Talala looked down on the city square of Tantovar and smiled. Around her, people danced in a throng that filled the square. The rhythmic beat of hand drums and skirl of pipes filled the air with joyous sounds.
“If only I could dance with them,” thought the goddess.
But her body of carved stone was affixed to the temple dais. For deities could not enter the world of their own accord. They could only view it through the statues and temples raised in their honour by humans.
A girl, maybe ten years old, walked up with a friendly smile on her face. As was the custom on days of celebration, she laid flowers before the goddess. A young woman, probably the girl’s mother, watched from a short distance.
“Can Talala dance, Mommy?” the girl asked when she returned to the woman.
“Not with us, dear. Goddesses only dance in their realm in the clouds, not on Earth,” her mother told her.
“Too bad,” the girl responded, “She’s so pretty.”
“Let’s go join the dancing circle by the fountain,” suggested her mother.
The girl cheered and they headed off holding hands.
Talala felt a sadness she had never felt before. Yes, she could dance with other deities among the clouds. But why could she not dance here on Earth with that happy little girl?
“It can be done,” said a deep alto voice that came from the ground below her.
For a moment, Talala was startled. Then she realized that Nethandra, the Great Mother of all beings, had spoken.
“Mother Nethandra, what do you mean when you say it can be done?” asked the goddess in a hushed tone.
“Your wish to dance with your people can happen. I shall grant you this boon once,” the Great Mother told her.
“I shall make your statue’s body into flesh. But you must return to your dais by the time the last rays of the sun fade, for then it shall become stone again.”
“Then make it so, Great Mother. Please,” Talala said with rising excitement.
There was a rush of wind, then the goddess felt strange sensations. She felt blood flowing, a heart pumping, air entering and leaving lungs. Leaping from the dais, Talala felt the ground beneath her bare feet.
“I am alive!” she shouted.
The dancing stopped. The music stopped. People stared. Talala stared back, realizing that she was still looking down at them. For her statue, though made flesh, was still twenty feet tall.
Someone screamed and people moved away, terrified by the sight of their holy statue now standing among them. A few began to run.
“Please, don’t go! I am Talala,” she cried out, “I have come to dance with you!”
People paused, seemingly uncertain of what to do next.
Then, the little girl approached Talala, looking a bit nervous. Her mother stayed back, looking terrified.
“Talala, do you really want to dance with us?” the girl asked, starting to smile.
“I do, my dear,” answered the goddess.
“I would love to see you dance, goddess. But be careful. You’re a lot bigger than us,” the girl told her.
The crowd seemed to relax. They pulled back to give Talala more space. Musicians came together and formed a band. They began to play a traditional dancing tune.
“Dance!” cried the girl in a cheerful voice, beginning to swirl and prance in time to the music.
The goddess emulated the girl’s movements, careful to keep back from the crowd. Soon, Talala was moving gracefully and brightly around the space the people had cleared for her. More people joined in. Soon, the whole town was dancing along with their goddess.
Talala barely noticed the sky redden at first. But she soon realized that her brief time among the people was drawing to a close. The goddess leapt back on to the dais but kept dancing. The girl ran up to join her.
Carefully, the goddess knelt and picked up the girl in a massive hand.
“Thank you, my dear, for letting me to join in your dancing,” said Talala softly.
“Thank you, my goddess, for blessing us with your dancing. You are a beautiful dancer,” replied the girl. Then she told the goddess, “Hold me close to your face.”
Smiling, the goddess moved her new friend closer. The girl leaned in and kissed Talala on the tip of her nose.
The goddess lowered the girl to the ground and stood up. Out of the corner of her eye, Talala could see the sun starting to sink out of sight.
“One more dance!” she yelled out.
The people of Tantovar cheered. The band struck up a lively tune. Talala danced upon her dais and the people formed circles and small groups below to join in. The goddess no longer paid attention to the sun as it vanished below the horizon.
When the last rays disappeared, Talala was in the midst of a lively jig. Her heart stopped. Her lungs stopped filling and emptying. Once again, the goddess was a statue of stone. But she was filled with the joy of celebrating with her people. And the people were filled with joy and wonder at the new statue of their goddess dancing.