Paul Rosenberg – Aria was girl of eight years, and she had a dog that she loved, named Ruby. For some reason her dad called the dog Ruby Tuesday, but that wasn’t her real name, which was just Ruby.
One night, for no reason she could think of, Ruby started appearing in a series of Aria’s dreams. This had happened before a few times, but these dreams were different… in these dreams Ruby could talk.
At first Aria didn’t tell her mom or dad about the dreams, but once she did, her parents told her that they wanted to write them down… because they were important in some way. And so she and her mom wrote them. This was the first:
“How do you do it?” someone asked. Aria turned around to find no one there, only Ruby the dog. So, she walked to the door of her room and looked down the hallway. No one was there either. She looked again at Ruby, who seemed to be staring at her.
“How do you do it?” Ruby asked.
Aria, very surprised, said “You can’t talk, Ruby, you’re a dog!”
“I know, but I can talk now. So… how do you do it?”
Aria didn’t at all understand.
“How do we do what?”
“You… people… all of you who walk around on two legs with no fur… who make things and figure everything out. How do you do it?”
Aria sat down. She had never thought about such things. But Ruby was right; she and the other animals couldn’t do much at all.
“Do you understand me?” Ruby asked.
“I think so,” Aria said. “You mean why do we do so many things that you can’t. I just never thought of that before.”
“How could you not think of that? The rest of us look around for food, eat, sleep, and that’s almost all. You are super-creatures, and we don’t know how you can do it all.”
Aria understood, but having never thought about this before, she had to make a brand new answer, and she wanted it to be right.
“Well,” she went on, “we never really talk about that; we just do it. I guess we’re made differently than the rest of you…” Then something dawned upon her… “But we have to learn a lot of those things.”
“What is learning?”
“Well…” She was trying to remember something her dad said to her, when he went for some classes in another city. “One or two of us figure something out… and then they figure out how to make it better… and then if other people want to do it too, the first ones get them to sit down and listen… then they tell them how it’s done. The people listening ask questions, write things down, and remember. Then they can do it too.”
“I still don’t understand,” Ruby said. “Perhaps we just can’t.”
“You do it a little bit”! Aria insisted.
Ruby didn’t seem like she agreed.
“Mom and I trained you to do number one and number two outside, when you were a puppy… you learned to do it and you still do it!”
Ruby sat quietly for a long time, as if she was doing something she’d never done before. Then she picked up her head.
“Ah!” she almost barked, “I know what you mean, but I just did that because you gave me good tasting things when I did it the way you wanted.”
“But we stopped giving you treats a long time ago, and you still do it.”
“Yes, that’s true,” Ruby said. “Now it seems like the only thing to do. I never think about anything else.”
That’s when the first dream ended, and after she told it to her parents, her mom pulled out some special paper and pens, wrote this in a pretty way, and put it on her wall:
What is man that you are so mindful of him; the children of men, that you so care for them?
You have made them just slightly lower than deities and have crowned them with glory and honor.
You’ve set them above all sheep and oxen, and other beasts of the field, above the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
This set of posts is something I stumbled into while telling bedtime stories. For it to work, I needed a sub-human creature that could still communicate humanly… which required an imaginary creature.
A child and a talking animal were a first and obvious choice of characters, but not being terribly fond of anthropomorphism (making animals appear human), I decided to turn it into a dream, which solved my concerns and makes the story plausible.
There is a lot of foundational material that comes out in this setting; particularly material that shines a light upon the majesty of mankind.
Within the endless stream of anti-human propaganda that has been flooding this planet over the past century, humans are seen as dangerous and dark creatures. But seen from below – from the perspective of lesser creatures – we are easily and obviously seen as magical. And I find this view, overall, far closer to reality.
SF Source Freeman’s Perspective Sep 2021