This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.
The room is barren. It feels about as barren as I do. Although I know that I am full of many things, it is difficult to process. It feels like an eternity that we have been here, doing what needs to be done. While the process is long and grueling, as I knew it would be, it feels like it is never ending. I know that this is a good thing. I know that things will begin to coalesce and form the new thing that I am supposed to be. No matter how many times I rant and rave, no matter how many times I cry, no matter how many times I am obstinate, I know the logistics and logical points behind each moment that we spend in this boring, white, barren room. But it is still an eternity and I feel like I will never be let out.
I pace the room, back and forth and forth and back. It doesn’t matter how far I go in my pacing; I am never more than a few feet away from him. He is always there. His presence is as dominating and preoccupying as the whiteness of the room we are in. His skin is old and leathered with many, many years being what he is. He wears a dusty work shirt, buttoned partway, and baggy slacks. His clothes are rough shod and handmade. There are careful tracks of stitches, fixing the tears and rips that have happened. His face is liberally sprinkled with white facial hair and he wears a black felt hat at a jaunty angle. His eyes sparkle with his amusement at me. No matter what I do or where I am in my pacing, I always amuse him. No matter what I say or what I think, I always amuse him.
Beside him is his careworn makout, as lovingly tended to as his clothes. It is straw colored and holds a plethora of things. Once, I tried to take it from him in an effort to see what he kept inside. He laughed himself hoarse when I dumped the bag over and nothing came tumbling out. I accused him of stealing Mary Poppins’s secrets and he laughed harder. Sometimes, I still want to see it and work its magic, like he does. He can reach inside and pull out whatever he desires with his noble and knobby jointed fingers. But I don’t think I have the power or the gall to attempt it. I leave it alone, but sometimes, I wonder if I could do what he does and other times, I know that nothing would come out when I wished for something. Besides, all I want is my freedom from this boring and bleak hellhole. He laughs at me when I say that, too.
He is chewing on a plum. Its juices stream down his chin with great abandon. I want to be snotty to him. I want to rail at him. Instead, I stop my ever present pacing and watch the drip of that plum’s juice down his elegant chin. It disappears into the white bristles of his beard. He grins at me, showing his old man teeth. Sometimes, when I look at him, he has missing teeth. But today, he has them all. I asked him about his teeth once – why they appeared and disappeared whenever they felt like it – and he laughed at me. He told me then that I was one of the most amusing people he had ever had the pleasure of meeting. A second trickle of plum juice meets his brethren in the whiskers of his beard. “What is it, honey-child?” He asks me with a full mouth.
“It’s impolite to speak with your mouthful,” I lecture crossly.
“Oh, honey-child, I think I know a thing or two about what is or isn’t impoliteness. What is it really?”
I know I can lie. He will let me, sometimes, lie. He will give me a brief look of disapprobation that I have flat out lied to him. However, he doesn’t always let me get away with such things. I know that I can either tell the truth or lie. I seek the truth here, so I voice it. “I’m bored. I’m getting nothing done now. These last facets aren’t going to merge any time soon. Can’t we go out? Can’t we see? Can’t we adventure? I bet there are plenty of things I can do out there that won’t be nearly as boring.” I kneel down before him with huge imploring eyes. “We can go out and do something very quickly. And when I feel them start to merge or even begin to move in that direction, we can come right back here. And we will continue and get this done. But right now, right this second, can’t we go and do something? Anything?”
He finishes the bite of his plum thoughtfully. He puts the half eaten plum back into his makout and stares at me as thoughtfully as he had been chewing on the plum. He makes a face, screwing his brows together in his deep contemplation. “Well, I just don’t think that’s really a good idea. I don’t doubt that yer bein’ sincere here,” he added before I could protest. “I bet you really think you would come right on back the second we felt movement there.” He nods, his eyes still faraway and contemplative. “But I don’t think you’d just drop whatever yer doing to come back.”
I glower at him again. “I did at the crossroads.”
“That was in your favor,” he remarks. He shrugs his shoulders and says, “It doesn’t matter. I know you just think you need a change of pace, but this isn’t a paper yer writin’. This is about you. About your health. About gettin’ things done that you been puttin’ off. We gotta do this now.”
I stare at him blankly. I do not like his answer. Just because what he says is true doesn’t mean I have to like hearing it. That’s the issue. He always tells me the truth. He may not tell me the entirety of the truth or the exact cause, but I know that I will never get lies. Sometimes, secretly, I think that he is better for me than all the rest. I have relationships with so many but I can’t always count on the truth coming out with them. They may sound truthful, but they are better at subterfuge. He has no reason to be so with me. I have always pondered the differences between him and them, but it doesn’t matter. As much truth as he may tell me, I don’t always have to like it. Even if I have always, always asked for it in every interaction that we have ever had. Just because I get what I asked for doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Disgusted with this entire situation, I jump to my feet. Before I can stomp away, he grabs my hand gently in his. I glance down at him, ready to spew off whatever angry word comes into my head. Instead, I look down to see his hand missing to the elbow in his makout. I sit down in front of him slowly, waiting for whatever magical item he is pulling out of his bag. After a few stops and starts, he finally pulls out a glass bell jar. I stare at the jar, my mind going blank. I know this jar, I think. Within is a single red rose. Its petals have littered the floor of the jar and it is being held together by a hope and a prayer at this point. I stare at it and then look up at him. “Do you know what this is?” He asks me pleasantly.
“Yeah, that’s from Beauty and the Beast. It was only the most watched Disney movie in my entire childhood besides The Little Mermaid,” I reply. “Of course I know what it is.”
“But in the move, that rose was a countdown for the beast to find love. But this rose is different. This is what you were before we ended up here.” He proffers me the breakable jar. Gingerly, I take it from his fingers and study the dying rose within. The stem is more brown than green. The red petals that are still stuck to the center are wilted. They have browned at the edges and towards the center. Instead of curling outward in a beguiling display, waiting for someone to sniff it, they wilt slowly in the glass enclose. The petals on the floor of the jar have no color left – they are brown and gray in some places. They are dead. “You see yourself in that rose, don’t you? Maybe that’s why you liked that movie so much, yeah? It wasn’t that you saw yourself in the woman or the beast. You saw yourself in the rose.”
I snort. “No. I saw myself in the… never mind.” I look down at the rose again. “What… uh, what does it look like now that we’ve done a lot of work?” He wiggles his fingertips at the rose, but it does nothing. He grins at me. “You’re just fucking with me, right? It’s changed, right?”
He winks at me and wiggles his fingers again. This time, the rose really does change. I watch as petals shoot backward into the center. They change from the brown-gray and wilted pieces to reddish-brown colors. Some petals are still on the floor of the jar, but not all of them. I can see a marked improvement. But there is still a lot of work to do if the rose really is the metaphor it’s supposed to be. I stare at it in both disgust and wonder. After all this time. After all this work. It feels like I will never be done. I give him the jar back but do not comment on the changes. He places the jar carefully back into his makout where it disappears into wherever it is supposed to go. “Nothing?” He asks me.
I get up and wander the room. I am not pacing in irritation, but just trying not to think. A thought does occur to me, though, and it is sweet to me in that moment. With a glint of devilishness in my eye, I turn back to him. He quirks an eyebrow at me, waiting for whatever it is I want to say. Instead of speaking to him, of voicing the pain and anger in myself, I sing to him. And of course, I choose a song that means so much more to me than all of this – this room, this rose, this place. It is from that other realm that I know so well. I turn to him and I sing…
Never been here, never coming back
Never want to think about the things
That happened today
Want to lay down on the warm ground
I think I’m going to need a little time to myself
Grinning, he picks up his walking stick and strums it in tune with the guitar of the song I am singing. As the words caress his ears, his fingers move along the makeshift guitar. I stop singing, waiting for his move. He shoots me that devil-may-care grin as he sings the refrain, “Don’t fall down now. You will never get up. Don’t fall down now.” His voice is nasally, but not in an ear splitting way. He is slightly off-key, but it makes the song we are singing that much more powerful. I can feel my heart pounding and I sway to the beat of it as I say…
I ask you for a slow ride
You look like Satan
You ask me if I want to get high
Couple of bags down in old town
You tie your arm and
Ask me if I wanted to drive
He picks up the refrain again, in perfect time. “Don’t fall down now. You will never get up. Don’t fall down now.” I close my eyes and can feel my feet moving. I am dancing in this white room to a song that I can only hear in my memory. But that song is beautiful to me. It has always meant so much to me. I have song along with the band numerous times on drives to work, on drives to the country, on drives to a friend’s home. It has always been a pick me up to me. But it is so much more than that. In this moment, it is another bond between the two of us. My feet move without my say so and I am dancing to the beat that is nonexistent except between the two of us. I open my eyes and I can feel the tears there. They have lurked for many weeks now, with each painful merge of my soul into a single cohesive unit. With tears pouring down my cheeks, I sing…
Last thing I recall
I was in the air
I woke up on the street
Crawling with my strawberry burns
Ten long years in a straight line
They fall like water
Yes, I guess I fucked up again
And he turns to me and finishes, “Don’t fall down now. You will never get up. Don’t fall down now.” He puts down his walking stick and waits for me to say something. Instead of speaking, I sit down beside him and lay down on my side. I rest my head against his thigh and he reaches out, caressing my hair from my face. He runs his fingers fatherly down the long tresses and I can feel those tears pouring down my cheeks now. With each moment I am here, I feel like I am losing more of myself. He says that I am not. He says that I am becoming more and more myself, but it is hard to feel that way. In this moment, I feel less like whomever I am supposed to be and more like a broken wreck. My hot tears soak his pants, but he doesn’t mind. He lets me cry until I barely have breath.
“Hush now,” he tells me.
“Why am I doing this? Why are we doing this? What is this supposed to do?” I sob. “I have always been struggling. It doesn’t matter what I do to myself both here and there. It doesn’t matter. Everything is so hard. There is always worry. There is always sorrow. There is always something to make me cry. There is always anxiety. How is this supposed to help me? Why is this happening? Where did I go wrong? Why? Why? Why?” I sob harder. I sob so hard that my body is wracked with them, physically shaking from the force of my emotional outlet. “Why would anyone or anything let this happen to me? When did I deserve this? I’ve seen the things I’ve done – the horrible things here and there. How is it okay for me to suffer like this? How many times do I have to say I’m sorry?”
He pats my hair in that consoling way that he has about him. My tears dry up slowly at the gentle touch of his hand in my hair. “Oh, honey. Oh, baby.” He makes inarticulate noises at me and slowly, they begin to work on comforting me. He always manages to know when to say something and when not to say something to make me feel better. If there was anyone else that would have been tossed into this room with me, I am pretty sure I would hate the experience. He always just knows what I need and why I need it.
This is why I serve him.