The humans named us Angels.
Some would say that the name is a poor one, for we are surely not the angels that humans have remembered collectively for so many of their lifetimes. We live in the darkness of the underground, never to see the clouds, let alone dwell among them. Our only Creator was necessity; if our ancestors had not been forced to flee Mu so long ago by the radiation that had made so many other humans into chaotic creatures, we would not exist.
Nor are we the bringers of mercy, the creatures of kindness that Angels are said to be. We are cold - not truly cruel, but only because we are incapable of either extreme. We can feel neither kindness nor cruelty. None of us know why we have lost the ability to feel - perhaps empathy was our ancestors' greatest threat, as they watched the ones close to them warp and twist into hideous beings. Or perhaps it was the Chaos itself that made us into what we are - perhaps it did not have time to dehumanize us completely, only to strip our thoughts of all human emotion.
It hardly mattered to us. It didn't matter to me at all, at any rate. I existed. I worked, I ate, I slept, and all with the same cold, mechanical motions. I did little more than keep myself alive.
And I danced. We all danced - it was one of the things that kept us together, it seemed. Every day, the dancing hall was open. Every day and night, we would walk into the hall. We would each meet our partners - the same partners, every time. And we would dance slowly to the soft music, wondering at times why this was so very important to us.
Some of us always knew the reason. They were the ones who danced to remember being inferior... flawed and emotional... weak and vulnerable.
Flaws add something to beauty. It makes those who behold it appreciate it all the more. This is a living, beating heart, they say. Take it. Love it. It is not a God's gift; it is nothing to worship.
Is kindness a flaw? Some would say that it is, but some have been wronged by too many cruel twists of fate. And yet... thousands flock here to be painted by a man who can at least offer them the guarantee of being remembered as kind and generous. Faces that held quiet dignity in life and nothing more are now the faces of angels. True angels - the old concept. Not what we are now, but perhaps what we should have been.
I remember dancing.
I didn't understand the dancing at first. It was just something that we did, an old tradition that seemed too important to break. I didn't realize what it meant to us. I only knew that I had to learn the steps as fast and as well as I could.
But... so many years, now. The reasons became achingly ice-crystal clear as I grew older, and watched season upon season fade into nothing - all with the same cold and unfeeling dignity that is our birthright and our curse. I danced to remember what it was like to smile at a sunset. I danced to remember what it was like for my ancestors, so long ago - was it truly so long to our rational minds? - to cry, to laugh, to love.
I danced to remember what it was like to live, not to merely exist in a cold world where nothing seems to matter or change. I danced to remember, in some deep hidden part of me that knows it was once human, that the spectre of humanity was not a myth, but simply a faded dream.
My time grows short. Soon this painting will be the only reminder that I ever existed. Will that be as dreadful as some think that dying is? Will it be worth the cost, to be immortalized in this way?
At least now, as my thoughts fade, I will be able to rest knowing how the future generations who find this place will remember me.
At least now... I will be able to smile.