Friday, March 6th, 2026
Sasha always was an early riser.
It was something about the way he slept, or something about his circadean rhythm, or maybe a force of habit. But as the sky lightened, something would build up from within, something big and round and warm. This feeling would seep into every last inch of him, instilling him with a fullness so full that there was no room for drowsing, for hunger, for anything that had come the day before. The rising wasn’t a choice—it was a need, a powerful urge to spread this fullness somewhere outside himself, either by doing homework or by going to the gym or by getting to the construction site early.
And when Svarozhich’s divine sparks first lit him, this feeling only got fuller, taking whole days, months, years to dissipate just enough to allow him to sleep again. After a while, all it took was watching the sun rise, watching his father’s chariot climbing into the sky, to get him feeling this way. And the breath of his prayer would be the first warm, steady ray that he returned unto the cosmos.
Now, though… now he felt as if the only thing that separated this feeling from the universe was his flesh. It felt pulled taut, almost painful, but in the way of the first sore muscles after a bout of idleness. It was a good feeling, an alive feeling—a jolt of coffee, a morning after lovemaking.
He jumped up, hardly realizing it; and the shadows in the still-dark room responded. The golden glow beneath his skin was growing, bubbling like the laugh that threatened to overtake him. None of the others had come to yet; he was the first up.
Ahhhhh Doviluzė! Yesutė! The thought was flung as the coat of a boy bidding a vigorous farewell to winter. Good morning! With it spread his fullness, reaching to every corner of his threefold heart.
Before he could feel the waking breaths of answering thought, the rungs of the ladder were below him and the roof beneath his feet.
The sky was flung wide open, clean blue seeping into the fading night.
From a long way or a short way it called to him, the wan plea of wilting flowers and the weary call of a rooster crowing out the last of his hope. Sasha spread his feet and let his light—his father’s light, his grandfather’s light—answer.
For a moment, Bakersfield blazed white-gold. And then, heralded by a great, unrestrained laugh drawn up from the very bottom, the blaze galloped into the sky.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back for dinner!
The sky lightened above the waking forest.
Awed, the dear guest dropped his hood to stare at the peeking rays. And then he undid the clasp of his cloak. At last he could hang it on its hook.
The moon’s breath caught fast in her throat, a hand held to her lips. And then she dimmed and gently urged the little boy to hurry with her, to make way for the day.
The frigid winds stilled, reverent silence echoing through the powdered peaks—and then the silence was broken by a hopeful melody, harmonized by yearning.
Winter’s fingers opened the door to look upon her patient; a smile bloomed over the lover’s lips, and he bid his beloved enter. The wolf rose and turned from the cottage, stalking between the trees. The prey would be out soon.
The mother’s hands drew from her moist earth, to rise unbidden to the hollow of her throat. Her relief blossomed in her ailing garden. It would find the strength it needed now. She sat back on her heels and savored the faint sound of the harsh, heaving, whickering breaths, of the creaking wheels, of the unrestrained exultation whooping across the sky. The shining golden chariot soon outpaced the horizon and began its rising streak.
And then the reins tightened and loosed, and the wheels flickered, and the chariot dipped. Its bottom skimmed snow off a peak, shearing the stone, and then it flipped, smashing into the next peak. The laughter was cut off by a startled shout, and snow tumbled down in sheets after the golden glow, muffling the rest.
— Oh Sasha… — Mokosh sighed. — I swear, if you’ve hurt yourself… — She rose, hurried feet flinging soil behind her.
He tumbled down the mountain, fingers grasping purchaseless at the steaming snow. Behind him, a streak of ice shining like glass, marking his descent. Eventually, though, after sledding for an eternity of slippery, thudding, dizzy moments, the angle of the ground beneath him smoothed and eased. He slid to a halt, staring up at the dawn sky.
Booted steps crunched from just beside him.— I was hoping you’d see that coming. — A head poked in his field of vision. Svantovit. — How are you feeling?
Yesutė’s giggles twittered across like sparrows at play; shadowed by the cracking of a smile, crooked and wolfish.
They were echoed by Svantovit’s smirk. — Save that one for your official Worry Committee, da? They’re already on their way.
He held out a hand to Sasha, who grasped it. With the god’s help, Sasha easily found his feet. — Eh, it’s okay. I’ve already enstated a Worry Toll.— So you saw something coming, at least, — Svantovit quipped. He paused, tilting his head a little. — Ah, you’d best get back to work, Dobrozhe. I’ve bought you time, but still… If your Worry Committee catches up with you, it’ll be winter again before you’ll get a another chance to shine.
— Yes, sir! — Sasha replied briskly. He bowed and turned back towards the mountain’s peak, drawing once more upon his undiminished fullness.
— Oh, ah, Dobrozhe?
— This time go for a Mazda.