Meanwhile back on Olo, life was happy. People were kind, the views in every direction were beautiful.
Have you ever been to a cobblestone beach… the kind they have along the Great Lakes, where skipping stones stretch for miles and miles, and you can pick up as many as you want as souvenirs? That’s what it’s like on Olo, only the stones you can pick up are diamonds, emeralds and rubies. The kids on Olo have skipping contests with frisbee sized opal discs.
Bucket overheard Lem telling Poikani about Olo, and Bucket said he could hold some of those gemstones.
Flash was quiet, listening to the stories, and thinking of his daughter and grandson who lived there. He shook himself back to the present and asked, Bucket, would you like to hold a ruby?
Flash simply called upon the table of elements to produce one.
What popped out was a stone identical to the one Flash had seen on his first ramble on Olo. The stone that was later placed in the King’s scepter.
Come over here, Bucket, said Flash.
Bucket floated slowly over to him and bowed slightly. When Flash placed the gemstone into Bucket, the scene looked solemn like a knighting or a royal coronation.
It was just a gesture. The ruby would eventually be reabsorbed into the table of elements, the ship’s pantry. For now, a ruby was what the recipe called for.
Bucket wasn’t used to people, so he certainly was not used to people doing anything nice for him. He was so touched, he said he wished there was something he could do for Flash in return.
Don’t get me wrong, Flash said to Bucket with a smile. You can’t give me the thing I most want right now.
Ok. Bucket felt sad, but was hopeful. I can try.
Flash only shook his head and turned away. What he longed for required more than a floating pencil holder.
I hold things, Bucket said again.
Flash just looked at him with a smile. This innocent and eager object-like being reminded him of a puppy who only wanted to please.
I can hold your intangibles, Bucket said softly, his voice muffled by the objects he held.
You can hold my what? Flash asked with a chuckle. He didn’t mean to be condescending.
The echo of your name is only the beginning.
Flash froze. The echo of…
And then he began to hear it. His grandson’s voice calling out Grampa!
Flash turned and quickly removed the ruby and everything else from Bucket. With each item he took out, the voice became louder and clearer, filling the mothership with the sweet music of the repeating sound Flash had yearned to hear just one more time. He was engulfed in it. He inhaled the sound and wept.
The echoing word slowly faded until only the memory of it hung like a fragrant mist in the air. Flash turned his tear stained eyes toward Bucket. He knew, as Lem had known all along, he had underestimated him.
Just then, Bucket caught sight of the etch-a-sketch. I can hold this, he said, and packed the other items carefully around it.
Flash was intrigued by Bucket as he had never been before. How could such an… object? creature? How could such an entity have come to be? The Ololian book spoke only of composition and form, but clearly this was no ordinary clay pot. Flash went right to the source.
Bucket, he asked, what can you tell me about your origins? Can you remember where you came from? What history do you have prior to floating out where we found you?
Oh yes, Bucket replied proudly. I was created at the beginning of the universe as a special gift.
Created by who? Flash asked.
Bucket couldn’t answer that. At the beginning.
And who were you made for? Flash asked.
For Flash Meridian.
You were made at the beginning of the universe as a special gift for me? Flash asked.
How could you know I was coming?
I didn’t. I didn’t have to know, Bucket said. The fact that you found me is the proof. There is no need to question the paths the universe has preordained. I hold things for you, Flash Meridian.
You certainly do.