terrible mess."
"I know," God lowered his head, and his lower lip began to quiver. "I just thought that over time it would sort itself out. Like you've always told me, start with a mould and then let it evolve. Besides, I love my monkeys, they make me laugh, and they're so unpredictable, and they trust me."
"I know son, it's an easy mistake, and we've all done it at some point in our lives." Dad turned and patted the back of an elderly man wearing a baseball cap. "Henry here built a great place once, then let the fish evolve thumbs, remember that fiasco, Henry?"
The old man grimaced and lowered his head, shaking it from side to side.
God's mother walked in from the kitchen and rubbed her son's short bristly hair as she passed. "It's not the end of the world, easy to fix."
God sat motionless at the dinner table, staring at the shimmering orb. "It took me six whole days to make this last time. It was so perfect."
God's Dad smiled. "It's the right thing to do son. There's just too much suffering and pain. I'll take the proto-globe up to your room for you; you can start work on it next week."
"What about the first Earth, Dad?" He started to cry.
"I'll take care of it tonight son, don't give it another thought," he said, nodding at his two younger brothers who rose to follow him outside.
The night was warm and the sky clear; millions of blindingly bright pinpoints sat framed against a jet black canvas. The three men moved away from the cabin, far enough so the light from the window didn't interfere with their chore. Standing side by side, they stared at the northern sky. "Now where'd the boy put that thing?"